Design and Testing of Flexible Aircraft Structures

University dissertation from Stockholm : Farkost och flyg

Abstract: Methods for structural design, control, and testing offlexible aircraft structures are considered. Focus is onnonconventional aircraft con- figurations and control concepts.The interaction between analysis and testing is a central topicand all studies include validation testing and comparisonbetween computational and experimental results.The first part of the thesis is concerned with the designand testing of an aeroelastic wind-tunnel model representing aBlended Wing Body (BWB) aircraft. The investigations show thata somewhat simplified wind-tunnel model design concept isuseful and efficient for the type of investigations considered.Also, the studies indicate that well established numericaltools are capable of predicting the aeroelastic behavior of theBWB aircraft with reasonable accuracy. Accurate prediction ofthe control surface aerodynamics is however found to bedifficult.A new aerodynamic boundary element method for aeroelastictimedomain simulations and its experimental validation arepresented. The properties of the method are compared totraditional methods as well as to experimental results. Thestudy indicates that the method is capable of efficient andaccurate aeroelastic simulations.Next, a method for tailoring a structure with respect to itsaeroelastic behavior is presented. The method is based onnumerical optimization techniques and developed for efficientdesign of aeroelastic wind-tunnel models with prescribed staticand dynamic aeroelastic properties. Experimental validationshows that the design method is useful in practice and that itprovides a more efficient handling of the dynamic aeroelasticproperties compared to previous methods.Finally, the use of multiple control surfaces andaeroelastic effects for efficient roll maneuvering isconsidered. The idea is to design a controller that takesadvantage of the elasticity of the structure for performancebenefits. By use of optimization methods in combination with afairly simple control system, good maneuvering performance isobtained with minimal control effort. Validation testing usinga flexible wind-tunnel model and a real-time control systemshows that the control strategy is successful in practice.Keywords: aeroelasticity, active aeroelastic structures,aeroelastic tailoring, control, structural optimization,wind-tunnel testing.