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Kiran Ramesh, Ashok Gopalarathnam and Jack Edwards - NC State University - Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Kenneth

Granlund and Michael V. Ol - Air Force Research Laboratory - WPAFB

Aerodynamic Modeling of Flapping Flight

Theoretical model
Large-Angle Unsteady Thin-Airfoil Theory
Theoretical model for analysis of unsteady aerodynamics Built on a time-stepping approach. The body frame of the airfoil moves along a time-varying path. At each discrete time step, a vortex is shed from the trailing edge. The strength of the shed vortex and the vorticity distribution over the airfoil need to be solved for at each time step. Large amplitudes and non-planar wakes are accounted for in this formulation. Analogous to Thin Airfoil Theory, the vorticity distribution over the airfoil is taken to be a Fourier series. At each time step, the Fourier coecients are solved for by enforcing the trailing edge Kutta condition and the boundary condition of zero normal ow on the airfoil surface. The lift and drag on the airfoil are comprised of components from the normal force and the leading edge suction force. The normal force is obtained by integrating the pressure distribution over the airfoil, which is turn is calculated from the unsteady Bernoullis equation. The leading edge suction force arises from the ow having to negotiate a sharp turn around the leading edge and is calcuated as a function of the velocity at the leading edge. Both the forces are derived in terms of the Fourier coecients.

Research Objectives
To understand the unsteady ow phenomena associated with apping ight To develop a theoretical model for use in prediction and design of apping wing aerodynamics. To phenomenologically extend inviscid airfoil theory to accound for Leading Edge Vortex dominated and separated ows. To draw inspiration from insect ight in the study and design of Micro Air Vehicles.

Motion Kinematics
A Pitch-up, Hold, Pitch-down motion is considered. Flate plate airfoil is used and pivot is taken to be the leading edge. Two variations of this motion - Amplitudes of 25 and 45 deg are used. These cases are moderately and strongly LEV inuenced respectively. Force histories from theory are compared against those from experiment and CFD. The owed from theory is compared against vorticity plots from from CFD and dye ow images from experiment at four critical points in the ow. O - Onset of separation, H1 - Start of hold, H2 - End of Hold, D - Detachment of LEV
60 50 40 (deg) 30 20 10 0 0 1 2 3 t

45 deg amplitude 25 deg amplitude

Interest in aerodynamic design of Micro Air Vehicles. Small size and low speed of these vehicles result in low Reynolds number and high rates of motion. Flapping ight, as seen in nature is superior in this regime. The highly unsteady aerodynamic phenomena involved in such ight however, is not well understood.

Force Comparison
Exp CFD Theory

40 30





3 2

C 20

40 (deg) 20

1 0 1 2 O 0 1 2 H1 3 t* H2 D 4 5 6 7

10 0

10 20

0 O 0 1 2 D H1 3 t* H2 4 5 6 7

Aspects and Advantages of Flapping Flight

Common unsteady motions in 2D are pitch, plunge and varying freestream velocity. Eective angle of attack is changed constantly Downwash generated helps keep bounday layer attached enabling high maneuverability. Leading Edge Vortices (LEVs) prevent static stall and generate high lift. Flapping wing aerodynamics is capable of producing thrust as well as lift - eliminates the need for propellers.


Prediction of LEV formation

We introduce a Leading Edge Suction Parameter (LESP) to predict LEV formation - Its value is a measure of the suction peak at the leading edge. The strength of the suction peak is directly related to the velocity at the leading edge. Hence the LESP is the instantaneous value of the velocity at the leading edge - Derived in terms of Fourier coecients. A critical value of the LESP serves to predict LEV formation. For a given airfoil and Reynolds number, LEV formation occurs at the same LESP irrespective of motion kinematics Hence if the LESP value at the start of leading edge separation is determined from CFD or experiment for any one motion, it can be used to predict LEV formation for any other arbitrary motion (Provided the airfoil and Reynolds number are the same.
Pivot at LE =10o Pivot at 3c/4

25 deg case

45 deg case

Flow Comparison
Point O Point H1 Point H2 Point D



Critical LESP


25 deg case
Point O Point D Point H1 Point H2

Classical unsteady theories used in aeroelasticity such as Theodorsens, assume small amplitude motion and planar wakes. These are clearly violated in MAV and insect ight. Leading edge vortices, which are used extensively by insects to achieve high lift are not modeled in these theories. Advances in experiment and computation have enabled the detailed study of unsteady aerodynamic phenomena - However, an approach for quick prediction and design is still forthcoming.

Incorporating LEV formation in LAUTAT

Discrete vortices are shed from the leading edge when the LESP is greater than its critical value. The strengths of the leading edge vortices are determined by enforcing a Kutta condition at the leading edge. Both leading and trailing edge vortices are convected with their local velocities. The model aims to predict oweld and force histories for any given motion kinematics.




45 deg case

Kiran Ramesh - 3314 Engineering Building III Box 7910, Raleigh, NC 27695 -