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Predicting the response of low-aspect ratio, flexible aircraft

  • L. Meirovitch (a1), I. Tuzcu (a2) and W. D. McGrory (a3)

Abstract

Accurate prediction of the response of low-aspect ratio, flexible aircraft requires correspondingly accurate modeling of the aircraft itself and of the aerodynamic forces, both respectable problems. Assuming that the wing can be modeled as a nonuniform plate, the discretisation process of choice is the finite element method (FEM), which demands a very large number of degrees of freedom for good accuracy. Moreover, accurate modeling of the aerodynamic forces acting on the aircraft suggests the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which requires the use of an extremely large number of variables. On the other hand, feedback control design for the aircraft demands an aircraft model of relatively small order, so that the dimension of the FEM and CFD models must be reduced drastically. Based on physical considerations, reasonably accurate model reductions can be achieved, but a problem remains because the FEM and CFD grids are likely to differ from one another. It is shown in this paper how to achieve desirable model reductions for both the FEM and CFD and how to integrate the aerodynamic forces into the aircraft state equations. A numerical example demonstrates how the theory can be applied to the flight of a flexible aircraft. The analytical/computational approach developed here should permit parametric studies ultimately resulting in a reduction in the time required for aircraft design and flight testing.

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