Flight Test Experiments on Discrete Roughness Element Technology for Laminar Flow Control Conference Paper uri icon


  • 2015 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved. Micron-sized, spanwise-periodic, discrete roughness elements (DREs) were applied to and tested on a 30 swept-wing model in order to study their effects on boundary-layer transition in flight where stationary crossflow waves are the dominant instability. Significant improvements have been made to previous flight experiments in order to more reliably determine and control the model angle of attack () and unit Reynolds number (Re) in order to minimize the uncertainties that DREs have on swept-wing, laminar-turbulent transition. Two interchangeable leading-edge surface-roughness configurations were tested: highly polished and painted. The baseline transition location for the painted leading edge (increased surface roughness) was unexpectedly farther aft than the polished. Transport unit Reynolds numbers were achieved using a Cessna O-2A Skymaster. Infrared thermography, coupled with a post-processing code, was used to globally extract a quantitative boundary-layer transition location. Each DRE configuration was compared to curve-fitted baseline data in order to determine increases or decreases in percent laminar flow while accounting for the influence of small differences in Re and . Linear Stability Theory (LST) guided the DRE configuration test matrix. In total, 63 flights were completed, where only 30 of those flights resulted in useable data. While the results of this research have not reliably confirmed the use of DREs as a viable laminar flow control technique in the flight environment, it has become clear that significant computational studies, specifically direct numerical simulation (DNS) of these particular DRE configurations on this model geometry and flight conditions, are a necessity in order to better understand the influence that DREs have on laminar-turbulent transition.

name of conference

  • 53rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting

published proceedings

  • 53rd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting

author list (cited authors)

  • Saric, W. S., West, D. E., Tufts, M. W., & Reed, H. L.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Saric, William S||West, David E||Tufts, Matthew W||Reed, Helen L

publication date

  • January 2015