Neale, Tyler P. (2010-05). CFD Investigations of a Transonic Swept-Wing Laminar Flow Control Flight Experiment. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Laminar flow control has been studied for several decades in an effort to achieve higher efficiencies for aircraft. Successful implementation of laminar flow control technology on transport aircraft could significantly reduce drag and increase operating efficiency and range. However, the crossflow instability present on swept-wing boundary layers has been a chief hurdle in the design of laminar wings. The use of spanwise-periodic discrete roughness elements (DREs) applied near the leading edge of a swept-wing typical of a transport aircraft represents a promising technique able to control crossflow and delay transition to accomplish the goal of increased laminar flow. Recently, the Flight Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University conducted an extensive flight test study using DREs on a swept-wing model at chord Reynolds numbers in the range of eight million. The results of this study indicated DREs were able to double the laminar flow on the model, pushing transition back to 60 percent chord. With the successful demonstration of DRE technology at these lower chord Reynolds numbers, the next logical step is to extend the technology to higher Reynolds numbers in the range of 15 to 20 million typical of smaller transport aircraft. To conduct the flight tests at the higher Reynolds numbers, DREs will be placed on a wing glove attached to the aircraft wing. However, a feasibility study was necessary before initiating the flight-testing. First, a suitable aircraft able to achieve the Reynolds numbers and accommodate a wing glove was identified. Next, a full CFD analysis of the aircraft was performed to determine any adverse effects on the wing flow-field from the aircraft engines. This required an accurate CAD model of the selected aircraft. Proper modeling techniques were needed to represent the effects of the aircraft engine. Once sufficient CFD results were obtained, they were used as guidance for the placement of the glove. The attainable chord Reynolds numbers based on the recommendations for the wing glove placement then determined if the selected aircraft was suitable for the flight-testing.

publication date

  • May 2010