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Characterization of the Effect of Wing Surface Instrumentation on UAV Airfoil PerformanceRecently proposed flight research at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) has prompted study into the aerodynamic effects of modifications made to the surfaces of laminar airfoils. The research is focused on the high-aspect ratio, laminar-flow type wings commonly found on UAVs and other aircraft with a high endurance requirement. A broad range of instrumentation possibilities, such as structural, pressure, and temperature sensing devices may require the alteration of the airfoil outer mold line as part of the installation process. This study attempts to characterize the effect of installing this additiona1 instrumentation on key airfoil performance factors, such as transition location, lift and drag curves, and stall point. In particular, the general case of an airfoil that is channeled in the spanwise direction is considered, and the impact on key performance characteristics is assessed. Particular attention is focused on exploring the limits of channel depth and low-Reynolds number on performance and stall characteristics. To quantify the effect of increased skin friction due to premature transition caused by protruding or recessed instrumentation, two simplified, conservative scenarios are used to consider two potential sources of diaturbance: A) that leading edge alterations would cause linearly expanding areas (triangles) of turbulent flow on both surfaces of the wing upstream of the natural transition point, and B) that a channel or bump on the upper surface would trip turbulent flow across the whole upper surface upstream of the natural transition point. A potentially more important consideration than the skin friction drag increment is the change in overall airfoil performance due to the installation of instrumentation along most of the wingspan. To quantify this effect, 2D CFD simulations of the flow over a representative mid-span airfoil section were conducted in order to assess the change in lift and drag curves for the airfoil in the presence of disturbed flow due to the installed instrumentation. A discussion as to the impact on high-altitude and low-speed operation of this and similar aircraft is provided.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Ratnayake, Nalin A.
(NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Edwards, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 5, 2009
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: 47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit
Location: Orlando, FL
Country: United States
Start Date: January 5, 2009
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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