An Assessment of the CFD Effectiveness for Simulating Wing Propeller Aerodynamics

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Virginia Tech


Today, we see a renewed interest in aircraft with multiple propellers. To support conceptual design of these vehicles, one of the major needs is a fast and accurate method for estimating wing aerodynamic characteristics in the presence of multiple propellers. For the method to be effective, it must be easy to use, have rapid turnaround time and should be able to capture major wing–propeller interaction effects with sufficient accuracy. This research is primarily motivated by the need to assess the effectiveness of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for simulating aerodynamic characteristics of wings with multiple propellers.

The scope of the present research is limited to investigating the interaction between a single tractor propeller and a wing. This research aims to compare computational results from a Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) method, StarCCM+, and a vortex lattice method (VLM), VSP Aero.

Two configurations that are analysed are 1) WIPP Configuration (Workshop for Integrated Propeller Prediction) 2) APROPOS Configuration. For WIPP, computational results are compared with measured lift and drag data for several angles of attack and Mach numbers. StarCCM+ results of wake flow field are compared with WIPP's wake survey data. For APROPOS, computed data for lift-to-drag ratio of the wing are compared with test data for multiple vertical and spanwise locations of the propeller. The results of the simulations are used to assess the effectiveness of the two CFD methods used in this research.



Multiple Propellers, Hybrid-Electric Aircraft, Prop-Wing Aerodynamics, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)