Aerodynamic design and evaluation of a ducted fan lift system for vertical takeoff and landing flying cars

Hanjie Jiang, Ye Zhou*, Hann Woei Ho

*Corresponding author for this work

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Urban air mobility is a relatively new concept that has been proposed in recent years as a means of transporting passengers and goods in urban areas. It encompasses a diverse range of Vertical TakeOff and Landing (VTOL) vehicles that function more like passenger-carrying drones for on-demand transportation. Among them, the car-like VTOL is advantageous due to its compact configuration, safe rotors, high user affinity, and technological fashion. These characteristics are frequently derived from the flying car’s Ducted Fan Lift System (DFLS). This study aims to develop a method for the rapid design and the evaluation of the aerodynamic performance of the DFLS, to support the preliminary scheme demonstration of the ducted fan flying car. The proposed method uses blade element theory to design the unducted fan and applies momentum theory to calculate the aerodynamic thrust of the DFLS. The DFLS of a 1:3 scale verifier for a flying car scheme was designed and evaluated using the proposed method and a numerical method, respectively. To validate the proposed method, a prototype of the scale DFLS was manufactured and tested, and the result was compared with those of the proposed theoretical method and the numerical method. This study demonstrates that while both the theoretical and numerical methods are capable of designing an unducted fan accurately, the theoretical method is simpler and faster. Compared to the DFLS test results, the theoretical method’s average difference is approximately 1.9%. When evaluating the DFLS, the accuracy of the numerical calculation is reduced, and the difference is greater than 30% at low power. The theoretical method presented in this paper can be used to improve the aerodynamic design and evaluation efficiency of the DFLS and to aid in the configuration evaluation of VTOLs equipped with ducted fans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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  • Ducted fan design
  • flying car
  • numerical calculation
  • urban air mobility
  • vertical takeoff and landing

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