Degree of similitude estimation for sub-scale flight testing

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Sub-scaled Physical Models (SPM) are often employed in wind-tunnel tests or in free-flight tests (physical tests) to predict flight behavior of aircraft Full-scale Design (FD). However, a quality prediction of both the static and dynamic behavior is to date an open challenge. In this research, a methodology for designing SPMs is proposed for those cases where dynamic similarity between SPM and FD cannot be achieved and legacy information to compare subscale flight results to FD is unavailable. Instead of attempting to use just one SPM to achieve complete similarity with full scale design, this methodology enables the design and comparison of multiple SPMs to determine the Sub-scale Design (SD) best suited the estimation of specific aspect the FD flight behavior. To this purpose, a metric called Degree of Similitude (DoS) is defined, to quantify the similarity of FD and SPM based on the aerodynamic coefficients that are relevant for a given test. The DoS estimation first requires the evaluation of relevant aerodynamic coefficients, by means of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). CFD analysis, requires complex geometry generation, adequate grid generation, expensive calculation and laborious post processing. To this purpose, a Knowledge Based Engineering (KBE) tool called Multi-model Generator (MMG) is developed, to automate all the labor intensive tasks in the evaluation of the DoS including the integration of CFD tool. Validation of results produced by MMG-VSAERO tool-chain is performed by means of a wind-tunnel test campaign using a 8.8% aerodynamically scaled SPM of the Cessna Citation II 550 (citation). The results of this test are compared with flight test data of full-scale aircraft (which is co-owned and operated by Delft University of Technology). Furthermore, this SPM was compared with three other Sub-scale Designs (SD) to estimate their DoS with the full-scale aircraft for two different eigenmodes, namely short period mode and phugoid mode. Of the four SDs compared, it was found that the geometrically scaled SD showed highest DoS for short period motion and one of the aerodynamically scaled SD had highest DoS for phugoid motion. From the cases studied, it can already be inferred that geometrically scaled SDs are not always preferred and in many cases, aerodynamically scaled SDs can be much more similar to FD. This case study proved the convenience of the proposed coefficient DoS which, in the next phase of the research, will be used as objective function to design optimum SPMs for a given test.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Scitech 2019 Forum
Subtitle of host publication7-11 January 2019, San Diego, California, USA
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-62410-578-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 7 Jan 201911 Jan 2019


ConferenceAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019
CountryUnited States
CitySan Diego
Internet address


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