Numerical study on the flow characteristics of micro air vehicle wings at low Reynolds numbers

Tianhang Xiao*, Zhengzhou Li, Shuanghou Deng, Haisong Ang, Xinchun Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


The aerodynamic characteristics around a micro air vehicle wing with an inverse-Zimmerman configuration are numerically investigated by an in-house programmed solver particularly dedicated for aircrafts operating in low Reynolds number regime. The complex three-dimensional aerodynamic performance was investigated in terms of force generation and flow structures visualization. Results show that the flow around the low aspect ratio MAV wing is characterized by complex three-dimensional separation-dominated flow. The flow fields exhibit separation, reattachment, secondary separation, secondary reattachment, and strong interaction between the separated boundary layer and wingtip vortices. In addition, the effect of tip-attached vertical stabilizers on flow structure and aerodynamic forces is addressed in this paper. The stabilizers significantly influence both the flow structure and aerodynamic forces via reducing the strength of wingtip vortices and shedding and interacting of wingtip vortices. Eventually, the unsteadiness of the aerodynamics revealed that higher angle of attack will result in stronger unsteady phenomena as demonstrated by the oscillating forces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-40
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Micro Air Vehicles
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Low aspect ratio
  • Low Reynolds number aerodynamics
  • Micro air vehicle
  • Numerical simulation
  • Wingtip vortex


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