Unsteady flow behaviour of multi-rotors in ground proximity

Hasse N.J. Dekker*, Woutijn J. Baars, Fulvio Scarano, Marthijn Tuinstra, Daniele Ragni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The unsteady flow behaviour of two side-by-side rotors in ground proximity is experimentally investigated. The rotors induce a velocity distribution interacting with the ground causing the radial expansion of the rotor wakes. In between the rotors, an interaction of the two wakes takes place, resulting in an upward flow similar to a fountain. Two types of flow topologies are examined and correspond to two different stand-off heights between the rotors and the ground: the first one where the height of the fountain remains below the rotor disks, and a second one where it emerges above, being re-ingested. The fountain unsteadiness is shown to increase when re-ingestion takes place, determining a location switch from one rotor disk to the other, multiple times during acquisition. Consequently, variable inflow conditions are imposed on each of the two rotors. The fountain dynamics is observed at a frequency that is about two orders of magnitude lower than the blade passing frequency. The dominant characteristic time scale is linked to the flow recirculation path, relating this to system parameters of thrust and ground stand-off height. The flow field is analysed using proper orthogonal decomposition, in which coupled modes are identified. Results from the modal analysis are used to formulate a simple dynamic flow model of the re-ingestion switching cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2300021
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Aerodynamics
  • Experimental aerodynamics
  • Ground proximity
  • Multi-rotor
  • Unsteady fountain flow


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