Anti-Phase Noise Suppression Rotor Technologies
Rotor noise and vibration are two sources of operational challenges for all aircraft operating with open rotors such as helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), urban air mobility personal air vehicles, drones, and aircraft operating with ducted fans such as passenger aircraft. One disadvantage of convention rotor design is the noise due to noise-induced shed vortices generated by rotor blades. The unique problem with rotor noise and vibration is the periodic blade passage that causes a harmonic reinforcement and causes the rotor blades to vibrate and generate noise sources. This technology from NASA Ames seeks to optimize the implementation of anti-phase trailing edge designs and asymmetric blade tip treatments for rotor noise suppression and integrated aircraft noise solutions by incorporating the anti-phase rotor design concepts into an aircraft flight control system to reduce noise footprint. There are several embodiments of the invention, which include the following: (1) an anti-phase trailing edge design whereby the trailing edge pattern of the leading rotor blade is offset by a phase shift from the trailing edge pattern of the following blade; (2) an anti-phase rotor design implementing asymmetric blade tips with inverted airfoil; and (3) other anti-phase enabled concepts such as unequal blade length, ducted rotors with non-radial unequally spaced struts, and multi-axis tilt rotor design incorporating the anti-phase rotor design.
Methods for Predicting Transonic Flutter Using Simple Data Models
Transonic flutter is a pacing item in transport aircraft design in that it is crucial to characterize this phenomenon for each aircraft to prevent catastrophic failure. Aerodynamic study of flows around airfoils is a canonical problem that entails both experimental and computational approaches. While the transonic flutter prediction can be more accurate with high-fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) methods than with unsteady potential flow methods, the computational cost is high. Therefore, computationally efficient methods for transonic flutter prediction continue to be of high interest to the aircraft design community. NASA Ames has developed a novel method that eliminates the need for expensive calculations of aerodynamics of wing flutter, which typically takes tens of hours on a supercomputer. Such calculations are now replaced by machine-learning-based closed form solutions that provide the solution almost instantaneously. The technology presents a new approach to predict the flow around pitching NACA00 series airfoils. NACA airfoils are generally symmetric, and thus they do not possess camber. However, the invention can readily extend to wings with camber. This novel data modeling approach is orders of magnitude faster than the traditional CFD approach of predicting aerodynamic effects of transonic pitching airfoils. The data model is based on a subset of unsteady CFD simulations that train the model. The trained model then resolves the pitching airfoil in time for any other set on the order of a second, as compared with a complete CFD simulation that typically takes 30 hours on a supercomputer. The data model is demonstrated in this invention for transonic flow corresponding to Mach number of 0.755 over pitching NACA00 series airfoils for a reduced frequency range typical of flutter, i.e., k lies in the range 0.02 - 0.25.
Mechanical and Fluid Systems
Improving VTOL Proprotor Stability
Proprotors on tiltrotor aircraft have complex aeroelastic properties, experiencing torsion, bending, and chord movement vibrational modes, in addition to whirl flutter dynamic instabilities. These dynamics can be stabilized by high-frequency swashplate adjustments to alter the incidence angle between the swashplate and the rotor shaft (cyclic control) and blade pitch (collective control). To make these high-speed adjustments while minimizing control inputs, generalized predictive control (GPC) algorithms predict future outputs based on previous system behavior. However, these algorithms are limited by the fact that tiltrotor systems can substantially change in orientation and airspeed during a normal flight regime, breaking system continuity for predictive modeling. NASA’s Advanced GPC (AGPC) is a self-adaptive algorithm that overcomes these limitations by identifying system changes and adapting its predictive behavior as flight conditions change. If system vibration conditions deteriorate below a set threshold for a set time interval, the AGPC will incrementally update its model parameters to improve damping response. AGPC has shown significant performance enhancements over conventional GPC algorithms in comparative simulations based on an analytical model of NASA’s TiltRotor Aeroelastic Stability Testbed (TRAST). Research for Hardware-In-the-Loop testing and flight vehicle deployment is ongoing, and hover data show improved vibration reduction and stability performance using AGPC over other methods. The example presented here is an application to tiltrotor aircraft for envelope expansion and vibration reduction. However, AGPC can be employed on many dynamic systems.
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