Non-linear aeroelastic prediction for aircraft applications

M. J. de C. Henshaw*, K. J. Badcock, G. A. Vio, C. B. Allen, J. Chamberlain, I. Kaynes, G. Dimitriadis, J. E. Cooper, M. A. Woodgate, A. M. Rampurawala, Dorian P Jones, C. Fenwick, A. L. Gaitonde, N. V. Taylor, D. S. Amor, T. A. Eccles, C. J. Denley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Current industrial practice for the prediction and analysis of flutter relies heavily on linear methods and this has led to overly conservative design and envelope restrictions for aircraft. Although the methods have served the industry well, it is clear that for a number of reasons the inclusion of non-linearity in the mathematical and computational aeroelastic prediction tools is highly desirable. The increase in available and affordable computational resources, together with major advances in algorithms, mean that non-linear aeroelastic tools are now viable within the aircraft design and qualification environment. The Partnership for Unsteady Methods in Aerodynamics (PUMA) Defence and Aerospace Research Partnership (DARP) was sponsored in 2002 to conduct research into non-linear aeroelastic prediction methods and an academic, industry, and government consortium collaborated to address the following objectives: (1)To develop useable methodologies to model and predict non-linear aeroelastic behaviour of complete aircraft.(2)To evaluate the methodologies on real aircraft problems.(3)To investigate the effect of non-linearities on aeroelastic behaviour and to determine which have the greatest effect on the flutter qualification process.These aims have been very effectively met during the course of the programme and the research outputs include: (a)New methods available to industry for use in the flutter prediction process, together with the appropriate coaching of industry engineers.(b)Interesting results in both linear and non-linear aeroelastics, with comprehensive comparison of methods and approaches for challenging problems.(c)Additional embryonic techniques that, with further research, will further improve aeroelastics capability.This paper describes the methods that have been developed and how they are deployable within the industrial environment. We present a thorough review of the PUMA aeroelastics programme together with a comprehensive review of the relevant research in this domain. This is set within the context of a generic industrial process and the requirements of UK and US aeroelastic qualification. A range of test cases, from simple small DOF cases to full aircraft, have been used to evaluate and validate the non-linear methods developed and to make comparison with the linear methods in everyday use. These have focused mainly on aerodynamic non-linearity, although some results for structural non-linearity are also presented. The challenges associated with time domain (coupled computational fluid dynamics-computational structural model (CFD-CSM)) methods have been addressed through the development of grid movement, fluid-structure coupling, and control surface movement technologies. Conclusions regarding the accuracy and computational cost of these are presented. The computational cost of time-domain methods, despite substantial improvements in efficiency, remains high. However, significant advances have been made in reduced order methods, that allow non-linear behaviour to be modelled, but at a cost comparable with that of the regular linear methods. Of particular note is a method based on Hopf bifurcation that has reached an appropriate maturity for deployment on real aircraft configurations, though only limited results are presented herein. Results are also presented for dynamically linearised CFD approaches that hold out the possibility of non-linear results at a fraction of the cost of time coupled CFD-CSM methods. Local linearisation approaches (higher order harmonic balance and continuation method) are also presented; these have the advantage that no prior assumption of the nature of the aeroelastic instability is required, but currently these methods are limited to low DOF problems and it is thought that these will not reach a level of maturity appropriate to real aircraft problems for some years to come. Nevertheless, guidance on the most likely approaches has been derived and this forms the basis for ongoing research. It is important to recognise that the aeroelastic design and qualification requires a variety of methods applicable at different stages of the process. The methods reported herein are mapped to the process, so that their applicability and complementarity may be understood. Overall, the programme has provided a suite of methods that allow realistic consideration of non-linearity in the aeroelastic design and qualification of aircraft. Deployment of these methods is underway in the industrial environment, but full realisation of the benefit of these approaches will require appropriate engagement with the standards community so that safety standards may take proper account of the inclusion of non-linearity. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Translated title of the contributionNon-linear aeroelastic prediction for aircraft applications
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-137
Number of pages73
JournalProgress in Aerospace Sciences
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier


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