CFD/Quasi-Steady Coupled Trim Analysis of Diptera-type Flapping Wing MAV in Steady Flight
Baeder, James D.
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The nuances in flapping wing aerodynamics are not yet fully understood to the extent where concepts can be translated to practical designs. Trimmed flight is a fundamental concept for aircraft in general. It describes the flight condition when there are no accelerations on the vehicle. From an engineering perspective, trim estimation is essential for performance analysis and flapping wing vehicle design. Without an efficient trim algorithm, trial-and-error based identification of the trimmed wing kinematics is computationally expensive for any flight condition, because the large number of simulations required make the process impractical. In a global sense the nature of forces produced by flapping wings closely resemble those on a helicopter blade, such that an analogy can be drawn between the two. Therefore, techniques developed for helicopter performance calculations are adapted and applied to the flapping wing platform particularly for analyzing steady flight. Using a flight dynamic model of the insect, which comes embedded with simplified quasi- steady wing aerodynamics and is coupled to high-fidelity CFD analysis, trim solutions are obtained in realistic time frames. This procedure is analogous to rotorcraft periodic coupling for trim. This multi-fidelity approach, where many quasi-steady calculations are combined with a judicious number of CFD simulations, may be used in parametric sweeps and design studies to improve hover and cruise performance. It was shown that the coupled trim methodology based on the QS model is capable of driving the CFD towards a stable trim solution. In forward flight the trim procedure tilts the stroke plane resulting in lift generation during downstroke and propulsive force during upstroke. The airloads, thrust and power are affected by the trim parameters, and the CFD/QS methodology accurately accounted for these inter-dependencies. Also it is observed that power initially decreases as an insect goes from hover to forward flight. Furthermore, the lift-to-power ratio versus average lift was identified as a principal efficiency metric to assess the performance of flapping-wing vehicles for a given geometry and kinematic parameters.