Aerodynamic Analysis and Simulation of a Twin-Tail Tilt-Duct Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

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The tilt-duct vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) concept has been around since the early 1960s; however, to date the design has never passed the research and development phase. Nearly 50 years later, American Dynamics Flight Systems (ADFS) is developing the AD-150, a 2,250lb weight class unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) configured with rotating ducts on each wingtip. Unlike its predecessor, the Doak VZ-4, the AD-150 features a V tail and wing sweep- both of which affect the aerodynamic behavior of the aircraft. Because no aircraft of this type has been built and tested, vital aerodynamic research was conducted on the bare airframe behavior (without wingtip ducts). Two weeks of static and dynamic test were performed on a 3/10th scale model at the University of Maryland's 7'x10' low speed wind tunnel to facilitate the construction of a nonlinear flight simulator. A total of 70 dynamic tests were performed to obtain damping parameter estimates using the ordinary least squares methodology. Validation, based on agreement between static and dynamic estimates of the pitch and yaw stiffness terms, showed an average percent error of 14.0% and 39.6%, respectively. These inconsistencies were attributed to: large dynamic displacements not encountered during static testing, regressor collinearity, and, while not conclusively proven, dierences in static and dynamic boundary layer development. Overall, the damping estimates were consistent and repeatable, with low scatter over a 95% confidence interval. Finally, a basic open loop simulation was executed to demonstrate the instability of the aircraft. As a result, it is recommended that future work be performed to determine trim points and linear models for controls development.