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Aeroelasticity concerns the interaction of flexible structures with
the surrounding air flow. Since aircraft structures are particularly flexible due to weight
restrictions, aeroelasticity is commonly addressed by aeronautical engineers. As an
aircraft moves through the air, loads will act on the structure and on the surrounding air,
leading to a perturbation of the flow field, but also causing deformations of the flexible
structure. These deformations change the geometry of the structure, which in turn leads
to a change of the flow field and the aerodynamic loads, resulting in a closed loop of
loads and deformations. This loop can develop in different ways. Under most flight
conditions, the aerodynamic loads and the internal elastic loads in the structure will
converge to some equilibrium, ie. a statically deformed structure in steady air flow.
There are cases, however, where the loop becomes unstable, causing increasing
deformations with or without oscillations, finally leading to structural failure of the
aircraft. Even though the basic physics behind most aeroelastic phenomena were
understood very early, the research on this topic is still very active, aiming at higher
accuracy in the predictions and increased efficiency of the analysis tools.
Aeroelasticity is the branch of physics and engineering that
studies the interactions between the inertial, elastic, and aerodynamic forces that occur
when an elastic body is exposed to a fluid flow. Although historical studies have been
focused on aeronautical applications, recent research has found applications in fields
such as energy harvesting and understanding snoring. The study of aeroelasticity may be
broadly classified into two fields: static aeroelasticity, which deals with the static or
steady response of an elastic body to a fluid flow; and dynamic aeroelasticity, which
deals with the bodys dynamic (typically vibrational) response. Aeroelasticity draws on
the study of fluid mechanics, solid mechanics, structural dynamics and dynamical
systems. The synthesis of aeroelasticity with thermodynamics is known as
aerothermoelasticity, and its synthesis with control theory is known as aero-servoelasticity.

In an aeroplane, two significant static aeroelastic effects may

occur. Divergence is a phenomenon in which the elastic twist of the wing suddenly
becomes theoretically infinite, typically causing the wing to fail spectacularly. Control
reversal is a phenomenon occurring only in wings with ailerons or other control
surfaces, in which these control surfaces reverse their usual functionality. Dynamic
aeroelasticity studies the interactions among aerodynamic, elastic, and inertial forces.
Flutter and Buffeting are common examples of dynamic aeroelasticity.

Fig 1.1 collar triangle

The aeroelastic phenomena considered as problems in current
aircraft industry are similar to those at the very beginning of flight. In general, two
classes can be defined: static and dynamic aeroelastic phenomena. Static aeroelasticity
concerns all phenomena that do not involve oscillations, and that are independent of the
mass properties of the aircraft. All the phenomena can be shown by Venn diagram as
shown in Fig. 1

Fig 2.1 Three Ring Venn diagram

One of these phenomena is static aeroelastic deformation, that

characterizes the case where the air loads and the elastic forces of the structure converge
to an equilibrium of constant structural deformation. This phenomenon is always
present to some extent as the aircraft is subject to air loads. Another well-known
phenomenon in static aeroelasticity is the decrease of control surface efficiency at high
airspeeds. For example, as an aileron is detected downwards, the lift is increased. At the

same time, however, the wing experiences a nose-down moment due to the lift produced
in the trailing edge region. This moment twists the entire wing, causing negative lift. In
fact, depending on wing stiffness and geometry, there is a certain airspeed, called the
reversal speed, where the positive lift of the aileron deflection is compensated by
negative lift due to wing twist, making any control input on the aileron ineffective. At
airspeeds exceeding the reversal speed, the aileron efficiency will have a negative value,
i.e. the airplane rolls in the direction opposite to the pilot input. A problem often
experienced in the early days of aviation was wing divergence.
Divergence characterizes the phenomenon where an initial
deformation of the wing leads to aerodynamic loads that increase the deformation
further, finally leading to failure of the structure. Eventhough the deformation increases
with time, this phenomenon is commonly classified as a static phenomenon, since there
are no oscillations involved, and since it is independent of the mass properties of the
wing. One of the most important dynamic phenomena is flutter. Flutter occurs when the
unsteady aerodynamics cause forces that tend to increase the total energy involved in
the motion of the structure and the surrounding air. In other words, flutter is a fluidstructure interaction with negative damping, leading to oscillations with a magnitude
increasing with time. Virtually all aircraft structures will suffer from flutter at some
airspeed, and this phenomenon is one of the greatest concerns related to aeroelasticity in
the aircraft industry today. The flutter phenomenon can be particularly difficult to
predict due to the complex physics involved. Factors such as control surface free play,
structural imperfections or slight changes in the mass distribution may be enough to
cause flutter.
Other subjects, closely related to the flutter phenomenon, are gust
response and vibration. Especially when aircraft operate in the vicinity of the flutter
speed, the damping of the fluid-structure interaction may be very low, making the
aircraft very sensitive to turbulence in the air. Even though stability may be guaranteed,
the ride quality may not be acceptable and the structure will be subject to larger
deformations leading to higher loads and reduced lifetime due to structural fatigue.

Aeroelastic loads created by lifting surface distortion have been an
important part of aeronautical engineering from the very beginning of controlled,
powered flight. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, Professor Samuel P. Langley
developed an airplane, the Aerodrome, capable of being launched from a houseboat
anchored in the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. This airplane failed on each of
two attempts.
The first failure, on October 7, 1903, ( Fig. 2 ) the disaster was
probably due to a front-wing guy post catching on the catapult launch mechanism. The
failure of the second (and final) Aerodrome flight. For a number of years this failure
was attributed to insufficient wing torsional stiffness that led to structural static
divergence, an instability that leads to excessive torsional deformation of the wing.

Fig. 3.1 Langley Aerodrome Failure, October 7,1903

In 1901 the Wright Brothers used a tethered kite, to demonstrate wing
warping. Wing warping uses controlled,anti-symmetrical bi-plane wing structural
twisting displacement to create aerodynamic rolling moments. The wing warping
concept had been tested by Edson Gallaudet as early as 1898. He did not pursue, publish
or patent this idea. The Wright Brothers obtained a patent for wing warping control,
creating a financial boon for themselves but retarding aeronautical design as a result.
Warping depends on building torsionally flexible wing surfaces easily distorted by the

pilot, but the wings are also easily distorted by the airstream that may produce self
excited, unintended airloads. During the first decade of powered flight, airplane speeds
were low enough and structural stiffness large enough that loads due to aeroelastic
deformation were inconsequential for most airplanes.

There were spectacular

exceptions. Like the Wright Brothers Flyer, the effectiveness of Bleriots wing warping
roll control required relatively low wing torsional stiffness. As engine power and
airspeed increased, low torsional stiffness created aeroelastic problems that led to wing
failures at high speeds.
During World War I a self-excited, vibratory aeroelastic instability,
later called flutter, occurred on the horizontal tail of the British Handley Page O/400 biplane bomber. Flutter is a dynamic, oscillatory structural instability enabled by
interactions between unsteady aerodynamic forces and moments created by vibratory
motion of lifting surfaces and the vehicles to which these surfaces are attached.
Following World War I, engines continued to become more powerful and horsepowerto-weight ratios increased. As airspeeds increased, monoplane designs reappeared, this
time as low drag, semi-monocoque designs. A new type of aeroelastic instability, called
wing-aileron flutter plagued aircraft designs. Just as the wing warping type of control
had led to wing divergence, the new aileron control surfaces led to dynamic aeroelastic
failures. Wing-aileron flutter is a self-excited vibration that occurs when lift generated
by the oscillation of an aileron creates wing bending or torsion deformation. The
oscillation frequency depends on airspeed because the aileron acts like a weathervane;
its rotational stiffness and natural frequency increase as airspeed increases. The aileron
acceleration, as well as the airloads transmitted to the wing, force the wing oscillations
and create interactive coupled vibration.


Among the several aerodynamic problems like divergence, load
distribution, buffeting and many others, flutter and control effectiveness forms the most
severe concern to the aero industry today.

4.1 Flutter
Flutter belongs to a special class of mechanics problems called nonconservative problems.

The flutter mechanism depends on flying at or above an

airspeed and altitude to allow two or more aircraft vibration modes to interact or couple
together. Flutter is categorized into at least five different areas, each with its own
characteristic modes of motion: 1) classical flutter wing bending & torsion; 2) control
surface flutter surface rotation and wing bending; 3) empennage flutter fuselage
torsion and tail torsion; 4) stall flutter wing torsion; 5) body freedom flutter wing
bending and fuselage pitch. Aircraft and missile resonant natural frequencies, depend on
stiffness, mass distribution, airspeed, altitude and Mach number.
Disturbances decay with time at an airspeed corresponding to
point A (Fig.4.1.1) where the resonant natural frequencies are well separated. As
airspeed is increased to point B, an initial disturbance produces (after some transient
motion) harmonic oscillatory motion at a fixed amplitude. An attempt to operate at the
airspeed associated with point C will lead to disaster, since the amplitude of the
response to the initial disturbance grows rapidly with time. The motions associated with
airspeeds at A, B, C are classified as stable, neutrally stable and unstable, respectively.
Flutter is not forced resonant response. The airstream causing flutter is steady and nonoscillatory until the system is disturbed.

In addition, without internal structural

damping, resonance response amplitude grows linearly with time, while the flutter
dynamic response has an exponential increase until the structure is destroyed or some
nonlinear mechanism limits the response amplitude.

Fig.4.1.1 Aircraft Vibration modes couple together to allow airstream energy to be

absorbed by the structure

4.2 Wing flutter and Divergence

The dynamic interaction of airflow with a flight vehicle is
one of the more complex problems to be solved in the aerospace field. Most
aerodynamics deals with flow around rigid objects but, in fact, a flight vehicle is
relatively light and there is always a degree of flexibility that can lead to interesting
modes of motion. Aerodynamic forces applied to a vehicle will not only cause it to
change flight path according to the rules of aircraft performance and flight mechanics
but will also cause flexure of aircraft components relative to each other. These forced
structural modes of motion lead to a class of problems that fall under the heading of

One of the simplest interactions that is found in a fixed wing aircraft is the
flexure of the wing relative to the rigid fuselage. For aircraft with slender straight
cantilever wings two typical modes of motion exist. The first is a bending mode where
the wing tip flexes up and down relative to the fixed wing root. The second is a twisting
mode where the wing rotates about its stiffness axis, which is typically the spar.
Normally there is minimal effect of these two modes on structural
behaviour, with only a slight vibration being seen for each motion. The bending mode
shows up as a relatively low frequency flapping effect while twisting mode is found to
be a much higher frequency vibration. However, with the application of high-speed
airflow as a source of excitation energy, these two modes can produce motions with will
severely distort or break the wing.
The first effect is called divergence. In this case the moment produced
by the air load is greater than the structural torsional stiffness of the wing and thus it
will be twisted off the vehicle. The threshold speed for this type of failure to occur is
called divergence speed and will hopefully be much higher than any normal operating
speeds of the vehicle. Particular problems occur with swept forward wings as these have
a relatively low divergence speed.
The second effect is called flutter. In this case there is a synchronised
interaction between both modes so that energy is absorbed from the airflow in one mode
to increase the amplitude of the other. At this point the frequency of each mode has
converged to the same value so that only one combined mode is possible. The wing will
absorb energy from the airflow and will behave as an ever increasing bending and
torsion flexure until sufficient displacement is reached and the wing breaks. When the
airflow is increased to the critical point to cause this failure, it is called the flutter speed.
Again flutter should only occur at speeds much higher than operating speeds of the
aircraft, but may be induced by inappropriate ratio of wing torsion and bending
stiffness, or by addition of wing mass at points a long way behind the wing spar.
An estimate of the occurrence of these conditions and the interaction of airflow on a
wing can be obtained using a simple 2-degree of freedom (2dof) dynamic model of the

4.3 Control effectiveness

In addition to aeroelastic stability, other aeroelastic response
phenomena plagued aircraft in the 1920s. Control effectiveness is the ability of a
control surface such as an aileron or a rudder to produce aerodynamic forces and
moments to control airplane orientation and maneuver along a flight path.

symmetrical aileron rotation produces rolling acceleration and roll rate. The ability to
create a terminal or steady-state roll rate is the primary measure of aileron effectiveness.

Fig.4.2.1 Control effectiveness declines with increasing airspeed


Consider Fig. 4.2.1 Without wing torsional flexibility, the terminal

roll rate is a linear function of airspeed. Rotating the aileron downward produces an
effective angle of attack to produce lift, but also twists the wing surface nose-down,
reducing the local wing angle of attack and reducing lift that creates the rolling moment.
The size of the nose-down twisting moment and nose-down twist depends upon the: 1)
size of the control surface; 2) amount of aileron deflection; 3) structural stiffness; and,
4) dynamic pressure, q.
The terminal roll rate becomes maximum and then declines rapidly
as airspeed increases. At a special airspeed, called the aileron reversal speed, the
ailerons will not generate a rolling moment even though there is substantial wing
surface distortion and substantial aileron rotation. At speeds above the reversal speed,
the aileron produces a roll rate, but in the opposite direction to that intended. The
aileron is reversed.



In 1935 Dr. Adolph Busemann and his colleagues in Germany proposed
sweeping wings to delay the onset of wave drag due to high speed flow compressibility
near Mach 1.High speed swept wing aircraft designs appeared in Germany late in World
War II. There are three reasons to sweep a wing forward or backward: 1) to improve
longitudinal stability by reducing the distance between the aircraft center of gravity and
the wing aerodynamic center; 2) to provide longitudinal and directional stability for
tailless (flying) wings; 3) to delay transonic drag rise (compressibility). Although not
the first swept wing aircraft, the American B-47 jet bomber, was the first to encounter
and to address high speed swept wing aircraft aeroelastic issues ranging from control
effectiveness to flutter.
Sweptback wing bending displacement reduces wing section angles of
attack, leading to three static aeroelastic problems: 1) flexible sweptback wings are lift
ineffective because wing bending reduces the total wing lift for a given wing angle of
attack; 2) bending deformation moves the wing center of pressure inboard and forward;
and, 3) bending displacement reduces sweptback wing aileron effectiveness as well as
sweptback tail/rudder effectiveness so much that ailerons are often replaced by spoilers.
On the positive side, local angle of attack reduction created by swept wing bending
counters the increased angle of attack created by torsion. This cancellation makes wing
divergence unlikely if wings are swept back more than 10-15 degrees, but more likely if
the wings are swept forward. Sweepback exacerbates control reversal. The incremental
lift created by a downward aileron deflection not only causes detrimental nose-down
twist of an aft swept surface, but also bends the surface upward. Upward bending of a
sweptback wing amplifies the aileron effectiveness problem. As a result, the spanwise
location and sizing of control surfaces on sweptback wings is crucial to the success of
the design. In some cases, the use of ailerons at high speeds is abandoned altogether
and lift spoiler devices used in their place.


High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) aircraft have wings with
high aspect ratios. During operations of these aircraft, the wings can undergo large
defections. These large deflections can change the natural frequencies of the wing
which, in turn, can produce noticeable changes in its aeroelastic behavior. This behavior
can be accounted for only by using a rigorous nonlinear aeroelastic analysis. Results are
obtained from such an analysis for aeroelastic behavior as well as overall fight dynamic
characteristics of a complete aircraft model representative of HALE aircraft. When the
nonlinear fexibility effects are taken into account in the calculation of trim and fight
dynamics characteristics, the predicted aeroelastic behavior of the complete aircraft
turns out to be very different from what it would be without such effects. The overall
fight dynamic characteristics of the aircraft also change due to wing flexibility.
Nonlinear aeroelastic analysis has gathered a lot of momentum in the
last decade due to understanding of nonlinear dynamics as applied to complex systems
and the availability of the required mathematical tools. The studies conducted by
Dugundji and his co-workers are a combination of analysis and experimental validation
of the effects of dynamic stall on aeroelastic instabilities for simple cantilevered
laminated plate-like wings.
ONERA stall model was used for aerodynamic loads. Tang and
Dowell have studied the flutter and forced response of a fexible rotor blade. In this
study, geometrical structural nonlinearity and free-play structural nonlinearity is taken
into consideration. Again, high-angle-of-attack unsteady aerodynamics was modelled
using the ONERA dynamic stall model. Virgin and Dowell have studied the nonlinear
behaviour of airfoils with control surface free-play and investigated the limit-cycle
oscillations and chaotic motion of airfoils. Gilliatt, Strganac and Kurdila have
investigated the nonlinear aeroelastic behavior of an airfoil experimentally and
analytically. A nonlinear support mechanism was constructed and is used to represent
continuous structural nonlinearities.


Aeroelastic characteristics of highly fexible aircraft was

investigated by van Schoor and von Flotow. The complete aircraft was modeled using a
few modes of vibration, including rigid-body modes. Waszak and Schmidt used
Lagrange's equations to derive the nonlinear equations of motion for a fexible aircraft.
Generalized aerodynamic forces are added as closed-form integrals. This form helps in
identifying the effects of various parameters on the aircraft dynamics.Linear aeroelastic
and flight dynamic analysis results for a HALE aircraft are presented by Pendaries. The
results highlight the effect of rigid body modes on wing aeroelastic characteristics and
the effect of wing fexibility on the aircraft flight dynamic characteristics
The present study presents the results obtained using a low-order,
high-fidelity nonlinear aeroelastic analysis. A theoretical basis has been established for a
consistent analysis which takes into account, i) material anisotropy, ii) geometrical
nonlinearities of the structure, iii) unsteady flow behaviour, and iv) dynamic stall. The
formulation and preliminary results for the nonlinear aeroelastic analysis of an aircraft
has been presented in an earlier paper.The present paper is essentially a continuation of
the earlier work and presents more results specific to HALE aircraft. The results
obtained give insight into the effects of the structural geometric nonlinearities on the
trim solution, flutter speed, and flight dynamics.


Historically, aeroelastic problems were first encountered when
airplane design aimed at higher airspeed and lower weight. As a result of this,
aeroelastic problems occurred repeatedly during test flights, and the need for analysis
tools was established since it was both expensive and dangerous to investigate the
aeroelastic behavior of aircraft by flight testing only. In many cases, rules of thumb
were applied due to lack of knowledge. In the 1930s, scientists started to research the
theory behind many aeroelastic phenomena and simple analysis tools were established.
Any analysis was based on the so-called equations of motion relating elastic, inertial,
damping and aerodynamic loads to describe the motion of the system. The theoretical
model made it possible to understand the physics, but it was hard to apply the theory to
real aircraft. To do this, a numerical model of the aircraft structure was coupled with
forces from an aerodynamic model. But due to simplifications in both the structural
model and in the aerodynamics, errors were always present.
Due to the complexity of the unsteady aerodynamics, most
simplifications were made for the aerodynamic forces. One of the simplest models
known as strip theory is still used today. In strip theory, the three-dimensional
aerodynamics are approximated by section-wise two-dimensional flow. This method
yields typically good results for long slender wings. Due to the two-dimensional
aerodynamics, the aerodynamic forces are over predicted, in most cases leading to
conservative results for stability. Aircraft configurations, however, have changed, and
many aircraft wings became shorter with lower aspect ratios and could no longer be
assumed to be slender, making the strip theory too conservative. Also, the structural and
aerodynamic modeling capabilities were improved. In the recent years, entire software
packages were developed for relatively user-friendly modeling and analysis of aircraft
structures. ZAERO, for example, uses an aerodynamic method based on linear unsteady potential flow, with the possibility to model bodies. In modern aviation,
properties of flight control systems are commonly included in the analysis as well, since
the closed-loop nature of such systems can interact with aeroelastic phenomena. This
research area, having the objective of analyzing control systems considering aeroelastic
interactions, is commonly referred to as aero-servo-elasticity (ASE).


Any structure is flexible to some extent, and due to weight restriction,
aircraft structures are particularly flexible. Aeroelasticity is therefore always a concern
in aircraft design. Most importantly, the designed aircraft must not suffer from
aeroelastic instability within the flight envelope. But also, flexibility has to be
considered when optimizing aircraft performance, e.g. in terms of lift-to-drag ratio.
Therefore, any aircraft operating today, where large deformations are apparent in flight,
is most likely designed to feature the most favorable deformation under some specific
flight condition.
For real aircraft to guarantee stability within the flight envelope,
several analyses are required since many different flight conditions (altitudes, velocities,
weights) have to be considered. Thousands of computations for different configurations
are not unusual in the design of transport aircraft, and the result is often that there are
some critical configurations that may lead to instability in a certain velocity and/or
altitude range. Possible means of dealing with such results are either to avoid operation
in this region of the envelope, or to modify the aircraft. Mass balancing or modification
of the structural stiffness are most commonly performed for stabilization. In fact, one of
the reasons for placing the engines of modern transport aircraft upstream of the wing is
flutter suppression.
Despite the large number of investigations using high-fidelity models,
aircraft may still suffer from aeroelastic problems during flight. One reason for that may
be neglected details in the numerical model, and often those problems can be eliminated
afterwards by modifying the structural or aerodynamic properties of the aircraft slightly.
This is however in most cases related to higher aircraft weight or other drawbacks. In
general, it is preferable to analyze and solve the problems in the early design stages,
both for cost and performance reasons.
In the past, aeroelasticity was often seen as a problem that had to be
eliminated when designing aircraft. A recent trend in research, however, is active
aeroelasticity. The objective is to exploit aeroelastic effects for improved performance.


This can be done in several ways. Many active aeroelastic concepts aim primarily at
reducing the structural weight, and compensate for the resulting flexibility increase by
active means. Other concepts aim directly at increasing aircraft performance by means
that would not be possible with stiff structures. A few examples are presented in the
In the US, the Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) research project was
initiated for investigation of a leading-edge control surface on a flexible wing. The
aircraft considered is the F-18 ( Fig.5).The F-18 in its original configuration suffered
from severe problems with low aileron efficiency due to a highly flexible wing
structure. The solution to this problem was a stiffer, but also heavier wing. In the AAW
project, however, the original wing was reused, equipped with a leading edge aileron.
Leading edge ailerons usually are not very efficient when applied to stiff structures.
Applied to flexible structures, however, leading edge ailerons cause aeroelastic twist
that actually increases the aileron efficiency, hence improving maneuverability
especially at high airspeeds. The main advantage of the active concept is a considerably
lighter wing.
Similar research is going on in Europe, where the Active
Aeroelastic Aircraft Structures project focuses on different concepts for improving
aircraft performance by means of active aeroelasticity. Different concepts in the areas of
aerodynamic control surfaces, all-movable control surfaces and active and passive
structures are investigated. The concepts are demonstrated in laboratory or wind tunnel
tests using several demonstrators. The most frequently used demonstrator within the
project is the European Research Aeroelastic Wind Tunnel Model (EuRAM) at the
TsAGI Institute for Aeroelasticity in Moscow. The model is a 1/10 length scale model of
a 57 meters span transport aircraft. Similar to the AAW concept, a wing-tip control
surface was attached to the wing. To increase the efficiency compared to a conventional
leading edge flap, however, the control surface was placed upstream.


Fig 7.1. AAW research aircraft with leading edge flap

Due to the flexibility of the wing structure, the wing tip control
features high roll efficiency especially at high airspeeds. Other studies were performed
where the wing tip device was proven useful for gust load alleviation as well. Active
vibration control on traditional aircraft may not lead to significant improvements in ride
quality. When reducing the wing structural weight, however, the resulting flexibility
increase may lead to more significant vibrations due to higher sensitivity to
aerodynamic gusts and turbulence. Gust load alleviation devices are therefore most
beneficial when reducing weight and stiffness.
Another concept implemented in the EuRAM model was an allmovable vertical tail (AMVT), that was used instead of the conventional tail. The
objective was to use the AMVT in order to reduce the weight compared to a fixed tail
with rudder. Lightweight and therefore flexible vertical tails of conventional type suffer
from efficiency loss at high airspeeds, similar to trailing-edge ailerons. Using a flexible
attachment at a downstream position of the AMVT, the elastic deformation actually
increases the efficiency of the tail, similar to the leading-edge control surface concept.
With increasing flexibility, however, the risk for divergence increases, and it was found
beneficial to use a variable stiffness attachment to obtain reasonable efficiency, without
the risk of divergence, for any airspeed in the envelope.


Aeroelastic tailoring introduces structural bending/torsion elastic

coupling by rotating the laminate fiber direction off-axis of the wing sweep axis. Swept
forward wings with the fibers aligned along the wing swept axis leads to deformation
called wash-in and increased airloads. This reduces the wing divergence airspeed
compared to an unswept wing. Substantial added structural stiffness (and weight) is
required to provide aeroelastic stability.
Orienting laminate fibers slightly off-axis changes bend/twist
displacement coupling. As the wing bends upward it twists in the nose-down direction,
creating wash-out . This reduces the local airloads and increases wing divergence speed
without extra weight. Aero-servo-elasticity uses interactive, active flight control to
modify aeroelastic dynamic response and stability. In the past few decades, aircraft
active flight control has brought flight mechanics much closer to aeroelasticity than it
has been in the past. Until a few decades ago, except in unusual cases, aeroelasticians
isolated lifting surface aeroelastic response from vehicle response. Aeroservoelasticity
began by improving XB-70 supersonic bomber ride quality.

Later active flutter

suppression using actively controlled ailerons was demonstrated on a B-52 test aircraft.


Flow induced vibrations appear in many circumstances in nature and
in different engineering concepts. Trees and flowers move in the wind, and flags flutter.
Wind harps give an enjoyable sound and is an example of "positive" flow induced
effects. Civil engineering structures, such as bridges and tall buildings, are typical
constructions where flow induced vibrations must be taken into account. Flow induced
vibrations are of major concern in the design of modern tube and shell heat exchangers
(the problem is especially critical in nuclear steam generators that often are designed to
last 30 years or more). Fluid flow through a flexible pipe, submarine periscopes, oil pipe
lines, television antennas and telephone wires often encounter vibration troubles of
aeroelastic origin.

Fig.8.1 Failure of Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940


Sluices for the regulation of water flows in rivers and dams vibrate
under some circumstances, and blades in hydraulic and thermal turbomachines (both
axial and centrifugal flow machines) are subject to large time-dependent variations in
the oncoming flow. Vibrations of measurement instruments or their supports, such as
long tubes holding neutron flux and temperature sensors in nuclear power plants reactor
cores, are of concern.

Among other examples of structures where flow induced

vibrations are of importance, harbor and marine piles, offshore drilling and production
platforms, smoke stacks and chimneys, missiles on launch pads, heat shields in
afterburners of jet engines, propellers of aircraft and rotor blades of helicopters, can be
mentioned. In other cases unsteady flow effects and induced vibrations lead to high
noise levels, which can today be of major environmental concern.
From the above it is clear that flow induced vibrations can appear
in any sort of fluid (such as, for example, air, water, oil), but also in mixtures such as,
for example, two- phase flows.



Today, the significance of aeroelasticity is well understood, and
modern aircraft design incorporates analysis of aeroelastic stability and performance.
There is however a gap between the state-of-the-art in research and the actual
application in industry. Potential improvements of aircraft structures have been shown
in research for example within the area of active aeroelasticity. Most of the promising
concepts, however, have only been implemented on wind tunnel models or in laboratory
tests. The task is now to evaluate the feasibility of the promising concepts for
application in real aircraft. Scaling possibilities of actuators and materials have to be
considered, as well as energy consumption, reliability, and other details that often
remain unaddressed in research projects.
Researches shown that only very few control surfaces are needed
to obtain a significant improvement in performance. For real aircraft applications, this
could indicate that the same methodology may lead to improvements by using already
available flaps and ailerons without the need of extra control surfaces. Implementation
studies for the tab on real aircraft could be performed, as well as further investigation of
possible applications. Application of aeroelastic concepts in real aircraft is benefited by
available tools for the industry to perform efficient analysis. Developed methods have to
be either easy to apply, or they have to be made available in user-friendly software
Potential of applying robust tools in flutter analysis of uncertain
analysis models. The described approach is based on an existing aeroelastic model, and
besides the uncertainty description, no additional modeling has to be performed. This
feature makes robust flutter analysis simple to apply on existing models. A wind tunnel
model with fairly simple uncertainties was considered for validation of the approach.
The applicability to real aircraft with more realistic uncertainties will be investigated in
the future.


This thesis summarizes investigations performed within design,
analysis and experimental evaluation of flexible aircraft structures. Not only the
problems, but rather the opportunities related to aeroelasticity are discussed.
Aeroelasticity concerns the interaction of flexible structures with the surrounding
airflow. The two classifications, say, static and dynamic aeroelasticity causes instability
to the various flight conditions and even the structural failure. Aeroelastic effects were
affected since the time of invention of aerodrome by Prof. Samuel P Langley. Several
analysis tools and numerical models coupled with forces from aerodynamic model also
introduced. Later Strip theory introduced which could provide changes to many aircraft
configurations. Thus, aircraft designing begins to incorporate the aerodynamic effects.
Many researches shows several remedial measures to aeroelastic problems like
restricted weight of wing, modifications of structural and aerodynamic properties, study
on active aeroelasticity and many others. Even though the basic physics behind most
aeroelastic phenomena were understood very early, scaling possibilities of actuators and
materials have to be considered, as well as energy consumption, reliability, and other
details that often remain unaddressed in research projects. And several researches on
this topic is still very active, aiming at higher accuracy in the predictions and increased
efficiency of the analysis tools.


D.H. Hodges and G.A. Pierce, Introduction to Structural Dynamics and
Aeroelasticity , Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN: 0521806984.

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