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Chapter 18

Ground Effect Aerodynamics
Erjie Cui1 and Xin Zhang2
China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, Beijing, China
School of Engineering Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

nearest to the ground for the least possible increase in drag.
1 Introduction 245 A review can be found in Zhang, Toet and Zerihan (2006).
2 Theoretical Explanation 247 The phenomenon has led to the design of dedicated ‘wing-
3 Prediction of Ground Effect 250 in-ground’ craft (WIG) that can operate with greater effi-
ciency than conventional aircraft. Angle of attack (α) and
4 Experimental Methods 252
height above the ground (h) define the WIG geometric con-
5 Ground Effect on Aerodynamic Performance 253 figuration (Figure 1). For ground effect aircraft, the positive
6 Conclusions 255 lift is directed upward and away from the ground. For ground
References 256 effect vehicles, convention defines that the ‘lift’ is gener-
ally directed downward toward the ground and is termed

1.1 Definition 1.2 Historical background: ground effect aircraft

For an aircraft flying close to the earth’s surface, over either
The ‘ground effect’ is the enhanced force performance of a
ground or water, the phenomenon becomes appreciable when
lifting surface in comparison to the freestream result, which is
operating within a distance of one wingspan from the bound-
evident while operating in close proximity to the ground. The
ary. The ground plane alters the flow field around the wing,
study of ground effect aerodynamics of an aircraft is mainly
resulting in a reduction in induced drag and an increase in
concerned with changes to the three-dimensional flow field
lift. It is known that the lift-to-drag ratio (CL /CD ) is generally
introduced by the presence of the ground plane and their
around 3 for helicopters, 8 for hydro-airplanes, and around
consequent impact upon overall performance. A prominent
12 for light aircraft. In contrast, this ratio can be as high as
feature of the aerodynamics is a desirable increase in the lift-
20 or more for WIG flying vehicles if the ground clearance is
to-drag ratio. A review of various types of ground effect air-
less than or equal to one-fifth of the wing chord length. The
craft can be found in Rozhdestvensky (2006) and Cui (1998).
so-called WIG craft exploits this behavior creating a unique
For ground effect race cars, the aerodynamics is concerned
class of high-speed, low-altitude transport vehicles.
mainly with the generation of lower pressures on the surfaces
The ground effect was first investigated seriously around
1920. Wiesesberger (1921) treated the problem with an ex-
tension of the Lanchester–Prandtl theory and utilized the ba-
Encyclopedia of Aerospace Engineering. sic concept of the induced drag of multiplanes. Tsiolkovsky
Edited by Richard Blockley and Wei Shyy (1927) described the ground effect and provided a theoret- 

c 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN: 978-0-470-75440-5 ical solution for air cushion vehicles in his chapter entitled

The most famous being the Soviet ‘Ekranoplan’. a raised horizontal tail-plane (stabilizer). . jet engines. . The study of ground effect aerodynamics for a wing with split or slotted flaps was performed by NACA in 1939. and a fuselage incorporating a hull with for the take-off of WIG vehicles. in the design of his 1928 The effect of an inverted wing placed in close proximity to a ‘compressor’ airplane. Since then.” aircraft.3 Historical background: ground effect race car lift. for example a small aspect built around the world. Schematics of wing-in-ground effect settings. to deliberately fly using ground effect. The introduction of the compound wing concept. The use of Power Augmented Ram (PAR) is important end plates (floats). Stewart Warner. ‘Air Resistance and the Express Train’. The most striking features of these readings are the above the surface of the ocean. In a wind tunnel study. opposite to the cambered only complete the trans-Atlantic crossing when it flew just surface.246 Incompressible Flows and Aerodynamics Figure 1. In the mid-1930s. are directed or ducted. Figure 2 shows a typical ter understanding of this phenomenon has been gradually WIG aircraft flying over water and illustrates some major achieved. . 8’. known as the ‘Aerosedge No. Following the incorporation of the PAR principal by the American. and a bet. (a) Wing of a WIG aircraft. the Finnish great increase of lift . into WIG vehicle design had a significant impact since it was found to maximize the benefits of ground effect. The effort helped to direct the research work of WIG vehicles toward more practical applications. a large characteristics of vehicle configurations incorporating com- quantity of related research has been carried out. . that is. Rapid progress has been made Vehicle Development Center of Chinese Academy of Science & in the numerical and experimental study of aerodynamic Technology Development). The exhaust gases from ‘planing’ surfaces. Since the early 1960s. adopted the concept. many subsequent WIG vehicles also wall was first observed in the 1920s. A WIG aircraft flying over water (courtesy of WIG the ‘Caspian Sea Monster’. practical applications of WIG ve- hicles have been actively researched and developed. Zahm and Bear (1921) observed that: The economic benefits and practical applications of ground effect were observed in 1932 when the German. discovered that his DO-X seaplane could plane ‘above’ the aerofoil. was the first person to design an with proximity of the ground-plane . plex geometry and components. and the considerable increase of drag engineer. “a complete set of readings also were taken with the ground Claude Dornier. An overview of WIG vehicles and their history can be found in Rozhdestvensky (2006). . consisting of a small aspect ratio inboard wing in conjunction with a large aspect ratio outboard wing. or the air displaced by propellers. (b) front wing of a racing car. Toivio Kaairo. Many types of ground effect aircraft have been characteristic design features. also known as Figure 2. so that they pass underneath the wing to en- hance the effect of the air cushion and to create additional 1. ratio main wing.

which they induce. CL the downforce coefficient. Another important ground The ground effect becomes more pronounced the closer effect device. wing and the ground is compressed to form an air cushion. leading to the formation of tire load without incurring any weight penalties that could trailing wing tip vortices. together with a second lower wing ahead of the front wheels. Driving. it is necessary to first ability and control. and a flat bottom was introduced. This additional drag contribution is known as induced the reference area. V∞ the speed. by the ground (see Figure 3b). wing attempts to flow around the wing tip toward the low- chanical downforce of a lightweight vehicle and increase the pressure area above the wing. Furthermore. was introduced in the the wing is to the ground. the induced drag experienced by the aircraft is reduced be- peared on the Chaparral Can-Am car. Ground Effect Aerodynamics 247 Following the Second World War.1 Ground effect aerodynamics of aircraft tor racing culture. the higher-pressure flow beneath the an inverted wing can be used to supplement the low me. the additional drag becomes proportional to the square of the where a is the acceleration. the first downforce-generating wings ap. Aerodynamic downforce provided by the air. m the mass of the car. The skirts were span-dominated (due to the loss of induced drag) and chord- subsequently banned by the sports governing body. therefore reduced leading to a beneficial effect on lift and cated at the back of the car. downforce coefficient is clearly related to wing performance There are two aerodynamic changes associated with the and can be enhanced through ground effect. Both of these effects lead to an increase tionary type 78 racing car. since the lift vector remains perpendicular to 2 the local freestream. enabling a greater capacity for lateral define the aerodynamic forces on a wing. A wing between the tires and the road. dominated (due to the increase of lift). they were initially cause the vertical component of the airflow around the wing mounted out-of-ground effect on struts. flow accelerations beneath the car. and the trailing wing tip vortices are disrupted they made their first appearance on a Formula One vehicle. and µmax the generation. the overall lift generated by the wing reduces. within roughly 1/4 of the wingspan. 2. there is an increase in the drag equal to (1/2)ρ∞ V∞ ACL µmax a = g × µmax + (1) the product of the lift force and the angle through which it is m deflected. The following year. manipulating the Venturi The reduced downwash generated by the wing tip vortices is effect to generate low (negative) pressure. tip is limited. The primary effect of the vortices adversely affect both lateral and longitudinal performance. the growth in popular. Newton’s second law: Consequently. ating additional lift. ground effect is dependent upon many factors (Figure 5) . The vehicle possessed a sculpted in the lift-to-drag ratio (Figure 4). The performance of a wing-in- 1980s. is to create a spanwise distribution of ‘downwash’ that acts The maximum longitudinal acceleration of a race car can to deflect the freestream flow around the wing in a down- be approximated using the simple expression derived from ward direction leading to a reduction in local flow incidence. A lift. underside with side-sealing skirts designed to create rapid In ground effect. since it is a consequence of lift itational acceleration. ground effect: (i) a reduction of induced drag and (ii) the Until 1966. the configuration had evolved to include a wing lo. but in this year. drag or lift-dependent drag. ρ∞ the density. the air flow between the which operated in ground effect. drag. and the magnitudes of these generates lift due to the pressure differences between the pres- frictional forces are proportional to the vertical force applied sure (lower) and suction (upper) surfaces as it moves through through the tire itself. force can be decomposed into two components: lift normal braking. It soon became apparent that competitive advantage lies in the optimization of high-speed maneuver. and cornering forces are created at the contact patch to the freestream and drag parallel to the freestream. behind. This enabled the shown to increase the effective angle of attack and there- car to be ‘sucked’ downward toward the ground at high speed. The two effects are sometimes classified to be further enhancing downforce and traction. the lift curve slope is seen to be enhanced. When an aircraft is flying providing a streamlined design that sought to minimize drag. The vortices and the downwash. The aerodynamic acceleration and consequent turning performance. Figure 3a illustrates a schematic of the wing tip coefficient of friction between the tires and the ground. 2 THEORETICAL EXPLANATION ity of open-wheeled racing on the newly abandoned military airfields saw the beginning of the modern closed-circuit mo. the true potential of ground effect aerodynamics The pressure on the lower surface of the wing is increased cre- was not realized until 1977 when Lotus introduced the revolu. the underbody diffuser. close to the ground surface within a distance of one wingspan. fore the lift. In order to explain the ground effect. Since the deflection itself is a function of the lift. However. At the wing tip. The downwash intensity is By 1970. If the aircraft is flying extremely close to the ground. aerodynamic considerations were limited to presence of an effective air cushion. the FIA. and above the rear wheels. g the grav.

one-third from the undertray and the rear diffuser. For high-lift devices such as Gurney flaps (see Figure 1). shear layer instability. (a) Illustration of the wing tip vortices and induced downwash. rather similar to that in a ‘Venturi’ of ground effect.248 Incompressible Flows and Aerodynamics Figure 3. For aircraft with complex geometries. Venturi-type downforce enhancement mechanisms with glected (Han. chord length. of which one-third comes from the front tween the suction surface (underside) and the ground forms wing. 6. Wall jet. popular within ground effect aerodynamic research to inves- 2. and often have a significant effect on the overall force performance. For a high-speed vehicle such as an open-wheeled race car. and a channel through which the flow initially accelerates. Compressibility effects. end plates. Nega- the remainder from the rear wing. The enhanced aerodynamic response can wing of multi-element configuration. the gap be- weight of the car. When example. tail. The rear wing is placed out tive pressure is produced. flying speed. and 2. the flow around a number of components including the front wings. the maximum lift-to-drag ratio with the best stability and 3. Suspension motion leading to unsteady flow. such as wingspan. 4. diffuser. 1999). angle of attack. the overall downforce can amount to three times the the airfoil is set at a positive angle of attack. Cui and Yu. A number of fluid flow phenomena are evident. The pressure then gradually recovers toward the by the flow exiting the diffuser and so is indirectly in ground trailing edge of the section as the channel passage expands. 7. Separation as a normal fluid flow feature. and rudders cannot be ne- 1. and wheels is subject to the direct influence A typical wing assembly generally consists of an inverted of ground effect. (b) reduction of downwash in ground effect. Turbulent wake and ground boundary layer interaction.2 Ground effect aerodynamics of race cars breakdown. the interac- tion between wing. . 5. It has therefore become reduction in ground height. effect. vortex meandering. These and wing loading factor (aircraft weight per unit area of include: wing). Downforce-enhancing edge vortices attached to the end tigate the configuration by means of optimization that yields plates of wings and diffusers. but its performance is directly influenced type of pipe. fuselage. Illustration of wing tip vortices and induced downwash of a WIG aircraft. control.

the effect of the edge vortices can be stronger and ground height. of trailing edge separation over the surface of the wing. 2003b). . (a) Lift-to-drag (b) lift coefficient of components varying with h/c (c. For a diffuser-in-ground effect. described above still apply. wing chord). The wing then stalls syn- effective angle of attack. leading to a delay in the appearance onymous with the force reduction. The edge vortices lead to addi. the physical mechanisms The force behavior is subject to the influence of many fac. tack on lift-to-drag ratio for a rectangular planform. They also induce an upwash that reduces local maximum downforce is reached. When the end plates are installed. ratio varying with angle of attack. and angle of at- for a WIG aircraft. geometric settings. The force enhancement regime begins at layer separation on the suction surface. The Venturi off and the downforce is lost. ground clearance. in contrast to the ‘wing tip vortices break down due to the strong adverse pressure gra- vortices’ found on aircraft. as the ground height placed very close to the ground. Ground Effect Aerodynamics 249 Figure 4. CL increases in a nonlinear manner. force slow down/maximum. the diffuser. 2003a. wing planform. The presence of these edge vortices is ben. similar to that encountered in diffuser-type flow (Zhang and Zerihan. (a) Lift coefficient varying with angle of attack. the rate of force increase is then reduced until the end plates. dient developing in the channel between the wing and the tional suction near the junctions between the wing and the ground. the edge eficial for force performance. Effect of aspect ratio. and downforce and force reduction regimes due to the boundary force reduction. ated by the edge vortices. effect becomes stronger and the edge vortices strengthen. The edge vortices are formed through separation around the lower exponential response is attributed to the extra suction gener- edge of the plate. The curve (see Figure 6b). Lift coefficient of wing and components in ground effect Figure 5. the supply of air is choked is reduced. The figure also highlights the presence force response curve can be divided into three distinct force of hysteresis in the force response between the maximum regimes: force enhancement. Owing to the narrow span width of tors such as airfoil shape. When the device is about one chord length from the ground. This is illustrated in Figure 6a. At a certain ground height. (b) lift-to-drag ratio of compo- nents varying with aspect ratio. and end plate design. Prominent among them the force regimes are much more clearly defined in the CL vs h is the ground height (h).

is usually highly complex and presents a great challenge when applying direct numerical simulations and analytical methods. two-dimensional models or experimental data with appropriate empirical corrections.2 Analytical methods ground effect aerodynamics. (a) Effect of angle of attack on wing downforce (c. model half-width). 3. the approximate lift coefficient CL for a thin flat-plate airfoil within ground effect was given by Barrow. for example. analytical methods. tail planes. with or without flaps and schemes. . ailerons. and Zhang. Nowadays. Relevant discussions on this topic can be ory are available. and ex. The configuration of aircraft and high-performance cars. involving wings. numerical simulation. operating out of ground effect. Barrow. end plates. Toet and Zerihan (2006). Widnall. the lift-curve slope is 2π. Mangoubi and Curtiss (1995) as CL = (1 + δ2 )(1 − 2ζ) × 2πα (2) where α is the angle of attack and δ and ζ are both nondimen- sional parameters defined as sin α ζ= 4(h/c) cos α δ= (3) 4(h/c) where h is the height of the airfoil above the ground surface and c the chord of the airfoil. where the subscript OGE denotes the out of ground effect (b) diffuser angle effect on downforce. and Richardson (1970) derived another lift coefficient as   √ CL 1 1 1 + 2 ln(π h) = + (4) CL|OGE 2π(h/c) 1 + 2ζ π2 Figure 6. the situ- ation has improved greatly with significant progress being made in aerodynamic theory and computational techniques supported by the availability of more powerful computers. numerous analytical methods based on potential the- perimental testing. For many years. Downforce behavior in ground effect for a racing car. asymptotic approach For two-dimensional airfoils.(d. Rozhdestvensky (2006). 3 PREDICTION OF GROUND EFFECT Methods exist to assess the performance of vehicles utilizing 3.250 Incompressible Flows and Aerodynamics found in Cui (1998). This formula can be used for a wing operating closer to the ground. wing chord). Comprehensive reviews of previous work. performance analysis and designs have had to rely mainly on simplified theories. and con- trol surfaces. On the basis of two-dimensional flow theory. regime.1 Simplified calculation methods for 2D flow It is well known that for a thin flat-plate airfoil. fuselage. these include empirical approx- imations for preliminary estimations.

The asymp. In the vortex lattice method. and the unsteady effects of the wake deformation and Dodbele (1988) used the MAE approach to solve the ground vortex shedding into the wake. c/h. can be found in Cui (1998) and Rozhdestvensky (2006). length). sis. Computational fluid dy- wing. tion. These methods are commonly when solving singularly perturbed differential equations. the circulation around the eters such as dimensionless flight height h/c (c is the chord airfoil or wing. and the wing chord is treated as a much puter modeling is another important tool used widely in smaller parameter for an aircraft with a large aspect ratio ground effect aerodynamic study.3 Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) (Wiesesberger. Plotkin and aircraft. incompressible. for the whole domain can only be obtained by combining The nonpenetration boundary condition on the ground and these two solutions through a matching process. three-dimensional wings with or without end plates as well as Analytical methods have been used to study ground effect the integrated configurations of the vehicle to obtain results aerodynamics successfully. By utilizing boundary layer correc- multiple regions with differing characteristics. geometry). Ground Effect Aerodynamics 251 using analytical methods to study ground effect aerodynam. But for the other domain and vortices. accurate approximation to a problem’s solution. After deter- face at the wing edges. effect aerodynamics problem of flow around a wing with large Simulation methods based on the solutions of Euler or span. Different small perturbation param. 2006). and its solution is approximated by an asymptotic some elementary solutions such as sources. series of perturbation parameters. the airfoil and wing that contains small interior areas. In unsteady ground effect aerodynamic fields. The solution for the 3/4 chord points are used as downwash velocity control the former domain is called the ‘outer solution’. Early analytical treatment of the ground effect problem used Prandtl’s lifting-line theory and image model to satisfy the tangential flow boundary condition on the ground surface 3. 1933). Hiemcke. and consequently the lift. the height from the wing position to the ground has the same order In addition to experimental model tests (see below). particularly 1997. Caution must be exercised when ics. using these approaches to study complex problems. These methods have been utilized to solve the ground effect ters have been used to obtain different forms of expansion for aerodynamic problems of airfoils with flaps or jet-flaps. The governing ground (Tomotika. Since analytical solutions exist with differing accuracies both in and out of the ground effect only for cases with simple geometry and small angles of area. It is well known that the solution of a linear differential equa- One of the domains can be treated as a regular perturbation tion can be represented in terms of a linear combination of problem. potential flows ne- suitable for the investigation of physical problems involving glecting viscous effects. and finite volume method (FVM) have been used to around a wing with flaps and took compressibility effects into study aerodynamic performance of two-dimensional airfoils. and approximation is called the ‘inner solution’. or panels (for three-dimensional geometry) and totic series for these smaller areas can only be obtained by one may place the vortices on each segment or panel. Nagamiya and Takenouti. the different problems. the Kutta condition at the trailing edge must also be satis- in-ground effect aerodynamic problems. sinks. or its reciprocal. been used successfully to study ground effect aerodynam. configuration optimization. For wing. In the Wiesesberger model. This method is a common approach employed to find an vortex lattice methods are widely used (Cui. 1998. Vortices treating each area as a separate perturbation problem. In the analy. and other combinative parame. can be obtained. The solution points where the kinematic flow condition has to be satisfied. com- as the wingspan. the complications associated with three-dimensional ics for two. Rozhdestvensky as the finite element method (FEM). and this are usually placed at the 1/4 chord point of each panel. the whole flow field fied in order for the flows from the upper and lower edges is usually divided into regions above and below the wing sur. nonlinear effects due to large angle of attack or large flap duced the MAE approach to study ground effect aerodynam.and three-dimensional flat wings. they are best applied to preliminary design and ulation methods are mainly used to predict the wake behind . dipoles. panel and ics. 1921). finite difference method (1992) extended the MAE approach to a linear unsteady flow (FDM). account. its solution is inaccurate surface is divided into small segments (for two-dimensional since the perturbation terms are not negligible. to leave the trailing edge in the same direction. these sim- attack. the problem domain may be divided into two subdomains. Among the various existing simulation methods. The theory is limited to large aspect ratio wings with namics techniques have been applied to various problems small angle of attack at a relatively high position above the involving ground effect vehicle simulation. Widnall and Barrows (1970) first intro. the viscous effect and the skin friction can be predicted. In their approach. equations solved range from potential equations to Euler The method of matched asymptotic expansion (MAE) has equations and Navier–Stokes equations of various forms. mining the strength of vortices. angle. Rozhdestvensky. It is used for solving linear. the relative height (flight height/chord Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) equations such length) was considered as a small parameter.

4 EXPERIMENTAL METHODS There are currently no feasible computational methods for either a three-dimensional wing or an integrated config. Statis- tical methods can be used to solve this problem (Cui. is no satisfactory solution for many practical problems under complex sea conditions. Total resistance R of a WIG vehicle flying over calm model to the physical system concerned. water surfaces The aerodynamic characteristics of a vehicle moving over waves are significantly different from those of a vehicle mov. Rozhdestvensky. and Ta the design allowable thrust. In most cases. and the effects of waves on the aerodynamic performance of the wing and vehicle flying over the sea surface. Owing to the limitation of computational resources. 2006). velocity and pressure distributions. There are basically four that the total drag is much higher when waves are present widely used methods to study the ground effect. the employed in studying the ground effect aerodynamics of WIG aircraft design depends on the data obtained through model vehicles. layer formed under the airfoil and the airflow in the narrow gle between the wave and the airfoil motion also has a strong passage between the airfoil and the ground. the airflow induced by this nonlinear phenomenon. can be obtained using the simulation methods.252 Incompressible Flows and Aerodynamics an airfoil. ground effect configurations. as well as the vortex pattern. but also on the wavelength lieved that this is due to the interaction between the boundary and amplitude of the water surface variation. Cui and Yu. and 3. In recent years. the engine. influence on the forces on the airfoil. 1998). which is important for a thorough study of ground effect aerody- namics and the effects of parameter variation. separation and breakdown of vortices can also contribute to Under random wave conditions. There the moving belt method and the towing model method. wind–wave interactions also has an influence on aerodynamic forces besides the direct impact of the wavy boundary. As a direct result. The phase an. 1999. The results show that the forces ity to the ground surface. V the flying speed. linear theory was used based on becomes nonlinear when the airfoil is operating in extreme the assumptions that the fluid is incompressible and all distur. in very close proxim- bances are sufficiently small. where T is the thrust force provided by selection of an appropriate turbulence model. ration (Han. these include compared to that of calm water for a typical vehicle configu. adequate reso. the interference effects of the vortex system. and dynam- ics of the aircraft being studied. lution of the computational domain. Detailed information about the whole flow field. Success of any given CFD method depends on correct application of the simplified flow Figure 7. the ground plate method. In some cases. in particular. the and waving water surface.5 Nonlinear phenomenon in extreme ing over calm water. Model tests (Figure 7) show ing can be found in Hooker (1989). Detailed reviews of wind and water tunnel test- tests in towing water channels. Wind tunnel testing and water tunnel testing are extensively uration of a vehicle flying over waves. the mirror image model method. it is necessary to im- pose restrictions on the geometry. 3. kinematics. that is. Wind . The aerodynamic forces are unsteady near-ground effect region due to surface fluctuations and the random nature of the waves. Many investigations have been undertaken to study Both wind tunnel model tests and numerical simulation re- the sinusoidal wave in two dimensions (see the review by sults reveal that the aerodynamic characteristic of an airfoil Cui. 1998). Further studies are needed to under- stand the effect of wave direction. the unsteady and nonlinear aerodynamic effects when in close proximity to a surface. progress has been made in using large eddy simulation (LES) and detached eddy simulation (DES) to study ground effect aerodynamics. and the specification of correct boundary conditions will determine the accuracy of the solution. Vc the cruise speed. for exam- ple. the lift-to-drag acting on an airfoil depend not only on the angle of attack ratio decreases as the airfoil approaches the ground. It is be- and the height above the surface. In those studies.4 Airfoils and wings over calm and waving the changes under high-lift conditions.

the model is inside the wind tunnel with a virtual mirror plane located in moved through still air on a carriage in an enclosed building. Curtiss et al. Ground effect aerodynamics has been widely used in the A fixed ground plate. inside the water. 4. between. The displacement thickness of the boundary layer al- ters the effective gap between the model and the ground. A thorough . yet direct method. There is no rel- ative movement between the model and the ground plate during tests. steel belt technology has been including particle image velocimetry (PIV). the setup is expensive and so now is rarely used. flow field. have been greatly ad. More recently. suction is tunnel testing of WIG aircraft poses some unique challenges applied in front of the moving belt to form a complete system. Analysis is en. This necessitates the moments and dynamic stability derivatives. etc. recording various physical quantities such as has limitations since it cannot guarantee the satisfaction of forces. laser Doppler developed as an expensive alternative mainly for the race car anemometry (LDA). and surface oil flow visualization. the effect of the partially submerged aircraft system including front and drive rollers to move the belt and (its end plates and hull) can also be tested in this arrangement. Figure 8 shows a sting-mounted WIG wind Figure 9 shows a typical three-roller setup of a moving belt tunnel model. often raised above the tunnel floor. The impact of the boundary layer can be minimized by utilizing a ground plate with boundary layer control (such as suction or blowing) or by including flow corrections. Ground Effect Aerodynamics 253 used to simulate the effect of the ground. Wind tunnel testing of a WIG aircraft (courtesy of WIG The moving belt method is the only physically correct method Vehicle Development Center of Chinese Academy of Science & that simulates the effect of the moving ground. therefore. The planing surfaces and end plates may even be and ensures the physically correct ground flow condition. is research and development of various vehicles. Mea- to the ground since the geometric symmetry forces the normal suring instruments are installed on the carriage and move flow velocity at the mirror plane to be zero. the aerodynamic characteristics of the model are also affected. aerodynamic forces. The virtual mirror plane imposes conditions similar correctly simulating the ground boundary conditions. A Measuring techniques. 4. This method with the model. tension and tracking rollers to assist in a correct alignment. The moving Technology Development). a flat surface so that negative pressure fields generated by test vanced yielding pressure distributions. image models inside the wind tunnel. In practice. employment of a cooling system to remove the heat generated hanced through sophisticated flow visualization techniques during a test run. Furthermore.2 Ground plate with boundary layer suction PERFORMANCE The use of a fixed ground plate is a simple. models will not cause the belt to rise. (1983) used this the correct tangential flow velocity at the virtual plane. In method to study the ground vortex phenomena of a helicopter addition. 5 GROUND EFFECT ON AERODYNAMIC 4. belt is a mechanical device that moves at the same speed as the freestream flow in the wind tunnel.4 Towing model method The mirror image model method uses a pair of mirror image Another approach in the study of ground effect aerodynamics models (the actual model and the dummy model) mounted is the towing model method. designed to evaluate both on and system of suction is also used to suck the belt from below onto off surface flow and model data. moments.1 Mirror image model method 4. A fresh boundary layer forms on the ground plate. industry. since the aircraft operates very close to the ground or water A suction box eliminates the retarded air approaching the belt surfaces. In a towing facility. it is difficult in practice to set up a perfect pair of rotor flying near the ground.3 Moving ground method Figure 8.

This can lead to a loss in control and a potential ground effect area. and any sudden change in flight the Chinese TY-1 that carried 15 passengers (Cui.3 Wing-in-ground effect vehicle an aircraft descends toward the ground during the landing phase and below a distance of one wing chord. configuration namic efficiency and improve the safety of the vehicles in operation. A rotary wing aircraft such as a helicopter is also subject to the influence of ground effect when it hovers at. encountered during the take-off and landing and many other countries have successfully built a number phases of flight. Schematic of a moving ground system. approximately one blade length above the ground surface. 2003). This ground vortex can aircraft required to operate on shortened airstrips. This is thought to be the cause of many aircraft accidents. For this reason. wind and . a ground vortex attack within ground effect conditions.254 Incompressible Flows and Aerodynamics Figure 9. the lifting surfaces experience a larger angle of When a helicopter hovers near the ground. Examples include the Soviet 400 ton Lun consequence. or under.2 Rotary wing of a helicopter in near ground effect aerodynamics can maximize a vehicle’s aerody. the ground effect aerodynamic response must and 140 ton Orlyonok (Rozhdestvensky. results in unsteady flow dynamics. understanding and meticulous implementation of ground 5. pitch attitude. For a heavily loaded may appear in front of the helicopter.1 Aircraft in take-off and landing is essentially an air-cushion effect generated by the rotation of the wing that results in an increase in the lift of the rotor Ground effect aerodynamics has an important impact on the disc. the former Soviet Union (now Russia) with time. hovering in ground effect takes less take-off and landing performance of an aircraft. the reduced In the middle of the twentieth century. It 5. Any excess speed will to develop a new class of highly efficient craft known as WIG make this float effect stronger leading to increased landing vehicles that would experience 30–50% less drag than a nor- distances and potential pitch oscillations due to excessive mal aircraft and could therefore travel further using the same control inputs. many researchers re- level of induced drag causes the aircraft to ‘float’ as the speed alized that the ground effect phenomenon could be exploited of the aircraft refuses to ‘wash-off’. to ‘sink’ and potentially stall if the flight speed is inadequate when the pilot corrects the aircraft pitch. amount of fuel. 2006) as well as be carefully considered. a large change the rotor flow field such that very large moments are angle of attack has to be used. the loss in incidence may cause the aircraft crash. As a of WIG vehicles. unresolved difficulties such as those of economy. The rapid and continuous variation of speed and height Since the 1960s. For a constant power than that required in out of ground effect operation. When it climbs out of the produced. In contrast. when 5. behavior must be recognized and predicted in order to prevent The practical operation of the WIG vehicle still faces some any risk of crash.

the longitudinal and lateral coupling often has to be erly positioned and the criterion (6b) is violated. the WIG vehicle may not operate smoothly. and nondimensional flying height. two aerodynamic centers is directly related to the stability of the vehicle. CM . with Flight simulation and model tests both in water channels and respect to angle of attack. vides a basis for determining the center of gravity location. Xfh . the WIG taken into account leading to a more complicated problem. (Xfα . maintaining a much larger static stabil- ity margin than that of a conventional aircraft should be the primary objective. and the two aerodynamic centers results. and stability and maneuverability both inside and out of the ground effect area. this pe- riod can include both the take-off and cruise configuration as well as the transition between the two phases of flight. Ground Effect Aerodynamics 255 wave resistance capability. II – oscillatory divergence. tack. which means that the following requirements must be satis. 2003). CMh = ∂CM /∂(h/c)).4 Stability of aircraft flying in close proximity to the ground For a WIG vehicle operating at a very low altitude and close to the ground for a significant period of time. Another possible method to enhance lon- CMα < 0 gitudinal stability is to locate the aerodynamic center (Xfh ) CLh < 0 (5) nearer the center of gravity (XT ) and to employ a large hori- zontal tail unit. high-speed trains. h/c. α (CLα = ∂Cl /∂α. derivatives of rectly controlled. h. either rapid pitch up or failure to take-off. If this Figure 10. In order to ensure flight stability both in and out of the fied in agreement with those for a conventional aircraft: ground effect area. sea-worthiness. (CLh = ∂ CL /∂ if the above conditions (5) and (6a) are violated. and high-performance cars. there is another aerodynamic center. CL and pitching moment coefficient. The equation (6a) re- flying very close to the ground. lift coefficient. If the parameters such as Many factors have a strong influence on the stability of angle of attack. These include flying height. unexpected (h/c). and IV – failure to take-off. it is necessary to tory divergence or the vehicle can make ‘off and on’ contact maintain a static stability both in pitch and height directions. where A1 and A2 are known functions of aerodynamic and istence of two distinct aerodynamic centers when a vehicle is structural parameters for the vehicle. will occur. It is . of take-off and transition to cruise. ground effects can have a great influence on the stability of the vehicle. with the water surface as shown in Figure 10. CMα = ∂CM /∂ α) above open water surfaces have shown that during take-off. the instability may have up. 5. Xfα . which varies Another existing problem is longitudinal trim at the stage with the height above the surface. These limitations have formed the major barriers to WIG vehicle development and to their successful entry into the commercial market at the present time (Cui. catastrophic repercussions. which varies with the angle of at. positioned far above the boundary of ground The position of the center of gravity (XT ) with respect to these effect influence. III – off–on surface contact. In the transition process from take-off to cruise In other cases. if the two aerodynamic centers are not prop- state. Xf). Abnormal flight states during take-off: I – rapid pitch problem is not correctly addressed. vehicle can lose its longitudinal stability leading to oscilla- In WIG vehicle design and operation. flap and elevator configuration are not cor- WIG vehicles. Numerous experimental results have revealed the different performances of the WIG vehicle in and out of the ground effect regime and confirmed the ex. Theoretical analysis by Irodov (1970) shows that the following criteria have to be satisfied in order to maintain 6 CONCLUSIONS longitudinal stability Ground effect aerodynamics plays an important role in the Aperiodic stability : Xfh − Xfα < 0 (6a) take-off and landing phases of various aircraft and in the study of the performance of hydroplanes flying close to the sea Oscillatory stability : XT < A1 × Xfh + A2 (6b) surface. Along with the conventional quires that Xfh should be ahead of Xfα and equation (6b) pro- aerodynamic center.

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