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Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

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Aerospace Science and Technology


Aerodynamic technologies to improve aircraft performance

A. Abbas a , J. de Vicente b , E. Valero b,∗
Airbus Spain, Paseo John Lennon, Getafe, Madrid, Spain
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, School of Aeronautics, Plaza Cardenal Cisneros, 3, Madrid, Spain

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: An Air Transport System has become an indispensable part of Europe’s economic infrastructure. The Com-
Received 31 July 2012 mercial Aeronautics Sector is well aware that it has to find an acceptable balance between the constant
Received in revised form 11 October 2012 fierce competitive pressures upon it and the public’s expectations of cheaper fares but reduced environ-
Accepted 24 October 2012
mental impact including community noise around airports and global warming. In order to achieve such
Available online 30 October 2012
a balance in the future, a strategy is required for competitive excellence dedicated to meeting society’s
Keywords: needs.
Aerodynamic efficiency The realization of this vision cannot be achieved without significant technology breakthroughs in the
Flow control area of aerodynamics and other disciplines such as materials and structures. Improved aerodynamic de-
Drag reduction signs and the introduction of new aerodynamic technologies should play not only a key role in improving
Innovative configurations aircraft performance but, also, contribute strongly to product cost and operability. Substantial R&T explo-
Flow separation technologies ration and development require to be conducted in order to provide the required technologies.
In this work, a review of those technologies which show a potential to deliver breakthrough improve-
ments in the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft is shown. The focus of this report is on new aircraft
configurations to reduce induced drag and noise, laminar and turbulent drag reduction technologies and
flow control devices, which aims to improve the performance of the airplane under separated flow con-
ditions of unsteady nature, and to reduce the complex high-lift devices. Most of these works have been
exposed in previous KATnet conferences (Key Aerodynamic Technologies for Aircraft Performance Im-
provement), although a general overview of the current status of these technologies is included.
© 2012 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
2. Aircraft configuration technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
2.1. Blended wing body (BWB) and boundary layer ingestion (BLI) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
2.2. High aspect ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
2.3. Engine concept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
2.4. Forward swept wings (FSW) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
3. Drag reduction technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
3.1. Drag reduction by extended laminar flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
3.1.1. Laminar flow technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
3.1.2. Laminar flow on nacelles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
3.1.3. Hybrid laminar flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
3.1.4. Alternative laminar flow technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
3.2. Turbulent skin friction reduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
4. Separation control technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
4.1. Passive flow control devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
4.2. Active flow control devices (AFC) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
4.2.1. Blowing method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
4.2.2. Vortex generator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
4.3. Other applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
5. System and certification issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
5.1. Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
5.2. Performance and flight handling characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
5.3. Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
5.4. Industrial issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

1270-9638/$ – see front matter © 2012 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 101

6. Implications to aerodynamic tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128

6.1. Computational fluid dynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
6.2. Wind tunnel testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
7. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130

ing a communication platform for all aircraft disciplines concerned

directly or indirectly with aircraft performance improvement.
Within KATnet, the original environmental objectives were
translated into 10 different aerodynamic objectives (Table 1) which
were supported by sixteen design concepts (Table 2).
The necessary technology developments to fulfill these design
concepts requires considerable changes in new aircraft configura-
tions; research in cruise drag; and flow control.

• New aircraft configurations.

Preliminary design studies of New or Non-Conventional config-
urations have shown that a step change in cruise L/D and noise
Fig. 1. Presentation of FUSIM project (Sept. 2008, Flight Physics, AIRBUS).
are possible but that step is only about half that required.
Therefore, it will be necessary to investigate new technolo-
1. Introduction gies which could be applied to such configurations and which
might deliver the additional improvements in performance re-
The European society’s increasing environmental awareness has quired to meet the target.
been present always in the aeronautical community; industry; and • Cruise drag.
research centers. This has had a definite influence in the way they To deliver the required step change in cruise drag, the focus of
foresee the aircraft of the future. In this regard, the ACARE Vision future research and development efforts must be on technolo-
for 2020, a Group of Renowned Personalities in the aeronautical gies aimed at delaying laminar to turbulent boundary layer
field, formulated a clear set of requirements for civil transport transition and at manipulating turbulent flow structures close
aircraft operation so that the following specific goals could be to the aircraft surface. The timescales involved in maturing
achieved: these technologies, particularly the ability to manipulate tur-
bulent flow structures, are extremely aggressive and carry a
• A five-fold reduction in accidents. high risk.
• Halving perceived aircraft noise. • Flow control.
• A 50% cut in CO2 emissions per passenger-km. Flow control technology describes a variety of techniques by
• An 80% cut in NOx emissions. which aerodynamic performance can be enhanced to levels
beyond those which can achieved by changes to the exter-
• An air traffic system capable of handling 16 million flights a
nal shape alone. The change in aerodynamic performance may
take the form of enhanced lift; reduced drag; controlled un-
• 99% of all flights within 15 minutes of timetable.
steadiness; and reduced noise or delayed transition. Alterna-
tively, benefits for the same levels of performance may be
Although undoubtedly important, an additional secondary ob-
accrued through reduced system complexity; less weight; less
jective is the reduction of the enormous dependence of the fuel
maintenance or reduced life cycle costs.
prices in the final DOC (Direct Operating Cost) of a typical long
In addition to the work on flow control technologies, work on
range aircraft. To give an idea, a Brent Crude price rise from 1.5
reducing aircraft weight including high lift and other control
to 4 dollars per gallon supposes a 53% increase in the DOC’s fuel
surfaces is of prime importance since this has a direct ef-
price. fect on fuel burn through reducing overall aircraft weight. This
Most of these goals have a direct impact on the aircraft’s aero- means that technologies to control separation must be devel-
dynamic performance, mainly on aerodynamic technologies for a oped also.
more effective, environmentally friendly air transport system. The
aeronautical industry is aware that these objectives can not be Besides the environmental goals, other major objectives are the
achieved only with improvements in the current “standards” con- reduction of lead time and the provision of robust solutions with
figurations (Fig. 1). A step change in performance is necessary, improved quality. In that context, it is important to exploit any op-
and this must be accomplished through new breakthrough aero- portunity provided by enhanced or new classes of tools such as
dynamic technologies. e.g. high fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and power-
In this context and financed by the European Commission, the ful High Performance Computing (HPC) capabilities. Also, improved
European Coordination Action KATnet I and II (Key Aerodynamic wind tunnel technology provided by new measurement techniques
Technologies for Aircraft Performance Improvement) were con- (e.g. Pressure Sensitive Paint) or model material and manufactur-
ceived. KATnet’s main objective was to support the ACARE’s global ing processes must be exploited.
strategic approach. This was achieved by the development of a KATnet has served as a forum to expose the technology ad-
common RTD strategy in certain technology areas, and by provid- vances of both industry and academia in the above mentioned
areas. A series of conferences and workshop were organized with
great success. These conferences exposed the most recent advances
* Corresponding author. of the main aeronautic stakeholders and showed the industry’s
E-mail address: (E. Valero). growing interest in these topics. This review aims to describe the
102 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Table 1
Aerodynamic objectives.
Reduce emissions Reduce drag Reduce vortex drag
Reduce wave drag

Environmental goals
Reduce friction drag
Reduce pressure drag
Reduce weight Reduce critical loads
Reduce community noise Increase structural efficiency
Reduce source noise Reduce airframe source noise contribution
Reduce engine noise contribution
Increase airport capacity Increase landing & take-off rates Reduce separation distances
Improve affordability Reduce airframe cost Reduce complexity

Table 2
Design concepts.

Engine exhaust control & trust vector control

Management/elimination of unsteady flow
More effective (smaller) high lift devices
More effective (smaller) control surfaces
More effective gust and maneuver
Turbulent skin friction drag reduction

for given aircraft control requirement

separations + turbulent source noise

Unsteady loads control (i.e. flutter

Reduced wake vortex signature for

Simplified high lift system for given

Unsteady flow separation and

for given low speed requirement

given low speed requirement

More highly loaded sections

LCO and buffet onset delay)

Laminar flow promotion

low speed requirement

load alleviation control
High aspect ratio wing

turbulent noise source

Engine noise shielding

Direct shock control
Adaptive sections

Reduce vortex drag X

Reduce wave drag X X
Reduce friction drag X X
Reduce pressure drag X
Reduce critical loads X X X X
Increase structural efficiency X X X X
Reduce airframe source noise X X
Reduce engine noise X X X X
Reduce separation distances X X
Reduce complexity X

main conclusions and works presented in these series of confer- the other hand, there are large geometrical modifications over clas-
ences. However, the paper tries not to be limited to KATnet and, sical aircraft configuration or other innovative configurations which
in taking advantage of this forum, it will give a general overview are aimed at improving aircraft performances substantially by re-
of the recent developments in these technologies. In any case, this ducing drag and/or weight. This section is dedicated mainly to this
paper does not aim to describe separately each of these technolo- point.
gies in detail. Outstanding reviews can already be found in the Different lines of action can be addressed.
literature [24,38,91,98] and, although it is always possible to up-
date those works (some of them are more than 10 years old), a 2.1. Blended wing body (BWB) and boundary layer ingestion (BLI)
detailed and throughout description of all those technologies illus-
trated in KATnet is beyond the objectives and the extension of this In 1994, NASA sponsored one of the first attempts to study
work. Also, the authors wish to point out that this review is bi- the feasibility of BWB configurations (Fig. 2). Liebeck’s prelimi-
ased unavoidably in favor of KATnet activities. As such, we may nary results [63,64], showed potential savings in: fuel burn (27%);
have omitted unintentionally important studies pertaining to flow takeoff weight (15%); operating empty weight (12%); total thrust
control technologies. It is important, also, to highlight the difficulty (27%); and a higher lift/drag (20%). The study was performed in
associated with this task. Most of these works were presented only a 800 passenger BWB for a 7000 miles design range compared to
in series of KATnet conferences and internal reports, and we found a conventional aircraft. Despite these promising results, an impor-
no further publications in journals or international conferences. tant number of drawbacks had to be solved in order to make this
Whenever possible, we included the reference to a journal paper aircraft technically viable. A new field of study, related to fuselage-
or conference proceedings but, many times, the work which is ex- wing integration, is identified: structural integration; aerodynamic
posed here, is unpublished. stability; the elimination of the conventional empennage; and the
presence of a non-circular fuselage etc.
2. Aircraft configuration technologies Additionally, the engines in the considered configuration are
mounted near the trailing edge on the upper surface of the wing.
This general topic comprises of two main different strategies. Initially, aircraft designers used pylon-mounted nacelles to avoid
On the one hand, there are small modifications in the geometry problems of surface integration and inlet flow distortion resulting
which produce substantial improvements in drag reduction (fric- from ingesting the incoming boundary layer. However, recent stud-
tion and wave) and reduce detached areas. Small flow control de- ies indicate that boundary layer ingestion (BLI) offers additional
vices as synthetic jets or vortex generators belong to this category. benefits including reduced ram drag, lower structural weight and
These technologies will be described with detail in Section 4. On less wetted area than a pylon mounted configuration. Because of
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 103

Fig. 2. Blended wind body configuration from [64].

that boundary layer ingestion, nacelles started to attract the scien-

tific community’s attention [91].
Boundary layer ingestion means taking the fuselage boundary
layer flow through the engines for the purpose of improving fuel
efficiency. The idea comes from re-energizing the aircraft wake
which enables less kinetic energy to be wasted. Comparing the sit-
uation with a typical podded engine, it can be proved that, for a
given thrust force, less power needs to be added to a flow entering
the engine with a lower velocity. Consequently, due to bound-
ary layer ingestion, the lower inlet velocity means that the same
propulsive force can be achieved with less power. However, the
gain is not without drawbacks, the incoming flow to the engines is
highly non-uniform and produces loss of performance, additional
stress and fatigue to the blades. Moreover, the aerodynamic block-
age, associated with the fuselage boundary layer, is much larger
than that due to the duct boundary layer. Therefore, it has a major
role in the achievable flow rate and the increase in fan pressure for Fig. 3. Example of total drag breakdown (2002 standard).
a given thrust. The non-uniformity affects, also, the nozzle exit mo-
mentum flux, and the degree to which this occurs in much larger
the Boeing’s BWB-450-1L model. These focused on the determi-
than typically associated with civil engines. This effect can be alle-
nation of the effectiveness of the trailing edge devices (elevons,
viated by careful design of the input S-duct to the compressor and
drag rudder and winglet rudders), tested at various angles of
the use of active or passive flow devices which energize the input
attack; sideslip angles; and Mach numbers. The computational
boundary layer in order to avoid detached flow and flow distortion
work focused on particular cruise condition of Mach = 0.85 and
Re = 75 millions. Besides, in the range of Mach = 0.2 to 0.88 and
In order to reduce the flow pressure distortion at the fan en- Re = 2.4 to 75 millions, four different configurations (no nacelles;
trance, the detailed design of the input duct, has been studied by pylon-mounted nacelles; BLI nacelles; and redesigned BLI nacelles
[77], who considered variations of the inlet duct offset; curvature [19]) were studied.
of the two bends; area ratio and scalloping of the pre-compression
region ahead of the intake. It was found that duct offset was the 2.2. High aspect ratio
most important parameter governing the strength of the secondary
flow and impacted on intake recovery. In these studies, authors In large transport aircrafts, during cruise flight in a still air con-
demonstrated, also, that strong pressure distortion could eliminate figuration, drag is mainly due to friction drag (about 47%) and
the power saving related to the BLI effect. induced drag (about 43% – see Fig. 3).
The lack of numerical and experimental data available to com- Several strategies to reduce the friction drag of conventional air-
pare and validate new methods and tools is an important obstacle craft are under examinations and will be reviewed hereafter.
in the development of the BWB. In this line, Carter et al. [19,20] The induced drag which is the other big source of drag de-
conducted a series of numerical and experimental test cases on pends on the span and the lift distribution along the wing span. In
104 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 4. Spiroid loop (left) and downward pointing (right) wing tip devices from [42].

Fig. 5. Design box (hatched zone) from [42].

conventional large transport aircraft, the lift distribution is so op-

timized that no significant reduction seems possible in the future
within the current design approaches. An alternative approach, for
a given lift, is obtained through adopting a high aspect ratio wing Fig. 6. Span efficiency for various optimally loaded non-planar systems from [58].
or a wing tip device. Extensive literature can be found on this topic
covering the theoretical background underlying the induced drag tal wings; and butterfly shaped lift distribution on the vertical tip
prediction and methods to reduce it [57]; the link between the wings. Following these ideas, Kroo [58] showed a numerical com-
wingtip shapes and the induced drag [16]; and studies of different parison between the efficiency of different non-planar configura-
wingtip devices [1,27,55,97]. tion (induced drag of planar wing/induced drag of the non-planar
ONERA, Airbus and Technische Universitat at Braunschweig [42] system of the same span and lift – Fig. 6) for several non-planar
carried out an interesting study within the M-DAW Project (Mod- geometries. Each of the geometries permitted a vertical extent of
eling and Design of Advanced Wing Tip Devices). Two different 20% of the wing span. Such designs may be of interest because of
and innovative configurations were analyzed and optimized: the their potential for lower vortex drag at a fixed span which is a key
spiroid loop; and the downward pointing wingtip devices (Fig. 4). constraint for many aircraft including very large commercial trans-
Both concepts can have better structural characteristics related to port concepts.
the wing root bending moment. For reference, we considered the This unconventional non-planar configuration provides the
wing of a generic long haul aircraft. We compared the new solu- technology breakthrough necessary to obtain substantial gains in
tions and the new designs with a standard blended winglet. The drag vortex reduction. Between these solutions, the wingtip device,
modifications were limited to 4% of the wingtip and the height of already implemented in commercial aircraft, and the joined wings
the ground vehicles limited the downward device extension (see are probably the ideal Prandtl wing solution.
Fig. 5). The wing was designed for cruising at Mach = 0.85. The practical application of a box-wing can be seen in the
Previous studies of the spiroid winglet [39] showed drag gains, Joined-Wing concept (Fig. 7). First proposed by J. Wolkovitch [107],
for a slightly lower root bending moment, of the same order of this kind of configuration increases substantially the high aspect
standard wingtip devices. However, it suffers high-transonic inter- ratio with a theoretical induced drag reduction of up to 40% [35,
actions in the loop. A specific optimization to alleviate this ef- 96]. However, several non-aerodynamics issues must be studied in-
fect was carried out. The optimization was based on 45 design cluding the effects on stability and control, characteristics of wake
variables (sweep; maximum thickness; twist; and camber). Some vortices or structural implications. Frediani et al. [35] carried out
shape design variables were prescribed (spiroid size; minimum a practical implementation of this concept on a modified A380.
chord length; minimum aerofoil relative thickness (5%); and thick- The project focused on stability and structural issues. After an op-
ness law with the same span extension and wetted area of the timization procedure, they found that the rear wing could not be
equivalent blended winglet). Although slightly more efficiency at connected to the rear fuselage but had to be positioned over the
high CL in keeping the same root bending moment, the compar- fuselage itself and connected to it by means of two fins (Fig. 8).
ison showed a discouraging drag reduction of about 86% of the This configuration proved to be stable in cruise flight; and, the
blended winglet drag reduction. On the contrary, a detailed study lift was distributed equally on the front and rear wings giving the
of the downward pointing winglet, which considered high and low maximum L/D improvement. From the structural point of view, the
speed, root bending moment and lateral stability, showed some fuselage is equivalent to a doubly supported beam; the supports
benefits without incurring any major redesign of the wing box. We being the front and the rear wing and, then, bending stresses in
obtained promising gains of about 1–3% in range over a long-flight the fuselage are close to zero in the front and rear wing roots.
scenario and an improvement of 4–6% in low speed L/D. The eigenmodes of the aircraft are completely different from a
Another line of research was related to the box-like wing con- conventional one; in particular, the lateral bending modes of a con-
cept, which, theoretically, produced the minimum induced drag for ventional fuselage are not longer present. The damping moment
a given lift (Prandtl [79]). The following conditions are satisfied: and the moment of inertia along the pitch axis are higher than
same lift distribution and same total lift on each of the horizon- its equivalent conventional aircraft; hence, the flight qualities are
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 105

considered to be very satisfactory; but this rises problems in the

properly design of the pitch control system [34].
In the same line, it is worth mentioning the strut-braced wing
(Fig. 9) which uses a strut for the wing bending load alleviation.
This allows the aspect ratio to be increased and the wing thick-
ness to be reduced. A thinner wing has less transonic wave drag;
therefore, it is possible to unsweep the wing allowing larger ex-
tensions of natural laminar and further structural weight savings.
The optimization of these configuration is concerned usually with
structures, weights, and stability and control [12,41].

2.3. Engine concept

Increasing the by-pass ratio of turbofans is a successful formula

applied currently to increase the propulsive efficiency. Geared tur-
bofan (GTF) and distributed propulsion are considered to be the
technology concepts for an increased engine by-pass ratio. How-
ever, the growth of the bypass ratio is accompanied by larger and
heavier nacelles. At a certain point, the associated nacelle weight
increase and drag penalty outweighs the growth in propulsive ef-
ficiency. The Contra-Rotating Open-Rotor (CROR) offers a break-
through solution. Operating without the drag and weight penalty
of a large nacelle, the by-pass ratio is no longer a limiting factor.
However, intrinsically, the open-rotor is noisier than a turbofan at
an equivalent thrust setting. To the authors’ knowledge, very few
Fig. 7. Example of non-planar wing configuration, Lockheed box-wing.
studies of open-rotor configurations can be found in the litera-
ture. To give an example, at the 2010 International Congress of
the Aeronautical Science meeting (ICAS), there was presented only
one work on this subject [60]. We could find, also, no references to
open-rotor at the 46th AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference. This does
not mean that the scientific community is not increasing their ef-
forts in understanding this technology. However, the main efforts
are found in an industrial framework. Clearly, different European
Projects are concerned with the investigation and application of
this technology, e.g. DREAM, NACRE and, more recently, CleanSky.
These are focused on studying tail-mounted CROR configuration on
civil aircrafts (see Fig. 10).
The European Project NACRE (New Aircraft Concepts Research)
carried out a comparative study between an Open-Rotor and a con-
ventional turbofan. The turbofan was represented by the CFM56-5
series with 1995 technology. It had a 1.8 m fan diameter; by-
pass ratio of 6.6; and a maximum trust of 1915 daN These gave
a typical fuel efficiency at cruise condition of 0.57 kg/hr/daN. The
equivalent open rotor had a 3.72 m diameter and maximum trust
of 1777 daN, giving a typical fuel efficiency of 0.46 kg/hr/daN,
with a 20% of theoretical reduction. The results for a defined civil
Fig. 8. Initial aircraft with joined wing studied by [35]. aircraft mission at 33000 ft altitude with 180 pax of payload and

Fig. 9. Strut-braced wing with tip-mounted engines from [41].

106 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 10. Open rotor configuration studied in NACRE. Fig. 12. Open rotor configuration studied in NACRE. Acoustic interaction between
the CROR and an U-tail configuration.

for flight in the vicinity of the speed of sound, it was found that
sweeping the wings provided the most effective technique of in-
creasing the drag divergence Mach number. Aerodynamically, the
same effect can be obtained regardless of the direction of sweep.
However, current aircraft designs favor the use of aft sweeping
in order to avoid the phenomenon of structural divergence, in-
herent in FSW operating at a high dynamic pressure condition,
which cannot be solved through metallic structures without a wing
weight penalty. Today, technology advances in composite materials
are providing a promise of eliminating this problem with little or
no wing weight penalty.
Some of the benefits of FSW include spin resistance; extended
high angle of attack and lateral control; and lower transonic ma-
neuvering drag. Generally, The FSW separation pattern starts from
the root and propagates gradually outboard. This allows attached
flow to be maintained over the outboard wing, and retains aileron
effectiveness at high angles of attack where, in lateral control, con-
ventional (backward) wings may exhibit degradation in lateral con-
trol. Other additional benefits of FSW are theoretical lower profile
Fig. 11. Comparative study between open-rotor and turbofan technologies. drag due to lift and induced drag (for the same lift) [105]. Be-
tween the disadvantages, larger trailing edge sweep can strengthen
a range of 3000 NM are shown in Fig. 11. These studies obtained a separation problems at inner wing, (worse with turbulent flow),
promising 23% reduction in mission fuel burn and 8% reduction in leading to pitch up, which can be avoided by using vortex gener-
MTOW. ators, wing fence, vortilons (under-wing fences) or slotted airfoil.
Compared with its equivalent turbofan, one of the main draw- There is a tendency for static divergence, provoking an unfavor-
backs of CROR relates to vibration and acoustic problems, in which able gust behavior which can be alleviated by aero-elastic tailoring
the nacelle acts as an efficient noise shield. Due to the airframe and unfavorable root mid size effect for laminar pressure distribu-
surfaces, the acoustic propagation can be alleviated by adopting tion.
shielding and/or reflection. An example is NACRE [60]’s study of More recently, one of the main motivations for using FSW re-
the U-tail configuration (Fig. 12) In any case, significant develop- sides in the fact that transition on swept wings is strongly affected
ments are required to integrate this engine into an aircraft. by leading edge sweep angle. Turbulence transition at lower lead-
Another important issue is the necessity to develop specific ing edge angles can be dominated by Tollmien–Schlichting (TS)
design tools. A Contra-Rotating Open-Rotor shares some basic fea- waves, whereas higher sweep angles by cross flow instabilities
tures with the classic propeller, for which various numerical tech- (CF). Different studies have investigated the regimes and effect of
niques exist. However, it is the vortex and viscous wake interaction sweep on wing turbulent transition. One the main conclusion is
between the pylon and the rotors and between the front-rotor and that transonic FSW, because of its lower leading edge sweep an-
the aft-rotor which make the picture more complex. To understand gle for the same 50% chord line angle (the typical location of the
the underlying physical phenomena specific to a Contra-Rotating shock (Fig. 13)) presents less CF [84], which theoretically can de-
Open-Rotor, it is required to solve accurately the tip vortices and lay transition until 25% of chord at a Mach = 0.8 configuration,
viscous wakes which emanate from upstream stage and interact doubling the laminar extension for its equivalent backward swept
with the second. wing (Fig. 14).
In this line, an optimization study of forward swept wings
2.4. Forward swept wings (FSW) (FSW) was performed as part of the novel configuration work
package in NACRE activities. The design point was defined for a
The concept of FSW is not entirely new. In the investigation of civil aircraft of 180 pax of payload; 3000 nm of range; and cruise
the different methods of delaying the onset of the increase of drag Mach number 0.76 at 35.000 ft (Reynolds = 23.7 millions). After
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 107

3. Drag reduction technologies

Viscous drag reduction, which accounts for some 50% of the

total aircraft drag, shows one of the largest areas of potential
for improved aircraft efficiency over the next 10–20 years. Two
main lines are currently under development. There are investiga-
tion of laminar flow (Section 3.1); and turbulent drag reduction
(Section 3.2).

3.1. Drag reduction by extended laminar flow

Before adopting any resolutions, it is important to clarify the

different instability mechanics which may produce turbulent tran-
sition in a boundary layer. These are:

• Tollmien–Schlichting (TS) waves are driven by viscous effect

on the surface, they occur in two-dimensional flows and the
mid-chord region of a swept wing.
• Attachment-line contamination is provoked by the bound-
ary layer of the fuselage which propagates from the wing–
fuselage junction along the attachment-line and contaminates
Fig. 13. Scheme of the main aerodynamic differences between a BSW and a FSW.
the boundary layer of the leading edge.
• Curvature induced instability appears on shear layers over con-
cave surfaces.
a structural and aerodynamic design of the wing (giving a wing • Cross flow (CF) instabilities occur in regions of pressure gra-
aspect ratio of 9.5 for a leading edge sweep of 17.8), a final in- dients on swept surfaces. The imbalance between the pres-
verse design phase focused on optimization of the laminar region. sure gradient and stream-wise velocity inside and outside the
For a given pressure coefficient distribution taken as the target, boundary layer provokes a secondary boundary layer flow,
the procedure estimated the C p distribution by solving the Eu- called cross flow, which presents a typical infection point in-
ler or Navier–Stokes equations on the initial geometry. Taking the stability.
difference between the desired and obtained pressure distribution
C p , a geometry correction was computed by solving a potential Most of the works addressed the need to control TS and CF in-
equation formulated in inverse design ( z = f (C p )); the pro- stabilities. Although some examples of attachment-line contamina-
cess was repeated until convergence. Once the final geometry was tion are shown, also, hereafter, generally, the CF are very sensitive
computed, a second loop could be performed in case the stabil- to free-stream turbulence and to 3D roughness whilst TS are free
ity of this wing was not the optima (Fig. 15). The final design of stream sound and 2D roughness. In addition, a negative pressure
gave an inboard transition moved down-stream (upper and lower gradient is favored in dampening the TS while could destabilize
side) with the upper side dominated by TS and a lower side domi- CF. In any case, in a real wing, the transition is triggered by a
nated by CF with an obtained drag reduction of about 14% of total combination of all these effects, although, for some specific con-
drag. figurations, one of them can be the dominant effect.

Fig. 14. Dominan laminar turbulent transition effect for FSW and BSW. Because of its lower leading edge sweep angle FSW configuration presents less CrossFlow instabilities.
108 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 16. TELFONA PATHFINDER Model in ETW wind tunnel test section from [99].

HARLS configurations and studied the application of NLF to For-

Fig. 15. Algorithms for inverse design of a laminar wing. ward Swept Wing configuration (already discussed in the previous
section). TELFONA (Testing for Laminar Flow on New Aircraft) de-
In line with these flow instabilities, we considered different veloped the tools to design and test an NFL wing and to be able to
concepts of Laminar Flow Technologies. These were: predict the in-flight performance standard of an NLF aircraft.
Different activities, carried out in the TELFONA project, in-
• Natural Laminar Flow (NLF) achieved by a favorable pressure cluded:
gradient which are valid for transition dominated by TS.
• Laminar Flow Control (LFC) achieved by Boundary Layer Suc- • The calibration of transition tools for the ETW (European Tran-
tion. In highly swept wings t which, usually, are required for sonic Wind Tunnel);
flight at high subsonic and supersonic speeds, only suction • The investigation of the impact of noise and free stream tur-
can control sweep-induced crossflow disturbances which pro- bulence on transition location in a 2D flow in the TsAGi wind
mote boundary-layer transition. Average suction velocity ratios tunnel;
of 10−3 –10−4 were proven to reduce amplitude growth from • A receptivity study of traveling CF vortices to free stream tur-
e 26 to e 5 for a flat plate boundary layer [87]. bulence and of stationary CF vortices to the surface roughness;
• Hybrid Laminar Flow Control (HLFC) is a combination of lead- and
ing edge suction and pressure gradient/shaping. Generally, suc- • The wind–tunnel test of a performance NLF wing in the ETW.
tion is applied near the leading edge of a swept wing in order
to control contamination and cross flow instabilities. Appropri- These activities were structured around the design, manufac-
ate shaping of the pressure distribution stabilizes mid-chord turing, testing and analysis of two wing concepts. These were
TS. Its applicability was demonstrated by a Boeing 757 HLFC the pathfinder wing, which serves to calibrate transition predic-
Flight Test in 1990 and on an Airbus A320 fin in 1998. tion methods for the ETW, and the performance wing, which has
• More specific approaches, that discussed here also, are active to demonstrate the capacities of the HARLS NLF configuration by
control of transition by wave superposition [86] and span-wise Reynolds flight number. For the pathfinder wing (Fig. 16), the rel-
periodic distributed roughness elements (DRE) [86,87]. evant test flow conditions were:

3.1.1. Laminar flow technologies • Mach = 0.78, 0.02; Re = 15 to 23 millions;

Delaying boundary layer transition is a well-known method for • T = 117 K;
reducing drag. To this end, significant work has been done on Lam- • CL = 0.1 to 0.5; and
inar Flow research with different prototypes flying already. These • Side slip β = 0 and −4.
The wing has been designed by CIRA, DLR and ONERA using
• The ATTAS (Advanced Technologies Testing Aircraft System) a 3D inverse optimization algorithm with linear stability analy-
designed by German Aerospace Center (DLR) [85]; sis. The Euler equations of gas-dynamics; the laminar boundary-
• The Fokker F100 aircraft flight tests within the European layer equations for compressible flows on infinite swept wings;
project ELFIN-II [90]; and and the linear Parabolized Stability Equations (PSE) were solved
• The Piaggio P180 aircraft or the 757 HLFC flight program [40]. in order to analyze the evolution of convectively unstable distur-
bances. Laminar-turbulent transition was assumed to be delayed
Recently, the need to reduce operating expenses for new com- by minimizing a measure of the disturbance kinetic energy of a
mercial aircraft has led to a renewed interest in laminar-flow tech- chosen disturbance which was computed using the PSE. The shape
nology to reduce drag in cruising. In this context, the HARLS Low gradients of the disturbance kinetic energy were computed based
Sweep wing configuration optimized for fuel burn rather than op- on the solutions of the adjoints of the state equations [5]. The de-
erating costs, and the idea was discovered that, using a low sweep sign point was chosen at Mach = 0.734; Reynolds number Re = 6.5
wing, might unlock the option of laminar flow. Two European FP6 millions; and angle of attack α = 2.1875◦ . The method showed im-
projects explored this concept. NACRE (New Aircraft Concepts Re- provements in the viscous drag, which was reduced by six drag
search) has performed multi-disciplinary assessment of turbulent counts. The design obtained a pressure distribution which gave
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 109

number 1.7 and a total temperature of 300 K. They considered

different values of attachment-line Reynolds number (R θ ) ranging
from 205 to 443. Experimental evidences showed that leading edge
contamination occurred as soon as a critical value around 250 [78]
was exceeded.
They investigated two types of standard ACD shapes, namely,
two rectangular shapes with different heights (1 mm and 5 mm)
and one triangular shape (5 mm height) (Fig. 19). The main con-
clusion was that the rectangular ACD at a height of 1 mm was
incapable of stopping the contaminated flow, i.e., the high viscous
layer crossed over the ACD. The rectangular shape at a height of
5 mm was the most effective one; whilst, possibly due to its spiky
edge, the 5 mm-triangular shape was ineffective.
The final design was a combination of the rectangular and tri-
angular shape (trapezoidal shape) with sufficient height (Fig. 20).
The rectangular shape with a height of 5 mm was placed on the
front side to stop the contaminated flow and the sloped triangular
Fig. 17. TELFONA PATHFINDER Model in ETW wind tunnel test section from [99]. side faced towards the back in order to initiate a smoother geo-
metrical transition. This design was manufactured and tested and
showed that it stopped the contamination effectively and delayed
the critical R θ to 380, far beyond the theoretical value. Finally, it
was installed on the laminar wings of small supersonic transport
aircraft supplied by Dassault Aviation. The shape of the ACD was
adjusted to the shape of the wing’s leading-edge for a cruising con-
dition at Mach = 1.6 and CL = 0.11.
Also in SUPERTRAC, CIRA (Centro Italiano Ricerca Aeronau-
tica) proved the feasibility of a numerical optimization loop in
the design of a laminar supersonic wing. The optimization was
performed with an evolutionary optimization library, which used
3D Euler solver coupled with a full 3D boundary layer, and a
boundary layer stability tool which made use of the ONERA-CIRA
database stability computations. 25 twist control sections plus 68
shapes were defined as design variables functions for each section
(68 × 25 = 1700 variables). The following design points were con-
Fig. 18. ETW and numerical results for pressure distributions and stability analysis sidered in the computations:
at η = 0.33 from [99].

• Mach = 1.6;
amplification N-factors in the range 5 < N CF < 8, 6 < N TS < 10 • Reynolds = 51.8 millions;
with linear chord-wise variation. Parallel isobars were obtained for • Length = 6.27 m;
a region which, at least, extended from 30% to 70% of the span, • Wing Area 50.0 m2 ;
with transition occurring between 30% and 50% of the chord. In the • CL = 0.182;
experiment, pressure taps were located on diagonal sections which • CM = 0.05; and
were located roughly at normalized semi-span positions η = 0.33, • Maximum trailing edge angle 6◦ and minimum leading edge
0.67 (Fig. 17). The results were compared, also, with the Tempera- radius 0.15 mm.
ture Sensitivity Paint (cryoTSP [33]) measurements obtained in the
ETW, showing good agreement with the computations [75,99], The optimization loop returns a damping of pressure peaks and
which proved this methodology to be valid in transition predic- mid-chord shocks and an important enhancement of laminar flow
tion (Fig. 18). (from 2% to about 10–12% of wing surface). This proves the feasi-
Attachment-line contamination can be controlled by an ade- bility of using optimization tools in the design of laminar wings.
quate design of an anti-contamination device (ACD). ACD is a TsAGI [23,24] studied experimentally the receptiveness of the
passive re-laminarization device which is placed at the wing’s boundary layer to free stream turbulence levels and noise studied
leading-edge at a close distance to the fuselage which, firstly, aims at. A LV6 laminarized airfoil with 1 m chord and 35◦ of sweep was
at stopping the span-wise propagation of contaminated flow of measured at free-stream velocity of around 80 m/s. The experi-
the fuselage boundary layer since it reaches the wing and, sec- ments (Fig. 21) showed that, for very low free stream turbulence
ondly, at initiating a new healthy, laminar attachment line flow level (0.064%), the transition could be delayed as far as 62% of the
on the other side of the device. In SUPERTRAC project (Supersonic chord. On the contrary, acoustic perturbation in the range of 2.0–
transition control [7]), a Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS)- 2.8 Hz and a noise level of 91–108 dB reduced the laminar region
method was considered for the numerical investigation of different to 55%. More dramatic was the effect of the free stream turbulence,
ACDs [56]. The change in turbulence state of the flow and the re- which for a 1% level limit, reduced the laminar region to only 10%
laminarization process were monitored through different param- of the chord. Although, in this case, the acoustic receptivity of the
eters. These were: shape-factor; viscosity ratio; streamlines; and boundary layer was very low, when 3D effects were considered,
pressure distribution. Since leading edge contamination is a local the cross flow instability mechanism dominated.
problem, a simplified geometry of a circular half-cylinder, followed
by a thick flat plate, was considered to be the leading-edge. It was 3.1.2. Laminar flow on nacelles
fixed to a solid cylindrical representing the fuselage at a sweep an- Recently, the NLF concept focused on nacelle applications. There
gle of 65◦ . The flow computations were carried out for the Mach were a number of investigations carried out in the past on the
110 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 19. Anti-contamination devices studied in SUPERTRAC. Lower, mesh details. Upper, flow details from [56].

Fig. 21. The measured transition locations at various experimental conditions LV6
airfoil model (semi-bold symbols transition onset; bold symbols end of transition)
Fig. 20. Anti-contamination device designed in SUPERTRAC from [56]. from [24].

aerodynamic interactions of the nacelle, pylon and wing. These can 3. Access panels on external cowls for maintenance purpose
be broken down into four areas [83]: interference effects of the (Temperature sensors, Anti-icing system, Oil tank).
nacelle, pylon and wing; the effect of different nacelle position; 4. Junction between fixed nose cowl and moveable fan cowls.
the effect of high by-pass ratio (BPR); ultra-high BPR nacelles; and
the ability of CFD to predict the interference effects. Today, the It is important to move downstream the junctions between the
nose cowl lip and the external panel; the nose cowl and the fan
larger By-pass Ratio (BPR) engines are receiving renewed atten-
cowl; and all access panels. In this context, the nacelles designer,
tion. Larger BPR engines have better fuel efficiency but larger na-
Aircelle, proposed to design cowl concept which integrated nose
celle diameters. Typically, current nacelles designs feature surface
cowl and fan cowls, allowing an overall improved performance,
gaps and steps configurations which can provoke laminar-turbulent
versus current nacelle design, of about 1% in SFC due to exten-
transition: sion of the laminar flow up to the 25% of the wetted area.
Recently, Bombarbier performed a numerical optimization over
1. One aluminum lip with anti-icing system and external panels an original long-cowl nacelle candidate which showed an improve-
in composite material. ment of 7 drag counts in an isolated configuration at flow condi-
2. Pneumatic anti-icing system with exhaust panel on nose cowl tion Mach = 0.8 and Re = 16 millions. The optimization was per-
external panel. formed with Multi Objective Optimization iSIGHT software, which
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 111

Fig. 22. Transition prediction. Isolate nacelle.

Fig. 24. Suction test definition in SUPERTRAC.

Fig. 23. Suction skin connected by perforated honeycomb to structural sandwich

from [13].

used an Euler plus boundary layer computations for the external

flow and 3D compressible boundary layer stability for the anal-
ysis of transition prediction. The nacelle design methodology was
based on a target pressure optimization. Subsequently, the new de-
sign was tested in a wind tunnel and on a test flight and achieved
an improvement of more than the 10% in the extension of the lam-
inar region (Fig. 22).

Fig. 25. Stream-wise transition as a function of the suction velocity for different test
3.1.3. Hybrid laminar flow cases from SUPERTRAC project in [45].
The use of boundary layer removal through suction was a way
of maintaining extensive regions of laminar flow which, since the • Direct stabilization of secondary instability of crossflow vor-
fifties, have been the subject of experimental and theoretical inves- tices by pin-point suction reveals itself successfully with rela-
tigation [17,67]. Extensive research was undertaken to mature Hy- tively low suction rate (optimal for fixed vortices).
brid Laminar Flow by suction; the influence of swept wing effects
and suction flow rate on its efficiency; and the variation of the rel- Very few studies of supersonic velocities are available. In SU-
ative drag co-efficient [9,15,24]. The technology achieved a certain PERTRAC the laminar control by suction of CF-dominated laminar-
level of maturity. Consequently, it is being considered now within turbulent transition was studied at Mach 2. After a preliminary
the industry for future aircraft applications. The technological chal- numerical analysis, a wind–tunnel model was built based on a
lenges are mainly non-aerodynamic – dealing with the integration symmetric arc-shaped airfoil with relative thickness of t /c = 0.13;
of the complex system solutions into the wing, nacelle, fin and hor- a sharp leading edge; and a chord length of c = 300 mm. The suc-
izontal tail plane surfaces; manufacturing surface quality including tion panel was located between 5% and 20% of the chord. The hole
that of suction panels; the need for an anti-contamination system, diameter was 17 μm. The model was mounted in the wind–tunnel
weight of suction system, etc. In this respect, Boermans [13,14] test section at zero angle of attack and a sweep angle of 20◦ and
designed a suction skin which was connected by perforated honey- 30◦ (Fig. 24). The suction pressure ranged between 1.2 and 4.8 bar
comb core to structural sandwich (Fig. 23). The typical perforation for Reynolds numbers between 6 and 24 millions. The experiments
requires a diameter of 0.1 mm and a relatively low hole density were conducted in the Ludwieg Tube Facility (RWG) at DLR. As
with a porosity  1%. In order to check the maximum suction ve- shown in Fig. 25, a significant delay of laminar turbulent-transition
locity for optimal performance, the solution was tested in a glider can be obtained (typically from 20% to 60% of the chord). It was
configuration. observed, also, that, beyond a certain level of suction velocity, no
Additionally, the intensive use of the DNS (Direct Numerical further improvement was obtained.
Simulation) allowed new perspectives of the suction concept to be The HISAC project investigated the application of laminar flow
proposed: technology for a business supersonic jet. The aircraft was a swept
wing monoplane. The wing and horizontal tail were tailored in or-
• Suction can be combined advantageously with excitation of der to keep the flow laminar over a large portion of the wing/tail
useful vortices (use of holes/slots to excite and support con- area. The wing design benefited from an imposed negative pres-
tinuously useful vortices to combine the effect of suction and sure gradient over the largest possible length of local chords. The
suppression of secondary instability), securing and improving laminar wings were tested in the ONERA-S2MA wind tunnel at
suction performance; Mach = 1.6 and Re = 7 millions. By using suction and cooling,
112 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

shown, also, that, although critical N-factors for linear PSE anal-
ysis differed little from classical theory for standard experimental
datasets, when the effect of the leading edge curvature was taken
into account, a different picture emerged. In this case, the leading
edge modes were influenced positively by the curvature and, com-
pared to the HLFC for the same design, resulted in a reduction of
24 suction mass flow rate and an increased benefit of 9% without
curvature effects.
As a final remark concerning the Hybrid Laminar Flow Con-
trol (HLFC) technology demonstration, a test flight was planned in
the framework of the JTI-SFWA project. The new outer wing ele-
ments of the A340 wing incorporating HLFC could be flight tested
in 2014.

3.1.4. Alternative laminar flow technology

The current advances in micro and nano machining and electro-
mechanical fabrication have facilitated the emergence of alter-
Fig. 26. Applications of NLF & HLFC concept on a supersonic test (HISAC project). native methods in promoting laminar flow. Identified research
lines include the polishing of the surface; application of dis-
the laminar studies focused on high-sweep wings. The main re- tributed roughness to delay CF; active control of TS by mass-less
sults showed that Natural Laminar Flow should be achievable on jets/surface actuation; and laminar flow control by heat transfer or
the outboard wing, which could be enhanced by using laminar plasma. Such technologies may offer a more lightweight solution
flow cooling, whilst suction and the use of anti-contamination de- than the conventional hybrid laminar flow system. However, more
vices were needed to maintain laminar flow on the inboard wing research is required to understand the viability of such approaches
(Fig. 26). The orders of magnitude of the suction rate were be- both in terms of the fundamental flow physics of how transition
can be delayed and the resultant control system requirements.
tween 0.0005 and 0.001 at the upper side and 0.001 at the lower
Polishing the leading edge is one way to extend the laminar
side, giving a 50% upper surface transition location and an esti-
flow region. Test flights conducted by the Texas A&M Flight Re-
mated viscous drag reduction of 28.5% (7.2 dc) [70]. The main
search Lab in a Cessna O-2A Skymaster showed 80% laminar flow
difficulties, in maturing the concept, were the design of high-lift
at Re = 8 millions, Λ = 30◦ , obtaining N factor > 16. The advan-
devices and the development of de-icing system compatible with
tage was that it was necessary to polish only 10% of the chord to
the laminar flow concept.
be efficient. However, typical of flight conditions, adequate eval-
The City University London [8] employed Parabolized Stability uation requires very low free-stream turbulence, which makes it
Equations (PSE) to consider the effect of Mach and Reynolds num- impossible to calibrate in wind tunnel testing. Other disadvantages
bers on the stability of boundary layers (Fig. 27). They showed are associated to the manufacturing process like the necessity to
that the critical N-factors decreased faster as the Mach number use harder surfaces to reduce roughness or the use of leading edge
and Reynolds number increased. This corrected the previous sta- Krueger flaps to protect during landing and takeoff.
bility analysis which did not consider the compressibility. To ob- The Micron Sized Roughness (MSR) concept (or periodic Dis-
tain a comprehensive idea, a typical decrease of N-factor from crete Roughness Elements, DRE) can control the stationary cross
5.8 to 4 suggested an increase in the suction mass flow rate of flow vortices. The idea is to create an artificial surface roughness
9% and an increment in the pump pressure ratio from 2.0 to 2.5 which introduces weakly growing wavelength, λs , which generates
which decreased by 9% the expected benefits in drag reduction of a modified mean flow which is stable to all wave-lengths greater
HLFC (after deducting system weight and power penalties). It was than λs . This concept was checked by Saric [87] who demon-

Fig. 27. Critical N-factor for TS wave as a function of the Mach and Reynolds numbers from [8].
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 113

Fig. 28. Swept wing in flight tests (SWIFT).

Fig. 30. MSR concept tested in the S2MA wind tunnel (SUPERTRAC project).

Fig. 31. Visualization of boundary layer transition for the NLF(2)-0415 airfoil at Re =
2.2 millions. Left uncontrolled, right controlled.

fect was observed, according to receptivity computations, the used

Fig. 29. Flight measurements carried by W. Saric with painted LE et DRE concept. MSR lay at the limit of efficiency in terms of height and diame-
ter. Probably, new manufacturing processes and/or tests at a larger
strated that the DRE could increase laminar from 30% to 60% of scale are needed.
the chord at Re = 8.1 millions; sweep angle of Λ = 30◦ and ve- More recently, Sui-han et al. [100], in collaboration with Air-
locity of 92 m/s (Mach  0.28). The experiments were performed bus, studied the NLF(2)-0415 airfoil with a 45-degree sweep wing.
on the Swept Wing In Flight Tests (SWIFT) (Fig. 28) mounted in The experiments were performed at Reynolds 2.2 millions and
a Cessna O-2A Skymaster at the Texas A&M Flight Research Labo- 50 m/s in the Northwestern Polytechnical University’s Low Tur-
ratory. A detailed computational study was performed in advance. bulence Wind Tunnel (0.05%). One line of DREs were disposed at
The design obtained a pressure minimum between x/c = 0.7 to 1.7 mm spacing roughness located at x/c = 3.5%, with a diameter
0.8, making the boundary layer subcritical to TS instability whilst of 0.7 mm and a mean height of 19.25 μm. The separation was se-
destabilizing crossflow waves. The nose radius was restricted to lected based on the most unstable wavelength of 3  3.3 mm. As
Reθ < 100, making an attachment-line subcritical to instabilities observed in Fig. 31, the region downstream of the roughness, the
and contamination. Finally, the Cp distribution was optimized by transition was suppressed successfully until the trailing-edge.
crossflow control. The computation was performed on the Euler Drag reduction, by means of active control of TS, could allow
and Navier–Stokes equations for Cp and boundary layer calcula- the laminar flow to extend in difficult conditions (adverse pressure
tions; Orr–Sommerfeld for stability; and Parabolized Navier–Stokes gradient, high Reynolds number). The control of boundary layer
for final assessment [44]. transition by wave-superposition is not new [102], but putting this
Stability calculations verified that the 4.5 mm wavelength was idea into practice is not an easy task. The principle of an Active
extremely un-stable and that λs = 2.25 mm was the candidate to Wave Control System (Fig. 32) considers two steps. These are:
control crossflow. Two layers of DRE were placed at 1% x/c on the
inboard pressure row, and 1.3% x/c on the outboard pressure row. • The TS waves measurement with a reference-sensor;
The DREs were 2.25 mm spacing, 1 mm of diameter and 30 mi- • The counter-wave actuation and the monitoring of results with
crons high. For this configuration the transition of the chord moves an error sensor which allows the control to be adapted.
from 30% to 60% (Fig. 29).
SUPERTRAC and HISAC projects and, within the UK national The successful application of the sensor–actuator system in the
AERAST project for transonic configurations, studied, also, micron- range of Ma = 0.2–0.5 has been carried out by TU Berlin [30–32].
sized roughness elements for supersonic configurations. In SUPER- The TS wave amplitude has been reduced by 90% (at the error sen-
TRAC [6], in a swept wing with a strong flow acceleration, the sor) in the wind tunnel and around 50% in flight (with a glider),
transition was triggered by CF instabilities. Controlling this type yielding to substantial delay of laminar-turbulent transition. The
of instability required the knowledge of the target mode of the experiments were performed in a two-dimensional NACA0004 pro-
most amplified natural vortices. Then, theoretically, a killer mode file of 750 mm of chord length. The wind tunnel was provided
generated artificially by MSR and arranged along the leading edge with an adaptive test section so that the pressure profile could be
could interact with the unsteady mode resulting in a more stable changed to force the transition in the planar region of the NACA
evolution. The success of this approach depended on the pressure profile where the experimental facilities were disposed. The free
gradient and on the choice of the killer wavelength [88]. In SU- flight test was done in an unswept Grob G103 Twin II Glider at
PERTRAC, a row of MSR were implemented on the wing leading 22.5 m/s with the actuator located at 47% of the chord’s length.
edge, using rows of roughness elements of 10 μm height and 0.2 The difficulties for using this technique at higher Mach numbers
or 0.15 mm in diameter; Reynolds from 3 to 7 millions; and sweep were linked to the development of oblique TS. In order to develop
angle from 15 to 30◦ (Fig. 30). Unfortunately, no clear positive ef- these technologies, it is important to acquire more information
114 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 34. Typical riblet geometry from [36].

layer stability. The experiments performed by [59] in a flat plate

at u = 30 m/s, T = 290 K, and the Reynolds number, at the anode
position of Re  1 millions concluded that the plasma flow pro-
duced a significant increase in the value of the critical Reynolds
number and constrained the range of unsteady TS wavenumbers.
In any case, further experimental and theoretical validations must
be performed to evaluate the real performance of these methods.

3.2. Turbulent skin friction reduction

Even if laminar flow control is successful, a significant propor-

tion of skin friction drag due to turbulence remains. This section
Fig. 32. Principle of an active wave control system (TU Berlin). discusses the different technologies: riblets and dimples or surface
actuation which aim to reduce the turbulent drag.
Riblets are small surface protrusions, aligned with the direction
of flow, which confer an anisotropic roughness to a surface. They
are one of the few techniques which have been applied success-
fully to the reduction of the skin friction in turbulent boundary
layers, both in the laboratory and in full aerodynamic configura-
tions. From an aerodynamic perspective riblets were identified as
a mature technology which could provide modest reductions (7–
8% skin friction drag reduction for riblet spacing of approximately
15 wall units) in aircraft drag. Flight tests confirmed total drag re-
duction of 1.6% (5% of Cd on 66% of the wetted surface) for an
A320 model (proved in the S1MA Onera Wind Tunnel). The cur-
rent development of riblets is in line with a better understanding
of the physics and the application of surface technologies like the
aerodynamic evaluation of riblet material for turbulent skin fric-
tion reduction. A current analysis of the status of this technology
can be found in [18,25,104]. The physical mechanism of the riblet
drag reduction effect is caused by a protrusion height between the
virtual origin, seen by the stream-wise shear flow and some mean
Fig. 33. Dielectric barrier discharge actuator.
surface location. This offset would result in a greater separation
between the wall and the turbulent stream-wise vortices, reducing
about the properties of Tollmien–Schlichting waves. Another im- the exchange of momentum at the wall [10,46]. The correct ex-
portant issue is the design of a robust control system capable of planation of the underlying physics is still a topic of research. In
managing more realistic configurations. this line Garcia-Mayoral and Jimenez [36] found that the groove
Other alternatives for laminar flow control come from heat cross section A +g , expressed in wall units, was a better characteri-
transfer and plasma actuation. In the past, controlling the tem- zation of this breakdown than the riblet spacing, with an optimum
perature of the wing skin was found to be relatively inefficient. ( A+g)
1/ 2
 11 (Fig. 34). However, the drag reduction was affected
However. with micro fabricated films and sensors, it may be pos- greatly by the riblet spacing and size or orientation which, in some
sible to control the heat transfer using relatively small amounts cases, could produce drag increase. Other non-aerodynamic issues
of energy – which could make this solution more attractive. The were maintenance of riblet shape and adhesive over operational
HISAC project considered the new approaches and could be ap- life (hydraulic fluid, dirt, deformation by hail and maintenance); vi-
plied to nacelles in the future. sual appearance, and time required to install, remove and re-apply
The application of a near wall direct current to create a corona riblets.
discharge can delay the laminar-turbulent transition by generation Dimples are regular arrangements of surface depressions dis-
a body force [52] which accelerates the boundary layer flow in the tributed along the wall. Dimples are a well-known measure to
stream-wise direction. Theoretical estimations [49] revealed some increase the heat-transfer from a wall [21]; however, they can be
beneficial effects of this method in drag reduction if the boundary useful for drag reduction. Compared to riblets, they can be advan-
layer included both laminar and turbulent parts [53,54,59]. A rel- tageous since they are composed of macroscopic structures which
atively simple device employs two thin electrodes, separated by a are less sensitive to dirt and mechanical degradation. Despite its
dielectric barrier (Fig. 33). Alternating voltage is applied between expected interest, very few works could be found in the literature,
two electrodes ionizing the air and creating plasma. The movement e.g. only two articles about dimples were presented at the last
of the ions transfers global momentum to the neutral air which is 49th Aerospace Sciences Meeting of 2011, and some preliminary
perceived macroscopically as a body force on the flow. However, studies [65] were somewhat discouraging by showing very com-
the design of the experiments is not trivial, and it is important to plex structures inside the dimple and little or no improvements in
know the parameters of the plasma actuators (dimensions; current turbulent drag reduction. These made them unattractive due to the
strength; applied voltage; etc.), which can influence the boundary costs associated with their operation.
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 115

Since the potential drag reduction could be large, the possibility Now, traditional high-lift systems have evolved greatly with only
of using nano or micro scale electro-mechanical systems to control small improvements in current aircraft performance. An innovative
the development of turbulent structures in the boundary layer was step is necessary to obtain the desired improvement in L/D and
investigated also. One interesting drag reduction technique, which CLmax. This level of improvement allows an increase in payload
is conceptually simple and has the potential for a positive ener- and reduced landing speed and, therefore, reduces noise emissions
getic budget, is the cyclic span-wise movement of the wall [29, and increases aircraft safety.
81,82]. In this active technique, the wall moves sinusoidally creat- Separated flows can appear in at least two different conditions.
ing a traveling wave which alters substantially the near-wall flow These are progressive boundary layer separation (PBLS) such as
structure. The main features of the oscillating wall technique are trailing edge separation, which displaces progressively upstream
the existence of an optimal frequency to maximize significantly when the angle of attack is increased, and very localized bound-
drag reduction, which can be as high as 45% when the amplitude ary layer separation (LBLS) such as those generated by geometrical
of the oscillation is comparable with the flow center line veloc- discontinuities. These two flow separation types can be found on a
ity. Following this idea, Tardu and Doche [101] showed how the wing in high lift configuration. For instance, the PBLS type can be
reaction of the near wall turbulence and the drag were sensitive observed either on a slotted flap leeward side or on the leeward
to the temporal waveform of the localized time periodical blow- side of the main body trailing edge near the pre-stall angles of at-
ing. The injection velocity is periodical and asymmetric in time, tack. LBLS type flow separation can be observed near the leeward
with a rapid acceleration phase followed by a slow deceleration leading edge of the main body at stall and post-stall angles of at-
one. Mainly in the deceleration phase, the flow is re-laminarized tack, and, also, near the hinge line of a strongly deflected aileron.
during 70% of the oscillation period. Induced by the blowing, the The use of flow control devices to control flow separation has
latter maintains the stability pf the vorticity layer and prevents its very attractive properties; at high speed, they can delay the onset
rollup contrary to a sinusoidal time periodical blowing. Therefore, of buffet, and enable more aggressive low-drag designs or lighter
a time mean drag reduction of 50% is obtained in the region recov- structures with the same aero-performance. At low speed, they can
ering 200 wall units downstream of the blowing slot. This is 40% enable simpler configurations and mechanisms, e.g. fixed leading
greater than the drag reduction obtained by a steady blowing with edge; short chord slat; simple hinged flap; and improve take-off
the same time mean severity parameter. lift to drag ratio or recover performance for alternative platforms –
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these method decreases as e.g. increased sweep or taper. In term of flow control actuators,
the Reynolds number increases [22]. To overcome this constraint, a PBLS type separated flow can be controlled with sufficiently up-
Pamies et al. [74] proposed the use of a simple modification of Op- stream mechanical or pneumatic discrete vortex generators (VG).
position Control (OC) to increase the performance at high Reynolds A LBLS type separated flow can be controlled by a pulsed synthetic
numbers and, thereby, showing a significant improvement on drag jet slot (located very near to the separation onset) (Kroo [58];
reduction when performing a blowing-only opposition control. The Wygnanski [108]; McCormick [71]; and Courty et al. [26]), by a
analysis was performed by a LES numerical simulation in a spa- pulsed blowing jet slot or pulsed pneumatic VGs (Kilbens and
tially developing flat plate (fully turbulent flow) at Mach = 0.1, Bower [50]).
Reτ = 1100 and Reθ = 3300. This showed a local drag reduction Numerous research activities on Separated Flow Control were
of up to 61% in the area of control and, in the analysis, approxi- undertaken in the USA and Europe, with many wind tunnel
mately five times the boundary layer thickness. demonstrations. These works allows the assessment of the effec-
The physical realization of this surface waves can be done by tiveness of various actuators and various kinds of actuation, as
using Electro-Active Polymer (EAP) [28]. EAP, also referred to as well as the optimal parameters of such devices (geometry; size;
Maxwell Stress, is based on the compression, by electrostatic pres- orientation; flow rate; and frequency). A particular problem with
sure, of an elastomer film, which is applied by compliant elec- this approach is that the use of wind tunnel models requires the
trodes upon the application of an electric field. By virtue of in- use of smaller actuators than needed for in flight demonstrations.
compressibility, the compression of the elastomer results in an Moreover, in pneumatic pulsed actuators, for instance, actuation
elongation of the membrane which is used for actuation. This frequencies are usually an order of magnitude which are higher in
allows continuous surface deformation, both in-plane and out-of- wind tunnel demonstrations than during flight demonstrations.
plane. With this material, it is possible to create an array of active Flow control technologies can be divided into passive, active
dimples which act as time dependent depressions and which al- and reactive. Passive systems do not require a power input for their
low changes in frequency and amplitude. These inject local flow operation but have, in general, a drag penalty during cruise oper-
disturbances capable of interacting with structures existing in the ation. Examples are vortex generator (VG) or sub-boundary layer
turbulent boundary layer. A similar effect can be obtained by using vortex generator (SBVG). An active system requires some power in-
energy deposition (plasmas). put to work. Between them, we can find fluidic vortex generators,
pneumatic – synthetic jets, electrical – or plasma actuator or mag-
4. Separation control technologies netic. Finally, a reactive system possesses some kind of intelligence
and actuates according to the information supplied by the sensor.
Separation is a continual source of nuisance for the aircraft. As described in previous sections, these kinds of systems are usu-
At low speed, maximum lift, it is related directly to the exis- ally more suitable for boundary layer stabilization processes.
tence of flow separation. For highly deployed high-lift devices, the
maximum lift is obtained immediately before an extended flow 4.1. Passive flow control devices
separation region appears. Additionally, highly detached and un-
steady flows in gaps, slots and cavities in landing gear are the main Passive VG are simply small aspect ratio airfoils mounted nor-
sources of aero-acoustic noise. In a high speed regime, the causes mally to the lifting surfaces ahead of the flow separation point in
of concern come from reducing the influence of the shock with order to energize the boundary layer and to prevent separation.
the upper surface boundary layer and delaying the Mach number The only difference with SBVG, also known as low-profile vor-
at which this interaction leads to flow separation and buffet. tex generators, is that SBVG are submerged below the boundary
The control of high lift induced separation on an airfoil may layer to reduce the drag penalty. VG and SBVG can be classified as
improve the flight envelope of current aircraft or even simplify PBLS flow control actuators. Typical applications of these devices
the complex and heavy high-lift devices on commercial airframes. are the control of low-speed separated flows in adverse pressure
116 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

rameters involved in their configurations in order to obtain the

optimum results.
More recent applications of these devices are found within the
AWIATOR project, where SBVGs were mounted on the flap up-
per surface producing the delay of flap boundary layer separation
only when the flap was deployed (Fig. 37). When the flap was
Fig. 35. Numerical surface streamlines of a backward-facing wedge VG at Mach 2.5 stowed, the SBVG were contained in the cove region under the
from [61]. wing shroud. The design was tested on an A340. Computational
analysis; wind tunnel testing; and flight test validation were car-
gradient and supersonic shock-induced separation. Although it has ried out to obtain an optimized design. The addition of SBVGs
been proven that the VG reduces the separation zone, there is no to the flap at δ = 35◦ deflection increased the lift coefficient by
existing satisfactory explanation of how they act. Lu et al. [68] de- up to 2.2% over a wide incidence range compared to the base-
scribed a detailed review of the underlying physics and flow topo- line configuration of δ = 32◦ without SBVGs. The effect of SBVGs
logical structures, presented around these devices. This was mainly at a fixed landing flap deflection increased the lift coefficient CL
for SBVG at high speed, where it was shown that, although conven- from 0.01 to 0.04 over part of the incidence range. As expected,
tional, vane-shaped vortex generators were well established (they this indicated that the vast majority of the lift increase was due
produce a par tip vortices which entrains free-stream fluid, and, to an increase in flap angle. A trend to a small increase in drag
thereby, energizing the boundary layer), other configurations, as of 4 counts (Cd = 0.0004) in takeoff configuration was within the
forward and backward-facing wedge or wishbone and doublet type repeatability of the wind tunnel balance and, therefore, deemed
Wheeler vane (better suited for high-speed flows in view of its ro- insignificant. Although the stall was produced 0.3◦ early, the flight
bustness and produced typically a dominant horseshoe vortices) test confirmed this improvement in the behavior of the flap at 35◦ ,
showed an extremely complex flow topology (Fig. 35). This behav- with an increment of CL of approximately 2.5% at the reference an-
gle of attack.
ior can be explain because of the presence of a tiny, sub-boundary
QinetiQ studied experimentally, in the DERA (Defense Evalua-
layer protuberance which arises from the flow separating off the
tion and Research Agency) high speed wind tunnel, different SBVG
slant sides, showing that understanding the unsteadiness of the
arrangements to prevent the onset of buffet. The SBVG were dis-
flow caused by these devices and its effects on the external flow
posed at 55% of the chord, ahead of the shock. The results showed
was not as easy as expected. A second debatable approach is the
that split vane SBVG performed better than wedges in delaying
presence of an instability mechanism triggered by the VG which
separation in these configurations. However, the ideal location of
is thought to produce a train of either hairpin vortices or vortex
the VG was not obvious. Additionally, the effect of the wing sweep,
rings which entrain high momentum of the free-stream fluid.
which was not considered in basic studies, could be the cause of
VG are found to be best suited for applications where, rela- discrepancies between the expected rate of boundary layer growth
tively, the flow-separation locations are fixed and the generators (much higher) and the optimum VG height. Another important ap-
can be placed close upstream of the separation. The effect of dif- plication was found in improving attached flows in pylon-wing in-
ferent parameters (device height; length; spacing; and stream-wise terference or internal flows S-duct engine air-intake configurations
distance) involved in its design was discussed in [66]. The results (Fig. 38). Studied by Onera, QinetiQ or numerically by KTH [103],
showed the effectiveness of the low-profile VG – h/δ  1, δ ; the vane and air-jet VG arrays were effective when located ahead of
boundary layer thickness; and h the height of the device – in elim- the separation.
inating the inflection point in the pressure distribution, thus allow- A more energetic approach is the passive air jet vortex (AJVG)
ing a significant reduction of separated area. Taller VG’s (/δ  1) generator (Fig. 39). Studied by City University [80], they can be
reduce, also, the detached area but at the cost of causing a strong used at low speed to prevent detaching or, at high speed, to con-
modification of the input flow, creating 3D flow structures (Fig. 36) trol buffet. The idea of the slots is to inject fresh momentum to
with a subsequent drag penalty. In any case, it is important to the boundary layer particles which have been slowed down by the
emphasize the strong influence and sensitivity of the different pa- action of viscosity. The analysis at Mach = 0.1, Re = 1 millions and

Fig. 36. 0.2δ (0.8 right)-high vane-type counter-rotating VGs at 10 h (6 h-right) upstream of baseline separation from [66].

Fig. 37. Flap separation controlled by VG. Stow inside the flap well.
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 117

Fig. 38. Flow control application to S-duct engine air-intake.

Fig. 39. Passive air jet vortex system.

an angle of attack of 18◦ was performed on a NACA23012C aero-

Fig. 40. Sketch of the OA209 airfoil nose showing the leading edge extruded vortex
foil – a modification of the NACA 23012. The model was equipped generators from [47].
with a span-wise array of 15 air jets of 4.8 mm diameter cir-
cular orifices, located at 12% chord and spaced equally with 45 the strength of the vortex which is generated at its tip. Therefore,
mm between the jet centers. The upper surface was connected a force has to be added in the flow in order to create a vortex.
to the lower surface at 4% of the chord. The air jet orifices were Jopubert et al. [47] carried out an interesting study to check
designed with 30◦ pitch angle and 60◦ skew angle to the local the performance of the CFD methods in these devices. The geome-
aerofoil surface and free-streamflow direction. Experimental vali- try investigated was the rotor blade airfoil OA20910 modified with
dation was performed at the City University T2 Low speed wind the addition of a row of co-rotative Vortex Generators (VG). The VG
tunnel. For the CFD study, a commercial 3D time marching Navier– consisted of a 1.0 mm thick frame extruded from the leading-edge
Stokes (N–S) flow solver with the Spalart–Allmaras, and the k–e surface in the forward direction. Each VG was 115 mm distant
and k–w (SST) turbulence models were employed. The passive air from each other in the span-wise direction and had a swept angle
jets were found to increase maximum CL by 14% compared to the of 18◦ (Fig. 40). The flow case was a low speed static stall test case
baseline configuration and to delay the onset of trailing edge sep- at Mach = 0.1617 and Re = 1.8 millions based on the chord length
aration by 2◦ . The occurrence of stall, indicated by maximum CL, of 0.5 m. The used CFD method was the ONERA multi-application
was found to be delayed from 15–16◦ to 18–19◦ , whilst, similarly, aerodynamic code Elsa which solves the URANS equations for
pitching moment stall was seen to be delayed 2◦ . These effects structured multiblock grids in finite-volume methods. The com-
were the same than would be expected using actively blown air putational results were compared to experimental pressure data;
jets operating at an equivalent blowing momentum coefficient C ν lift and moment coefficients; and the Laser Doppler Velocime-
(see definition in (1)) but were achieved by a natural process with try field. Without performing a detailed convergence analysis, a
no active energy input. fair agreement was obtained between experimental references and
computations. The solutions provided a better understanding of
Another important issue is related to the numerical tools which
the vortex generation mechanisms and the influence of the Vor-
were used in the computations for the design and validation of
tex Generator thickness was discussed also. A VG with 1/5 of the
these devices. Different scales of accuracy can be used. Because of
original thickness delayed significantly the stall; the reason could
the turbulent unsteady nature of this flow, usually, detailed LES
be explained by a higher vortex dissipation in the thicker VG. Fi-
simulations are necessary. This solution is very computationally
nally, the results were compared with those obtained with a BAY
demanding and, currently, unfeasible to use in an industrial design
model. The results agreed with the thin VG (tVG) computations;
loop. The second option is to partially resolve the flow features. and for the lift and moment coefficients; the generated vortex cir-
Here, the devices are modeled by surface and volume sources culation; and the vortex aspect. However, it failed to reproduce the
which generate structures resolved within the mesh (3D). At this effect of the thickness present in the original VG. This was not un-
stage, reduced order models are considered also [95]. The third and expected since the BAY VG model was designed for infinitely thin
less expensive solution is to represent the device in a RANS aver- Vortex Generators.
age model. This is a statistical approach whereby no structures are
resolved and requires the same computational cost as for a RANS 4.2. Active flow control devices (AFC)
computation [103]. One of the most renowned models is the BAY
Vortex Generator model, based on the lifting-line theory, which Conventional AFC systems are focused primarily on the mitiga-
was developed originally by Bender et al. [11]. This model sug- tion of flow separation to energize the incoming boundary layer
gests a correlation between a force over a finite lifting surface and by coupling to the instability of the separating shear layer on the
118 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

time scale of the flow about the airfoil or injection of mass and Pulsed AJVG injection was supposed to achieve the same aerody-
momentum. A very interesting, historical and in-depth review of namic performance gains (same VR and jet geometry) and steady
flow separation by periodic excitation including the parameters in- air jets but at considerably reduced mass flows (C ν ). However, the
volved, underlying physics and multiple applications can be found authors gave no additional details supporting this fact. In the same
in [38]. The studies, most of them about simple configurations like context, the 2nd EUROPEAN FORUM on FLOW CONTROL (Poitiers,
flap and single airfoils, show that the use of active flow control 2006) [94] proposed to study the effects of different fluidic ac-
methods is not new and, even in the Sixties, some works could tuators on the same NACA0015 airfoil. The competition was fol-
be found for steady blowing. However, the increasing environmen- lowed by different groups in Poitiers; Monash; Florida; Tel Aviv;
tal awareness of the civil society, together with the maturity of and Manchester Universities. The NACA0015 model had a chord of
the technologies required for these devices (actuators; sensors; 0.35 m and a span of 2.4 m. The analysis was conducted at a free-
pneumatic systems; etc.), led to a renewed interest in these tech- stream velocity of 40 m/s and a Reynolds number of 0.96 millions.
nologies. Here, we reveal their most recent advances, mainly in the Table 3 summarizes the mode and means of deployment; jet ori-
context of KATNET activities, and, in particular, their application to entation; position and number of orifices.
real high-lift systems. This is quite challenging for the aeronautical The following conclusions were obtained:
industry since, for multi-element airfoils, effective control requires
extensive optimization to apply the system to a complex airfoil. • Angled Steady Jet with diameter of 1 mm (0.27% < C ν < 0.36%,
This involves the joint consideration of the detailed geometry of 2.5 < V R < 3.5)
the airfoil; Reynolds number; and the parameters of the excitation – C L improves by 5–16% depending upon incidence;
such as amplitude, frequency and the location from which the os- – C D reduced 30% to 50%;
cillations emanate. The two more important parameters, involved – Typical time for attachment/separation at 11◦ is 0.1 s.
in the design of AFC devices, are the averaged blowing momentum • Normal Steady Jet with diameter of 1 mm (0.03% < C ν <
coefficient, defined as the ratio of the momentum and, in addition, 0.14%, 0.9 < V R < 1.8)
the free stream and the dimensionless frequency of excitation: – C L improves by 3–5% depending upon incidence;
– Tendency to increase C D for incidences above 12◦ , except at
ṁV R Uj f e Xe
Cν = , VR = , F+ = (1) 15◦ .
1 /2 ρ U ∞ S U∞ U∞ • Normal Steady Jet with diameter of 0.5 mm (C ν  0.4%,
where ṁ is the mass flow rate through the duct; U j the average V R  8)
jet exit velocity; ρ the external density; U ∞ the external velocity – C L improves by 3–8% depending upon incidence;
and S a reference area. V R is the relative velocity between jet and – C D reduced 15–22%;
free stream; f e the excitation frequency – if it is applied –; and – More effective after 8◦ incidence (no separation before this
X e the dimensionless distance between the excitation location and incidence).
the trailing edge (flap or wing).
Other parameters in play are the jet pitch, the skew angle, and For illustration, the ZNMF (zero net mass flow) was included,
jet nozzle diameter or the duty cycle (DC), defined as the portion also, in this comparison. In this case, a Reynolds number of 0.25
of the period in which the valve is open. millions and free stream velocity of 10 m/s were considered. The
Different theories about how the AFC affects the flow can be study was performed at an angle of incidence of 13◦ . The optimal
found in [4]. Most of them describe the interaction between these solution was obtained with C ν = 0.32%, V R = 3. The actuator was
jets and the cross flow over the surface, leading to the formation operated at 1.95 kHz and modulated with a sine wave at 41 Hz.
of a domain which displaces the local streamlines of the cross flow The obtained results showed better drag reduction characteristics
and, thereby, inducing an apparent or virtual change in the shape at low incidences with a lift improvement up to 4%.
of the surface; an apparent modification of the flow boundary; and Other typical applications of these devices are the reduction of
the local stream-wise pressure gradient. Herewith is a short review simplification of high-lift devices, for instance, in the design of a
of current tendencies in this technology’s development. slotless flap and a slatless profile. Alenia investigated a slotless flap
configuration which removed the standard slot between the wing
4.2.1. Blowing method and the flap by giving a wing–flap structural continuity. The slot
The blowing method, also known as fluidic VG, consists of in was substituted with a small cave where the effect of steady blow-
adding energy to the lower boundary layer by blowing air through ing was augmented by positioning a small NACA profile (Fig. 42).
slots and energizing the flow near the wall which enables it to A preliminary analysis, in a baseline profile, showed a performance
overcome a larger pressure gradient. Jet entrainment had been improvement in flap lift with almost no penalty in drag (Fig. 43).
shown to enhance the lift generated by airfoils. The used mech- The configuration was tested on an Airbus320 at a take-off Mach
anism, the Coanda effect phenomenon, allows the jet to remain number of 0.153. The design considered that there was a need for
attached even when long curvature effects are presented. A typical a blowing coefficient of C ν = 0.067 with U j = 340 m/s ( V R  6).
low-speed application is to delay the boundary layer detachment This flow rate had to be obtained by an estimated 8% of bleed-
at high angles of attack. The City University checked this concept ing from the nacelle flow (approximately 32 kg/s). The estimated
experimentally on a 35◦ swept wing, RAE5225 aerofoil section, as- aircraft mass increase due to blowing system was 430 kg with an
pect ratio of 4.5 and 0.958 m of span. 18 rectangular air jets of estimated mass decrease of 630 kg because of a reduced chord
30◦ pitch and variable skew were distributed uniformly at a 10% flap.
x/c. The free stream conditions were M = 0.1 and Re = 0.5 mil- In the slatless wing configuration (Fig. 44), the slat was sub-
lions. In this configuration, the flow was detached at a 12◦ angle stituted with a blowing device located on the leading edge. The
of attack. The pitch angle was fixed to 30◦ . The efficiency of the results were compared with the high-lift devices studied in EU-
VG depended clearly on the swept angle which, finally, was fixed ROLIFT I. The experiments were performed on a modified ONERA
at −90◦ . The experiments showed the ability to attach the flow AFV wing in the Airbus Filton low speed wind tunnel facility. Four
completely at α = 12◦ with C ν = 0.03 (Fig. 41). different positions of the jet, relative to the leading edge, were
Also, in these experiments, a pulsed VG with pulsing frequency, considered (x/c = 0.024 up BLE1, 0.01 up BLE2, 0 BLE3, 0.006 low
equal to the trailing edge shedding frequency, was tested. The BLE4). The analysis was performed at M = 0.153 and a velocity jet
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 119

Fig. 41. Efficiency of blowing methods to avoid the flow detachment for different values of the blowing momentum coefficient. Experiment performed by The City University
on a 35◦ swept wing, RAE5225 aerofoil section.

Table 3
Range of parameters studied in the 2nd European Forum on Flow Control (Poitiers, 2006).
Mode of deployment Means of deployment Jet orientation Position (x/c) Number of orifices
Steady angled jets (1 mm diameter) 30◦ pitch 60◦ skew 0.3 44
Steady normal jets (1 mm diameter) Continuous Pressurized cavity 0.3 51
Steady normal jets (0.5 mm diameter) Normal to surface 0.3 64
Normal ZNMF jet (1 mm diameter) Amplitude pulsed modulated Piezo-electric 0.3 56

of Uj = 340 m/s. A CLmax as high as 3.4 at AoA of 22◦ was ob- configuration could increase the Permissible Aerodynamic Loading,
tained compared with the original 2.5 at 15◦ . by 13% at the Design Point, and 0.5% of Compressor Inlet Mass
Within the turbo-machinery field, one important goal is the re- were sufficient to reduce vane count by 20%.
duction of the number of vanes or compressor stages. The design Also in the field of turbo-machinery, BAE Systems and Dassault
of a stator with Coanda surface makes it possible to increase the Aviation (in collaboration with LEA from Poitiers, ONERA, Snecma)
vane spacing; and, thereby, reducing the number of total vanes. evaluated the potential of fluidic thrust vectoring to determine the
The idea is to design a curved surface, near the trailing edge, which efficiency of a throat skewing concept on a generic high aspect ra-
promotes the Coanda effect. This effect can be increased further tio nozzle. It was based on a modification of the sonic line through
by blowing. The Institute of Turbomachinery and Fluid Mechan- the generation of a separated flow region on one of the lateral
ics of Leibniz University performed a study concerning this issue. walls of the divergent part of the nozzle (Fig. 46).
The new stator was slightly shorter; had the maximum thickness The flow separation control was achieved through continuous
shortly downstream; and a trailing edge thicker than the original blowing of high pressure bleed air whose mass flow rate deter-
one. The new stator’s internal plenum was designed carefully to mined the shape of the separated region. Different parameters
avoid losses (Fig. 45). The designs were carried out by a numerical were studied: The length and slope angle of the divergent part of
optimization making use of the Navier–Stokes equations. The new the nozzle; the location; angle and mass flow rate of the blowing;
120 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 42. Slotless flap configuration.

Fig. 43. CL and CD as a function of C ν for the slotless flap configuration.

Fig. 44. Blown leading edge concept.

A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 121

Fig. 47. Oil flow picture leading edge actuation (lower side) from [106].

momentum oriented effect makes possible, also, activation by dif-

ferent sources such as air compressor; thermal (spark jets); and
electromagnetic (plasma actuator) or mechanical (synthetic jets).
From the point of view of applications, in a similar way to con-
tinuous blowing VG, they aim to enhance the stall characteristic
of profiles or high-lift devices, or even to eliminate the necessity
of these devices (slatless configurations). The main reason of using
pulsed VG is that some previous studies about detached flows [4,
38,72] showed that steady blowing could require more momentum
input for reattachment and separation prevention than an equiva-
lent periodic excitation. Although, in general, these technologies
are well understood, there is a need for further research before
being deployed in an aircraft, and, in particular, there is a need to
Fig. 45. Internal design of the Coanda stator to avoid loss in the air discharge phase. understand the role of the different parameters involved in their
efficiency. Some of the most remarkable studies are given below.
The German Flow Control Network, conducted by the DLR
Braunschweig, Technical University of Berlin, Braunschweig and
Stuttgart, carried out different experiments on the control of the
separation in the wing and the flap of a DLR F15-model [106].
The DLR-F15 is a modular wind tunnel model for two-dimensional
testing of different high-lift configurations. The model has a chord
length of 600 mm and the span varies from 2400 mm to 2800 mm,
depending on the test cross section of the wind tunnel. For the
two-element configuration, the flap deflection angle can be ad-
justed within the range 30◦ –49◦ . The experiments were conducted
at Mach = 0.1–0.2 and Re = 1.4–2.8 millions in the DNW NWB
wind tunnel of Braunschweig’s facilities. In order to avoid stall by
laminar separation bubble burst, the transition was triggered at the
leading edge.
Fig. 46. Fluidic thrust vectoring concept. For the main wing, the actuators were located at the lower and
upper leading edges and at the 25% of the upper wing (Fig. 47).
a combination of blowing at the throat; and, at the end of the Pressurized air at a maximum delivery rate of 10 m3 /min and
divergent part, influenced the nozzle exit aspect ratio on fluidic 12 bar was supplied by tubes into the model air ducts up to a fast
thrust vectoring efficiency. Although in a preliminary stage of in- switching solenoid valve. This valve could operate at a maximum
vestigation the conclusion were quite satisfactory, in the sense that frequency of 300 Hz. Fig. 48-left shows the lift coefficient over the
it was possible to obtain a good thrust vectoring efficiency with a angle of attack without actuation and with an actuation at a pres-
monotonic increase of thrust vector angle, this was at the cost of sure of 5 bar; frequency 100 Hz; and a duty cycle of DC = 85%. In
obtaining a reduction in the mass flow rate and thrust. The de- this case, the flap deflection was set to 45◦ . The major effect was
crease of fluidic throat section, due to the blowing, was limited seen to be a delay of separation towards higher angles of attack
by the engine surge margin. The RANS prediction of aerodynamic by approximately 5◦ . In the linear range, the actuation reduced
efficiency (thrust vector angle; discharge coefficient; Gross thrust slightly the lift coefficient.
coefficient) was in general agreement with experimental measure- In the case of the flap, Fig. 48-right shows the lift curves for a
ments done by ONERA. flap deflection angle of 49◦ without and with active flow control
on the flap shoulder at 20% of the flap chord. For the unexcited
4.2.2. Vortex generator case, a large separation area occurred starting at about 35% flap
The efficiency of steady blowing can be improved by using a chord (not shown here), and was present for the whole range of
dynamic (pulsed/periodic) jet. The pulsing introduces periodic vor- angles of attack. Exciting the flow with a frequency of 225 Hz; a
tical structures, which increase the turbulent mixing between the duty cycle of 50%; and a duct pressure of 8 bar led to a reattach-
low momentum fluid, close to the surface, and the outer parts of ment of the flow on the flap, which resulted in an enhancement
the boundary layer. This allows the mean (net) mass flux to be re- of the lift coefficient of up to 10% in the linear region of the pre-
duced because the momentum is taken from the outer flow and sented lift polar. The corresponding momentum coefficient was, on
not from the actuator jet itself which only helps the transfer. This average, about C ν = 0.25%.
122 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 48. Control of separation by pulse actuation. Left-main wing, right-flap from [106].

(Fig. 50-right), the setup resulted in a successful vortex genera-

tor jet for separation control; the stall was delayed and an almost
continuous lift curve resulted. The maximum AoA was increased
by 2.5◦ and the maximum normal force by 0.15. As a drawback,
the amplitude was required to delay separation which was an or-
der of magnitude larger than the amplitude required to control
the separated flow with the suction-side setup. As a final remark,
it was observed that the maximum normal force and the maxi-
mum AoA for the clean configurations differed slightly for the two
setups (pressure/suction side). This was explained in [89] as the
effect on the unsealed slots in the different positions.
In the same context, Haucke et al. [43] investigated the effect
Fig. 49. Schematic drawing of the airfoil PS03-8.27 with the actuation setup and
of the position and jet angle of the pulsed VG and their effective-
CAD close up of the Nose. The airfoil was equipped with alternately oriented slots ness to improve the performance of a Fowler flap (Fig. 51). Two
5 × 0.2 mm2 , skew angle ±45◦ – from [89]. different setups were studied: the VG located at the 10% of the
flap chord, with blowing angle normal to the flap surface; and at
In the same way, Scholz et al. [89] investigated a PS03-8.27 air- the 20% of the chord with jet angle of 30◦ . As in other experi-
foil equipped with a total of 80 individual slots with a relative ments, the Reynolds number was millions, and the boundary layer
distance between them of  y /c = 0.0375 and a skew angle of was force to turbulence by a rough strip located on the leading
±45 (Fig. 49). The optimal orientation; distance; and setup for the edge. Other studied parameters were: flap gap and flap overlap;
span-wise array were optimized carefully [48]. Free stream velocity angle of attack; flap deflection angle; and excitation parameters
of 50 m/s and a Reynolds number of 1.3 millions were considered such as frequency; duty cycle; and supplied air pressure (equiva-
in this study. The laminar separation bubble, typical at this low Re, lent to blowing momentum coefficient).
was avoided by using a proper transition tripping at x/c = 0.3%. The main conclusions are shown in Fig. 52. As noted already by
Two different positions for the actuator were studied; one at other authors, very small dependence of the lift with the frequency
the suction side of the profile and the second at the pressure side. was observed. On the contrary, C ν affected greatly the actuation’s
For the suction side (Fig. 50-left), the actuation influenced the sep- performance; higher values of C ν produced higher values of lift
aration in a positive manner but it was unable to prevent it. The with almost no penalty in terms of drag. As a final conclusion, flow
optimum configuration was found at a duty cycle (defined in the excitation, with a wall jet perpendicular to the flap’s upper surface,
figures as ) of 25% and F +  1, with an improvement in the resulted in lift enhancements of up to 8%. Pulsed blowing, at a po-
maximum normal force of 0.12 and maximum AoA of 19◦ , around sition further downstream closer to the time averaged separation
5◦ higher than the clean configuration. However, clearly observed line with an inclined periodic wall jet, was more effective than
in the picture, an area of retarded flow appeared behind the slots, normal blowing. The improvements in lift coefficients depended
which embedded into a boundary layer provoked a small separa- on each configuration and reached values of up to a maximum of
tion area and hence smaller normal forces before stall than in the 50%.
clean configuration. After the stall, the actuators could introduce, The extension to more realistic 3D test cases was performed,
now, some positive periodicity improving the global performances also, by Petz et al. [76]. The mentioned model consisted of the
at high AoA. When the actuators were located in the pressure side fuselage and a three-element wing containing the slat; main wing;
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 123

Fig. 50. Effect of duty cycle and C ν on performance of airfoil PS03-8.27. Left, actuator located at the suction side with for fixed F + = 0.6. Right, actuator located at the
pressure side with F + = 1.44. From [89].

Fig. 51. Principal actuator system tested in the slatless configuration of [43].

Fig. 52. Effect of pulse frequency and blowing momentum coefficient in slatless configuration studied by [43].
124 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

ferent locations of 12% and 30% of the chord. All of them had an
inclined angle of 23◦ with respect to the local tangential airfoil
surface (Fig. 55).
Simulations were carried out using the following conditions:
free-stream velocity of 35.7 m/s; and a chord Reynolds number
of 2.19 millions. Three different jet velocities (1–3 times the exter-
nal velocity) and three different frequencies F + = 1, 2 and 5 were
considered. The characteristic length, used in the non-dimensional
frequency, was the distance between the trailing edge and the jet
slot. A suction/blowing planar boundary condition was adopted in
this work to model a synthetic jet actuator. The base configuration
(a) showed a detached flow starting at the trailing edge at around
18◦ . At 22◦ the flow was detached completely, a large stall region
dominated the suction wing side.
As expected, for the controlled case, the enhancement of lift
and drag was proportional to the amplitude of the synthetic jet
velocity (C ν ). At lower angles of attack, higher momentums were
necessary to overcome the stall at the trailing edge. At higher an-
gles of attack (22◦ ) the three tested jet velocities produced the
desired effect and the three tested frequencies were irrelevant in
all cases. At an angle of attack of 22◦ , the maximum lift coefficient
Fig. 53. 3D high-lift configuration studied in [76]. was enhanced about 7.3%. In this case, the separation point was
very near the synthetic jet slot.
and flap. There was a sweep angle of 30◦ and a finite wing span The conditions for the maximum lift enhancement can be sum-
(Fig. 53). The investigations showed a substantial improvement in marized as follows: the approximate non-dimensional frequency
lift and drag resulting in a lift-to-drag ratio enhancement of about was 1; the location of the synthetic jet slot was equal to the base-
15% in the 3D case, compared with 20% to 25% in the equivalent line separation point; and the jet velocity was large enough to per-
2D-case. Apart from these promising results, the 3D test case was turb the surrounding separated flow. For the case of the plain flap
more complicated than appeared at a first glance. In the 3D case, separation (b), similar effects were observed and the synthetic jet
the separation process was different due to sweep effects and finite performed well at higher velocities and as long as it was located
wing span. In the separation, longitudinal vortices were generated close to the detached point. When the wing flow was detached
in addition to stream-wise vortices. The first test mimicking the 2D completely (above 16◦ ) the flap was immersed completely into the
parameters resulted in almost a 20% degradation of lift and drag detached region and the SJ lost their effectiveness.
for the 3D case (Fig. 54-left). A second experiment was carried out Although no significant differences in performance between the
by moving the excitation slot downstream by only a fraction of the frequencies were observed, the flow features were completely dif-
flap chord and tilted in the direction of the flow. The results in ferent. The low frequency jet (F +  1) produced a periodic shed-
Fig. 54-right show a strong sensitivity of the flow with the param- ding of small vortices which moved along the suction surface and
eter involved in the active flow. This is something which must be penetrated into the large leading edge separation vortex. As a
studied further. result, the size of the leading edge separation vortex decreased
Kim [51] performed a thorough numerical study of different substantially. For high frequencies, the small vortex did not grow
slatless configurations was performed by Kim in a NACA23012 enough to penetrate into the large separation vortex because the
with 20% of flap. The author considered four different configu- period of synthetic jet motion was too short. Instead, the flow near
rations: (a) a synthetic jet at 12% of chord; (b) at 81% of chord, the synthetic jet slot was attached firmly and, as a result, a more
only in the deflected flap; (c) a combination of two SJ with droop stable flow structure was developed on the suction surface (Fig. 56,
nose device; and (d) deflected flap and an array or SJ at two dif- also, these patterns were observed experimentally in [37]).

Fig. 54. Left, preliminary results in 3D configuration. Right, after adjustment of the position of the actuator from [76].
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 125

Fig. 55. Layout of NACA23012 with different configurations of synthetic jets

from [51].

Fig. 57. Lift coefficient for different configurations (ff: fowler flap, pf: plain flap, led:
leading edge droop) from [51].

plain flap actuated (configuration (b)) the maximum lift was 52.9%
higher. In the case of the airfoil with a 20◦ leading edge droop, 30◦
deflected flap, and two synthetic jets (0.12c, 0.81c), the maximum
lift was 65.8% higher than that of baseline. Furthermore, the stall
angle was about 2◦ larger than that of baseline. Consequently, the
combination of the synthetic jet with the simple high lift device
produced almost the same maximum lift enhancement as a con-
ventional fowler flap system (although the slope of the lift curve
was small).
Also, placing different SJ in an array schedule can be beneficial.
Fig. 56. Different flow patterns depending of the SJ frequency. Left – F +  1, Right This option, as shown by [51] in configuration (d), demonstrates
– F +  10 from [51].
that, at least from the aeronautical point of view, the combination
of weaker SJ in different locations can be more beneficial than only
The question about which was the best actuation frequency re- a stronger one. Further analysis of the complexity of the systems is
mained open. When the actuation frequency F + was O(1) – the not described here. In any case a deep study of the space distribu-
characteristic (shedding) frequency of the airfoil – the natural re- tion to obtain the maximum performance has not been done. The
ceptivity of the separating shear layer to this frequency resulted in same idea was shown by [93] from Boeing company in a simple
a Coanda-like tilting of the shear layer towards the surface of the hinge flap, a conventional high lift configuration or more advance
airfoil and, therefore, in partial restoration of the lift. The forcing high-lift sections (Fig. 58). In the three cases, there is proof that an
modulated the evolution of vortical structures within the separated adequate distribution of the SJ along the slat, flap and wing, can
shear layer and promoted the formation of concentrated lifting enhance greatly the lift with smaller devices and lower jet veloci-
vortices which interacted with trailing-edge vortices and, thereby, ties.
altered the global stalled flow. In a certain range of post-stall an- In AVERT, there was performed a comprehensive study of dif-
gles of attack and actuation frequencies, the flow became periodic ferent active flow control actuators. A 2D high-lift wing of 0.5 m
and was accompanied by a significant lift enhancement. Although chord length and 1.5 m wing span with a GARTEUR AG08 cross-
this was the most extended application, it could lead to time pe- section [69] was considered as reference. Flap Gap Oscillatory
riodic vortex shedding from the top surface of the airfoil which Blowing, Fluidic VGs and Synthetic Jets Actuators were consid-
could give up to 20% oscillations in the lift coefficient. In con- ered on the flap, whereas for non-standard high-lift systems, Me-
trast, the suppression of separation at higher actuation frequencies chanical VGs, Continuous Slots/Jets, Pulsed Slots/Jets and Synthetic
[i.e., F + = O(10)] was marked by the absence of organized vorti- Jets Actuators were considered on a Droop Nose Device config-
cal structures along the flow surface [2,4]. The mechanism which uration (DND) (Fig. 59). In the AEROMEMS project, wind tunnel
led to the suppression of separation was unassociated with the demonstrations were performed by Manchester University and the
stability of the separated shear layer and resulted in more steady Laboratoire de Physique et Metrologie des Oscillateurs to test the
structures. Also, it was investigated that pulse modulated with efficiency of some pneumatic VGs on a flap (Fig. 60).
high frequencies could achieve better performances at lower mo- As an example, a DND of droop deflection and flap deflection
mentums [3]. angles with 35◦ and 32.4◦ respectively were studied. The model
Finally, the efficiency of a leading edge droop, deflected at 20◦ , was tested at 70 m/s and Re = 1 million. Numerical studies were
was studied in configuration (c). The plain flap was deflected at performed by Dassault and tested experimentally in ONERA L1
30◦ , and the synthetic jet velocity was triple the free-stream ve- wind tunnel. The reference wing configuration is a droop nose
locity. An interesting comparison is summarized in Fig. 57. The configuration, with a “standard” flap. The CFD defined the best
maximum lift of the airfoil with a 30◦ , deflected flap was al- locations and optimum pneumatic VG parameters (jet exit size,
most 33.4% higher than that of the airfoil without flap deflection jet velocity amplitude and direction, spacing). Continuous blow-
(baseline); however, the stall angle was about 2◦ , lower. For the ing showed effectiveness at 8% of the chord and C ν = 2.5–5.1%
126 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

Fig. 58. Left, lift augmentation due to distributed flow control simple hinge flap. Central, effect of AFC application on each element of the conventional high-lift wing section
(representative takeoff configuration, δ = 24). Right, AFC for advanced wing section (landing configuration, δ = 50). From [93].

Fig. 59. Low speed flow control devices considered in the European project AVERT.

Fig. 60. Micro fluidic actuators (MEMS technology from LPMO) on AFV flap in ONERA F1 wind tunnel (AEROMEMS project).

to eliminate completely the stall on a slatless DND configuration NASA and Boeing applied the same kind of control for high lift
at an AoA of 25◦ (Fig. 61-left). For this configuration, the excita- wings (with and without gaps between the different wing com-
tion with pulse blowing (70 Hz) and the same momentum did not ponents). Since 1999, studies of wings with and without gaps
perform well (Fig. 61-right). This was controversial with other pre- were undertaken and showed that the loss of performance, due
viously mentioned authors, who showed better performance for to gap suppression between main body and flap, could be reduced
pulse blowing and lower momentum injections. greatly thanks to pulsed jets actuators (Sellers et al. [92]). Simi-
Another interesting application was performed by Boeing for a larly Seiferts work (Pack et al. [73]) demonstrated the success of a
commercial aircraft configuration, the US project ADVINT (Adap- flow control on a high lift aerofoil with no gap deflected slat and
tive Flow Control Vehicle Integrated Technologies for Breakthrough flap. Several kinds of jets and synthetic slots allowed significantly
Aerodynamic Performance), in collaboration with Professor Wyg- increased performance of such aerofoils by suppressing boundary
nanski’s team which aimed at improving high lift wings for layer separation.
the Boeing’s ATT (Advanced Theater Transport Aircraft), by using To our knowledge, no flight demonstration has been performed
pulsed jet actuators to be developed and tested in flight condi- in the USA for representative aircraft (lack of high authority syn-
tions (Kilbens and Bower [50]). thetic jet actuator). Nevertheless, in the USA, a flight demonstra-
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 127

Fig. 61. Droop nose device with AFC tested by ONERA in the European project AVERT. Droop nose configuration, with a standard flap of a GARTEUR high-lift landing
configuration is considered as reference. Left continuous blowing. Right pulse blowing.

lenge is to identify suitable systems and control laws if such an

approach is to be realized.
Flow control strategy can be considered, also, for other aerody-
namic applications. The application of trailing edge separation con-
trol, through mass-less jet actuators to enhance aileron effective-
ness, may result in smaller sized devices with a potential weight
saving to the overall structure. This is taken to the extreme in the
case of wing surface separation control aircraft maneuver where
the conventional aileron is removed completely with load control
coming through wing separation control rather than a moveable
device. The underlying technology is the same boundary layer sep-
Fig. 62. XV-15 in stationary flight. aration and attachment control and the extent to which these can
be deployed if at all – will be dependent upon the configuration
of interest. The development of robust and durable devices, which
tion was performed in low free-stream velocity where available
can promote both separation and re-attachment minimizing ex-
synthetic jets (low authority) could be used, on tilt rotor XV-15
crescence drag, is worthy of investigation.
aircraft (see Fig. 62). The flow control was set up by Professor
Moving to the dynamic regime and the control of unsteady
Wygnanski’s team [109].
loads, active flutter control, by control surface actuation, may be
The aim was to control the flow on the main wing body dur-
considered to extend the flutter (or buffet) boundary of a wing
ing the vertical take-off where a massive separation occurs on the
without recourse to increasing structural strength and weight. Also,
leading edge and on the 80◦ deflected flap. The synthetic jet actu-
the onset of buffet can be postponed by using pneumatic VGs up-
ator was located near the hinge line of the flap.
stream of the shock position. The aerodynamic phenomena are
well known and the main challenge is in the design of suitable
4.3. Other applications control laws. However, because such a system is active, a key chal-
lenge will be to certify such a system due to the associated safety
issues. Pylon junction shock control, by porous cavity, may be a
For conventional slats and flaps, the need to reduce source useful means of alleviating the adverse effect of wing lower sur-
noise terms for a given level of performance is also attractive. Two face pylon flow separations at rapid descent as an alternative to
technologies were identified: the application of acoustic treatments other shapes or structural treatments. Again, from an aerodynamic
to slat and flap coves and active noise reduction by the suppres- perspective, the understanding is clear and most of the remaining
sion of unsteady flows. The first approach builds on the knowledge activity is focused on demonstration.
gained through the use of acoustic liners to suppress the propa-
gation (and potential amplification) of noise through the high lift 5. System and certification issues
device. The challenge is to understand the characteristics of the
noise source terms and identify the specification of the liners. For So far, the description of different flow control technologies has
the active control system, pressure fluctuations which contribute been addressed. However, it is necessary to discuss some system
to noise are detected and suppressed by a sensor actuator array. and certification issues associated with the in service use of this
This is more complex than the acoustic liner arrangement but may kind of device. Summary descriptions of the problems involved are
be the only means of suppressing some noise sources. The chal- (additional details in Liddle and Crowther [62]):
128 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

• Velocity ratio for VG control (as found by CFD and to be con-

firmed by AVERT experiments).
– The leading edge control needs a V R around 5. If control by
synthetic slot VR around 2 is needed (Vj around 250 m/s).
– For a transonic flow control, a micro-jet velocity of the order
of Mach 2 seems to be needed.
– For a real aircraft configuration the mass flow for a non-
ZNMF control cannot be greater than 1% of the total engine
Fig. 63. Slotless flap configuration. mass flow rate. For a Falcon aircraft, the targeted mass flow
rate cannot be reached without duty cycle and optimization.
5.1. Safety – ZNMF VG and slots are a must but they have to reach the
expected performances (in particular higher jet velocity than
Flow control technologies should operate when they are com- today).
manded to do so. They should not operate when not commanded – Manufacturing a micro actuator with a valve (mandatory
to do so. They must not be susceptible to single point failures and, for continuous jets working in on and off modes and, also,
in any case, failures must be preceded by degradation. It would be- mandatory for pulsating blowing jets) must be able to sus-
come necessary for the aircrafts systems to be able to test that the tain high level pressure necessary for in flight demonstra-
AFC devices are working properly. This requires that many systems tion (higher free-stream velocity than used within present
must be doubled and checked often on the ground. wind tunnel demonstration tests). The design and manufac-
turing of a synthetic pulsed jet with high authority (with
5.2. Performance and flight handling characteristics required high jet velocity  250 m/s) to meet the require-
ment of an in-flight type demonstration, seems still to be
Acceptable vehicle performance and handling margins should
be maintained under all likely flight conditions and flow control
• Mechanical devices and air control have to fit in a very re-
stricted zone. Control will not be feasible everywhere. For in-
system operational states. A system control must be implemented
stance, in terms of internal layout and mass flow bleeding,
which acts automatically. This involves a reliable detection of the
anti-icing will have to coexist with air control, especially for
proximity of stall and a closed loop system.
landing where the need is important and the engine is idle.
• For laminarity reasons, the control must be:
5.3. Environment
– Leading edge (low speed): As much backward as possible.
Small holes compared with BL parameters and compatible
A flow control system should not generate unacceptable contri- with a hybrid laminarity suction device.
butions to overall aircraft noise and emissions. Often, the tested – Main body (high speed): Avoid fuel tank zone (first 10% of
flow control devices introduced additional noise sources during airfoil) and as much backward as possible to prevent early
their operation. SJA and slot type devices, tested in laboratory con- transition.
ditions, operated at audible frequencies. In order to avoid these • When not operating, actuators holes or slot exit should be
problems, it is possible that AFC devices may have to operate in an closed to prevent dust or insect ingestion. Electro-mechanical
ultrasonic range. This is something still under research. From prac- actuators must operate in a hostile environment (low temper-
tical implementation of these systems the following issues must ature, humid air, rain, . . .).
addressed. Generally, these systems are deployed at low altitudes • Pneumatic devices are much more convenient than mechani-
and when the aircraft is on the ground. Therefore, the flow control cal ones (performances, compatibility with low drag buffeting
devices must be resistant to the effects of contamination including control, laminarity). On stiff configurations (knee), the control
ice, water and insects. It is recalled that one of the main reasons by slot seems work better than VG (preliminary CFD assess-
why riblets for turbulent drag reduction were not pursued, fol- ment, TBC by experiments). However, electro-mechanical flu-
lowing flight trials in the 90 s, was the unacceptably high cost of idic actuators (SJ) are more complex than Direct Fluidic actua-
cleaning. For actuator concepts which involved the use of an ori- tors (VG), but electrical operation is consistent with the move
fice, Hybrid Laminar Flow Control orifices tend to be of the order towards the more electrical aircraft and bleed-less propulsion
of 0.05 mm and can be cleaned by reversing the suction system by system.
blowing through compressed air. However, AFC actuators orifices
are an order of magnitude larger, around 1 mm. This relative large 6. Implications to aerodynamic tools
size increases the possibility of allowing contaminants to enter the
systems. Provision of a suitable orifice closure system may be es- Two Aerodynamic Tools are considered CFD and the Wind Tun-
sential. One possibility is to use Electro Active Polymer Technology nel.
(EAP). Typically, EAP actuators are silicone elastomer sheets incor-
porating compliant electrodes. Activation of the electrodes causes 6.1. Computational fluid dynamics
a compressive force to be placed on the sheet, which is forced to
displace out of the plane (Fig. 63). Finally, to help meet the mentioned challenges, via the re-
duction of lead time and the provision of robust solutions with
5.4. Industrial issues improved quality, it is essential to be able to flight-test, in a com-
puter environment, a virtual aircraft with all its multi-disciplinary
Direct Fluidic actuators are the simplest to implement. How- interactions and to compile all of the data required for develop-
ever, these are open issues with the weight; volume of piping ment and certification with guaranteed accuracy in a reduced time
required; and the poor energy efficiency associated with engine frame. Over the next decade, numerical simulation is foreseen to
bleed. provide a tremendous increase in efficiency and simulation quality.
Some conclusions, obtained from the AVERT project, were as Along with increasing capability to model and compute all major
follows: multi-disciplinary aspects of an aircraft, it will become possible to
A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132 129

fly and investigate on the computer the complete aircraft. Progress plinary applications; structure interactions; and stability methods
in high performance computing (HPC) will contribute essentially for laminar design, etc. The new flow control devices and their
to achieving this goal. Considerable changes of development pro- proper calibration raise a new challenge to the numerical CFD
cesses will lead to a significant reduction in development times methods. Appropriate and complete numerical simulation of this
whilst including more and more disciplines from the early phases actuators is still not well understood; however, a high priority is
of design in order to find an overall optimum aircraft design. to model their effects in the numerical models to be included in
All aspects of simulation (physics; mathematics; algorithms; the optimization design loop.
hardware; soft-ware, computer science; information technology;
man-machine interface; overall system; data handling; and appli- 6.2. Wind tunnel testing
cations, etc.) are supposed to deliver essential contributions and
provide their input and support to a superior cooperative effort. For the foreseeable future the wind tunnel will remain the fi-
Considerable advances have been made in the prediction of nal arbitrator in the validation of aircraft design solutions ahead
drag for the full aircraft configuration. To enable better multidis- of first flight. Rapid machining techniques have enabled, also, the
ciplinary working, an improved predictive capability to determine wind tunnel to remain a key tool in supporting the development
aerodynamic loads for high maneuver conditions (typically +2.5 G of design solutions in a timely manner. The development of such
and 1.5 G) and high Mach numbers (up to 0.95) is required. These methods for metal wind tunnel components can give further bene-
include the representation of control surfaces. fit since the wind tunnel plays an important role in validating our
The ability to model correctly jet effects becomes more impor- design solutions as we step out of the box in current design solu-
tant with the introduction of closer coupled engines and nozzle tions to those that deliver the 2020 goals.
acoustic treatments. Further work is required to validate jet mod- Flight scale Reynolds number testing will play an important role
els. in determining the flight performance of a future aircraft config-
For high lift device design, where the ability to assess a num- uration. A better understanding of model support systems is re-
ber of alternative design options is essential before committing to quired and the development of low interference stings would sim-
wind tunnel testing, the role of CFD is now expanding rapidly and plify the performance prediction process. For half model testing,
evidence from the EUROLIFT and EUROLIFT2 projects show that a greater understanding is needed of the impact of the Reynolds
it is possible to use the current CFD technology good levels of number on half model mounting and test techniques. The FLIRET
prediction in maximum lift and lift to drag ratio are possible. Con- project is the main European collaborative effort aimed at devel-
tinued effort is required as the challenge of meeting noise targets oping new test techniques.
increases. Flight scale wind tunnel testing will help to support the valida-
In order to meet the low speed performance targets, an under- tion of a number of technologies for improved aircraft performance
standing of the strength of the noise source terms around landing without recourse to flight tests. This will be particularly important
gear and high lift devices will become essential in supporting so- for those technologies which are highly configuration dependent
lution down selection ahead of test. This requires the use of higher e.g. natural laminar flow on a Proactive Green aircraft.
order CFD methods than those used for today’s performance as- In the area of flow control, the wind tunnel will play an impor-
sessments. tant role in understanding the flow physics of the devices under
Speed of use will be critical both in terms of mesh genera- consideration. However, a challenge remains as to how such de-
tion and flow prediction. Given the maturity of present methods, it vices can be represented correctly on a wind tunnel model scale.
would seem appropriate to consolidate around a common toolset
to pool together the expertise in Europe. 7. Conclusions
The introduction of flow control technologies places new re-
quirements on the modeling capabilities of CFD. A pragmatic ap- This review gives an overview of key aerodynamic technolo-
proach is needed regarding the level of detail required to model gies, identified by the KATNet network, and how they are aligned
the device and the level of investment directed to realizing this. against the European aerospace 2020 vision goals. Perhaps, it is
The benefit of a number of flow control solutions remains unclear surprising that, potentially, the biggest impact aerodynamics can
and some demonstration of the benefit should be given before a make is in the area of environment since this affects directly
large-scale activity is undertaken. product performance at high and low speed. It is clear that im-
The introduction of flow control technologies places new re- provements to future aircraft, aligned to the 2020 vision goals,
quirements on the CFD’s modeling capabilities. A pragmatic ap- can be made through better multi-disciplinary working supported,
proach is needed regarding the level of detail required to model within the aerodynamic discipline, by the accurate and timely pre-
the device and the level of investment directed to realizing this. diction of drag; noise; and loads. Opportunities may be offered,
The benefit of a number of flow control solutions remains unclear also, through the adoption of novel configurations. Novel configu-
and some demonstration of the benefit should be given before a rations are outside the scope of this study. However, it is impor-
large-scale activity is undertaken. tant that the appropriate level of effort is directed at exploring
On top, intelligent means will have to be developed which novel concepts to understand what they can offer in term of the
could allow a resuction in the number of required computations. 2020 vision. Also, a number of technologies are identified which,
So-called surrogate or reduced order models, which were adapted now, have reached a significant level of maturity. They have been
to specifics of aerodynamic flow simulation, could help essentially flight tested with the AWIATOR and SILENCE projects. Potentially,
in accelerating comprehensive use of numerical simulation in air- these technologies give us a further step toward the 2020 vision
craft design and optimization. goals. However, it is clear that the 2020 vision goals will not be
To finish up, it is important to highlight the increasing impor- achieved through the adoption of these technologies coupled with
tance of simulation capabilities in the optimization loop for these the evolution of today’s standard through better optimization at a
new configurations. The number of parameters, involved in the de- multidisciplinary level. Significant improvements in drag and noise
sign of this technology, is so high that the use of optimization can be made through the adoption of a Proactive Green config-
algorithms is mandatory. Adjoint/inverse optimization methods are uration. This is optimized for minimum fuel burn and noise and
currently under development and their applications focus not only has a relatively low cruise Mach number enabling a reduced wing
on classical aerodynamic design but, also, start to cover multidisci- sweep and increased span and, therefore, low induced drag. This
130 A. Abbas et al. / Aerospace Science and Technology 28 (2013) 100–132

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