CFD simulations key technique for reducing airframe’s aerodynamic drag
“It’s all about increased efficiency,” explained Spencer Fugal when describing the overall benefit his organization derives from its use of Tecplot Chorus. “The software allows us to automate the process of simultaneously comparing the results of different CFD simulations. This greatly accelerates the pace at which we can identify anomalies and validate or disprove our CFD results.”
Fugal, a former Boeing engineer, is the aerodynamics and performance group lead for Aerion Corp., the Reno, Nevada-based company working to bring supersonic air travel to corporate flyers in the form of the Aerion AS2 business jet.
Developing Concepts for a Family of Efficient Supersonic Jets
Since its founding in 2002, Aerion, in conjunction with NASA and other prominent aerospace research organizations, has pioneered new aerodynamic concepts for a family of efficient supersonic jets. Over that time, it has developed, flown and proven supersonic natural laminar flow (SNLF) airfoils that reduce wing-friction drag by as much as 80 percent, and overall airframe drag by as much as 20 percent.
The primary tool used to achieve these impressive reductions in aerodynamic drag is CFD, a technique for simulating the interaction of liquids and gases with surfaces defined by boundary conditions. By simulating airflow over the airframe surfaces using a variety of CFD codes, including Cart3D, Overflow and Fun3D, Fugal’s team helps design the external shape of the AS2 supersonic business jet to maximize performance and maintain good handling qualities.
The effective use of CFD requires thousands of computer simulations, all of which must be compared against one another to identify areas of concern that can be addressed during the design process. To aid the tedious chore of comparing and contrasting thousands of CFD simulations, Aerion’s aerodynamics engineers use Tecplot Chorus from Bellevue, Wash.-based Tecplot, Inc.
Integrating CFD Post-processing, Field and Parametric Data Management, and Powerful Analytics
Tecplot Chorus (which includes Tecplot 360 EX, the company’s flagship visual data analysis software) integrates CFD post-processing, field and parametric data management, and powerful analytics into a single environment. An engineer using Tecplot Chorus can manage and analyze collections of CFD simulations, and compare them in a single environment while evaluating overall system performance.
“Customers have told us that they have massive amounts of data, and no tools to help them quickly identify trends and anomalies that may affect the critical design decisions they make,” Tecplot Product Manager Scott Fowler said. “Tecplot Chorus solves this problem. They can analyze their test and simulation results in a parametric space, better understand the underlying physics, and gain more confidence in their decisions.”
Fugal, who’s been using Tecplot products for more than 12 years, agrees with Fowler’s assessment. “Tecplot Chorus is particularly useful for easily making plots to help understand what is happening across a large data set consisting of many CFD simulations,” he said, noting that many of Aerion’s CFD simulations contain up to 30 million data points. “The software’s ability to generate high quality images that communicate what is happening with the aerodynamics of the AS2 airplane and being able to automate commonly-used visualization tasks is critically important to the efficiency and accuracy of our work.”
Visual Clues Aid in Identifying Problems Early in the Design Process
Specifically, Fugal said Tecplot Chorus allows his team to visually identify problems with the geometry or flow field. “Without the visual clues Tecplot Chorus provides, we would be more likely to miss identifying problems early in the design process. Tecplot Chorus helps us effectively manage large datasets, which provides engineering insights that help guide the airplane design. The software also makes it easier to find problematic or inconsistent CFD solutions.”
If Fugal and his team were not using Tecplot Chorus, they would have to “write a bunch of scripts to do what Chorus does,” he said. “This is very tedious and would likely result in us missing key insights because some steps would be skipped due to deadline pressures.”
End Result is the Next-generation Supersonic Airplane
The end result of this extensive aerodynamic work is the AS2 business jet – a next-generation supersonic airplane capable of crossing the Atlantic or Pacific nearly twice as fast as today’s subsonic jets.
With the aid of Tecplot and other powerful software tools, Aerion is on track to certify the AS2 in 2023 with entry into service shortly thereafter. Aerion is supported by a technology collaboration with European manufacturer Airbus Group.
For more information about Aerion and the AS2 business jet, visit www.aerionsupersonic.com.
Watch the video and learn more about Tecplot Chorus.