Computational aerodynamic modeling for flight dynamics simulation of ram-air parachutes

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This work presents a step toward bridging the gap between flight dynamics simulation of ram-air parachutes and high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics. Today's parachute design codes mainly rely on the empirical or semi-empirical methods generated from wind tunnel experiments and drop tests. The outcome of this study will hopefully help to reduce the cost of experiments and drop testing in the design of future canopies and to better understand the aerodynamic characteristics of these geometries. In this work, the parachute geometries were modeled as rigid rectangular wings with an aspect ratio of two and zero anhedral angle. The wings have seven opening cells and the trailing edge is deflected or not deflected. To validate computational methods, the aerodynamic predictions of similar wings, but with closed and round inlets, are compared with experimental data available from the Subsonic Wind Tunnel at United States Air Force Academy. Total lift and drag force coefficients were measured at a Reynolds number of 1.4 million. The results show that computational predictions of fine (closed-inlet) grids match the experimental data very well up to the stall angle. Both experiments and simulations show that closed wings have sharp stalling characteristics. The aerodynamics of closed wings up to stall can be approximated by linear functions and their derivatives. The closed wings show a negative static stability with respect to changes in the angle of attack. The open wings, on other hand, have positive static stability in the longitudinal and lateral directions. The open wings exhibit highly nonlinear unsteady aerodynamic characteristics; they also stall earlier and have higher drag values than the closed wings. The aerodynamic derivatives of open and closed wings were estimated using a linear regression method and training data simulated in small-amplitude oscillations in pitch, yaw, and roll directions. While the open wings have large oscillations in aerodynamic coefficients over the yawing and rolling hysteresis loops, lateral aerodynamic derivatives of the open and closed wings are similar. Finally, the results show that model predictions are reasonably accurate for use in flight-dynamics simulations.




Ghoreyshi, M., Bergeron, K., Jirasek, A., Seidel, J., Lofthouse, A. J., & Cummings, R. M. (2016). Computational aerodynamic modeling for flight dynamics simulation of ram-air parachutes. Aerospace Science and Technology, 54, 286–301.

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