Numerical investigation on the aerodynamics of oscillating airfoils with deployable Gurney flaps

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60 Scopus citations


To assess their application to rotorcraft, the two-dimensional aerodynamics of deployable Gurney flaps, referred to as miniature trailing-edge effectors, are explored using computational fluid dynamics. These deployable devices have a height of only a few percent of the airfoil chord and deploy normal to the airfoil surface near the trailing edge. Their small size, low inertia, and small added mass make them well suited for deployment in high-frequency applications such as those needed for rotorcraft. A combination of wind-tunnel measurements using airfoils fitted with Gurney flaps and unsteady circulatory theory are used to validate the computational fluid dynamics, and grid and time-resolution studies are used for code verification. Qualitative and quantitative agreement of the effects of a Gurney flap with experiments and theory suggest that the computational fluid dynamics results are valid. These investigations examine the effects of the chordwise positioning and deployment frequency of the miniature trailingedge effectors. In doing so, their operation on both static and dynamically pitching airfoils is considered. Through these studies, a number of physical insights into miniature trailing-edge effectors and Gurney flap aerodynamics have been obtained. These insights have led to the introduction of a scaling parameter that easily accounts for compressibility effects, an understanding of the aerodynamic consequences due to positioning miniature trailingedge effectors upstream of the trailing edge, and an assessment on the benefits of using of miniature trailing-edge effectors for active stall alleviation on an airfoil oscillating in pitch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1457-1469
Number of pages13
JournalAIAA journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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