Accurately predicting maximum lift performance is a very important, though difficult, part of the aircraft design process, which is why Airbus has teamed with Germany’s DLR aeronautical research specialists for a pair of flight test campaigns aimed at generating richer supporting data in the future.
Maximum lift performance affects design decisions on an aircraft’s aerodynamics, braking and structure, each of which ultimately has a significant impact on the overall weight and performance.
Airbus and DLR recognized there were still uncertainties when lift performance indicators gathered from standard methods – wind tunnel measurements and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) computer calculations – were compared to data from flight testing. The Airbus/DLR project, called HINVA (high-lift in-flight validation), aims to clarify these uncertainties.
The HINVA flight test campaigns – which employ an Airbus A320 operated by DLR – and can collect far more data than a standard flight test, and will enhance the accuracy of CFD computer calculations on both future and current aircraft programmes.
“These dedicated campaigns allow us to concentrate on areas such as surface pressures, boundary layer transition, wing deformation and flow observation,” explained Ralf Rudnik, HINVA project leader for DLR. “The data gained will form the basis for research over the next five-to-10 years, and the benefits for designers will be substantial as they gradually unfold in the near future.”
The first test flight campaign focusing on surface data has been completed, and the second – chiefly concerned with off-body data – is planned for the middle of next year. “We're pleased with our progress and plan to build a new A320 [scale] model for wind tunnel testing in 2013,” added Airbus data modeling expert Detlev Schwetzler. “Once our results are validated, they should make a real difference to aircraft performance prediction.”