Aerodynamics

Shuttle launch photo

Aerodynamics research is directed toward a better understanding of the fundamental laws governing the flow of fluids. Research topics of recent interest include: numerical methods in aerodynamics; computational fluid mechanics; separated flow around wings and bodies at high angles of attack; aerodynamics of rotors and propellers; boundary layers, wakes and jets in V/STOL applications and aerodynamic noise; experimental measurements using laser systems; laminar-turbulent transition in high speed boundary layers.

Experimental facilities include four wind tunnels located at the Aerospace Sciences Laboratory (ASL). The Boeing Wind Tunnel is a large subsonic wind tunnel with two test sections -- a closed 4-by-6 foot section with a maximum speed of 250 miles per hour and a long test section adapted for high-lift research. The first test section is equipped with a six-component motorized pitch-and-yaw balance system. Instrumentation includes a two-component laser Doppler velocimeter system and a computer data acquisition system.

Three smaller low-speed wind tunnels are also located at ASL. One has an 18-inch diameter test section, and the other two have test sections of 12 by 18 inches. Several small calibration tunnels are also available, along with a small water table.

Three small high-speed facilities are located in the Boeing Compressible-Flow Laboratory. The first is a 2-inch Mach-2.5 blowdown tunnel, and the second is a one-inch supersonic jet apparatus, designed for nozzle-flow studies. Both can be operated in pressure-vacuum mode, and are used primarily for teaching. The jet apparatus also includes a heater and particle filter, to enable supersonic hot-wire calibrations. A 4-inch shock tube is also available.

Lastly, the Boeing Compressible-Flow Laboratory also includes two large Ludwieg tubes. The first has a 4-inch Mach-4 test section, and remains quiet to a length Reynolds number of about 400,000. The second has a 9.5-inch Mach-6 quiet-flow test section. Instrumentation is specialized for study of laminar-turbulent instability and transition, and includes high-speed hot wires, fast-response pressure transducers, hot-film arrays and anemometers, a high-sensitivity laser-differential interferometer, a glow-discharge perturber, and a pulsed laser perturber.