PurposeThe separation of energy conversion and propulsor is a promising aspect of hybrid-electric propulsion systems, allowing for increased installation efficiencies and setting the basis for distributed propulsion concepts. University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Aircraft Design has a long experience with electrically powered aircraft, starting with Icaré 2, a solar-powered glider flying, since 1996. Icaré 2 recently has been converted to a three-engine motor glider with two battery-powered wing-tip propellers, in addition to the solar-powered main electric motor. This adds propulsion redundancy and will allow analyzing yaw control concepts with differential thrust and the propeller-vortex interaction at the wing-tip. To ensure airworthiness for this design modification, new ground vibration tests (GVTs) and flutter calculations are required. The purpose of this paper is to lay out the atypical approach to test execution due to peculiarities of the Icaré 2 design such as an asymmetrical aileron control system, the long wing span with low frequencies of the first mode and elevated wing tips bending under gravity and thus affecting the accuracy of the wing torsion frequency measurements.Design/methodology/approachA flutter analysis based on GVT results is performed for the aircraft in basic configuration and with wing tip propulsors in pusher or tractor configuration. Apart from the measured resonant modes, the aircraft rigid body modes and the control surface mechanism modes are taken into consideration. The flutter calculations are made by a high-speed, low-cost software named JG2 based on the strip theory in aerodynamics and the V-g method of flutter problem solution.FindingsWith the chosen atypical approach to GVT the impact of the suspension on the test results was shown to be minimal. Flutter analysis has proven that the critical flutter speed of Icaré 2 is sufficiently high in all configurations.Practical implicationsThe atypical approach to GVT and subsequent flutter analysis have shown that the effects of wing-tip propulsors on aeroelasticity of the high aspect ratio configuration do not negatively affect flutter characteristics. This analysis can serve as a basis for an application for a permit to fly.Originality/valueThe presented methodology is valuable for the flutter assessment of aircraft configurations with atypical aeroelastic characteristics.
Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 4, 2019
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