Blended Wing Body Test
in the 40x80 Wind Tunnel
by Dale Satran
A revolutionary vehicle design where the wing and
fuselage are blended together provides significant performance benefits
over traditional commercial transports. Due to the blending, the vehicle
is basically a flying wing.
Total vehicle weight is reduced and aerodynamic performance
is enhanced by this new design but the stability and control of the aircraft
is challenging. In other words it will get better gas mileage but it might
be more difficult to fly. To evaluate the total configuration, a 14.2%
scale vehicle (does this mean smaller or larger?) is being designed as
a remotely piloted vehicle. Before the vehicle is flight tested, the vehicle
will be mounted in the 40x80 Wind Tunnel. It will save money to use the
same model in the wind tunnel and for flight testing.
The vehicle will have three engines each capable
of producing 200 pounds of thrust. All control surfaces on the vehicle
will be remotely controlled by the flight computer as directed by the
wind tunnel data acquisition computer. Do you think that would be a fun
computer program to write?
Since the vehicle will be a flight vehicle, there
are numerous challenges and restrictions on the modifications that can
be made to the vehicle for mounting the vehicle into the wind tunnel.
Every time you do something like use the same model for two purposes you
make some trade offs, on the one hand it saves some money but now it will
complicate how we mount the model in the tunnel.