Aerodynamic research for greener aviation

The DREAm-TILT research project was part of the ongoing European Union Clean Skies programme, an ambitious research and development initiative aimed at reducing the impact of commercial aviation through improved efficiency and noise reduction. Italian helicopter OEM AgustaWestland (now renamed Leonardo) took on the role of Project Coordinator and maintaining an overview of the Project, while the DREAm-TILT research project was led by HIT-09,.

RUAG Aviation was given responsibility for conducting the experiments, as well as for supporting the evaluation of the experimental data. The consortium’s primary focus throughout the project was drag reduction, with team members using both numerical flow computations and wind-tunnel experiments to identify measures that would reduce fuselage drag. The RUAG Aviation LWTE is one of the largest sub-sonic, wind tunnel testing facilities in Europe, with a closed loop circuit and a test section measuring 7m by 5m. The size of the facility, as well as the accuracy of the measurement technology available there, made it well suited to the experimental aspects of the project. An in-house manufactured RUAG six-component block type balance was used as the main internal balance. Thanks to a careful preparation, the predicted accuracy of the measurement setup could be well reached.  The use of a new thermal-imaging camera which could detect temperatures to an accuracy of tenths of a degree, allowed it to identify the tiniest variation in the surface temperature of the model. These temperature differences indicate the regions of laminar and of turbulent flow on the model.