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Published January 2010 | Published
Conference Paper Open

Step Excrescence Effects for Manufacturing Tolerances on Laminar Flow Wings


Manufacturing tolerances for laminar flow wings can be significantly tighter than those of conventional aircraft. The tighter tolerances can significantly affect the assessment of the practicality of designing for laminar flow. However, existing data on the effects of excrescences typical of manufacturing process are limited. Further, information on the effects—often beneficial—of pressure gradient present on the laminar flow wings is not generally available. To address these concerns, a series of experiments has been undertaken to examine the effects of surface steps in the presence of pressure gradients. The step geometries were selected to represent those that result from actual aircraft manufacturing processes. The range of pressure gradients correspond to those typical of laminar flow wings. Initial experiments were conducted in a low-speed wind tunnel. Later experiments used a novel propelled-model test facility. The results of these studies show that the allowable sizes of surface excrescences for laminar flow wings may be significantly greater than has conventionally been assumed. This could significantly influence the more widespread use of laminar flow for drag reduction, resulting in more efficient aircraft.

Additional Information

© 2010 Northrop Grumman. This work was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Vehicles Directorate.

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Published - AIAA-2010-375-907.pdf


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