>X-plane as educational program

>It seems that X-plane educates aerodynamics, what to expect and think about different things. I was originally saying that I am not so interested in transonic region but rather interested in high altitude. I have been reading about these, but some little things like tinkering with X-plane can cause heureka moments.

And here is what happened:
I have a model of my twin concept in X-plane simulator (obviously, why wouldn’t I). So I set in the latest incarnation the engine critical altitude to 50000 ft (which is feasible with two turbos in cascade plus the mentioned electric turbo compounding). I used 110 hp per side (equivalent of Rotax 912ULS equipped with two turbos doing turbo normalization plus intercooler and after cooler).

I was reading Roskam couple of days ago and noticed that the transonic drag is not a problem if the speed is mach 0.2 or below or not that much above that, e.g. 0.3-0.4 is still quite fine. So I was thinking that maybe it doesn’t get that high that it would become a consideration.

So so obviously, I put the plane model to climb to 55000 ft with autopilot. I had previously added the mach meter to the hud. I came back checking how it flies after couple of tens of minutes. And oops: mach 0.56 when level at 55000 ft. The IAS was barely 100 kts. TAS was a quite a bit higher.

Then, I was thinking what happens to the Reynolds number. Indeed it gets smaller with altitude increasing. But interesting thing is what really happens, to which number it gets. I verified with atmosphere calculator, that indeed, the interesting Re range for this kind of concept with the AR=14 wing, it becomes 600000 – 1600000. That is _very_ low for an aircraft, which is full size and not a RC-model. So the low Re becomes after all a major consideration.

How a plane with AR=14 flies at 55000 ft? It requires _full_ trim aft (meaning nose high) to get the plane keep level – in this model. It became quite apparent that indeed, the tail volume coefficient is a more major concern at high altitude than at low altitude. And the control authority that felt fine at low altitude was not so fine at high altitude.

So this is what we have:
– High performance low Re airfoil is very necessary
– Cd at high lift coefficient is an important design point, the airfoil needs to be designed so that it gives high L/D at high lift coefficient rather than at low lift coefficient like for example NLF414F is targeting.
– A big tail with long enough moment arm
– Propeller with large diameter and possibly more blades than usual, e.g. 5 blades
– And of course, two turbos, intercooler, aftercooler, generator, battery, electric motor and a shaft between the prop and the engine.

Btw, my model is not yet available for download because it is not perfect, and it has couple of problems. It is very hard to get the splines right with straight sections edited by hand, and e.g. engine nacelles look really terrible at the moment. Anyway, it is a fun way for trying out things in practice.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.
%d bloggers like this: