Experimental evaluation and flight simulation of coaxial-rotor vehicles in icing clouds

Sihong Yan, Tomas I. Opazo, Jack W. Langelaan, Jose L. Palacios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Coaxial rotor configurations are common in multirotor unmanned aircraft systems (UAV) and are used in some manned helicopters. In the case of small-to-medium-sized unmanned rotorcraft, there is a lack of experimental data on icing and a lack of analysis of vehicle performance and flight characteristics in icing conditions. This paper (a) describes experimental methodology and results of a coaxial rotor system with 0.46-m-diameter rotors operating in hover in an icing cloud, (b) develops an empirical model relating the change in torque and thrust as a function of rotor speed and ice accretion rate based on experimental data, and (c) applies this model to a simulation of UAV in icing conditions. Experimental results showed linear growth in required torque and linear reduction in thrust at a given rotor speed as ice accretes, with the rate of change of torque and thrust dependent on shaft speed and temperature. A significant difference in ice accretion rate was observed between the upper and lower rotors, with the lower rotor showing a lower rate of ice accretion. Simulation of UAV flight in icing conditions showed rapid loss of control and a loss of ability to maintain hover, with loss of sustained flight occurring within 40 s of the onset of icing. Simulation of flight with an ice-shedding event (which results in a step change in thrust and torque) results in a perturbation in pitch and roll, leading to significant lateral acceleration in addition to loss of altitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number022011
JournalJournal of the American Helicopter Society
Volume65
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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