Aerodynamics : experiments for the safety of airship flight in highly turbulent atmosphere

In the context of increasing interest for airships, ONERA conduct researches on one of the most sensitive and crucial issues for these vehicles: the dynamic behaviour in turbulent atmosphere and in gusts, including when flying at low altitude.

The work carried out aims at developing models, at validating numerical simulations used during the design stage and at improving the flight simulators. This is done through ground surface tests in wind tunnels as well as free flight tests on reduced scale models. The latter consist of flying a free flight scaled model through lateral gusts whose characteristics are calibrated. The behavior of the vehicle is measured during this flight (trajectory, angles…).

This approach has been applied to a 5m long remote-controlled airship model, flown in the free flight laboratory at ONERA-Lille. Thanks to its large dimensions (90x20x20 m3) this laboratory originally built for tests on catapulted aircraft models, is ideal for this kind of experiments. An open circuit wind tunnel located in the center of the laboratory allows a lateral wind to be generated locally: an area of perturbed atmosphere, perfectly known and with a velocity profile adjustable in shape and intensity, is simulated. This setup is completed by a video-trajectography system.

This R&T work is done in collaboration with the Flying Whales Company, for the development of a large capacity airship for carriage of heavy loads.

Free flight R/C ONERA model in turbulent atmosphere


Flight through a lateral gust – ONERA model

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