Home Magazines Editors-in-Chief FAQs Contact Us

Comparing a 3-d printed hemispherical-head and Rankine-body probe shapes for very low speed flush air data system (FADS) measurements

Aeronautics and Aerospace Open Access Journal
Stephen A Whitmore, Zheng Qi C Case

PDF Full Text


This study investigates the feasibility of using Flush Air Data Sensing (FADS) System technology for air data measurements at the very low-airspeeds, where many Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) operate. FADS is a non-intrusive alternative to pitot probes, where the vehicle nosecone, wing leading edge, or other aerodynamic surfaces are configured with multiple pressure-ports distributed along the windward face. Although FADS technology has been used for a variety of high-speed aircraft, FADS has never been applied to very lowairspeed flight regimes. This study reports on wind tunnel tests of two 3-D printed shapes: 1) a cylindrical body with a hemispherical head, and 2) a Rankine-Body. These body shapes can act as a vehicle analog to a wide range of three-dimensional shapes and account for both blunt leading edge and trailing after body flow characteristics. For this study the “probes” were printed with 5 pressure ports and the associated flow channels aligned at 0o , +22.5o and +45o direction-angles along the vertical centerlines of the models. Sensed pressure data were curve-fit, developing quasi-potential flow calibration models for each probe, with coefficients compiled as a function of geometric angle-of-attack and tunnel airspeed. The calibration models account for end-to-end systematic effects, including the mounting sting flow compression, up wash, and tunnel blockage. Using the derived calibration models and the sensed pressure data, the effective angles-of-attack were re-calculated using the wellknown “Triples” algorithm. The associated airspeed and dynamic pressure are estimated from the sensed pressure data using non-linear regression. The resulting estimates are compared to the tunnel reference conditions. Generally, both probe shapes performed well, with the redundant 5-port arrangement allowing for significant noise rejection. Both probes achieved RMS airspeed errors of less than 5%, angle-of-attack errors less than 1 deg., and dynamic pressure errors of less than 12 pascals, across airspeeds ranging from 5 to 25 m/ sec. The sensed Airdata measurements at the lowest airspeeds (5 m/sec), exhibited similar accuracy to those sensed at the highest airspeeds (25 m/sec), verifying the applicability of FADS technology to very low airspeed flight regimes.


UAV, low airspeed, air data, Rankine body, potential flow, FADS