The jigsaw puzzle of aerodynamics and performances analyses

By Hugo-Alexandre Latulippe – October 31, 2020

The job of a member of the aero-perfo-prop team is to globally define the characteristics of the airplane, such as the major dimensions, the geometries and the loading. To do so, we base ourselves on the pointage formula of the competition. Then, MATLAB programs developed by team members execute plenty of calculations and select the configuration with the most potential. From there, we choose the concept and reiterate the programs to validate our choice. To ensure that these models are functioning well, we validate against our previous flight tests.

This summer, our goal was to evaluate the real performances of our 2019-2020 airplane and adjust our MATLAB simulation to be closer to reality. For some context, the aircraft performed much better than anticipated at the competition last season. In hindsight, the team could have taken more risks to be able to achieve a higher score. With the help of the videos taken at the competition last year, we were able to determine the kinematics of the airplane in evaluating its displacement over time in the images, with the help of reference dimensions.

The next step was to evaluate the forces on the airplane. Knowing the thrust and the mass, we were able to estimate the drag and the lift, validating our simulation models. As well, to prove the precision of the model, we added the fruit of a probability analysis of the wind at the competition during that time of year, so that the effect of the wind is considered and the model has an added degree of accuracy.