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Cross-flow effects regarding laminar flow control within conceptual aircraft design

Florian Schueltke (Institute of Aerospace Systems, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany)
Eike Stumpf (Institute of Aerospace Systems, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




Laminarization of commercial aircraft surfaces is the most promising technology to reduce fuel consumption and ecological impact. As laminar flow highly depends on cross-flow effects, there is the question in which way simple estimations and simplifications for application in conceptual aircraft design can be used to capture these cross-flow influences. This paper aims to show the accuracy of 2D methods for estimating laminar flow regions on 3D wing objects.


Several methods, relating 3D and 2D flow conditions, are analyzed with regard to capture cross-flow influences. The 3D pressure distributions depending on utilized transformation method are compared to Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) solutions. With the most precise transformation method, the laminar flow area on a conventional wing of a short range aircraft is determined and compared to the laminar area obtained with the RANS pressure distributions as input. Further, hybrid laminar flow control component sizing is carried out to obtain the net benefit in fuel reduction of simplified method compared to RANS method for a conventional short range aircraft.


In this particular case, the solutions calculated with the simplified methods show high deviations from those obtained with RANS.


This investigation underlines the need of proper methods for fast and accurate estimation of cross-flow effects to be able to assess the full potential of laminar flow control within conceptual aircraft design.



The authors thank Geza Schrauf for kindly providing his transition prediction programs. Likewise, the authors would like to thank Mark Drela for providing the MSES code. Further thanks go to Anna Uhl and all other involved colleagues at ILR.


Schueltke, F. and Stumpf, E. (2017), "Cross-flow effects regarding laminar flow control within conceptual aircraft design", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 89 No. 4, pp. 620-631.



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