Effects of characteristic geometric parameters on parafoil lift and drag

Yihua Cao (Department of Aircraft Engineering, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing, People's Republic of China)
Xu Zhu (China Ship Development and Design Center, Wuhan, People's Republic of China)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Publication date: 28 June 2013



The purpose of this paper is to describe the effects of characteristic geometric parameters on parafoil aerodynamic performance by using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) technique.


The main characteristic geometric parameters cover the planform geometry, arc‐anhedral angle, basic airfoil and leading‐edge cut. By using the CFD technique, a large number of numerical parafoil models with different geometric parameters are developed to study the correlations between these parameters and parafoil aerodynamic performance.


The CFD technique is feasible and effective to study the effects of characteristic geometric parameters on parafoil aerodynamic performance in three‐dimensional (3‐D) flowfield condition. The planform geometry can affect the aerodynamic performance obviously. An increase in arc‐anhedral angle decreases the lift of a parafoil but has little effect on lift‐drag ratio. The model with smaller leading‐edge radius and thinner thickness of parafoil section achieves larger lift‐drag ratio. The leading‐edge cut has little effect on lift but increase drag dramatically; meanwhile, its effect on flowfield is confined to the nearby region of leading edge.

Practical implications

The presented 3‐D numerical simulation results of parafoil models are shown to have good agreement with the tunnel test data in general trend; meanwhile, considering its relatively low‐cost, the CFD method could be further used to predict coefficients in pre‐research or at non‐experimental conditions.


The paper can form the foundation of further studies on parafoil aerodynamic performance with different geometric parameters.



Cao, Y. and Zhu, X. (2013), "Effects of characteristic geometric parameters on parafoil lift and drag", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 85 No. 4, pp. 280-292. https://doi.org/10.1108/AEAT-Jun-2011-0096

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