Postprint version. Published in Progress in Aerospace Sciences, Volume 44, Issue 4, May 1, 2006, pages 241-257.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Russell M. Cummings was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paerosci.2008.01.001.
As computational fluid dynamics matures, researchers attempt to perform numerical simulations on increasingly complex aerodynamic flows. One type of flow that has become feasible to simulate is massively separated flow fields, which exhibit high levels of flow unsteadiness. While traditional computational fluid dynamic approaches may be able to simulate these flows, it is not obvious what restrictions should be followed in order to insure that the numerical simulations are accurate and trustworthy. Our research group has considerable experience in computing massively separated flow fields about various aircraft configurations, which has led us to examine the factors necessary for making high-quality time-dependent flow computations. The factors we have identified include: grid density and local refinement, the numerical approach, performing a time-step study, the use of sub-iterations for temporal accuracy, the appropriate use of temporal damping, and the use of appropriate turbulence models. We have a variety of cases from which to draw results, including delta wings and the F-18C, F-16C, and F-16XL aircraft. Results show that while it is possible to obtain accurate unsteady aerodynamic computations, there is a high computational cost associated with performing the calculations. Rules of thumb and possible shortcuts for accurate prediction of massively separated flows are also discussed.