Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


David Marshall


With the pursuit of more advanced and environmentally-friendly technologies of today’s society, the airline industry has been pushed further to investigate solutions that will reduce airport noise and congestion, cut down on emissions, and improve the overall performance of aircraft. These items directly influence airport size (runway length), flight patterns in the community surrounding the airport, cruise speed, and many other aircraft design considerations which are setting the requirements for next generation aircraft. Leading the research in this movement is NASA, which has set specific goals for the next generation regional airliners and has categorized the designs that meet the criteria as Cruise Efficient Short Takeoff and Land (CESTOL) aircraft.

With circulation control (CC) technology addressing most of the next generation requirements listed above, it has recently been gaining more interest, thus the basis of this research. CC is an active flow control method that uses a thin sheet of high momentum jet flow ejected over a curved trailing edge surface and in turn utilizes Coanda effect to increase the airfoil’s circulation, augmenting lift, drag, and pitching moment. The technology has been around for more than 75 years, but is now gaining more momentum for further development due to its significant payoffs in both performance and system complexity.

The goal of this research was to explore the design of the CC flap shape and how it influences the local flow field of the system, in attempt to improve the performance of existing CC flap configurations and provide insight into the aerodynamic characteristics of the geometric parameters that make up the CC flap. Multiple dual radius flaps and alternative flap geometry, prescribed radius, flaps were developed by varying specific flap parameters from a baseline dual radius flap configuration that had been previously developed and researched. The aerodynamics of the various flap geometries were analyzed at three different flight conditions using two-dimensional CFD. The flight conditions examined include two low airspeed cases with blown flaps at 60° and 90° of deflection, and a transonic cruise case with no blowing and 0° of flap deflection.

Results showed that the shorter flaps of both flap configurations augmented greater lift for the low airspeed cases, with the dual radius flaps producing more lift than the corresponding length prescribed radius. The large lift generation of these flaps was accompanied by significant drag and negative pitching moments. The incremental lift per drag and moment produced was best achieved by the longer flap lengths, with the prescribed radius flaps out-performing each corresponding dual radius. Longer flap configurations also upheld the better cruise performance with the least amount of low airspeed flow, drag, and required angle of attack for a given cruise lift coefficient. The prescribed radius flaps also presented a favorable trait of keeping a more continuous skin friction distribution over the flap when the flaps were deflected, where all dual radius configurations experienced a distinct fluctuation at the location where the surface curvature changes between its two radii. The prescribed radius flaps displayed a similar behavior when the flaps were not deflected, during the cruise conditions analyzed.

Performance trends for the different flap configurations, at all three flight conditions, are presented at the end of each respective section to provide guidance into the design of CC geometry. The results of the presented research show promise in modifying geometric surface parameters to yield improved aerodynamics and performance.