Helicopters – Testing It Out

Music
Ambience: Wind Tunnel

For all the amazing things that computers can do, they still have their limits. For example, researchers still depend on testing physical models to make sure that new aircraft designs work as expected. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. William Warmbrodt is Chief of the Ames Research Center’s Aeromechanics Branch. He works to design quieter, more efficient helicopters.

“We conceive these advanced technologies in the laboratories and on our computer systems. However, because of the difficulty in capturing all of the physics associated with the operation of these vehicles, we rely very heavily on experimental evaluations and test techniques to understand the operations of these new technologies. We will evaluate these new technologies using wind tunnels.”

The selection of wind tunnels at Ames Research Center includes the world’s largest a cavernous space 120 feet wide and 80 feet high. Researchers use smaller wind tunnels to test parts of designs or small models, while the large wind tunnels can test full-scale models of new aircraft.

“We use small pilot wind tunnels to be able to assess and evaluate the physics involved with a specific concept. It might not even look like a helicopter rotor that is being tested, but we’re looking at a specific aerodynamic characteristic of an airfoil or a blade plan form, to assess the benefits that might be achieved with a new technology. We use these unique test capabilities to be able to explore radically new technologies that will improve the performance, potentially reduce the noise, but also improve the passenger comfort of the helicopter aircraft.”

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from NASA. I’m Jim Metzner.

Helicopters - Testing It Out

The world's largest wind tunnel gives researchers the opportunity to test out new aircraft designs.
Air Date:12/04/2007
Scientist:
Transcript:

Music
Ambience: Wind Tunnel

For all the amazing things that computers can do, they still have their limits. For example, researchers still depend on testing physical models to make sure that new aircraft designs work as expected. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. William Warmbrodt is Chief of the Ames Research Center’s Aeromechanics Branch. He works to design quieter, more efficient helicopters.

“We conceive these advanced technologies in the laboratories and on our computer systems. However, because of the difficulty in capturing all of the physics associated with the operation of these vehicles, we rely very heavily on experimental evaluations and test techniques to understand the operations of these new technologies. We will evaluate these new technologies using wind tunnels.”

The selection of wind tunnels at Ames Research Center includes the world’s largest a cavernous space 120 feet wide and 80 feet high. Researchers use smaller wind tunnels to test parts of designs or small models, while the large wind tunnels can test full-scale models of new aircraft.

“We use small pilot wind tunnels to be able to assess and evaluate the physics involved with a specific concept. It might not even look like a helicopter rotor that is being tested, but we're looking at a specific aerodynamic characteristic of an airfoil or a blade plan form, to assess the benefits that might be achieved with a new technology. We use these unique test capabilities to be able to explore radically new technologies that will improve the performance, potentially reduce the noise, but also improve the passenger comfort of the helicopter aircraft.”

Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from NASA. I’m Jim Metzner.