Wings Magazine

Aerion, NASA making strides with supersonic BizAv jet

Feb. 14, 2013, Reno, Nv. - Aerion Corporation, an aerodynamics technology company, today announced that the next round of high-speed test flights in conjunction with NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center began on January 31, with approximately 10 flights to occur during a six-to-eight week period.

February 14, 2013  By Carey Fredericks

These tests, using an Aerion phase two test article mounted under the centerline position of NASA’s F-15B research aircraft flown at speeds up to Mach 2.0, are intended to measure the real-world robustness of supersonic natural laminar flow, a vital element in the company’s design for the world’s first supersonic business jet (SBJ).
The new test article was engineered to accommodate aerodynamic non-uniformities under the F-15B, while also being sufficiently representative of the Aerion wing in order to evaluate the effect of surface imperfections on the stability of supersonic boundary layers. Information gleaned from these tests will help define manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances, both crucial to future production of the SBJ.
“The Aerion SBJ design utilizes patented applications of natural laminar flow for efficiency and speed, so understanding the parameters under which such an aircraft will be built and operated is fundamental to proving its viability,” said Dr. Richard Tracy, Aerion’s chief technology officer. “Our continued mutually beneficial relationship with NASA Dryden, plus a separate agreement with NASA Glenn Research Center on supersonic inlet software maturation announced last year, advances the theory and application of aerodynamics with the ultimate goal of safe flight at higher speeds compared to today’s subsonic civil aircraft.”
Aerion’s 40-inch vertical span by 80-inch chord phase two test article is machined from aluminum, with thin layers of epoxy used for insulation and surface painting. There are four resistive temperature devices located along the lower and trailing edge of the device. These will provide highly accurate temperature readings from which to calibrate the infrared video, the primary instrumentation for the flight tests. In addition, the test article’s strong-back carries an array of five-hole probes that measure flow angularity near the leading edge.
The previous round of tests during the summer of 2010 also reached Mach 2.0 and used an instrumented flat plate mounted to the same strong-back to map and enable computer modeling of the high-speed flow field under the F-15B. After analyzing the resulting data, aerodynamic design work for the new test article began in late 2010, followed by mechanical design in mid-2011 and fabrication in the first half of 2012.


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