A handling quality investigation was performed on the swept gull-wing configuration. The swept gull-wing configuration is tailless and has a wing with a transition in the sweep and dihedral angle. An example of this type of aircraft is the Exulans. This aircraft is currently under development at the University of Pretoria. The handling quality study was focussed on pitch axis dynamics. The Exulans is a research testbed that will be used to investigate the swept gull-wing configuration and its special controls by means of full-scale flight testing. Variable wing sweep, twisting elevons and winglets will be investigated as means of control. These control devices are configured in such a way as to have minimum impact on the performance of the aircraft. The handling qualities of the swept gull-wing configuration have to be acceptable while using these different control strategies. The study was launched to investigate whether a gull-wing configuration aircraft will have satisfactory handling qualities at CG positions associated with the most favourable aerodynamic performance. There is an aerodynamic performance gain in designing an aircraft so that the CG falls on the so-called `E-point'. The E-point is the centre of pressure for an elliptical circulation distribution. An elliptical circulation distribution is associated with the highest Oswald efficiency for an aircraft. Time domain simulation techniques and frequency domain analysis techniques were used to analyse the handling qualities of the gull-wing configuration. The C-star criterion was used to analyse handling qualities with time domain simulation data as input. Comparative time domain simulations were performed between the Exulans and other aircraft to compare handling qualities. Eigenvalue analysis was used together with the thumbprint criterion to investigate inherent gull-wing airframe dynamics. The Shomber-Gertsen and Military Specification 8785 criteria were also used for the same purpose. The Neal-Smith method was used to investigate the effect of control authority on handling qualities and the effect of a pilot. The Monnich and Dalldorff criterion was used to evaluate gust handling qualities. An analysis chart by Fremaux and Vairo was used to evaluate the tumbling susceptibility of the gull-wing configuration. The pitch handling quality investigation shows sufficient promise that the swept gull-wing configuration will have acceptable handling qualities with the CG placed at positions associated with optimised aerodynamic performance. Analysis showed that the swept gull-wing configuration is potentially prone to tumbling. With low static margins, the configuration should exhibit improved handling qualities in gusty conditions when compared to existing tailless aircraft. It is recommended that a lateral handling quality study be performed before full scale flight testing commences on the Exulans. In addition, the possibility of wingtip stall must be investigated for the case of the swept gull-wing configuration.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2008.