CFD Analyses of Innovative Electric Aircraft Designs

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Joby Aviation is developing several novel aircraft designs that take advantage of the benefits of electric propulsion, all of which require significant high-fidelity aerodynamic analysis to fully realize the potential of the respective configurations. The S2 VTOL personal air vehicle employs tilt rotors with rotor blades that fold against their nacelles in cruise flight; STAR-CCM+® is used to analyze the trade-offs of the rotor performance with the drag of the folded blades. The Lotus high-endurance VTOL UAV features novel wingtip-mounted two-bladed rotors; after transition to forward flight, these rotor blades reorient to become wingtip extensions. STAR-CCM+ is used to analyze the effect of the blade design on the cruise performance as well as the performance of the rotors in VTOL. Finally, the LEAPTech aircraft employs a series of propellers mounted on the wing leading-edge; these propellers increase the dynamic pressure over the wing during takeoff and landing, allowing for a smaller wing which reduces cruise drag and improves ride quality. The lift and drag of this blown wing have been evaluated with STAR-CCM+, including use of the virtual disk model to reduce simulation time.

Author Company: 
Joby Aviation
Author Name: 
Alex Stoll