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Simulation Tool for AIrplane Ditching hYdrodynamics


The study concerns with the emergency landing of airplanes on the sea surface (ditching). The final goal is the development of a simulation tool for the description of the hydro-structural-dynamics of ditching. The attention is focused with the early stage, during which the highest loads are generated, which can induce strong distortion or even failure of the fuselage, thus jeopardising the post-crash safety of the aircraft. Current tools, although providing a good picture of the event, are not accurate enough in the early stage and are also computationally expensive. Furthermore, due to the high velocities several physical phenomena, usually neglected in those models, come into play and deserve proper description. Their straightforward inclusion in the first principal equations makes the prediction tools simply useless because of the huge amount of computational effort required. This proposal is aimed at elaborating simpler models in which the theory drives the numerical method towards correct results, thus avoiding the limitations of purely computational methods. The ditching is at the borderline between the aeronautical and the naval field. In the latter studies have been done to estimate the loads induced in the bow region by the water impact occurring when ships move in rough seas. Also, models have been developed for the prediction of the flow and pressure loads about fast planning boats in steady motion. Usually such models are based on a simplified approach, so called 2D+t, which reduces the steady three-dimensional problem to a time domain two-dimensional one. By exploiting the similarity between the ditching airplanes and planning hulls, the present proposal is aimed at broadening the capabilities of the 2D+t model, making it suitable for the ditching problem, including proper modelling of the flow separation from the fuselage, three-dimensional correction, air-cavity modelling and hydro-elastic coupling. Evidence of the industrial interest is provided.

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Earlham Road
NR4 7TJ Norwich
United Kingdom

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Tracy Moulton (Ms.)
EU contribution
€ 238 251,38