Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HU Engineering Department Researching Designs to Make Aircraft Fly Better

Hampton University’s School of Engineering and Technology was awarded a research contract from Lockheed Martin for $93,000. Dr. Morris H. Morgan, III, professor in the Department of Engineering and principal investigator of the contract, and Vitali Khaikine, a researcher in the Department of Engineering, will work in the HU Aeropropulsion Center (HU-APC), at the HU Olin engineering building, researching designs to allow aircraft to fly at super and hypersonic speeds.

Morgan’s research focuses on the shape of the plane and creating the optimal waverider body structure that allows planes to fly better at super and hypersonic speeds. The two forces that affect the plane in flight are the lift and the drag. The waverider is hypersonic design that improves the lift to drag ratio. The goal is to design an aircraft that will increase the lift and decrease the drag.

“Lockheed Martin has provided us with a design for the top of the plane,” stated Morgan. “We are analyzing what would be the best shape for the bottom based on pressure and speed.”

To analyze the different shapes, Morgan will work with Dr. Vadivel Jagasivamani, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering, in HU-APC to create small-scale 3D prototypes of their computer generated designs for wind tunnel testing. HU graduate students will have an opportunity to help during the simulation in the HU-PAC.

As a product of this research, HU will develop for Lockheed Martin OFM software that can define the windward surface of an aircraft if given the proper data. HU has the option of devising this software product using Fortran, C or Simulink computer languages.

“It is a very simple concept,” stated Morgan, who shared the principle behind lift and drag with a piece of paper and a fan. “The most energy is used in the takeoff… you just have to design the aircraft to balance what is on top with what is on the bottom.”
Naima A. Gethers

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