Aeroelastically deflecting flaps for shock/boundary-layer interaction control

D. Gefroh, E. Loth, C. Dutton, E. Hafenrichter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An aeroelastic mesoflap system has been developed to improve the downstream flow properties of an oblique shock/boundary-layer interaction. The mesoflap system employs a set of small flaps over a cavity, whereby the flaps downstream of the interaction bend downward aeroelastically to bleed the flow and the upstream flaps bend upward to re-inject this same mass flow upstream. This recirculating system requires no net mass bleed and therefore has advantages for boundary layer control in external or mixed-compression supersonic aircraft inlets. In addition, the system may be applicable in other aerospace applications where boundary-layer control can help remedy the adverse effects of shock interactions. Several mesoflap systems have been fabricated and examined experimentally to investigate their aerodynamic and structural performance. Each mesoflap is rigidly attached to a spar on its upstream end while the remainder of the flap is free to deflect aeroelastically. The flap length is nominally a few boundary-layer thicknesses in dimension, while the flap thickness is small enough to allow tip deflections that are of the order of the boundary-layer momentum thickness. Experiments were conducted for a Mach 2.41 impinging oblique shock wave interaction with a turbulent boundary layer. Spanwise-centered laser Doppler velocimeter measurements indicate that certain mesoflap designs can show significant flow improvement as compared to the solid-wall case, including increased stagnation pressure recovery and a 7% reduction in boundary layer thickness and sonic thickness. However, one drawback of the mesoflap system is the potential for fatigue, which in some cases led to microcracking followed by flap failure. Structural design improvements to alleviate and avoid this problem included a lower profile spar design, substitution of Nitinol for aluminum as the flap material, and use of stress-relieving holes at the ends of the flap cut-outs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1016
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fluids and Structures
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Aeroelastically deflecting flaps for shock/boundary-layer interaction control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this