Triggering mechanisms of limit cycle oscillations due to aeroelastic instability

Y. S. Lee, A. F. Vakakis, L. A. Bergman, D. M. McFarland, G. Kerschen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We show that a cascade of resonance captures constitutes the triggering mechanism of limit cycle oscillations (LCOs) due to aeroelastic instability of rigid wings in flow. We consider a two-degree-of-freedom (2-dof) wing model in subsonic flow with cubic nonlinear stiffnesses at the support. Under the assumption of quasi-steady aerodynamics, we apply a complexification/averaging technique to express the dynamics of fluid-structure interactions in terms of three fast-frequency components; these are the two linear natural frequencies corresponding to heave and pitch, and a super-harmonic at three times the pitch frequency. Bifurcation analysis of the resulting set of modulation equations governing the slow dynamics is carried out via the method of numerical continuation, and reveals the different types of steady state motions realized as parameters vary. It turns out that the LCO triggering mechanism consists of a combination of different dynamic phenomena, taking place at three main stages or regimes: attraction to transient resonance captures (TRCs), escapes from these captures and, finally, entrapments into permanent resonance captures (PRCs). We examine numerically and analytically the dynamics at each of these stages by means of wavelet transform analysis, study of the evolution of appropriately defined phase variables in projections of the phase space of the dynamics, and analysis of instantaneous energy exchanges between the various nonlinear modes involved. The general conclusion is that an initial excitation of the heave mode by the flow acts as the triggering mechanism for the excitation of the pitch mode through nonlinear interactions resulting from the resonance captures and escapes. The eventual excitation of the pitch mode signifies the appearance of an LCO of the in-flow wing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-529
Number of pages45
JournalJournal of Fluids and Structures
Issue number5-7 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Aeroelastic instability
  • Limit cycle oscillation (LCO)
  • Numerical continuation
  • Resonance capture
  • Triggering mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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