Worcester Polytechnic Institute Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection

Title page for ETD etd-083105-160931

Document Typethesis
Author NameRodenhiser, Rebecca J
TitleAn Ultrasonic Method for Aircraft Wake Vortex Detection
DepartmentMechanical Engineering
  • William W. Durgin, Co-Advisor
  • Hamid Johari, Co-Advisor
  • David Olinger, Committee Member
  • Mark Richman, Graduate Committee Rep
  • Keywords
  • ultrasonic measurements
  • acoustics
  • circulation measurement
  • wake vortex
  • Date of Presentation/Defense2005-08-30
    Availability unrestricted


    This thesis documents the experimental proof of concept study for an ultrasonic method of wake vortex detection. A new acoustic technique is utilized to measure the circulation produced in the wake of lift-generating aircraft. Ultrasonic signals are transmitted in a path around the wake vortex, and are used to determine the average in-line velocity component along the acoustic path. It is shown herein that this velocity component is directly proportional to the net circulation value within the acoustic path. This is the first study to take this methodology and implement it in a realistic airport setting.

    This project included constructing a prototype and conducting field tests to prove the validity of this technology in a realistic environment setting. During field tests an acoustic path enclosed the vorticity shed behind one wing of a Piper PA-28 aircraft. Fourteen initial test flights were conducted in calm atmospheric conditions, and results show circulation values measured are comparable in magnitude and direction to expected circulations generated by the Piper PA-28 aircraft. Additional testing in various atmospheric conditions revealed the scope of practice for such a measurement technology. This study demonstrates the validity of the acoustic method in detecting aircraft wake vortices. Future investigations and applications utilizing this technique are discussed within.

  • Rodenhiser.pdf

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