Flight Science and Technology is one of a number of the 5* research groups within the Department of Engineering at Liverpool. The group culture is based on deep knowledge and expert skills in the aeronautical disciplines of flight dynamics, control, simulation, computational aerodynamics, aeroelasticity and handling qualities.
FS&T is uniquely positioned within academia to address questions relating to pilot-vehicle technologies, flight control, flight handling qualities, non-linear aerodynamics and, most generally, aircraft design through modelling, real-time flight simulation and high performance Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Highlights include nearly a decade of continuous funding, about £10 million to date, to support development of the European Civil Tilt Rotor, first flight test of an Hinf controller on a hingeless helicopter rotor, major influence on rotor design at AgustaWestland through CFD predictions, and a four-year, 18 man-year Marie-Curie Excellence Fellowship for research into Aeroelastic Certification by Analysis.
The activities are organised under the Flight Simulation and CFD Laboratory themes, each with state-of-the-art facilities. For the Flight Simulation theme these include a motion flight simulator driven by the FLIGHTLAB and Matlab/Simulink modelling and simulation environments. A new two-seat reconfigurable motion flight simulator with a 210 x 70 degree field of view is now operational. The flight simulation facilities are used for a range of pilot-centred research, enabling visual perception and pilot vision aids design studies to be undertaken, as well as research in the areas of aircraft pilot couplings, active control technologies for handling qualities, envelope protection, carefree handling and structural load alleviation of rotary wing and tilt rotor aircraft. The CFD Laboratory has dedicated use of a 512 processor cluster. The research develops methods for unsteady flow simulation, applies these to address fundamental questions in aerodynamics and exploits the codes for industrial applications.
A feature of the FS&T group's research is the level of engagement with external partners, be it industry or academia. FS&T has significant involvement in GARTEUR activities in the areas of validation criteria for helicopter real-time simulation models, rotorcraft-pilot couplings, non-linear methods in flight clearance and aerodynamics. The Group is also represented on the International Helicopter Safety Team and the American Helicopter Society's Flight Simulation and Handling Qualities Committees, is a member of the PUMA (Partnership for Unsteady Methods in Aerodynamics) and Rotorcraft Aeromechanics Defence and Aerospace Research Partnerships, and is a preferred academic partner of BAE SYSTEMS in the field of Dynamic Loads Prediction. FS&T also participates in multiple international working groups run by GARTEUR, RTO and NASA, and is currently contributing to 6 European Commission Framework projects, involving close collaboration with European Industry and the European research laboratories - DLR, CIRA, ONERA and NLR. FS&T works closely at a National level with AgustaWestland, who exploit the CFD research and tools for rotor blade design. Research collaboration with the Canadian NRC, both in aerodynamics and flight control, has seen FS&T control laws tested on the NRC's in-flight simulator, the ASRA Bell 412. The NRC's concept for using wind tunnel results on helicopter fuselage loads to predict ship-helicopter-operating-limits (SHOLs) has been successfully tested on our flight simulator.