University of Padova
An interview with prof. Ernesto Benini, from the department of mechanical engineering
Questions & answers
University of Padova is involved in the following projects within Green Rotorcraft ITD:
- TILTOp: Efficient Shape Optimization of Intake and Exhaust of a Tiltrotor Nacelle;
- CODE-Tilt: Contribution to design optimization of tiltrotor components for drag reduction;
- HEAVYcOPTer: Contribution to optimization of heavy helicopter engine installation design.
The innovative aspect of the three projects consists mainly in the development and application of innovative design techniques for aircraft/helicopters components aimed at both optimization of engine installation losses and fuselage drag minimization. In particular, the objectives of the projects are going to be achieved by means of a dedicated programming and simulation activity, aimed at integrating a proprietary optimizer developed by UNIPD within the industrial design procedure already available at GRC Consortium. As a result, efficient and robust optimization strategies are going to be implemented for obtainment of optimal geometries in reasonable computing times, suitable for industrial applications. The tool is very general, and it will be applied for enhancing the aerodynamic efficiency of a wide class of tiltrotor/helicopter components, while being fully compliant with industrial feasibility and manufacturing constraints.
Moreover, the aim of the projects is an efficient technology transfer from research to industry. All the projects are expected to result in a series of environmental benefits: in fact, reduction of both engine installation losses and drag of fuselage components acts in the direction of increasing the aircraft efficiency and hence reducing fuel consumption. Furthermore, also the noise emission of the engine installation is to be minimized. Actual quantification of benefits will be carried out only at the end of the projects; however, results achieved so far are very promising, since meaningful reductions of tiltrotor engine installation losses have already been accomplished at this preliminary stage.
In addition, the final optimized components will be tested either in wind tunnel or in flight in the framework of GRC2, in order to verify the predicted margins of improvement.
A whole of ten people from UNIPD are working on the CS projects. A network with HIT09, a spin-off company that has been created from UNIPD, has been established for all the people involved in the projects to work in cooperation. Specifically, the aim of the spin-off is actually to improve technology transfer from university to industry.
Furthermore, it serves as an incubator for high-level educated engineers who want to actively work in the field of research with close cooperation with an academic environment: in this sense, it is a useful means for creation of qualified employment.
Actually, some specific contributions may be brought by universities like UNIPD to the Clean Sky programme: in particular, universities can bring skills to explore innovative solutions and analysis methodologies, having a proactive attitude towards problem solving, high motivation and mind-set towards intellectual competition.
In addition, universities have already gained meaningful experience in working closely with Aeronautics Industry in large funded projects at a high technical level. Finally, as a further added value, the wider experience gathered working in other industrial fields can be profitably transferred to aeronautics.
University of Padova has developed an internationally renowned competency in developing and applying innovative design techniques to both aircraft and rotorcraft components. Agusta is valorizing this competency by introducing such techniques within their design procedures.
Actually, applying for CS calls for proposals is a great opportunity for facilitating technology transfer and getting funding for research. Moreover, there is a great potential for young people to start working on applied research, which is good in the perspective of a permanent position also.In addition, participating to a CS call for proposal represent an invaluable chance for consolidating relationships with industrial partners, sharing objectives and solutions and definitely becoming part of the aeronautics community.