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Time Domain Flutter Analysis of the AGARD 445.

6 Wing
Vasanth Dhanagopal1, T. Varghese Mathew2 and Sharanappa V. Sajjan3
Computational and Theoretical Fluid Dynamics Division, CSIR-National Aerospace
Laboratories, Bangalore – 560017, India
Student, Dept. of Aerospace Engg., MVJ College of Engineering, Bangalore – 560067, India


The flutter characteristics of the AGARD 445.6 standard aeroelastic configuration are studied in
the time domain by using an implicit Reynolds averaged Navier-Stokes solver. The unsteady
RANS equations are solved to predict the flow parameters required for the flutter estimation
along with the SA model for the turbulence closure. The CFD solver is coupled with the
governing structural equations of motion. Dual time stepping approach is used to achieve the
complete convergence of the flow in each time step. The response of the wing to the flow
fluctuations are used to determine the critical flutter index at each Mach number. Further the
coupled tool has been used to predict flutter boundary of the wing. The results are obtained in
the form of stable, unstable and neutral oscillations and transonic dip for the wing. The
comparison of the computed results with the available experimental data is good.

Key words: Aero-elasticity, RANS solver, Transonic Flutter, Transonic dip


bs Root semichord Re Reynolds number

c Airfoil chord Δt Implicit real time step

m mass per unit span μ Airfoil mass ratio, μ = m/πρbs2

M Free stream mach no. ρ Air density

t Real time τ Non-dimensional structural time

t* Pseudo time (τ= ω*t)

Vf Flutter speed, Vf = V/b 𝜔𝜔√μ {F} Force matrix

V Free stream velocity [K] Stiffness matrix

𝜔𝜔 Uncoupled torsional frequency [M] Mass matrix

Cp Pressure coefficient [C] Damping matrix

α Angle of attack {u} Displacement vector

SA Spalart Allmaras a Acceleration


With the requirement for higher speed and maneuverability of aircraft, many high speed
operating aircraft configuration were designed and brought to service. In-order to reduce the
weight and drag in transonic regimes and to operate above the sonic speed, the aircraft wing
section thickness were reduced as it was found out that wave drag produced in the structure
were directly proportional to the square of the thickness resulting in thin airfoil section. Due to
this, the effect of inertial force at this flight regimes were of greater significance and its
interaction with the elastic properties of the airfoil section resulted in emergence of the study
of dynamic aero-elasticity especially flutter estimation. Transonic regime poses a challenge in
predicting the flutter speed due to the flow non-linearity's occurring in this regime and the non-
linear forces and moments being setup with small change in the aerodynamic configuration.
The interaction of the moving shock and the boundary layer further complicates the problem
for applying a linear approach.

Isogai [1] showed the existence of a sharp decrease in the flutter speed of a swept wing in
transonic flight (M ≈ 0.7 − 0.9). This “transonic dip” phenomenon can only be predicted by
including the flow equation with non-linearity in the model.

Frane et al. [2] in his report stated that the in-capabilities of linear code in predicting the
accurate flutter boundary. The report further stated that the use of Euler code predicted
significantly lower flutter code compared to experimental result due to not including the
viscous effect. His work states that in order to accurately predict the flutter index, viscous
effects should be considered such as the boundary layer and the shock-boundary layer
interaction. The computational work carried by Frane using the RANS model showed good
agreement with the experimental results.

Udbhav Sharma [3] His work mainly dealt with altering the flutter index graph by using the
variation provided in the baseline geometry and structural parameters to redesign the airfoil to
fit the required flutter index graph envelope. He too stated that linear models are incapable of
predicting the flutter boundaries as the flow is highly unsteady in the transonic regime.

Jameson [4] described in his report the use of multi-grid in solving fully implicit time stepping
approach for wing and airfoil pitching. Edward et al. [5] used Hytran 2 code to study the
accuracy and stability of various numerical techniques which may be used to transient time
marching equations. His computational work stated out that the nonlinear curve of flutter is the
direct effect of inclusion of angle of attack for NACA64A010 airfoil.

Liu et al. [6] used a multi-block parallel CFD code based on Euler/Navier-stokes equation
strongly coupled with the structural modal equation obtained from the finite element analysis
of the AGARD 445.6 Wing. Even indicial method is also utilized for flutter calculations and the
results obtained are compared to the available experimental results. The methods over
predicted the values of the critical flutter speed compared to the experimental value at
supersonic speeds whereas at subsonic speed the increase and decrease in the amplitudes
above and below the critical flutter speeds were found to be monotonic in nature.

The above works states that Euler and linear model are incapable in capturing the exact flow
phenomenon occurring during Transonic flight regimes and the use of RANS model provides a
accurate tool for predicting the flutter index which is utilized by using the RANS solver provided
in su2 [7]. Francisco Palacios et al. describe the various capabilities of su2. It describes the
various numerical (space and time integration schemes) methods available for solving physical
problem in the domain of CFD in SU2 RANS model.

This paper describes the use of su2 code to predict the flutter boundary of the AGARD 445.6
wing in transonic flight regime using fully coupled RANS model with the structural dynamics
equations of motion.


A Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solver developed for unsteady Reynolds-averaged

Navier Stokes equations on unstructured moving meshes is coupled with a Computational
Structural Dynamics (CSD) solver for coupled solutions of fluid structure interaction problems to
predict aeroelastic flutter is presented below.


Unsteady Reynolds-Average Navier-stroke equations (Time marching implicit viscous flow) have
been used to determine the flow parameters in the computation domain.

RANS equations:

+ ∇𝐹𝐹𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴 𝐶𝐶 − ∇. 𝐹𝐹⃗ 𝑣𝑣 − 𝑄𝑄 = 0 .............................. [For t (time) > 0)]


𝑢𝑢 = {𝜌𝜌, 𝜌𝜌𝑣𝑣⃗, 𝜌𝜌𝐸𝐸 } .............................. [Conservative variables]

�⃗∩ )
𝜌𝜌(𝑣𝑣⃗ − 𝑢𝑢
𝐹𝐹𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴 �⃗∩ ) + 𝐼𝐼 ̿ 𝑝𝑝 �
= � 𝜌𝜌 𝑣𝑣⃗ (𝑣𝑣⃗ − 𝑢𝑢 .............................. [Convective Flux]
𝜌𝜌 𝐸𝐸 (𝑣𝑣⃗ − 𝑢𝑢�⃗∩ ) + 𝑝𝑝 𝑣𝑣⃗
𝐹𝐹⃗ 𝑣𝑣 = � 𝜏𝜏̿ � ............................... [Viscous Flux]
� 𝑣𝑣⃗ + 𝜇𝜇 ∗ 𝑡𝑡𝑡𝑡𝑡𝑡 𝑐𝑐𝑝𝑝 ∇𝑇𝑇
𝑄𝑄 = � 𝑞𝑞⃗𝜌𝜌𝑣𝑣�⃗ � ............................. [Source Terms]

For a given problem the RANS model is used with Spalart Allmaras (SA) turbulence model for
the turbulence closure.

Following steps are performed by the solver to set the flow for internal calculations for viscous
flow conditions
· The solver uses the free stream temperature and the gas constant to determine the
speed of sound.
· Velocity vectors are determined from the above computed speed of sound and the free
stream Mach number and angle of attack provided by the user.
· Computes the free stream viscosity from the viscosity model specified or it takes the
default values hardcoded in the solver.
· Free stream density is computed using the definition of Reynolds number and the other
parameters computed from above steps.
· The free stream pressure is determined using the perfect gas law.

Spatial integration is performed using the finite volume method while the time integration in
unsteady flow is executed using the implicit and explicit schemes. In this analysis gradients of
the flow variables are calculated using the weighted least square method at all grid nodes
which is then averaged and used to represent the gradient value at the cell faces. An Euler
implicit scheme is implemented for time integration. Bi-conjugate Gradient stabilized method is
used as a linear solver to solve the equation of time integration.


The governing equation of the solid structural model is written as,

[𝑀𝑀] d2u/dt2 + [𝐶𝐶] + [𝐾𝐾]u = {𝐹𝐹}

Where M, C and K are the mass, damping and stiffness matrices of the structure respectively, u
is the displacement vector and F is the force exerted on the surface node points of the body.

The above structural dynamic equation has been solved by using Newmark’s implicit time
marching scheme [8] to determine the displacement at each nodal point on the wing at each
time step in order to determine its response to external excitation.

ui+1 = ui + (∆t)u̇ + �[1 − 2β]ai + 2βai+1 �
u̇ i + ∆t[(1 − γ)ai + γai+1 ]

ai = M −1 �−∇V(ui )�

The Newmark’s scheme averages the acceleration; the stability of the system is mainly
governed by the choice of the values for β and γ respectively. For stability of the system the
beta values are kept more than 0.5 whereas the γ ≤ 0.5.

The problem is solved in su2 tool as follows,

· For time step n, the flow parameters in the computational domain are solved using the
implicit RANS solver module to obtain the value of the forces in all the 3 directions.
· The corresponding values of the forces contributes to the load vectors in the standard
governing equation on the R.H.S
· The structural modal equation is solved to obtain the values of displacements.
· The values of displacements are used by the grid movement code using spring analogy
to move the grid to a new position, above procedure is repeated again for non-
dimensional time n+1.
· As the solver exit at Time = total time interval provided by the user the response of the
system can be observed in the post processing tool for neutral oscillation which
indicates the flutter speed at the corresponding Mach number.


The standard aeroelastic configuration AGARD 445.6 wing was tested in the 16–foot Transonic
Dynamics Tunnel (TDT) at the NASA Langley Research Center for its dynamic response has been
used in the present work. The wing has a quarter-chord sweep angle of 45°, a panel aspect ratio
of 1.65, a taper ratio of 0.66, and a NACA 65A004 airfoil section. The root chord of this wing
model was 1.833 feet and the semi-span was 2.5 feet. Flutter data for this model tested in air
are reported by Yates et al. (1963) over a range of Mach number from 0.338 to 1.141. The plan
form of the wing and the surface grid is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: AGARD wing surface grid

A three-dimensional body conforming C-H type of grid is generated around the AGARD wing by
using commercial software package GridgenV15.5 in such a way that the grids are clustered
properly near the leading and trailing edges and the tip, where the flow is expected to undergo
rapid changes. The grid is nearly orthogonal at the surface, with the first grid line lying
approximately at 0.001% of the root chord, normal to the wing surface and 267, 65 and 70
points are chosen in the chordwise, normal and spanwise directions respectively. The outer grid
boundary is located at 30 chords away from the wing surface. The surface grid of size 187 × 56
on the AGARD wing is shown in figure 1, while the 3D volume grid is plotted in figure 2 to
illustrate the grid topology. An unstructured grid was used for the interior of the wing for the
structural analysis with 21413 elements. The spacing of 0.0001 is provided towards the surface
perpendicular direction and a spacing of 0.001 is provided near the trailing edge from the
downstream direction.

Figure 2: 3D volume grid around the Wing Figure 3: CFD boundary conditions


Three types of boundary conditions have been applied for computing surface pressure over the
AGARD 445.6 wing. The wing surface was provided with the wall boundary condition (no slip)
with zero heat flux for applying the numerical JST scheme. The other outer most far-field
domain is provided with far field boundary condition where free stream values of Mach
number, temperature, angle of attack are provided. Symmetry boundary conditions are applied
near the root section of the wing as shown in figure 3.

Steady Flow over the AGARD Wing

Before beginning the flutter analysis of the wing, steady viscous flow computations have been
performed over the wing at different transonic Mach numbers using implicit Reynolds-averaged
Navier – Stokes solver developed by Stanford University SU2 code and results are compared
with the earlier available computational results of CFL3D solver as reported in Zona
Technology’s application manual (2003). The computations are carried out for Re = 2 million at
zero angle of attack and Mach numbers 0.5, 0.678, 0.90, 0.95, 0.98 and 1.072. The surface
pressure distribution at 6 different spanwise sections (0.083,0.328,0.53,0.703,0.834,0.96) of the
wing [9] is shown in Figure 4, for Mach numbers 0.678 (left) and 0.95 (right) respectively along
with the Navier-Stokes results as reported in the above manual. The comparison of the surface
pressure coefficient at all the sections is reasonably good. The above exercise is used to validate
the SU2 code for the present problem. It also provides an appropriate initial condition for
subsequent application to transonic flutter analysis of the wing.

Figure 4: Surface pressure distribution at different spanwise stations of the wing at Mach 0.678
(left) and 0.95 (right) and Re = 2.0 million at zero angle of attack (Symbol = CFL3D,
Red line = present computations)
Dynamic flutter analysis of the AGARD 445.6 Wing

The time domain flutter analysis of the deformable AGARD 445.6 wing has been carried out by
using an implicit coupled Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solver with the Computational
Structural Dynamics (CSD) solver for the range of Mach numbers from 0.499 to 1.141. The
flutter simulation was run at various speeds keeping the Mach number constant by varying the
dynamic pressure. The results are obtained in terms of the displacement with respect to time
from the structural solver for various mach numbers. The time history displacement response
plots for converging, neutral and diverging oscillations are shown in figure 5, for Mach number

Figure 5: Time history of damped, neutral and diverging displacement response plots at
Mach number 0.499
Figure 6: Time history of neutral displacement response plots for showing critical flutter point
at different Mach numbers
For a given Mach number at low flutter speed index (Vf), the disturbances set up due to the
interaction between the aerodynamic, elastic and inertial forces are comparatively small and
hence they dampen out with time depending upon the value of damping provided by the flow
leading to the conclusion that the elastic forces set up in the body are comparatively greater
than the aerodynamic forces. As the value of the critical flutter index (Vf) reaches a threshold
value referred as critical flutter index, the system exhibits a self sustaining neutral oscillations
from which it can be concluded that at the critical flutter index, aerodynamic, elastic and
inertial forces are in exact equilibrium with each other thus providing a neutral oscillation
response in the displacement plots shown in figure 5. As the value of flutter index is further
increased above the critical flutter index value, a diverging time response curve is obtained due
the aerodynamic forces and inertial forces being dominating over the elastic forces setup in the
wing. Thus further increase in flutter index the aerodynamic and the inertial forces can cause
the structure to fail. The figure 6 shows the time history response for displacement showing the
critical flutter point for the different Mach number values. It is also observed from this picture
that as the Mach number increases the amplitude of the oscillation increases.

0.5 Experimental
Flutter Index (Vf)




0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 1.1 1.2
Mach number (M)

Figure 7: Comparison of transonic dip curve obtained by present computations with the
experimental data

The transonic dip curve obtained by present simulations using the su2 solver is shown in figure 7
along with the experimental values. The transonic dip is a drop in the flutter speed in the
transonic flow region and is believed to be due to the massive flow separation. The comparison
of CFD results with the experiments is in good agreement at all the Mach numbers below 0.95.
For the present computations the bottom of the dip is close to M=0.95 and the experimental
value is M= 0.954. We can observe that there is a small difference in the prediction of Mach
number at transonic dip. But as we see further increase in Mach number there is a difference in
the flutter index values. This could be attributed to that the grid size used in the present
computations near the Mach number 1.0, may not be enough. However we feel the present
method does give a reasonable prediction for the transonic dip.

The implicit Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes solver (su2) coupled with the structural dynamics
code has been used to predict the transonic flutter boundary of the AGARD 445.6 wing. The
flutter point has been computed for several Mach numbers by varying the dynamic pressure.
The results are obtained in the form of stable, unstable, neutral oscillations and transonic dip of
the wing. The coupled solver predicts the transonic dip at Mach number 0.95 with the critical
flutter index at 0.3026. The flow is accompanied by the presence of moving shock at the top
and bottom surface which interacts with the boundary layer and greatly alters the pressure
distribution on wing surface, causing changes in the local values of pressure coefficient
resulting in change of lift and moment coefficients with time. The transonic dip data obtained
from su2 solver seems to be in good agreement with the experimental data.


[1] Isogai, K., “On the Transonic-Dip Mechanism of Flutter of a Sweptback Wing,” AIAA Journal,
Vol. 17, No. 7, pp. 793-795, July 1979.

[2] Frane Majić, Ralph Voss2, Zdravko Virag, “boundary layer method for unsteady transonic
flow", Journal of Mechanical Engineering 58(2012)7-8, 470-481, 2012.

[3] Udbhav Sharma, "Effects of Airfoil Geometry and Mechanical Characteristics on the Onset of
Flutter", School of Aerospace Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology December 10, 2004.

[4] Jameson, A., “Time Dependent Calculations Using Multigrid, with Applications to Unsteady
Flows Past Airfoils and Wings,” AIAA Paper 91-1596, June 1991.

[5] Edwards, J. W., et al., “Time-Marching Transonic Flutter Solutions Including Angle of Attack
Effects,” Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 20, No. 11, November 1983, pp. 899-906.
[6] F. Liu, J. Cai, Y. Zhu, H. M. Tsai, and A. S. F. Wong, "Calculation of Wing Flutter by a
Coupled Fluid-Structure Method", Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 334-342,

[7] Stanford University Unstructured (Su2): “Open-Source Analysis And Design Technology For
Turbulent Flows”, AIAA SciTech, AIAA-0243-2014.

[8] M. West, C. Kane, J.E. Marsden, and M. Ortiz “Variational integrators, the Newmark scheme
and dissipative systems” International Conference on Differential Equations, Berlin, 1999.

[9] Zona Technology, “Applications Manual, ZAERO version 6.5”, Ninth Edition, 2003.