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NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL

Monterey, California

THESIS
A 3D THEODORSEN-BASED ROTOR BLADE
FLUTTER MODEL USING NORMAL MODES

by

Werner J. Rauchenstein Jr.

September 2002

Thesis Co-Advisors: E. Roberts Wood


Mark. A. Couch

Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited


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September 2002 Master’s Thesis
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A 3D Theodorsen-based Rotor Blade Flutter Model Using Normal Modes
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13. ABSTRACT (maximum 200 words)
This thesis presents a fully coupled, quasi-3D analysis of rotor blade flutter that can
accommodate forward flight conditions. The rotor blade is modeled as a uniform beam, taking
the average characteristics of a real blade between 20% and 90% of its length. Applying
Rayleigh’s method, the first few bending and torsion normal mode shapes and natural
frequencies are determined, and then adjusted for the rotating case. With this data, force and
moment equations of motion are developed using Lagrange’s equation along with a normal
mode analysis. Theodorsen coefficients are calculated over a range of forward velocities (input
as reduced frequencies) for a specified number of elements along the blade model.
Incorporating these coefficients into the equations of motion, a square matrix is generated from
which complex eigenvalues can be derived. These eigenvalues provide the aeroelastic natural
frequencies and damping coefficients for each coupled mode. The forward velocity at which
one of the modes produces a positive damping coefficient gives the value of reduced frequency
for the flutter point. The resulting forward speed and blade tip speed can then be determined.

14. SUBJECT TERMS Rotorary Wing Structural Dynamics, Torsional Deflection, Bending 15. NUMBER OF
Deflection, Rotor Blade Aeroelasticity, Theodorsen Lift Deficiency, Flutter Analysis, Helicopter PAGES 75
Dynamics
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Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited

A 3D THEODORSEN-BASED ROTOR BLADE


FLUTTER MODEL USING NORMAL MODES

Werner J. Rauchenstein Jr.


Lieutenant, United States Navy
B.S., United States Naval Academy, 1993

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the


requirements for the degree of

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN AERONAUTICAL ENGINEERING

from the

NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL


September 2002

Author: Werner J. Rauchenstein Jr.

Approved by: E. Roberts Wood


Thesis Co-Advisor

Mark A. Couch
Thesis Co-Advisor

Max Platzer
Chairman, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

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ABSTRACT

This thesis presents a fully coupled, quasi-3D analysis of rotor blade flutter that
can accommodate forward flight conditions. The rotor blade is modeled as a uniform
beam, taking the average characteristics of a real blade between 20% and 90% of its
length. Applying Rayleigh’s method, the first few bending and torsion normal mode
shapes and natural frequencies are determined, and then adjusted for the rotating case.
With this data, force and moment equations of motion are developed using Lagrange’s
equation along with a normal mode analysis. Theodorsen coefficients are calculated over
a range of forward velocities (input as reduced frequencies) for a specified number of
elements along the blade model. Incorporating these coefficients into the equations of
motion, a square matrix is generated from which complex eigenvalues can be derived.
These eigenvalues provide the aeroelastic natural frequencies and damping coefficients
for each coupled mode. The forward velocity at which one of the modes produces a
positive damping coefficient gives the value of reduced frequency for the flutter point.
The resulting forward speed and blade tip speed can then be determined.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................... 1
A. INTRODUCTION........................................................................................... 1
B. BACKGROUND.............................................................................................. 2
1. Theodorsen and Loewy.............................................................................. 2
2. Shipman and Wood.................................................................................... 4
II. THEORETICAL DEVELOPMENT......................................................................... 9
A. A FLUTTER THEORY FOR FORWARD FLIGHT........................................ 9
1. Mode Shapes and Natural Frequencies.................................................... 9
2. Normal Mode Analysis............................................................................. 13
3. Lagrange and The Equations of Motion ................................................ 15
4. Eigenvalues ............................................................................................... 20
III. RESULTS................................................................................................................... 25
A. UH-60 BLADE EXAMPLE................................................................................ 25
B. DISCUSSION OF RESULTS FOR UH-60 BLADE EXAMPLE ................... 42
IV. SUMMARY................................................................................................................ 43
A. CONCLUSIONS.................................................................................................. 43
B. RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................... 44
APPENDIX A. 3D BLADE FLUTTER PROGRAM......................................................... 45
A. PROGRAM WALK-THROUGH................................................................ 45
1. Step 1 – User Input.................................................................................. 45
2. Step 2 – Establish Blade Model Properties ........................................... 45
3. Step 3 – Calculate Mode Shapes and Natural Frequencies.................. 45
4. Step 4 – Construct Matrices for Velocity Range ................................... 47
5. Step 5 – Calculate Eigenvalues................................................................ 48
6. Step 6 – Display Results and Save Data ................................................. 48
B. PROGRAM LISTING ........................................................................................ 49
LIST OF REFERENCES ..................................................................................................... 55
INITIAL DISTRIBUTION LIST ........................................................................................ 57

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. Unstable Region on Advancing Blade .............................................................. 5


Figure 2. Distribution of Shed Vorticity in Unstable Region........................................... 6
Figure 3. Development of Skewed Helical Wake ............................................................ 7
Figure 4. 2-D Wake Model for Forward Flight ................................................................ 7
Figure 5. Rotating and Non-Rotating Mode shapes for the First Bending Mode........... 10
Figure 6. Rotating and Non-Rotating Mode shapes for the Second Bending Mode ...... 11
Figure 7. Rotating and Non-Rotating Mode Shapes for the Third Bending Mode ........ 11
Figure 8. CG Offset Zero, Forward Flight...................................................................... 27
Figure 9. CG Offset Zero, Over-Speed........................................................................... 28
Figure 10. CG Offset 0.5b, Forward Flight ...................................................................... 30
Figure 11. CG Offset 0.5b, Over-Speed ........................................................................... 31
Figure 12. CG Offset 0.75b, Forward Flight .................................................................... 32
Figure 13. CG Offset 0.75b, Over-Speed ......................................................................... 33
Figure 14. CG Offset 0.85b, Forward Flight .................................................................... 34
Figure 15. CG Offset O.85b, Over-Speed ........................................................................ 35
Figure 16. CG Offset 0.9b, Forward Flight ...................................................................... 36
Figure 17. CG Offset O.9b, Over-Speed .......................................................................... 37
Figure 18. CG Offset 0.95b, Forward Flight .................................................................... 38
Figure 19. CG Offset O.95b, Over-Speed ........................................................................ 39
Figure 20. CG Offset 1.0b, Forward Flight ...................................................................... 40
Figure 21. CG Offset 1.0b, Over-Speed ........................................................................... 41
Figure 22. Normal Bending and Torsion Mode Shapes ................................................... 46

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LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. UH-60 Blade Characteristics........................................................................... 26


Table 2. Comparison of Rotating Natural Frequencies................................................. 26
Table 3. Flutter Points ................................................................................................... 42

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LIST OF VARIABLES

λ – inflow ratio g – mode damping coefficient


ξ – non-dimensional distance from G – imaginary part of C(k)
mid-chord GJ – torsional stiffness
µ – advance ratio, µ=V/Ωr H – Hankel function
ϕ1 – phase angle between initiation h – non-dimensional distance
of rotation input and between layers of shed
arbitrary reference point vorticity (wake spacing),
ϕ2 – phase angle between initiation h = 2πv/bQΩ
of amplitude input and hn – displacement due to flapping
arbitrary reference point Ixx – flap-wise moment of inertia
γa – vorticity generated by reference Iα – polar mass moment of inertia
airfoil J – real Bessel function
γnq – vorticity generated by qth blade k – reduced frequency k=ωb/Ω
in nth revolution Kn – Southwell coefficient
A – aerodynamic terms in flutter l – length of blade
equations L’ – lift per unit span
a – non-dimensional elastic axis Lh – lift due to plunge
location measured from Lα – lift due to pitch
mid-chord m – mass
AC – aerodynamic center m – ratio of oscillation frequency to
An – mode shape coefficients rotational frequency,
An – natural frequency coefficients m=ω/Ω
b – semi-span M’ – moment per unit span
Mh – moment due to plunge
C′(k,h,m) – Loewy’s lift deficiency
Mn – nth mode generalized mass
function
Mα – moment due to pitch
C(k) – Theodorsen’s lift deficiency
n – 1, 2, 3,…
function
Qn – generalized force for nth mode
C′N(k,h,m) – finite-wake lift deficiency
qn – normal coordinate for nth mode
function
R – blade radius
C1(k,µ,λ) – Shipman-Wood lift r – radial position along blade
deficiency function Sα – static moment
CG – center of gravity T – kinetic energy
D – dissipation function U – potential energy
d – length of one element UFL – flutter velocity
DOF – degree(s) of freedom Ut – blade tip velocity
e – flapping hinge offset from V – free-stream velocity
center of rotation W – Loewy’s wake weighting
E – Young’s Modulus WN – finite-wake weighting function
EA – elastic axis X – vector of normal coordinates
F – real part of C(k) Y – imaginary Bessel function
Fn – edge-wise mode shape yn – nth mode shape
fn – flap-wise mode shape Z – complex igenvalues
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αn – displacement due to torsion ψ – blade azimuth position
µ – mass per unit length ω – frequency of oscillation
ρ – density of air Ω – rotor velocity

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank the following people who were critical to my successfully
completing this thesis. Dr. E. R. Wood suggested the topic, served as co-advisor, assisted
me throughout the research process, and provided extensive insight into every aspect of
this work, as well as many insights not included in this work. CDR M. A. Couch served
as co-advisor and provided a significant amount of time, energy and grass-roots
explanations of vastly complex phenomena. Mr. Robert Goodman at Sikorsky Aircraft
Company coordinated for the authorized release of data pertaining to their natural
frequency calculations. Dr. Max Platzer and Dr. Hobson shared with me their enthusiasm
for unsteady aerodynamics and their desire for a physical and intuitive understanding of
this type of phenomena. Finally, and most importantly, my wife gave me the support,
confidence and understanding so necessary during the last year.

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I. INTRODUCTION

A. INTRODUCTION

The conventional method for designing a rotor blade to be free of flutter


throughout the helicopter’s flight regime is to design the blade so that aerodynamic center
(AC), elastic axis (EA) and center of gravity (CG) are coincident and located at the
quarter-chord. This practice pays off by decoupling the equations used in two-
dimensional unsteady aerodynamic theory. While this assures freedom from flutter, it
adds constraints on rotor blade design not usually followed in fixed wing design. A blade
designed with the CG, EA and AC coincident at the quarter chord is heavier than one free
of that restriction. It also, if strictly followed, rules out use of a flap that causes the AC to
move with flap angle. In addition, it restricts use of camber that moves the AC aft [Ref.
1].

Loewy’s [Ref. 2] 2-D unsteady aerodynamic theory, as amended by Jones and


Rao [Ref. 3] and Hammond [Ref. 4], provides a useful tool for examining blade flutter in
a hover. Extension of their work to a helicopter in forward flight presents a formidable
mathematical challenge, and thus, at present, there is no accepted theory to completely
analyze blade flutter in forward flight. Currently, to meet forward flight blade flutter
requirements the rotorcraft manufacturer must rely on: (1) a quasi-fixed wing blade
flutter analysis, which does not account for the unsteady contribution of the wake below
the rotor; and (2) costly rotor whirl tests at normal and over-speed conditions that, while
providing information in regard to blade flutter, do not accurately simulate either blade
dynamics or unsteady aerodynamics in forward flight.

However, closer examination of the problem reveals that it is possible to make


several simplifying assumptions that make the forward flight flutter problem tractable. In
particular, it is assumed that at the onset of flutter oscillations begin to build up prior to
the blade reaching a critical azimuth position, then decay as the blade moves beyond this
point. Shipman and Wood [Ref. 5] provide the two-dimensional basis for this three-
dimensional analysis. This thesis will follow the analysis of Shipman and Wood, using
Theodorsen’s lift deficiency function (2-D approach), and further expand the theory to

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encompass full blade-length dynamics (3-D effects). A numerical example using UH-60
blade data is included as a means of illustration and validation.
B. BACKGROUND
“Main and tail rotor blades of the A.T.H. have been
designed so that center of gravity, elastic axis, and aerodynamic
center are coincident. Also, the control system for the main rotor
is stiff with high internal damping. No main or tail rotor blade
flutter has been experienced with earlier model helicopters
possessing these design features.
Main and tail rotor blades for the HSS-2, which are the
same as those of the A.T.H., have been installed on Sikorsky whirl
stands, and tested at maximum design-limit speeds. Main rotor
blades were tested for power-on and power-off conditions. Tail
rotor test conditions were power-on and power-off. Observation of
blades during these tests indicated no flutter or divergence at
maximum operating conditions.” [Ref. 6]

This statement, from the 1960 Sikorsky Report No. 50131 for the Advanced
Tactical Helicopter, is representative of the current methods for ascertaining freedom
from flutter for new helicopter acquisitions. Theoretical calculations consist of a 2-D
flutter analysis of the blade tip as if it was a fixed wing, and whirl stand tests involve
significant expense. Much effort has been expended in the last century to improve flutter
prediction and minimize the cost in time and money spent on whirl stand tests. The
following paragraphs are a review of some of the significant work that has advanced the
study of flutter and provided methods of solving the flutter problem.
1. Theodorsen and Loewy

In 1936, Theodorsen [Ref. 7] made the flutter problem somewhat tractable with
certain simplifying assumptions. He considered a wing of infinite aspect ratio,
encountering small oscillations at a constant velocity through an incompressible, non-
viscous fluid. By using these assumptions, the forces and moments could be determined
from 2-D potential flow theory. In addition, instead of using the actual mass and
geometry distributions, he assumed that the results could be conservatively obtained for a
unit span of the wing. Using the nomenclature found in Scanlan and Rosenbaum [Ref.
8], and excluding terms associated with an aileron, the unsteady force and moment per
unit span are given by

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 h  1   
L′ = πρb3ω2 L h +  Lα −  + a  L h  α 
 b  2   

and

  1  h   1   1 
2
 
M′ = πρb ω   M h −  + a  L h  +  M α −  + a  ( Lα + M h ) +  + a  L h  α 
4 2

 2   b  2  2   

where

2i
Lh = 1 − C(k)
k

1 2i  1  i 
Lα = −  + 1 −  C ( k )
2 k 2  k  

1
Mh =
2

3 i
Mα = −
8 k

The term C(k) is Theodorsen’s well-known lift deficiency function defined by

H1(2)
C(k) =
H1(2) + iH 0(2)

n = J n − iYn is the Hankel function of the second kind of order n evaluated at


where H (2)

reduced frequency k = ωb/V. The force and moment equations take into account both
pitch (torsion) and plunge (flapping) motion, and include circulatory and non-circulatory
terms. It is in the circulatory terms that the lift deficiency function is defined.

Inherent in Theodorsen’s 2-D thin airfoil theory is the assumption that the wake is

carried downstream to infinity by the free-stream airflow [Ref. 9]. For work in rotor
blade flutter, this assumption presents problems, since the rotor blade sections may
encounter the shed wake from previous blades as well as the reference airfoil. Loewy
[Ref. 2] recognized this problem and developed a 2-D model for the hover case that
accounted for the effects of previously shed wakes. The wakes were modeled as a series

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of planar 2-D vortex sheets separated by a distance ‘h’ that was dependent on the induced
velocity through the rotor disk and the number of rotor blades. Loewy then developed a
modified lift deficiency function that could be used in conjunction with the force and
moment equations. This modified lift deficiency function is defined as
H1(2) ( k ) + 2 J 1 (k )W ( k , m, h )
C ′( k , m, h ) =
H1(2) ( k ) + iH 0(2) ( k ) + 2[ J 1 ( k ) + iJ 0 ( k )]W ( k , m, h )
where
1
W ( k , m, h ) = kh
b i 2π ( m )
e e −1

and is evaluated at reduced frequency (k), wake spacing (h = 2πV/bQΩ) and frequency
ratio (m = ω/Ω). Note that as h → ∞ , W → 0 and C ′( k ) → C ( k ) .
2. Shipman and Wood

In 1971, Shipman and Wood [Ref. 5] examined the unsteady aerodynamics acting
on an advancing blade in steady-state level flight. The basic assumptions of their work
are as follows:
1. Two-dimensional, inviscid, incompressible potential flow.
2. Respective layers of the wake are two-dimensionalized and treated as parallel
horizontal sheets.
3. In forward flight, each blade of the rotor will respond in the same manner as
every other blade.
4. The most critical azimuth position of the blade in forward flight for the onset
of flutter is at ψ = 90°.
5. At the onset of blade flutter, oscillations will begin to build up prior to the
blade reaching the critical azimuth position, and these oscillations will decay
as the blade moves beyond the critical azimuth position.
At a specified radial location r on the blade, the local tangential velocity is given
by

U t ( r ) = Ωr + V sin ψ

If it is assumed that the flutter speed for this blade segment is such that

U FL ( r ) < Ωr + V

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then during each blade revolution the blade segment at radius ‘r’ will experience
velocities which will increase to the flutter speed and beyond, then return through the
flutter point to lower airspeeds. Extending this concept to both blade azimuth position
and radial position, one can observe that the blade tangential velocity at a given radial
position will exceed the flutter speed in some region of rotor azimuth position if:

V sin ψ > U FL ( r ) − Ωr

This flutter region is illustrated in Fig. 1.

Figure 1. Unstable Region on Advancing Blade


It should be noted that all points within the shaded region of Fig. 1 experience
negative damping. This negative damping when combined with transient oscillations in
the blade and will cause blade motion to grow. Also, in the region ψ ≤ π/2 - ∆ψFL, the
damping will decrease as ψ approaches (π/2 - ∆ψFL), whereas in the region ψ ≥ π/2 +
∆ψFL, damping will be positive and will increase such that blade transients tend to die
out.

Consider the effect of this variation in damping on an outboard portion of the


advancing blade. It is expected that damping would decrease as the blade approaches ψ
= 90° and the amplitude of oscillations would build up. Conversely, as the blade
advanced beyond ψ = 90°, damping would increase, and there would be a corresponding
decrease in blade vibratory amplitude. This build-up and decay of blade amplitude would
result in a distribution of shed vorticity as shown by Fig. 2. Here, we observe that time-
wise variations in amplitude of blade vibrations have resulted in space-wise variations in
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shed vorticity. Since we have assumed steady-state flight, each blade would shed similar
segments of vorticity for each revolution. These vortex segments constitute the wake that
will be treated in this analysis.

Figure 2. Distribution of Shed Vorticity in Unstable Region


Based on the foregoing, the bound vorticity on the airfoil can be expressed as the
product of a function of chord-wise position, a decay function, and a harmonic function
of time1. We write the incremental bound vorticity as

γ a = γ a (x )f (ξ 0 )e i (ωt + φ )

where f(ξ0) is an assumed decay function centered about ξ0 = 0. The limiting case of
constant-strength shed vorticity such as considered by Theodorsen [Ref. 7] and Loewy
[Ref. 1] for their analyses, is simply achieved by taking f(ξ0 ) = 1.

When the inflow velocity through the rotor is small, the shed vorticity remains
close to the rotor and the wakes shed from each blade during several previous passes as
well as the present pass must be considered. The build-up and decay of vorticity occurs
within a double azimuth angle on either side of ψ = 90°. The solid lines of Fig. 3
indicate this region of the wake. In this region the azimuth angle between a shed vortex
filament and the reference blade may be ignored. The tip does not move very far from
the vertical plane shown in Fig. 3 and so its path may be taken to lie in this plane.

1 W. P. Jones [Ref. 10] first treated the case of an oscillating airfoil where the strength of the airfoil’s
position was allowed to grow or decay exponentially with time. As the buildup or decay rate approached
zero, Jones’ lift deficiency function approached that of Theodorsen [Ref. 6].
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Figure 3. Development of Skewed Helical Wake
Combining the vorticity segments given in Fig. 2, the resulting wake pattern is
shown in Fig. 4. With the mathematical model defined, the problem now is to determine
the pressure difference across the airfoil due to the vorticity shed in the wake, and
consequently to determine the unsteady lift and moment acting on the airfoil.

Figure 4. 2-D Wake Model for Forward Flight


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