Fluid–structure interaction of symmetrical and cambered spring-mounted wings using various spring preloads and pivot point locations

Jason Knight, Simon Fels, Benjamin Beazley, George Haritos, Andrew Lewis

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The fluid–structure interaction of a pivoting rigid wing connected to a spring and subjected to freestream airflow in a wind tunnel is presented. Fluid–structure interactions can, on the one hand, lead to undesirable aerodynamic behaviour or, in extreme cases, to structural failure. On the other hand, improved aerodynamic performance can be achieved if a controlled application within certain limitations is provided. One application is the reduction of drag of road vehicles at higher speeds on a straight, while maintaining downforce at lower speeds during cornering. Conversely, another application concerns increased downforce at higher windspeeds, enhancing vehicle stability. In our wind tunnel experiments, the angle of incidence of the spring-mounted wing is either increased or decreased depending on the pivot point location and spring torque. Starting from a specified initial angle, the aerodynamic forces overcome a pre-set spring preload at incrementally increased freestream velocity. Reynolds numbers at a range of Re = 3 × 104 up to Re = 1.37 × 105 are considered. The application of a symmetrical NACA 0012 and a cambered NACA 6412 airfoil are tested in the wind tunnel and compared. For both airfoils mounted ahead of the aerodynamic centre, stable results were achieved for angles above 15 and below 12 degrees for the symmetrical airfoil, and above 25 and between 10 and −2 degrees for the cambered airfoil. Unsteady motions were observed around the stall region for both airfoils with all spring torque settings and also below −2 degrees for the cambered airfoil. Stable results were also found outside of the stall region when both airfoils were mounted behind the aerodynamic centre, although the velocity ranges were much smaller and highly dependent on the pivot point location. An analysis is reported concerning how changing the spring torque settings at each pivot point location effects performance. The differences in performance between the symmetrical and cambered profiles are then presented. Finally, an evaluation of the systems’ effects was conducted with conclusions, future improvements, and potential applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-612
JournalApplied Mechanics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2021


  • fluid–structure interaction
  • aeroelasticity
  • NACA 0012
  • NACA 6412
  • drag reduction
  • aerodynamic optimisation
  • stability


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