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About the Aeroelasticity Branch

High technical excellence would be a suitable descriptor for the Aeroelasticity Branch. However, another characterization could simply be “technical variety.” The branch potentially carries the responsibility of all things aeroelastic for lifting surfaces and airframes. Aeroelasticity by its nature encompasses interactions of structures (stiffness), mass properties (inertia), and aerodynamics, with occasional further considerations for thermal and propulsion effects. The branch has a rich history of aeroelastic experimentation, analyses, and computational accomplishments. Achievements include flutter suppression and gust load and buffet alleviation developments, active flexible/aeroelastic wing development, contributing to flight flutter clearance, and launch vehicle dynamics assessments. Vehicle impacts have included contributions to the flutter clearance of many military fighter and attack aircraft, commercial transports, and tiltrotors. Aeroelastic loads and performance data have been acquired for many helicopter rotor-blade systems. Other types of vehicles assessed by the Aeroelasticity Branch include supersonic transports, hypersonic aircraft, and reentry parachutes and inflatable ballutes. The branch has influenced and enabled aeroelasticity understanding for decades running. A more recent highlight branch achievement was reaching the decision to remove the PAL ramps from the external tank of the Space Shuttle. The branch has also contributed to the development of NASA and industry aerospace leadership through work and/or mentorship in the branch. Included in this list of leaders are Irving Abel, Bill Cazier, Bob Doggett, Mike Durham, Clint Eckstrom, Dr. John Edwards, Perry Hanson, Dr. Ray Kvaternik, Anna McGowan, Cathy Mangum, Wayne Mantay, Dr. Bob Moses, Dr. Jerry Newsom, Dr. Mark Nixon, Dr. Tom Noll, Bill Reed, Rodney Ricketts, Dave Seidel, Dr. Woodrow Whitlow, and Dr. Warren Young. (from RD Newsletter FY11, Issue 7)

Aeroelasticity Branch Mission

To discover and advance fundamental knowledge of aeroelastic phenomena, to develop and apply aeroelastic prediction methods to aerospace vehicles, and to provide experimental aeroelastic expertise for wind-tunnel and flight tests.

Aeroelasticity Branch supports NASA, the US Department of Defense, and the US Aerospace Industry by:


The Aeroelasticity Branch conducts a broad-based research and technology program to obtain a fundamental understanding of aeroelastic and unsteady-aerodynamic phenomena experienced by aerospace vehicles, especially in the transonic speed regime. The program content includes theoretical aeroelasticity, experimental aeroelasticity, and advanced aeroservoelastic concepts.

Theoretical AeroelasticityExperimental AeroelasticityAdvanced Aeroservoelastic Concepts

Theoretical Aeroelasticity

  1. Computational aeroelasticity
  2. ‘Classical’ linear aeroelasticity
  3. Unsteady computational fluid dynamics
  4. Reduced order modeling
  5. Multi-body dynamics
  6. Loads / vibrations / stability / performance
  7. Methodology development, verification, validation
  8. Rotorcraft computational aeroelasticity and aeroacoustics

Experimental Aeroelasticity

  1. Decades of experience in Langley Transonic Dynamics Tunnel
  2. Development of experimental databases for code validation
  3. Conduct of flutter, divergence, loads, and steady & unsteady pressure tests
  4. Buffeting research
  5. Development and validation of aeroelastic testing techniques
  6. Dedicated hover test facility
  7. Aeroelastic helicopter wind tunnel test article
  8. Aeroelastic tilt rotor wind tunnel test article
  9. Whirl-flutter stability

Advanced Aeroservoelastic Concepts

  1. Computational aeroservoelasticity
  2. ‘Classical’ linear aeroservoelasticity
  3. Aeroelastic applications of smart materials
  4. Methodology development, verification, validation
  5. Flutter suppression
  6. Buffet load alleviation
  7. Gust load alleviation
  8. Ride quality control
  9. Stability augmentation
  10. Active twist rotor research
  11. Swashplate-less rotor research

Contributions of the Aeroelasticity Branch

The aeroelasticity branch has been conducting research for over 50 years in support of US-developed aircraft and launch vehicles through the use of computational methods and experimental testing.  The primary laboratories for the aeroelasticity branch are the NASA Langley Transonic Dynamics Tunnel (TDT) and the Rotorcraft Hover Test Facility.  With the use of these facilities and computational methods, many aerospace problems have been addressed by the branch to include:

Additional information regarding significant branch contributions is provided in the following papers:

Directions to NASA Langley
Directions to Aeroelasticity Branch (in building 648)

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