Air Flow Expert Working to Make Sure New Jet Fighters Take Flight — and Land — Safely

Air Flow Expert Working to Make Sure New Jet Fighters Take Flight — and Land — Safely

September 9, 20202 min read

The next generation of jet fighters are being designed to be both stealthy and high-speed and, as part of this makeover, their geometry will be unique and won’t include a vertical tail. The new design will improve the aircraft’s maneuvering, minimalize its visibility, and improve its overall performance — but it will also decrease the aircraft’s performance during takeoff and landing.

Miki Amitay, an endowed professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer and the director of the Center for Flow Physics and Control (CeFPaC), is an expert in this type of problem.

With the support of a new grant from the Office of Naval Research, Amitay and his team will use their extensive knowledge of flow physics to determine how air flow will affect these new jet fighters and how that flow can be manipulated or changed for optimal operation.

More specifically, the team will use state-of-the-art wind and water tunnels within CeFPaC to research the flow physics associated with this new plane geometry and then explore options for mitigating difficult flow conditions during takeoff and landing. Those options can’t include changing the shape of the plane itself, so the researchers will employ active flow techniques they have developed.

For example, Amitay has developed almost weightless actuators that can electrically generate a strong jet — called a synthetic jet — that pushes out puffs of air in such a way that it helps control the flow of air around various parts of the aircraft at specific and optimal times.

Amitay is available to talk about the flow physics associated with aircraft flight and new technologies — like his synthetic jet — that can improve performance, efficiency, and safety. 

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  • Michael
    Michael "Miki" Amitay Director, Center for Flow Physics and Control & James L. Decker ’45 Endowed Chair Professor in Aerospace Engineering

    Specializes in developing active flow control techniques with applications in aeronautical and mechanical systems

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