Conceptual design of non-conventional rotorcraft

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng


In recent years Urban Air Mobility (UAM) has been attracting attention across the research and industry. UAM is a conceptual public transport network that utilises air space to carry passengers across the urban area using a Vertical Take-Off and Landing aircraft. Conventional, state of the art helicopters are designed and optimised for missions that are not suited for confined environment operations such as urban airspace. Moreover, rotor noise, operational cost and safety issues associated with control complexity making helicopter a weak candidate for small-volume, high-density urban environment operations. Therefore, UAM research is focusing on the development of VTOL aircraft that would be able to operate in an urban air space environment, carrying passengers and cargo across the city. Currently, there are more than 200 conceptual designs of VTOL aircraft for UAM operations across the world. Unlike helicopters, the VTOL designs are incredibly different from each other. It is the case due to the limitation of knowledge in multirotor aerodynamics and hence, lack of conceptual design methods.

Research Objectives
Conventional rotorcraft flight theory has been well established and successfully implemented in practice. However, the aerodynamic difference between a conventional helicopter and multirotor configuration is not well defined. The main research question is to understand how the system of multiple rotors affect the upstream and downstream condition of the contraction wake due to the complex aerodynamic intermeshing. Study of this behaviour will potentially allow highlighting design considerations behind multirotor systems.

Initially, the project will investigate aerodynamic behaviour associated with multirotor configuration using fundamental Axial Momentum and Blade Element Momentum theories. Further in the project, the computational analysis (CFD) of the multirotor system will be carried out and compared with analytical results. Once, power requirements will be derived from the multirotor aerodynamic behaviour; the project will focus on the implementation of distributed electric propulsion (DEP), motor-propeller matching and battery sizing. Finally, the results will be summarised to describe considerations behind multirotor design approach.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513131/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2023
2321417 Studentship EP/R513131/1 01/09/2019 30/09/2022 Dmitrij Usov