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The method of lines (MOL) is applied to the equations of helicopter rotor vortex wakes, and converts the governing partial differential equations into a system of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). These ODEs can then be coupled to other ODEs modeling helicopter dynamics, for time‐marching
simulations or to extract linearized models. The MOL is applied to a simplified set of wake equations that has an analytical solution. Because these simplified equations neglect key wake physics, the study is only a first step toward applying MOL to realistic models. Therefore, the conclusions
only apply to the simplified problem considered. The results show that the MOL is a suitable method to formulate vortex wake models in state‐space form. The solutions are accurate and numerically stable. Refining the space discretization increases the stiffness of the ODE, but explicit
solvers can still be used. Computational efficiency increases when the accuracies of space and time discretizations are matched, that is, the local error tolerance set for the time solver is matched with the order of accuracy of the space discretization. Formulas of several orders were used
in the space discretization. In all cases, the explicit ODE solver used (DE/STEP) was much more computationally efficient than another, implicit ODE solver (DASSL). Linearized state‐space wake models can be easily obtained. The MOL could also provide a systematic methodology to extract
state‐space models from computational fluid dynamics formulations, and therefore to increase the accuracy of helicopter simulation models.
Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Publication date: April 1, 2005
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