Research in Engineering and Aviation

Computational Investigation of Flow Around a Parachute Model

January/February 2011

Author(s): McQuilling, M., Lobosky, L., and Sander, S. 

Journal: Journal of Aircraft, 48(1), pp. 34-41. DOI: 10.2514/1.46255


This project started in the fall of 2008 and finished in the summer of 2009, and was initially intended to build confidence in the SC/Tetra CFD software. Dr. Potvin provided me with some experimental data on a rigid, ribbon parachute model (geometry shown at left) acquired in a water tunnel. I set out to simulate those experiments with the CFD software, and soon enlisted the help of Steven Sander (BSAE ‘10) and Lauren Lobosky (BSAE ‘10). The CFD results matched the pressure coefficient measured in the experiment very well (as shown at right), providing a good validation. In addition to building our confidence in the software, learning about ribbon parachute fluid dynamics, and providing detailed computation-based validation information for future fluid-structure interaction code development, we traveled to San Antonio, TX, to present our results at the 19th AIAA Computational Fluid Dynamics Conference as paper AIAA-2009-3978.