Research in Engineering and Aviation

Simulating the Flows About Cargo Containers Used During Parachute Airdrop Operations

July/August 2011

Author(s): McQuilling, M., Potvin, J., and Riley, J.

Journal: Journal of Aircraft, 48(4), pp. 1405-1411. DOI: 10.2514/1.C031299


This first effort involves the simulation of a typical cargo container (seen at left) undergoing a range of airspeeds (30-100ft/s) and angles of attack (+/- 180deg) using the SC/Tetra computational fluid dynamics software. The immediate goal of this work was to compare static aerodynamic coefficients of two flow orientations, into the nose bumper side or into the flat side, and compare those to previous CFD studies on geometries representing cargo containers. Our work, presented as paper AIAA-2010-4565 at the 28th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference held in Chicago, IL, on June 28 - July 1, 2010, improved the system used to predict parachute system trajectories and inflation characteristics - the Decelerator System Simulation Application - by including the nose bumper and cargo placement all the way to the end of the Type V platform, an arrangement more realistic to how airdrops are actually deployed. Results showed flow orientation has a significant impact on drag behavior but not lift or moment, which in turn can significantly modify the cargo trajectory.