Rotorcraft Image
A new modeling approach allows engineers to simulate an entire vortex collision without needing to do extensive data processing on a supercomputer. (Courtesy Purdue University/Carlo Scalo)

In 2018, passengers onboard a flight to Australia experienced a 10-second nosedive when a vortex trailing their plane crossed into the wake of another flight. The collision of these vortices created violent turbulence that led to a freefall.

To help design aircraft that can better maneuver in extreme situations, Purdue University developed a modeling approach that simulates the entire process of a vortex collision at a reduced computational time. This knowledge could be incorporated into engineering design codes so that the aircraft responds appropriately.

With more realistic and complete simulations, engineers could design aircraft such as fighter jets capable of more abrupt maneuvers or helicopters that can land more safely on aircraft carriers.

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