Experiments in Fluids

, 60:9 | Cite as

Characterization of a canonical helicopter hub wake

  • Christopher E. Petrin
  • Balaji Jayaraman
  • Brian R. ElbingEmail author
Research Article


The current study investigates the long-age wake behind rotating helicopter hub models composed of geometrically simple, canonical bluff-body shapes. The models consisted of a 4-arm rotor mounted on a shaft above a 2-arm (scissor) rotor with all the rotor arms having a rectangular cross section. The relative phase between the 2- and 4-arm rotors was either 0° (in-phase) or 45° (out-of-phase). The rotors were oriented at zero angle-of-attack and rotated at 30 Hz. Their wakes were measured with particle-image-velocimetry within a water tunnel at a hub diameter based Reynolds number of 820,000 and an advance ratio of 0.2. Mean profiles, fluctuating profiles, and spectral analysis using time-series analysis as well as dynamic mode decomposition were used to characterize the wake and identify coherent structures associated with specific frequency content. The canonical geometry produced coherent structures that were consistent with previous results using more complex geometries. It was shown that the dominant structures (2 and 4 times per hub revolution) decay slowly and were not sensitive to the relative phase between the rotors. Conversely, the next strongest structure (6 times per hub revolution) was sensitive to the relative phase with almost no coherence observed for the in-phase model. This is strong evidence that the 6 per revolution content is a nonlinear interaction between the 2 and 4 revolution structures. This study demonstrates that the far wake region is dominated by the main rotor arms wake, the scissor rotor wake, and interactions between these two features.

Graphical abstract



The authors would like to thank Mr. Jacob Niles for 3D printing the fairing, the DML staff that assisted with fabrication of the hub models (Mr. John Gage, Mr. Carson Depew, and Mr. Joe Preston), Dr. Andrew Arena for use of equipment, and the MS thesis committee of C.E. Petrin (Drs. Jamey Jacob and Kurt Rouser) for reviewing material. This work was supported in part by B.R. Elbing’s Halliburton Faculty Fellowship endowed professorship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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