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NSWC TR 83-28

A VIEW ON THE CAUSE


OF PARACHUTE INSTABILITY
BY

W. P. LUDTKE

UNDERWATER SYSTEMS DEPARTMENT

10 MAY 1983

Distribution limited to U. S. Government agencies only;


Test and Evaluation. Statement applied 10 May 1983.
Other requests for this document must be referred to
NSWC, Code U13.

t A S V V i

NAVAL SURFACE WEAPONS CENTER


Dahigren, Virginia 22448

TL7S1
.L822
1983

Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

LINDA
Science

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tired)

READ INSTRUCTIONS
B E F O R E COMPLETING FORM

R E P O R T DOCUMENTATION P A G E
3.

RECIPIENT'S CATALOG

S.

T Y P E O F R E P O R T ft P E R I O D

A VIEW ON THE CAUSE OF PARACHUTE INSTABILITY

t.

P E R F O R M I N G ORG. R E P O R T

7.

C O N T R A C T OR G R A N T

REPORT

NUMBER

2. G O V T

ACCESSION

NO.

NUMBER

NSWC TR 83-28
4

T I T L E (and

Subtitle)

AUTHORS;

COVERED

NUMBER

NUMBERS

W. P. Ludtke
9.

PERFORMING ORGANIZATION

NAME AND

10.

ADDRESS

Naval Surface Weapons Center


White Oak
Silver Spring, Maryland
20910
11.

CONTROLLING OFFICE

NAME AND

PROGRAM ELEMENT. P R O J E C T ,
A R E A ft W O R K U N I T N U M B E R S

TASK

64601N
S0267-MW
12.

ADDRESS

REPORT

DATE

10 May 1983
11.

NUMBER OF

PAGES

44
U

MONITORING AGENCY

N A M E A D D R E S S f / / dlllerent

1 com Controlling

IS.

Oil!CO)

S E C U R I T Y C L A S S , (ol

thle

report)

Unclassified
1S.

16.

DISTRIBUTION

STATEMENT

(o 1 thh

D E C L ASSIFI CATION/DOWN GRADING


SCHEDULE

Report)

Distribution limited to U.S. Government agencies only; Test and Evaluation.


Statement applied 10 May 1983.
Other requests for this document must
be referred to NSWC, Code U13.

17.

D I S T R I B U T I O N S T A T E M E N T (ol

IB.

SUPPLEMENTARY

19.

KEY

W O R D S (Continue

the abetrecl

entered

In Block

20, II dlllerent

Ire

at

Report)

NOTES

on reveree

elde

If neceeemry

end Identify

by block

number)

Parachute
Stability
Disc-gap-band parachute
Parafoil parachute
Lift control
20.

A B S T R A C T (Continue

on reveree

elde

II neceeemry

a n d Identity

by MocJc

number)

This report presents a theoretical discussion of the mechanism of


parachute instability for the purpose of improving parachute technology. The
theory is based upon considering the inflated canopy shape as a series of
opposing airfoils which produce a destabilizing lift force. The methods by
which several types of parachutes utilize lift control to provide stability
are discussed together with a demonstration of lift control to stabilize the
flat solid cloth types of parachutes.
DD , j^NM73 1473

EDITION OF
S/N

I N O V 6 5 IS O B S O L E T E

0 1 0 2 - LF- 014- 6601

UNCLASSIFIED
ECUITY CLAMIUCATION

O F T H I S P A G E f W i . n Dmte

Entered)

UNCLASSIFIED
S E C U R I T Y C L A S S I F I C A T I O N O F T H I S P A G E ( W m i Dmlm E n l i t . J )

20.

ABSTRACT (Cont.)

The thickness ratio and location of the maximum airfoil ordinate


aft of the airfoil-like shape leading edge are analytically determined
for several paracute types, and shown to be in reasonable agreement with
true airfoils.

~XL15\
I Oq<\

0102- LF. 0U- 6601


UNCLASSIFIED
SECURITY

C L A S S I F I C A T I O N O F T H I S P A G E f W J i . n Dal.

Enter.d)

NSWC TR 83-28

FOREWORD

This report presents a theoretical discussion of the mechanism of


parachute instability for the purpose of improving parachute technology. The
theory is based upon considering the inflated canopy shape as a series of
opposing airfoils which produce a destabilizing lift force. The methods by
which several types of parachutes utilize lift control to provide stability
are discussed together with a demonstration of lift control to stabilize the
flat solid cloth types of parachutes.
The thickness ratio and location of the maximum airfoil ordinate aft of
the airfoil-like shape leading edge are analytically determined for several
parachute types, and shown to be in reasonable agreement with true airfoils.

vsEOROE P. KALAF/ Head


/Mine Warfare Division

i/ii

LINDA HALL LIBRARY


KAN6AS CITY, MO

NSWC TR 83-28

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
THE STABILITY PROBLEM
THE INFLATED CANOPY AS AN AIRFOIL-LIKE SHAPE
COMMENTS ON OTHER AIRFOIL-LIKE SHAPES RELATED TO PARACHUTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
DEFINITIONS
NOMENCLATURE

iii/iv

NSWC TR 83-28

ILLUSTRATIONS
Pa

Figure
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

TORPEDO SIDE SLAP DUE TO LOW ALTITUDE RELEASE AND RINGSLOT


PARACHUTE NEUTRAL STABILITY ZONE
COMPARISON OF THE STATIC STABILITY OF THREE PARACHUTE TYPES. . . .
YAWED SOLID CLOTH PARACHUTE
EFFECT OF Act ON AIRFOIL ANGLE OF ATTACK AND LIFT
AIRFOIL-LIKE SHAPES OF GUIDE SURFACE PARACHUTES
REEFED "PARACHUTE GEOMETRY
DISC GAP BAND PARACHUTE ASSEMBLY
DISK GAP BAND PARACHUTE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND WIND
TUNNEL
PARACHUTE STEADY STATE INFLATED SHAPE
COORDINATE SYSTEM FOR THE DETERMINATION OF THE AIRFOIL THICKNESS
RATIO AND LOCATION OF THE AIRFOIL ORDINATE IN PERCENT OF CHORD . .
EFFECT OF PARACHUTE CANOPY MAINSEAM SHAPE ON THE AIRFOIL-LIKE
SHAPE THICKNESS RATIO
SINGLE INFLATED FLAT SOLID CLOTH PARACHUTE GORE
SINGLE INFLATED PARACHUTE GORE AT CONSTANT THICKNESS
PARAFOIL PARACHUTE DEVELOPED FROM INFLATED GORE SEGMENT
RECTANGULAR WING PARAFOIL

2
3
4
6
7
8
9
10

12
14
29
30
30
31
32

TABLES
Table
1
2
3

SUMMARY OF PARACHUTE SHAPE TEST RESULTS FOR 12-GORE AND 16-GORE


CONFIGURATIONS
SUMMARY OF PARACHUTE SHAPE TEST RESULTS FOR 24-GORE AND 30-G0RE
CONFIGURATIONS
AIRFOIL-LIKE SHAPE ANALYSIS

v/vi

13

13

21

NSWC TR 83-28

INTRODUCTION
The purpose of this paper is to present what the author believes to be a
new view on the cause of parachute instability and a method of stability
control based upon a relatively minor change in canopy configuration. This
presentation is not intended as a rigorous study of parachute instability, but
rather sets forth the author's observations on stability and their application
to stability control. The hypothesis presented is that instability is the
result of producing a side force which is due to the inflated canopy shape.
The inflated canopy shape can be modified to reduce the destabilizing side
force and thereby improve the stability of the parachute. A mechanism for the
explanation of parachute instability is proposed, and the successful results
of wind tunnel experiments to demonstrate the hypothesis are included.
The instability mechanism was derived from observation of solid cloth
parachutes in the inflating, fully inflated, and reefed conditions. A fully
inflated solid cloth parachute canopy can be generated by revolving an
airfoil-like shape with a flat lower surface and a cambered upper surface
about the parachute centerline at an angle of attack. This airfoil-like shape
produces destabilizing aerodynamic side forces. In reefed and inflating
parachutes, an airfoil-like shape is also present, but oriented with the
trailing edge facing the approaching flow. The inefficient use of the
airfoil-like shape in inflating and reefed parachutes is responsible for the
parachute stability since it minimizes the destabilizing side forces. As a
means of demonstration, unstable flat circular parachute models were modified,
by the addition of a cylindrical section ahead of the canopy hem, to produce
an airfoil-like section with the trailing edge of the section oriented into
the approaching flow. These models were tested in a wind tunnel and
demonstrated exceedingly improved stability.
THE STABILITY PROBLEM
In the 1960 1 s, the Naval Surface Weapons Center (NAVSWC) was engaged in
experimentation with a retardation system for an aircraft-launched torpedo.
In low level delivery, the axis of the torpedo was yawed to an unacceptable
angle from the trajectory. Analysis showed that the stability of the ringslot
parachute was responsible. The parachute, due to its weight, would trim below
the flight path causing the store to assume a nose high attitude which
resulted in an unacceptable impact tail slap as shown in Figure 1. At higher
release altitudes, the impact angle of the assembly increased to a point where
the parachute was above the torpedo and the off axis effect was not
s ignificant.

NSWC TR 83 - 28

F I G U R E 1. T O R P E D O S I D E S L A P D U E TO LOW A L T I T U D E R E L E A S E A N D R I N G S L O T
P A R A C H U T E N E U T R A L S T A B I L I T Y ZONE

The static stability of three parachute types is illustrated in Figure


2. The low angle neutral stability zone of the geometrically porous canopies
was the cause of the excessive off trajectory impact angles. The long period
of oscillation, due to lack of restoring moments, gave time for the inertia of
the system to respond to the off axis drag force. Solutions to this problem
were to use a completely stable parachute such as a guide surface type (Cross
type parachutes were still in the future), a cluster of small parachutes
build an oversized geometrically porous canopy and permanently reef it to
obtain stability, or put the burden on the weapon designer. Guide surface
canopies were tested and provided excellent two-body stability, but were too
bulky for the available volume. While the guide surface canopC gave excellent
two-body stability, it did oscillate at a high frequency which' reduced the
response time of the system, which demonstrates that stability and lack of
oscillation are not necessarily the same. Clusters of three small ringslot
parachutes had inflation problems so the final solution was a permanently
reefed oversize ribbon parachute.

NSWC TR 83 - 28

CROSS TYPE W/L< 0.264


GEOMETRICALLY
POROUS (RIBBON
AND RING SLOT)

SOLID CLOTH
(PERSONNEL TYPE)

F I G U R E 2. COMPARISON OF T H E S T A T I C S T A B I L I T Y OF T H E T H R E E
PARACHUTE TYPES

The frustrations of this program led to a very interesting development m


parachute stability. Permanently reefing an oversized (higher cost) parachute
is a poor, although state-of-the-artsolution to the low altitude attack
problem. What then was the mechanism of instability? In solid cloth
parachutes, when the flow was attached, instability resulted. In an effort to
better explain instability, the following theory and demonstration were
evolved.
The solid cloth parachute of Figure 2 was selected for analysis because
this family is the most unstable. If an auxiliary line is drawn from the
skirt hem to the vent, as shown in Figure 3, the resulting shaded area
approaches an airfoil section at a very high angle of attack, a D . So, the
canopy may be considered as a number of opposing airfoils possessing lift and
drag forces. This concept is also true of most conventional canopy types
including geometrically porous and guide surface types. When the canopy is
deflected an angle Aa, the airfoil which has yawed into the wind decreases

NSWC TR 83-28

NSWC TR 83 - 28
its angle of attack to a 0 -Aa, and the opposing airfoil increases its angle of
attack to a 0 +Aa. The general variation of lift coefficient with angle of
attack for this type of airfoil is shown in Figure 4. The high a Q angle is in
the stall region of the airfoil. The airfoil yax^ed into the wind is actually
coming out of stall while the opposing airfoil goes deeper into the stall.
Therefore, the canopy continues to yaw until the moments about the point "0"
in Figure 3 are zero and this is the trim angle. Geometrically porous
parachutes control lift by venting the airfoil. Ribbed Guide Surface
parachutes utilize the stability of cones and reduce lift by separating the
flow early by distortion of the airfoil. Ribless Guide Surface parachutes
vent at the maximum diameter to control lift together with reaction from the
jets. The airfoil-like shape of the Ribless Guide Surface parachute is not as
distorted as the ribbed version and would be expected to be slightly less
stable, see Figure 5. This type of parachute is very similar in performance
to the NAVSWC Elliptical parachute. Another clue came from reefed parachute
configurations which are stable. If the same auxiliary line is drawn from the
hem to vent of a reefed parachute the resulting shape, see Figure 6, is a
clumsy airfoil-like shape with the trailing edge of the airfoil into the
relative wind at an angle of attack. An airfoil in this position should have
poor lift and high drag. Bad for airfoils, but good for parachutes.
As a demonstration of this idea, the parachute of Figure 7 was
developed. The shaded reversed airfoil was accomplished by adding a
cylindrical tube ahead of a standard unstable flat canopy. The tube was made
so that it could be shortened by increments. Excellent stability with
virtually no oscillation was obtained with all the tube elements removed down
to the last increment. When the last increment was removed, the canopy became
unstable and violently oscillated demonstrating the concept. The gaps were
used to extend the airfoil-like shape without the use of added cloth, thereby
keeping additional volume and cost to a minimum. Figure 8 shows the world's
first Disc Gap Band parachute in the University of Maryland wind tunnel.
It can be concluded that stability control is basically lift control, and
that the two apparent methods of accomplishing this: (a) stability through
porosity as in geometrically porous canopies, or (b) stability through shape
as in the guide surface canopies are just different approaches to lift
control. Another theoretical factor that affects the magnitude of the lift
force is the cloth airflow permeability. A cloth of zero permeability
produces the maximum lift and therefore should be the most unstable. As cloth
permeability is increased, stability should improve; however, at some limiting
value of permeability, the canopy becomes subjected to squidding and becomes
very stable. This is in agreement with experience.
THE INFLATED CANOPY AS AN AIRFOIL-LIKE SHAPE
The steady state canopy shape investigation presented methods for
determing the inflated gore coordinates and angles and demonstrated that the
steady state inflated gore mainseam shape of several parachute types consists
of two elliptical sections of common major diameter, 2a, and different minor

NSWC TR 83 - 28

TO 22

FIGURE 4. EFFECT OF A a ON A I R F O I L ANGLE OF A T T A C K

NSWC TR 83 - 28

RIBBED GUIDE SURFACE PARACHUTE

=43%

= 15%

c
c

= 48.5

RIBLESS GUIDE SURFACE PARACHUTE

F I G U R E 5. A I R F O I L - L I K E S H A P E S OF G U I D E S U R F A C E P A R A C H U T E S . 1

1RWIN I N D U S T R I E S , R E C O V E R Y S Y S T E M S D E S I G N S G U I D E , A F F D L - T R - 7 8 151
DEC. 1978

NSWC TR 83 - 28
diameters, b and b ' . 2 , 3 , 4
The generalized inflated gore mainseam is
illustrated in Figure 9, and scale factors determining the inflated shape are
shown in Tables 1 and 2. The canopy shapes used in this analysis permit the
expression of the inflated shape as y=f(x) and the mainseam tangent slope
angle S=f'(x).5j6 xh e analysis can also be accomplished from photography by
means of descriptive geometry for other canopy styles.
With reference to the nomenclature of Figures 9 and 10 the airfoil-like
shape may be determined.
1.

Ratio of mouth diameter, dm, to inflated diameter, 2a:

Using the hem coordinates; x=N-b; y-dm/2

^Topping, A. D., et al., A Study of Canopy Shapes and Stresses for Parachutes
in Steady Descent, WADC TR 55-294, Oct 1955.
3

Ludtke, W. P., A New Approach to the Determination of the Steady-State


Inflated Shape and Included Volume of Several Parachute Types, NOLTR 69-159,
11 Sep 1969.

Ludtke, W. P., A New Approach to the Determination of the Steady-State


Inflated Shape and Included Volume of Several Parachute Types in 24-Gore
and 30-Gore Configurations, NOLTR 70-178, 3 Sep 1970.

Ludtke, W. P., NOLTR 69-159.

Ludtke, W. P., NOLTR 70-178.

11

NSWC TR 83 - 28

12

NSWC TR 83 - 28

T A B L E 1. S U M M A R Y OF P A R A C H U T E S H A P E T E S T R E S U L T S
FOR 12-GORE AND 16-GORE C O N F I G U R A T I O N S
Parachute

Ho. oi

Suepanuon

Type

Goret

Lie Length
inch**

Velocity
meh

tp.

A i at Ratio

Seal* Factor. K
2*
0#

2a

21

2B

K
a

b
a

b'
a

b'

Flat Circular

12
16

34
34

60
60

73
73

645
663

650
669

.856
820

.6116
.5558

8817
9039

1 4932
1 4597

10* E i n n M
Skin

12
16

34
34

100
17

147
26

663
664

652
640

881
765

6424
5580

.8860
8502

1.5284
1.4082

Elliptic*!

12
16

34
34

7S
17

110
26

916
876

12
.800

626
6169

9667
8163

1 5283
1.4332

HemitpharKaf

12
16

34
34

126
76

163
110

996
994

1.254
1 185

1.0006
9129

9080
9380

1.9086
1.8509

Rmgalot
16% Gxr>etT>C
I W n y

12
12
12
16
16
16

34
34
34
34
34
34

26
100
200
25
100
200

37
147
293
37
147
2S3

.607
.616
.637
.611
.617
646

.654
663
686
656
.664
.696

853
.922
.916
827
864
644

.6566
.6566
.6666
6004
.6004
.6004

735
.8735
.8735
8890
890
890

1.530
1.530
1.530
1 4894
1 4894
1.4894

Ribbon
24% G n t n v t r k
Pocoeity

12
12
12
16
IS
16

34
34
34
34
34
34

26
100
200
25
100
200

37
147
293
37
147
293

666
.616
.632
603
.626
.648

.632
663
.681
.660
674
696

859
.837
77
.797
791
.781

.6558
.6558
.6558
570
570
570

768
768
.8768
578
578
578

1326
1.5326
1 6326
1.4148
1.4148
1.4148

34
34
34
47
47
47

26
100
200
26
100
200

37
147
293
37
147
293

.710
.787
.716
.769
.729
.776

1.242
1.270
1 -285
1.113
1.205
1.110

867
867
867
8494
494
.6494

1.2776
1.2776
1.2776
1.2512
1.2512
1.2512

2.1643
2-1643
2.1643
2.1006
2.1006
2.1006

/ L - .264

43
.540
47
.680
57
92

T A B L E 2. S U M M A R Y O F P A R A C H U T E S H A P E T E S T R E S U L T S
FOR 24-GORE A N D 3Q-GORE C O N F I G U R A T I O N S
Paracnuta
Type

Flat Circular*

1 0 * Eitandarf*
Skirt

Poroul

No. of
Gorat

Suapanfkm
Ltrta Lenytti
inches

Velocity
mph
<01

758
.6214

126
7806

1.3884

147

.665

646

34

.5949

.8771

25

650

633

25

.6255

.7962

1.4720
1.4127

25

37
147
293
37

63
680
.694

.665
.682

24

100
200

.5800
.5800

.9053
.9053

800
800

.9053

1.4853
1.4853

.9053
.9053

1.4853
1 4853

.9053

1 4853

.8187

1.4187

187
187

1.4167
1.4167
1 4484

34
34

100
17

24
24

34
34

24

34
34

677

677
.684

34

25
100

34

200

147
293

34

25
100
200

37
147
293

.671

25
100
200

37
147
293

.655
69

30

14
34

s , m w r a c h u t . > -braathin," durm^ A . . ,

b'
a

27

30

30

b
a

.795

24

34
34
34

b'
a

679
669

17

24

.668

60

34

24
24

b
a

73
25

34

30

30

2i

21

24

30

Aae* Ratio

Scale Factor. K

pboto,apli.

.696

.676
.687

.677

tan "

rnorvab4y appeared to rpr*Mnt the puilibcuim rtate.

13

.819
09

.696
676

.788
02

.68S
.699

00

.673
.678
.689

.770
13
04

.657
.670
.679

.782
784
23

"

800
800
980
.5980
980
.6021
.6021
.6021

.8463
463
.84 63

1 4020

1.4853

1.4484
1 44B4

data . a r e , a d u c ! (rom the photoyaph

NSWC TR 83 - 28

F I G U R E 10. C O O R D I N A T E S Y S T E M FOR T H E D E T E R M I N A T I O N O F T H E A I R F O I L T H I C K N F S C R A T . n .
T H , C K N E S S R A T
L O C A T I O N O F T H E A I R F O I L O R D I N A T E ,N P E R - C E N T O F a
W
' AND

14

NSWC TR 83-28
2.

Angle of attack - a 0

dm

(3)

2N

tan a

3.

dm
2a

tan - 1

dm
2a

(3a)

1
N

(3b)

Chord length -c

= X/l^-j

(4)

+ N2

(4a)

4.

Airfoil thickness -t

The maximum ordinate of the airfoil occurs at the point (x l s yi) where
the slope of the ellipse is equal to tan a 0 . Differentiating equation (1):
dy/dx = tan (3

tan

Note:

'

~ l V / y,

tan a

(5)

For values of x<o use minor axis b in equation (5).


For values of x>o use minor axis b' in equation (5).

15

NSWC TR 83-28

(3)
tan a

Y1
a tan a
(6a)

from equation (1)

1 +
b tan a.

x,

= b

(7)

1 +
b tan a.
(7a)

(7b)

b / tan a
(6)

Yi

1 (5)

(.x2,y2; are determined as follows:

16

NSWC TR 83-28
The locus of the chord line

mx + h

at the point x=b; y=o; m=tan a 0 .

b tan a Q + h

b tan a D

Therefore
y' = x tan a_ + nb tan oa.

y
a

(x + b) tanoa

(9)

/x+b
ltanao
\ a

(9a)

The locus of the airfoil thickness at the point x ^

y1

h.1

_
y^ m -

-1
tan

mx + h1

A
1
= - + h1
tan a.

= y ,1 +

X
1
tan a.

+
=
Yi
tan a

(10)

17

NSWC TR 83 - 28

/ x. - x

1-*

(10a)

The coordinates x 2 , y 2 , are determined by the simultaneous solution of


equations (9) and (10).

tan a r
2

1 1 + tan 2 a .

tan

b tan a,

(11)

tt

1 + tan 2 a

y2

y2

tana

% sin

2a0

'A sin 2a

- h

\ a

a tan a

__

t a n

(11a)

(*2 + b' tan a 0

/ x2 + b
\

(12)

tana

(12a)

The thickness of the airfoil-like shape is:


1

7 ( x i ~ x 2 2

(v, -y 2 ) 2
(13)

,x

i ~ x 2 \ 2 , /vi -y 2 \ 2
(13a)

18

NSWC TR 83 - 28
The airfoil-like chord length was determined by equations (4) and (4a).
5.

Thickness ratio -t/c is:

6.
The location of the maximum thickness, t, aft of the leading edge in
percent is:

= ^ ( N - b - X j ) '2 ++

N
a

2
-v

Xj\2

b
a

/(N-b-x,)

/ dm

/dm\2

+ l y

+ N

(15)

I dm

y2

\ 2a

(15a)

(15b)

19

NSWC TR 83 - 28

~a

l\->

x2

dm

"a

25
dm\

H)

y2

X100

/N

7.
The effective suspension line length, is/Do, for the parachutes
Table 3 can be calculated if it is assumed that the suspension line
to the gore mainseam at the shirt hem.

20

NSWC TR 83 - 28

21

(17a)

(18)
Sin

0o

Es

dm
~2a

a
~
8.

x
X

dm
2aSin/3 0

let 2a

where

= D

/
V

^ o

7P

Kx, values are calculated in Tables 1 and 2

dm
2 sin L

2a

dm

2a

(19)

2sin/30

(19a)

2a

22

NSWC TR 83 - 28
As a sample calculation to demonstrate the method, consider the 24-gore,
Flat Circular Parachute.'7 The scale factors from Table 2 for this parachute
N

b
0.795;

b
0.5758;
a

0.8126;

Za
D

0.677

Eq. (2), mouth diameter to inflated diameter ratio, dm/2a

dm

2a

dm
2a

/
~

\l

0.5758\2

/0.795 ~

0.9629

0.8126

Eq. (3b), angle of attack, a 0

dm
2a

1
X

N/5

0.9629

50.4 6

0.795

Eq. (4a), chord length, c/a

2a

J (0.9629) 2 + (0.795) 2

1.249

Ludtke, W. P., NOLTR 70-178.


23

NSWC TR 83 - 28
Eq. (7b), coordinate, x^/a.

1 +

b tan a:

x
TT
a

0.5758

/
1
\ 2
I 0.5758 tan 50.46 c j

.
-0.3294

Eq. (8), coordinate, y^/a.

Vl

"a

/0.3294y

10.5758 )

Eq. (11a), coordinate, X2/a.

-O

V,
I ' a

^"<2X50.46=,

x,

a tan a o

b
tan a 0
a

/
0 3294
^0.8202
_

24

0 .5758

\
tan 50.46j

_0.0733

NSWC TR 83-28
Eq. (15a), distance of the maximum ordinate from the leading edge, z/a.

i _ a. _ ^ V

x?

2"a

0.5758 + 0.0733) 2 + (0.9629 -

V^O.795 -

0.6088) 2

0.4593

Eq. (15c), distance of the maximum ordinate from the leading edge in percent
of chord, z/c x 100

0.4593
1.249

x 100

36.77%

Eq. (17a), suspension line confluence angle, 6 0 .

bx

N
.2

"o

-1

a \ / a

dm
2a

(30

= tan"1

0.8126/

/0.795 \

0.5758

19.02

0.9629

-26

NSWC TR 83-28
Eq. (19a), effective suspension line length, S,s/DQ.

Cs

2a
Dq

Cs
D0

__

1
2 Sin p 0

dm
2a

0.677 x 0.9629
2 Sin 19.02

The airfoil-like
30-gore configuration
airfoil thickness and
drag are discussed in
reader the discussion

1-000

section characteristics for the 12-^ 16-, 24-, and


parachutes are listed in Table 3. '
The effects of
position of the maximum ordinate on aerodynamic lift and
the Aviation Handbook. 10 For the convenience of the
is reprinted as follows.

"The lift of a relatively thin section tends to increase as the upper


camber is increased until a maximum value is reached at a camber of about 18
to 25 percent of the chord. After passing this range, further increase in
camber results in a loss of lift.
Values of minimum drag are increased by thickening the section due to
increases in upper camber. The value of minimum drag shows no tendency to
decrease ultimately as does the lift under similar conditions, but the rate of
increase shows a tendency to drop off as higher values of upper camber are
reached.
Since the general tendency of both the lift and the drag is to increase
as the section is made thicker by alterations in upper camber, it is to be
expected that the L/D ratio would attain a m a x i m u m value a t some value or
upper camber between that for minimum Drag and maximum Lift.
Tests which have been made to determine the effect of the location of
maximum ordinate for the upper surface of an airfoil have indicated that its
location should be at about one-third the chord length from the leading eage,
its exact position depending upon the thickness of the section. For example,
an airfoil having a flat lower surface, and a maximum ordinate of about ID
percent of the chord would have this ordinate located about 36 to 38 percent

Ludtke,

W. P., NOLTR 69-159.

9Ludtke,

W. P., NOLTR 70-178.

l O w a m e r and Johnston, Aviation Handbook, 1st Ed. (New York and Lond
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1931).

27

NSWC TR 83 - 28
of the chord length back from the leading edge. If the camber is reduced to
about 10 percent the maximum ordinate may move forward to about 32 percent of
the chord; and a further reduction in thickness to about 7 percent puts the
maximum ordinate at about 30 percent of the chord. The indications are that
the optimum location for maximum lift is slightly farther forward on the wing
than the best location for minimum drag, or for highest value of the L/D
rat io,"
The average thickness ratio of the airfoil-like shape of all the
parachutes of Table 3 is approximately 26.5 percent (la = 0.87%). This
value is very close to the maximum value of 25 percent for a true airfoil with
a flat lower surface. 11
The location of the maximum ordinate in percent of
chord for all parachutes except the Cross and Hemispherical averages to about
38 percent (lo = 1.5%); the Cross parachute approaches a hemispherical
inflated shape so the similarity in the location of the maximum ordinate in
percent of chord is not a surprise. The Cross parachute maximum ordinate
occurs at 47.8 percent of chord (la = 1.2%) as compared to 48.7 percent of
chord (la - 1.34%) for the Hemispherical type. What is not consistent with
true airfoils is that the true airfoil has a 38 percent maximum ordinate
location for a 15 percent thickness ratio while the airfoil-like shape has
about 38 percent maximum ordinate location for a thickness ratio of 26.7
percent. Meaning that the airfoil-like shape is an inefficient lift producer
compared to a true airfoil. But it is a lift producer, and that is what
causes parachute instability.

Many parachutes have a limiting Mach number above which they will not
reliably inflate. One method of extending the Mach number range of operation
is to modify the canopy inflated shape to a conical configuration. The vent
cone angle decreases the thickness ratio two ways. The actual thickness of
the airfoil-like section is reduced, and the chord length is increased as
shown m Figure 11. The angle of attack, a 0 , is also somewhat reduced.
Decrease in thickness ratio is a technique used by aircraft designers to
increase the Critical Mach number of airfoil sections. So the theory is m
y
agreement with actuality.
COMMENTS ON OTHER AIRFOIL-LIKE SHAPES RELATED TO PARACHUTES
One inflatec gore of a conventional flat solid cloth parachute is
illustrated in Figure 12. With some imagination the inflated gore can be
transformed rrom the triangular cell to the rectangular cell of Figure 13
Once the rectangular format has been developed, i t i s not difficult to m gine
a number of such cells connectec as in Figure 14 to form the parafoil type
device or Figure
The transformation technique may be subject to argument
argUment
but the point is that with imagination new innovations are possible
'

Earner and Johnston, Aviation Handbook.

28

LU
>
CL
O

z
<

o
_J
<

u
2
o
o

1
o
u.
DC
<

LU
I
1-

z
o

LU
a.
<

X
to
<

LU
C/5
Z
<
>

0.
O

z
<

>

a.
O

z
<

o
<

o o
LU
I- kD <
I OC
O CO
< V)
LU
D
<C z
a_
u. o
O X
1- ho LLi
LU a.
U. <
Li. X
ill CO
p!
LU
a:
o

NSWC TR 83 - 28

F I G U R E 13.

SINGLE I N F L A T E D PARACHUTE GORE AT CONSTANT THICKNESS

30

NSWC TR 83-28

NSWC TR 83-28

NSWC TR 83-2 8

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Irvin Industries, Recovery Systems Design Guide, AFFDL-TR-78-151, Dec 1978.


Ludtke W P. A New Approach to the Determination of the Steady-State
Inflated Shape and Included Volume of Several Parachute Types, NOLTR 69-139,
11 Sep 1969.
Ludtke W. P., A New Approach to the Determination of the Steady-State
Inflated Shape and Included Volume of Several Parachute Types in 24-Gore and
30-Gore Configurations, NOLTR 70-178, 3 Sep 1970.
Topping, A. D., et al., A Study of Canopy Shapes and Stresses for Parachutes
in Steady Descent, WADC TR 55-294, Oct 1955.
Warner and Johnston, Aviation Handbook, 1st Ed. (New York and London:
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1931).

33

NSWC TR 83 - 28

DEFINITIONS

Airfoil-like shape -

The area bounded by the steady state inflated parachute


mainseam and a line drawn from the canopy hem to the
canopy center line through the vent.

Airfoil thickness -

Maximum ordinate of the Airfoil perpendicular to the


chord line.

Chord -

Length of the line drawn from the canopy hem to the


canopy center line through the vent.

Parachute trim angle

The angle of attack where the moment due to parachute


side force about the parachute suspension line
confluence point is equal to, but directionally
opposite, to the moment due to the parachute drag force.

Parafoil parachute -

A rectangular gliding type of parachute composed of ram


air inflated cells of airfoil shape.

Permeability -

Rate of airflow through cloth in CFM/FT 2 when


measured under a specified pressure differential.

Reefing -

A restriction of a drag producing surface to a diameter


less than its diameter when it is fully inflated.

Static stability -

When an aerodynamic shape is held at an angle of attack


to the relative wind (as in a wind tunnel) the body is
statically stable if the aerodynamic forces acting'upon
the body tend to align the body with the relative wind.

Steady state
canopy shape

Inflated shape of a parachute after parachute


deployment.

34

NSWC TR 83-28

NOMENCLATURE

Angle of attack of the airfoil-like section to the relative wind,


degrees.
a
o

Angle of attack of the airfoil-like section to the parachute center


line, degrees.

Aa
Change in angle of attack due to parachute yaw, degrees.
C
m
C

CT
Lmax
F

Static stability pitching moment coefficient.


Airfoil lift coefficient.
Airfoil maximum lift coefficient.

Side force of yawed parachute, lb.

d
F^

Drag force of yawed parachute, lb.

Moments acting about the suspension line confluence point.

R
Radius of Disc Gap Band Parachute Crown.
S

Width of Disc Gap Band Parachute Gap.

W
X,Y

Width of Disc Gap Band Parachute Band.


Coordinates in the plane of analysis

Airfoil-like section chord length.

Airfoil-like section thickness.

t/C

Airfoil-like section thickness to chord ratio.

Location of the maximum thickness from the leading edge of the

z/c

airfoil-like section.
Location of the maximum thickness from the leading edge to chord ratio.
35

NSWC TR 83 - 28
NOMENCLATURE (cont.)
Lg

Length of suspension lines.

dm

Mouth diameter of the inflated canopy, measured at the junction of the


gore mainseam and canopy skirt hem.

2a

Maximum inflated diameter of the gore mainseam.

Canopy depth is the distance from the skirt hem of the canopy to the
vent of the canopy along the parachute center line.

BQ

Semi-vertex angle between the suspension lines and the center line of
the parachute, and tangent angle of the mainseam at the canopy hem.

Tangent slope of the inflated canopy mainseam.

Minor axis of the ellipse bounded by the major axis a and the vent of
the canopy.

b'

Minor axis of the ellipse which includes the skirt hem of the canopy.

2
Surface area of rparachute, ft .
'

D0

Nominal diame ter of the canopy, ft = J 4So

Dp

Flat constructed diameter of the canopy, ft.

D'

Inflated diameter of guide surface type parachute.

Cross type parachute diameter, ft.

K^

Scale factor
o

36

NSWC TR 83-28

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