Performance variations of leading-edge tubercles for distinct airfoil profiles

Kristy L. Hansen, Richard M. Kelso, Bassam B. Dally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

345 Scopus citations


An experimental investigation has been undertaken to determine the influence of sinusoidal leading-edge protrusions on the performance of two NACA airfoils with different aerodynamic characteristics. Force measurements on full-span airfoils with various combinations of tubercle amplitude and wavelength reveal that when compared to the unmodified equivalent, tubercles are more beneficial for the NACA 65-021 airfoil than the NACA 0021 airfoil. It was also found that for both airfoil profiles, reducing the tubercle amplitude leads to a higher maximum lift coefficient and larger stall angle. In the poststall regime, however, the performance with largeramplitude tubercles is more favorable. Reducing the wavelength leads to improvements in all aspects of lift performance, including maximum lift coefficient, stall angle, and poststall characteristics. Nevertheless, there is a certain point at which further reduction in wavelength has a negative impact on performance. The results also suggest that tubercles act in a manner similar to conventional vortex generators.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-194
Number of pages10
JournalAIAA journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance variations of leading-edge tubercles for distinct airfoil profiles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this