Passion for Supersonic Flight: Prof. Melike Nikbay at NASA!
Jun 08, 2016


ITU academic staff member, Associate Professor of Astronautical Engineering Department, Dr.Melike Nikbay, has recently joined NIA (National Institute of Aerospace) as a senior research engineer and has been involved in NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology/ CST Project.

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Currently, NASA's Commercial Supersonic Technology (CST) Project focuses on a next generation supersonic vehicle development to help eliminate today's technical barriers to practical commercial supersonic flight: sonic boom, fuel efficiency, airport community noise, high-altitude emissions, structural weight and flexibility, airspace operations, and the ability to design future vehicles in an integrated, multidisciplinary manner. The CST project addresses sonic boom reduction methods and approaches for a low boom shape optimization. In addition to this focus, CST research lays the groundwork for overcoming other challenges facing commercial supersonic flight including energy efficiency, reliability, reduced pollutants emitted into the atmosphere, and acceptable noise levels in the airport area.

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As a multidisciplinary researcher,  Prof.Nikbay’s research focuses on aircraft structures, aerodynamics, aeroelasticity and aeroacoustics. This team effort requires collaboration between NASA’s Aeronautical System Analysis Branch and Aeroelasticity Branch and she is hosted by CST Integrated Low Boom Analysis and Design Technical Leader.

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To enable commercial supersonic flight, sonic boom and pressure loudness values are the most important design and certification criteria required by international regulators such as FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization).  Sonic boom signature is computed as the near-field pressure distribution of an aircraft propagates in the atmosphere to the ground level and this signature is very sensitive to the outer mold shape of the aircraft and shock distribuiton on the aircraft.  A fundamental assumption in most previous sonic boom studies has been that the underlying airframe is rigid, while in reality the airframe is flexible being acted upon by aeroelastic forces and moments due to aerodynamic loading.  As the sonic boom signature and loudness values of a supersonic vehicle depends on its shape, it is necessary to investigate how the aeroelastic deformations and the aeroelastic uncertainties can affect the sonic boom response.

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The next step of Dr.Nikbay’s research requires implementation of an uncertainty analysis into the current aeroelastic and aeroacoustic framework  to quantify the stochastic variations in aeroelastic-sonic boom criteria that result from randomness in flight conditions, atmospheric properties and structural and material properties. This capability will help the researchers to determine the reliability limits of the design.

Assoc. Prof. Melike Nikbay states that at the end of a year-long mission working with NASA, her future research efforts in ITU will focus on continuing and improving collaboration between ITU and NIA and NASA.

A 3-minute video related to this important project that our academic staff member Assoc. Prof. Melike Nikbay has joined is available here.  Press here to access the NASA web site presenting a summary on the subject or follow this link to read more news.