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South Africa: CSIR Experts Contribute to International Aerospace Symposium of South Africa
Source: CSIR e-News - November 2013
Source Date: Friday, November 29, 2013
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Internet Governance
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 29, 2013

“The CSIR’s presence was very prominent and supports our standing as thought leaders in aeronautics research,” says Des Barker, a manager at Aeronautics Systems.
Kevin Jamison, a principal aeronautical engineer, delivered the keynote address focusing on the safe separation envelope of a missile from various configurations of a jet trainer aircraft. The missile is carried close to the wing and its release causes shockwaves and suction forces that can be catastrophic. Using sophisticated techniques and statistical analysis, it is possible to compute analyse factors that could affect the separation dynamics of the missile (variations in ejector forces, fin misalignment, etc.). The work has brought unprecedented insight into the factors affecting the safe missile separation.
Jamison said that the conference exposed them to a wide range of developments across the aerospace sector. “It was a great networking opportunity as people from a range of organisations participated,” he said. “The two youngsters, Elizna Miles and Janine Versteegh, handled their first international conference professionally and impressed the audience.”
About those maiden flights
Barker is also clearly very proud of his students. “These are young people from our MSc studentship programme and they did outstanding work in their presentations,” he says. “It was their first 'real world' presentations to an international audience and it was as if they had been doing it for a lifetime.”
Miles’ topic related to control systems for unmanned aerial systems and Versteegh presented on the simulation of specific flow phenomena using computational fluid dynamics research.
“The atmosphere was great,” Miles says. “You could see everyone who attended wanted to learn from each other and contribute in some way to grow the aeronautic industry in our country. ”She continues: “I learned a lot from the other presentations, methods they used, assumptions that might be valid for future development and a lot of technical things that made it easier to understand why my aircraft was responding the way it did.” Miles presented on a study of reducing or eliminating the initial coupled roll/yaw response following a control input in one axis of a blended-wing-body, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that has a flattened, aerofoil-shaped body that blends into the wing. This occurs when, for example, a UAV is disturbed by, for example, atmospheric turbulence. The project resulted in the successful design of a control surface schedule program that eliminated the initial secondary moments, making man-in-the-loop (when a pilot is flying the aircraft, normally by radio control, instead of a computer) flight more predictable and significantly simplifying the implementation of an automatic control system.
“The field I want to do research in has not yet been mastered by industry in our country,” she says. “Attending the conference gave me a new perspective. One tends to get trapped in a particular aspect of one’s work and then sometimes forget where you are heading and why. The event opened my eyes again, and motivated me to work even harder,” she concludes.
Versteegh found the event intimidating at first. “It was difficult to walk up to experts in my field and start a conversation, but after the initial shyness disappeared I found them to be friendly and kind.” She continues: “Because of my education and my studentship at the CSIR, I could understand the presentations, but I realised that I am no expert and that I still have a lot to learn.”
Janine presented on computational fluid dynamics simulations of the flow of a circular slender body at a free stream Mach 0.3. Using ANSYS Fluent software, the performance of three different turbulence models was analysed. The software is able to generate models of flow, turbulence, heat transfer, etc. – and is used for industrial applications such as air flow over an aircraft wing.
The conference inspired Versteegh to become more involved with the CSIR’s efforts to promote scientific studies in schools. “I loved engaging with the audience,” she says. “After the presentation, I encouraged the audience to ask many questions. At one point, when nobody had anything to say, I broke the silence by jokingly asking myself a question, which received a few laughs. I would love to share my knowledge with school children, giving them the right information to further their studies in science,” she says.
Comments from the President of the Aeronautical Society of South Africa (ASSA)
Research manager in aeronautics systems at the CSIR and President of ASSA, Prof Laurent Dala, reiterated that the aerospace industry has one of the highest economic multipliers of all high-technology industries. Dala highlighted the importance of the Joint Aerospace Steering Committee to facilitate collaboration between the aerospace industry, research centres, such as the CSIR, and academia. “The global aerospace industry is highly competitive and constantly adapting, with increasing demands from Asia Pacific. Although the South African aeronautical industry is small, it is well connected and sustainable,” Dala says.
Another presenter from the CSIR was Sean Tuling– an applied aerodynamicist specialising in transonic wind tunnel testing, weapons integration and slender body aerodynamics. He presented on studies into understanding the flow fields of slender body configurations to improve the modelling of configurations during conceptual design already – reducing overall program costs and duration.
“The CSIR team presented a professional image at the IASSA to tertiary institutions, industry, Armscor and SAAF. Several good points of contact and international interest in ASC were made, which will be followed up, advancing the aeronautics industry in South African even further,” Barker concludes.
Prof Laurent Dala

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