The design characteristics of an inlet very much depend on whether the inlet is to be flown at subsonic, supersonic, or hypersonic speed. Whichever the case, the primary function of an inlet is to deliver free-stream air to the engine face at the highest stagnation pressure possible and with the lowest possible variation in both stagnation pressure and temperature. At high speeds, this is achieved by a system of oblique and/or normal shock waves, and possibly some isentropic compression. For both subsonic and supersonic flight, current design practice indicates that the inlet should deliver the air to the engine face at approximately Mach 0.45. As a result, even for flight in the high subsonic regime, the inlet must retard (or diffuse) the air substantially.
Second, the design of an inlet is influenced largely by the compromise between high performance and low weight. This compromise involves tradeoffs between the mission requirements, flight trajectory, airframe aerodynamics, engine performance, and weight-all of which, in turn, influence each other. Therefore, to study the effects of some of these influential factors, the Propulsion System Analysis Office of the NASA Lewis Research Center developed the Inlet Performance Analysis Code (IPAC).
This code uses oblique shock and Prandtl-Meyer expansion theory to predict inlet performance. It can be used to predict performance for a given inlet geometric design such as pitot, axisymmetric, and two-dimensional. IPAC also can be used to design preliminary inlet systems and to make subsequent performance analyses. It computes the total pressure, the recovery, the airflow, and the drag coefficients. The pressure recovery includes losses associated with normal and oblique shocks, internal and external friction, the sharp lip, and diffuser components. Flow rate includes captured, engine, spillage, bleed, and bypass flows. The aerodynamic drag calculation includes drags associated with spillage, cowl lip suction, wave, bleed, and bypass.
Lewis contact: Kenol Jules, (216) 977-7016,
Authors: Kenol Jules and Paul J. Barnhart
Headquarters program office: OASTT
Programs/Projects: Methods Development, AST, HSR
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Last updated April 14, 1998, by Nancy.L.Obryan@nasa.gov
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