Accurate and high-resolution boundary conditions and flow fields in the first-class cabin of an MD-82 commercial airliner

Wei Liu, Jizhou Wen, Jiangyue Chao, Weiyou Yin, Chen Shen, Dayi Lai, Chao Hsin Lin, Junjie Liu, Hejiang Sun, Qingyan Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


Flow fields in commercial airliner cabins are crucial for creating a thermally comfortable and healthy cabin environment. Flow fields depend on the thermo-fluid boundary conditions at the diffusers, in addition to the cabin geometry and furnishing. To study the flow fields in cabins, this paper describes a procedure to obtain the cabin geometry, boundary conditions at the diffusers, and flow fields. This investigation used a laser tracking system and reverse engineering to generate a digital model of an MD-82 aircraft cabin. Even though the measuring error by the system was very small, approximations and assumptions were needed to reduce the workload and data size. The geometric model can also be easily used to calculate the space volume. A combination of hot-sphere anemometers (HSA) and ultrasonic anemometers (UA) were applied to obtain the velocity magnitude, velocity direction, and turbulence intensity at the diffusers. The measured results indicate that the flow boundary conditions in a real cabin were rather complex and the velocity magnitude, velocity direction, and turbulence intensity varied significantly from one slot opening to another. UAs were also applied to measure the three-dimensional air velocity at 20 Hz, which could also be used to determine the turbulence intensity. Due to the instability of the flow, it should at least be measured for 4 min to obtain accurate averaged velocity and turbulence information. It was found that the flow fields were of low speed and high turbulence intensity. This study provides high quality data for validating Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models, including cabin geometry, boundary conditions of diffusers, and high-resolution flow field in the first-class cabin of a functional MD-82 commercial airliner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-44
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


  • Airliner cabin
  • Cabin geometry
  • Diffuser
  • Experiment
  • Flow field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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