CNR-INM | Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche | Istituto di Ingegneria del Mare
+39 06 50299 222

Alessandro Iafrati

Contact information

Position Research Director
Phone +39 06 50299 217
OfficeRome HQ
AddressVia di Vallerano 139, 00128 Rome, Italy
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Short biography

Graduated in Mechanical Engineering at Univ. of Rome “La Sapienza” in 1991, from Sep. 1992 to May 1997 he worked at the Italian Aerospace Research Center (CIRA) carrying out research on vortex generated noise. He moved at INSEAN (The Italian Ship Model Basin) in June 1997 working in the field of hydrodynamics of high-speed crafts, water entry problems and numerical modeling of multiphase flows. From Apr. 2009 he led the “Resistance and Optimization” Scientific Unit and the role ceased in Dec. 2010 when INSEAN merged into the CNR as Marine Technology Research Institute.

Starting from 2011 he was involved in two EU funded projects, FP7-SMAES and H2020-SARAH, both aimed at investigating hydrodynamic and fluid-structural interaction phenomena taking place during the aircraft emergency landing on water (ditching). Within the two projects, the High-Speed Ditching Facility was designed and built. Since February 2018 he is in charge of Facilities and Labs at CNR-INM HQ.

Research interests

Wave Breaking and Air-water interaction
Vorticity Free-surface interaction
Numerical modeling of two-phase flows
Water Impact hydrodynamics and fluid-structure interaction
Potential flow modeling of the water entry flows
Numerical modeling of the hydrodynamics of high-speed planing vessels and of the aircraft ditching phase
Experimental investigation of fluid-structure interaction problems

Research topics/groups

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
Technologies for the aerospace industry

Selected projects

SARAH is concerned with establishing novel holistic, simulation-based approaches to the analysis of aircraft ditching. It is build up from a consortium of experts from OEM industries, experienced suppliers of simulation technologies, established research institutions and representatives of the certification authorities. Results of SARAH are expected to support a performance-based regulation and certification for next generation aircraft and helicopter and to enhance the safe air transport as well as to foster the trustworthiness of aviation services. Aircrafts and helicopters often travel above water and thus have to prove a safe landing under emergency conditions. The specific challenge is to minimize the risk of injury to passengers and to enable safe evacuation. Accordingly, the motion of the aircraft/helicopter along with the forces acting on the structure are studied for controlled water impact during the design phase of an aircraft. Ditching has close links with crash simulation, but also distinctive features. Examples refer to hydrodynamic slamming loads on airborne vehicles and complex hydromechanics (partially at very large forward speeds) as well as the interaction of multi-phase fluid dynamics (involving air, water, and vapor phases) and structural mechanics. Design for ditching involves more than the analysis of loads and subsequent strengthening of the structure. It often requires adjustment campaigns for the handling of the vehicle during approach and the identification of favorable approach/flight-path conditions in line with the pilots flying capabilities to minimize the remaining kinetic energy of the vehicle to be transferred into the water. In conclusion, a pressing need for more advanced studies to support the development of next-generation, generalized simulation-based ditching-analysis practices is acknowledged by all stakeholders. The public interest in safety makes this proposal an ideal candidate for a European research proposal.

Ditching analysis is requested for large transport aircraft by EASA. The respective requirements are specified under § ‘’CS 25.801 Ditching’’. They are primarily devoted to a minimisation of risks for immediate injuries and the provision of fair chances for an evacuation. A significant part of average air travel is over water and historically a planned or unplanned water-landing event occurs grossly speaking every 5 years. This proposal directly addresses areas “ Aircraft Safety” and “ Aircraft Development Cost”. The primary outcome of the SMAES project will be advanced methodologies and simulation tools to support aircraft development from pre-project phase to certification. These will enhance future innovation in aircraft design through ensuring that innovative designs are compliant with safety requirements.
The key developments addressed in the work programme are: Improved models for the calculation of ditching loads including both analytical and detailed fluid dynamics models. Inclusion of the effects of the complex flow physics in ditching is critical to prediction of ditching loads. Reliable and predictive aircraft models for structural behavior under dynamic fluid loads. Demonstration of the methods on representative future aircraft design concepts.
The consortium brings together aircraft manufacturers, analysis software developers, research organizations and universities. Together the partners form a strong team covering the required expertise in aircraft design, numerical methods and simulation, ditching analysis and supporting experimental methods to achieve the project objectives.

Selected publications