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Calibrations of Multi-Hole Pitot Tubes Depend on Tubulence



Iosif I. Shinder, Christopher J. Crowley, Michael R. Moldover


NIST is developing techniques to calibrate 2- and 3-dimensional anemometer systems (such as multi-hole pitot tubes) with a resolution of 0.3 %. The pitch and yaw response of multi-hole pitot tubes is complicated; therefore, calibrations require hundreds of measurements. Until accurate models become available, NIST will disseminate the calibration data as tables. Many National Metrology Institutes (including NIST) calibrate anemometers in low-turbulence wind tunnels. During NIST’s first calibration of a commercially manufactured multi-hole pitot tube, we observed hysteresis in the pressure differences between particular pairs of holes in particular ranges of airspeed, pitch angle, and yaw angle. In the worst case, the pressure difference for increasing air speed was 30 % larger than the pressure difference for decreasing air speed. By visualizing and mapping the flow near the pitot tube’s surface, we demonstrated that this hysteresis was caused by boundary layer separation. The hysteresis disappeared when we added turbulence to the flow in NIST’s wind tunnel.
Proceedings Title
2012 Measurement Science Conference
Conference Dates
March 19-23, 2012
Conference Location
Pasadena, CA


multi-hole pitot tube, 3-D airspeed calibration, detached flows, flow visualization


Shinder, I. , Crowley, C. and Moldover, M. (2012), Calibrations of Multi-Hole Pitot Tubes Depend on Tubulence, 2012 Measurement Science Conference, Pasadena, CA, [online], (Accessed July 19, 2024)


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Created March 19, 2012, Updated February 19, 2017