TriGlobal linear instability analysis and direct numerical simulations have been performed to unravel the mechanisms ultimately responsible for transition of steady laminar flow over a long rectangular finite-span open cavity with dimensions L:D:W = 6 : 1 : 2 to unsteadiness. The steady laminar three-dimensional flow loses stability at ReD,cr ≈1080 as a consequence of linear amplification of a travelling eigenmode that is qualitatively analogous to the shear-layer mode known from analyses of flow in spanwise-periodic cavities, but has a three-dimensional structure which is strongly influenced by the cavity lateral walls. Differences in the eigenspectrum of the present and the spanwise homogeneous flow configuration are documented. Topological changes exerted on the steady laminar flow by linear amplification of the unstable shear-layer mode are reminiscent of observations in experiments at an order of magnitude higher Reynolds number.
- Transition to turbulence