Intelligent control for performance: Reducing drag, saving fuel

Dec 19, 2012 by Gray Creech
NASA Dryden's versatile F/A-18A Full Scale Advanced Systems Testbed (FAST) aircraft recently completed flying the Intelligent Control for Performance (ICP) research project that explored reducing fuel consumption during cruise flight by modifying control laws and mechanisms in the aircraft's flight control computer. Credit: NASA/Lori Losey

(Phys.org)—NASA Dryden's versatile F/A-18 Full Scale Advanced Systems Testbed (FAST) aircraft recently completed a series of flights that explored reducing fuel consumption during cruise flight conditions by making small modifications to existing control laws and mechanisms in the aircraft's flight control computer.

As part of the Intelligent Control for Performance (ICP) research project, a special computer code called a peak-seeking algorithm was programmed into the aircraft's Airborne Research Test System computer. This code enables the computer to precisely adjust surface deflections in order to reduce .

Large jetliners and cargo aircraft consume most of their fuel during the cruise portion of flight, so optimizing fuel consumption would reduce costs and pollution. For NASA, developing new control system methods like this helps meet the agency's Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project goals of reduced fuel burn and emissions.

Preliminary ICP flight results indicate that a three- to five-percent reduction in fuel burn was achieved compared to the baseline trim state at two . The ICP technique shows much promise for reducing fuel burn in transport aircraft in the future.

For another experiment planned to fly next summer on the FAST F/A-18, a novel "thin film" sensor manufactured by TAO Systems, Inc., is currently being applied to one of the aircraft's wing surfaces. This technology will allow real-time characterization of the airflow over the wing. This sensor capability could lead to considerable weight reduction, , and flight safety enhancement in future aircraft designs by revealing the actual flight loads on an aircraft to help ensure that design loads are not exceeded.

Another use for this technology could be to reduce the effects of gusts and turbulence on an aircraft when coupled with appropriate flight .

Explore further: Identifying long-distance threats: New 3D technology could improve CCTV images

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Transformed X-48c flies successfully

Aug 07, 2012

(Phys.org) -- The remotely piloted X-48C aircraft successfully flew for the first time Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert.

45,000 feet: Future UAVs may fuel up in flight

Oct 08, 2012

Currently global military aviation relies on a key enabler – aerial refueling. Fighters, bombers, reconnaissance and transport aircraft use "flying gas stations" to go the extra mile. Increasingly, UAVs ...

Lancets Flights Probe Supersonic Shockwaves

Jan 22, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA is concluding a series of flight tests to measure shock waves generated by an F-15 jet in an effort to validate computer models that could be used in designing quieter supersonic aircraft.

Recommended for you

3D printed nose wins design award

8 hours ago

A Victoria University of Wellington design student is the New Zealand finalist for the James Dyson Award 2014 for his Master's project—a 3D printed prosthetic nose.

Engineering the Kelpies

9 hours ago

Recently, Falkirk in Scotland saw the opening of the Kelpies, two thirty metre high horse head sculptures either side of a lock in a new canal extension.

Technology on the catwalk

9 hours ago

Summer days bring thoughts of beach picnics, outdoor barbecues and pool parties. Yet it only takes the buzz of one tiny mosquito to dampen the fun.

Dismantling ships and the trajectory of steel

10 hours ago

Tell me how you dismantle a ship, and I'll tell how a region can prosper from its steel! This could be the motto of this master's cycle at ENAC during which the projects of two civil engineering students ...

User comments : 0