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On Subscale Flight Testing: Applications in Aircraft Conceptual Design
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Fluid and Mechatronic Systems. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2018 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Downscaled physical models, also referred to as subscale models, have played an essential role in the investigation of the complex physics of flight until the recent disruption of numerical simulation. Despite the fact that improvements in computational methods are slowly pushing experimental techniques towards a secondary role as verification or calibration tools, real-world testing of physical prototypes still provides an unmatched confidence. Physical models are very effective at revealing issues that are sometimes not correctly identified in the virtual domain, and hence can be a valuable complement to other design tools. But traditional wind-tunnel testing cannot always meet all of the requirements of modern aeronautical research and development. It is nowadays too expensive to use these scarce facilities to explore different design iterations during the initial stages of aircraft development, or to experiment with new and immature technologies.

Testing of free-flight subscale models, referred to as Subscale Flight Testing (SFT), could offer an affordable and low-risk alternative for complementing conventional techniques with both qualitative and quantitative information. The miniaturisation of mechatronic systems, the advances in rapid-prototyping techniques and power storage, as well as new manufacturing methods, currently enable the development of sophisticated test objects at scales that were impractical some decades ago. Moreover, the recent boom in the commercial drone industry has driven a quick development of specialised electronics and sensors, which offer nowadays surprising capabilities at competitive prices. These recent technological disruptions have significantly altered the cost-benefit function of SFT and it is necessary to re-evaluate its potential in the contemporary aircraft development context.

This thesis aims to increase the comprehension and knowledge of the SFT method in order to define a practical framework for its use in aircraft design; focusing on low-cost, short-time solutions that don’t require more than a small organization and few resources. This objective is approached from a theoretical point of view by means of an analysis of the physical and practical limitations of the scaling laws; and from an empirical point of view by means of field experiments aimed at identifying practical needs for equipment, methods, and tools. A low-cost data acquisition system is developed and tested; a novel method for semi-automated flight testing in small airspaces is proposed; a set of tools for analysis and visualisation of flight data is presented; and it is also demonstrated that it is possible to explore and demonstrate new technology using SFT with a very limited amount of economic and human resources. All these, together with a theoretical review and contextualisation, contribute to increasing the comprehension and knowledge of the SFT method in general, and its potential applications in aircraft conceptual design in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2018. , p. 112
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Licentiate Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1819
National Category
Aerospace Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-152488DOI: 10.3384/lic.diva-152488ISBN: 9789176852200 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-152488DiVA, id: diva2:1260642
Presentation
2018-11-14, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-11-05 Created: 2018-11-05 Last updated: 2019-10-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Design and Testing of a Low-Cost Flight Control and Data Acquisition System for Unstable Subscale Aircraft
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design and Testing of a Low-Cost Flight Control and Data Acquisition System for Unstable Subscale Aircraft
2016 (English)In: Proceedings of the 30th Congress of The International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS), September 25-30, Daejeon, South Korea., Bonn: The International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences , 2016Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Current research on subscale flight testing methodologies at Linköping University is performed by using various platforms, some of them with advanced configurations. These have been previously flown in open-loop under direct commands from the pilot. However, the interest in flying some of these platforms with relaxed stability and the investigation of multi-surface control allocation techniques motivated the implementation of a simple low-cost flight control system based on commercial-off-the-shelf components. The work described in this paper evaluates the simplest available solutions that provide control augmentation for small, longitudinally unstable, free-flying models. This work also tries to define a reliable, fail-safe system architecture that can be implemented in more advanced platforms. Moreover, data acquisition and analysis are evaluated with the aim of applying system identification techniques.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bonn: The International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences, 2016
Keywords
subscale, flight testing, flight control, data acquisition, relaxed stability
National Category
Aerospace Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-142393 (URN)978-3-932182-85-3 (ISBN)
Conference
30th Congress of The International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS), Daejeon, Korea, September 25-30, Daejeon, South Korea.
Projects
MSDEMO
Available from: 2017-10-30 Created: 2017-10-30 Last updated: 2018-11-05
2. Subscale Flight Testing of a Generic Fighter Aircraft
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Subscale Flight Testing of a Generic Fighter Aircraft
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Proceedings of the 30th Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) / [ed] The International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences, Bohn, 2016Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Recent technological advances in mechatronics enhance the possibilities of utilizing subscale flight testing as a tool in the development of aircraft. This paper reports the current status of a joint Swedish-Brazilian research project aiming at exploring these possibilities. A 13\% scale fighter aircraft is used as a test bench for developing methods and procedures for data acquisition. The aircraft is equipped with an instrumentation system assembled from off the shelf components as well as open source hardware and software.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bohn: , 2016
Keywords
subscale, free flight test, demonstrator, data acquisition
National Category
Aerospace Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-142398 (URN)978-3-932182-85-3 (ISBN)
Conference
30th Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS), September 25-30, Daejeon, South Korea
Projects
MSDEMO
Available from: 2017-10-30 Created: 2017-10-30 Last updated: 2018-11-05

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Sobron, Alejandro

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