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Nhan Nguyen and AATT Team Successfully Complete "Adaptive Real-Time Drag Optimization Control" Wind Tunnel Experiment
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Nhan Nguyen and AATT Team Successfully Complete "Adaptive Real-Time Drag Optimization Control" Wind Tunnel Experiment

The Advanced Air Transport Technologies (AATT) project is developing adaptive-wing technologies for modern high-aspect ratio wing transport aircraft to improve fuel efficiency. Under the technical area of Performance Adaptive Aeroelastic Wing, the NASA ARC AATT team in the Intelligent Systems Division is responsible for completing a Level 2 Milestone to validate adaptive real-time drag optimization control technology developed at ARC. During June 25 - July 2, 2018, the AATT team conducted the real-time drag-optimization control wind tunnel experiment in the Kirsten Wind Tunnel at the University of Washington Aeronautical Laboratory.

The wind tunnel model is an eight-foot highly flexible Common Research Model (CRM) wing equipped with a twelve servo-actuated Variable Camber Continuous Trailing Edge Flap (VCCTEF) developed at ARC. Online model identification least-squares methods and optimization algorithms, along with hardware and data interfaces, were implemented. The wind tunnel experiment was successfully completed and the adaptive real-time drag-optimization algorithms were able to identify several optimal-flap configurations that produced up to 3.9% drag reduction at an off-design cruise lift coefficient of 0.65 per Boeing’s recommendation. A U.S. patent application (No. 15/986,794) entitled, “Real-Time Drag Optimization Control Framework” has been filed for this technology by the NASA ARC Technology Office on May 22, 2018.

BACKGROUND: The global airline industry is estimated to total $149 billion in 2017 (International Air Transport Association, or IATA, fact sheet). Fuel economy is a major aircraft design consideration. In recent years, modern transport aircraft such as the Boeing 787 are designed with highly-flexible composite wings as compared to older metallic wings. As aircraft operate at off-design cruise, the wing deformation can cause an aeroelastic penalty in the form of drag increase. Adaptive-wing technologies such as the VCCTEF can compensate for the aeroelastic penalty during off-design cruise by actively changing the wing shape to reduce drag. In order to fully harvest the potential of adaptive-wing technologies for increased fuel efficiency, adaptive drag-optimization technology (a bio-inspired concept borrowed from bird flight) uses sensors to identify aerodynamic characteristics of the wing and actuators. That information is used to deploy the flight-control surfaces to change the wing shape in an optimal manner as produced by the online real-time optimization algorithms.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Advanced Air Transport Technologies (AATT) project, Advanced Air Vehicles Program (AAVP), Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

AAT TEAM: Nick Cramer, Michael Drew, Kelley Hashemi, and Nhan Nguyen


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