A generalized approach to operational, globally optimal aircraft mission performance evaluation, with application to direct lift control

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Abstract

A unified approach to aircraft mission performance assessment is presented in this work. It provides a detailed and flexible formulation to simulate a complete commercial aviation mission. Based on optimal control theory, with consistent injection of rules and procedures typical of aeronautical operations, it relies on generalized mathematical and flight mechanics models, thereby being applicable to aircraft with very distinct configurations. It is employed for an extensive evaluation of the performance of a conventional commercial aircraft, and of an unconventional box-wing aircraft, referred to as the PrandtlPlane. The PrandtlPlane features redundant control surfaces, and it is able to employ Direct Lift Control. To demonstrate the versatility of the performance evaluation approach, the mission-level benefits of using Direct Lift Control as an unconventional control technique are assessed. The PrandtlPlane is seen to be competitive in terms of its fuel consumption per passenger per kilometer. However, this beneficial fuel performance comes at the price of slower flight. The benefits of using Direct Lift are present but marginal, both in terms of fuel consumption and flight time. Nonetheless, enabling Direct Lift Control results in a broader range of viable trajectories, such that the aircraft no longer requires cruise-climb for maximum fuel economy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134
JournalAerospace
Volume7
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Box wing
  • Direct lift control
  • Mission performance
  • Optimal control

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