Commercial aviation relies almost entirely on subsonic fixed wing aircraft to constantly move people and goods from one place to another across the globe. While air travel is an effective means of transportation providing an unmatched combination of speed and range, future subsonic aircraft must improve substantially to meet efficiency and environmental targets. The NASA Fundamental Aeronautics Subsonic Fixed Wing (SFW) Project addresses the comprehensive challenge of enabling revolutionary energy-efficiency improvements in subsonic transport aircraft combined with dramatic reductions in harmful emissions and perceived noise to facilitate sustained growth of the air transportation system. Advanced technologies, and the development of unconventional aircraft systems, offer the potential to achieve these improvements.
Cloud properties retrieved from satellite data are used to diagnose aircraft icing threat in single layer and multilayered ice-over-liquid clouds. The algorithms are being applied in real time to the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) data over the CONUS with multilayer data available over the eastern CONUS. METEOSAT data are also used to retrieve icing conditions over western Europe. The icing algorithm's methodology and validation are discussed along with future enhancements and plans. The icing risk product is available in image and digital formats on NASA Langley ‘s Cloud and Radiation Products web site, http://www-angler.larc.nasa.gov.
The ability to personalize air travel through the use of an on-demand, highly distributed air transportation system will provide the degree of freedom and control that Americans enjoy in other aspects of their life. This new capability, of traveling when, where, and how we want with greatly enhanced mobility, accessibility, and speed requires vehicle and airspace technologies to provide the equivalent of an internet PC ubiquity, to an air transportation system that now exists as a centralized hub and spoke mainframe NASA airspace related research in this new category of aviation has been conducted through the Small Aircraft Transportation (SATS) project, while the vehicle technology efforts have been conducted in the Personal Air Vehicle sector of the Vehicle Systems Program.
Aviation has experienced one hundred years of dynamic growth and change, resulting in the current air transportation system dominated by commercial airliners in a hub and spoke infrastructure. The first fifty years of aviation was a very chaotic, rapid evolutionary process involving disruptive technologies that required frequent adaptation. The second fifty years produced a stable evolutionary optimization of services based on achieving an objective function of decreased costs. In the third wave of aeronautics over the next fifty years, there is the potential for aviation to transform itself into a more robust, scalable, adaptive, secure, safe, affordable, convenient, efficient, and environmentally fare and friendly system.
Not only is the common dream of frequent personal flight travel going unfulfilled, the current generation of General Aviation (GA) is facing tremendous challenges that threaten to relegate the Single Engine Piston (SEP) aircraft market to a footnote in the history of U.S. aviation. A case is made that this crisis stems from a generally low utility coupled to a high cost that makes the SEP aircraft of relatively low transportation value and beyond the means of many. The roots of this low value are examined in a broad sense, and a Next Generation NASA Advanced GA Concept is presented that attacks those elements addressable by synergistic aircraft design.
Exposure estimates inside space vehicles, surface habitats, and high altitude aircraft exposed to space radiation are highly influenced by secondary neutron production. The deterministic transport code HZETRN has been identified as a reliable and efficient tool for such studies, but improvements to the underlying transport models and numerical methods are still necessary. In this paper, the forward-backward (FB) and directionally coupled forward-backward (DC) neutron transport models are derived, numerical methods for the FB model are reviewed, and a computationally efficient numerical solution is presented for the DC model. Both models are compared to the Monte Carlo codes HETC-HEDS and FLUKA, and the DC model is shown to agree closely with the Monte Carlo results.
This paper reviews the development of a new test capability for race cars at the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel. The existing external force balance of the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel, designed for use with full-scale aircraft, was reconfigured for automobile testing. Details of structural modifications relevant to supporting cars and force measurements are shown. A specialized automobile force balance, measuring vehicle drag and individual wheel downforce, was then designed, constructed and calibrated. The design was governed by simplicity and low cost and was tailored to the stock car racing community. The balance became fully operational in early 1998. The overall layout of the automobile balance and comparisons to reference data from another full-scale wind tunnel is presented.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently under development for NASA missions, earth sciences, aeronautics, the military, and commercial applications. The design of an all electric power and propulsion system for small UAVs was the focus of a detailed study. Currently, many of these small vehicles are powered by primary (nonrechargeable) lithium-based batteries. While this type of battery is capable of satisfying some of the mission needs, a secondary (rechargeable) battery power supply system that can provide the same functionality as the current system at the same or lower system mass and volume is desired. A study of commercially available secondary battery cell technologies that could provide the desired performance characteristics was performed.
As part of NASA’s Aviation Safety and Security Program, a simulation study of a twin-jet transport aircraft crew training simulation was conducted to address fidelity for upset or loss-of-control flight conditions. Piloted simulation studies were conducted to compare the baseline crew training simulation model with an enhanced aerodynamic model that was developed for high-angle-of-attack conditions. These studies were conducted in a flaps-up configuration and covered the approach-to-stall, stall and post-stall flight regimes. Qualitative pilot comments and preliminary comparison with flight test data indicate that the enhanced model is a significant improvement over the baseline. Some of the significant unrepresentative characteristics that are predicted by the baseline crew training simulation for flight in the post-stall regime have been identified.
This paper has presented a technique for the determination of an optimal configuration of fuselage mounted piezoelectric actuators for active structural acoustic control of interior noise in aircraft. The technique has demonstrated much potential in preliminary experiments where actuators were configured to couple into the first principal component of the acoustically coupled fuselage vibration. In this test, average reductions of 6 dB at the error microphones and 4 dB at five auxiliary microphones were observed for a pure tone disturbance at the left forward engine pylon of a business jet. This disturbance was used to simulate an oscillating force due to engine unbalance.
A theoretically based algorithm to derive super-cooled liquid water (SLW) cloud macrophysical and microphysical properties is applied to operational satellite data and compared to pilot reports (PIREPS – from commercial and private aircraft) of icing and to in-situ measurements collected from a NASA icing research aircraft. The method has been shown to correctly identify the existence of SLW provided there are no higher-level ice crystal clouds (i.e. cirrus) above the SLW deck. The satellite-derived SLW cloud properties, particularly the cloud temperature, optical thickness or water path and water droplet size, show good qualitative correspondence with aircraft observations and icing intensity reports. Preliminary efforts to quantify the relationship between the satellite retrievals, PIREPS and aircraft measurements are reported here. The goal is to determine the extent to which the satellite-derived cloud parameters can be used to improve icing diagnoses and forecasts.
A series of low-speed static and dynamic wind tunnel tests of a commercial transport configuration over an extended angle of attack/sideslip envelope was conducted at NASA Langley Research Center. The test results are intended for use in the development of an aerodynamic simulation database for determining aircraft flight characteristics at extreme and loss-of-control conditions. This database will be used for the development of loss-of-control prevention or mitigation systems, pilot training for recovery from such conditions, and accident investigations. An overview of the wind-tunnel tests is presented and the results of the tests are evaluated with respect to traditional simulation database development techniques for modeling extreme conditions to identify regions where simulation fidelity should be addressed.
An ultrasonic method is presented for non-intrusively measuring hydraulic fluid level in aircraft struts in the field quickly and easily without modifying the strut or aircraft. The technique interrogates the strut with ultrasonic waves generated and received by a removable ultrasonic transducer hand-held on the outside of the strut in a fashion that inthe presence or absence of hydraulic fluid inside the strut. This technique was successfully demonstrated on an A-6 aircraft strut on the carriage at the Aircraft Landing Dynamics Research Facility at NASA Langley Research Center. Conventional practice upon detection of strut problem symptoms is to remove aircraft from service for extensive maintenance to determine fluid level. No practical technique like the method presented herein for locating strut hydraulic fluid level is currently known to be used.
President Clinton announced in February 1997 a national goal to reduce the fatal accident rate for aviation by 80% within ten years. Weather continues to be identified as a causal factor in about 30% of all aviation accidents. An Aviation Weather Information Distribution and Presentation project has been established within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Aviation Safety Program to develop technologies that will provide accurate, timely and intuitive information to pilots, dispatchers, and air traffic controllers to enable the detection and avoidance of atmospheric hazards. This project, described herein, addresses the weather information needs of general, corporate, regional, and transport aircraft operators.
A causal analysis of aviation accidents that involved pilot error is presented. The analysis employs a top-down methodology that investigates the relationship between pilot errors and other causal factors with accidents. The Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) framework is utilized to produce a comprehensive causal analysis of accident groups. This analysis will compare and evaluate causal factor patterns for both accidents induced by pilot errors and those where pilot error was a contributor but not the initiating event. Pilot induced accidents are those initiated by an inappropriate action of the aircrew. That is, the National transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report cited pilot error first within its analysis defining accident causes, factors, and findings. Pilot contributed accidents are those that are initiated by some other causal factor (weather, aircraft failure, etc.) and the pilot’s inappropriate action played a part in the outcome.
Two major concerns have inhibited the use of natural laminar flow (NLF) for viscous drag reduction on production aircraft. These are the concerns of achieveability of NLF on practical airframe surfaces, and maintainability in operating environments. Previous research in this area left a mixture of positive and negative conclusions regarding these concerns. While early (pre-1950) airframe construction methods could not achieve NLF criteria for waviness, several modern construction methods (composites for example) can achieve the required smoothness. This paper presents flight experiment data on the achieveability and maintainability of NLF on a high-performance, single-propeller, composite airplane, the Bellanca Skyrocket II. The significant contribution of laminar flow to the performance of this airplane was measured. Observations of laminar flow in the propeller slipstream are discussed, as are the effects of insect contamination on the wing.
Design data are presented for a class of high-performance single-engine business airplanes. The design objectives include a cruise speed of 300 knots, a cruise altitude of 10,700 m (35,000 ft), a cruise payload of six passengers (including crew and baggage), and a no-reserves cruise range of 1300 n.mi. Two unconventional aerodynamic technologies were evaluated: the individual and combined effects of cruise-matched wing loading and of a natural laminar flow airfoil were analyzed. The tradeoff data presented illustrate the ranges of wing geometries, propulsion requirements, airplane weights, and aerodynamic characteristics which are necessary to meet the design objectives. very large design and performance improvements resulted from use of the aerodynamic technologies evaluated. Is is shown that the potential exists for achieving more than 200-percent greater fuel efficiency than is achieved by current airplanes capable of similar cruise speeds, payloads, and ranges.
A brief definition of an “All Electric Airplane” will be presented. Several NASA and DOD studies have examined the application of advanced electric/electronic technologies. The benefits identified in these studies will be summarized. The state-of-the-art in all electric airplane technology will be described. A NASA program has been proposed to develop the necessary technology base for industry application. The elements of this proposed program will be discussed.
This paper describes the results of a Joint NASA/DoD Scenario-Based Systems Study conducted as part of the DoD Fixed-Wing Vehicle Technology Program. The study investigated both the impact and robustness of specific technology sets to a variety of airlift, bomber, and patrol aircraft concepts. The impacts of these technology sets were developed by measuring the changes in a set of measures of merit, which represented cost vs. capability metrics. The changes in the metrics were then evaluated within the context of a number of future “scenarios” to determine how robust these impacts would be across a variety of possible future conditions. A database was developed which allows the evaluation or ranking of the technology sets from a variety of perspectives.