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Technical Paper

Structural and Aerodynamics Analysis on Different Architectures for the Elettra Twin Flyer Prototype

This paper deals with the design and development of an innovative airship concept which is remotely-controlled and intended to be used for monitoring, surveillance, exploration and reconnaissance missions. Two potential solutions have been analyzed: the first consists of a double-hull configuration, characterized by the presence of a primary support structure connected by appropriated bindings to a couple of twin inflatable hulls. The second architecture is a soap-shaped exoskeleton configuration which features a single inflated section, incorporating two separate elements held internally by a system of ribs. The aim of this study is to analyze and compare the two configurations, to determine the most appropriate solution in terms of performance, cost and maneuvering capabilities
Technical Paper

Ground Testing of the ETF Unmanned Airship Technology Demonstrator

This paper deals with the ground testing of the technological demonstrator of the innovative remotely controlled ETF airship1. The testing activities are intended to validate the flight control system of the ETF, which is based on the thrust vectoring technology and represents one of the major innovations of the ETF design, together with the airship architecture. A research team of the Aeronautical and Space Department of the Polytechnic of Turin, in collaboration with Nautilus, a small Italian private company, has been working since a few years on the ETF (Elettra Twin Flyers). This airship is remotely-piloted, with high maneuverability capabilities and good operative features also in adverse atmospheric conditions2. The Nautilus new concept airship features architecture and appropriate command system, which should enable the vehicle to maneuver in forward, backward and sideward flight and hovering with any heading, both in normal and severe wind conditions.
Technical Paper

A Possible Adaptive Wing Apparatus for New UAV Configurations

The problem of wing shape modification under loads in order to enhance the aircraft performance and control is continuously improving by researchers. This requirement is in contrast to the airworthiness regulations that constraint stiffness and stress of the structure in order to maintain structural integrity under operative flight conditions. The lifting surface modification is more stringent in those cases, such as UAV configurations, where the installed power is limited but the variety of operative scenario is wider than in conventional aircraft. A possible solution for adaptive wing configuration can be found in the VENTURAS Project idea. The VENTURAS Project is a funded project with the aim of improve the wind turbine efficiency by means of introducing a twisting capability for the blade sections according to the best situation in any wind condition. The blade structure is composed by two parts: 1) internal supporting element, 2) external deformable envelope.
Technical Paper

FMS and AFCS Interface for 4D Trajectory Operations

The future revolution of the air traffic system imposes the development of a new class of Flight Management Systems (FMS), capable of providing the aircraft with real-time reference flight parameters, necessary to fly the aircraft through a predefined sequence of waypoints, while minimizing fuel consumption, noise and pollution emissions. The main goal is to guarantee safety operations while reducing the aircraft environmental impact, according to the main international research programs. This policy is expected to affect also the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), as soon as they will be allowed to fly beyond the restricted portions of the aerospace where they are currently confined. In the future, in fact, UASs are expected to fly within the whole civilian airspace, under the same requirements deriving from the adoption of the Performance Based Navigation (PBN).
Technical Paper

Aeroelastic Behaviour of Flexible Wings Carrying Distributed Electric Propulsion Systems

An accurate aeroelastic assessment of powered HALE aircraft is of paramount importance considering that their behaviour contrasts the one of conventional aircraft mainly due to the use of high aspect-ratio wings with distributed propulsion systems. This particular configuration shows strong dependency of the wing natural frequencies to the propulsion distribution and operating conditions. Numerical and experimental investigations are carried out to better understand the behaviour of flexible wings, focusing on the effect of distributed electric propulsion systems. Several configurations are investigated, including a single propulsion system using an engine pod (a weight with embedded electric motor, a propeller, and the wing-attached structure) installed at selected spanwise positions, and configurations with two and three propellers.
Technical Paper

Optimization of a Light Aircraft Spark-Ignition Engine

The aim of this study was to find a convenient set-up for an innovative engine dedicated to light aircraft through a numerical one-dimensional simulation. Six different engine layouts were analyzed in order to find the highest power/weight ratio and the least voluminous configuration. The first was a four cylinder, four stroke, horizontally opposed, naturally aspirated, water cooled engine with 16 valves that delivered 75 kW (∼100 bhp) at 2400 rpm for an estimated weight of 65 kg. A gearbox was also used in the naturally aspirated model to decrease the displacement, the weight and the overall dimensions. The other solutions involved these two engines in a turbocharged layout in order to gain a further downsizing. The supercharging was obtained through a centrifugal compressor driven by an exhaust-gas driven turbine, which also allows the power to be restored at cruising altitude.
Technical Paper

Fuel Consumption Measurement in I.C. Reciprocating Engines Utilizing Manifold Pressure and Engine RPM

An electronic instrument for the measurement of fuel consumption in reciprocating internal combustion engines for light aircraft has been designed, manufactured and tested. The operating principle of the measuring device is based on the simple, theoretically supported and experimentally verified observation that the fuel mass flow rate is almost exactly proportional to the product of the intake manifold air pressure “pc” and the engine revolution speed “n”. Therefore, only two sensors are needed, and no fuel pipe cutting is required for installation and operation. This feature represents a major point in favor of simplicity, reliability and safety. The aim of the instrument is to provide a fuel consumption indication which can be used during cruising. The instrument is not intended as a replacement for the usual on-board fuel level gauge, but can be used to integrate the flight information with the overall and instantaneous fuel consumption data.
Journal Article

A Fuel Cell Based Propulsion System for General Aviation Aircraft: The ENFICA-FC Experience

The hydrogen and fuel cell power based technologies that are rapidly emerging can be exploited to start a new generation of propulsion systems for light aircraft and small commuter aircraft. Different studies were undertaken in recent years on fuel cells in aeronautics. Boeing Research & Technology Centre (Madrid) successfully flew its converted Super Dimona in 2008 relying on a fuel cell based system. DLR flew in July 2009 with the motor-glider Antares powered by fuel cells. The goal of the ENFICA-FC project (ENvironmentally Friendly Inter City Aircraft powered by Fuel Cells - European Commission funded project coordinated by Prof. Giulio Romeo) was to develop and validate new concepts of fuel cell based power systems for more/all electric aircrafts belonging to a “inter-city” segment of the market.
Journal Article

A New Approach for the Estimation of the Aerodynamic Damping Characteristics of the ETF Demonstrator

Nautilus S.p.A. and the Polytechnic of Turin, in cooperation with Blue Engineering, have developed a very versatile product, the ELETTRA Twin Flyers [6] (ETF), which consists in a very innovative remotely-piloted airship equipped with high precision sensors and communication devices. This multipurpose platform is particularly suitable for border and maritime surveillance missions and for telecommunication, both in military and civil area. To assess the actual maneuver capabilities of the airship [14], a prototype of reduced size and complexity has been assembled [16]. Before the flight tests a further assessment on the flight simulator is needed, because the first version of the software is tuned on the full scale prototype. Steady state performance and static stability of the demonstrator have been evaluated with CFD analysis.