Goodrich is to supply a stealthy, flush-mounted air data system for Northrop Grumman's X-47B Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) demonstrator. In addition to the multifunction pressure ports, the company will develop neural-network software enabling air data with the quality and redundancy required for vehicle control to be collected using the minimum number of sensors.

"What's unique is we are taking on an expanded role, to analyse aircraft data and decide the quantity and placement of sensors necessary to meet Northrop Grumman's requirements," says Jerry Witowksi, president of Goodrich Sensor Systems. This will involve computational fluid dynamics and analysis of X-47B flight tests.

Neural-network software will allow the vehicle management system to derive air data from the minimum number of sensors, keeping cost and weight down, even if some of the sensors have failed. "Four or five sensors cleverly located can work better than a dozen poorly positioned," Witowski says.

The X-47B air-data system will use Goodrich's SmartPort micro-electromechanical system pressure sensor with integrated processing. "The unmanned air vehicle market is driving us to lower the size, weight and cost of our products," says Dan Reynolds, vice-president, military propulsion and space group.


Source: Flight International