Early control design saves money

AVIONICS Developing an aircraft's flight-control system at an earlier stage to avoid later costly redesign is the goal of the 36-month, €5.1 million ($7 million) European Union research project to simulate aircraft stability and control characteristics in conceptual design (SimSAC). The project partners say up to 80% of an aircraft's life-cycle cost can be set during the early design phase and there is a need to identify stability and control characteristics as early as possible to ensure a correctly designed FCS. SimSAC will develop expert software modules for low- to high-fidelity S&C analysis. "Europe has fallen behind the USA [and] competition is increasing from the growing Asian aeronautics industry, and this interdisciplinary project is designed to help Europe regain the lead," says project co-ordinator Arthur Rizzi, department of aeronautical and vehicle engineering professor at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology. Initiated in November 2006, the project has 17 European partners.


Stereo vision helps UAVs see their way

UNMANNED SYSTEMS Tracking moving objects using stereo vision is the next step for German researchers developing unmanned air vehicle collision avoidance technology. Static obstacles such as bushes and a parked aircraft have been detected up to 40m (131ft) away by an autonomous rotorcraft testbed using the system. German aerospace centre DLR's Institute of Flight Systems favours stereo vision for sense-and-avoid in small UAVs because it is passive, lightweight and low power. With stereo vision the on-board computer can create a map that is not limited to a pre-defined area and can be updated in real-time.


Active panels make quieter cabins

ROTORCRAFT French aerospace agency ONERA is investigating whether helicopter cabin noise can be reduced using active control of composite liners to eliminate "parasitic" noise produced by sound reflecting off interior panels. Further flight testing is planned for January 2008. In tests so far, active control of a composite liner equipped with 13 piezo-electric actuators has reduced the panel's acoustic level by 7dB. Reseachers used a second "reflecting panel" fitted with microphones to understand where and how the noise is radiated by sidewalls.


Car flies on inflatable wing

AERODYNAMICS A tenth-scale remote-control model of an inflatable ring-wing flying car will be flown in November by Japan's Kanazawa Institute of Technology following windtunnel tests. The full-scale design is a 400hp (300kW) two-seater weighing 800kg (1,760lb), 5.4m (17.7ft) wide and 6.3m long, with a 250km (135nm) range. Maximum airspeed would be 100kt (185km/h) and ground speed 80km/h (50mph). The inflatable ring-wing would be made of carbonfibre and ribbed for strength. A foreplane would produce 15% of the lift. "To fly the scale model we now have to reduce its weight and change the size of the canards," says the institute's aeronautics department associate professor Madoka Nakajima.


Source: Flight International