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  • webasif 8:08 am on 15/07/2011 Permalink |
    Tags: Actuator, Aerospace, , Fuel efficiency, Langley Research Center, NASA, New Era, Technology   

    Nasa’s new space vehicle 

    NASA describes this picture with these words: ...

    Image via Wikipedia


    Designing the 21st Century Aerospace Vehicle – Opening the Door to a New Era in FlightAdvanced aerospace vehicles are key to national security, transportation, mobility, freedom, and our quality of life. The answer to ensuring the continued viability of aviation is not through evolutionary or near-term approaches alone, but through careful development of revolutionary, long-term approaches utilizing emerging technologies. The significant advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology are opening the door to a new era in aircraft development resulting in designs that will be radically different from today’s aircraft.

    Aircraft of the future will not be built of traditional, multiple, mechanically connected parts and systems. Instead, aircraft wing construction will employ fully integrated, embedded “smart” materials and actuators that will enable aircraft wings with unprecedented levels of aerodynamic efficiencies and aircraft control.

    Able to respond to the constantly varying conditions of flight, sensors will act like the “nerves” in a bird’s wing and will measure the pressure over the entire surface of the wing. The response to these measurements will direct actuators, which will function like the bird’s wing “muscles.” Just as a bird instinctively uses different feathers on its wings to control its flight, the actuators will change the shape of the aircraft’s wings to continually optimize flying conditions. Active flow control effector will help mitigate adverse aircraft motions when turbulent air conditions are encountered.

    Intelligent systems composed of these sensors, actuators, microprocessors, and adaptive controls will offer an effective “central nervous system” for stimulating the structure to effect an adaptive “physical response.” The central nervous system will give many advantages over current technologies. Proposed 21st Century Aerospace Vehicles will be able to check their own performance, environment, and even their operators to improve safety and fuel efficiency, and lower airframe noise. They will also have systems that will allow for safe takeoffs and landings from short airfields enabling access to this country’s more than 5,400 rural/regional airports.

    Researchers at NASA Langley Research Center are taking the lead to explore these advanced vehicle concepts and revolutionary new technologies. New analysis methodologies are being formulated to model and predict the best locations for sensors and actuators. Cooperative ventures with industry and other government agencies will be key to the project. Specific technology areas of study include ground-to-flight scaling, reliability-based design, adaptive flow control, robust controls, and autonomic vehicle functions.

     Image above depicts an artist’s rendering of new aircraft in flight.

    NASA’s incorporation of these new technologies, research methods and the human creative and exploratory spirit are rapidly changing the way we think about air transportation and will continue to expand the horizon of an already exciting future.

    21st Century Aerospace Vehicle Advantages and Benefits Summary

    • Reduced Noise
    • Increased Fuel Efficiency
    • Improved Ride Quality
    • Increased Passenger and Aircraft Safety
    • Better Maneuverability
    • Lower Landing Speed
    • Adaptable to Shorter Runways
    • Extensive Versatility
  • webasif 7:53 am on 14/07/2011 Permalink |
    Tags: , Air traffic control, , Alternative fuel, , , Flight planning, Technology   



    1.            Flight planning is the process of producing a flight plan to describe a proposed aircraft flight. It involves two safety-critical aspects: fuel calculation, to ensure that the aircraft can safely reach the destination, and compliance with air traffic control requirements, to minimize the risk of mid-air collision. In addition, flight planners normally wish to minimize flight cost by appropriate choice of route, height, and speed, and by loading the minimum necessary fuel on board. Fuel plan should aim maximum achievable cost savings.

    2.            Fuel planning requires accurate weather forecasts so that fuel consumption calculations can account for the fuel consumption effects of head or tail winds and air temperature. Safety regulations require aircraft to carry fuel beyond the minimum needed to fly from origin to destination, allowing for unforeseen circumstances or for diversion to another location if the planned destination becomes unavailable.

    3.            Producing an accurate optimized fuel plan requires a large number of calculations, so commercial flight planning systems make extensive use of computers.

    4.            The basic purpose of a fuel planning is to calculate how much trip fuel is needed in the air navigation process by an aircraft when flying from an origin airport to a destination airport. Aircraft must also carry some reserve fuel to allow for unforeseen circumstances. This means that when the aircraft gets near the destination location, it must still have enough alternate fuel and alternate reserve available to fly on from there to the alternate location. Since the aircraft is not expected at the alternate location, it must also have enough holding fuel to circle for a while while a landing slot is found.

    5.            Rate of fuel burn depends on ambient temperature, aircraft speed, and aircraft altitude, none of which are entirely predictable. Rate of fuel burn also depends on airplane weight, which changes as fuel is burned. The air temperature affects the efficiency/fuel consumption of aircraft engines. The wind may provide a head or tail wind component which in turn will increase or decrease the fuel consumption by increasing or decreasing the air distance to be flown. Note that a large aircraft such as a jumbo jet may burn up to 80 tons of fuel on a 10 hour flight, so there is a substantial weight change during the flight.

    6.            Cruising at a higher flight level generally requires less fuel than at a lower flight level, but extra climb fuel may be needed to get up to the higher flight level.

    7.            When an aircraft which encounters some emergency and has to land straight after taking off may have to circle for a while to use up fuel, or else jettison some fuel, or else land immediately and risk having the undercarriage collapse.

    8.            Aircraft having more than one fuel tank, manufacturer provides rules as to how much fuel to load into each tank so as to avoid affecting the aircraft centre of gravity. Also, the fuel tanks have some maximum capacity. On some occasions, impossible flight plan is requested. The aircraft can’t possibly reach the intended destination, even with no cargo or passengers, since the fuel tanks are just not big enough to hold the amount of fuel needed; it would appear that some missions are over-optimistic at times, perhaps hoping for a (very) strong tailwind.

    9.            Some military aircraft may refuel in mid-air. Such refueling is a gradual process rather than instantaneous. Flight plan should be flexible enough to allow for the change in fuel and show the effect on each aircraft involved.

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