NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 A2.03-9148
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Aero-Acoustics
PROPOSAL TITLE: Deployable Engine Air-Brake for Drag Management Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
ATA Engineering, Inc.
11995 El Camino Real
San Diego, CA 92130 - 2566
(858) 480-2000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Parthiv N Shah
11995 El Camino Real, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92130 - 2566
(858) 480-2101

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
ATA Engineering, Inc., proposes an SBIR program to demonstrate an innovative engine air-brake (EAB) technology that uses a deployable swirl vane mechanism to switch the operation of a turbofan engine nozzle from a conventional to a "drag management" mode. Such "drag on demand" enables operational benefits such as slower, steeper, and/or aeroacoustically cleaner flight on approach, addressing NASA's need for active and passive control of aeroacoustic noise sources for conventional and advanced aircraft configurations.

The proposing team recently completed a Phase I/II SBIR program on the development of an EAB for quiet drag applications. This program began with design of aerodynamic concepts and progressed to fabrication and testing of several prototypes in NASA Glenn's Aero Acoustic Propulsion Laboratory. Results suggested that an appropriately designed EAB could enable a fixed-speed, steep approach trajectory from a baseline 3.2 to 4.4 degree glideslope for a 737-800-class aircraft, with 3.1 dB peak tone-corrected perceived noise (PNLT) reduction and 1.8 dB effective perceived noise level (EPNL) reduction. The previous effort culminated in a conceptual design of a bypass nozzle mechanism that stows in an aerodynamically "invisible" manner in the nozzle casing during conventional operation and introduces deployable vanes in a drag management maneuver.

Current technology readiness level (TRL) is 3 to 4, and the proposed SBIR program aims to advance TRL to 5 to 6 by demonstrating a prototype that switches between stowed and deployed mode during operation. The technical objectives are to: (1) evaluate and select a candidate nozzle or engine as a demonstrator, (2) develop a preliminary aerodynamic and mechanical design of an integrated mechanism, and (3) define a validation plan that can be executed in Phase II. The final deliverable will be a written report to NASA presenting the findings and designs and defining the path forward for Phase II activities.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The most immediate opportunity for this system is to assist NASA in the development of next generation quiet aircraft, including conventioanl tube and wing (current generation "N"+1), unconventional integrated airframe-propulsion system configurations (N+2), and advanced aircraft concepts (N+3). These aircraft are likely to have noise levels from the engine and airframe that are comparable. A deployable, quiet air-brake device will allow noise reduction by creating drag without the associated unsteady flow structures of devices such as flaps, slats, and undercarriage. In addition, these devices will enable steep approaches, thereby locating the noise source further from the affected communities. Finally, pairs of engine air-brakes operating in concert on multi-engine aircraft may be used for aircraft control and special maneuvering applications by performing, for example, an aircraft rudder function.

An additional application for swirling exhaust flows is in the area of wake vortex avoidance and induced drag management. For example, deployable swirling outflow devices placed on wing tips could be used to counter- or co-swirl relative to the bound vortex that is shed by a finite wing, resulting in potential induced drag reduction or increase (possibly of value in a quiet drag sense). This could prove to have some applicability in designing more fuel-efficient and quiet aircraft in the future.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Two complementary potential commercial markets exist for the proposed technology: (1) implementation in retrofit kits on older aircraft engines, and (2) implementation in future jet engines as an integral part of the design; i.e., modifying traditional engine exit guide vanes or bypass nozzles with a variable geometry mechanism that generates a swirling outflow in drag management mode. The first market has immediate potential (within 5 years), while the second market, although potentially much larger from a quantity standpoint, is a longer-term endeavor (likely 7 to 10 years to implementation). The retrofit market provides a simpler and faster opportunity to implement and demonstrate the technology before upselling it or its derivatives to the large engine Original Equipment Manufacturers.

As part of this SBIR program, ATA will partner with small engine manufacturer Williams International to understand how the design may be incorporated into one or more of their engines. As the world leader in the development, manufacture, and support of small gas turbine engines, Williams International provides a more direct route to market for the technology than could be achieved with the large aircraft engine manufacturers where the financial and technical risks of new technologies grow exponentially. Demonstration on a real-world, small jet engine can provide a stepping stone to wider acceptance of the technology in the gas turbine engine community.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Atmospheric Propulsion

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