Multi-disciplinary optimization has emerged as a key technology required to make increasingly more sophisticated electric and hybrid-electric aircraft that require advanced CONOPS such as urban air mobility and distributed electric propulsion. Current MDO design results may take into account many disciplines in the design resulting in an optimized aircraft, only to be locally re-optimized based on engineering performed post-aircraft configuration lock related to flight control, resulting in less efficient and less capable aircraft.
Electric and hybrid-electric aircraft with distributed propulsion provide significant advantages such as significantly reduced stall speeds and dramatically increased power efficiency (>50%) (X-57
After decades of designing and flying flight controllers for new types of hybrid and distributed propulsion aircraft, our goal is to get add a controllability component to MDO to ensure the aircraft designed make the right trades and adjustments for flight controls. Rather than throw a controller MDO cycle into the middle of the aircraft MDO, the controllability problem is broken down into a series of targeted hierarchical Components that contribute to the monolithic optimization suitable for the nonlinear and linear solvers in OpenMDO.
The proposed controllability component has far-reaching benefits, since it will become clear later in the development of new types of aircraft that control’s-related constraints were accounted for. This will accelerate the urban air mobility research and distributed electric thrust by providing new designs that are more capable than ever before.
It often takes many years beyond aircraft MDO before the control-related issues become clear and there’s not enough programmatic time or money to compensate. This has the potential to save many companies and programs. Applications include UAM aircraft, STOL distributed propulsion aircraft, and delivery drones more effective and with more stability and maneuver margin.