1639. Application of Digital Electric Systems to Advanced Technology Aircraft


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A R Bailey: 1639. Application of Digital Electric Systems to Advanced Technology Aircraft. 1985.



The results of recent NASA-sponsored studies suggest that what is commonly referred to as the ‘all-electric airplane’ offers potential gains complementary to advanced technologies in the fields of propulsion and materials. Significant reductions in fuel consumption are available from weight reductions enabled by digital/electric flight control and actuation schemes and integrated power distribution buses. In late 1983, NASA Langley Research Center sponsored the systems study contract NAS 1-17528 as part of the Integrated Digital/Electric Aircraft (IDEA) program. Following the guidelines of the IDEA program, the first objective was the broad evaluation of improvements in airplane performance and economics resulting from the integrated introduction of digital controls and advanced electrical systems. The second objective was the definition of research and development areas required to achieve the potential improvements. A baseline configuration was compared to the new IDEA configurations in terms of economic performance, fuel efficiency, and significant system and airplane configuration characteristics. Evaluation criteria, such as weight, performance, and cost, were determined and compared to form the basis for recommending the research and development necessary to implement IDEA concepts. Based on these developmental needs, research programs were recommended for high-risk, high-payoff areas appropriate for implementation under NASA leadership. The 1990 baseline configuration represents a 6 to 8% performance improvement over current technology. The IDEA airplane, when compared to the 1990 Baseline airplane, showed an additional 3% improvement in fuel burn performance. Much of the fuel burn improvement was due to a reduction of over 3000 pounds in systems weight alone. Successful research and development would, of course, be required to achieve the potential benefits indicated.


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