3779. Determining the Center of Gravity of the Electric No Emissions Low Drag Airframe (NELDA)


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Christl K. Haley: 3779. Determining the Center of Gravity of the Electric No Emissions Low Drag Airframe (NELDA). In: 81st Annual Conference, Savannah, Georgia, pp. 27, Society of Allied Weight Engineers, Inc., Savannah, Georgia, 2022.



Although climate change has become an impending issue for all of humanity, it has brought nations together to design and create a variety of systems that leave little to no carbon footprint. The No Emission Low Drag Airframe (NELDA) is a unique electric aircraft design which aims to join this world-wide mission. The author (the airframe design lead) and her senior design team from the University of Colorado Boulder spent the fall semester of 2021 designing this commuter aircraft. NELDA can fly 6 passengers at a cruise altitude of 12,000 ft MSL, at a cruise speed of 150 knots for 1.5 hours with a 30-minute reserve, making this a perfect aircraft for short, direct flights. The characteristics for this aircraft aim to be certified under Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 23 to ensure the safety of every passenger. Multiple trade studies were conducted to determine the design choices that make up this innovative aircraft. These studies resulted in an aft-mid-mounted wing, a canard, fixed tricycle landing gear, butterfly doors, and a pusher-propeller powertrain configuration. The specific energy, density, volume, and weight of the electric powertrain were estimated using a 5-year prediction for solid-state batteries. Since these batteries do not exist today, it was very challenging to accurately model and place the power system. The range and endurance of NELDA were used to determine the volume, number, and weight of the batteries. The safety of passengers, size of the batteries, and functionality of each battery were all considered while determining where and how to place the batteries among the other major components of NELDA. Additionally, it was critical to strategically place each of the components to achieve an acceptable static margin of 10%, as well as predictable dynamic and static flight characteristics. The designers of NELDA believe that their successful commuter electric airplane design will be part of the beginning of new, improved, clean aerial transportation.


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