Data Fusion to Estimate Vortex Location for Drag Reduction in Formation Flight
NASA is investigating the potential benefits of flying aircraft in the aerodynamic wake vortex emanating from a lead aircraft's wing tip. Analytic studies predict that a trailing aircraft in the updraft portion of a wake vortex may experience drag reductions of 15 percent or more by gaining additional lift. One of the technical challenges is finding the
optimal position within the vortex to fly. This Armstrong research project is evaluating a methodology that fuses data from existing sensors to estimate the optimal position.
Work to date: A proof-of-concept simulation has demonstrated improvement in vortex estimation when combining data from the aircraft's moment and fuel flow sensors.
Looking ahead: Near-term work involves building software to perform data fusion with real-time measurements. Longer-term goals are to evaluate the approach on an actual flight test and then a live demonstration of formation flight for drag reduction and fuel savings.
Improves accuracy: In simulations, data fusion of moment and fuel flow sensors more accurately estimates the vortex core than do data from the individual sensors.
Increases efficiency: Improved accuracy will result in greater drag reduction and fuel savings.
Military formation flying
Commercial formation flying UAV swarming
Efficient Aerospace Vehicle Technologies
Increasing efficiency in aerospace systems is a key goal across the spectrum of NASA operations.
Armstrong researchers are constantly striving to build efficiency into all phases of flight projects, through development, fabrication, and operations processes.
From a new wing design that could exponentially increase total aircraft efficiency to a novel test stand for single-engine electric aircraft, our researchers are finding unique solutions that increase efficiency.