The potential NASA applications for this proposed effort will focus on delivering a tool that fits within a larger MDAO framework for hybrid electric aircraft design synthesis with a highly integrated thermal management system design and analysis tool, benefitting multiple NRA projects, and other direct NASA efforts, both internal and external. Several nuances native to the turbo-electric or hybrid electric distributed propulsion are electric component weight and structure, power transmission networks, and thermal management systems, collectively requiring a tool such as the one proposed for initial aircraft design synthesis. These new hurdles have not been addressed in previous textbook methods or efforts, but play a significant role in determining the feasibility of these new aircraft configurations. One of the major benefits to a decoupled energy management system using distributed propulsion is the freedom in placing the propulsors. Each configuration will inherently have vastly different structural and cooling considerations.
A commercial application for top-level distributed propulsion sizing tool would be very attractive, as the industry is pressing toward hybrid-electric distributed propulsion (HEDP) concepts as new technologies for electric components and batteries develop. This product will leverage its ability to customize the propulsion system architecture and operation, and it will offer detailed analysis of thermal management system design and performance. A potential Phase III effort could pair the sizing and weights tool with aerodynamic analysis, terminal area operation analysis, and mission analysis tools to provide designers with a very useful hybrid electric aircraft design and analysis suite. AFRL would benefit as they are conducting in-house studies and supporting ESAero in other related areas. IARPA and the FAA will also benefit, as the tool will be distributed within the government FOUO. ESAero has identified the government and industry partners to develop this type of technology both near term (Boeing, General Electric, Lockheed Martin) and long term (NASA, AFRL, IARPA etc.).