The proposed technology and its development using the X-56 as a demonstration platform targets key aspects of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) Strategic Thrust 3A (Ultra-Efficient Commercial Vehicles Subsonic Transport). The commercial product to be developed is an engineering tool for modeling aeroservoelastic dynamics in flexible air vehicles. The software will use data generated by high-fidelity aeroservoelastic CFD models to construct efficient ROMs for all phases of the development process from early concept trade studies to flight testing and aircraft certification. Flexible, lightweight vehicles are an emerging market, promising reduced take-off weight, greater range, and lower fuel costs. The ultra-efficient designs present safety challenges (flutter, divergence, control reversal, gust loading, structural failure, fatigue), requiring innovative flight control systems to effectively manage aeroservoelastic instabilities. The proposed technology will enable the design and testing of new controllers for highly flexible aircraft through accurate, low-dimensional aeroservoelastic models capable of real-time predictions.
The proposed project will focus on the experimental X-56 program with much broader potential applications relating to flutter prediction and suppression, gust load prediction and alleviation, and active/adaptive aero-structural control. The modeling technology is an enabler for next-generation fighter aircraft operating over subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flight regimes, commercial launch vehicles, and rotorcraft, all requiring advanced flight control for complex aeroservoelastic environments. Simpler, currently available models based on inviscid flow and panel methods become insufficient with more complex vehicle geometries, higher speeds, and the presence of complex coupling like shock-boundary layer interactions. CFD-based ROMs can be game changers in these applications. The modeling technology is capable of predicting not only six-degrees-of-freedom forces and moments for aeromechanics analyses but also spatially distributed loads, providing close coupling between the disciplines of aerodynamics, aeroservoelasticity, flight control, and structural dynamics during the development of fixed-wing aircraft, launch vehicles, and rotorcraft.