AN INVESTIGATION OF THE ACCURACY OF EMPIRICAL AIRCRAFT DESIGN FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLE INTENDED FOR LIQUID HYDROGEN FUEL
Chaney, Christopher Scott
MetadataShow full item record
A study was conducted to assess the accuracy of empirical techniques used for the calculation of flight performance for unmanned aerial vehicles. This was achieved by quantifying the error between a mathematical model developed with these techniques and experimental test data taken using an unmanned aircraft. The vehicle utilized for this study was developed at Washington State University for the purpose of flying using power derived from hydrogen stored as a cryogenic liquid. The vehicle has a mass of 32.8 kg loaded and performed a total of 14 flights under battery power for 3.58 total flight hours. Over these flights, the design proved it is capable of sustaining level flight from the power available from a PEM fuel cell propulsion system.The empirical techniques used by the model are explicitly outlined within. These yield several performance metrics that are compared to measurements taken during flight testing. Calculations of required thrust for steady flight over all airspeeds and rates of climb modeled are found to have a mean percent error of 3.2%±7.0% and a mean absolute percent error of 34.6%±5.1%. Comparison of the calculated and measured takeoff distance are made and the calculated thrust required to perform a level turn at a given rate is compared to flight test data. A section of a test flight is analyzed, over which the vehicle proves it can sustain level flight under 875 watts of electrical power. The aircraft's design is presented including the wing and tail, propulsion system, and build technique. The software and equipment used for the collection and analysis of flight data are given. Documentation and validation is provided of a unique test rig for the characterization of propeller performance using a car. The aircraft remains operational to assist with research of alternative energy propulsion systems and novel fuel storage techniques.The results from the comparison of the mathematical model and flight test data can be utilized to assist in the development of similar Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, express the uncertainty in calculated vehicle performance numbers, and assist in identifying error in control system design.