CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) propose to develop new methodologies and strategies for icing hazard mitigation, to support all-weather operations of vertical lift aircraft in urban air mobility (UAM). In Phase I the team will focus on specific aspects of a comprehensive mitigation strategy for all-weather flight safety. The Phase I tasks will include: (1) modeling of ice accretion on rotor blades, (2) preliminary experimental and computational investigations of performance degradation for vehicles subjected to icing, and (3) identification of all-weather mitigation strategy requirements including methods for characterization of the UAM flight environment. The all-weather operations methodology incorporates multi-suite sensors for hazard detection, model-based vehicle analysis and assessment incorporating performance degradation, environmental conditions assessment with remote sensing and UAM aircraft-based networking, and algorithms for weather hazard identification and go/no-go decision-making. With the eventual goal of developing an overall UAM icing safety strategy, the CUA-UIUC team proposes to focus on major aspects (related to performance degradation and characterization), while establishing the requirements and protocols (through paper study and models development) for an overall strategy to be developed with NASA, government, and commercial partners in later phases. In this proposal, the CUA-UIUC team outlines its strategy, and describes the benefits of the underlying research tasks to be accomplished during the Phase I investigation.
Maintaining all-weather operation of vertical lift aircraft with detection and avoidance of icing hazards is a crucial mission, where flight safety implementation in UAM is a critical gap. Rotorcraft icing is a key challenge associated with the RVLT project. This proposal addresses objectives in the NASA Technology Taxonomy: air traffic management and range tracking systems (TX16), safety technology for new vehicle concepts (TX16.1), improved weather/hazard detection awareness (TX16.2), and safety analyses for new airspace concepts (TX16.3).
A desired commercial outcome is a fully-developed, all-weather hazard mitigation system toolset to be offered to FAA, aircraft operators and maintainers, UAM airframers, and others which can be applied for risk assessments based on vehicle performance envelopes, decision-making in UAM airspace, and in-situ advisory related to flight safety.