The recent upsurge in development and prospective applications of Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles has the potential to transform the landscape for vertical flight. Among the several classes of aircraft under development for projected Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) missions and activity are vehicles with distributed multiple-rotor systems. Such multicopters offer potential benefits in simplified flight control, redundancy, and conversion between vertical lift and forward flight. However, multirotor systems pose considerable design challenges in terms of quantifying the effect of rotor-rotor interactions on integrated performance, rotor/airframe interactional aerodynamics, flight mechanics, vibratory loads, and noise. Computational models exist that can analyze these vehicles, however high-quality, full-scale experimental data to validate these models is not currently available. To address this need, NASA is seeking design and execution of experiments on multrotor VTOL systems that would generate data suitable for validating aerodynamic and acoustic analyses of full-scale multicopter systems. The proposed collaborative STTR effort will address this need by providing both a computational model and a body of aerodynamic data for a full scale multirotor eVTOL aircraft with an initial tranche of full-scale performance modeling, simulation and test data to be provided in Phase I. An ambitious timeline is proposed by leveraging the advanced state of development of models and resources available to the proposing team, including both a full-scale multicopter that has already undergone low altitude hover flight tests and industry-standard modeling and analysis software currently in use by NASA and eVTOL AAM aircraft developers performing vehicle concept evaluation, analysis and design.
The proposed research effort will provide performance, aerodynamics and acoustics flight test data and computational modeling for full-scale eVTOL AAM multicopters, directly supporting NASA’s ARMD Strategic Thrust 4: Safe, Quiet, and Affordable Vertical Lift Air Vehicles by addressing the increasing demand for knowledge about how to design, build and fly these types of vehicles. The test data obtained in this effort helps fill a vital, missing link impeding the progress of those at NASA and in industry developing eVTOL AAM vehicles.
CDI provides engineering services and analysis software to numerous eVTOL AAM air taxi vehicle developers. The test data and analysis enhancements produced will be instrumental to the success of this new generation of entrepreneurial organizations who have an immediate need for the proposed full-scale, flight test data and the improved modeling and analysis it will engender.