The recent upsurge in development and prospective applications of Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles has the potential to transform the vertical flight landscape. Among the several classes of aircraft under development for projected Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) applications 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, as identified by NASA in the Phase I solicitation, high-quality, full-scale experimental data to validate these models is not currently available. The proposed Phase II STTR effort will address this need by providing extending Phase I work, providing both a computational model and an additional body of flight test data for a full-scale multirotor eVTOL aircraft. Phase II flight testing will provide both performance and noise data that extends initial Phase I results. An ambitious work scope is proposed by leveraging the advanced state of development of models and resources available to the proposing team, including both a full-scale aircraft 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 software to numerous eVTOL AAM air taxi vehicle developers. The new full-scale test data will be used to validate our tools, and software enhancements produced will be instrumental in the success of this new generation of entrepreneurial organizations who have an immediate need for improved modeling and analysis it will engender.