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More Electric Aircraft Power Systems Facility

Developing Aircraft Power Systems of the Future

A summary of the technical whitepaper “More Electric Aircraft Power Systems (MEAPS) Facility” is presented below.  The full whitepaper in .pdf format can be found here.

Introduction

Over the past decade, the aircraft industry has converged on a shared vision for the future of aircraft power systems. This vision represents a dramatic shift away from various types of power found in traditional aircraft and offers a wide range of benefits for tomorrow’s commercial and military aircraft.

The non-propulsive power systems in traditional aircraft are typically driven by a combination of different secondary power types including: hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical and mechanical power [1-6].  All power is extracted from the aircraft engines.  Hydraulic power is provided using hydraulic pumps driven by mechanical rotation sourced from the engine gearbox and is distributed to power various aircraft systems including flight control actuators, aircraft braking, landing gear extension/retraction, and door closure.  Pneumatic power is extracted from the engine, using software controlled bleed valves, and is used to power the aircraft Environmental Control System (ECS) and wing anti-icing.  Mechanical power from the engine gearbox also drives lubrication and fuel pumps.  While electrical power contributes to the capability of nearly every aircraft system in modern aircraft that make increasing use of airborne software controlled electronic systems.

The market demand for more energy efficient aircraft is driven by many stakeholders including airline operators, legislators, and public opinion.  In the meantime, power electronics technology has made tremendous breakthroughs over the past decade in areas including electromechanical actuators (EMA), electro-hydrostatic actuators (EHA), fault-tolerant electric motor/generators, and power converters.  This forward-leap of technology creates a viable path, fueled by economic gain, for replacing many and potentially all of the hydraulic, pneumatic, a mechanically powered non-propulsive systems with electrically powered systems [1-25] to design a More Electric Aircraft (MEA).

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The Challenge

Industry has recently achieved general agreement on key elements of the MEA.  For example, industry is now focusing on technology based on a high-voltage DC power distribution architectures with 270VDC distribution emerging as the most popular approach.  However, optimizing aircraft power systems technology to support a 270VDC distribution system, including generation, distribution topology, power conversion, and the design of specific MEA systems, is a complex effort.  There is a high-level of dependency and interaction between the various systems in a given MEA design with complex and fast dynamics.  There is a wide range of technology that must be refined and optimized within the context of a single aircraft design in order to achieve the cost reduction goals for the MEA.  These challenges give rise to a capability requirement; a requirement for a flexible MEA development platform that can accelerate the pace of development of MEA technology.

The Solution

The proposed solution relies on Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) methodologies and technology that have evolved rapidly over the past two decades and draws on MBSE technology in the area of power systems and power electronics.  This whitepaper proposes a Power-Hardware-in-the-Loop development and test facility that enables MEA technology to be combined with simulated flight and simulated power system behavior: The MEA Power System Development Facility.  The MEA Power System Development Facility enables technology concepts and prototypes to be tested as pure simulation in closed-loop with real aircraft power systems, operating with representative electrical behavior, and evaluated through normal and failure mode flight conditions.  The MEA Power System Development facility is based on Applied Dynamics technology development and contribution to the current state-of-the-art in the aircraft industry’s drive towards the MEA vision.

More Electric Aircraft Power Systems Development Facility

The More Electric Aircraft Power Systems (MEAPS) Development Facility is a high-performance, real-time, power-hardware-in-the-loop developing and testing capability that: allows high-fidelity aircraft simulation to be combined with real and/or simulated aircraft power system devices; enables the configuration of the MEA power network to be changed and evaluated; allows real and emulated generators to be connected to the MEA power network; provides high-fidelity active load emulation to evaluate the effects and performance of electromechanical and electrohydrostatic actuators; and includes high-speed data acquisition throughout the facility for the characterization of each element of the system.  Components of the MEAPS Development Facility include:

  • Active load emulation system
  • Active load Hyperfast real-time simulator
  • Generator emulation system
  • Distributed real-time simulator platform
  • MEA power network
  • Flight and aircraft system simulation models
  • Simulation framework software platform

Read the full whitepaper:  More Electric Aircraft Power Systems (MEAPS) Facility

Learn more about how a technology partnership with Applied Dynamics can successfully drive your organization’s adoption of next generation aircraft power systems. Speak with an application engineer today.