Improving Performance of Hybrid-Electric Aircraft

Although hybrid-electric cars are becoming commonplace, similar technology applied to airplanes comes with significantly different challenges. University of Illinois aerospace engineers are addressing some of them toward the development of a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels to power airplanes.

They created a flight-performance simulator with a parallel hybrid drivetrain integrated into the simulation. The researchers compared the sensitivity of range and fuel economy to the level of electrification, battery specific energy density, and electric motor power density and determined that a hybrid-electric drivetrain can lead to substantial improvements in fuel efficiency of a given aircraft configuration.


Posted in: INSIDER, News, Aviation, Defense

Virtual Runway, Real Pilot Practice

When a plane overshoots the final approach, often the pilot’s natural — and dangerous — instinct is to pitch the aircraft up to slow down and land. It’s one of the leading causes of accidents, especially with small airplanes. But what if that same mistake happened at 5,000 feet instead?

A new virtual reality tool developed by Systems Technology Inc. in cooperation with NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center can help pilots train for these scenarios in real life — with far less danger. The simulator hooks into any airplane and, with the aid of virtual reality goggles, layers a virtual scene over the real world outside the cockpit.


Posted in: INSIDER, News, Aviation, Defense

AUDS Goes Undetected With New Ammunition

For the third iteration, the AUDS (anti-unmanned aerial vehicle defense system) recently returned to Fort Sill for the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX). During the last few MFIX events, the AUDS, which works to detect, track, identify and defeat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), has evolved from its design as a simple focused-energy weapon to a non-lethal/lethal system by pairing its focused energy to a 30 mm chain gun. At MFIX 2018, the AUDS evolved again, this time developing a passive detection program.

"Why is that important? Because most systems here have radars and jammers that are always emitting," said Col. (retired) Robert Menti, the business development director for Northrop Grumman's innovation systems. "We have a passive detection capability so that we don't have to have any radars turned on (…) so that we can detect rogues passively and the enemy can't see us."

Posted in: INSIDER, News, Aerospace, Defense, Automation, Robotics

Wind Tunnel, Lasers Provide Hypersonic Proving Ground

It’s about speed, and Sandia National Laboratories, with a hypersonic wind tunnel and advanced laser diagnostic technology, is in a position to help U.S. defense agencies understand the physics associated with aircraft flying five times the speed of sound. With potential adversaries reporting successes in their own programs to develop aircraft that can be flown at Mach 5 or greater speeds, U.S. development of autonomous hypersonic systems is a top defense priority. That has made aerospace engineer Steven Beresh of Sandia’s aerosciences department and his colleagues at the hypersonic wind tunnel popular lately.

“Before, the attitude was that hypersonic flight was 30 years away and always will be,” said Beresh, the lead wind tunnel engineer. “Now with the national needs, it needs to be tomorrow. We’re becoming very busy.” There’s a whoosh of air, then a rumble followed by an electrical hum. It lasts about 45 seconds as air blows down the tunnel to a vacuum at speeds of Mach 5, 8 or 14, depending on pressure settings. The Mach 5 nozzle uses high-pressure air (nitrogen plus oxygen). Nitrogen alone is used at the higher speeds and can be pressurized to 8,600 pounds per square inch. For comparison, recommended pressure for a car tire is usually between 30 and 35 psi. There is so much potential energy, nitrogen must be stored in a bunker behind 1-foot-thick walls.

Posted in: INSIDER, News, Data Acquisition, Defense, Propulsion, Test & Measurement

Self-Generated Power Will Reduce Soldier Load

The bionic power knee harvester, also known as the PowerWalk, is an energy-harvesting device that is attached to both the upper and lower areas of both legs and generates power from movement. The device extracts the energy when the knee is flexed and negative work is being performed. The system adjusts to a person’s gait, so soldiers don’t feel like they are wearing a device and can even forget that they have it on.

Soldiers now carry multiple electronics that aid in strategy, communication and navigation, including computers, radios, mobile phones, battlefield situational displays and navigation tools , justto name just a few devices. Being without power to run these devices could impact Soldier safety, performance and efficiency.

Posted in: INSIDER, News, Defense, Power, Robotics

Smart Skin Simplifies Spotting Strain in Aircraft

Thanks to one peculiar characteristic of carbon nanotubes, engineers will be able to measure the accumulated strain in an airplane over the entire surface or down to microscopic levels. They’ll do so by shining a light onto structures coated with a two-layer nanotube film and protective polymer.

Strain in the surface will show up as changes in the wavelengths of near-infrared light emitted from the film and captured by a miniaturized hand-held reader. The results will show engineers and maintenance crews whether structures like aircraft have been deformed by stress-inducing events or regular wear and tear.


Posted in: INSIDER, News, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Defense

Missile Defense Battle Manager

Northrop Grumman Corporation
Falls Church, VA

The Northrop Grumman Corporation-developed Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) successfully demonstrated its ability to scale up and network across long distances during a recent U.S. Army-led test. The evaluation was conducted by U.S. Army soldiers over a five-week period with air and missile defense assets located at sites in New Mexico, Texas and Alabama.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Communications, Defense, RF & Microwave Electronics, Data Acquisition, Sensors, Test & Measurement

Metal Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM) – the process of building up solid layers of material to form a finished solid part — is an emerging and exciting technical discipline. Also referred to as “3D printing,” many misconceptions exist about the capabilities and promises of the technology.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, 3 D Printing & Additive Manufacturing, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials, Metals, Plastics, Machinery, Mechanical Components

Cognitive Radio: The New Architecture of Space Communications

NASA spacecraft typically rely on human-controlled radio systems to communicate with Earth. As collection of space data increases, NASA looks to alternative radio technologies to meet demand and increase efficiency.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Aviation, Communications, Defense, Solar Power, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics, Software, Instrumentation, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, Test & Measurement

Custom Flexible Shafts

S.S. White Technologies
St. Petersburg, FL

S.S. White Technologies, a company that specializes in the design and manufacture of flexible shafts and related assemblies, is currently offering bespoke flexible shaft solutions for aerospace applications.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation, Defense, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components, MEMs, Medical, Motion Control, Positioning Equipment