Modeling Framework for Identification and Analysis of Key Metrics for Trajectory Energy Management of Electric Aircraft

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Beedie, Seumas M.
Harris, Caleb
Verberne, Johannes
Justin, Cedric Y.
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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To prepare for the upcoming entry into service of electric and hybrid-electric aircraft, regulators may have to update or develop new regulations and standards to ensure safe operations of these new vehicles. To ensure public acceptance, these vehicles need to demonstrate an equivalent level of safety consistent with existing regulations. However, the ability to fly in different modes (forward flight, vertical flight) and the different powertrain elements may require significant changes to regulations to ensure that an insightful representation of the usable energy is provided to flight crews. This requires an understanding of the major operational differences between conventional and electric aircraft, and how these differences impact the trajectories a vehicle can fly. For instance, there is no simple analog to fuel gauges for measuring the extractable energy available on board electric aircraft, as energy related metrics can vary with a range of variables, such as component temperatures, battery health, and environmental conditions. It is thus more complex for flight crews to gauge in real-time how much usable energy is available and to figure out which trajectories are feasible with respect to both energy and power. To assess the feasibility of trajectories and quantify the adequacy of novel energy tracking metrics and methodologies, a trajectory energy management simulation environment is implemented allowing the simulation of various energy metrics across a range of vehicles and missions. This allows decision makers and regulators to assess the importance of these metrics for safe operation across a wide variety of missions. The impact of ambient air temperature, battery state of health, and initial battery, motor, and inverter temperatures are assessed for a typical flight mission. It is concluded that state of health, ambient temperature, and initial battery temperature all had significant impacts on the final state of charge and amount of extractable energy. Additionally, at high ambient temperatures and in aggressive climbs, motor temperature limits and inverter temperature limits can sometimes be reached, further complicating the assessment of what can be done with the amount of energy stored on board. Proper management of these constraints is therefore crucial for optimizing trajectories with respect to energy metrics. Future work is proposed regarding further expansion of the framework simulating aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capability, and flight-dynamics algorithms that will enable simulation of optimal energy mission profiles.
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