SP commercial aircraft model completed


For the last year, Martin and Berk have been developing a signomial programming compatible commercial aircraft model of similar fidelity to TASOPT. They have optimized a variety of aircraft using their framework with vast speed improvements over similar aircraft multidisciplinary design tools. (The example single-mission 737-800 optimization has over 1700 free variables, and solves in under 10 seconds, whereas TASOPT performs the same optimization in ~100 seconds). The SP aircraft model has further advantages, including the ability to more easily evaluate different aircraft configurations and to solve for different objective functions. When the SP is solved, both the optimal point and the sensitivity of the optimal cost to all parameters are found. These values provide valuable design intuition and direction for future modeling enhancements. The model is available on Github. Detailed documentation of the model will be made available during Summer 2017.

The Jungle Hawk Owl has first flight!


The JHO aircraft was designed (using GPkit) as a part of the 16.82 Flight Vehicle Engineering Capstone course, and is expected to break the existing gas-piston engined, unmanned aircraft endurance record of 80 hours belonging to the Aurora Orion. The aircraft is designed to provide communication support to areas lacking communication infrastructure. The JHO will enable a 5.6 day mission with a 10 lb, 100 W communications payload, providing coverage over an area 100 km in diameter. A geometric program was used to size the aircraft, which has a 24 ft wingspan, and a takeoff weight of 147 lbs. The airframe is designed to be modular, which allows for fast and easy transportation and assembly for an operating crew of four to six. The aircraft can station-keep in 90% of global wind conditions at an altitude of 15,000 ft.

The footage of the flight is available here. The prototype features the JHO airframe, but with reduced fuel capacity and a lighter payload to make the aircraft ready for testing under FAR-107.

GPkit v0.5.0 released

We’re pleased to announce the release of GPkit version 0.5.0, featuring a new gpkit.Vectorize environment, an experimental debug() method for Model objects, and several additional improvements. More info is available on github.

We’ve also expanded the documentation, including new sections on debugging models and on building complex models.

We always look forward to hearing stories of how GPkit is being used, so please let us know what goes wrong and what goes right!

GPkit v0.4.2 released

Besides bugfixes, release 0.4.2 takes steps towards making complex models easier to understand and debug, particularly by introducing the BoundedConstraintSet.

An itemized summary can be seen on github.

Future X-Plane

NASA is currently studying several X-plane concepts as a part of its Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program. The Hoburg Research Group is excited to collaborate with Aurora Flight Sciences on the Aurora D8, which is one of the five aircraft that have received six-month contracts to demonstrate ‘green aviation’ technology ‘intended to dramatically reduce fuel use, emissions and noise’. (Please see more about the NASA commercial transport X-planes at the NASA website.)

Within the lab, myself, Martin York, and Bjarni Kristinsson are working on the formulation of Prof. Mark Drela’s Transport Aircraft System OPTimization framework (TASOPT) in GP. We are building on the tube-and-wing aircraft design models developed by Philippe Kirschen, who recently graduated with his Master’s from the HRG. Currently, aircraft component models exist in isolation, and can be optimized for different missions in parallel. By the end of Fall 2016, we aim to have a fully integrated aircraft design program modeled after TASOPT. This will allow us rapidly analyse the sensitivities of the double-bubble configuration to operational requirements, and extend the breadth and fidelity of TASOPT models.