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Trajectory Optimization of Electric Aircraft Subject to Subsystem Thermal ConstraintsElectric aircraft pose a unique design challenge in that they lack a simple way to reject waste heat from the power train. While conventional aircraft reject most of their excess heat in the exhaust stream, for electric aircraft this is not an option. To examine the implications of this challenge on electric aircraft design and performance, we developed a model of the electric subsystems for the NASA X-57 electric testbed aircraft. We then coupled this model with a model of simple 2D aircraft dynamics and used a Legendre-Gauss-Lobatto collocation optimal control approach to find optimal trajectories for the aircraft with and without thermal constraints. The results show that the X-57 heat rejection systems are well designed for maximum-range and maximum-efficiency flight, without the need to deviate from an optimal trajectory. Stressing the thermal constraints by reducing the cooling capacity or requiring faster flight has a minimal impact on performance, as the trajectory optimization technique is able to find flight paths which honor the thermal constraints with relatively minor deviations from the nominal optimal trajectory.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Falck, Robert D.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Chin, Jeffrey C.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Schnulo, Sydney L.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Burt, Jonathan M.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Gray, Justin S.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 28, 2017
Publication Date
June 5, 2017
Subject Category
Aircraft Design, Testing And Performance
Aircraft Propulsion And Power
Numerical Analysis
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition
Location: Denver, CO
Country: United States
Start Date: June 5, 2017
End Date: June 9, 2017
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 109492.0203.01.10
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
electric propulsion
trajectory optimization
electric aircraft
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