Examining the Conceptual Design Process for Future Hybrid-Electric RotorcraftHybrid-electric propulsion systems introduce immense complexity and numerous design challenges not previously encountered in aircraft design. Traditional conceptual-level rotorcraft design approaches may not adequately capture the level of propulsion system detail desired for hybrid-electric vehicle conceptual design. As part of a NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase II contract, Empirical Systems Aerospace (ESAero) investigated the implementation of several hybrid-electric propulsion architectures onto three rotorcraft configurations. Unique hybrid-electric variants of these configurations were compared against their conventionally-powered counterparts using typical metrics such as payload, range, and energy efficiency. The feasibility and performance of these vehicles was also investigated in the +15 and +30-year timeframes based on third-party estimations for future component performance. Using the lessons learned during this trade study, ESAero then conducted a conceptual design effort for a hybrid-electric tiltrotor demonstrator based on the XV-15. A detailed integration of the hybrid-electric propulsion system into the vehicle airframe was also performed. The hybrid-electric XV-15 concept vehicle was estimated to achieve a 10% reduction in cruise fuel consumption compared to the original NASA XV-15 at the cost of increasing the vehicle empty weight by almost 25%. The success of this design effort suggests that the design of a manned, hybrid-electric tiltrotor is technically feasible at current technology levels.
Contractor Report (CR)
Danis, Reed A. (Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. Pismo Beach, CA, United States)
Green, Michael W. (Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. Pismo Beach, CA, United States)
Freeman, Jeffrey L. (Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. Pismo Beach, CA, United States)
Hall, David W. (D.H. Charles Engineering, Inc. (DHC) Santa Rosa, CA, Unioted States)