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2007/2008 AIAA Cessna/Raytheon Design/Build/Fly Competition

Aircraft Design Report

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Team Concrete

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1.1 Design Overview


1.2 System Performance
1.3 Design Development

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3
4

MANAGEMENT SUMMARY

2.1 Organization
2.2 Schedule and Planning

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5

CONCEPTUAL DESIGN

3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5

Mission Requirements
Score Analysis
Aircraft Design Concepts
Configuration Selection
FOM Analysis Results

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8
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PRELIMINARY DESIGN

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4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6
4.7

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26
28
31
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Design Methodology
Trade Studies and Preliminary Optimization
Payload System
Propulsion System
Aerodynamics
Stability and Control
Estimated Performance

DETAIL DESIGN

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5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
5.5
5.6
5.7

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Aircraft Dimensional Parameters


Aircraft Structural Characteristics and Capabilities
Sub-System Design, Selection, Integration, and Architecture
Weight and Balance
Rated Aircraft Cost
Aircraft and Mission Performance
Drawing Package

MANUFACTURING PLAN AND PROCESSES

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6.1 Manufacturing Figures of Merit


6.2 Construction Method Selection
6.3 Construction Schedule

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TESTING PLAN

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7.1 Test Schedule


7.2 Sub-System Tests and Objectives
7.3 Flight Testing

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PERFORMANCE RESULTS

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8.1 Sub-System Evaluation


8.2 Demonstrated Aircraft Performance

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57

REFERENCES

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Executive Summary
This report describes the design process used by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Team Concrete to develop an aircraft capable of winning the 2008 AIAA Student Design/Build/Fly
Competition. The goal of the design was to maximize the total competition score, which is a combination
of the report score and three flight mission scores which make up the total flight score.

1.1

Design Overview
The aircraft is essentially a payload compartment with wings. This focus was derived from early

scoring analyses which identified system weight and aircraft loading time as the two key design
parameters. Since the aircraft must be capable of carrying a variety of payload sizes and weights, the
structure required to achieve that objective is potentially the heaviest element of the aircraft. As the
design of the payload system also has a direct impact on loading time, preliminary design focused on the
development of a fast and lightweight payload system capable of meeting restraint requirements with the
minimum aerodynamic features needed to complete lap requirements for the flight missions.
This design takes advantage of a high tensile-strength fabric for the primary payload system
structure. Individual fabric pockets are attached to a central carbon-fiber spar, eliminating the need for a
structural payload bay floor. This innovative fabric payload system is enclosed by a sixty-nine inch span,
twin tractor, low-wing monoplane with tricycle landing gear. The aircraft sits diagonally within the 4 ft x 5
ft planform limits, maximizing aspect ratio and providing additional length for the fuselage fairing, thus
maximizing aerodynamic efficiency.
The aircraft utilizes moldless, foam/fiberglass/carbon-fiber composite construction for the wing, tail
and fuselage internal structure. As the external fuselage takes no structural loads, significant weight
savings were achieved by vacuum-forming a thin, foam shell designed only for aerodynamic loads. The
foam fuselage fairing has a full-length top hatch which, combined with a low-wing, allows rapid access to
the payload. This payload-focused configuration minimizes the key parameters of system weight and
loading time through its structural efficiency and access to payloads, while providing sufficient
aerodynamic performance and propulsive power density.

1.2

System Performance
The focus on weight in both system design and final manufacturing resulted in an aircraft with a

system weight of 3.02 lbs. A payload loading time of 10-20 seconds is expected when the distance
between the starting area and aircraft ranges from 10-50 ft, respectively, as the rules and FAQ updates
have specified. For the deployment mission, the aircraft lifts off within 20 ft and flies 2 laps in 3 min. 30 s.
when powered by a 4.0 oz propulsion battery pack. During a payload mission scenario, lift off occurs
within 73 ft and the aircraft completes 2 laps in 2 min. 55 s. when powered by a 11 oz propulsion battery
pack. Additional flight vehicle performance parameters which do not directly enter the scoring equation
are provided in Section 5.6.

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

1.3

Design Development
During the conceptual design phase, the team focused on analyzing competition rules to select an

aircraft configuration that would maximize competition score. Sensitivity analyses identified system
weight and loading time as key design drivers, with performance in the efficiency-based delivery mission
a secondary factor. A morphological chart was used to enumerate the possible design space of aircraft
configurations, and a final configuration was selected using a combination of quantitative and qualitative
Figures of Merit (FOMs). The result was the low-wing, fabric payload system concept that was carried
forward into the preliminary design phase.
The preliminary design phase focused on fully developing and refining the details of the design
chosen during the conceptual design phase. The fabric payload system was designed and several mockups were created for full-size testing. The critical aerodynamic design details were determined to be wing
area, aspect ratio, and power requirements at takeoff and cruise. These parameters were optimized
using several in-house MATLAB and Excel-based performance codes, as well as commercial tools such
as XFOIL [1] and AVL [2]. Finally, stability, control, and propulsion system analysis over the entire
velocity range of the aircraft was conducted to further refine the design.
In the detailed design phase, the specific components and manufacturing techniques for the aircraft
were selected, including motors, controllers, batteries, servos, landing gear, and aircraft materials. These
choices were guided by extensive research, as well as the experience and training of the team, which
allowed each component to be built at a low weight and with a high finish quality.
Flight tests verified the predicted performance of the design, providing accurate loading times,
velocities, takeoff distances, and power requirements. There were significant efforts to test the aircraft at
various wind speeds, temperatures, and weather conditions to account for the variation of the expected
environment during a typical late April day in Wichita, KS. The result of this weight and payload-focused
design and testing process was a unique payload-aircraft configuration that maximizes the total
competition score.

Management Summary
The 2008 MIT DBF program consists of two teams, Team Concrete and Team Cardinal, which

collaborate to avoid redundant costs and testing. Team Concrete is composed of eight undergraduates,
three of whom are juniors, and five seniors, thus meeting the AIAA Freshman-Sophomore-Junior
competition requirement. The team is led by a Program Manager and then split into three main groups:
Analysis, Design, and Manufacturing. The heads of each group and the program manager form an
executive board which collaborates to make major design decisions. Due to the small size of the team,
the group members are not necessarily assigned to only one group. The organization of the team is
shown in Figure 2.1.

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Ryan Castonia
Program Manager

MIT
TEAM CARDINAL

Brandon Suarez
Head of Analysis

Dane Childers
Head of Manufacturing

David Sanchez
Head of Design

David Sanchez
Scoring Analysis

Ryan Castonia
Machining

Dane Childers
Payload

Riley Schutt
Aerodynamic Performance

Scott Christopher
Machining

Scott Christopher
Aeroshell

Scott Christopher
Propulsion

Mikhail Goykman
Fabrication

Ryan Castonia
CAD

Mikhail Goykman
Structures

Brandon Suarez
Fabrication
Riley Schutt
Fabrication
Martin Holmes
Fabrication
Figure 2.1 Team Organizational Chart

2.1

Organization
The program manager is in charge of the executive board, which is responsible for recruiting new

members, identifying figures of merit, making final design and manufacturing decisions, and ensuring
efficient collaboration with Team Cardinal. Each member of the executive board is in charge of a group
with specific responsibilities.
The analysis group was responsible for creating design trades based on the identified FOMs. They
were also responsible for creating aerodynamic and mission models used to evaluate proposed aircraft
configurations. After deciding on the final architecture, the analysis group became responsible for
component and flight testing. The design group was responsible for providing aircraft configurations to
the analysis group; these configurations were then refined using feedback from the analysis group to
create the final detailed design. After delivering the detailed design to the manufacturing group, the
design group became responsible for the written report. The manufacturing group was responsible for
the production of the aircraft. Their success in building a flying prototype of the proposed configuration by
January 2008 greatly aided with moving forward in the final design process.

2.2

Schedule and Planning


An overall schedule from the beginning of October 2007 to competition was developed by the

executive board. The planned and actual timing of the different phases of the Design/Build/Fly cycle are
shown in Figure 2.2 below.

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Figure 2.2 Milestone Chart (Red denotes actual timeline)

Conceptual Design
This section discusses the details of the conceptual design investigations for the MIT Team Concrete

aircraft. Initial design focused on identifying mission requirements from the competition rules and from a
detailed scoring analysis. Next, a morphological chart of possible aircraft configurations was used to
enumerate the complete design space. Several of the configurations in the design space were eliminated
based on the design teams qualitative assessments. The remaining configurations were then carried into
a more detailed analysis based on FOM. These FOM were weighted to reflect importance to mission
performance and total flight score. The highest-scoring aircraft configuration, as described in Section 1,
was selected for preliminary design.

3.1

Mission Requirements
Each aircraft must meet a number of payload, structural, performance, and propulsive requirements

for the 2008 DBF competition. The flight competition consists of a single, unloaded delivery flight and two
payload flights. The score of the best performer in each mission normalizes the raw scores of the other
competitors, such that the best performance receives the maximum allowable points for that mission and
other teams receive a corresponding fraction of the possible points. These normalized scores are then
combined using a weighted sum to determine the Total Flight Score.

3.1.1

Payload Requirement

The aircraft must be able to accommodate five possible payload configurations, as seen in Table 3.2,
consisting of various combinations of half-liter, 0.5 lb water bottles and half-size, 1.8 lb bricks totaling 6.8
to 7.2 lbs. Bottles are ballasted with water, include foam collars to limit spacing, and must be carried

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete


upright within the aircraft. The maximum payload dimensions and possible configurations are given in
Table 3.1. Note the variation in bottle dimensions, as the payload system must securely restrain every
combination of dimensions.
Table 3.1 Payload Dimensions
Payload
Brick

Height
2.7 in.

Max Width
4 in. x 4 in.

Bottle

7.6 in 8.3 in

4 in. x 4 in.

Table 3.2 Payload Combinations

3.1.2

Number of Bottles
14

Number of Bricks
0

Nominal Weight [lbs]


7

10

6.8

7.1

6.9

7.2

Flight Requirements

The score for the 2008 competition is determined by Eq 3.1.

TS = RS TFS

(Eq. 3.1)

TS is the Total Score, RS is the report score, and TFS is Total Flight Score. The Total Flight Score term
encompasses the normalized scores from two missions: the Delivery Flight, worth a maximum of 50
points, and the two Payload Flights, worth a possible 50 points each. Each aircraft is also assigned a
Rated Aircraft Cost (RAC) which is given by Eq 3.2.

RAC = W S W BP

(Eq. 3.2)

Ws is System weight and WBP is Payload Mission Battery Weight. System weight is defined as the weight
of all components of the aircraft minus the propulsion battery weight. RAC is only used in scoring the
Payload Mission. The missions are summarized in Table 3.3 below.
Table 3.3 Flight Mission Descriptions
Mission

Objective

Payload

Raw Score

Delivery

Fly as many complete laps as


possible in 5 minutes.

None

# Complete Laps
Delivery Battery Weight

Randomly
1
Assigned
Loading Time * RAC
Combination
The aircraft may use a different battery pack for each mission. Each mission score is normalized by

Payload

Load a given payload combination as


quickly as possible. Fly two laps.

the best teams score for that mission, with a maximum possible score of 50 points for each flight. This
gives a maximum of 150 points: 50 for the delivery mission and 50 for each completed payload flight.

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3.1.3

Structural Requirements

The maximum aircraft weight may not exceed 55 lbs in any configuration. The aircraft will undergo an
upright wing tip test at maximum payload capacity to simulate wing-root bending moments approximately
equivalent to a 2.5 g load. The aircraft must pass this test without failure of any type.
The payload system must mechanically restrain the bottles and bricks independently of the aircraft
cargo hatch. The restraint system will be tested by inverting the loaded aircraft to present the open cargo
hatch toward the ground.

3.1.4

Geometric Requirements

The assembled, flight-ready aircraft must fit within a 4 ft x 5 ft rectangle in planform view. The aircraft
external surfaces must retain the same external geometry and physical elements for every payload
combination. Payloads may not be exposed to the air stream during flight.

3.1.5

Takeoff Requirements

The maximum takeoff distance for each mission is 75 ft (wheels off the runway). It is important to
note that the field elevation of 1378 ft and ambient temperatures at the competition site will potentially
reduce air density to about 95% of sea level density, depending on temperature and humidity.

3.1.6

Propulsion System Requirements

The aircraft must use an electric propulsion system. All motors must be commercially available
brushed or brushless electric motors. The battery pack(s) must be commercially available NiCd or NiMH
cells and weigh less than 4 lbs with packaging. The maximum current of all parts of the propulsion
system must be limited by an externally-accessible 40 amp fuse.

3.2

Score Analysis
A scoring analysis was performed to identify the most sensitive variables in the total flight score and

assist in the translation of the above mission requirements into design requirements. Ultimately, system
weight and loading time were identified as the most sensitive score variables that would influence the
design. Additionally, analysis revealed the importance of matching battery capacity to the number of laps
flown in the delivery mission and the relative unimportance of absolute flight speed. Table 3.4 provides all
variables used in the analysis.
Table 3.4 List of Nomenclature
DFS

Delivery Flight Score

PFS

Payload Flight Score

Number of Completed Laps

Lt

Loading Time

WBD

Delivery Battery Weight

WBP

Payload Battery Weight

L/D

Lift to Drag Ratio

Ws

System Weight

Lap Length

Cruise height

Overall Efficiency

Acceleration Due to Gravity

Battery Energy Density

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

3.2.1

Delivery Mission Analysis

The Delivery Mission analysis indicated that a competitive design would minimize system weight and
precisely match the delivery battery weight to the energy needed to complete a chosen number of laps.
Using a first order conservation of energy analysis based on an aircraft in steady, level flight at
constant weight, altitude, motor efficiency and power consumption, the Delivery Flight Score (DFS) was
expanded into Eq. 3.4.

L
n
h

= D

DFS =
WBD
l g (Ws + WBD ) WBD

(Eq. 3.4)

Though approximate, this equation allows preliminary analysis of the relations between variables. It
shows that to maximize DFS, the team needs to minimize system weight and battery weight while flying at
low altitude at maximum L/D. Since the altitude is independent of aircraft configuration and L/D is largely
dependent on the wetted area needed to enclose the payload for a given aircraft weight, the most
important design requirement from the DFS equation is to minimize system weight, with a secondary
requirement of minimizing drag for a given configuration, which is to be expected.
Using the baseline parameters of a 2500 ft lap length, a 3 lb system weight and 100 points received
on the Payload Missions, TFS versus delivery battery weight and laps completed was plotted in order to
estimate the optimum battery weight. Stored battery energy was assumed to be proportional to battery
weight. Representative values for propulsive system efficiency and battery energy density were
estimated from propulsive systems of previous years at 0.6 and 65mWh/g respectively. Figure 3.1 shows
the effect of increasing delivery battery weight with respect to TFS.

Figure 3.1 Total Flight Score vs. Battery Weight

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The plot is discontinuous as only complete laps are counted in the scoring equation. Interestingly,
there is only a weak optimum at 2 laps. The peaks in TFS that occur as the battery weight is increased
all generate approximately the same TFS. There is no benefit to carrying extra battery energy to fly an
extra portion of a lap as the extra weight decreases the score, making it important to operate near the
peaks. However, a slight margin should be added because landing short of a completed lap produces the
lowest score. This highlights that the number of laps completed in five minutes is not important; the
important factor is selecting the battery to precisely complete a given number of laps.

3.2.2

Payload Mission Analysis

The Payload Mission analysis indicated that high scores can be achieved by minimizing system
weight and loading time, in that order.
Another first-order conservation of energy analysis based on an aircraft in steady, level flight at
constant altitude, weight, motor efficiency and power consumption, was used to expand the Payload
Flight Score (PFS) equation into Eq. 3.5.

PFS =

1
=
LtWsWBP

2l
L D

2l

LtWs (Ws + W p ) h +
L D

(Eq. 3.5)

This model shows that the team must decrease system weight and decrease loading time in order to
maximize PFS, while still flying at max L/D cruise velocity and a minimum safe height. (Ws) 2 appears in
the denominator, making it the most sensitive parameter, meaning that lowering system weight is the
highest priority in the design of this aircraft, with loading time as a slightly lower priority. This can be seen
by the relative change in flight score based on changes in both parameters, shown in Figure 3.2.

Figure 3.2 Payload Flight Score vs. System Weight and Loading Time

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3.2.3

Normalization and Total Flight Score

As stated before, the total flight score is computed based on the normalized scores from each
mission. In order to assess the effect of score parameters on TFS, a best loading time of 5 sec and best
system weight of 2 lbs were assumed to compute a best raw score, which was used to normalize the
rest of the scores. Sensitivity of total flight score to system weight, loading time, and payload battery
weight is plotted in Figure 3.3 with axes scaled to reflect expected parameter ranges. TFS is most
sensitive to system weight, followed by loading time.

Figure 3.3 Normalized TFS vs. System Weight, Payload Battery Weight, and Loading Time

3.2.4

Design Drivers Conclusion

The scoring analysis resulted in the conclusion that system weight was the most significant figure of
merit, followed closely by loading time. Decreasing system weight tends to also decrease battery weight
required, another parameter in the denominator of both scoring equations. Additionally, matching the
delivery battery to a given number of laps is far more important than the precise number of laps flown.
From this scoring analysis, the two following major design considerations were articulated in order to
focus the conceptual design process:

System Weight
Decreasing system weight significantly below competitors weights is the primary goal. Past
winning payload mass fractions should be used to set aggressive target weights. A winning
design may trade off loading time and some aerodynamic efficiency (i.e. L/D and battery weight)
for decreased system weight. This trade-off between weight and drag should be evaluated.

Loading Time
The aircraft configuration should facilitate rapid loading of the payload system. Effort should be
made to create a simple, lightweight system with minimal loading steps and components. If
possible, aerodynamic surfaces and internal structures should not impede the loading crew.

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3.3

Aircraft Design Concepts


The first stage in choosing an aircraft concept was the selection of basic payload system

characteristics. This stage was then followed by an enumeration of the design space based on possible
aircraft configurations with varying wing, fuselage, empennage, landing gear, and propulsion
architectures. Table 3.5 summarizes the design space, which when fully enumerated included 768
configurations. Using a combination of qualitative reasoning and first-order performance calculations, the
weaker component configurations were eliminated, leaving 8 designs for further analysis.
Table 3.5 Initial Morphological Chart
Component
Wing
Fuselage
Empennage
Landing Gear
Propulsion

3.3.1

Types
Monoplane
Conventional
Conventional
Tail-dagger
Tractor

Biplane
Blended
V-tail
Bicycle
Pusher

N-plane
Lifting
H-Tail
Tricycle
Twin Tractor

Tandem
Tailless
Mono-wheel
Twin Pusher

Payload

The payload system is the critical element in the 2008 competition due to its impact on system weight
and loading time. The following design parameters for the payload structure were considered:

Rigid vs. Conformal


Initial brainstorming resulted in several payload concepts, including racks, removable quick-loaders,

and various mechanical locking mechanisms. Ultimately, few of the concepts offered significant
advantages in terms of weight, simplicity or loading time over a fabric pocket design or a rigid box design.
A rigid design could potentially serve as the primary aircraft structure, though the requirement of an
additional payload restraining hatch in addition to an external fuselage hatch was considered an
unfavorable weight penalty. A soft fabric restraint system, closed with a draw-string, was ultimately
chosen for its low weight and ability to conform to the wide variety of payload dimensions.

Loading Direction
Three options for the loading direction were considered: side loading, top loading, and bottom

loading. The side loading and bottom loading configurations potentially provide a weight advantage by
circumventing a complete overturning of the aircraft during the flip test, which would require additional
restraints. However, these systems required significantly higher loading times. The top loading
configuration best capitalizes on the normal top-down motion required to load a small RC aircraft and was
kept for further analysis.

Payload Configuration
The five payload configurations could be arranged in many ways to maintain a near constant center

of gravity. Aircraft drag considerations (frontal area vs. wetted area) and the 4 ft x 5 ft planform
requirement (space limitation when trying to fair in the payload system) resulted in the three possible
configurations shown in Figure 3.4. The 2 x 7 configuration was ultimately selected due to its ability to be

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primarily supported by one central spar running lengthwise between the pockets, unlike the other two
configurations which require multiple spars and thus increase system weight and complexity.

3-8-3

2X7

2 X 6+2

Figure 3.4 Possible Payload Configurations


In order to minimize system weight and loading time, the selected payload system was a fabric, toploading, 2 x 7 draw-string closed configuration as shown in Figure 3.5.

Figure 3.5 Fabric Payload System Concept

3.3.2

Wing

Typically, the simplicity and performance per weight of the monoplane would make it the frontrunner.
Despite this, the span and aspect ratio limitation from the 4 ft x 5 ft planform made a multi-wing aircraft an
attractive option. However, the tandem wing was eliminated because it provided few if any benefits
compared to the other multi-wing configurations while potentially adding weight (due to a larger section of
structural fuselage) and risk (due to stability and lift distribution issues). The N-plane, with N>2 wings,
was eliminated because of downwash and venturi interference, reduced wing efficiency, and doubts
about the teams ability to construct sufficiently light wings to realize the benefits of lower wing loading.
The monoplane and biplane were retained for more detailed analysis, with the understanding that the biplane would require the top wing to be hinged or split to facilitate the top loading payload system.
Table 3.6 Wing types

Monoplane

Biplane

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N-plane

Tandem

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3.3.3

Fuselage

While the lifting fuselage could potentially reduce wing loading, it was eliminated because of the
difficulty of executing low-weight construction and excessive airfoil thickness due to payload height and
planform constraints. Conventional and blended fuselages were retained for more detailed analysis.
Table 3.7 Fuselage Types

Conventional

3.3.4

Blended

Lifting

Empennage

The H-tail was initially considered to increase the effectiveness of the horizontal control surface
through endplate/winglet effects due to tail length limitations. It was eliminated due to the weight of
multiple vertical tail surfaces with extra control servos. The V-tail was not considered; the area required
to achieve control equivalent to a conventional tail resulted in no savings in system weight. The
conventional and tailless configurations were retained for more detailed analysis; the former for its low
risk and the latter for the possible weight advantage if combined with a reflexed wing airfoil.
Table 3.8 Empennage Types

Conventional

3.3.5

V-tail

H-tail

Tailless

Landing Gear

While ground handling is not explicitly emphasized in this years competition, the threat of strong
crosswind gusts and the configuration of the payloads eliminated the single wheel and bicycle landing
gear options. Based on pilot input regarding the limited take-off length and ground stability, a steerable
tricycle landing gear type was retained for more detailed analysis.

3.3.6

Propulsion

A sample of commonly available electric motors showed a clear trend the smaller motors
consistently had higher power density, as much as 250% difference over their larger cousins. Given the
importance of system weight in total flight score, this finding was used as the basis of eliminating both
tractor and pusher single motor configurations. Additionally, the twin pusher configuration was discarded
due to structural (wing thickness at trailing edge) and motor cooling considerations. Thus the twin tractor
configuration was retained for more detailed analysis.

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Table 3.9 Propulsion Types

Pusher

Tractor

Twin Tractor

Twin Pusher

Given the choice of twin motors, a decision had to be made regarding the use of a single or dual pack
(in parallel) battery configuration. A survey of available battery cells showed significant energy density
peaks around 1500 mAh and 2000 mAh, suggesting the use of a single pack would result in a lighter
propulsion system. However, a dual configuration would potentially require less current draw from each
pack, increasing effective capacity. Ultimately, the single pack configuration was selected to minimize
weight.

3.3.7

Final Morphological Chart

Table 3.10 is the revised morphological chart in which the component types eliminated in the previous
section were removed from consideration. The table features 2 wing types, 2 fuselage types, 2
empennage types, and 1 propulsion type; thus there were 8 possible aircraft configurations to investigate
in more detail.
Table 3.10 Revised Morphological Chart
Wing

Fuselage

Empennage

Propulsion

At this point each configuration was qualitatively assessed with particular emphasis on:

System weight

Loading time

Manufacturability

Design risk (i.e. lack of previous flight experience)

Stability & controllability

These criteria were used to narrow the design space to the four configurations shown in Table 3.11.

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Table 3.11 The four configurations analyzed using figures of merit
Monoplane
Conventional Fuse
Conventional Tail
Twin Tractor

3.4

Monoplane
Conventional Fuse
Tailless
Twin Tractor

Biplane
Conventional Fuse
Conventional Tail
Twin Tractor

Blended Wing Body


Twin Tractor

Configuration Selection
The selected configurations were analyzed with four qualitative and quantitative FOMs. The

qualitative FOMs Stability and Control and Manufacturability were assigned a score between -1 and 1.
The quantitative FOMs System Weight and Loading Time made use of performance estimations.
Each FOM was weighted based on its importance to strong performance at the competition. The sum of
the weight factors was 100.

3.4.1

System Weight

The most important quantitative FOM was System Weight, due to its strong score influence. A
spreadsheet was developed to estimate wing area and power requirements for each configuration. Using
weight fractions from past MIT aircraft, system weights were estimated as shown in Table 3.12.
Table 3.12 Estimated System Weights

System Weight [lbs]

3.4.2

Monoplane
w/ Tail
2.8

Monoplane
Tailless
2.7

Biplane
w/ Tail
3.2

Blended Wing Body


3.0

Loading Time

Loading Time is mainly influenced by aircraft configuration, as competition history has shown that
time required to move payload elements from starting locations to the aircraft is roughly constant among
teams. A loading time figure of merit was assigned to each configuration, based on the following:

Wing/hatch interaction

Aircraft component interference

Use of natural loading movements

Table 3.13 shows the results of these estimations.


Table 3.13 Estimated Loading Times

Loading Times [sec]

3.4.3

Monoplane
w/ Tail
10

Monoplane
Tailless
10

Biplane
w/ Tail
20

Blended Wing
Body
15

Stability and Control

In this years competition, stability and control are crucial as competitive aircraft must fly multiple
missions with varying weight distributions. The possible payload configurations have a maximum

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horizontal CG variation of 0.5 and roughly triple the weight of the unloaded aircraft. A stability and
control FOM was qualitatively assigned to each configuration, based on the following factors:

Robust longitudinal stability with CG variation

Lateral and directional stability

Ground handling

This FOM was assigned a weight factor of 10 because of the role of flight characteristics and ground
handling in preventing crashes. Table 3.14 shows each configurations assigned score:
Table 3.14 Stability and Control FOM Criteria
Assigned Score
-1
0
1

3.4.4

Configuration Characteristic
Exhibits weak performance with respect to criteria
Exhibits moderate performance with respect to criteria
Exhibits strong performance with respect to criteria

Manufacturability

Manufacturability is defined as the feasibility and complexity of fabricating a concept. While the
quality of the aircraft design plays a large role in determining final performance, the execution of the
design also plays a significant role. As such, the team was concerned with choosing a competitive design
that was feasible to execute with a low system weight and without excessive time. A manufacturability
FOM was qualitatively assigned to each configuration, considering the following factors:

Structural complexity

The teams prior experience in building techniques

Required time and money

Table 3.15 shows how the FOM scores were assigned to the configurations. This FOM was assigned a
weight factor of 20 because of its influence on system weight and limited project time.
Table 3.15 Manufacturability FOM Criteria
Assigned Score
-1
0
1

3.4.5

Configuration Characteristic
Little or no prior experience in required fabrication techniques AND
Structurally complex design
Prior experience in required fabrication techniques OR
Structurally simple design
Prior experience in required fabrication techniques AND
Structurally simple design

Mission Performance

To estimate mission performance, simple foam mockups of the payloads and fuselage configurations
were developed to test high-level performance of the payload loading configuration. Delivery and
Payload mission flight scores of each configuration were estimated using a mission profile simulation,
which is discussed in Section 4.1, Preliminary Design.

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3.5

FOM Analysis Results


The results of the FOM analysis are shown in Table 3.16. The Total FOM represents the weighted

sum of the normalized performance of each configuration and the weighting factor of each FOM.

3.5.1

10
10
20
15

45
45
30
35

135
130
95
110

Total FOM

45
40
35
40

Manufacturability
FOM

2.8
2.7
3.2
3.0

70

10

20

100

1.42
1.37
1
1.16

1
-1
1
0

1
1
0
-1

129
106
80
71

Normalized Score

Total Flight Score

Avg Payload
Flight Score

Weighting Factor

Stability & Control


FOM

Configuration
Monoplane w/ Tail
Monoplane Tailless
Biplane w/ Tail
Blended Wing Body

Loading Time

System Weight

Deployment Flight

Table 3.16 FOM Results

Initial Configuration Selection

As Table 3.16 shows, the two monoplane configurations were clearly the strongest performers due to
their low system weight and loading time. The Total FOM results of the two monoplane configurations
were quite close, which is somewhat expected since they build on similar concepts and essentially only
differ on the tail component. Thus the team decided to take a closer look at the two monoplane
configurations, with special consideration to the high-risk areas of each design.

3.5.2

Final Configuration

The tailless monoplane design, despite stability considerations, did have some advantages due to its
low system weight and thus high predicted payload mission scores. Closer analyses of the tailless
monoplane revealed that, in order to achieve the wing area required for takeoff and still remain within the
4 ft x 5 ft planform, a significantly larger chord and thus lower aspect ratio would be required as compared
to the monoplane with tail. This is due to the reduced efficiency of the reflexed airfoil required for a
tailless configuration. The subsequent increase in wing weight and drag negatively affected L/D,
diminishing the tailless monoplanes competitiveness; hence, the tailed monoplane design was chosen.
The concept sketch for the selected design is shown in Figure 3.6. The design uses two small, high
power/weight brushless motors running on a single battery pack for propulsion and a steerable tricycle
landing gear for ground handling. Instead of a conventional fuselage, the aircraft utilizes an internal
frame to support a lightweight fabric payload system and non-structural aerodynamic fairing with a toploading hatch, thus minimizing system weight and loading time.

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Figure 3.6 Final Concept Sketch

4
4.1

Preliminary Design
Design Methodology
In order to quantify system weight and loading time requirements and to estimate competitors

performance, the team researched the payload/system weight fractions, wing loading, and loading hatch
orientations of all first place DBF designs from the past three years. The resulting weight targets, wing
sizing estimates, and payload system requirements are discussed in the following sections.
Additionally, the team searched for current technological opportunities that would provide a
competitive weight advantage. From this research, the team identified the highest power to weight ratio
electric motors and highest energy density batteries available. Tests of numerous motor/prop/battery
systems allowed the team to optimize aerodynamic surfaces to match the physical capabilities and
efficiencies of specific lightweight, high-performance motors. The team also researched the lightest RC
construction methods available in order to design an efficient, manufacturable structure. However, the
most significant result of the teams research was the discovery of a high strength to weight fabric that
would enable the construction of a fabric payload carrier. The details of this design feature are provided
in the payload design section.
Once the team established basic flight performance and identified viable high-performance propulsion
systems and construction methods, it began the process of sizing aerodynamic surfaces and structural
components to meet mission requirements. These primary mission requirements were the 75 ft. take-off
distance, 4 ft x 5 ft planform compatibility, and sufficient range and controllability to fly two laps with or
without payload. The iterative preliminary design process used a combination of custom-developed
multidisciplinary optimization codes, commercial software, and hands-on testing to predict mission
performance, optimize aerodynamic loading, estimate aircraft stability, and size structural components.
The design flow is shown in Figure 4.1.

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Mission Requirements and Score Analysis

Design Research

High Performance
Propulsion Systems
Power output estimates

Competitive Configurations
Weight fractions, payloads,
airfoils, and wing loadings

Manufacturing Techniques
Advanced materials, historical
weight estimation

Preliminary Aircraft Sizing

Structure and Weight


Estimate

Aero Design

Payload System Design

Model Mission Performance


Identify design deficiencies,
Iterate Design
Figure 4.1 Flowchart of Preliminary Design and System Optimization

4.2

Trade Studies and Preliminary Optimization


Preliminary design of the aerodynamic surfaces was performed assuming a 2 x 7 payload

arrangement. The conceptual design scoring analysis indicated that maximizing aircraft efficiency, or
L/D, would play a significant role in battery weight. It was decided to perform an analysis of total energy
consumption over each mission in order to compare preliminary designs and explore the trade-off
between drag and weight. The team began by creating a series of models to estimate the weight of wing
and tail surfaces, size tail surfaces based on wing span and tail arm lengths, and relate planform
limitations to possible aircraft dimensions. Initial wing sizing was performed using previously successful
DBF wing loadings as initial conditions. The nearby design space was explored numerically using the
MATLAB model described in the following sections.
This preliminary aircraft optimization resulted in a basic aircraft geometry which served as a starting
point for the design and refinement of the payload structure, propulsion system, detailed aerodynamics,
and stability characteristics.

4.2.1

Historical Research

A survey of past winning teams revealed that the Oklahoma State University Black Team of 2006 had
the highest relevant payload to system weight ratio of any team in the last three years. The 2007 MIT
teams weight fraction, though lower, was skewed by the lack of a fuselage in their total system weight.
OSUs system weight of 3.79 lbs for an 8 lb payload gives a system/payload mass fraction of 0.47, which
applied to this years payload of 7.2 lbs, gives a competitive system weight of 3.38 lbs. The team used

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this system weight in preliminary analyses and set an internal goal of 10% improvement, giving 3.05 lbs.
as a target system weight.
Successful teams have traditionally undersized wing area based on site wind assumptions. The
recorded wind speed and temperature at the site location in Wichita, KA for each of the last 3 years
during the week of the competition was found at Wundergound.com and averaged over daylight hours in
order to identify an appropriate estimate for headwinds and air density [3]. Based on wind data, runway
altitude, and temperature, conservative estimates were found to be 10 mph and 95% of sea-level air
density, respectively. However, further research of past team reports and websites revealed that several
teams in the last five years had wasted take-off attempts during brief, unrecorded periods of calm wind.
Based on this knowledge, but recognizing that downsizing the wing may provide a competitive weight
advantage, the team made the decision to size the wing for a zero-wind 75 ft. take-off with no margin.
2
Additionally, a wing-loading of 2.5 lbs/ft was identified as a viable starting point for preliminary

optimization based on historical wing areas and predicted wind speeds.

4.2.2

Primary Mission Model

Flight missions were modeled using a 2 degree-of-freedom mission simulation written in MATLAB.
The simulator featured a flight derivatives engine which calculated position, velocity, energy consumption,
and lap times. The purpose of this model was to predict mission performance and estimate battery size
through integration of forces on a simulated aircraft. The inputs to this engine are three model files, which
captured the relevant parameters of the mission, aircraft, and competition site. These files include:

Mission profile model file: Contains information on the sequence of activities (e.g. takeoff
distance, turn radius, level flight distance) in a given mission.

Aircraft configuration file: Contains information on vehicle weight, lifting surface dimensions,
aerodynamic coefficients (lift and drag), and propulsion system information.

Site conditions file: Contains information about air density and wind conditions.

The course was modeled using four distinct mission segment types takeoff, climb, turning, and
cruise. No ground operations were modeled. The payload loading time is estimated from the aircraft
configuration and input separately. Additionally, landing ground roll was not modeled since both missions
are essentially completed in the air, with only a successful landing required to confirm score. All missions
are modeled using the throttle settings and lift coefficients shown in Table 4.1.
Table 4.1 General Flight Mission Segment Profile
# in
mission

Length
[ft]

Take-off (at rotation)

Dto

Climb
Level Cruise

1
7

500-Dto
500

Turn (180 each)

Mission Segment

CL

Throttle

Notes

CL, max

Max

Dto = takeoff distance


(calculated)

CL, max climb


CL, max L/D

Max
T=D

CL, max L/D

T=D

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

*Length given by userspecified turn radius

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The details of each segment model were as follows:

Takeoff: A rolling coefficient of friction of 0.03 was assumed, based on empirical data for plastic
on concrete. The take-off roll continued until the aircraft reached 110% of the stall speed, with a
2 second rotation added on.

Climb: Given the takeoff distance calculated in the takeoff segment, the residual distance to the
first turn was calculated. A constant climb rate was calculated based on attaining 75 feet of
altitude before the first turn.

Cruise: In this segment, altitude was assumed constant with throttle set to equate thrust and
drag at cruise velocity and CL.

Turns: The turns were also modeled with constant radii, velocities, and altitudes. Thus a
constant load factor was assumed, with CL limited to CL, max as specified by the aircraft
configuration file. The 360 turns were modeled as two back-to back 180 turns.

The uncertainties of this model are primarily related to accurate drag prediction and the actual
operation of the aircraft by a human operator. In actual flight, turns are often made at a less than ideal
radius and climb-out may be made at a non optimal point on the aircraft power curve. Additionally,
varying wind conditions or aircraft instability may result in unplanned side-slips, turns, or climbs, all of
which increase power consumption and are not modeled. Finally, the drag model of the aircraft in the
configuration file must be accurate for the total energy consumption to be correct. The preliminary drag
model is based on skin friction estimates with form-factors and has proven sufficient for initial sizing and
head-to-head comparisons of different designs. However, the team treated absolute energy consumption
estimates as lower-bounds and scheduled flight testing to validate model performance.

4.2.3

Aspect Ratio and Wing Loading Optimization

Initial wing sizing was conducted using a MATLAB script which takes in several geometric, propulsive
and aerodynamic constraints, derives wing and tail surface geometry, and then calculates the drag of the
aircraft at cruise, climb and take-off conditions. This aircraft configuration model is then fed into the
previously described mission model.
Code parameters were varied to explore the design space near a 3 lb system weight, 5 ft span
monoplane. The code accounts for structural weight based on a constant curvature wing-bending model
assuming carbon-fiber composite construction. Span was varied within the 4 ft x 5 ft planform constraints
to assess parasitic drag, induced drag, and weight trade-offs while taking into account Reynolds number
effects. Drag is estimated based on total aircraft surface area, using flat plate skin friction coefficients
and form-factors based on the thickness of the aerodynamic surfaces and basic fuselage and landing
gear geometry [4]. Additionally, the model contains drag polars from several low-Reynolds number
airfoils described in Section 4.5 [5]. Tail geometry is calculated from historical tail volume coefficients,
which are described in Section 4.5, and the geometric constraints of the box. The propulsion system was
modeled with a series of thrust-velocity and efficiency-velocity curves from preliminary motor testing

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described in Section 4.4. The model was limited to 6 lbs maximum static thrust based on the weight
penalty for using motors capable of producing greater thrust.
Each aircraft geometry was run through a simulated mission, and the wing area, span, sweep, and
planform orientation were iterated in 1 in2, 1 in, 0.5 degree, and 0.5 degree increments, respectively, until
total flight score was maximized. Taper ratios and tail sweep were set to be dependent on planform
constraints. The preliminary optimized aircraft takes advantage of the planform diagonal to increase wing
span and total aircraft length, as shown in Figure 4.2. From this initial optimization, further refinement of
the wing, airfoils, structure, and propulsion system was performed with component-specific design tools.

Wing Span

5 ft. 9 in

Wing Area

4.28 ft2

Aspect Ratio

7.72

Root Chord

.993 ft

Taper Ratio

.51

Horizontal Tail Span

24 in

Horizontal Tail Area

0.91 ft2

Required Max CL

1.44

Cruise CL (max L/D)

.85

Figure 4.2 Preliminary Aircraft Parameters and Planform View (dimensions in inches)

4.3

Payload System
After initial wing sizing, a viable payload system was designed to allow sizing and engineering of the

fuselage for later use in more detailed aerodynamic design. Physical testing of payload system
prototypes was a central aspect of payload preliminary design.

4.3.1

Support and Restraint Design

Initial bench-top experiments, as shown in Figure 4.3, and a review of past winning payload system
designs led to internal requirements for a top-loading system with single-step actuation, in order to
minimize loading time. It was determined that loading times could be made comparable to rigid box
designs as long as the soft designs had a minimal structural framework to keep the system open while
loading. In addition, the minimum opening through which a 4 in x 4 in payload item could be loaded
quickly and efficiently was determined to be 4.5 in x 4.5 in.

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Figure 4.3 Payload System Prototype


During initial materials research, Cuben Fiber high-strength sailcloth with an area density of 0.33
oz/yd2 was identified as an ideal material for our fabric payload design. After initial mock-ups, a
preliminary design of a Cuben Fiber soft payload system was created with 14 individual pockets and a
carbon-fiber tube framework to keep the system open during loading. The individual pockets ensure that
payload items are visibly separated and held upright at all times, conforming to the competition rules.
The design uses a simple drawstring closing mechanism to restrain the payloads while inverted and all
seams are secured using a polyurethane adhesive and Nylon stitching. Figure 4.4 shows the initial
Cuben Fiber payload system used for preliminary payload loading and flip tests. Total weight of the
Cuben Fiber, central spar, and carbon rods was estimated at 4.7 oz.

Figure 4.4 Cuben Fiber Payload System


All possible variations in CG due to variation in payload weights were calculated for use in aircraft
stability calculations. Figure 4.5 shows the optimized layouts. These configurations have a maximum CG
shift of .42 in from front to back and .09 in from side to side. The act of constraining the bricks to the four
specific brick pockets aids in minimizing CG shifting while decreasing loading complexity between the
different payload configurations.

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Figure 4.5 Payload Configurations

4.3.2

Fuselage Design

Once the basic wing, tail surface, and payload system geometry were defined, a complete
Computational Fluid Dynamics model of the aircraft was created to inform the preliminary design of the
fuselage. Using STAR-CCM+ software, an integrated software package with an extensive selection of
turbulence models, the fuselage was redesigned and analyzed iteratively until no separation was
predicted. Figure 4.6 provides an example of the simulated flow. Details on initial CFD drag predictions
and wind-tunnel testing of physical models are provided in Section 4.7 and Section 8.1, respectively.

Figure 4.6 Fuselage Flow Visualization


Fuselage manufacturability tests were performed concurrently with the preliminary fuselage
computational design. Manufacturing research early in the design process highlighted the possibility of
using vacuum-formed Depron foam as a fairing material. The team built a male plug of the preliminary
fuselage design and performed numerous fabrication trials with varying thicknesses of Depron and other
varieties of polystyrene foam. Figure 4.7 shows initial shaping of a foam nose section over a male mold.

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Figure 4.7 Fuselage Nose-Cone Manufacturing Trail

4.4

Propulsion System
Preliminary motor testing provided baseline thrust and power values for use in the initial wing sizing

and optimization. Further testing was carried out to match propellers, establish maximum thrust
performance, and fully document motor efficiency for use in later mission simulations.

4.4.1

Motors and Electronic Speed Controllers

A survey of electric motor brands and models was conducted to compile a list of the highest power to
weight motors available; the compiled list is shown in Table 4.3.
Table 4.3 Power to Weight Comparison of Commercially Available Motors
Motor
LittleScreamers Park Jet
LittleScreamers Purple Peril
LittleScreamers DeNovo
JustGoFly 450FT
JustGoFly 300DF
JustGoFly 400ST
Extreme Flight Torque 34/1520
AXI 2212
JustGoFly 500SH
JustGoFly 500T
JustGoFly 500XTF
JustGoFly 500XT

Power Output [W]


185
165
128
245
115
110
81.4
150
400
250
250
250

Weight [g]
25
25
25
60
30
38
29
57
62
62
62
62

Power/Weight [W/g]
7.4
6.6
5.12
4.08
3.8
2.9
2.8
2.6
6.45
4.03
4.03
4.03

All of the highest power to weight ratios were from the smallest (~25 gram) class motors and initial
testing demonstrated that these motors produced a maximum of 1.7 lbs static thrust. However, analysis
of these motors in the mission model showed that take-off field length requirements imposed enough
additional wing area to overwhelm the weight savings.
The JustGoFly 500 range of motors was selected for further testing of maximum thrust capabilities.
Ultimately, the 500XT was chosen as the best candidate for extensive testing with multiple propellers over
the aircraft velocity range. Initial tests showed that both the 500XT and the 500XTF were able to produce
3 lbs of static thrust; however the XTF motor showed a greater loss in thrust over the lifetime of the motor.

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Additionally, research showed that the highest power to weight ratio JustGoFly motor, the 500SH, was
designed for high RPM applications in R/C helicopters. Thrust output was below the 3 lbs per motor
produced by the other motors in the 500 series and a suitable gearbox for the 500SH was not available
for testing. Finally, the 500T motor was only able to produce 2.5 lbs of thrust while drawing 36 amps at
12 volts. Two parallel motors pulling 36 amps each would be beyond the safe amperage range for the 40
amp safety fuse, so testing of the 500T was not carried out for higher voltages.

4.4.2

Propeller

The main FOMs for propeller selection were:

Takeoff Thrust: Due to the heavy payloads and moderate wing loading, a large amount of thrust
is needed to meet the 75 ft takeoff distance requirement.

Cruise efficiency: Low efficiency due to improper matching of the propeller to motor speed
increases battery size, which increases RAC and limits Delivery Mission performance.

The weighting of each FOM is dependent on which mission is being considered due to the difference in
total aircraft weight between the Delivery and Payload mission. Propellers were selected independently
for each mission.
Delivery Mission Propeller Selection
The Delivery Mission requires that the aircraft fly with the smallest battery pack possible and with the
number of laps closely matched to the capacity of the chosen battery pack. To minimize the battery
weight, a pack with the fewest cells would be optimal. The mission takeoff model calculated 1.0 lb of
static thrust was needed for takeoff at 24 ft/s, with 0.75 lbs needed for cruise at 30 ft/s. Propellers were
then tested for maximum thrust at these two speeds at a range of voltages. The minimum voltage that
provided the required thrust was 6.0 volts. The optimum propeller size was found to be in the 10 to 12 in
range with a very high pitch. This is due to the low RPM of the motor requiring a higher pitch from the
prop to provide necessary thrust.
Of the 6.0 volt runs, the APC 11x10 and 12x12 passed the minimum average thrust requirement.
Both propellers drew approximately 7 amps while providing the same thrust and were retained for
extensive testing with selected battery packs during detailed design.
Payload Mission Propeller Selection
The Payload Mission requires maximizing low speed thrust to meet the 75 ft takeoff requirement. The
takeoff model determined that 6 lbs of static thrust was needed at takeoff due to the higher takeoff weight.
Large, low pitch props would be needed to provide the necessary low speed thrust.
The full range of APC propellers were considered for the delivery mission, though focus was
concentrated on the 10 in to 12 in propellers. It was found that the recommended 11x5.5 propeller for the
JustGoFly 500XT motor operating at 14.4 volts performed best, providing 3.1 lbs of static thrust. The
slightly higher pitch 12x6 propeller performed similarly, but drew 21 amps at approximately 270 watts.
These values were experimentally found to be below, but near, the burn out limit of the 500XT motor.

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Both propellers were retained for further flight testing. Section 8.1 discusses propulsion system testing
and verification using simulated wind-tunnel mission flight profiles.

4.4.3

Batteries

The primary mission model predicted an average electric power consumption of 360 watts at a cruise
speed of 48 fps, resulting in lap times just over one minute. The delivery mission would be completed at
a slower cruise speed of 28 fps and average power draw of 70 watts, requiring approximately 85 sec. per
lap. Batteries of candidate sizes were compared by their energy densities, as shown in Figure 4.7.
Power
Density
Comparison
Energy
Density
Comparison
90.0

mWh per gram

80.0

73.6

70.0

59.6

60.0

77.1

73.4

69.9

62.9

65.4

60.0
47.9

50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0

0
G
P2
00

40
0
EL
IT
E1
50
0
C
B
P1
65
0A
A
H
R
17
0
0A
U
H
P
R
19
5
0F
A
U
P
EL
IT
E2
00
0

IB
1

G
P1
10

0
C
B
P1
15
0

0.0

Figure 4.7 Battery Power Density Comparison


From the energy consumption estimated in Section 4.1 and simulations to be discussed in Section
5.3, it was determined that a minimum of five 1.2 V cells at 900 mAh capacity and twelve 1.2 volt cells at
1300 mAh capacity would be needed for the delivery and payload missions, respectively. For the delivery
mission a GP1100 NiMH pack was determined to have the lowest weight, due to the lower weight per
1100 mAh cell in comparison to the larger capacity cells. The Elite 1500 NiMH cell stands out as having
the highest energy density in the 1500mAh range. This cell is also able to handle a 40 amp current drain,
so it was selected for testing for use in the Payload Mission.

4.5

Aerodynamics
Building on the baseline geometry established in section 4.1, aerodynamic optimization focused on

the selection and design of airfoils to improve cruise and take-off performance and evaluation of the entire
wing-tail system using vortex-lattice methods to optimize lift-distribution and predict stability.

4.5.1

Airfoil Optimization

The optimum airfoil for the aircraft is able to provide high lift (CL ~ 1.5) during takeoff and landing
portions of the flight while still having low drag during cruise (CL~.85). A number of airfoils were
considered and were divided into three groups: low, medium, and high lift. High drag penalties at cruise
conditions caused the team to rule out several high-lift airfoils (Max CL ~ 1.7), as the advantage of high

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CLs would be offset by higher cruise drag and the need for added propulsion battery weight. As
determined by the initial wing optimization, the SD7043 airfoil, with a maximum CL of 1.5, provided the
highest performance of the Selig-Donovan, NACA, MIT-designed, and Douglas LA-series in the airfoil
database. Using the SD7043 performance as a starting point, the team redesigned two series of new
airfoils with maximum L/D at CL~.8 and a max CL of 1.5 based on interpolation of the LA203 and an
internally designed, BA10 airfoil. The XFOIL drag polar of the resulting airfoils, the BAFT2 and SOFT500,
are shown below in Figure 4.11, along with the SD7043 used in preliminary optimization.

Figure 4.8 Airfoil Drag Polar Comparison


The drag polar in Figure 4.8 shows that the drag bucket of the BAFT2 provides comparable cruise
drag, but significantly better high lift performance when compared to the SD7043. The SOFT 500 max
L/D occurs at a CL of .85, and provides the lowest cruise drag overall by a 4% margin. However, mission
profiles indicated that the BAFT 2 provides the highest performance, providing a 9% improvement in
energy consumption with no wing weight penalty when compared to the original optimum SD7043 airfoil.

Figure 4.9 BAFT 2

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4.5.2

Wing and Tail Optimization

In order to estimate the performance of the 3D configuration, a vortex lattice model of the wing and
tail surfaces was created within Mark Drelas Athena Vortex Lattice (AVL) code, as shown in Figure 4.10.
This model, combined with viscous calculations from XFOIL, allowed estimation of pitching moment
changes with angle of attack in order to estimate neutral point locations and ensure stability during takeoff, cruise, and stall conditions.

Figure 4.10 Wing-Tail AVL model


Additionally, Trefftz Plane analysis was used to update lift distribution and span efficiency factors
estimated in the MATLAB mission model, and wing washout was adjusted to improve sectional CL
distributions and to reduce the risk of tip stalls. Figure 4.11 shows the lift distribution at cruise conditions.
Five deg of decalage was added to limit elevator deflection at cruise conditions and reduce trim drag.

Figure 4.11 Trefftz Plot (Lift Distribution at cruise, CL = .9)

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Winglets were considered to increase the span efficiency and decrease cruise drag. A separate AVL
analysis determined that a 0.03 - 0.05 increase in span efficiency was possible. However, the two inch
reduction in span, increased weight, and skin friction from the additional surfaces outweighed the benefit.

4.5.3

High Lift Devices

To meet takeoff CL requirements of 1.5, the wing requires a full-span flap. Preliminary flap sizing was
performed using XFOIL, then final flap areas were determined using AVL to account for 3-D effects. Flap
deflection was limited to 10 deg as larger deflections resulted in excessive separation. Final flap areas
were determined to be 30% of the total wing area.

4.5.4

Empennage

Initial tail surfaces were sized within the mission model to meet static stability requirements based on
tail volume coefficients outlined below [6]. In later refinement of the preliminary design, tail surface areas
were adjusted using AVL to satisfy minimum trim drag conditions.
Horizontal Stabilizer
The horizontal tail volume coefficient (Vh) is a measure of horizontal stabilizer effectiveness, and is
defined by Equation 4.1. For sufficient pitch authority, Vh > 0.30 is required.

Vh

S h lh
Sc

(Eq. 4.1)

Wing area and chord (S and c) are given by the wing geometry, and the tail moment arm (lh) is restricted
by the planform geometry. Using these parameters, Equation 4.1 can be solved for Sh to give an
approximate horizontal stabilizer area of 0.9 ft2.
Vertical Stabilizer
Like Vh, the vertical tail volume coefficient (Vv) characterizes the effectiveness of the vertical
stabilizer, and is defined by Equation 4.2. For sufficient yaw damping, a Vv > 0.02 is necessary.

Vv

S v lv
Sb

(Eq. 4.2)

Again, lv, S, and b are specified by the wing and tail boom geometry, and using these parameters
Equation 4.2 can be solved for Sv to give a vertical stabilizer area. Test cases were run in AVL at both
cruise and takeoff conditions. In both cases, the aircraft exhibited positive spiral stability, requiring no
adjustment to the vertical stabilizer area of 0.58 ft2 given by Equation 4.2.

4.6

Stability and Control


An eigenmode analysis was performed in AVL to assess the aircrafts dynamic behavior. This

process used inputs from mass and geometry files which specified the vehicle and operational
parameters, including component surface areas and moments of inertia, operating CL, airspeed, and air
density to calculate the eigenmodes of the system. Each of the conjugate pairs shown in Figure 4.12
characterize a stability mode of the system.

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

20
15
10
5
-11

-9

-7

-5

0
-1 -5

-3

-10
-15
-20
Spiral

Dutch Roll

Short Period

Long Period

Figure 4.12 Vehicle Eigenmodes

4.6.1

Roll Stability

The dutch roll and spiral modes of the aircraft are represented by the blue and green diamonds
respectively, in Figure 4.12. Both of these modes are located in the left half of the complex plane,
indicating that they are stable for all positive time. The dutch roll mode is highly damped, and decays
within 0.60 seconds. The spiral mode is less negative and consequently exhibits a higher settling time,
requiring approximately 2.5 seconds to reach steady state. The highly damped dutch roll mode will
minimize roll-yaw coupling, allowing for more precise heading control, while the positive spiral stability will
provide some self-leveling, reducing the control demands placed on the pilot.

4.6.2

Pitch Stability

The pitch behavior of the aircraft is characterized by a long and short period mode represented by the
pink and red circles in Figure 4.12, respectively. The phugoid mode results from a trade between kinetic
and potential energy as the aircraft undergoes a series of subtle yet lengthy pitch oscillations. However,
the frequency of the oscillation is sufficiently low, 0.11Hz, so that the long period mode poses no
significant piloting challenges. Since the mode lies in the left half plane, it is stable and will converge over
time. The short period mode lies to the extreme left in the plane and has a consequently short settling
time, 0.43 seconds. This high frequency mode is heavily damped, indicating strong pitch stability.

4.6.3

Center of Gravity

Center of gravity (CG) location, in conjunction with horizontal tail sizing, heavily influences the pitch
dynamics of the aircraft. To promote positive pitch stability, a static margin (SM) of 15% was selected for
cruise conditions based on a survey of model aircraft SM values. Using Equation 4.3 below and the
aircrafts neutral point at cruise, a CG position of 4.21 in behind the leading edge of the wing was
selected. It was determined that the payload battery location could be varied sufficiently to account for
changes in CG due to payload configuration.

SM

x np xcg
c

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

(Eq. 4.3)

Page 32 of 60

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete


The aircrafts neutral point varies, so test cases were run in AVL to assure that the possible CG locations
produced acceptable SM throughout the flight profile. The SM was found to vary from 5.2% at maximum
flight speed to 18% at takeoff, which are within acceptable bounds.

4.6.4

Roll Control

Flaps run the full wing span. In order to reduce servo weight, each flap was designed to be
independently actuated as a flaperon. Roll control constraints were dominated by flap sizing required to
take-off in 75 ft. Thus flaperons did not require resizing to satisfy payload roll control requirements.

4.6.5

Pitch Control

Using the resulting horizontal stabilizer area given from Section 4.5.4 as a baseline, the tail geometry
was refined in AVL to satisfy takeoff and cruise trim conditions. Test cases were run in AVL under cruise
conditions (46 ft/s, CL=0.9), constraining elevator deflection to produce a zero pitching moment. The
horizontal stabilizer area and wing decalage were adjusted until the required elevator deflection was less
than 5 deg. This resulted in a lightly loaded tail, which is desirable at cruise as it minimizes the induced
drag contribution from the tail. Additional test cases were run under takeoff conditions (40 ft/s, CL=1.5) to
assure that there was sufficient elevator authority for rotation. Again, elevator deflection was constrained
to produce a positive pitching moment. The horizontal stabilizer area was adjusted such that the tail CL
did not exceed 0.5, above which separation would likely occur.

4.6.6

Landing Gear

The placement and the dimensions of the rear landing gear were driven by the necessary weight
distribution of the aircraft (85% rear and 15% front) and sufficient width and height to prevent a wing-tip
strike. The main gear was placed 15 deg behind the CG and the width adjusted until the wheel contact
patches and CG formed an 80 deg angle, based on historical stability criteria [4]. Due to the relatively
short take-off length, a steerable nose wheel was deemed to be a requirement for ground control.

4.7

Estimated Performance
4.7.1

Aerodynamic Performance

After final sizing of tail surfaces and wing parameters, the MATLAB mission simulation was combined
with lift and drag estimates from a complete Star-CCM+ CFD model. These calculations resulted in the
performance curves shown in Figure 4.13. A maximum L/D of 6.1 was predicted from these models.
Additionally, required thrust at cruise conditions was predicted at 1.90 lbs. and 0.75 lbs for the payload
and delivery missions, respectively. These estimates were compared with wind tunnel and flight testing
of the final vehicle in Section 8.2.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Level Flight Cruise Drag vs. Velocity

Vehicle Drag Polar

Payload Drag
Payload Stall Speed
Delivery Drag
Delivery Stall Speed

4.5
4

1.4
1.2

D ra g [lb s ]

3.5

3
2.5

C 0.8
L

0.6

1.5
1

0.4

0.5
0
15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

0.2

0.1 0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.2 0.22 0.24 0.26

Velocity [fps]

Figure 4.13 Vehicle Lift and Drag Characteristics

4.7.2

Mission Performance

Using the above L/D predictions and updated thrust data from motor testing, the refined preliminary
design was simulated in the primary mission model. Table 4.4 shows the estimated performance from
the model and initial payload testing. System weight was estimated from payload system prototypes,
fuselage prototypes and wing and tail surface area using historical data from past MIT structures and
avionics.

Table 4.4 Estimated Mission Performance


Delivery Mission Time

3.08 min

# of Delivery Laps

Delivery Cruise Speed (max L/D)

28 fps

Cruise CL

0.89

Delivery Energy Consumption

5.35 Wh

Delivery Battery Weight

4.56 oz (6 cell GP1100)

Payload Loading Time (10-50ft)

10-20 sec

Payload Mission Time

2.37 min

Payload Cruise Speed (max L/D)

48 fps

Payload Energy Consumption

8.09 Wh

Payload Battery Weight

9.72 oz (12 cell ELITE 1500)

Predicted System Weight

3.12 lbs.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Detail Design
This section documents the final design specifications for the MIT Team Concrete aircraft.

5.1

Aircraft Dimensional Parameters


Table 5.1 Aircraft Dimensional Parameters
General Airframe
Length [t]
Span [ft]
Height [ft]

4.78
5.75
2.28
Wing

Airfoil
Root Chord [ft]
Tip Chord [ft]
Span [ft]
Planform Area [ft2]
Aspect Ratio
Taper Ratio
LE Sweep [deg]
Tail
Center Boom Length [in]
Boom Diameter [in]

5.2

BAFT2
0.992
0.496
5.75
4.28
7.72
0.5
6.89
46
0.575

Horizontal Stabilizer
Airfoil
HT14
Root Chord [ft]
0.625
Tip Chord [ft]
0.275
Span [ft]
2
2
Area [ft ]
0.90
Aspect Ratio
4.44
Arm Length [ft]
2.06
Vertical Stabilizer
Airfoil
HT14
Root Chord [ft]
0.75
Tip Chord [ft]
0.41
Height [ft]
1
Area [ft2]
0.58
Aspect Ratio
3.44
Arm Length[ft]
2.735

Aircraft Structural Characteristics


As shown in Figure 5.1, the wing is the primary loading carrying structure. Landing gear loads are fed

through wing hardpoints to composite A-frame trusses supporting a central spar. This central spar carries
the fabric payload system and supports the tail surfaces. Component structural capabilities are detailed
in their respective subsections below.

Figure 5.1 Aircraft Structure (aeroshell and payload system removed)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

5.3

Sub-System Design, Capabilities, and Architecture


5.3.1

Payload Support

In order to minimize system weight, a skeleton structure composed of a central spar and triangular Aframes were used to support the payload, as opposed to a stressed-skin fuselage.
Central Spar
The central spar is a carbon fiber tube sized to withstand the aerodynamic and payload forces acting
upon the aircraft. In addition to the necessary bending strength required to support the payload, the spar
was also sized for torsional stiffness, due to rudder deflection. It was designed to deflect no more than
1.5 in at a 3g load case and twist no more than 5 deg in a max CL coordinated turn at maximum level
flight speed. Analysis determined that the optimal material was carbon fiber based on its stiffness and
strength to weight ratio. A commercially-available spar that met the specifications was then chosen.
A-frames
It was necessary to find an efficient method for transferring load from the payload system and main
spar to the landing gear and wing. The dimensions of this structure were determined primarily by payload
orientation and spacing. A 0.25 in thick foam-carbon fiber laminate was developed in order to fit between
the payload system pockets. The loads and moments acting on the structure were modeled in SolidWorks
and run through a CosmosWorks Finite-Element analysis. The finite element model included the landing
gear to simulate landing loads and the central spar to simulate the loads associated with the payload and
load transfer between the A-frames. The width of the A-frames was then increased until the structure
could withstand the loading of a full payload, 3g one wheel landing without buckling.

Figure 5.2 A-Frame Subsystem

5.3.2

Payload Restraint System

Using the lessons learned from the first payload system prototype, additional testing was conducted
to solve an issue with abrasion from the bricks. Strands of Kevlar tow and an extra lamination of Cuben
Fiber in the brick pockets was found to be sufficient for 15-20 loading cycles, more than enough for
competition purposes. A second payload system prototype was then fabricated with the addition of the

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete


reinforcements and used for subsequent versions. A nylon drawstring and polycarbonate locking cleat
sufficiently restrain all payload configurations while inverted. Kevlar tow is used to tie the payload system
to the A-frames, preventing swaying and excessive movement of the system.

Figure 5.3 Payload Restraint System

5.3.3

Landing Gear

Front Landing Gear


The main design factors for the front landing gear were steering capability, easy replacement, and
minimum weight. The front landing gear consists of hollow carbon fiber rods with a machined aluminum
single-pivot steering mechanism. The steering servo and push-pull linkage can be seen in Figure 5.4.
Steering capability is necessary in order to maneuver the aircraft in crosswind conditions during takeoff.
The carbon tubes are easily replaced in case of a crash and designed to fail at 15 lbs, 3 times its normal
landing load.

Figure 5.4 Front and Main Landing Gear


Main Landing Gear
The main design considerations in the development of the main landing gear were easy replacement,
structural strength to survive a 3g landing without permanent deformation, and minimum weight. Further,
the placement and dimensions of the main landing gear were driven by the chosen weight distribution of

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

Page 37 of 60

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete


the aircraft (85% rear and 15% front) to allow for proper balance and rotation at takeoff. The main gear
was constructed from bent sheet aluminum with piano wire cross-bracing. It is attached to balsa wood
reinforcements in the wing with nylon bolts.

5.3.4

Wing

Aerodynamic surfaces are of mold-less composite construction. The wing is designed to withstand a
fully loaded 10g turn, obtainable in RC aircraft flight with sudden stick movements or strong wind gusts.
Foam wing cores were cut with a CNC foam cutter and then reinforced with a tapered 2 in root-width
unidirectional carbon fiber spar caps and a single layer of 0.7 oz/sq yard fiberglass oriented at 45 deg for
torsional stiffness. Balsa hard points and additional bi-directional carbon-fiber skins are located at
attachment points for the payload structure and landing gear.

Figure 5.6 Completed Wing with A-Frames

5.3.5

Empennage

For the tail boom, the aircraft uses the main structural spar mentioned earlier. The carbon fiber tube
is epoxy-bonded to the A-frame structure mounted in the wing. The tail surfaces are then bonded to the
carbon tube with a fiberglass reinforcement strip. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers and control
surfaces are constructed from CNC hot-wire cut foam cores with 0.7 oz/sq yd fiberglass skins.

Figure 5.7 Empennage

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

5.3.6

Propulsion System

The aircraft propulsion system consists of two JustGoFly 500XT brushless motors, run by two Castle
Creations Phoenix-25 electronic speed controllers. Motors are mounted in plywood pylons bonded into
the wing at mid-span. APC 11x10 and APC 11x5.5 propellers are used in the delivery mission and
payload mission, respectively. A single 5-cell GP1100 battery pack powers both motors for the delivery
mission and a 13-cell Elite 1500 pack powers both motors for the payload mission. The delivery mission
setup is capable of delivering 70 watts and 1.0 pounds of static thrust for takeoff, while the payload
mission setup delivers 520 watts and 6.0 pounds of static thrust for takeoff. Taking advantage of the
dual-motor configuration, differential thrust is utilized for yaw control, assisting a conventional servodriven rudder.

Figure 5.8 Motor Mount Assembly

5.3.7

System Integration

The continued focus on minimizing system weight resulted in a sacrifice of modularity for lightweight
system integration. The payload system is secured to the central spar with epoxy and Kevlar tow. The
spar is attached to the A-frames with epoxy and flox-filler surface bonds and fillets.
In order to attach the A-frames to the wing, slots were cut through the wing to carbon fiber
reinforcements on the bottom skin. The A-frames are secured in the wing and bonded to the top and
bottom skins with epoxy.
The supports for the front landing gear are secured to the wing in the same general fashion as the Aframes. The front landing gear rods are then secured with set screws to aluminum tubes within the wing
leading edge. The rear landing gear is attached with nylon bolts through balsa hard-points.
All servos are located as close to their respective control surfaces as possible in order to reduce
linkage length. Flaperon servos are mounted inside the wing, while tail servos are located within the
aeroshell. The speed controllers are mounted directly on the motor pylons mounts in order to provide
cooling and to minimize the length of wire between the speed controllers and motors. All wiring is routed

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

Page 39 of 60

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete


through the wing to the avionics and batteries stored within the fuselage. The aeroshell is then attached
with foam-safe cyanoacrylate and hinge tape.

Figure 5.9 Structure Integration: A-frames, Elevator Servo

5.4

Weight and Balance


Aircraft component weights are provided in Table 5.2. The overall system weight is 3.02 lbs. The

weight and balance parameters for each mission scenario are detailed in Tables 5.3 and 5.4, and a
stability margin of 7-13% is maintained at all times.
Table 5.2 Aircraft Weight Table
Part Name
Wing
A-Frame Front
A-Frame Rear
Support
Payload System
Spar
Vertical Stabilizer
Horizontal Stabilizer
Rear Landing Gear + Wheels
Front Landing Gear + Wheels
Motor Mounts
Avionics
Motors
Props
AeroShell
System Weight

Weight [oz]
10.70
0.60
0.60
0.21
2.50
2.50
1.26
2.04
3.32
2.21
1.80
8.30
4.50
0.65
8.12
3.02 lbs

Table 5.3 Delivery Mission Weight and Balance


Total Weight [lbs]
3.02

Xcg [in from leading edge]


4.50

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

Zcg [in from top of wing]


4.74

SM [%]
9.50

Page 40 of 60

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete


Table 5.4 Payload Mission Weight and Balance
Bottles

Bricks

Total Weight [lbs]

Xcg [in from L.E.]

Zcg [in from top of wing]

SM [%]

14
10
7
3
0

0
1
2
3
4

10.71
10.51
10.81
10.61
10.91

4.22
3.94
4.22
3.96
4.35

4.75
4.52
4.28
4.06
3.81

9.33
12.14
9.30
11.93
7.96

5.5

Rated Aircraft Cost


This year, RAC is based on the aircrafts system weight and payload mission battery weight.

RAC = System Weight * Payload Battery Weight = 3 . 02 lbs 0 . 69 lbs

(Eq. 5.1)

Rated Aircraft Cost


2.08

5.6

Aircraft and Mission Performance


Table 5.4 shows estimated flight performance based on the refined design.
Table 5.4 Aircraft and Mission Performance
Aircraft Performance
Max CL
Max L/D

1.5
6
Payload Mission Performance

Stall Speed [fps]


Max Speed [fps]
Max L/D speed [fps]
Max Rate of Climb [fpm]
Take-Off Distance [ft]
Loading Time [s] (10-50ft)
Avg. Payload Mission Time [min] (Wind < 5 mph)
Payload Battery Weight [oz[
Delivery Mission Performance
Stall Speed [fps]
Max Speed [fps]
Max L/D Speed [fps]

64
48
70
73.2
10-20
3
11
22.6
66
28

Take-Off Distance [ft]

20

Number of Laps

Avg. Delivery Mission Time [min] (Wind <5 mph)


Delivery Battery Weight [oz]

5.7

39

3.5
4

Drawing Package
The drawing package was completed using SolidWorks and consists of the following drawings:

Aircraft 3-View, Structural Arrangement, Systems Layout, and Payload Accommodations. These
drawings can be found on the next 4 pages.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

Page 41 of 60

24.00

3.48

7.30

5.88

11.83

.00

48
0

.0
60

57.30
7.75
17.25

4.27

11.00
13.00
27.81

11.94

14.15
69.00

13.97

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF
TECHNOLOGY
AIAA DESIGN/BUILD/FLY 2008

SCALE 1:15

DRAWN BY
PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS
DRAWING IS THE SOLE PROPERTY OF
MIT DBF. ANY REPRODUCTION IN
PART OR AS A WHOLE WITHOUT THE
WRITTEN PERMISSION OF MIT DBF IS
PROHIBITED.

INITIALS

DATE

RC

7 Jan

TEAM
CONCRETE
2

TITLE:

AIRCRAFT
3-VIEW

SIZE

ALL DIMENSIONS
GIVEN IN INCHES

DRAWING PACKAGE

REV

SHEET 1 OF 4
1

6.10

31.75

00

R1
.0

R1
.

0.25

10.00

46.00
SCALE 1:15
A-FRAME SUBYSTEM
SCALE 1:5

4.75
0.58

10.47

13.97

69.00

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF
TECHNOLOGY
AIAA DESIGN/BUILD/FLY 2008

A
DRAWN BY

0.50

PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL


THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS
DRAWING IS THE SOLE PROPERTY OF
MIT DBF. ANY REPRODUCTION IN
PART OR AS A WHOLE WITHOUT THE
WRITTEN PERMISSION OF MIT DBF IS
PROHIBITED.

1.50
8

INITIALS

DATE

RC

7 Jan

TEAM
CONCRETE
2

TITLE:

SIZE

STRUCTURAL
ARRANGEMENT
ALL DIMENSIONS
GIVEN IN INCHES

DRAWING PACKAGE

REV

SHEET 2 OF 4
1

2
3

6
3

DETAIL A
SCALE 1 : 5

PART #
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

COMPONENT
MOTOR
SERVO
ELECTRONIC SPEED
CONTROLLER
RECEIVER
RECEIVER BATTERY
MAIN BATTERY
FUSE
8

MANUFACTURER QTY.
JUST-GO-FLY 500XT 2
FUTABA/HITEC
5
CASTLE CREATIONS 2
25 AMP
JR R921
1
KAM 160 1/3AAA
1
ELITE 1500 2/3A
1
MAXI BLADE STYLE 1
7

MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF
TECHNOLOGY
AIAA DESIGN/BUILD/FLY 2008

DETAIL B
SCALE 1 : 5

DRAWN BY
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THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS
DRAWING IS THE SOLE PROPERTY OF
MIT DBF. ANY REPRODUCTION IN
PART OR AS A WHOLE WITHOUT THE
WRITTEN PERMISSION OF MIT DBF IS
PROHIBITED.

INITIALS

DATE

RC

7 JAN

TEAM
CONCRETE
2

TITLE:

SYSTEMS
LAYOUT

SIZE

ALL DIMENSIONS
GIVEN IN INCHES

DRAWING PACKAGE

REV

SHEET 3 OF 4
1

0 BOTTLES
4 BRICKS
7.2 LBS

14 BOTTLES
0 BRICKS
7 LBS

9.44

10 BOTTLES
1 BRICK
6.8 LBS
SCALE 1:10
10.00

SCALE 1:5

4.50
4.50

7 BOTTLES
2 BRICKS
7.1 LBS

32.00
MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF
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AIAA DESIGN/BUILD/FLY 2008

3 BOTTLES
3 BRICKS
6.9 LBS

INITIALS
DRAWN BY
PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS
DRAWING IS THE SOLE PROPERTY OF
MIT DBF. ANY REPRODUCTION IN
PART OR AS A WHOLE WITHOUT THE
WRITTEN PERMISSION OF MIT DBF IS
PROHIBITED.

RC

DATE

7 JAN

TEAM
CONCRETE
2

PAYLOAD
ACCOMODATION

TITLE:

SIZE

ALL DIMENSIONS
GIVEN IN INCHES

DRAWING PACKAGE

REV

SHEET 4 OF 4
1

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Manufacturing Plan and Processes


To minimize system weight and facilitate the timely construction of the aircraft, it was critical to select

the appropriate manufacturing process for each component. Processes were selected using the figures
of merit outlined below. A manufacturing milestone chart is presented in Section 6.3.

6.1

Manufacturing Figures of Merit

Weight The finished part weight. Component weight directly affects total system weight
and the required propulsion package.

Strength The capability of the structure to withstand the projected flight and landing loads.

Manufacturability The ease of building when using the available manpower, skills and tools.

The FOM criteria are listed in Table 3.15.

6.2

Construction Method Selection

6.2.1

Fuselage

The fuselage consists of an outer aeroshell, internal A-frames and the central spar which connects
the wing, payload system and empennage.

6.2.1.1 A-Frames
The final A-frame construction method was foam core/carbon fiber sandwich. The FOM analysis is
shown in Table 6.1.
Table 6.1 A-frame Construction Method Decision Matrix
Figure of Merit
Weight
Strength
Manufacturability
Total

Weighting
0.5
0.3
0.2
1.0

Plywood
0
0
1
0.2

Aluminum
-1
1
0
-0.2

Foam with carbon


1
0
-1
0.3

Plywood Triangular plates would be cut from aircraft grade plywood using a CNC waterjet. This
would require minimal manufacturing time; however, achieving the required rigidity may
necessitate using thicker plywood, negating any weight reduction benefits.

Aluminum The plates would be cut from sheet aluminum using a waterjet. The aluminum offers
superior strength and durability; however, it also carries a large weight penalty.

Foam with Carbon The plates would consist of high density foam laminated between sheets of
unidirectional carbon cloth and bidirectional reinforcements at stress concentrations. This
method offers both high strength and low weight, yet it requires more time to manufacture the
part. Despite the increased manufacturing time, this construction method was selected due to the
reduced weight of the finished part.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

Page 46 of 60

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

6.2.1.2 Aeroshell
The aeroshell encompasses 14 ft2 of surface area and thus presented a large weight risk area. From
the beginning of the design process much consideration was given to the aeroshell and a significant
amount of experiment and manufacturing time was spent on this component. The final construction
method was formed polystyrene foam.
Table 6.2 Aeroshell construction method decision matrix
Figure of Merit
Weight
Strength
Manufacturability
Total

Weighting
0.5
0.3
0.2
1.0

Molded Balsa
-1
1
1
0

Carbon/Kevlar
0
-1
1
-0.1

Foam
1
0
-1
0.3

Molded Balsa Wet balsa wood would be molded around a male fuselage plug and allowed to
dry. Even though thin balsa sheets could be used, as strength is not an issue, initial estimates
indicated it would weigh too much to be a viable option to meet our weigh target.

Carbon Fiber / Kevlar A positive mold would be made on the foam cutter, hand-shaped to a
smooth finish and cut in half. Female molds would be made from each half. These female molds
would be used to lay-up composite shells, which would be bonded together over the aircraft
frame. While the team is most familiar with this technique, it was determined to exceed the
budgeted weight and given past experience, it would not have been strong enough to hold shape.

Foam This method takes advantage of an available heat/vacuum former and consists of
forming thin sheets of low density foam around positive molds of the nose and tail cone of the
aeroshell. Initial tests showed that this method would be difficult for the large center sections.
However, the estimated weight savings of 4 oz over a composite fairing were determined to be
worth the additional manufacturing time. This was scheduled as the pacing item in our
manufacturing schedule.

6.2.2

Wing

The projected weight of the wing comprises over 20% of the total airframe weight. Therefore, special
attention must be paid to the wing construction method, in efforts to attain the lowest possible system
weight. The final method was foam core with a unidirectional carbon fiber spar cap.
Table 6.3 Wing Construction Method Decision Matrix
Figure of Merit
Weight
Strength
Manufacturability
Total

Weighting

Balsa built-up

Foam core

0.5
0.3
0.2
1.0

1
0
-1
0.3

1
0
1
0.7

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Team Concrete

Foam core +
carbon spar cap
1
1
0
0.8

Molded
0
1
-1
0.1

Page 47 of 60

MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

Balsa built-up The wings would consist of a balsa framework of ribs and spars covered with a
Monokote skin. This method offers the greatest weight savings, however it would require the
longest manufacturing time since it is unfamiliar to the team and requires a large number of small
parts. Additionally the structure would be more susceptible to damage and difficult to repair.

Foam core A foam core would be cut into an airfoil shape, then covered in fiberglass and
vacuum-bagged. This fiberglass skin adds strength to the core without a significant weight
penalty. To achieve the necessary stiffness loading, several layers of glass would have to be
added, which puts this technique out of our weight target.

Molded Pure composite construction, using female molds to create a top and bottom skin that
are then joined together. The resulting wing is very strong and relatively light-weight, but this
construction method involves mold tooling which significant time for team members to build.

Foam core with carbon strip Similar to foam core method with the addition of a unidirectional
carbon fiber strip to the upper and lower wing surfaces. While this improves bending strength, it
also complicates the manufacturing process. However, several team members are experienced
in this manufacturing process, which will reduce manufacturing time, allowing for the rapid
fabrication of replacement and/or spare parts. For these reasons foam core with carbon spar cap
construction was selected for the wings.

6.2.3

Tail

The final construction method for the tail surfaces was glassed foam to minimize system weight.
Table 6.4 Tail construction method decision matrix
Figure of Merit
Weight
Strength
Manufacturability
Total

Weighting
0.5
0.3
0.2

Balsa slab
0
0
1

Glassed Foam
1
0
0

1.0

0.2

0.5

Balsa slab The tail surfaces would be cut from sheets of balsa then tangent-sanded to an airfoil
shape. Though easy to build, the necessary thickness required for the span of the tail would
increases the weight significantly.

Glassed Foam Foam cores would be cut on the foam cutter to the desired profile, covered with
light fiberglass, and vacuum-bagged. This method was chosen for to its improved strength to
weight ratio.

6.2.4

Required Manufacturing Capabilities

To ensure the timely construction of the aircraft, it was necessary to make a table of required
manufacturing capabilities. Each part of the aircraft is ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 requiring little capability,
and 5 requiring a large amount.

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Table 6.5 Construction Skills Matrix
Manufacturing
capability
Foam cutting
Composite lay-up
Machining
Waterjet
CAD

Wing

Fuselage

5
4
1
1
1

4
1
2
0
4

Payload
system
0
4
1
1
5

Propulsion
system
0
0
1
0
1

Table 6.5 was used, along with historical data, to lay out the milestone chart in Section 6.3

6.3

Manufacturing Milestone Chart

Figure 6.1 Manufacturing Milestone Chart (Red denotes actual timeline)

Testing Plan
Propulsive and structural testing began during preliminary design and continued throughout detailed

design in order to ensure that physical capabilities matched expected performance. After completion of
the prototype aircraft, the test program expanded to include flight and wind-tunnel tests.

7.1

Test Schedule
The list of major testing objectives can be seen in Table 7.1.
Table 7.1 Test Objectives and Dates
Test
Payload Loading

Objective
Ensure safety of aircraft and ease of loading

Dates
Dec. 1st 7th

Wing Strength

Test maximum weight capacity of prototype wing

Jan. 16th 19th

Choose suitable motor, props, and batteries.


Predict necessary battery capacity
Ensure controllability and verify estimated flight
performance
Obtain true lift and drag data, verify motor and battery
performance, and inspect aircraft flowfield for separation

Jan. 7th 21st

Propulsion
Flight Testing
Wind Tunnel

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Jan. 19th
Ongoing
Feb. 26th
Ongoing

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7.2

Sub-System Tests and Objectives

7.2.1

Wing Testing

In order to prevent structural failure during the competition tip test, the team tested a prototype wing
to failure during preliminary design. After completion of the prototype aircraft, the wing was again tiptested at full payload weight, as shown in Figure 7.1. Section 7.3 discusses flight and wind tunnel testing
of the wings aerodynamic performance.

Figure 7.1 Wing Test Setup

7.2.2

Propulsion Testing

Motor, battery, and speed controller testing was carried out in a 1 ft X 1 ft wind tunnel with an open
test section as shown in Figure 7.2. A data recorder allowed the monitoring of RPM, voltage, current, and
power draw. A load-cell equipped test stand was used to gather thrust and torque data.

Figure 7.2 Motor Test Setup


The first set of tests verified the performance of the JustGoFly 500 series and gathered thrust vs.
velocity data for use in the mission model. The second set of tests verified the performance and
endurance of selected battery packs using simulated mission profiles. The final set of tests was designed

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to verify the performance (power and efficiency) of the chosen APC 11X5.5 and APC 11X10 propellers
and JustGoFly 500XT motor over the velocity range of the aircraft. The team measured the thrust, motor
power, voltage drop, current draw, and RPM at a range of airspeeds from 0 to 80 ft/s.

7.2.3

Payload Testing

The main objective of the payload tests was to minimize loading time, while providing adequate safety
for the aircraft. This was done by setting up a simulated flight line area and running loading missions.
Because of the unknown starting distance, the team members used a baseline of 20 ft from the airplane.

Figure 7.3 Payload Loading Set-up

7.3

Flight Testing
A prototype was fabricated and flight tested to verify calculated performance. The prototype was a

competition-ready aircraft capable of carrying the required payloads. This aircraft was used to assess the
ability of the design to meet the 75 ft takeoff, rapid loading, and flight requirements. Additionally, this
vehicle will serve as a backup aircraft in the event of a crash before the competition. A table of flight test
objectives can be found on table 7.2. The team also plans to undergo a complete mock competition with
MIT Team Cardinal. This will give valuable insight into the competitiveness of each aircraft.
Table 7.2 Flight Test Objectives
Test
Taxi
Hop
Unloaded without
Aeroshell
Unloaded with
Aeroshell
Loaded without
Aeroshell
Loaded with Aeroshell
Full Mission Flights

Objective
Determine functionality of steerable nose gear and check ground
handling qualities

Dates
Feb. 6th

Verify center of gravity location and handling qualities

Feb. 6th

Gather flight power data. Pilot familiarization.

Feb. 15th

Determine flight characteristics and handling qualities with aeroshell

Feb. 16th

Structural integrity verification

Mar. 3rd

Verify take-off distance. Full flight shake down


Determine viability of propulsion options based on measured power
consumption.

Mar. 7th

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7.3.1

Flight Checklist

Flight tests were conducted at an off-campus facility with a paved runway. A pre-flight checklist can
be found in Table 7.3
Table 7.3 - Pre-flight checklist
Item

Description

Airframe
C.G. position

Verify proper C.G. location

Payload restraint

Check for payload security; verify hatch close

Control surfaces

Check for control surface slop; verify proper deflection direction

Landing gear

Verify wheel collars are secure and front gear deflection

Propulsion
Propulsion Battery

Verify propulsion pack voltage

Receiver Battery
Propellers
Failsafe

Verify receiver pack voltage


Visually inspect for cracks or damage; verify prop nuts secure
Cycle transmitter power; check for proper failsafe actuation

Fuse

Insert fuse and check operation

Field/Miscellaneous
Range Check
Transmitter
Flight line

7.3.2

Perform range check


Verify TX voltage: >9.6v
Clear flight line, prepare for taxi/takeoff

Flight Data Recorder

An Eagle Tree Pro flight data recorder was used to record air speed, current, voltage, propeller RPM
and battery temperature throughout each flight. Data was displayed wirelessly in real-time and recorded
for post flight review. This allowed the team to more effectively assess the aircraft and to ensure the
integrity of the propulsion system through real-time power monitoring.

7.3.3

Wind Tunnel Testing

Wind tunnel testing provided lift and drag measurements without environmental disturbances. MIT
facilities as shown in Figure 7.4 allowed testing at full-scale Reynolds numbers. Wind tunnel test
objectives are listed on Table 7.4.

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Figure 7.4 Wing Tunnel Test Set-up

Table 7.4 Wind Tunnel test objectives

8
8.1

Test

Objective

Dates

Lift and Drag

Verify CFD lift and drag predictions

Feb. 26th

Aeroshell
Separation

Yarn tuft flow visualization of aeroshell separation

Feb. 26th

Propulsion

Obtain propulsion data throughout aircraft velocity range.

Feb. 29th

Performance Results
Sub-System Evaluation

8.1.1

Wing- Structural

The prototype wing deflected 5.75 in before failure under a point load of 44 lbs. This test showed
more than adequate strength for the wings, representing approximately a 10.4g load case based on the
2.5g tip test applied during the competition. This is consistent with the 10g design objective described in
Section 5.3. The prototype aircraft passed a simulated tech inspection wing tip test without failure.

8.1.2

Payload System

The payload system was evaluated on its ability to sufficiently restrain the payload while inverted,
undergo flight conditions without damaging the fuselage, and its average loading time. After running
payload loading tests at a distance of 20 feet, the average loading times were 14 seconds and 9 seconds
for the 14 bottles and 4 bricks, respectively. This test matched the scoring analysis predictions and

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preliminary testing, thus meeting one of the teams major design drivers. After full payload flight testing
and flip testing the team felt confident that no stability problems would be encountered during the
competition.

8.1.3

Fuselage

The CFD separation estimations were validated by wind tunnel tests of a separate fuselage model.
The flow characteristics from the CFD matched quite well with the results in the wind tunnel. The teams
wind tunnel testing is documented in Section 8.2. Figure 8.1 shows separation in both models at 6
degrees angle of attack with separation beginning near the bottom of the aeroshell and moving upwards.

Figure 8.1 Aeroshell Separation Testing

8.1.4

Empennage

The tail surfaces were evaluated based on aircraft controllability by the pilot. As built, the aircraft
requires two degrees of trim at payload cruise conditions and has sufficient pitch authority for rotation and
climb out. No issues with spiral stability or Dutch roll were encountered during the simulated missions,
matching the vortex-lattice predictions and viscous stability corrections made during detailed design, as
documented in Section 4.6.

8.1.5

Propulsion

The propulsion system was evaluated based on its final weight and flight performance. The results of
these tests are shown in Figures 8.2 8.6. Figure 8.2 plots both the available power from the motors and
the required power over the operational velocity range, based on wind tunnel and motor testing data.
This plot showed that the APC 11x5.5 could provide the necessary thrust to overcome the drag of the
airplane with a 45% margin at cruise velocity. The graph begins at 22 ft/s, the predicted stall speed, and
closes at 72 ft/s, representing the threshold of the operational window.

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180
160

Power (watts)

140
120
100
80
60
40
Available Power

20

Required Power
70
.4

66
.0

61
.6

57
.2

52
.8

48
.4

44
.0

39
.6

35
.2

30
.8

26
.4

22
.0

Velocity (ft/s)

Figure 8.2 Power vs. Velocity plots for APC 11X5.5 (14.4 Volts)
Figures 8.3 and 8.4 show a payload mission profile of a single 500XT with an APC 11x5.5
running on a 14.4 volt power supply. This data allowed final battery sizing for the payload mission,
which resulted in requirements for a 13 cell pack to maintain voltage under current draw instead of
the 12 cells predicted in Section 4.7. Power and energy consumption for the payload mission were
measured, as shown in Figure 8.4. This data showed that the motor could stay within an acceptable
current range throughout a payload mission and that 1200 mAh of capacity was sufficient, giving the
original Elite 1500 a 25% margin for wind conditions, piloting factors, and reductions in pack capacity
due to the large current draw.

30

0.9

25

0.8
0.7

20

0.6

15

0.5
0.4

10

0.3

Voltage
Current
Motor Efficiency

Efficiency

Current [A] / Voltage [V]

Payload Mission Profile, APC 11x5.5 @ 14.4 V

0.2
0.1

0
150.00

140.00

130.00

120.00

110.00

100.00

90.00

80.00

70.00

60.00

50.00

40.00

30.00

20.00

10.00

0.00

Time [sec]

Figure 8.3 Payload Mission Electrical Performance

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

350

700

300

600

250

500

200

400

150

300

100

200
Power
Energy Consumption

50

Energy [mAH]

Power [W]

Payload Mission Profile, APC 11x5.5 @ 14.4 V

100

0
150.00

140.00

130.00

120.00

110.00

100.00

90.00

80.00

70.00

60.00

50.00

40.00

30.00

20.00

10.00

0.00

Time [sec]

Figure 8.4 Payload Mission Energy Consumption


A simulated delivery mission using the APC 11x10 and a 6 volt power supply is shown in Figures
8.4 and 8.5. The results showed that a 5 cell battery pack could be used and the previously selected
GP 1100 would have over a 50% margin. While its important to have margin for unexpected flight
perturbations, delivery battery options are being reconsidered to minimize battery weight.

0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
200.00

190.00

180.00

170.00

160.00

150.00

140.00

130.00

120.00

110.00

100.00

90.00

80.00

70.00

60.00

50.00

40.00

30.00

20.00

10.00

Voltage
Current
Motor Efficiency

Efficiency

0.9
0.8

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0.00

Current [A] / Voltage [V]

Delivery Mission Profile, APC 11x10 @ 6 V

Time [sec]

Figure 8.5 Delivery Mission Electrical Performance

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MIT DBF 2008: Team Concrete

50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

400
300
250
200
150

Energy [mAH]

350

100

Power
Energy Consumption

50
200.00

190.00

180.00

170.00

160.00

150.00

140.00

130.00

120.00

110.00

100.00

90.00

80.00

70.00

60.00

50.00

40.00

30.00

20.00

10.00

0
0.00

Power [W]

Delivery Mission Profile, APC 11x10 @ 6 V

Time [sec]

Figure 8.6 Deliver Mission Energy Consumption

8.2

Demonstrated Aircraft Performance

8.2.1

Flight Test Results


Taxi The taxi tests were successful in verifying the need and usefulness of a steerable nose
wheel as determined in Section 5.3. The components handled moderate cross wind taxis easily.

Hop Successful hop tests verified propulsion system performance and the aircrafts
controllability, thus giving the pilot the confidence to move on to full flights.

Unloaded without Aeroshell A successful empty flight confirmed favorable ground and flight
handling characteristics.

Unloaded with Aeroshell The addition of the aeroshell resulted in a near fatal crash. Further
analysis revealed that the addition of the aeroshell moved the center of lift over 1 in further
forward than originally anticipated by the AVL model discussed in Section 4.5. The flexibility of
battery weight positioning allowed the issue to be resolved without major design changes.

Loaded without Aeroshell At the time of report submission, this test has not yet been
completed due to adverse weather conditions.

Loaded with Aeroshell At the time of report submission, this test has not yet been completed
due to adverse weather conditions.This test is scheduled to take place as soon as weather
permits.

Overall, the flight testing resulted in a greater understanding of the aircraft flight characteristics. The
only issue encountered was due to aeroshell integration and subsequent recalculation of the neutral

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point. The updated AVL model was then utilized to verify CG location during future wind tunnel and full
flight tests.

8.2.2

Wind Tunnel Results

Figure 7.4 shows the wind tunnel set-up, with the airplane mounted on a 3 axis load cell, for nonpowered testing, while Figure 8.7 shows the airplane during powered testing.
The first round of testing was completed without propellers, with the objective of measuring lift and
drag over an alpha sweep from -4 to 10 deg. This was completed for takeoff (with and without flaps) and
cruise conditions for both missions. The results of these tests can be seen in Figure 8.9.

Figure 8.7 Powered Wind Tunnel Testing


Powered wind tunnel testing was needed to verify flight performance and flow characteristics. This
applies most directly to the aeroshell and the area where the wing and aeroshell integrate. Figure 8.8
shows a close up of the yarn tuft visualization technique used to analyze this region. A small amount of
separation resulted in the decision to develop fiber glass fillets between the aeroshell and wing to mitigate
flow separation.

Figure 8.8 Aeroshell / Wing flow visualization

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Figure 8.9 Wind Tunnel Lift and Drag


The wind tunnel data verifies the accuracy of initial lift and drag estimates from section 4.7.1. At
cruise conditions for the payload mission, 1.9 lbs of drag were predicted and the wind tunnel testing
produced 1.67 lbs of drag. This represents a 13% overestimate on drag. At cruise conditions for the
delivery mission, 0.75 lbs of drag were estimated and the wind tunnel model produced 0.88 lbs,
representing a 17% underestimate. These small variations are strong improvements over past years
attempts at the difficult job of drag prediction, did not require any significant changes to the current
design, and will be taken into account when conducting further analysis.
The wind tunnel results, combined with flight test data, validated the models and assumptions the
team had used throughout the design process. The wind tunnel testing also helped the team to
understand that aeroshell integration would need to be an area of focus in the future due to its
tendency to greatly increase weight and drag.
Further flight testing will continue in parallel with initial construction of the competition aircraft.
Once completed, the competition aircraft will undergo light ground and flight testing before being
transported to Wichita, KS for the fly-off on 18-20 April.

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9
[1]

References
Drela, Mark. XFOIL Subsonic Airfoil Development System. 12 Feb 2008.
<http://web.mit.edu-/drela/Public/web/xfoil/>.

[2]

Drela, Mark and H. Youngren. Athena Vortex Lattice Program. 28 Feb 2007.
<http://web.mit.edu/drela/Public/web/avl/>

[3]

Wichita, KS. Weather Underground. Nov 2007 <http://www.wunderground.com/US/KS/Wichita.html>.

[4]

Raymer, Daniel. Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach 4th Ed. American Institute of
Aeronautics and Astronautics. 2006.

[5]

UIUC Airfoil Coordinates Database. Oct. 2007 <http://www.ae.uiuc.edu/mselig/ads/coord_database.html>

[6]

Drela, Mark, Class Notes. Unpublished. 2007.

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