You are here

Advanced Integrated Engine Control Test Bed for Development of Intelligent Systems and Smart Instrumentation



OBJECTIVE: Design and development of a cost-effective test bed capability or experimental setup for gas turbine engine control and sensor systems. 

DESCRIPTION: Modern gas turbine engine designs are being influenced by increased levels of instrumentation and control that enhance the overall performance. Variable cycle engines have increased the level of authority that control system developers have over the engine cycle. The number of control variables and sensors have increased by over 50 percent. These advanced engine cycles require instrumentation feedback which then allows the digital engine controller to optimize the engine performance. The reliance on data dependency along with the continued decrease in price of electronics and instrumentation over the course of the last several decades has fueled this move toward more heavily instrumented engines. This, in turn, has led to significant improvements in instrumentation and control authority, resulting in innovative measurement modalities and control schemes. There is, however, a paucity of experimental testing infrastructure to adequately and reliably test control paradigms and distributed instrumentation in an actual gas turbine environment under nominal operating conditions. This is especially necessary since past development of sensors and control concepts is typically carried out with sub-scale experimentation which limits the testing of true actuator behavior. This lack of capacity to test equipment on an operating gas turbine presents an obstacle in the path towards developing new sensor and control technology that side-step issues of scalability, closed loop control and bottlenecks of bandwidth, frequency response and authority. The USAF is seeking a new test bed / experimental setup to be designed and developed which will provide cost-effective testing for newly developed sensors, actuators or control schemes in support of USAF objectives. The new test bed should have multiple options for including traditional and novel sensor technologies in a variety of gas turbine type environments. This includes compressor inlet and discharge, turbine inlet and discharge, and even the combustion zone. The new system should also have a flexible control system that can be updated to include third-party control schemes to interact with the existing sensor and actuator network. 

PHASE I: Design an experimental setup/test bed with the basic sensors and actuators typically found in gas turbine engines, and access for additional and nontraditional sensors and actuators for future application and testing of advanced control strategies. Design a control system to interact with the sensors and actuators to achieve basic engine control (start, steady state operation, transient throttle events, and shutdown), as well as, flexibility to experiment with other novel control strategies. 

PHASE II: Fabrication and commissioning of the test bed/experimental setup to include demonstration of the full range of operating conditions as designed, including demonstration of the control modes of the test system. 

PHASE III: Conduct performance testing of sensors, actuators and control schemes relevant to USAF turbine engines or other aerospace vehicle applications. 


1. Behbahani, A. and Tulpule, B., “Perspective for Distributed Intelligent Engine Controls of the Future”, AIAA 2010-6631, 46th AIAA/ ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, Nashville, TN, 25- 28 July 2010.; 2. Millar, R. and Tulpule, B., “Intelligent Sensor Node as an Approach to Integrated Instrumentation & Sensor Systems for Aerospace Systems Control”, AIAA 2011-1598, Aerospace 2011, St. Louis, MO, 29- 31 March 2011.; 3. Tooley, J.J., “Design and System Implementation Considerations for High Temperature Distributed Engine Control”, AIAA 2010-6674, 46th AIAA/ ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, Nashville, TN, 25-28 July 2010.; 4. Pakmehr, M., Fitzgerald, N., Cazenave, T., Feron E., Paduano, J. D., and Behbahani, A., "Distributed Modular Control Architecture Development for Gas Turbine Engines", Proceedings of the ISA 58th International Instrumentation Symposium, San Diego, CA

KEYWORDS: Gas Turbine, Engine Controls, Variable Cycle, Sensors, Actuators, Experimental Setup 

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government