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Novel Approaches for Integrated Controls with TMS and Power



The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the AF SBIR/STTR Contracting Officer, Ms. Gail Nyikon,

OBJECTIVE: Mitigate impacts of increased control system complexity while enabling high reliability, reduced validation costs, and advanced propulsion system performance.

DESCRIPTION: Over the past 40 years, the introduction of electronic controls in high-performance turbine engines has led to a steady rise in complexity of the engine control systems. Studies have shown that the reliability of engine and controls have consistently improved as tasks formerly accomplished by mechanical means on the engine were pushed to software control and highly integrated electronics. Current state-of-the-art (SOA) large engine controls employ linearized models that implement proportional integral derivative (PID) algorithms, optimization using Kalman filters for efficiency/performance, and greater use of multiple input/multiple output (MIMO) control to accommodate increasing variable engine features and sensors. SOA MIMO technology is generally not PID based, but depends on the individual application. Future large and medium scale propulsion designs, in addition to incorporating variable engine features (geometry), will require controlling and integrating large power generation/extraction, as well as, controlling thermal management of the components. The engine control is expected to be linked to other electronic systems on the aircraft and becomes the primary control at specific mission segments to achieve performance, high efficiency, and low cost. The observed trend toward increasing engine reliability is not expected to be maintained as the introduction of variable cycle (VCE) and more fuel efficient engines require additional mechanical actuation and flow control devices. Projected electronic hardware and software complexity will also continue to increase as integration of electrical power and thermal management systems are fully implemented. Significant research challenges in both high reliability architectures as well as cost effective, accurate validation that captures the system actual expectations will require development of new approaches for design tools beyond the current SOA for controls. Research activities should focus on development of control system modeling tools employing hierarchical abstraction/composition such as use of VHDL used in logic chip design and Ptolemy II used in embedded system simulation. Leveraging these modeling/simulation approaches will lead to lower complexity designs with higher reliability and greater robustness for future advanced propulsion systems. Development of tools that employ algorithms that evaluate top level control functions integrating fault protection and closed loop control can potentially eliminate growing software architecture complexity is of interest. Applicability of new adaptive control techniques in the simulation tools are appropriate. Research into approaches that reduce uncertainty in the control design/modeling approach concurrently with the engine design are also significant and appropriate.

PHASE I: Develop control system software tool using hierarchical-based approach that enables improved reliability, robustness, and reduced costs for advanced engine systems with variable or novel integrated features. Show the feasibility of achieving new capabilities through simulation. Compare the results to SOA control approaches.

PHASE II: Develop and refine the Phase I concept by design and implementation prototype software code. Demonstrate the control capability through FADEC or flight control (FC) closed-loop simulation with relevant hardware and controls models.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Fully develop the control capability by implementing the concept in an engine/aircraft quality prototype system (hardware and software) that meets the requirements for an advanced engine/aircraft application.


    • West, Adam and Dvorak, Daniel, L., "NASA Study on Flight Software Complexity," NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, March 2009.


    • Ying, Susan, "Foundations for Innovation in Cyber Physical Systems," Workshop Report, Energetics Inc., Columbia Maryland, NIST, January 2013.


    • Chapuis, Dennis, "Automotive and Aerospace Electronics, Similarities, Differences, Potential for Synergies," SAE Convergence of Systems Symposium, 2011.


  • Becz Sandor, "Design System for Managing Complexity in Aerospace Systems," 10th AIAA Aviation Technology and Operations Conference, 13-15 September 2010, Fort Worth, TX.

KEYWORDS: control systems, propulsion, reliable controls, mathematical algorithms, optimal control, adaptive control, model based reference control

  • TPOC-1: Kenneth Semega
  • Phone: 937-255-6741
  • Email:
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