DARPA Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE)

TomcatViP

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DARPA has launched in August its research program for Active flow control airframe demonstrator called CRANE (Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effecters) :


I thought we needed a thread for that.

An interesting report on the program (if you discard the verbous first half dealing with Airbus) :

 
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TomcatViP

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DEFENSE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY

Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., Manassas, Virginia, has been awarded a $7,115,128 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program. Work will be performed in Manassas, Virginia (50%); Tucson, Arizona (26%); St. Louis, Missouri (15%); and Los Angeles, California (9%), with an estimated completion date of June 2021. Fiscal 2020 research and development funds in the amount of $7,109,177 are being obligated at the time of award. This contract is a competitive acquisition in accordance with the original broad agency announcement HR0011-19-S-0072. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (HR0011-20-C-0119).

 

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flateric

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Aurora Flight Sciences to Develop New X-Plane Under DARPA Contract

NOVEMBER 12, 2020

Active Flow Control in early stage aircraft design will enable revolutionary capabilities

MANASSAS, Va., Nov. 12, 2020 — Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing Company, aims to develop an experimental plane under a new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract. The X-plane seeks to demonstrate the advanced capabilities of Active Flow Control (AFC) as a primary design consideration.

Through DARPA’s Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program, Aurora is under contract for Phase 0 in partnership with Boeing and the University of Arizona. The team will develop tools and technology for incorporating AFC in the early stages of aircraft design to later demonstrate in a custom X-plane.

During Phase 0, Aurora will study AFC-enabled designs across multiple mission domains for one year to identify an X-plane demonstrator concept. Phase 1 will follow with preliminary design of an X-plane demonstrator.

“This team builds upon decades of AFC research and prototyping, including flight tests of full-scale implementations,” said Per Beith, Aurora President and CEO. “Together with DARPA, we can enable fundamentally new approaches to aircraft design and look forward to exploring game-changing configurations.”

About Aurora Flight Sciences

Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing Company, specializes in creating advanced aircraft through the development of versatile and intuitive autonomous systems, in addition to advanced composite manufacturing. Operating at the intersection of technology and robotic aviation, Aurora leverages the power of autonomy to make manned and unmanned flight safer and more efficient. For more information, visit www.aurora.aero.

# # #

Contact

Kelsey Swanson
Aurora Flight Sciences
+1 610-379-6191
swanson.kelsey@aurora.aero
 

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marauder2048

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One thing the NATO AVT-239 study on AFC brought up was that pushing (hot) bleed air
through the interior of the aircraft and out to apertures is going to have thermal implications.

You may end up trading reduced control surface deflection (and hence RCS) for worse IR signature.
 

TomcatViP

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@marauder2048 : I am not sure that blowing air is still used on external surface here.
Effectors should be seen here as electronic device that accelerate pre-charged (or not) air through magnetic field or locally grow the thickness of the boundary layers through heat transfer and dynamic actuation.
IMOHO nobody will blow air for cruise ctrl like it was experimented earlier. Exhaust gases on the training edge, yes, as that won't affect the IR signature otherwise than on a positive note (increased dilution).
 
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TomcatViP

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Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., announced a $12.4 million order to Aurora late last month to move to phase-one of the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) project.

In this phase Aurora Flight Sciences electric aircraft experts will validate analytical predictions, carry out control loop analyses, and perform modeling verification. The company won a $7.1 million DARPA CRANE contract in June 2020 to craft configuration-agnostic designs, conduct geometric and technology trade studies, and produce process documentation.

Aurora mulls replacing traditional control surfaces on aircraft with actuators or effectors
 
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AeroFranz

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This is not aimed at electric aircraft as the article reports, they must have gotten confused. The fluidic actuators have rather large massflow/power requirements, which is pretty taxing for electric aircraft.
 

TomcatViP

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Link text modified. They are focused on electrics for aviation with a high power range (follow their link). Effectors can use high voltage current. They are not all simply fluidic. Magnetodynamics needs high voltage current.
 
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Grey Havoc

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That looks like a photo of a MINION or related wind tunnel model. Just the PR hacks using a old photo for illustration purposes or is it actually being used as part of the current project? (I don't think MINION itself has been a active project recently, though I could be wrong.)

Never mind, realised where the photo actually originated. Tea infusion, stat!
 
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TomcatViP

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Next phase launched:
Aurora Flight Sciences and Lockheed Martin Corporation are now entering Phase 1, which includes system requirements development, initial design work, software development, and initial airworthiness activities that culminate in a preliminary design review.

Alexander Walan, program manager for CRANE in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office said, “The Phase 1 researchers have completed conceptual designs of novel flight demonstration configurations with quantifiable performance benefits enabled by active flow control.

“Multiple AFC technologies will continue to be matured through advanced analytical and testing activities for incorporation in relevant demonstrator designs.”

 

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BAE now also selected for Phase 1 on CRANE
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the contract to BAE Systems to design a full scale demonstrator concept with Active Flow Control at its core. The aircraft’s ability to maneuver in flight without conventional flight control surfaces will enable improved performance, maintainability, and survivability.

The contract award forms part of DARPA’s Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) project, which intends to inject Active Flow Control technology early into the aircraft design process to demonstrate significant efficiency benefits, as well as improvements to aircraft cost, weight, performance, and reliability.

bsp_5110-idr-13899.jpg



(there is a cool video)

 
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TomcatViP

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Coming from the research group, my perspective is that defense will see the first applications of AFC for flight control, probably within the next five to ten years. Our assessments showed that an AFC-based flight control system will be smaller and lighter than conventional flight control systems. There are also specific benefits for the military, which include reducing the observability of air vehicles while enhancing their survivability and maneuverability.

I believe the first commercial applications for AFC will come soon after, as people realize that the safety and efficiency of aircraft can be significantly improved using this technology. These types of effectors can help reduce fuel consumption, and they work better in stalled conditions. This helps to improve flight stability compared with traditional-style control effectors.

 

In_A_Dream

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Coming from the research group, my perspective is that defense will see the first applications of AFC for flight control, probably within the next five to ten years. Our assessments showed that an AFC-based flight control system will be smaller and lighter than conventional flight control systems. There are also specific benefits for the military, which include reducing the observability of air vehicles while enhancing their survivability and maneuverability.

I believe the first commercial applications for AFC will come soon after, as people realize that the safety and efficiency of aircraft can be significantly improved using this technology. These types of effectors can help reduce fuel consumption, and they work better in stalled conditions. This helps to improve flight stability compared with traditional-style control effectors.


Of course it's not ;)
 

flateric

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Wind Tunnel Testing Advances Development of Aurora’s Active Flow Control X-Plane
MAY 11, 2022

Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing Company, recently conducted wind tunnel testing of its X-plane candidate for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program. The data collected provides a rigorous foundation for developing flight control laws using active flow control (AFC) as a primary control effector.
Wind tunnel testing was conducted as part of phase 1 of DARPA’s CRANE program, which includes system requirements development, initial design work, software development, and initial airworthiness activities. The CRANE program, overall, aims to design, build, and flight test a novel X-plane that demonstrates quantifiable benefits of designing with active flow control.

“Aurora’s work on CRANE continues our history of proving ground-breaking technologies from concept to flight test,” said Per Beith, President and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences. “Through the DARPA CRANE program, Aurora is advancing AFC technology for application to next generation aircraft.”

Aurora is designing an X-Plane that uses AFC for multiple effects, including flight control at tactical speeds and performance enhancement across the flight envelope. This work is widely applicable, across tactical and non-tactical aircraft, and aims to provide the confidence needed for future aircraft requirements to include AFC-enabled capabilities.

“Leveraging Boeing’s targeted investments in active flow control, our advancements on the CRANE program aim to further validate the technology’s potential benefits to improve efficiency and performance for both commercial and military aircraft,” said Laurette Lahey, Senior Director, Boeing Research and Technology, Flight & Vehicle Technology.

Using a 25% scale model, Aurora conducted tests over four weeks at a wind tunnel facility in San Diego, California. In addition to 11 movable conventional control surfaces, the model featured 14 AFC banks with eight fully independent controllable AFC air supply channels. Over 14,000 data points were collected, including 8,860 AFC control power points, forming the foundation for a flight-quality aerodynamic database to enable rapid execution in future program phases.

The test team consisted of Aurora and Boeing engineers with expertise in aerodynamics, conceptual design engineering, and test & evaluation. Test data has since been incorporated into vehicle models to characterize active flight control performance across the operational envelope and continue progressing design development.

 

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