Within the INFLIGHT project a gust load alleviation system is developed, which uses novel sensors and model predictive control strategies to effectively alleviate gust loads and enhances passenger comfort by reducing vibrations.

The INFLIGHT project aims to develop a gust load alleviation system. Systems for alleviation of loads are commonly installed in aircraft to reduce structural loads during specific flight conditions by deflecting control surfaces. State-of-the-art alleviation systems are rather simple but of limited performance. Within the project the developed system will take advantage of enhanced atmospheric measurements through a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor to detect gust winds up to 200m ahead of the aircraft. The early knowledge of the encountering gust gives more sophisticated control strategies like model predictive control (MPC) approaches advantages over commonly used controllers.

With forward-looking sensors and model predictive control strategies adaptive control aims can be formulated. By defining cost functions for the model predictive controller, the different control aims can be achieved. The primary project goal is to develop a gust load alleviation system to reduce e.g. the structural loads at the wing root by using control surface deflections to actively alter the aerodynamic pressure distribution on the wing. This would enable structural weight reduction as load peaks could be distributed over time or onto other structural regions. Additionally, control aims to reduce inflight vibrations can be formulated, which enhances passenger comfort and passenger safety.

For the first time this project combines inflight real-time LIDAR measurements with load alleviation strategies. The model predictive controller combined with the LIDAR sensor will achieve significant load reduction compared to state-of-the-art load alleviation strategies. The resulting weight reduction would directly affect the fuel consumption and moreover the CO2 emission in a positive way and will contribute to a more economic and safe air travel.

The gust load alleviation system will be installed in an ultra-light aircraft, the Remos GX, from our project subcontractor messWERK. The aircraft will be equipped with a LIDAR sensor by our project partner IFF from TUBS to measure the gust speeds ahead of the aircraft in real-time. Our second project partner IFAT from OVGU will integrate the predictive controller into the aircrafts system and ensure real-time capability. IBK will deliver the structural and aerodynamical model for the model predictive controller, will define the control goals and as project leader is responsible for the project management.

The following partners are part of INFLIGHT:

The project started in January 2018 and will last till December 2021.

INFLIGHT receives funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy LuFo V-3 under grant agreement no 20Q1711A.