Preliminary Design of a Model-Free Synthetic Sensor for Aerodynamic Angle Estimation for Commercial Aviation

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Nov 23;19(23):5133. doi: 10.3390/s19235133.


Heterogeneity of the small aircraft category (e.g., small air transport (SAT), urban air mobility (UAM), unmanned aircraft system (UAS)), modern avionic solution (e.g., fly-by-wire (FBW)) and reduced aircraft (A/C) size require more compact, integrated, digital and modular air data system (ADS) able to measure data from the external environment. The MIDAS project, funded in the frame of the Clean Sky 2 program, aims to satisfy those recent requirements with an ADS certified for commercial applications. The main pillar lays on a smart fusion between COTS solutions and analytical sensors (patented technology) for the identification of the aerodynamic angles. The identification involves both flight dynamic relationships and data-driven state observer(s) based on neural techniques, which are deterministic once the training is completed. As this project will bring analytical sensors on board of civil aircraft as part of a redundant system for the very first time, design activities documented in this work have a particular focus on airworthiness certification aspects. At this maturity level, simulated data are used, real flight test data will be used in the next stages. Data collection is described both for the training and test aspects. Training maneuvers are defined aiming to excite all dynamic modes, whereas test maneuvers are collected aiming to validate results independently from the training set and all autopilot configurations. Results demonstrate that an alternate solution is possible enabling significant savings in terms of computational effort and lines of codes but they show, at the same time, that a better training strategy may be beneficial to cope with the new neural network architecture.

Keywords: air data system; analytical redundancy; avionics; flight dynamics; neural network; state observer; synthetic sensor; virtual sensor.

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