The Brillance of Ingenuity

CFDRC wins Air Force contract to develop and demonstrate real-time analysis capabilities for external flight test loads

Huntsville, Ala. | June, 7, 2016 – CFD Research Corporation has won a $750k contract from the Air Force to further develop and demonstrate a real-time analysis tool for accurate determination of combined static and dynamic external flight loads. The goal of the project is to produce an integrated real-time software analysis and prediction tool based on surrogate models using non-proprietary physics-based models and existing flight test data.

Flight performance of aircrafts is characterized by the complex interplay between aerodynamics, structural dynamics and flight control dynamics. Determining the stability and control characteristics of aircraft at the edge of the envelope is one of the most difficult and expensive aspects of the aircraft development process. Therefore, the ability to accurately identify the dependence of flight external loads on flight condition, dynamic and control states using data from various sources, such as flight test, physics-based models of varying fidelity levels, and to rapidly predict them at test points yet to be flown is essential for developing high-performance, safe, aircrafts and aerospace vehicles with reduced cost and cycle.

In prior work key technology elements were developed and proof-of-principle was successfully demonstrated. Load analysis software encapsulating unified formulation, varying-fidelity surrogate models, model fusion, input selection, and model verification were developed in an integrated environment. By way of extensive USAF relevant case studies, critical evidence was established to accurately analyze flight test data (5% uncertainty in load prediction) for various maneuvers at the real-time rate and to elucidate primary load-driving factors.

In this new project, the software will be optimized for performance and functionality. The surrogate modeling will be expanded and advanced fusion algorithms will be developed for improved reliability. A global sensitivity analysis technique will be developed for quantitative characterization of input parameter significance, and model verification will be refined for objective evaluation of load prediction performance. The software will be integrated with USAF designated flight test tool (IADS) to automate the entire data analysis work flow in the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) environment. The tool will be extensively validated and demonstrated via case studies of USAF interest.

About CFD Research Corporation: Since its inception in 1987, CFDRC has worked with government agencies, businesses and academia to provide innovative solutions within the Aerospace & Defense, Biomedical & Life Sciences, and Energy & Materials industries. Over the years CFDRC has earned multiple national awards for successful application and commercialization of innovative component/system technology prototypes, multi-physics simulation software and multi-disciplinary analyses. Learn more at

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