25 | July | 2024

PAV/eVTOL – How to Spot An Accident Before it Happens

The emergence of the design and development of eVTOL aircraft is driving an explosion in new companies and aero engineering activity around the world.  These eVTOL projects all have one thing in common, they are all proposing new designs that have never been fully proven and tested in the real world.  Without any historical/empirical data against which such designs can be benchmarked means the technical challenges associated with the evaluation of such designs are significant. Many of these designs are amply demonstrated in the conceptual stage but there remains a lack of awareness as to what tools are needed as designs progress through the process of further development, testing, simulation/modelling, on to aircraft certification and the associated level of fidelity required to pass each step.  Whilst the use of gaming technology provides adequate preliminary information for marketing and concepts it is wholly unsuitable when considering flight test and certification

Regardless of the aircraft type, there remains a reliance on a range of good practices to assure a solid technical foundation exists for more advanced development activity. One such practice involves investigation on how best to identify and avoid losses of control. Such investigations are markedly different to those accepted when writing web applications, where the odd bug getting through may result in a system crash, then writing a patch and correcting it. In aircraft design, any event leading to loss of control is bad regardless as to whether people are hurt or not and should be avoided at all costs.

In evaluating new aircraft, good practices include the likes of response modelling, high fidelity simulation, and uncertainty analysis; all used to help understand those areas that present a risk of a loss of control. This is why such approaches have been used within the more conventional aircraft industry for decades.

For more information see Modelling, Simulation and Flight Test

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