aerospace technologies – challenges and opportunities ... - Domain-b


18 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 5 μήνες)

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Dr. Armand J. Chaput
Senior Technical Fellow
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
Fort Worth, Texas 76101 USA
Phone: 817-924-8275
Fax: 817-763-4497
The year 2007 finds the international aerospace industry growing and healthy. Markets are strong and

teams around the world are looking forward to development of the next generation of aerospace

products. Particular attention is paid to aerospace technology advancements – the engine of change

that has allowed each generation of aerospace product to “outperform” its predecessors. Although

these technologies have been key contributors to aerospace success to date, they are not necessarily

the future enablers. Even today, aerospace products achieve “superb performance” through “superb

integration” – the engineering of the individual system elements so that the overall system performs at

or near optimum levels. Even though the importance of integration is widely acknowledged in

government and industry, few graduating engineers are knowledgeable of the concept, much less the

tools and methods involved. This paper provides a perspective on integration as an enabling

technology and questions where the new integration engineers and technologists and will come from.
Over a period of 20-plus years, this author has published and/or presented a number of papers on the

subject of future design and technology challenges for advanced aerospace products, and it is a

pleasure to add one more to the list for Aero India 2007 (Figure 1). In general, the projections have

been reasonably correct, although none were perfect. However, the significance of these projections

is not in the details of which projections came true precisely, which got close, and which missed the

mark. Rather, the significance was in the evolution of the projection themes, starting with a next-
generation fighter, then an unmanned tactical aircraft, and finally an unmanned combat air system.

Equally significant was the evolution of the forums at which they were presented. The first was an

design conference; the second was a conference on mission
and the third was a

conference on
system concepts and integration
. Taken together, the titles and forums show an

inexorable trend from considerations for an individual combat aircraft type (e.g., a fighter) to

considerations for an overall aircraft system and/or systems.
Figure 1 Evolution of Projections – From Aircraft to Systems
Today’s paper will address the challenges and opportunities for combat aircraft systems where the

importance of systems and system integration is well established (Figure 2). It will, however, take an

even broader view and address not just aerospace design and technology considerations, but the

source of these technologies (and technologists). Often we don’t think much about the source of our

technologies and, for that matter, our technologists. We assume they will be there when we need

them. The validity of this assumption may be one of the critical issues facing our industry. We are

becoming increasingly reliant on the integrated contributions of multiple technologies across multiple

disciplines to achieve our system-performance goals. It is not clear that we are adequately providing

an understanding of the fundamental issues associated with multitechnology integration to the next

generation of engineers and technologists, much less preparing them to advance the state of the art.

Part Systems Engineering

used to design and develop well

Most Systems Engineers are process not system

Part Design Engineering

knowledge and skill
in design and
development of well
integrated systems

Part Tools and Methods

knowledge and skill
in development and
application of integration methods
Figure 2 Integration – What Is It?
Aerospace Technologies: Roles and Responsibilities
Over the years, academia, government
and industry have evolved a beneficial and shared

responsibility for technology (and technologist) development. The roles played by each of the three

have evolved with time, but are driven by institutional motivations, objectives and capabilities, as

shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3 Technology Pursuit – Rationale and Capabilities
Academia, for example, is where students receive a solid understanding of engineering fundamentals,

albeit in specific technology areas, and is the primary source of fundamental research. There are

many reasons: academic institutions are about education and the advancement of knowledge; the

In this discussion, the generic term “government” will be used to describe national defense and related civilian

organizations. Other synonymous terms used will be “customer” and “user.”
academic environment is less constrained by schedule than government and industry; students and

professors are motivated to dig deep into their subject areas; and, of course, there is a major emphasis

on publication.
As a result, industry and government generally operate on the assumption that

academic institutions will work the fundamentals and, to date, those academic fundamentals of

interest have been in individual technology areas.

Although industry and government are also in the education business, albeit focused primarily on

training, their primary contributions to technology/technologist development are resources, facilities

and program support (government) and end-product applications (industry). Both also provide

rewarding careers and jobs for engineers and technologists who seek opportunities outside of

academia. This defined split in roles and responsibilities may surprise some in academia who also see

the aerospace industry as a source of technology funding and research program support. Although it

certainly does occur, most often it is in response to a knowledge or methodology shortfall in a specific

area and not an across-the-board commitment to support university research. Otherwise the aerospace

industry, at least in the United States, has become notoriously tight-fisted when it comes to supporting

university research. This is a change that occurred during my career and, from an industry

perspective, there are many reasons for it including; technology transfer restrictions, policies on

intellectual property, changes in government research and development reimbursement criteria, etc.

Nonetheless, one contributor has been reduced industry interest in the scope and direction of

university aerospace research. Generally it is seen as not being as relevant to industry as it once was.
Design and Technology Considerations for Future Combat Air Systems
In 1983 as the newly installed manager of Advanced Design at then-General Dynamics (GD) Fort

Worth Division and a member of the Aircraft Design Technical Committee of the American Institute

of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), I was asked to present a paper on future fighter design and

technology requirements. The result
was the first paper which reached, from my perspective as a

long-term aerospace technology advocate, an unexpected
conclusion (Figure 4).
Figure 4 Fighter “Performance” Takes On a New Meaning
Traditional aerospace technologies were projected to continue to advance, but the real advancements

in fighter capability for the next two decades would come from avionics. And over the longer term,

after the explosive growth in avionics capability leveled off, continuing capability improvements

would come from “hybrid” technologies, a term GD used to describe what we now call integrated

technologies. Integrated technologies came in suites and included various combinations of

aerodynamics, flight controls, structure, propulsion, weapons integration, avionics and human factors

or pilot-vehicle interface technologies. In fact, this was part of GD’s long-term technology

development plan which included the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration (AFTI) F-16

sponsored by the U.S. Air Force. The AFTI F-16 was truly an integrated platform – flight controls,

sensors, mission systems and the pilot were highly integrated, and it served as a technology test bed

for follow-on versions of the F-16. Other technology integration demonstrators followed including

the F-16 Axi-symmetric Thrust Vectoring Nozzle program which added integrated flight-propulsion

control to the suite of demonstrated technologies. GD was not alone in the pursuit of integrated

technology advancement; McDonnell-Douglas received the coveted U.S. Air Force contract for the F-
15 Short Takeoff and Landing/Maneuver (STOL/M) demonstrator, while North American Rockwell

Deutsche Aerospace
teamed for the U.S. Air Force/National Aeronautics and Space

Administration (NASA)-sponsored X-31
Enhanced Fighter Maneuverability (EFM)

Although not all of the integrated technologies demonstrated in these programs transitioned to the

next-generation fighters, the activity clearly put the world of aerospace on notice that future fighter

aircraft technologies would be highly integrated.
The future trend was clear, next generation

aerospace system capability growth would involve integrated technology development.
Design Considerations for Future Uninhabited Combat Air Vehicles
Approximately 15 years after the first paper, a second one was published on the subject of

fighter aircraft
. This was a more complicated and controversial subject than manned fighter

technology projection because it was not clear what missions would be required of these aircraft.

Therefore, the paper provided an assessment of combat air needs vs. the capabilities of a range of

potential system solutions (Figure 5). The paper concluded that unmanned aircraft would not be one-
for-one replacements for manned aircraft or cruise missiles but rather would evolve into unique

systems that capitalized on their strengths (e.g., unencumbered by human limitations or crew loss

considerations, the potential for significantly lower operations and support costs), while avoiding their

weaknesses (e.g., limited operator situation awareness, susceptibility to jamming, limitations in

communications bandwidth, limited onboard intelligence). The least-complicated (e.g., fixed-target

attack), most endurance-dependent (e.g., loiter or combat air patrol) and most dangerous (e.g.,

suppression of enemy air defenses) missions were projected to go unmanned first and followed later

by other “dull-dirty-dangerous” missions as system capabilities improved. The paper, however, noted

that before the most obvious missions could be assigned to unmanned systems, significant

improvements were needed in system reliability (especially for communications and air vehicles) and

the ability of unmanned systems to interoperate with manned aircraft in national airspace.
Originally known as Unmanned Tactical Aircraft (UTA), the concept was renamed Unmanned Combat Air

Vehicle (UCAV) to convey that it was not just an unmanned tactical fighter but an air vehicle system. The term

“uninhabited” was used to convey that human operators were in control of the system; they were simply not

collocated with the air vehicle. Later the name was further broadened to Unmanned Combat Air System

(UCAS) to emphasize that these were not just air vehicles but rather a system of air vehicles.
Figure 5 Roles and Missions Projection Based on System Strengths and Weaknesses
From the perspective of today’s paper, perhaps the most significant outcome was the basis for the

projections – system-level simulations that led to
of the performance benefits and

limitations vs. qualitative opinions and assertions. In fact, without access to man-in-the-loop system-
level simulation, the results of the paper would have had little or no substantive basis. Without a

fundamental understanding of the limits and capabilities of overall systems, projections of strengths

and weaknesses have little technical basis.
Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Concepts for Combat Air Support
The final paper in the series proposed a revolutionary system concept – an integrated network of air

vehicle systems intended to respond directly to requests/commands from individual combatants

(Figure 5). The performance and capabilities of any of the individual systems were much less

important than the capability of the overall system to respond. For example, instead of going through

the traditional process of “racking and stacking” of requests for intelligence or combat air support, the

system architecture would be designed to respond to individual requests for air support based on

capability to respond. In many respects, it was the military equivalent of a civilian taxi dispatch or

pizza delivery service. The interesting aspect of this was that the concept required no, repeat no

individual technology developments to achieve its revolutionary goals (Figure 6).
Despite the absence of requirements for individual technology advancements, achievement of the

overall system capability goals required extremely sophisticated concepts of operation (i.e., system

integration). This is perhaps the epitome of a technologist’s nightmare, “revolutionary new system,

no technology required.” From a technology integration standpoint, however, it is the ultimate

Figure 6 Revolutionary New Combat Air System Concept – No New Technology Required
Challenges and Opportunities for Future Combat Air Systems
From the perspective of 20+ relatively short years’ involvement in trying to project future aerospace

challenges and opportunities, the message is clear –
of the critical future aerospace challenges is

technology integration (Figure 6). It may or may not involve new technology but, nonetheless, it is a

challenge. Given that observation, how does this fit with the traditional model of technology roles

and responsibilities? What role should academia play from an educational and fundamental research

perspective? And what about government? Or does this one fall entirely on industry to handle? The

answer depends partly on whether the challenge is perceived as a straightforward technical task or a

substantive, long-term technology challenge.
Technology Integration – Task or Technology?
A task is something accomplished using established tools or principles. Solution methods are defined,

and qualified people are available to teach the process and/or review the results. By this definition,

most aerospace challenges clearly are not technology (i.e., research) challenges. For example, design

of a structural airframe component using known materials and well-understood loads may be an

engineering challenge but not a technology challenge. On the other hand, design of the same

component using a new material and/or manufacturing process could legitimately be considered a

technology challenge, at least for a period of time. Once the challenge was resolved, it would be

relegated to task status. Although a government research organization might launch a research

program around the new material or manufacturing process to reduce the risk, a university would be

ill-advised to establish a new course of study around something so short-lived.
Using the above criteria, technology integration could be either a task or a technology. For example,

integrating a straightforward new airfoil with a new wing structural design might be challenging, but

it probably is not a technology challenge. Integrated aerodynamic and structural wing design methods

are well-established and, if there is little about the new application that stresses existing methods or

knowledge, it is simply a task. However, if the airfoil has to morph in flight and the structure deform

beyond previously established limits, it assuredly would be considered a technology challenge.

However, the challenge might not be sufficiently long-lived to justify university pursuit much beyond

submitting a proposal to support a graduate student thesis or dissertation (i.e., a technology project).

In conclusion, logic suggests that the criteria for determining whether something is a task, a

technology project or a technology area involve: (1) existence of established methods, (2) degree of

current knowledge and (3) longevity.
By extension of the previous logic, technology integration is clearly a technology (Figure 7). The

subject is not well understood; the methods are not well developed; and the risk level of making a bad

technology integration decision is high. The only remaining question is whether technology

should be pursued as a project or a long-term technology area. The simple fact

that technology integration has been a challenge for the last 25 years and is unlikely to go away for

another 25 years (if ever), provides the answer – it is, or should be, a technology pursuit area across

academia-government-industry. But the fact of the matter is – it isn’t.
Integration Technology

Advancements in state of the art

New Concepts of Integration

Advancements in Integration Tools and Methods

Do the job accurately and efficiently
Figure 7 The Technology of Technology Integration
Status of Integration Education
For reasons that could be the subject of another paper, few universities have courses of instruction on

integration, technology or otherwise. Integration is viewed as a variation of “design” which, in the

United States, is taught at the undergraduate level, but usually not considered a proper subject for

scholarly pursuit at the graduate level. However, in both industry and government, people with good

integration skills are highly valued, and they often move to the top of the organization and assume

titles like chief engineer (Figure 8). They are, in fact, the engineering counterparts of CEOs, the

career objective of thousands of graduate students in hundreds of Master of business administration

(MBA) programs around the world. A
question to ponder – if studies toward an MBA are considered

scholarly pursuit, why aren’t studies towards the engineering equivalent equally scholarly

Possess Multidiscipline
(not just familiarity)

Able to do

run their own numbers

in multiple areas

Able to separate hope/hype from fact

Overall System Knowledge

Solid technical understanding of the overall product, its
parts and interactions

Dirt under the fingernails

date on tools and methods

Disciplined and Organized

Technically rigorous including follow

Solid planning and organization capabilities

Excellent Interpersonal Skills

Able to deal effectively with large groups and egos

Focused and Decisive

Able to lead teams through complicated and/or
contentious technical decisions
Figure 8 Characteristics of a Successful Technology Integrator
Current Status of Integration Technology and Research
For reasons similar to those discussed above, few universities consider technology integration as a

research area. Among universities that do recognize it as a legitimate area for research, the tendency is

to focus on convergence and/or visualization methods vs. the fundamentals of air system technology

integration. The situation is not much different in government except that the focus is on system-level

and mission area simulation methods. On the industrial side, my observation is that many companies

view technology integration as a task to be accomplished on a program-by-program basis. Functional

areas of responsibility are blurred, and little or no work is done to build basic technical capabilities

across programs. This leads to an interesting dichotomy: technology integration as a skill is highly

valued – the future of aerospace depends on it – but few teach it or conduct research on how to do it

Concluding Remarks
Industry, government and academia share responsibility for the development of technology and

technologists across a range of technical disciplines. The future of aerospace products depends on

technology integration for continued overall system capability growth, especially integration of

multiple vs. single discipline technologies. Technology integration involves much more than

application of a systems engineering process, and our ability to continue to advance aerospace state of

the art requires: (1) integrators with substantive knowledge across multiple technical areas and (2)

improved tools and methods for overall system integration. Industry, government and university need

to assess their readiness to support development of future systems that are even more dependent on

highly-integrated technologies.