Researchers Awarded $600,000 to Enhance Safety of Electrical Aircraft

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A multi-disciplinary research team received a $600,000 award from the Federal Aviation Administration to gather information to help enhance safety and reliability for future electrical aircraft.

The team will evaluate high-power motor and drive systems for electrical aircraft. Their goal is to generate information regarding the consequences of electrification of aircraft systems. The information will help the FAA develop future standards for electrical aircraft.

“We want to provide our society with cleaner, safer and cheaper air mobility,” said Fang Luo, assistant professor of electrical engineering and project leader.

The multi-disciplinary project includes David Huitink, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Arkansas; Kiruba Sivasubramaniam Haran, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois; and Zak Sorchini, group leader and associate director at United Technologies Research Center.

Because Luo is leaving the University of Arkansas in August, Huitink will lead the work done at the University of Arkansas, while Luo will still oversee the project.

Luo said researchers at the University of Arkansas and University of Illinois will focus on power converters, motor system integration, testing and modeling, while researchers at the United Technologies Research Center will mentor and guide the team.

“We will conduct our modeling and analysis research based on previous research efforts and leverage our existing hardware for aircraft electrification for the experiment verification,” Luo said.

Through modeling, analysis and lab-scale experiment verification, the researchers will study the interactions between the power converters and motors in all-electric aircraft systems to address the stability and reliability problems.

“This will provide knowledge on multi-converter system stability with specific aircraft mission profile, high-voltage-related failure, EMI/power-quality related failure and mitigation approaches,” Luo said.

Testing will be conducted at both universities and is expected to be completed early 2023.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3 percent of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Nick DeMoss, director of communications
College of Engineering
479-575-5697, ndemoss@uark.edu

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