Dwayne Brown Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1726) Lori Rachul Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH (Phone

: 216/433-8806)

August 27, 1997

Kirsten Williams Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA (Phone: 805/258-2662) RELEASE: 97-183 NASA RESEARCHING ENGINE AIRFLOW CONTROLS TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE, FUEL EFFICIENCY NASA is conducting flight demonstrations of an advanced highstability engine-control system that is expected to increase significantly future propulsion system performance in both military and commercial aircraft turbine engines. Under the High Stability Engine Control project, NASA's Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH, and Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, are working together to evaluate a computerized system that can sense and then respond to high levels of engine inlet airflow turbulence or distortion, thereby preventing sudden in-flight engine compressor stalls and potential engine failures. The system, called Distortion Tolerant Control, incorporates an aircraft mounted, high-speed processor that senses changes in airflow at the front of the engine and allows the system to automatically command trim changes to the engine to accommodate changing distortion conditions. This allows the engines to operate with more stability under adverse or turbulent airflow conditions. "The primary benefit of Distortion Tolerant Control is its ability to set the stability margin requirement on-line and in real-time," said John DeLaat, program manager at Lewis. "This can allow the built-in stall margin to be reduced, which can then be traded for increased performance, decreased weight, or both. The result will be higher-performance military aircraft and more fuelefficient commercial airliners," he added.

The High Stability Engine Control system is being flight tested at Dryden on a highly modified F-15 jet, which is exploring a variety of advanced control system technologies. The F-15's right engine has been heavily instrumented for the engine experiment, while its left engine remains in the standard configuration. "The F-15 aircraft is an ideal flight research testbed for advanced technologies such as this system," said John Orme, Dryden's principal investigator for the system. "The aircraft's fly-by-wire control system allows for minimum modifications to integrate research systems. Additionally, propulsion testing on only one of the two engines reduces the flight safety risk inherent with most new technologies." The flight demonstrations of the engine experiment are being conducted in two phases. The first "open loop" phase, completed Aug. 8, focused on gathering baseline data on inlet airflow distortion. The second "closed loop" phase, which concludes at the end of August, feeds that data into a Stability Management Control device in the aircraft's electronic engine control computer, which then gives trim commands to the right engine to accommodate for airflow distortion. Project pilots are flying the modified F-15 through a variety of maneuvers designed to create unstable or distorted airflow conditions in the engine air inlets, including nose high angles (angle of attack) up to 25 degrees, full-rudder sideslips, wind-up turns, split-S descents and simulated fighter maneuvering. Testpoint speeds range from Mach 0.3 to Mach 1.6, at altitudes from 5,000 to 45,000 feet. The High Stability Engine control research is sponsored and managed by Lewis, while Dryden is in charge of the flight test phase. Partners include engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, West Palm Beach, FL; Boeing Phantom Works (formerly McDonnell Douglas), St. Louis, MO; and the U.S. Air Force's Wright Laboratories, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, which owns the aircraft and provided one of the five pilots who flew the missions. -end-