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2nd IFAC Workshop on Research, Education and Development of

Unmanned Aerial Systems

November 20-22, 2013. Compiegne, France

Concept design for an unmanned aerial

vehicle that will perform exploration
missions in Colombia ?
Miller A. Rocha ∗ Leonardo E. Solaque, PhD ∗∗

Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, Bogotá, Colombia (Tel:+571
6500000; e-mail:
Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, Bogotá, Colombia (Tel:+571
6500000; e-mail:

Abstract: One of the major disadvantages due to the topography of Colombia is the exploration
and monitoring of power transmission lines and pipelines, the difficult access to the area by
the human being does not allow monitoring to enable agile decision to give a prompt and
quick solution to problems presented, for this reason the development of Unmanned Aerial
Vehicles has become a solution that allows the exploration of inaccessible areas. This article
provides a conceptualization of the model of a UAV, describing the state of art of similar
projects for surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, checking the type of aircraft to be used
that best perform in flight and stability according to the geography of the country. We present
a comparison and analysis of airfoils, type of propulsion system, airframe design and vehicle
control surfaces and compare the advantages of a new design against the current Universidad
Militar Nueva Granada model. The conceptualization presented here is the start of an initial
design and development of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle that will perform surveillance and
exploration missions.

1. INTRODUCTION The reason of the development of unmanned aerial vehicles

to perform exploration labors, impact in the reduction of
UAV is an acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which risk inspection by human being in hard to access areas.
is an aircraft with no pilot on board. UAVs can be re- Other benefit for the uses of that vehicles is the fast
mote controlled aircraft or can fly autonomously based and major covering of the area, minimizing displacements
on pre-programmed flight plans or more complex dynamic costs. As an exploration of the area more often helps to
automation systems. UAV [2012] In contrast to a missile, prevent natural disasters or act more quickly to them.
The UAVs are capable to be controlled, have a sustained Many studies around the world have been conducted in
level of flight and can be powered by jet or propeller driven. order to implement UAVs to enable the development of
Because UAVs are converted into complex systems include work outside the military labors, but focused on com-
ground stations and other elements, the FFA (Federal Avi- mercial applications that provided solutions to industrial
ation Administration) has changed the term ”Unmanned requirements like photogrammetry and aerial exploration.
Aerial Vehicle” to ”Unmanned Aircraft System” with the Funaki [2008] in his article presents the characteristics that
acronym UAS. mus have an UAV for a successful flight for the exploration
of the Antarctica, indicating that the aircraft must be
Actually in Colombia, the research of UAV has become able to maintain a long autonomously controlled flight
an important theme to be considered, in order to give at low temperatures, it must be easily transported out
a solution to industry requirements that need to make and into the flight stations, to have good payload capacity
photometry and explorations labors, that is why the dif- with a strong and long structure, propelled by a powerful
ferent kind of research group in our country are developing engine and easy operation by a small group of techni-
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that performs the industry cians. Although the Antarctica flight environment does
requirements, like design low consumption, light weight not correspond with the flight environment in Colombia,
and long flight time vehicles. According to this, the re- the payload characteristics, flight speed and run-time shall
search group from La Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, be taken into account for the development of the aircraft
GIDAM, are developing an unmanned aircraft prototype around this project. Funaki in this research developed six
with aerodynamic characteristics that allow flights at low different fixed wing aircraft designs, with different payload
velocities, low energy consumption and a payload of 3 Kg, capacity and size, so for our development will be taken the
capable to make exploration missions over the electrical recommendations and conclusions described in his paper,
energy network. to improve the design and development time.
Centisoy [2012] indicates that the aerodynamic design
? This work was supported in part by COLCIENCIAS and the
main objective is to choose the most suitable propulsion
system and to minimize air resistance generating enough
Universidad Militar Nueva Granada.

978-3-902823-57-1/2013 © IFAC 193 10.3182/20131120-3-FR-4045.00028

November 20-22, 2013. Compiegne, France

Element Estimated weight

Electric motor 700 g
Electronics 200 g
Batteries 1200 g
Servo-motors 200 g
Estructure 4700 g
Total 7000 g
Table 1. Estimated unloaded weight of the

lift for flight, with a light and suitable structure. Also Fig. 1. UAV Mission profile
this author comments in his document the criteria for
engine selection, they must produce the power required a payload of 3Kg, high aerodynamic performance and
to lift, be lighter in weight, mechanically strong and have easy to transport and assembly model by the operators. A
a cooling system effective for long flights. In his project, calculation of an estimated unloaded weight of the model
Centisoy show the design of the fuselage as a rectangular is 7Kg which includes the mechanical structure, batteries,
prism with rounded nose and a rear section with tapering motor and electronics as can be seen in table 1. As it
thickness for high aerodynamic efficiency, the advantage was mentioned before the payload is 3Kg which is usually
that he presents for this airframe design is the low friction used for surveillance camera and sensors, so the estimated
coefficient because of its resemblance to a drop of water. In weight for aircraft calculations is 10Kg.
our project as a start point the fuselage configuration will
be a square cross section due to its easy construction and 2.1 Airfoil selection
the spaciousness. In order to improve the drag rounded
shapes in front of fuselage will be considered as was One of the most important decisions when developing a
exposed by Centisoy. fixed wing aircraft is airfoil selection, this should have
features that allows behavior according to flight conditions
In order to validate the model is necessary it is suggested and the type of model selected. To understand the profile
to make simulation using CFD software, this is useful selection there must be clear some basic concepts of
to determine the lift and drag coefficients in order to aerodynamics focusing on coefficients that determine the
improve the aerodynamic design of the aerial vehicle before sustainability and efficiency of the selected airfoil. These
the building and mechanical assemble. Due to we do not coefficients are Cl defined as the lift coefficient, Cd as drag
have the facility to make wind tunnel test and according coefficient and Cm defined as pitching moment coefficient.
to Centisoy [2012] it is important to use CFD software These coefficients depend on certain factors that are not
in order to validate the aerodynamic efficiency of the directly related to the airfoil, which are: flight speed, wing
unmanned aerial vehicle designed. area, wing chord, angle of attack (AoA), aspect ratio,
platform and Reynolds number. Lennon [1996]
For the airfoil selection it is necessary to compare the polar
curves, so the software selected to make this comparison
For the conceptualization of an unmanned aerial vehicle, was XFLR5 that allows the user to generate the polar
it is necessary to clarify about the composition of a model graph for a different kind of airfoil. It must be take into
for its main parts. The fuselage is the part where the account that these analysis is for an infinite wing and a
actuators, batteries, electronics and others are arranged, two dimension air flow. For this project the airfoil family
it is very important that this part is streamlined in order selected is Eppler, selecting references E168, E197, E214,
to obtain the lowest air resistance possible. The wings which are suggested for the design of radio controlled
are mainly the part that creates the lift that allows the model aircraft.
model to fly, on these surfaces is necessary to locate the
control surfaces that allow functions of take off, flight and The figure 2 shows graphically the comparison of the
landing. The propulsion system provides the energy for airfoils which can be appreciated that the E197 has a low
the aircraft movement through the air flow. The tail is drag coefficient, high lift coefficient with a smooth stall
mainly composed of a vertical stabilizer or elevator and angle approximation, but with high moment coefficient
horizontal stabilizer or rudder. Finally there is the landing with negative rotation.
gear which cushions the impact of landing and allows the
maneuverability of the aircraft on the ground. Muoz [2012] After selected the airfoil, we proceed to compare the
infinite wing with a real wing design, for this case we have
First step in the conceptualization of the aircraft is to analyzed a straight wing. This comparison determine the
determine the functional performance, for which is in- real wing efficiency respect to the infinite wing, the figure
tended that the selected air vehicle meets the minimum 3 shows the polar graph for lift coefficient comparison
requirements needed to develop exploration missions and obtained by XFLR5 software. As is shown the real straight
aerial surveillance, so we define the mission profile, in order wing has an efficiency around 60%, which is necessary
to determinate the operational normal conditions of flight to determine the approximate size of the model. It is
as (1)takeoff, (2)climb, (3)cruise, (4)loiter and (5)land, as important to notate that the efficiency obtained with
is shown in figure 1 the chosen mission profile is a simple XFLR5 software is an approximation, for better results
cruise according to Raymer [1992]. Another important is recommended to do wind tunnel experiments that take
aspect to consider, such low speed flight (18m/s - 20m/s), into account the fluid viscosity. Due to in our University

November 20-22, 2013. Compiegne, France

Fig. 4. Polar graph Cl vs. Cd

2.2 Wing design

In order to perform the calculations for the wing design,

first we calculate the wing area by the use of equation
1, where considering air density (ρ = 0.86Kg/m3 ) to
3000m of height respect to sea level, air temperature of
10◦ C and relative velocity of v = 18m/s, the dynamic
pressure is q = 139.32P a. According to the design weight
of the aircraft (10kg) and the 90% design lift coefficient
Cl = 0.861, the wing area is S = 0.989m2 . According to
Raymer [1992] the design lift coefficient Cl was obtained
graphically, which is the lift coefficient where the airfoil has
the best lift-to-drag ratio (L/D). This is shown in figure
1 W
S= (1)
q Cl

For aircraft design an aspect ratio was selected of 10,

according to Lennon [1996] this aspect ratio corresponds
to a trainer model, because we need to generate high lift
by reducing the induced drag. By the use of the equation
2, the wing span is obtained b = 2.99m.

b = S × AR (2)

To obtain a better performance of the wing according to its

Fig. 2. Comparative polar graphs of Eppler airfoils efficiency, a tapered wing is chosen for design. To size the
wing it is necessary to choose a taper ratio that defines the
relationship between the root tip and the chord tip. The
taper ratio is 0.5 and by the use of equations 3 and 4 the
complete dimensions of the wing were obtained. Cr = 0.4m
Ct = 0.2m
Cr = (3)
(λ + 1) b
Ct = λCr (4)

Control surfaces calculation The principal function of

aileron is the lateral control of the aircraft. Structurally
the ailerons are the part of the wing located at the end of
the wing near each chord tip, they are usually symmetrical
and with the same geometries. Any change in the aileron
geometry will be reduced in roll angular velocity, which
Fig. 3. Comparison graph airfoil E197 for a real wing vs. makes a change in roll angle. Sadraey [2012]
ideal wing In aileron process design, it is necessary to calculate four
parameters according to Sadraey [2012] design these are:
1. Aileron area Sa ; 2. Relation chord/span Ca /ba ; 3.
does not have a wind tunnel, we will use CFD software to max aileron deflection ±δAmax ; 4. Location of the aileron
obtain better results. respect to span bai . The recommended typical design

November 20-22, 2013. Compiegne, France

Fig. 5. H-Tail configuration Fig. 6. Pusher propulsion system

values are Sa /S = 0.05 − 0.1, ba /b = 0.2 − 0.4, Ca /Cx = The main function of the vertical tail is to stabilize yaw,
0.15 − 0.25, bai /b = 0.6 − 0.8, δAmax = ±30◦ . According for its design is necessary to notate that the volumetric
to this the calculated dimension for the wing aileron are coefficient of vertical tail must be between Vv ≡ 0.02...0.05,
Sa = 0.09m2 , ba = 1.2m, bai = 1.8m, Cra = 0.1m, a very low Vv will not allow a good control of rudder
Cta = 0.05m. direction. To obtain the dimension of vertical tail it is
assumed lh = lv , according to Raymer [1992] design
According to Reyes [2009] recommendations, is not a good recommendations the selected Vv = 0.04, and by the
idea to extend ailerons all the way out to the wing tips. calculation the vertical tail area is Sv = 0.11m. For an H
First of all, they will not be very effective due to the vortex tail he sum of each vertical tail area must be the total area
at the tip. They are more likely to get damaged if the wing calculated. According to Sadraey [2012], the aspect ratio
tip hits the ground, and they can lead to flutter. must be between 1-2, applying the equation 7 the vertical
tail span is bv = 0.23m. We select a taper ratio of λv = 0.7
2.3 Tail design and applying the equations 8 and 9, the obtained root and
tip vertical tail chords are cvr = 0.27m and cvt = 0.19m.
The selection of the configuration of the tail is usually due p
bv = Sv × ARv (7)
to aesthetic, structural and weight, but has a little influ-
ence over drag. The basic function the tail in the model 2Sv
Cvr = (8)
aircraft is balanced, so that different tail configurations (λv + 1) bv
should have equal efficacy and approximately the same Cvt = λv Cvr (9)
area. If is a inverted T-tail, should be noted that is the
least efficient of all, in the lost the horizontal stabilizer 2.4 Propulsion system selection
blocks the rudder and impedes an active recovery. The T-
tail has a weak structure that requires more reinforcements According to the design of the model is feasible to select
and thus more weight on the rear of the aircraft, as well the position of the engine between the conventional (front)
as a V-tail. Aeromodelismo [2008] or pusher (rear) show in figure 6, that configuration allows
For this case of study was selected the H-tail or twin certain advantages over the conventional configuration
tail show in figure [fig:H-Tail-configuration], in this con- as is to keep clean front of the aircraft, in order to
figuration the vertical drift acts like winglets producing a install cameras and sensors, an additional advantage is
positive interference in the horizontal plane so that the in the case of manoeuvrability because the generated
sum of the areas is less than a V-tail o T-tail instead there airflow is not projected onto the control surfaces, which
is less drag. According to the propulsion system selection, makes that at certain times more control over the flying
H-tail configuration has better control over the flow of air platform. Respect the aircraft aerodynamics, the engine
that passes over the control surfaces. in conventional configuration receives the air without any
obstacle but releases the flow over the wing and fuselage
To size the horizontal tail of the aircraft, it is important generating more air resistance and making the incident
to take into a count the volumetric coefficient, which must flow turbulent while the pusher configuration allows a
be into a range of Vh = 0.3...0.6. If Vh is to small, the laminar flow over the wing thereby reducing the resistance
pitch behaviour of the aircraft will be sensible to the in the area which precedes by the suction of the propeller.
location of gravity center. By the use of equation 5, the Another advantage of the pusher configuration is that the
lh was obtained using Lennon [1996] recommendation that engine is not exposed to a possible direct hit to the ground
indicates the horizontal tail area is approximately the 20% which could cause shaft breakage or dubbing. Nuez [2005]
of the wing area and suggests to use an aspect ratio for
the horizontal tail between 4 - 5. The obtained horizontal Another important point to be taken into account in
tail area is Sh = 0.18m2 , the length of the arm is lh = 1m the design is the centered. In the case of a conventional
and the horizontal tail span bh = 0.95m. By the use of the configuration, the engine is a good counterweight for a
equation 6 the horizontal tail chord is ch = 0.19m. proper center, because it makes the battery to be located
on the center of gravity, having the advantage of being
Sh .lh able to use different types of batteries with different
Vh ≡ (5)
S.c weights without affecting the centring. While in pusher
2Sh configuration the battery is responsible for the correct
Ch = (6)
(λh + 1) bh centering model, because the rear engine emphasizes the

November 20-22, 2013. Compiegne, France

Fig. 7. Trycile landing gear configuration

weight on the tail, which make the distribution of batteries
and components in front in order to make a counterweight
to perform a better location of the center of gravity.

2.5 Landing gear selection Fig. 8. UAV servo distribution

Depending on aircraft model and the mission to perform, allows the exploration of inaccessible areas, so the devel-
it is important to make a selection of the landing gear opment of unmanned aerial platforms has been growing.
to use. Within the different configurations is selected the Therefore the development of an aircraft model concept
tricycle show in figure 7, since it presents greater stability allows academic development in the area of mechanical
in landing by having a wheel in the front and two on design, aerodynamics and aeronautics.
the center of the wings, but this configuration has the The conceptual model selected, is a starting point for
disadvantage of increased drag and weight in the aircraft mechanical design and detailed for each of the aircraft,
nose, but for our propulsion system selected will balance focusing on the development of the model where it is
the gravity center.[Gutierrez2009] important to note that having an initial concept of this,
Among the other studied configurations the conventional clears many drawbacks that may occur during the final de-
allows accurate takeoff and landing on short track, fea- sign thus speeding the manufacture and implementation.
turing low drag as it has no wheel on nose, but with the the concept design of a UAV, is a complex process which
disadvantage of high possibility of losing control in the requires studies of aerodynamics, stability an control on
take off and overturning during maneuvers on earth. the proposed model.
It is important to notate that the conceptual design was
2.6 Control surfaces and servo distribution not selected any type of material for manufactures of the
model, during the development of the final model there
To control the flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle it uses should be selected between composites and traditional
the control surfaces, these allow the modification of the materials.
aerodynamic forces on the model by causing an imbalance
in magnitude, causing the aircraft to move on one or more ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
of its axes, increasing the lift or resistance. within the
control surfaces there are ailerons which are located on Special thanks to the Universidad Militar Nueva Granada
the back of the end of each wing, whose actuation causes and COLCIENCIAS, for financial and logistical support
movement of roll of the aircraft around its longitudinal for the project.
axis. The elevator located on the horizontal tail and takes
care of the pitching motion of the model aircraft on its REFERENCES
transverse axis. Finally the rudder which is mounted on
rear of the vertical tail, moving winked causes a movement Aeromodelismo. Aeromodelismo virtual, 2008.
of the aircraft about its vertical axis. Each of these control
surfaces is actuated by a servomotor, which is to be E Centisoy. Design and construction of a novel quad tilt-
located so as to keep the center of gravity for stable flight. wing uav. Mechatronics, 22:723 745, 2012.
Figure 8 shows the distribution of the servomotors on the Minoru Funaki. Outline of a small unmanned aerial vehicle
model.Muoz [2012] (ant-plane). Polar Science, 2:129 142, 2008.
Andy Lennon. R/C Model aircraft design. 1996.
Miguel Muoz. Manual de vuelo, 2012.
Eduardo Nuez. Alas volantes, 2005.
One of the major drawbacks due to the topography of Daniel Raymer. Aircraft design: a conceptual approach.
Colombia is the exploration and monitoring of power 1992.
transmission lines and pipelines, as the difficult access to Carlos Reyes. Model Airplane Design Made Easy. 2009.
the area by the human being does not allow monitoring to Mohammad Sadraey. Aircraft Design: A Systems Engi-
enable agile decision making give prompt quick solution to neering Approach. 2012.
the problems presented, for this reason the development The UAV., 2012.
of unmanned aerial vehicles has become a solution that