The tendency of the past to build and test in aeronautics has clearly been overridden by a very extensive simulation activity for many reasons, one of these being the risk associated to safety-critical or safety-related systems. Simulation is hence strategic to develop and test all the key aircraft elements, such as flight control systems, and is now being used effectively also beyond the design purposes, to conceive and evaluate mission strategies, for example, Humane-Machine-Interfaces or operational procedures. During the last decade, many commercial simulation environments and advanced software codes have been released and made available to research centers and industrial entities, which now share very powerful and versatile simulation tools. It is now possible to simulate very complex multi-variable multi-dynamic non linear aircraft systems in real time on a single personal computer. There are tools for testing, verification and validation of the related flight control systems and for automatic generation of executable codes, which comply with the main avionic standards (such as the DO-178B).
The proposer research group has been using effectively all these tools extensively to develop flight simulators for rotary and fixed wing manned aircrafts as well as for lighter-than-air unmanned platforms. The group has developed a strong competence in all the activities related to interpretative dynamic simulation, advance control system design, software stress analysis, I/O interface setting and testing, as well as real-time validation. Moreover, the group sustained an extensive effort in developing a Matlab/Simulink framework for multi-purpose activities such as system and subsystem design, but also model-base reliability and safety analysis. All these technical competences as well as all the already available unclassified simulators were made available for the MAS_Lab, to develop, validate and maintain the aircraft simulator object of this proposal.
The 'Multipurpose aircraft simulation laboratory (MAS_LAB) project was intended for use as a generic aircraft model by the 'Clean Sky - System for green operation' consortium, within a mathematical optimisation tool, to develop technologies to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and noise in the way the aircraft manages its trajectory. MAS_LAB is a software tool implementing the flight dynamic models for three different aircrafts: a civil commercial mainline, a regional aircraft and a business jet. It was intended to be a tool for flight trajectory optimisation and validation and trajectory guidance functions validation, when purposely interfaced to a simulator environment (Airlab), according to the Clean Sky intendments. It was supposed to be integrated and run in a MS Windows XP operating system, sharing processing resources with other applications. Quasi real-time and accelerated functioning are both contemplated.
MAS_LAB major components are:
- Simulated air vehicles
- Simulated automatic flight control system (AFCS).
MAS_LAB is supposed to be interfaced with:
- the Airlab components, encompassing the flight management system (FMS), the flight control unit (FCU), the radio management panel (RMP) and the cockpit (sidestick/yoke, pedals, gear extension/retraction commands, secondary surfaces control surfaces such as flaps, slats and airbrakes)
- a separately procured environmental impact model
- a separately procured atmosphere model
- a separately procured sensors model.
The three aircraft models are related to:
- Boeing 747-100, in the large aircraft category
- ATR 42-500, in the regional turbo-prop category
- Cessna Citation CJ3, in the business jet category.
Moreover, the possibility of developing a simplified model to be parameterised as a generic aircraft model has been investigated.