Aircraft Performance Model Calibration and Validation for General Aviation Safety Analysis
Puranik, Tejas G.
Harrison, Evan D.
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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Performance models facilitate a wide range of safety analyses in aviation. In an ideal scenario, the performance models would show inherently good agreement with the true performance of the aircraft. However, in reality, this is rarely the case: either owing to underlying simplifications or due to the limited fidelity of applicable tools or data. In such cases, calibration is required to fine-tune the behavior of the performance models. For point-mass steady-state performance models, challenges arise due to the fact that there is no obvious, unique metric or flight condition at which to assess the accuracy of the model predictions, as well as because a large number of model parameters may potentially influence model accuracy. This work presents a two-level approach to aircraft performance model calibration. The first level consists of using manufacturer-developed performance manuals for calibration, whereas the second level provides additional refinement when flight data are available. The performance models considered in this work consist of aerodynamic and propulsion models (performance curves) that are capable of predicting the non-dimensional lift, drag, thrust, and torque at any given point in time. The framework is demonstrated on two representative general aviation aircraft. The demonstrated approach results in models that can predict critical energy-based safety metrics with improved accuracy for use in retrospective safety analyses.