A Fuel Consumption Algorithm for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Report No. ARL-TR4803
Authors: Terry Jameson
Date/Pages: May 2009; 38 pages
Abstract: The Army Research Laboratory, Battlefield Environment Division has been developing an Aviation Weather Routing Tool (AWRT) to address the issue of weather impacts upon various Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) missions. The AWRT depicts regions of adverse weather impacts and then searches for alternate routes that minimize those impacts. A related factor that has yet to be included in AWRT involves UAS fuel consumption. Fuel consumption rates, remaining fuel quantity, and therefore allowable times' on-target are vital issues that must be considered to safely and most effectively employ UAS in their various mission roles. In particular, as AWRT proposes alternate routes that minimize adverse weather effects, additional fuel requirements to fly those routes must be taken into account. We have developed a prototype Fuel Consumption Algorithm (FCA) that addresses some of these issues. The prototype FCA has been designed such that minimal operator input is required, while a maximum amount of pertinent flight information is produced. UAS flight performance characteristics, prevailing winds, and mission route definitions are incorporated into the FCA. Using these data, the algorithm computes ground speeds along the various mission segments (and therefore flying times), fuel consumed, and then fuel and time available to be expended at a target area.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: May 1, 2009