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Design of a rapid reconnaissance, gas turbine powered unmanned aerial vehicle
Group Members
Elijah Andrews, Adrian Dumitrescu, Edward Dyer, Horea Toniuc, Oliver Westcott
Supervisors
Professor James Scanlan
Supporters
The Boeing Company
In the context of intelligence gathering and aerial surveillance, the ability to observe a target without posing a risk to a human pilot or an expensive platform is an attractive prospect. This project aimed to construct an unmanned aircraft capable of fulfilling a rapid reconnaissance role. Low cost, off-the-shelf components were utilised to keep the cost of the aircraft down, allowing it to be deployed into more hazardous situations that may not have otherwise been considered in case the aircraft was lost. In order to be comparable to the existing platforms in service, the aircraft uses a turbojet for propulsion. This allows it to rapidly cover a short distance and relay information back to the user, negating the need to re-task or deploy a more dedicated solution. The aircraft also serves as a technology demonstrator for an in-flight thrust measurement system developed during the project. The system has the capability to infer the in-flight drag acting upon the aircraft. This can then be used to confirm existing wind tunnel measurements or to extend aerodynamic performance investigations to flight regimes that are not replicable in conventional testing facilities. The output of the project is the second iteration of the design. The first aircraft was powered by an electric ducted fan and served to verify the functionality of the airframe and thrust measurement systems. The second iteration incorporated the turbojet engine along with design refinements from the first aircraft.
Exploded view of UAV front section.
Exploded view of engine mounting showing thrust measuring load cell
Prototype flight testing.
Prototype flight testing.
Tail connector.