Model Development for a Comparison of VTOL and STOL Electric Aircraft Using Geometric Programming
Author(s)Courtin, Christopher B.; Hansman, R. John
There is widespread interest in the use of electric aircraft for short missions in and around urban areas. Most of the vehicle configurations proposed for these missions are electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) configurations, due to perceived limitations on the available infrastructure. Several recent studies have proposed electric Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) aircraft with externally blown flaps as viable alternatives for urban operations. One of the claimed benefits of STOL aircraft is increased mission performance (in terms of range, payload, or speed) compared to an VTOL aircraft of the same weight. This study discusses the development of the models necessary to investigates this claim for a variety of possible missions, available infrastructure sizes, and levels of technology. Preliminary mission spaces where STOL or VTOL aircraft are the most weight-efficient choice are identified. The analysis is done using geometric programming, a convex optimization framework that enables rapid design re-optimization over a broad mission space.