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A neural network model for UAV propulsion system

Gültekin Işık (Department of Computer Engineering, Iğdır University, Iğdır, Turkey)
Selçuk Ekici (Department of Aviation, Iğdır University, Iğdır, Turkey)
Gökhan Şahin (Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Iğdır University, Iğdır, Turkey)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 13 July 2020

Issue publication date: 21 August 2020




Determining the performance parameters of the propulsion systems of the aircraft, which is the key product of the aviation industry, plays a critical role in reducing adverse environmental impacts. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to present a temperature performance template for turbojet engines at the design stage using a neural network model that defines the relationship between the performance parameters obtained from ground tests of a turbojet engine used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).


The main parameters of the flow passing through the engine of the UAV propulsion system, where ground tests were performed, were obtained through the data acquisition system and injected into a neural network model created. Fifteen sensors were mounted on the engine – six temperature sensors, six pressure sensors, two flow meters and one load cell were connected to the data acquisition system to make sense of this physical environment. Subsequently, the artificial neural network (ANN) model as a complement to the approach was used. Thus, the predicted model relationship with the experimental data was created.


Fuel flow and thrust parameters were estimated using these components as inputs in the feed-forward neural network. In the network experiments to estimate fuel flow parameter, r-square and mean absolute error were calculated as 0.994 and 0.02, respectively. Similarly, for thrust parameter, these metrics were calculated as 0.994 and 1.42, respectively. In addition, the correlation between fuel flow, thrust parameters and each input parameters was examined. According to this, air compressor inlet (ACinlet,temp) and outlet (ACoutlet,temp) temperatures and combustion chamber (CCinlet,temp, CCoutlet,temp) temperature parameters were determined to affect the output the most. The proposed ANN model is applicable to any turbojet engines to model its behavior.

Practical implications

Today, deep neural networks are the driving force of artificial intelligence studies. In this study, the behavior of a UAV is modeled with neural networks. Neural networks are used here as a regressor. A neural network model has been developed that predicts fuel flow and thrust parameters using the real parameters of a UAV turbojet engine. As a result, satisfactory findings were obtained. In this regard, fuel flow and thrust values of any turbojet engine can be estimated using the neural network hyperparameters proposed in this study. Python codes of the study can be accessed from


The originality of the study is that it reports the relationships between turbojet engine performance parameters obtained from ground tests using the neural network application with open source Python code. Thus, small-scale unmanned aerial propulsion system provides designers with a template showing the relationship between engine performance parameters.



Işık, G., Ekici, S. and Şahin, G. (2020), "A neural network model for UAV propulsion system", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 92 No. 8, pp. 1177-1184.



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