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Based on minimum fuel consumption mode integrated optimal control of fixed-wing UAV flight propulsion system

Yong Li (Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics, Zhengzhou, China)
Feifei Han (Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics, Zhengzhou, China)
Xinzhe Zhang (Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics, Zhengzhou, China)
Kai Peng (Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China)
Li Dang (Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics, Zhengzhou, China)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 19 August 2021

Issue publication date: 6 September 2021




In this paper, with the goal of reducing the fuel consumption of UAV, the engine performance optimization is studied and on the basis of aircraft/engine integrated control, the minimum fuel consumption optimization method of engine given thrust is proposed. In the case of keeping the given thrust of the engine unchanged, the main fuel flow of the engine without being connected to the afterburner is optimally controlled so as to minimize the fuel consumption.


In this study, the reference model real-time optimization control method is adopted. The engine reference model uses a nonlinear real-time mathematical model of a certain engine component method. The quasi-Newton method is adopted in the optimization algorithm. According to the optimization variable nozzle area, the turbine drop-pressure ratio corresponding to the optimized nozzle area is calculated, which is superimposed with the difference of the drop-pressure ratio of the conventional control plan and output to the conventional nozzle controller of the engine. The nozzle area is controlled by the conventional nozzle controller.


The engine real-time minimum fuel consumption optimization control method studied in this study can significantly reduce the engine fuel consumption rate under a given thrust. At the work point, this is a low-altitude large Mach work point, which is relatively close to the edge of the flight envelope. Before turning on the optimization controller, the fuel consumption is 0.8124 kg/s. After turning on the optimization controller, you can see that the fuel supply has decreased by about 4%. At this time, the speed of the high-pressure rotor is about 94% and the temperature after the turbine can remain stable all the time.

Practical implications

The optimal control method of minimum fuel consumption for the given thrust of UAV is proposed in this paper and the optimal control is carried out for the nozzle area of the engine. At the same time, a method is proposed to indirectly control the nozzle area by changing the turbine pressure ratio. The relevant UAV and its power plant designers and developers may consider the results of this study to reach a feasible solution to reduce the fuel consumption of UAV.


Fuel consumption optimization can save fuel consumption during aircraft cruising, increase the economy of commercial aircraft and improve the combat radius of military aircraft. With the increasingly wide application of UAVs in military and civilian fields, the demand for energy-saving and emission reduction will promote the UAV industry to improve the awareness of environmental protection and reduce the cost of UAV use and operation.



This work was supported by the Key Scientific Research projects of Colleges and Universities in Henan Province [grant numbers 21A590003 and 21B590002] and the key scientific and technological research and development project of Henan Province [grant numbers 192102210056, 2019]. I would like to thank the project’s team members, Feifei Han and Xinzhe Zhang, for their discussions with me. I would also like to thank Mr Kai Peng, School of Power and Energy, Northwestern Polytechnical University, for his suggestions on aero-engine modeling and optimization control algorithms. In addition, I would like to give special thanks to three teachers, Shuhao Li, Xiao Guo and Xiang Zhang, from the School of Aeronautical Engineering, Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics. During the research and development process of the project and during the writing of the paper, you gave me a lot of help, the discussion with you gave me different ideas and inspiration, thank you for your advice.


Li, Y., Han, F., Zhang, X., Peng, K. and Dang, L. (2021), "Based on minimum fuel consumption mode integrated optimal control of fixed-wing UAV flight propulsion system", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 93 No. 7, pp. 1133-1144.



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