Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. awarded NASA Phase II SBIR to advance vertical lift and UAM

Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. (ESAero), a leading Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) System design, development and manufacturing services provider announced today a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Award from NASA. The award, currently in negotiation, is under NASA Topic A1.06 for Vertical Lift Technology and Urban Air Mobility.

ESAero’s proposal, “Validation of UAM Dynamics Modeling Tool Suite Using Scaled Modular Aerial Research Testbed,” will comprehensively address a gap in knowledge due to a lack of publicly available datasets for the dynamic handling qualities of UAM and eVTOL aircraft powered by all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems.

ESAero will develop the Scaled Modular Aerial Research Testbed (SMART) vehicle to allow installation of modular vertical lift systems with modules representing common UAM aircraft configurations. The “as-built” vehicle characteristics and flight test data of three different UAM configurations will be provided as deliverables at the conclusion of the effort, enabling validation of UAM and rotorcraft dynamic tools suites specifically designed for eVTOL. This will include the results of the Phase I work, which is a comprehensive tool suite for the quantitative assessment of UAM aircraft ride qualities with respect to passenger comfort.

“The team is excited to continue work on dynamics modelling of eVTOL configurations and to help close the knowledge gap of publicly available validation datasets. We anticipate this work will contribute to those looking to validate eVTOL dynamic modelling tools. The effort will have a heavy focus on the characterization of the test articles and documentation, so others can duplicate the work. The SMART vehicle will also serve as a technology demonstrator testbed offering rapid access to flight for new propulsion and control topologies and emerging system technologies,” said Nick Brake, Phase II Principal Investigator for ESAero.

“ESAero has been working leading-edge designs, design tool, and technology development for all-electric, hybrid-electric, and distributed-electric air vehicle propulsion applications for over 12 years, including sUAS, eVTOL, and transport category aircraft. This work continues our legacy of providing real capabilities and real results to NASA and Industry. ESAero will continue to work the leading edge of design & analysis for UAM air vehicles, a paradigm shift in aircraft design and propulsion, while broadening our capabilities to also include air vehicle electric propulsion hardware development, qualification and standards development for certification through projects like the X-57 ‘Maxwell,” said Andrew Gibson, President, CEO and Co-Founder of ESAero.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation’s R&D arena, high-tech
innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs.

The work is anticipated to begin in Q3 2019 and will conclude within 24 months.

About Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. (ESAero)

Since 2003, Empirical Systems Aerospace, Inc. (ESAero), an aerospace engineering design and manufacturing small business has served the needs of the aerospace industry through its work on military and commercial conceptual air vehicle designs, electric and hybrid propulsion system development and qualification, aircraft modifications, sub-scale technology demonstrators, rapid system prototyping, design for manufacturing, low-rate initial production, manufacturing, and engineering support.

ESAero is the Prime Contractor and Integrator of the NASA X-57 “Maxwell” all-electric airplane. ESAero customers include multiple NASA Centers, AFRL, AMRDEC, and multiple Tier I and Tier II Aerospace Industry Primes.

With a 32,200-square foot design & manufacturing facility located in San Luis Obispo, California and an 8,000-square foot integration and test location at the Oceano County Airport (L52), ESAero has expanded manufacturing and quality operations and takes full advantage of available airport space for system testing and product development. ESAero will continue to provide the UAS, UAM, and broader aviation and aerospace industries with cutting-edge systems, capabilities, and optimized manufacturing solutions.

ESAero is AS9100:D and ISO:9001:2015 Certified, NIST 800-171 Compliant, and has a DCAA Approved Accounting System. For more information, please visit www.esaero.com.

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