## Long Endurance UAV Design

Tuesday 2010.03.09 by gravityloss

Karoliina has some thoughts on

plane design, looking at High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV:s as inspiration for high L/D craft, to ultimately cruise at fast speed with little power. I disagree somewhat, and I’m sketching out why, below.

Probably the drones, like sailplanes, want low sinkrate and high L/D is secondary, because they need to just stay aloft and not go anywhere.

Power needed is P = v*D (we assume). Since D = CD*v*v, P = v^3*CD.

Lift is L = CL*v*v so v = (L/CL)^(1/2). (Note this CL is different from the L = 0.5*rho*A*cl*v^2, so CL = 0.5*rho*A*cl. It’s more practical here.)

Power thus is **P** = v^3 * CD = **L^3/2 * CD * CL^-3/2**.

The lift equals mass, so the power needed is

- proportional to mass^1.5,
- proportional to the drag coefficient and
- inversely proportional to the lift coefficient^1.5.

This means the lift coefficient CL needs to be large for the craft to be able to loiter for a long time. So long wings and somewhat cambered profiles. A little drag doesn’t hurt as much as low lift so struts are a possibility.

Instead, for a piston cruiser, the L/D needs to be maximized for a certain minimum trip fuel consumption, not per time. Basically, you want to minimize delta_E = P*delta_t = P * delta_x/v so the cost function J = v^2 * CD = L * CD / CL which minimizes at maximum L/D. The CL term is less important compared to the loiterer. As a first guess this should optimize to a less cambered airfoil and smaller or shorter wings. And no struts.

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