Optimal speed scheduling for hybrid solar aircraft with arrival time condition

John J. Bird, Jack W. Langelaan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations


Improvements in solar cell weight and performance has enabled the development of small solar powered aircraft which operate at low altitudes. Unlike high altitude pseu-dosatellites, these aircraft must contend with significant stochastic variations in wind and solar energy. This paper examines speed scheduling for solar augmented aircraft (i.e. an aircraft equipped with solar panels and a supplementary energy source which cannot be recharged in flight). We show that solar energy can be considered as identical to vertical air motion exploited by a sailplane. This permits soaring speed to fly theory to be extended to incorporate both solar energy and atmospheric vertical motion. The use of stored energy onboard allows derivation of a speed to fly theory with an arrival time constraint, allowing the exploitation of stochastic energy during a flight plan. The speed schedule is tested in Monte Carlo simulations and shows the ability to satisfy an arrival time constraint while reducing energy consumption by approximately 2% and reducing variation in final energy state by approximately 3%. The algorithm is also tested in flight using a small uas, and shows the ability to satisfy an arrival time condition within 1%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA Scitech 2019 Forum
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624105784
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
EventAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jan 7 2019Jan 11 2019

Publication series

NameAIAA Scitech 2019 Forum


ConferenceAIAA Scitech Forum, 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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