Preflight Contingency Planning Approach for Fixed Wing UAVs with Engine Failure in the Presence of Winds.

Affiliation

Signal Processing Inc., Rockville, MD 20850, USA. [Email]

Abstract

Preflight contingency planning that utilizes wind forecast in path planning can be highly beneficial to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) operators in preventing a possible mishap of the UAV. This especially becomes more important if the UAV has an engine failure resulting in the loss of all its thrust. Wind becomes a significant factor in determining reachability of the emergency landing site in a contingency like this. The preflight contingency plans can guide the UAV operators about how to glide the aircraft to the designated emergency landing site to make a safe landing. The need for a preflight or in-flight contingency plan is even more obvious in the case of a communication loss between the UAV operator and UAV since the UAV will then need to make the forced landing autonomously without the operator. In this paper, we introduce a preflight contingency planning approach that automates the forced landing path generation process for UAVs with engine failure. The contingency path generation aims true reachability to the emergency landing site by including the final approach part of the path in forecast wind conditions. In the contingency path generation, no-fly zones that could be in the area are accounted for and the contingency flight paths do not pass through them. If no plans can be found that fulfill reachability in the presence of no-fly zones, only then, as a last resort, the no-fly zone avoidance rule is relaxed. The contingency path generation utilizes hourly forecast wind data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the geographical area of interest and time of the flight. Different from past works, we use trochoidal paths instead of Dubins curves and incorporate wind as a parameter in the contingency path design.

Keywords

UAV,automated landing,contingency planning,forced landing,path generation,wind forecast,

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