Transformative Aviation Concepts

Mission Statement

Design innovative and revolutionary complex systems by integrating future technologies in order to answer societal grand challenges while satisfying stakeholders' requirements. The graduates of this program are expected to become highly qualified professionals that will provide innovative cost-effective solutions to tomorrow’s problems.


This vision will be accomplished by gathering multi-disciplinary teams using multi-physics and variable fidelity modeling and simulation environments to explore complex vehicle design spaces in a structured and efficient manner. This division is divided into 7 branches: Virtual Prototyping, Manufacturing Systems & Process Design, Rotary & Fixed Wing Systems Design, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Design, Aircraft Certification, Operations & Safety, UAV Design and Prototyping, and Autonomy & Robotics.



Dr. Simon Briceno
Transformative Aviation Concepts Division Chief

Dr. Kyle Collins
Division Chief Engineer

Dr. Cedric Justin

Dr. Youngjun Choi

Dr. Evan Harrison

Virtual Prototyping Branch

DARPA’s Adaptive Vehicle Made (AVM) Program

Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) is a portfolio of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) programs to revolutionize approaches to design, verification, and manufacturing of complex defense systems and vehicles

Goal: Provide a forum for virtual collaboration and design

  • META – Design methodology
  • C2M2L – Component, Context, and Manufacturing Model Library
  • iFAB – Instant Foundry Adaptive Through Bits
  • Vehicle Forge – Virtual Design and Integration Platform
  • FANG – Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground Vehicle

ASDL’s Roles in DARPA’s AVM Program


  • Requirement Development
  • USMC Workshops for Requirement Preference Gathering
  • Scoring Algorithm Development
  • Scoring Analyzer Tools


  • Visual Analytic approach to Systems Engineering
  • Systems Engineering data set development
  • Design Space Analyzer (locally executable and web based)


  • Integration of multiple aspects of component in a single artifact
  • Verification of components
  • Publish components to library

Siemens Virtual Prototyping and Verification of Advanced Components Design Concepts

Goal: Challenge the system engineering “Vee” by developing new complex products where all phases of the product life cycle must virtually interact to address the increase in complexity and discipline interactions.

Focus: Gas Turbine Engineering


  • Reduce the life cycle cost of new systems and components
  • Decrease the time to market and product cost
  • Attain more optimal designs

Joint collaboration between Siemens Energy and Siemens PLM

A Virtual Prototyping and Verification Process using the Dassault Systems Winning Program Experience

Key ideas:

  • Rethinking systems design by pulling “detailed” design aspects forward in design process
  • Leveraging latest systems engineering methodologies and computational capabilities
  • Focusing on virtual design and testing (limiting amount of physical prototyping required)
  • Enabling completely integrated design platforms and transparent requirements traceability

Rotary & Fixed Wing Systems Design

Contacts: Dr. Kyle Collins, Rotary & Fixed Wing Systems Design Branch Chief

Rotorcraft Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS)


Motivation: Improve safety record of Rotorcraft operations Objectives:

  • Benchmark the current state of the art of rotorcraft Flight Data Management (FDM) as a voluntary safety program
  • Implement an integrated rotorcraft FDM database and data analysis capability (Rotorcraft ASIAS system)
  • Secure widespread stakeholder participation, data collection, and dissemination of research findings

National GA Flight Information Database

Motivation: The National General Aviation Flight Information Database (NGAFID) must be expanded to multiple operators, and its analytical functionality improved before it is ultimately delivered and operated by a credible neutral entity within the GA community Objectives:

  • Expand the NGAFID to PEGASAS flight schools and other flight organizations
  • Improve the NGAFID by identifying and implementing data analysis capabilities for the comparative benchmarking of general aviation operations
  • Develop recommended events and parameter exceedances for aircraft in the PEGASAS fleet via FDM data collection and aircraft dynamics and performance modeling

Quantitative Technology Assessment for Joint Multi-Role Rotorcraft

The Joint Multi Role (JMR) family of vertical lift aircraft is a group of as many as 4 future vehicles intended to fulfill all the vertical lift needs of the Department of Defense. The Army in particular presently has a highly diverse fleet of helicopters and unmanned vehicles which incur high costs due to their high utilization and lack of commonality. A family of aircraft with common architecture has the potential to reduce costs for parts, maintenance, and training, but must also include improved performance and flexibility if it is to perform the same mission roles currently occupied by a wide array of specialized vehicles.

Rotorcraft 1.png
Rotocraft 2.png

New technologies must be implemented in order to meet the required improvements in vehicle performance. ASDL is using the NASA Design and Analysis of Rotocraft (NDARC) code to identify rotorcraft technologies at the component level that offer the biggest impact in terms of performance such as increased speed, range, and payload. The goal of this analysis is to quantify the possible benefits of specific technologies such as advanced turboshaft engines, flow control, and high efficiency drive systems with respect to attributes affecting performance such as fuel consumption, airframe drag, and hover and cruise efficiency. Cost and risk associated with technological development will be included with performance analysis, and advanced design methods such as Monte Carlo simulation and Design of Experiments will be utilized to search for performance and cost-optimized portfolios of technologies to aid the JMR family of rotorcraft.

Rotorcraft 3.png

Quantitative Active Rotor Technology Assessment of Rotorcraft in Full Spectrum Operations

The helicopter rotor system encounters a wide range of aerodynamic and structural phenomenon, such as dynamic stall, compressibility effects, flutter, and vortex interaction. These conditions make the helicopter loud, and also cause the rotor system to transfer large amount of vibration into the helicopter, its crew, and cargo. Mitigation of these negatives, which are inherent to the rotor system, can be accomplished through advanced control technologies known as Active Rotor Technologies (ARTs). These technologies are capable of inputting control forces at frequencies greater than 1 per rev, which is known to help reduce vibrations, noise, power, or some combination thereof.

Rotorcraft 4.png
Rotorcraft 5.png

In order to better understand the value of these Active Rotor Technologies from a systems level, research is being performed into the operational and costs and benefits of ARTs. These include vehicle level impacts, such as part life, fatigue, and mission performance; operational impacts such as maintenance time, vehicle availability, replacement parts, and capability; and costs such as RDT&E, as well as operational costs. This is being accomplished through a mix of expert judgment, high fidelity modeling and simulation of rotor systems and parts, operational simulation, and vehicle performance modeling and design. These various techniques are merged together to understand the total impact of ARTs at every level of helicopter operations.

Obtained with permission from

Key enablers of the methodology include design and analysis software capable of handling multiple concepts, a platform to integrate higher fidelity analyses, and software to analyze data and generate surrogate models. The framework being developed will be capable of producing data for different missions, concepts, and technology sets. In this way the developed methods and techniques will remain relevant to decision makers even as strategies, concepts, and missions change.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Design Branch

Research Areas and Functions

The UAS in the NAS Branch coordinates, supports, and conducts research efforts at ASDL pertaining to the integration of UAS into the national airspace. Representative focus areas of this research domain include:

  • UAS mission performance and flight capabilities
  • UAS interactions with other airspace actors
  • Benchmarking of UAS NAS integration efforts
  • Effect of critical functions (e.g. communication, surveillance) on UAS interactions with the NAS
  • Integration of functions and systems critical for UAS operations, such as sensors and GNC for sense and avoid
  • The characterization of emergent UAS-NAS behavior quantified through meaningful tradeoffs, interactions, and sensitivities
  • Requirements definition and performance assessment
  • Safety analyses and quantification at the vehicle level and total airspace level of safety
  • The development of enabling analytical methods and modeling & simulation capabilities

Past Research

  • Requirements analysis for UAS applications to disaster response (Academic Research)
  • A Third-Party Casualty Risk Model for UAS Operations (Doctoral Thesis)
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Into the National Airspace System – Tradeoff Analysis for En Route Transit Operations (FAA)
  • Systems Engineering Trade Studies for the Federal Aviation Administration Including the Integration of Unmanned Air Systems into the National Airspace System (FAA)
  • System Analysis of Unmanned Air Systems Integration in the National Airspace System (NASA)

Current Research

  • Gain-scheduling method using surrogate models for UAS controller design and simulation
  • UAS Simulation for Airspace Integration Analysis
  • Evaluation Framework for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System


  • Melnyk, R., Schrage, D., Volovoi, V., Jimenez, H., "Sense-and-Avoid Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Using a Target Level-of-Safety Approach," Risk Analysis Journal, Wiley, Submitted: April 16, 2013, Under Review
  • Melnyk, R., Schrage, D., Volovoi, V., Jimenez, H., "A Third-Party Casualty Risk Model for UAS Operations," Reliability Engineering and System Safety, Elsevier, 124 (2014) 105–116
  • Jimenez. H., Mavris, D., Characterization of Technology Integration Based on Technology Readiness Levels," Journal of Aircraft, (2014), Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 291-302. doi:
  • Knisely, N., Urcinas, A., Jimenez, H., Mavris, D., “Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Into the National Airspace System – Tradeoff Analysis for En Route Transit Operations,” Proceedings of the 12th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference: AIAA 2012-5425, 17-19 September 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Gatian, K., Jimenez, H., Mavris, D., “Requirements Analysis of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Emergency Response Operations,” Proceedings of the 12th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference: AIAA 2012-5528, 17-19 September 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Dufresne, S., Johnson C., Mavris, D.N., “A Variable Fidelity Conceptual Design Environment for Revolutionary Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, AIAA Journal of Aircraft, July 2008.

Aircraft Certification, Operations, & Safety Branch

Contacts: Dr. Simon Briceno, Aircraft Certification, Operations, & Safety Branch Chief


Virtual Certification - Physical vs. Numerical Prototyping

Motivation: Increase the use of numerical tools to help reduce the cost of certification of new aircraft Objectives: Combine numerical simulations and physical experiments on two disciplines to demonstrate how uncertainty can be quantified with multiple sources of data Proof-of-Concept: The physical and numerical simulations will be performed on a wing from a 200 lbs. UAV with an unconventional


Autonomy & Robotics Branch


Fault Tolerant Hovercraft Control

Explore the limits of fault tolerant control and extend fault detection below the control system

  • Insert fault tolerant control and warning below the control system to remove “masking”
  • Demonstrate the use of parallel simulated and physical development and provide validation and verification techniques for fault tolerant control

Micro-Autonomous System Research MASR


The Micro Autonomous Systems Research MASR project focuses on techniques for applying new manufacturing technologies (3D printing, CNC milling, etc.) in a way that allows for combat invention, innovation, modification, and manufacture to be forward deployed. This new capability enables improved soldier flexibility to create materiel solutions to the problems they face. The MASR project is seeking to build the engineering techniques necessary for forward deployed innovation through an initial case study involving Micro Autonomous Systems. The initial case study will focus on demonstrating an extensible framework for enabling rapid progression from requirements definition to small scale production. The current phase of research is seeking to demonstrate the extensible design framework through the creation of a parametric multi-rotor vehicle and a parametric fixed wing vehicle. These two test prototypes are being used to develop three critical components: automated design, automated manufacture, and the link between the two. The case study will provide insight into how critical interfaces and components need to be documented and linked to modeling and engineering analyses for design generation. These designs will then be paired with automated manufacturing techniques to produce physical prototypes. The final product of the research is to demonstrate the end to end process from requirements to a workable prototype in a matter of days.

Video Showing the Generation of New Multi-Copter Designs in Response to Updated Requirements Entered in a Spreadsheet

In this project, sponsored by the Army Research Laboratory, the Georgia Tech team developed an automated product family engineering process and toolset allowing the creation of tailored one-off solutions to soldier needs. The toolset provides a simplified user interface for non-technical users to enter vehicle requirements, such as sensing packages, endurance, etc. A spreadsheet logistics interface allows an untrained logistics operator to enter machines and parts availability constraints. This information is fed to set of engineering analyses where a feasible design (if possible) is generated, and the drawings for manufacture are output. These part designs are then be provided to a technician with automated manufacturing tools (such as 3D printing) who starts the automated manufacturing, assembles components, and returns the tailored UAV to the soldier. This process has been tested and validated via flight tested vehicles

A more detailed set of information about this project can be found at MASR

For more information about MASR, please contact Daniel Cooksey (

Reconfigurable Cyber-Physical Systems

  • Given an existing unmanned system/platform, reconfigure its components, controls, communications, etc. to meet new operational requirements or mission profiles
  • Trace the effect of changes throughout the physical system and how those changes affect software

Design, Build, Fly Laboratory

Contacts: Mr. Carl Johnson, [Design, Build, Fly Laboratory: