Aurora's Propulsion


Aurora’s Propulsion research group has broad-based experience in all facets of aerospace propulsion, including reciprocating, electric, turbine, and rocket propulsion. Additional topics include use of heavy fuel in small engines, efficient propeller design, and unique propulsion designs for extreme environments.

Distributed Engine Control

Distributed Engine Control

Aurora and Georgia Tech are conducting research under an Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Phase II STTR contract to explore the technology, costs, and benefits of distributed control for turbine engines, specifically turboprop and variable-pitch turbofan engines. Phase I efforts demonstrated the feasibility of a partially distributed control scheme with separate controllers on the engine core and fan, where the controllers are linked by a supervisory controller. In Phase II, Aurora and Georgia Tech are further developing the distributed controller from Phase I to cover safe performance during non-standard operations (including sensor failure etc.), culminating in a static engine test of a small turbo-prop engine controlled by the distributed adaptive controller.


Very High-Altitude Propulsion System (VHAPS)

Aurora is currently conducting a DARPA-sponsored SBIR Phase II project to examine propulsion alternatives for very high altitude UAV use. DARPA’s initial interest was in low-speed, long-endurance flight at altitudes. Aurora showed through analysis that higher operating speeds were possible while still retaining specific fuel consumption numbers necessary for operational utility.

Aurora refined mass estimates, updated performance estimates, and identified areas of highest technical risk. Aurora’s analysis showed that development of these innovative propulsion concepts was possible, and that the estimated performance of the concepts made such development worthwhile. Aurora also conducted hardware testing of key engine components to show feasibility and to validate analytical models.