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Adaptive protection methods for aircraft applications

Norman, Patrick and Galloway, Stuart and Burt, Graeme and Hill, J.E. (2010) Adaptive protection methods for aircraft applications. In: SAE 2010 Power Systems Conference, 2010-11-02 - 2010-11-04.

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Complex certification issues aside, aircraft electrical systems possess a number of attributes that present good opportunities for the implementation of adaptive protection systems. Rather than experiencing the complex upgrade process faced in the application of adaptive protection to grid based networks, the opportunity to incorporate their functionality at the design stage of new aircraft systems encourages their use and even offers the potential to implement highly integrated protection and control systems. The physically compact nature of aircraft electrical systems and the presence of an existing communications infrastructure should permit the use of both local and remotely obtained power system data within the adaptive protection systems, maximizing the opportunities for achieving highly capable systems. These promising opportunities however are offset by a possible decrease in protection system reliability resulting from the increased number of failure modes associated with adaptive elements, which may outweigh the benefits provided. Given the shortage of available literature focused on the aerospace domain, this paper seeks to address the knowledge gap by exploring the use of adaptive protection within aircraft power systems. After providing an overview of the core elements of adaptive protection, a number of schemes potentially suited to aircraft systems are presented. Particular opportunities are identified for applications employing power electronic based distribution systems where protection and control functions already overlap to some extent, and where previous research into such systems has already indicated a requirement for a coordinated and flexible protection and control approach. Finally, conclusions are drawn regarding the usage of adaptive protection in the aerospace domain together with the key research issues requiring further investigation.