Trajectory optimization-based maneuverability assessment of eVTOL aircraft

Mingkai Wang, Johannes Diepolder, Shuguang Zhang, Maximilian Söpper, Florian Holzapfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The emerging electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) aircraft promotes the convenient urban air mobility, but the maneuverability of the eVTOL has not gained equivalent attention as the endurance problem or control law design. The maneuverability is actually critical for hover and low-speed phases to perform efficient and safe flights. However, the existing assessment paradigms of the maneuverability are not applicable to eVTOL due to the diversity of the configurations, new features of the distributed electric propulsion, and insufficient empirical data. This paper proposes an optimization-based method for maneuverability assessment as an alternative to the piloted experiment approach. The methodology uses trajectory optimization to determine the achievable performance regarding specific tasks. The optimization results yield an attainable maneuverability zone (AMZ), which is essentially a four-dimensional space that reflects the maneuverability of the eVTOL. The AMZ of the exemplary eVTOL has an approximately ellipsoidal shape with the weak-spot maneuverability in the backward-upward direction. The quantitative maneuverability measure is further used in the design optimization of the propeller layout and determination of the worst-case performance by a bi-level optimization framework. The proposed method enables efficient maneuverability evaluation and provides a model-based analysis of aircraft design quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106903
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Bi-level optimization
  • Distributed electric propulsion
  • Trajectory optimization
  • eVTOL


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