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Stable Algorithm Estimates Airdata from Flush Surface Pressure Measurements
March 11, 2011

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Innovators at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have patented an evaluation system and method for estimating airdata (airspeed, Mach number, angles of attack and sideslip) from nonintrusive surface pressure measurements. Preferably implemented as part of a flush airdata sensing (FADS) system, the innovation takes a flow model equation and transforms it into an aerodynamic model equation that mathematically describes the airflow. The model uses measured surface pressure data to extract airdata mathematically (in this case, via a triples formulation equation). Previous FADS algorithms relied on a nonlinear regression method that required a complex and expensive maze of software patches to maintain stability. In contrast, the Armstrong system reliably determines airdata in an economical and stable manner. The system also may be implemented within a dedicated logic circuit or a field programmable gate array.


  • Reliable: Provides a highly stable estimation and evaluation algorithm that can be easily implemented with minimal cost and maintenance
  • Accurate: Offers precise airdata that is suitable for use by various vehicle flight systems
  • Economical: Eliminates the need for complex and expensive software upgrades


This type of system has applications for nearly any type of aircraft. It is useful for both research and operational applications, including:

  • Flight testing of subsonic, supersonic, and hypersonic aerospace vehicles
  • Measurement of airdata for use in atmospheric vehicle control laws


Armstrong has one patent issued (U.S. Patent No: 6,253,166→ ) for this technology.

Commercial Opportunity

This technology is part of NASA's technology transfer program. The program seeks to stimulate development of commercial uses of NASA-developed technologies. NASA is flexible in its agreements, and opportunities exist for licensing and joint development. Armstrong is interested in a partnership to commercialize this technology.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:

Technology Transfer Office
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center
PO Box 273, M/S 1100
Edwards, CA 93523-0273
Phone: (661) 276-3368
E-mail: DFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov

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