Fuel Pump Motor-Drive Systems for More Electric Aircraft

  • Grzegorz Skawinski

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The fuel systems fitted to the current generation of civil transport aircraft are rather complicated, due to the presence of multiple tanks, pumps, valves and complex pipeline systems. During fuel transfer between the tanks, when controlling the aircraft centre of gravity or engine feed and refuel operations, a number of pumps and valves are involved resulting in complex pressure and flow interactions. In order to minimise the pressure surges during sudden system changes and flow overshoot during fuel transfer and refuelling, different motor drive system control strategies have been investigated. It is proposed that the current control method of electrically driven centrifugal-type pumps could be replaced by improved open and closed loop strategies where the flow overshoot can be minimised and pressure surges reduced. Steady-state and dynamic models of an AC induction motor drive and typical aircraft fuel system pipework components have been developed. The validation of these models has been performed using experimental data obtained from a fuel test rig constructed at the University of Bath using water as the working fluid. The simulation results have been shown to agree well with those from experimentation. In addition, the induction motor has been modelled based on its physical properties using the Finite Element Method software MEGA. The investigated fuel system has been described in linear terms and its behaviour has been identified. It is shown that the system dynamic behaviour can be controlled/improved using well established closed loop proportional-integral control. An open loop technique of simultaneous pump and valve control has been proposed and validated using experimental results, resulting in a reduction of both the transient pressure surges and flow overshoot during sudden valve closures, showing significant performance improvements. Improved closed loop control strategies for the pump drive system have also been developed in simulation. These are based on adaptive proportional-integral-derivative and fuzzy logic control strategies.
Date of Award1 Aug 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorFrancis Robinson (Supervisor), Derek Tilley (Supervisor) & Nigel Johnston (Supervisor)


  • induction motor control systems
  • fuel systems

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