Opportunities & Challenges for Control in design of Aerospace Systems

Dr Marko Bacic, Rolls-Royce Plc.

The global appetite for power and for efficient transportation can only increase as nations industrialise and the world's population grows. Civil Aerospace industry has been at the forefront of reducing its carbon footprint through continuous improvement of both aircraft and jet engine designs. Up until the last decade or so, at least in civil aero-engines, this has been mainly achieved through a combination of better materials and computer aided design of turbomachinery components. In this talk I will provide a brief overview of the progress and problems in gas turbine design where control engineering has a role to play, reflecting on personal experiences driving technology from TRL1 through to commercialisation. Finally I will offer some thoughts on open control challenges as Aerospace becomes more digitised and electrified through concepts such as Boundary Layer Ingesting aircraft and V/STOL flying taxis.


Marko Bacic completed his degree in Engineering and Computing Science (2001) and his D. Phil in Model Predictive Control (2004) both from the University of Oxford. From 2003-2008, he was a fixed-term University Lecturer in Control Engineering at Oxford University and a Fellow of Lincoln College. During 2006-2007 he was seconded to Renault F1 team in Enstone with support from the Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment Scheme and was later exclusive consultant to the team until joining Rolls-Royce in 2008.

Since 2012 he has been seconded part-time to Osney Lab (a Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre at Oxford University) where he leads a small group researching active flow control concepts for gas turbine applications. In 2015 he was appointed to the Rolls-Royce Fellowship as the Engineering Associate Fellow in Control Systems and Gas Turbine Functionality. As a member of Rolls-Royce Fellowship he helps drive Rolls-Royce technology strategy within Civil aerospace, is responsible for leading a number of research projects on the interface between control systems, aerodynamics and heat transfer. He was the winner of 2012 Sir Henry Royce Innovation Award for his work on the Model Based Detection Scheme for IP shaft break protection of three spool turbofans and 2017 Sir Henry Royce High Value Patent Award.

He is passionate about bridging the gap between TRL4 and real product application with a number of his patents seeing service today across all Trent XWB, Trent 1000 and Trent 900 aero-engines. His current research interests include flow control applications in gas turbines, and control for hybrid-electric propulsion of VTOL aircraft.

He is a Fellow of IET and a member of IET Innovation and Emerging Technologies Policy Panel.