Research engineers from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center and Universities Space Research Association have written a textbook to advance the understanding of aircraft and rotorcraft flight control systems.
The comprehensive book, “Practical Methods for Aircraft and Rotorcraft Flight Control Design: An Optimization Based Approach,” will be published in April 2017 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics under their Education Series.
The six AMRDEC and USRA authors compiled their extensive experience and lessons learned into a single comprehensive and practical resource for academia and flight control engineers. The final product includes years of research, software development, algorithm improvements, desktop design, piloted-simulation and flight-test studies, according to Dr. Mark B. Tischler, AMRDEC senior technologist for flight control technologies and lead author.
Researchers at AMRDEC’s Aviation Development Directorate at Moffett Field were inspired to write the book after conducting several short courses and publishing many conference papers, culminating in an Army Special Report 10 years ago. They realized these media had limited reach and impact, and also knew that communicating their key advances in an integrated book was crucial in advancing the state-of-the-art of flight control technology for both students and working engineers.
“Our focus in this book is on reducing the theoretical methods of aircraft and rotorcraft flight control to design practice for students and working-level engineers,” said Tischler. “This is about going the extra step, creating multiple layers to equip engineers and establish a competitive edge.”
According to Tischler, a central theme in the book is flight control design using multi-objective parametric optimization to directly meet a large number of competing design specifications.
“The key advantage of this approach is that the designer chooses an appropriate control system architecture based on the system requirements and airframe capabilities,” Tischler said. “This design optimization approach is specification-driven and applicable to any control system design architecture. This differs from other textbooks that emphasize theoretical design and analysis methods.”
In collaboration with USRA under the NASA Academic Mission Services contract, ADD developed a modern integrated software tool that addresses these technical flight control challenges. This tool, the Control Designer’s Unified Interface, or CONDUIT, is a state-of-the-art flight control design and optimization tool that allows the user to rapidly evaluate and optimize designs against relevant performance specifications and design criteria. CONDUIT is used throughout the book to illustrate the design algorithms for both simple and complex case studies.
In the past, the flight control system was designed through laborious manual tuning, Tischler said. Now, with CONDUIT, the system design process is automated. With the use of an intuitive Graphical User Interface and state-of-the-art numerical optimization algorithms, the flight control system is analyzed and optimized to meet 50-100 specifications and requirements, while minimizing the actuator usage. This ensures good handling-qualities while reducing structural fatigue and improving system robustness to uncertainty.
“The authors have created not only an indispensable guide and set of examples of CONDUIT, but also a remarkably complete planning guide document and text for any flight control design effort,” said John Hodgkinson, an aircraft handling-qualities expert who reviewed the book.
The book includes student exercises and a solutions manual to increase its utility in the classroom and for working level engineers. Another reviewer, Professor Kamran Turkoglu, an expert in flight control design from academia also commented on the quality of material provided to students.
“Excellent flight control textbook for senior undergraduate and/or graduate students, with a very well balanced perspective covering the theory, implementation and practical applications,” said Turkoglu.
The release of this book coincides with major new flight vehicle programs such as the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator, Future Vertical Lift, and Future Tactical Unmanned Air Systems, all highly dependent on precise flight control performance, as can be achieved with the methods and guidelines detailed in this forthcoming comprehensive book.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense, M2M (machine to machine)