Accession Number:



In-Flight Investigation of the Effects of Pilot Location and Control System Design on Airplane Flying Qualities for Approach and Landing.

Descriptive Note:

Contractor rept. Jun 80-Jun 81,

Corporate Author:


Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



A study of the handling qualities of large airplanes in the approach and landing flight phase was performed. An in-flight simulation experiment utilizing the USAFCalspan Total In-Flight simulator was performed. A one-million pound statically-unstable delta-wing airplane model was used as a baseline about which variations were made. The primary variables were relative pilot position with respect to center of rotation, command path time delays and phase shifts, augmentation schemes and levels of augmentation. The experiment design, its conduct and analysis of the data are described. Results indicate that the approach and landing task with large airplanes is a low bandwidth task. Low equivalent short period frequencies and relatively long time delays can be tolerated only when the pilot is located a considerable distance forward of the center of rotation. As the pilot position is moved aft towards and then behind the center of rotation, as is the space shuttle, pilot ratings are degraded. A multi-loop analysis of pitch attitude and altitude control gave insight into this pilot position phenomenon. The control problem experienced by the pilots, when seated behind the center of rotation, tended to occur at low altitude when they were using visual cues of rate of sink and altitude. These configurations also lack the initial normal acceleration cue from pitch acceleration that conventional large airplane configurations possess. A direct lift controller improved final flight path control of these shuttle-like configurations.

Subject Categories:

  • Flight Control and Instrumentation
  • Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems
  • Aerodynamics

Distribution Statement: