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Evolution of Flying Qualities Analysis: Problems for a New Generation of Aircraft

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Doctoral thesis

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A number of challenges in the development and application of flying qualities criteria for modern aircraft are addressed in this dissertation. The history of flying qualities is traced from its origins to modern day techniques as applied to piloted aircraft. Included in this historical review is the case that was made for the development of flying qualities criteria in the 1940s and 1950s when piloted aircraft became prevalent in the U.S. military. UAVs today are in the same context historically as piloted aircraft when flying qualities criteria were first developed. Two longitudinal flying qualities criteria were developed for application to autonomous UAVs. These criteria center on mission performance of the integrated aircraft and sensor system. The first criterion is based on a sensor platforms ability to reject aircraft disturbances in pitch attitude. The second criterion makes use of energy methods to create a metric to quantify the transmission of turbulence to the sensor platform. These criteria are evaluated with airframe models of different classes of air vehicles using the CASTLE 6 DOF simulation. Another topic in flying qualities is the evaluation of nonlinear control systems in piloted aircraft. An L1 adaptive controller was implemented and tested in a motion-based, piloted flight simulator. Results show that the adaptive controller was able to recover good flying qualities from a degraded aircraft. The final topic addresses a less direct, but extremely important challenge for flying qualities research and education a capstone course in flight mechanics teaching flight techniques and featuring a motion-based flight simulator was implemented and evaluated. The course used a mixture of problem-based learning and role-based learning to create an environment in which students could explore key flight mechanics concepts. An evaluation of the courses effectiveness in promoting an understanding of key flight mechanics concepts is presented.

Subject Categories:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Pilotless Aircraft
  • Flight Control and Instrumentation

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