Date of Award

12-2010

Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

Xiao-Hua Yu

Abstract

In order for an aircraft to remain in stable flight, the center of gravity (CG) of an aircraft must be located in front of the center of lift (CL). As the center of gravity moves rearward, pitch stability decreases and the sensitivity to control input increases. This increase in sensitivity is known as pitch gain variance. Minimizing the pitch gain variance results in an aircraft with consistent handling characteristics across a broad range of center of gravity locations.

This thesis focuses on the development and testing of an open loop computer simulation model and a closed loop control system to minimize pitch axis gain variation as center of gravity changes. DATCOM and MatLab are used to generate the open loop aircraft flight model; then a closed loop PD (proportional-derivate) controller is designed based on Ziegler-Nichols closed loop tuning methods. Computer simulation results show that the open loop control system exhibited unacceptable pitch gain variance, and that the closed loop control system not only minimizes gain variance, but also stabilizes the aircraft in all test cases. The controller is also implemented in a Scorpio Miss 2 radio controlled aircraft using an onboard microprocessor. Flight testing shows that performance is satisfactory.

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