Modeling and Scaling of a Flexible Subscale Aircraft for Flight Control Development and Testing in the Presence of Aeroservoelastic Interactions

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Virginia Tech


The interaction of an aircraft's structure and the flight dynamics can degrade the performance of a controller designed only considering the rigid body flight dynamics. These concerns are greater for the next generation adaptive controls. These interactions lead to an increase in the tracking error, instabilities in the control parameters, and significant structural excitations. To improve the understanding of these issues the interactions have been examined using simulation as well as flight testing of a subscale aircraft. The scaling required for such a subscale aircraft has also been examined. For the simulation a coordinate system where the non-linear flight dynamics are orthogonal to the linear structural dynamics was defined. The orthogonality allows the use of separates models for the aerodynamics. For the non-linear flight dynamics, preexisting table lookups with extended vortex lattice are used to determine the aerodynamic forces. Strip theory is then used to determine the smaller, but still important, unsteady aerodynamic forces due to the flexible motion. Because the orientation of the engines is dependent on the structural deformations, the propulsive force is modeled as a non-conservative follower force. The simulation of the integrated dynamics is then used to examine the effects of the aircraft flexibility and resultant ASE interactions on the performance of adaptive controls. For the scaling, the complete similitude of a flexible aircraft was examined. However, this complete similitude is unfeasible for an actual model, so partial similitude is investigated using two approaches. First, the classical approximations of the flight dynamic modes are used to reduce the order of the coupled model, and consequently the number of scaling parameters required to maintain the physics of the system. The second approach uses sensitivity of the response to errors in the aircraft's nondimensional parameters. Both methods give a consistent set of nondimensional parameters which do not have significant influence on the aeroservoelastic interaction. These parameters do not need to be scaled, thus leading to a viable scaled model. A subscale vehicle has been designed which shows significant coupling between the flight dynamics and structural dynamics. This vehicle was used to validate the results of the scaling theory. Output error system identification was used to identify a model from the flight test data. This identified model provides the frequency of the short-period mode, and the effects of the Froude number on the flexibility.



Flight Dynamics, Flexible Structures, Aeroelasticity, Aeroservoelasticity, Subscale, Aircraft Scaling, Flight Control