Aircraft Handling Qualities


This course aids understanding of the balance between workload and performance when the pilot is controlling an aircraft. Basics of flight dynamics and control are covered, along with the longitudinal and lateral-directional criteria that govern handling qualities. Recent additions include more real-world lessons learned, demonstration of of analysis methods, flight test approaches and suggestions for specifications, including extension to unmanned aircraft. The emphasis is still on insight into the design, analysis and test processes.

Key Topics:

  • Basics of flight dynamics
  • Effects of feedback control systems
  • Human-in-the-loop modeling
  • Criteria for handling qualities
  • Pilot-Induced Oscillations
  • Lessons learned in aircraft development programs
  • Click below for full outline

Who Should Attend:

This course will be of interest to control engineers, aerodynamicists, avionics specialists, pilots, flight test engineers, simulation engineers and others who need some depth or appreciation of this important and challenging interface.

Course Information:

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Intermediate
Course Length: 2 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes


I. The definition and importance of flying/handling qualities and pilot opinion
II. The importance of requirements for cost-effective design and safety
III. Pilot rating scales: Cooper-Harper, PIO. Pitfalls with ratings, and their relation to safety
IV. Static stability, longitudinal axes, equations and transfer functions
V. Illustrate how dynamic derivatives are obtained
VI. Short- and long-period longitudinal modes: physical meaning, contributing factors
VII. The lateral-directional modes: spiral, roll, Dutch roll and coupling parameters
VIII. Pilot in the loop analysis
IX. Introduction to closed-loop control: advantages and pitfalls of fly-by-wire
X. effects of control features: robustness, feedforwards, nonlinearities, good design principles
XI. Longitudinal short period and requirements
XII. Low Order Equivalent Systems: history, motivation, application, recent lessons
XIII. Other longitudinal criteria: bandwidth, Neal-Smith, RSmith, Nelson, Gibson
XIV. High-angle-of-attack criteria
XV. Conducting effective flight simulations and flight tests
XVI. Design for good handling qualities: CONDUIT
XVII. Lessons learned (many example aircraft)



Mr. John Hodgkinson’s handling qualities experience includes fighter/attack aircraft and transports at British Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, and NASA. He has published extensively on handling qualities, and is author of the only available book on the subject.


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