Aircraft and Rotorcraft System Identification Engineering Methods for Piloted and UAV Applications with Hands-on Training using CIFER®

Instructed by Dr. Mark Tischler

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This comprehensive course will review the fundamental methods of Piloted and UAV aircraft and rotorcraft system identification for determining flight dynamics and control models from test data with Hands-on Training using CIFER®. The course illustrates the benefits of the broad application of system identification throughout the flight vehicle development process and provides the attendees with an intensive hands-on training of the CIFER® interactive system identification software suite using flight-test data and extensive Lab exercises. Each lecture reviews the next step in the system identification process, covering key principles, flight-test methods and typical flight-test results. Then, the student uses the intuitive CIFER® software to conduct this step in a structured Lab Exercise using flight-test data. By the end of the 16-hour course, the student will have completed the entire identification process of extracting and verifying a flight dynamics model of a rotorcraft or fixed-wing aircraft from flight-test data using CIFER®. New lecture material covers special considerations and typical system identification results for multi-copter, eVTOL/UAM configurations, how system identification results can be used to validate and update physics-based flight simulation models, and “model stitching” that combines identified point models and trim data into an accurate full-flight envelope simulation. Students receive access to on-line course notes, a copy of the course text authored by the instructor, and access to the CIFER® software. The many examples from recent piloted and UAV aircraft programs illustrate the effectiveness of this technology for rapidly solving difficult integration problems. The course will review key methods and computational tools but will not be overly mathematical in content.

The key objectives of this course are to: (1) review the fundamental methods of Piloted and UAV aircraft and rotorcraft system identification methods with Hands-on Training using CIFER® and illustrate the benefits of the broad application of system ID throughout the flight vehicle development process; (2) provide the attendees with an intensive hands-on training of the CIFER® system identification, using flight test data and 10 extensive Lab exercises. Students will work on comprehensive laboratory assignments using a demo copy of the CIFER® software provided to course participants. This requires the student to have a PC laptop or a Mac laptop capable of dual-booting to Windows OS or running Windows virtual machine using VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop. Windows 10 is preferred, but the software will run on Windows OS 7-10.

Key Topics

  • Overview of system identification methods and applications
  • Flight testing and instrumentation for handling-qualities and piloted/UAV control system development
  • System ID of piloted and UAV aircraft and rotorcraft dynamics and control from flight test data
  • Special aspects for system ID of multi-copter eVTOL/UAM configurations
  • Model stitching to build accurate full flight envelope nonlinear model from system ID point models
  • Use of system identification results for physics-based simulation model fidelity analysis and improvement
  • Hands-on training in system identification training using CIFER®
  • Over the 4-day course students work 10 comprehensive labs on model identification and verification using flight-test data
  • See detailed outline below

Who Should Attend
The course is intended for practicing engineers and students interested in learning the principles and applications of system identification for piloted and UAV aircraft and rotorcraft. The course assumes some basic knowledge of the concepts of dynamics, frequency-responses, transfer functions, and state-space representations. The course is not highly mathematical and no experience with other tools is a prerequisite.

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

Course Outline
  • Overview of system identification methods and applications
    • What is system identification and what are the advantages of frequency-domain methods?
    • What are the key payoffs of incorporating system ID in the development cycle
      • “How will it help and what will it do for your program?”
    • Frequency-response identification
    • Transfer-function and Multi-input/multi-output (state-space) aircraft dynamic models
  • Key elements of system identification (each topic will have a student lab exercise using CIFER®)
  • Testing techniques
    • Piloted/UAV flight testing for handling qualities and control system development
    • Dos and don’ts of piloted frequency-sweep testing
    • Instrumentation requirements and data consistency analysis
  • Frequency-response identification
    • FFTs and Chirp-Z transform
    • Use of Coherence function for data evaluation
    • Simulation fidelity evaluation and handling-qualities analysis
  • Effects of flight control feedback on identification
    • Assessing bias errors introduced under closed-loop test conditions
  • Multi-input identification
    • Matrix solution to frequency-response identification
    • Post-processing for system identification of aircraft with redundant/correlated control surfaces
  • Optimal windowing
    • Effect and selection of window size
    • Numerical optimization for combining windows
  • Transfer function modeling
    • Lower-order equivalent system concepts
    • Handling-qualities applications
  • State-space modeling
    • Physical and canonical models
    • Applications to a wide variety of aircraft and rotorcraft
    • UAV fixed-wing aircraft, multi-copters, and large UAV helicopter results
  • Time-domain verification
    • Assessing the predictive capability of identified models
  • Higher-order modeling of aircraft structural dynamics and rotorcraft rotor/inflow dynamics
  • Model Stitching to build an accurate full flight envelope nonlinear model from system ID point models
  • Using system identification results to improve the fidelity of physics-based simulation models
  • Key concepts and example applications: piloted and UAV aircraft and rotorcraft; multi-copter, eVTOL/UAM configurations; and small fixed-wing UAVs.
Dr. Mark B. Tischler recently retired as an Army Senior Technologist (ST) and Senior Scientist with the US Army Technology Development Directorate – Moffett Field, CA. His over 40-year career includes experience in the aerospace industry and government, and recently launched “Tischler Aeronautics,” with a focus on providing Engineering Support in Aircraft and Rotorcraft Flight Dynamics and Control. Tischler headed the development of widely-used tools for dynamics and control analysis and has been involved in numerous flight-test projects. He has published widely in this field and is the author of Aircraft and Rotorcraft System Identification: Engineering Methods With Flight Test Examples, 2nd Edition (AIAA 2012), Practical Methods for Aircraft and Rotorcraft Flight Control Design: An Optimization-Based Approach (AIAA 2017), and Advances in Aircraft Flight Control (Ed) (AIAA and Taylor & Francis, 1996).


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