Practical Design Methods for Aircraft and Rotorcraft Flight Control for Manned and UAV Applications with Hands-on Training using CONDUIT® 15 June - 16 June 2019 Cortez A, Hilton Anatole, Dallas, Texas

In This Section

Register Now

Member - Early (until 27 May) $595
Member - Standard  $695
Conference Rate $795


0800–1730 hrs

The course will be a combination of lectures, interspersed with associated hands-on lab exercises (aircraft and rotorcraft) to be completed by the students on their own computers using the standalone version of CONDUIT® that is also provided with the book. While our design approach is based on multi-objective parametric optimization, we intend that course attendees who use a different design method will still find the course a useful and comprehensive presentation of well validated flight-control principles and rules of thumb. This course should challenge the practicing engineer to consider where their flight-control processes can be improved or augmented. The many examples from recent manned and UAV aircraft programs illustrate the effectiveness of this technology for rapidly solving difficult integration problems. Also, while we make reference the basic tenants of feedback control theory, our focus in this course is on reducing the theoretical methods of aircraft and rotorcraft flight control to design practice for students and working-level engineers.

Course reference is the “Practical Methods for Aircraft and Rotorcraft Flight Control Design: An Optimization Based Approach” (AIAA, 2017) which is included with the course registration.

Key Topics

  • Present our extensive experience and lessons learned into a single comprehensive and practical course for academia and working-level flight control engineers.
  • Review of best practices in selection of handling qualities and flight control specifications, simulation modeling and fidelity assessment, and flight control design and analysis methods.
  • Demonstrate how flight dynamics and control theory is brought to practice by reviewing many historical aircraft and rotorcraft manned and UAV flight control design case studies and lessons learned. 
  • Step-by-step presentation of multi-objective parametric optimization design using Feasible Sequential Quadratic Programming (FSQP), with a focus on how to apply this method to real-world flight control design problems. 
  • Demonstrate the optimization of a wide range of classical and modern control design methods (PID, model following, dynamic inverse, LQR, H-infinity) to meet a common set of design requirements using the multi-objective parametric optimization method and compare the resulting performance and robustness. 
  • Hands-on exercises by the students on aircraft and rotorcraft flight control examples using student version of CONDUIT® to reinforce methods and get real-time experience with software and see the results.  

Who Should Attend

This course is intended for aerospace engineering faculty, students, and for practicing aircraft and rotorcraft flight dynamics and control system engineers. A basic knowledge of flight dynamics and control fundamentals, methods, and flight control concepts is assumed. However, the attendee is not expected to be an expert, and course will not contain advanced mathematics. This course should challenge the practicing engineer to consider where their flight-control processes can be improved or augmented with the design requirements and methods of simulation, design, and analysis as presented and illustrated herein. 


Section 1. Introduction: The Flight Control Problem and Our Approach

  • Roles of Flight Control System and the Development Process 
  • Flight Control System Design Challenges and Reference Material–Seven Key Do’s 
  • Flight Control System Design Using Multi-Objective Parametric Optimization: Why is this a Good Approach? 

Section 2. Fundamentals of Control System Design Methodology Based on Multi-Objective Parametric Optimization

  • Roadmap of Multi-Objective Parametric Optimization Design Methodology
  • Typical Results Based on XV-15 Hover Case Study
  • Typical Results Based on XV-15 Forward Flight Case Study 

Section 3. Overview of CONDUIT®Software

  • The CONDUIT®Interface, Overview of CONDUIT® Workflow
  • Problem Setup, Modes of Operation, and Integration with Other Tools

Section 4. Description of XV-15 Design Case Studies

  • XV-15 Hover and Forward Flight Case Studies

Section 5. Quantitative Design Requirements for Flight Control 

  • Importance and Sources of Design Requirements and the Cooper-Harper Scale 
  • Specifications: Generic, Rotorcraft, Fixed-Wing, User Defined, and Performance Metrics 
  • Flight control criteria for UAVs 
  • Criteria Sets for XV-15 Hover and Forward Flight Case Studies

Section 6. Simulation Requirements for Flight Control Design

  • Modeling Fidelity Requirements and Use of a Simplified Block Diagram 
  • Linear Bare-Airframe Models, Additional Components, Nonlinearities and Analysis Validation

Section 7. Conceptual and Preliminary Design of Flight Control Systems

  • Partial- vs. Full-Authority Implementation and Control Law Architectures 
  • Preliminary Design of Feedback Compensation

Section 8. Design Optimization

  • Need and Challenge of Numerical Optimization of Flight Control Design 
  • Numerical Scores for the Specifications and Numerical Optimization of the Design 
  • Guidelines for Flight Control Optimization Results for the XV-15 Hover and Forward Flight Case Studies

Section 9. Sensitivity and Robustness Analyses

  • Sensitivity Analysis of the Design Solution and results for XV-15 Hover and Forward Flight
  • Assessing Robustness to Modeling Uncertainty

Section 10. Design Trade-offs

  • Design Margin Optimization (DMO) 
  • Nested-Loop Design Margin Optimization Strategy for the XV-15 Hover and Forward Flight

Section 11. Optimization and Flight Test Evaluation of Hover/Low-Speed Control Laws for a Conventional Helicopter: Comparison of Nested vs Simultaneous

  • Two Optimization Strategies: Nested-Loop and Simultaneous Multi-Loop 
  • Inner-Loop and Outer Loop Design Margin Optimization for the Nested DMO Approach 
  • Validation of Analysis Model and Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluations

Section 12. Optimization and Piloted Simulation Evaluation of Full-Flight Envelope Longitudinal Control Laws for a Business Jet

  • Aircraft Model, Control Laws, Specifications 
  • Optimization Strategy and Results, Handling-Qualities Evaluation

Section 13. Alternative Design Methods using CONDUIT® 

  • Overview of Design methods and results: Linear-Quadratic Design, Explicit Model Following Design, Dynamic Inversion Design, H∞ Mixed-Sensitivity Design 
  • Design Comparison

Section 14. UAV Flight Control Design Case Studies using CONDUIT® 

  • Fixed wing UAV case studies: design specifications, flight test validation, flight test results and comparison with legacy controller, design specification guidance.
  • Rotorcraft UAV case studies: Full scale and small multi-copter configurations, design specifications, flight test validation, flight test results and comparison with legacy controller, design specification guidance. 

Course notes will be made available about one week prior to the course event. You will receive an email with detailed instructions on how to access your course notes. AIAA will also provide a hardcopy of the course notes to help you follow along and annotate during the class. Each attendee will also receive a two month license for the latest version of the CONDUIT software, for their use in the course and after the course on their applications.

Practical Methods for Aircraft and Rotorcraft Flight Control Design: An Optimization Based Approach (Tischler et al., AIAA, 2017) will be provided as part of the course registration. 


Dr. Mark Tischler is a Senior Technologist and Flight Control Technology group leader with the U.S. Army Aviation Development Directorate at Moffett Field, CA. 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). 

Tom Berger is a member of the Flight Control Technology group at ADD. He works on aircraft and rotorcraft system identification, flight control, and handling qualities. His primary research interest is in the emerging field of high speed handling qualities requirements for advanced rotorcraft configurations. He is a coauthor of Practical Methods for Aircraft and Rotorcraft Flight Control Design: An Optimization Based Approach (AIAA, 2017).