Monday, November 30, 2009
Introduction to Flight Controls
As aircraft became more sophisticated, the control surfaces were actuated by electric motors, digital computers, or fiber optic cables. Called “fly-by-wire,” this flight control system replaces the physical connection between pilot controls and the flight control surfaces with an electrical interface. In addition, in some large and fast aircraft, controls are boosted by hydraulically or electrically actuated systems. In the fly-by-wire and boosted controls, the feel of the control reaction is fed back to the pilot by simulated means.
Current research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Dryden Flight Research Center involves Intelligent Flight Control Systems (IFCS). The goal of this flight project is to develop an adaptive neural network-based control system. Applied directly to flight control system feedback errors, IFCS provides adjustments to improve aircraft performance in normal flight as well as with system failures. With IFCS, a pilot is able to maintain control and safely land an aircraft that has suffered a failure to a control surface or damage to the airframe. It also improves mission capability, increases the reliability and safety of flight, and eases the pilot workload.
For additional information on flight control systems, refer to the appropriate handbook for information related to the flight control systems and characteristics of specific types of aircraft.