Flight-test results of autonomous airplane transitions between steady-level and hovering flight

Eric N. Johnson, Allen Wu, James C. Neidhoefer, Suresh K. Kannan, Michael A. Turbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Linear systems can beusedto adequately model and controlanaircraft in either ideal steady-level flight or in ideal hovering flight. However, constructing a single unified system capable of adequately modeling or controlling an airplane in steady-level flight and in hovering flight, as well as during the highly nonlinear transitions between the two, requires the use of more complex systems, such as scheduled-linear, nonlinear, or stable adaptive systems. This paper discusses the use of dynamic inversion with real-time neural network adaptation as a means to provide a single adaptive controller capable of controlling a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft system in all three flight phases: steady-level flight, hovering flight, and the transitions between them. Having a single controller that can achieve and transition between steady-level and hovering flight allows utilization of the entire low-speed flight envelope, even beyond stall conditions. This method is applied to the GTEdge, an eight-foot wingspan, fixed-wing unmanned aircraft system that has been fully instrumented for autonomous flight. This paper presents data from actual flighttest experiments in which the airplane transitions from high-speed, steady-level flight into a hovering condition and then back again.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-370
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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