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Reconfigurable Flight Control Systems for a Tandem Rotor Helicopter

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This paper describes a study on control reconfiguration as applied to a tandem‐rotor helicopter. Two reconfiguration strategies were examined: on‐line recalculation of control gains, and a method to redistribute control power to compensate in the event of failures. For linear systems with perfect damage information, the first approach was shown to be capable of completely recovering performance. Limitations of this approach for nonlinear and imperfect failure information are discussed. The second method was shown to be useful only when redundant control effectors were available. To apply it, thrust variation was used as an additional control. Three failure scenarios that caused degraded performance and sometimes catastrophic consequences were examined. In all cases, reconfiguration was able to stabilize the helicopter. Several handling qualities evaluations were performed. The conclusion is that control reconfiguration on rotorcraft appears viable but limited. Supplementing current rotorcraft with additional control effectors is highly desirable, if not necessary, if control reconfiguration is to be more applicable.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Grumman Northrop Research Center, Bethpage, NY

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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  • The Journal of the American Helicopter Society is the world's only scientific journal dedicated to vertical flight technology. It is a peer-reviewed technical journal published quarterly by AHS International and presents innovative papers covering the state-of-the-art in all disciplines of rotorcraft design, research and development. (Please note that AHS members receive significant discounts on articles and subscriptions.)

    Journal subscribers who are AHS members log in here if you are not already logged in.

    Authors can find submission guidelines and related information on the AHS website.

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