A parameterized linear mathematical model of the longitudinal dynamics of an airship is undergoing development. This model is intended to be used in designing control systems for future airships that would operate in the atmospheres of Earth and remote planets.
Heretofore, the development of linearized models of the longitudinal dynamics of airships has been costly in that it has been necessary to perform extensive flight testing and to use system-identification techniques to construct models that fit the flight-test data. The present model is a generic one that can be relatively easily specialized to approximate the dynamics of specific airships at specific operating points, without need for further system identification, and with significantly less flight testing.
The approach taken in the present development is to merge the linearized dynamical equations of an airship with techniques for estimation of aircraft stability derivatives, and to thereby make it possible to construct a linearized dynamical model of the longitudinal dynamics of a specific airship from geometric and aerodynamic data pertaining to that airship. (It is also planned to develop a model of the lateral dynamics by use of the same methods.) All of the aerodynamic data needed to construct the model of a specific airship can be obtained from wind-tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics.