Tech Briefs

Estimation of Stability and Control Derivatives of an F-15

Parameters can be estimated in nearly real time for use in adaptive flight control.

A technique for real-time estimation of stability and control derivatives (derivatives of moment coefficients with respect to control-surface deflection angles) was used to support a flight demonstration of a concept of an indirect-adaptive intelligent flight control system (IFCS). Traditionally, parameter identification, including estimation of stability and control derivatives, is done post-flight. However, for the indirect-adaptive IFCS concept, parameter identification is required during flight so that the system can modify control laws for a damaged aircraft.

ImageThe flight demonstration was carried out on a highly modified F-15 airplane (see Figure 1). The main objective was to estimate the stability and control derivatives of the airplane in nearly real time. A secondary goal was to develop a system to automatically assess the quality of the results, so as to be able to tell a learning neural network which data to use. 

Parameter estimation was performed by use of Fourier-transform regression (FTR) — a technique developed at NASA Langley Research Center. FTR is an equation-error technique that operates in the frequency domain. Data are put into the frequency domain by use of a recursive Fourier transform for a discrete frequency set. This calculation simplifies many subsequent calculations, removes biases, and automatically filters out data beyond the chosen frequency range.

FTR as applied here was tailored to work with pilot inputs, which produce correlated surface positions that prevent accurate parameter estimates, by replacing half the derivatives with predicted values. FTR was also set up to work only on a recent window of data, to accommodate changes in flight condition.

A system of confidence measures was developed to identify quality-parameter estimates that a learning neural network could use. This system judged the estimates primarily on the basis of their estimated variances and of the level of aircraft response.

ImageThe resulting FTR system was implemented in the Simulink software system and autocoded in the C programming language for use on the Airborne Research Test System (ARTS II) computer installed in the F-15 airplane. The Simulink model was also used in a control room that utilizes the Ring Buffered Network Bus hardware and software, making it possible to evaluate test points during flights.

In-flight parameter estimation was done for piloted and automated maneuvers, primarily at three test conditions. Figure 2 shows results for pitching moment due to symmetric stabilator actuations for a series of three pitch doublet maneuvers (in a doublet maneuver, a command to change attitude in a given direction by a given amount is followed immediately by a command to change attitude in the opposite direction by the same amount). A time window of 5 seconds was used. The portions of the curves shown in red are those that passed the confidence tests.

The technique showed good convergence for most derivatives for both kinds of maneuvers — typically within a few seconds. The confidence tests were marginally successful, and it would be necessary to refine them for use in an IFCS.

This work was done by Mark Smith and Tim Moes of Dryden Flight Research Center and Gene Morelli of Langley Research Center. For further information, contact Mark Smith at (661) 276-3177, Tim Moes at (661) 276-3054, or Gene Morelli at (757) 864-4078. DRC-03-05