MASCOT software was created to provide the conceptual aircraft designer accurate predictions of air vehicle stability and control characteristics. The code takes as input mass property data in the form of an inertia tensor, aerodynamic loading data, and propulsion (i.e. thrust) loading data. Using fundamental non-linear equations of motion, MASCOT then calculates vehicle trim and static stability data for any desired flight condition. Common predefined flight conditions are included. The predefined flight conditions include six horizontal and six landing rotation conditions with varying options for engine out, crosswind and sideslip, plus three takeoff rotation conditions. Results are displayed through a unique graphical interface developed to provide stability and control information to the conceptual design engineers using a qualitative scale indicating whether the vehicle has acceptable, marginal, or unacceptable static stability characteristics.

This software allows the user to prescribe the vehicle’s CG location, mass, and inertia tensor so that any loading configuration between empty weight and maximum take-off weight can be analyzed. The required geometric and aerodynamic data as well as mass and inertia properties may be entered directly, passed through data files, or come from external programs such as Vehicle Sketch Pad (VSP). The current version of MASCOT has been tested with VSP used to compute the required data, which is then passed directly into the program. In VSP, the vehicle geometry is created and manipulated. The aerodynamic coefficients, stability and control derivatives, are calculated using VorLax, which is now available directly within VSP. MASCOT has been written exclusively using the technical computing language MATLAB®.

This innovation is able to bridge the gap between low-fidelity conceptual design and higher-fidelity stability and control analysis. This new tool enables the conceptual design engineer to include detailed static stability and trim constraints in the conceptual design loop. The unique graphical interface developed for this tool presents the stability data in a format that is understandable by the conceptual designer, yet also provides the detailed quantitative results if desired.

This work was done by Sean Kenny of Langley Research Center and Luis Crespo of the National Institute of Aerospace. LAR-16581-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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