Dynamic sensitivity to atmospheric turbulence of a fixed-wing MAV with varying configuration

Mujahid Abdulrahim, Simon Watkins, Reuven Segal, John Sheridan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Micro air vehicle flight in turbulence is generally treated as an anomalous part of the flying environment. Aircraft geometries and flight control systems are often designed and tested for calm atmospheric conditions, where both steady winds and gusts are minor. As a result, the flight performance of MAVs deteriorates in the presence of atmospheric turbulence, where gust disturbances can be large relative to the flying speeds. A better approach is needed in the aircraft and control system design process that specifically accounts for the effects of turbulence and provides a means of mitigating disturbances to improve the mission-effectiveness of MAVs. The current research focuses on untethered flight tests of a MAV in a large wind engineering tunnel which can be configured to replicate turbulence levels expected from urban and suburban environments. Systematic changes to the configuration of a fixed wing aircraft are made to evaluate the role of metrics such as CG, mass, moment of inertia, wingspan, and wing loading to turbulence sensitivity. Estimates of the force and moment disturbances indicate that some parameters, such as moment of inertia, have simple and expected influence on the response to turbulence. Conversely, wing area and mass have conflicting effects due to the compounded influences on the aircraft response. The paper concludes with a brief look at equivalent disturbances, which are shown as methods to quantify the effect of turbulence in terms of the aircraft states or control inputs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference and Exhibit
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference and Exhibit - Chicago, IL, United States of America
Duration: 10 Aug 200913 Aug 2009


ConferenceAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference and Exhibit
CountryUnited States of America
CityChicago, IL

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