Instability mechanism of roll/Lateral biodynamic rotorcraft–Pilot couplings

Vincenzo Muscarello*, Pierangelo Masarati, Giuseppe Quaranta, Georges Tod, Julien Gomand, François Malburet, Marilena D. Pavel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The paper investigates the basic mechanism of aeroservoelastic pilot-assisted oscillation about the roll axis due to the interaction with pilot’s arm biomechanics. The motivation stems from the observation that a rotor imbalance May occur as a consequence of rotor cyclic lead–lag modes excitation. The work shows that the instability mechanism is analogous to air resonance, in which the pilot’s involuntary action plays the role of the automatic flight control system. Using robust stability analysis, the paper shows how the pilot’s biodynamics May involuntarily lead to a roll/lateral instability. The mechanism of instability proves that the pilot biodynamics is participating in the destabilization of the system by transferring energy, i.e., by producing forces that do work for the energetically conjugated displacement, directly into the flapping mode. This destabilizes the airframe roll motion, which, in turn, causes lead–lag motion imbalance. It is found that, depending on the value of the time delay involved in the lateral cyclic control, the body couples with rotor motion in a different way. In the presence of small or no time delays, body roll couples with the rotor through the lead–lag degrees of freedom. The increase of the time delay above a certain threshold modifies this coupling: The body no longer couples with the rotor through lead–lag but directly through flap motion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number022004
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Helicopter Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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