Post-buckled precompressed subsonic micro-flight control actuators and surfaces

Ron Barrett*, Roelof Vos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This paper describes a new class of flight control actuators using post-buckled precompressed (PBP) piezoelectric elements to provide much improved actuator performance. These PBP actuator elements are modeled using basic large deflection Euler-beam estimations accounting for laminated plate effects. The deflection estimations are then coupled to a high rotation kinematic model which translates PBP beam bending to stabilator deflections. A test article using PZT-5H piezoceramic sheets built into an active bender element was fitted with an elastic band which induced much improved deflection levels. Statically the bender element was capable of producing unloaded end rotations on the order of ± 2.6°. With axial compression, the end deflections were shown to increase nearly four-fold. The PBP element was then fitted with a graphite-epoxy aeroshell which was designed to pitch around a tubular stainless steel main spar. Quasi-static bench testing showed excellent correlation between theory and experiment through ± 25° of pitch deflection. Finally, wind tunnel testing was conducted at airspeeds up to 120 kts (62 m s-1, 202 ft s-1). Testing showed that deflections up to ± 20° could be maintained at even the highest flight speed. The stabilator showed no flutter or divergence tendencies at all flight speeds. At higher deflection levels, it was shown that a slight degradation deflection was induced by nose-down pitching moments generated by separated flow conditions induced by extremely high angles of attack.

Original languageEnglish
Article number055011
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


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