Probabilistic Flight Envelope Estimation with Application to Unstable Overactuated Aircraft

Mingzhou Yin, Q. P. Chu, Y. Zhang, Michael A. Niestroy, Coen de Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes a novel and practical framework for safe flight envelope estimation and protection, in order to prevent loss-of-control-related accidents. Conventional analytical envelope estimation methods fail to function efficiently for systems with high dimensionality and complex dynamics, which is often the case for high-fidelity aircraft models. In this way, this paper develops a probabilistic envelope estimation method based on Monte Carlo simulation. This method generates a probabilistic estimation of the flight envelope by simulating flight trajectories with extreme control effectiveness. It is shown that this method can significantly reduce the computational load compared with previous optimization-based methods and guarantee feasible and conservative envelope estimation of no less than seven dimensions. This method was applied to the Innovative Control Effectors aircraft, an overactuated tailless fighter aircraft with complex aerodynamic coupling between control effectors. The estimated probabilistic flight envelope is used for online envelope protection by a database approach. Both conventional state-constraintbased and novel predictive probabilistic flight envelope protection systems were implemented on a multiloop nonlinear dynamic inversion controller. Real-time simulation results demonstrate that the proposed framework can protect the aircraft within the estimated envelope and save the aircraft from maneuvers that otherwise would result in loss of control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2650-2663
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics: devoted to the technology of dynamics and control
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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