Design of a multivariable helicopter flight control system for handling qualities enhancement

William L. Garrard, Bradley S. Liebst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


New handling qualities specifications are currently being developed for attack helicopters. Most unaugmented helicopters will not meet these specifications and feedback control is necessary to improve handling qualities so that safe operation close to the earth in poor weather conditions and/or at night is possible. In this paper a methodology for the direct design of helicopter flight control systems which meet handling qualities specifications is presented. This methodology uses full state feedback to place closed loop eigenvalues to achieve bandwidth specifications and to shape closed loop eigenvectors to decouple lateral and longitudinal responses to control inputs. Full state feedback requires that all state variables be known; however, only angular rates and normal acceleration are measured by sensors. Thus, a state estimator is required in the feedback loop in order to convert sensor outputs to control inputs. This estimator is designed using eigenstructure assignment so as to achieve loop transfer recovery. Design of a feedback system for use in precise hovering control for a modern attack helicopter is used to illustrate the method. Control law synthesis is accomplished using an eighth order model which includes only rigid body modes. Control law performance is evaluated using a 37th order model which includes rigid body, actuator, rotor, sensor, and flexure dynamics. It is found that a notch filter must be added to the design in order to eliminate a high frequency instability. Once this is accomplished, both the time and frequency response characteristics of the augmented helicopter are much improved compared with the unaugmented helicopter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Helicopter Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990


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