In-flight Performance Optimization for Rotorcraft with Redundant Controls

Open Access
Ozdemir, Gurbuz Taha
Graduate Program:
Aerospace Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
September 03, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Joseph Francis Horn, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Joseph Francis Horn, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Edward C Smith, Committee Member
  • Kenneth Steven Brentner, Committee Member
  • Christopher Rahn, Committee Member
  • Farhan Gandhi, Special Member
  • Rotorcraft
  • Redundant Controls
  • Optimization
  • Compound Helicopter
  • Flight Dynamics and Control
  • Performance
A conventional helicopter has limits on performance at high speeds because of the limitations of main rotor, such as compressibility issues on advancing side or stall issues on retreating side. Auxiliary lift and thrust components have been suggested to improve performance of the helicopter substantially by reducing the loading on the main rotor. Such a configuration is called the compound rotorcraft. Rotor speed can also be varied to improve helicopter performance. In addition to improved performance, compound rotorcraft and variable RPM can provide a much larger degree of control redundancy. This additional redundancy gives the opportunity to further enhance performance and handling qualities. A flight control system is designed to perform in-flight optimization of redundant control effectors on a compound rotorcraft in order to minimize power required and extend range. This “Fly to Optimal” (FTO) control law is tested in simulation using the GENHEL model. A model of the UH-60, a compound version of the UH-60A with lifting wing and vectored thrust ducted propeller (VTDP), and a generic compound version of the UH-60A with lifting wing and propeller were developed and tested in simulation. A model following dynamic inversion controller is implemented for inner loop control of roll, pitch, yaw, heave, and rotor RPM. An outer loop controller regulates airspeed and flight path during optimization. A Golden Section search method was used to find optimal rotor RPM on a conventional helicopter, where the single redundant control effector is rotor RPM. The FTO builds off of the Adaptive Performance Optimization (APO) method of Gilyard by performing low frequency sweeps on a redundant control for a fixed wing aircraft. A method based on the APO method was used to optimize trim on a compound rotorcraft with several redundant control effectors. The controller can be used to optimize rotor RPM and compound control effectors through flight test or simulations in order to establish a schedule. The method has been expanded to search a two-dimensional control space. Simulation results demonstrate the ability to maximize range by optimizing stabilator deflection and an airspeed set point. Another set of results minimize power required in high speed flight by optimizing collective pitch and stabilator deflection. Results show that the control laws effectively hold the flight condition while the FTO method is effective at improving performance. Optimizations show there can be issues when the control laws regulating altitude push the collective control towards it limits. So a modification was made to the control law to regulate airspeed and altitude using propeller pitch and angle of attack while the collective is held fixed or used as an optimization variable. A dynamic trim limit avoidance algorithm is applied to avoid control saturation in other axes during optimization maneuvers. Range and power optimization FTO simulations are compared with comprehensive sweeps of trim solutions and FTO optimization shown to be effective and reliable in reaching an optimal when optimizing up to two redundant controls. Use of redundant controls is shown to be beneficial for improving performance. The search method takes almost 25 minutes of simulated flight for optimization to be complete. The optimization maneuver itself can sometimes drive the power required to high values, so a power limit is imposed to restrict the search to avoid conditions where power is more than5% higher than that of the initial trim state. With this modification, the time the optimization maneuver takes to complete is reduced down to 21 minutes without any significant change in the optimal power value.