Fighter Aircraft Maneuver Limiting Using MPC : Theory and Application

Abstract: Flight control design for modern fighter aircraft is a challenging task. Aircraft are dynamical systems, which naturally contain a variety of constraints and nonlinearities such as, e.g., maximum permissible load factor, angle of attack and control surface deflections. Taking these limitations into account in the design of control systems is becoming increasingly important as the performance and complexity of the aircraft is constantly increasing.The aeronautical industry has traditionally applied feedforward, anti-windup or similar techniques and different ad hoc engineering solutions to handle constraints on the aircraft. However these approaches often rely on engineering experience and insight rather than a theoretical foundation, and can often require a tremendous amount of time to tune.In this thesis we investigate model predictive control as an alternative design tool to handle the constraints that arises in the flight control design.We derive a simple reference tracking MPC algorithm for linear systems that build on the dual mode formulation with guaranteed stability and low complexity suitable for implementation in real time safety critical systems.To reduce the computational burden of nonlinear model predictive control we propose a method to handle the nonlinear constraints, using a set of dynamically generated local inner polytopic approximations. The main benefit of the proposed method is that while computationally cheap it still can guarantee recursive feasibility and convergence.An alternative to deriving MPC algorithms with guaranteed stability properties is to analyze the closed loop stability, post design. Here we focus on deriving a tool based on Mixed Integer Linear Programming for analysis of the closed loop stability and robust stability of linear systems controlled with MPC controllers.To test the performance of model predictive control for a real world example we design and implement a standard MPC controller in the development simulator for the JAS 39 Gripen aircraft at Saab Aeronautics. This part of the thesis focuses on practical and tuning aspects of designing MPC controllers for fighter aircraft. Finally we have compared the MPC design with an alternative approach to maneuver limiting using a command governor.

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