Model Predictive Control in Flight Control Design : Stability and Reference Tracking

Abstract: Aircraft are dynamic systems that 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 are becoming increasingly important as the performance and complexity of the controlled systems is constantly increasing. It is especially important in the design of control systems for fighter aircraft. These require maximum control performance in order to have the upper hand in a dogfight or when they have to outmaneuver an enemy missile. Therefore pilots often maneuver the aircraft very close to the limit of what it is capable of, and an automatic system (called flight envelope protection system) against violating the restrictions is a necessity.In other application areas, nonlinear optimal control methods have been successfully used to solve this but in the aeronautical industry, these methods have not yet been established. One of the more popular methods that are well suited to handle constraints is Model Predictive Control (MPC) and it is used extensively in areas such as the process industry and the refinery industry. Model predictive control means in practice that the control system iteratively solves an advanced optimization problem based on a prediction of the aircraft's future movements in order to calculate the optimal control signal. The aircraft's operating limitations will then be constraints in the optimization problem.In this thesis, we explore model predictive control and derive two fast, low complexity algorithms, one for guaranteed stability and feasibility of nonlinear systems and one for reference tracking for linear systems. In reference tracking model predictive control for linear systems we build on the dual mode formulation of MPC and our goal is to make minimal changes to this framework, in order to develop a reference tracking algorithm 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 several methods to approximate the nonlinear constraints have been proposed in the literature, many working in an ad hoc fashion, resulting in conservatism, or worse, inability to guarantee recursive feasibility. Also several methods work in an iterative manner which can be quit time consuming making them inappropriate for fast real time applications. In this thesis we propose a method to handle the nonlinear constraints, using a set of dynamically generated local inner polytopic approximations. The main benefits of the proposed method is that while computationally cheap it still can guarantee recursive feasibility and convergence.