Browse Publications Technical Papers 2007-01-3847

Aerionics - A New Aero Industry for Flight Control 2007-01-3847

The Wright Brothers invented flight control on heavier than air craft by introducing wing warping on the 1899 Wright glider. Second-generation flight control systems using the aileron were developed shortly thereafter. For the past century, this has been the state-of-the-art for controlling aircraft. Starting in the early 1990s, third generation flight control systems have been developed using new micro-scale actuators and advanced algorithms that focus on controlling the boundary layer, rather than the bulk airflow. Built on the theory of boundary-layer flow control by Prandtl in 1904, today's modern flow control concepts and devices offer significant advantages and benefits compared to conventional movable control surfaces for air vehicle control. Owing to the significant technological advances and breakthroughs in the field of Microelectro-mechanical Systems (MEMS) and computing, novel actuator schemes and controller designs are now being realized for the development of future revolutionary air vehicle systems. This paper reviews the highlights a few examples of flow control that the authors are most familiar with in view of the evolving nascent industry we describe as “Aerionics”. It is envisioned that this new industry will breed a fundamental transformation in the design of future air vehicles and their flight control systems.


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