TU Delft
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2016/2017 Aerospace Engineering Master Aerospace Engineering
Automatic Flight Control System Design
Responsible Instructor
Name E-mail
Dr.ir. E. van Kampen    E.vanKampen@tudelft.nl
Contact Hours / Week x/x/x/x
Education Period
Start Education
Exam Period
Course Language
Required for
Expected prior knowledge
The following prior knowledge is required:
AE2204 (until 2012/2013)
AE2235-I (from 2013/2014)
1. Introduction: Course use and arrangement
a. Why automatic flight control systems?
b. Function of the flight control system in civil aviation
c. Recapitulation of theory on flight dynamics
d. Review of the different frames of reference: wind, stability,
body and geodetic etc.
e. Non-linear equations of motion of rigid aircraft.
f. Trim and linearization of the non-linear equations of motion.
g. The linearized longitudinal aircraft dynamics using a statespace
representation and the equivalent frequency domain
2. Recapitulation of systems and control theory
a. From aircraft dynamics to differential equation
a. Laplace transformation
c. Elementary closed loop systems
d. Transfer functions in Matlab
3. Poles and zeros
a. First order systems
b. Second order systems
c. Pole placement for simple systems
4. Root locus method
a. Characteristic equation
b. Angle and magnitude conditions
c. Root locus in Matlab
5. State space formulation
a. Controllability, observability
b. Ackerman's formula
c. LQR
6. Basic controllers: P,PI,PD,PID
7. Frequency response
a. Bode plots
b. Bode plots in Matlab
8. Polar plots (Nyquist)
9. Performance and handling qualities
a. The military specifications (MIL-SPEC) handling quality
b. The Control Anticipation Parameter (CAP)
c. Gibsons Phase rate and Frequency criterion
10. Dynamic stability augmentation
a. yaw dampers
b. pitch dampers
c. phugoid dampers
11. Static stability augmentation
a. angle of attack feedback to improve static margin
b. load factor feedback to improve manoeuvre margin
c. sideslip feedback to improve directional static stability
12. Basic longitudinal autopilot modes
a. pitch attitude hold mode
b. altitude hold mode
c. airspeed hold mode (using autothrottle)
d. vertical speed
13. Basic lateral autopilot modes
a. roll angle hold mode
b. coordinated roll angle hold mode
c. turn rate at constant altitude and speed
d. heading angle hold mode
14. Longitudinal and lateral guidance modes
a. glideslope hold mode
b. automatic flare mode
c. localizer hold mode
d. VOR hold mode
Course Contents
Classical control is still predominantly used in aerospace industry
for the design and analysis of automatic flight control systems.
Various existing control systems such as Stability Augmentation
Systems (SAS), Control Augmentation Systems (CAS) and fly-bywire
systems are reviewed in detail. The emphasis of the course
lies in demonstrating, through application of classical frequency
domain and state space techniques, how to design systems that
fulfill the requirements imposed by the aviation authorities, with
emphasis on understanding the benefits and limitations of such
Study Goals
After this course the student should be able to:

- substantiate the function of a Flight Control
System(FCS) in civil/military aviation.

- apply the theory of flight dynamics and control
to FCS design.

- verify if a given FCS satisfies the handling qualities

- design static and dynamic stability augmentation systems.

- design all longitudinal and lateral autopilot modes.
Education Method
Lectures with computer
Literature and Study Materials
Course material to support the exercises will be posted
on the blackboard.

Recommended literature
- M.V. Cook, Principles in flight dynamics, Edward Arnold,
London, 1997 ISBN 0-340-63200-3.
- B.L. Stevens, F.L.Lewis, Aircraft control and simulation,
Wiley, New York, 1992 ISBN 0471613975.
- J. Roskam, Airplane flight dynamics and control Part
II, , ISBN 1-8845885-18-7.
Written closed-book examination
Some chairs may require students to perform a laboratory
exercise or practical in conjunction with this course.
At the end of each lecture, a simple take home assignment is
given in order to gain experience in working with the course
material. There will be a written examination at the end of the
course. In the related practical AE4301P a control system must be designed that satisfies certain desired requirements.