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Aircraft Design 2 (1999) 105}115

Rotary cockpit compartment*design concept and control strategy


S.M. Malaek*, K. Hodjat, M. Dorri
Sharif University of Technology, P.O. Box 11365-8639, Azadi Ave., Tehran, Iran

Abstract A new aircraft con"guration to employ a rotary cockpit compartment (RCC) is proposed to allow an arbitrary line of sight and visibility pattern. In addition to being a manually controlled system, the rotary cockpit control system is linked to the aircraft #ight control computer and therefore automatically reacts to high speed turns, giving a wider view of the scene of the rear of the aircraft. To ensure the highest degree of reliability, in case the aircraft conducts a compound maneuver consisting of successive turns, two di!erent strategies to rotate the cockpit have been investigated. A complete set of nonlinear and coupled equations of motion are used to prove the e!ectiveness of RCC in a complex maneuver in 3/D space. More research might be needed to investigate the possibility of pilot confusion. 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

The idea of a rotary cockpit compartment (RCC), proposed by the author, stems from the desire that the normal direction of the pilot line of sight (LOS) should not necessarily be "xed and be dependent on the direction of #ight. Moreover, due to the recent advances in the stealth technology, it is foreseen that new classes of stealthy combat aircraft will be able to get close to one another without being seen. While aircraft #y very close to one another, having good visibility during severe maneuvers will de"nitely increase their chance of survivability. Since electronic devices are not very e!ective while dealing with a stealthy attack aircraft, the pilot of the interceptor has to rely on his/her vision. This means that an aircraft that deals with stealthy ones must be designed to have a very good visibility pattern.

* Corresponding author. 1369-8869/99/$ - see front matter 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 1 3 6 9 - 8 8 6 9 ( 9 9 ) 0 0 0 1 0 - 5

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Nomenclature X, >, Z X > ;(t) A, B, C, D H, Q, R ;, <, = P, Q, R body axes state vector output vector control vector state space matrices weight matrices velocity components angular velocities

r t

desired path time , , Euler angles J performance measure = aircraft weight I , I , I , I moments of inertia VV WW XX VX FCS #ight control system RCC rotary cockpit compartment HUD head-up display LOS line of sight

A newly designed single seat aircraft with a rotary cockpit compartment seems to be a viable solution which provides a variable visibility pattern depending on the #ight condition. Di!erent strategies might be used to control the rotation of such a cockpit, two of which have been investigated in this work. In addition, a manually controlled system can be used which allows the pilot to select an arbitrary line of sight independent of the aircraft #ight direction. Traditional design strategies have always demanded a great deal of symmetry in the external con"guration of an aircraft due to a variety of reasons. Several attempts have been made to make use of asymmetric features in an aircraft based upon di!erent reasoning. For example, NASA oblique wing uses a variable sweep wing in an asymmetric fashion [1], however, not all have always been successful. In a single seat aircraft, traditional design philosophies require that the pilot seat be placed in the plane of symmetry, which is normally the XZ plane. This obviously results in a "xed orientation for the pilot seat. However, due to the new advances in aircraft #ight control systems (FCS) and emerging technologies such as head-up displays (HUD), it is now possible to propose viable con"gurations in which the orientation of the pilot seat are no longer "xed and the aircraft external con"guration is kept symmetric. Such a con"guration can be obtained by means of an RCC. A rotary cockpit allows a suitable position to be selected by the pilot depending on the #ight condition and/or required visibility pattern. It is also possible to program such a device to automatically react in high speed turns to render an optimum LOS. It is worth mentioning that use of mirrors and video cameras are other alternatives that have been proposed earlier and have their own bene"ts and disadvantages. This article serves to present the general design characteristics of a single seat aircraft employing RCC and two di!erent control strategies for such a cockpit.

2. Rotary cockpit compartment architecture Fig. 1 shows the general architecture and the arrangement of essential components in an RCC. As it is seen, the whole cockpit has been capsulated and can rotate around a vertical axis (n). The  vertical axis is in the aircraft XZ plane and is perpendicular to the aircraft body X-axis. The n-axis  should be selected in such a way that it remains as close as possible to the pilot CG location to avoid excessive angular acceleration that a pilot would sense due to the rotation of the cockpit during turns. A motor drive with the help of a clockwise and a counterclockwise clutch rotates the

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Fig. 1. Basic con"guration of a rotary cockpit compartment.

cockpit compartment around the aforementioned vertical axis (n). The speed and the magnitude of  rotation can be controlled by a mission control computer or can be manually adjusted by the pilot. Other necessary elements for proper functioning of an RCC are shown in Fig. 1. In this arrangement, the pilot command is assumed to be sent electrically (#y-by-wire) or optically (#y-by-light) through wires and harnesses passing through the cylindrical shaft the axis of which coincides with the cockpit axis of rotation (n). A more conventional hydraulic FCS is  also possible. However, based on some preliminary studies, authors believe that the mechanical complexities of such a system might not be justi"able. In an automatic mode, the RCC control system is linked to the mission control computer which monitors the lateral-directional dynamics of the aircraft. During a turning maneuver, the acceleration normal to the #ight path, radius of turn and also the aircraft heading angle are calculated at each suitable time step and the results are provided to the RCC control system. Using this information, the RCC control system then calculates the speed and the magnitude of cockpit rotation. In the manual mode, the control system can be switched-o! and the cockpit orientation is selected by the pilot. All necessary elements for proper functioning of an RCC, depending on the signi"cance of their role should be designed to be either a fail-safe or a safe-life one. Needless to

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mention, the whole system must be designed to be a fail-safe one. That is, the pilot must be able to return to the original orientation at any time, including cases of emergencies.

3. Aircraft con5guration To evaluate the idea of a rotary cockpit compartment and its associated control system, one needs to have the characteristics of the aircraft which employs such a system, including, weight (w), inertias (I , I , I , I ), aerodynamics and powerplant properties. The aerodynamic VV WW XX VX characteristics are calculated based on the aircraft external con"guration and applicable #ight conditions [2]. Other necessary properties, such as weight and power would be estimated based on the aircraft mission speci"cation [2]. This leads one to "rst decide on the suitable con"guration that matches the requirements of the RCC. Di!erent con"gurations of single seat general aviation aircraft and "ghters have been examined by the authors and the most promising one (Arya) is presented in Fig. 2. The aircraft is con"gured to allow a variable pilot orientation. Other features are primarily selected in such a way as to reduce the pro"le drag of the aircraft to compensate for the drag of the bulbous canopy being used. The details of the Arya mission speci"cation and its design procedure is beyond the scope of this paper. However, the general methodology can be found in Ref. [1].

Fig. 2. Three views of a single seat aircraft using RCC.

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4. Control strategy Vector I) , attached to the aircraft cockpit is used to describe the control strategy of the RCC. Initially, I) coincides with the body X-axis of the aircraft (Fig. 1). This vector can also represent the pilot LOS. Complexity arises from the fact that, each I) position allows an angle approximately equal to 303 to be covered by the pilot vision with no extraordinary e!ort [1]. Therefore, RCC must only react to high-speed turns during which the heading angle becomes more than what pilot LOS can normally cover by vision. Di!erent turning scenarios with such characteristics have been investigated in this work. Fig. 3 shows these maneuvers, however, the results of simulation are given only for a simple turn, shown in Fig. 3(a). Assuming t"0.0 is the time that aircraft starts a turning maneuver, two di!erent strategies could be employed to adapt the pilot visibility pattern to the geometry of the maneuver. The "rst strategy is simple and does not very much depend on the aircraft #ight path in the turning maneuver. In this approach, the RCC control system rotates the cockpit as much as 1803 as soon as the aircraft heading angle exceeds a pre-speci"ed value w.r.t. the original heading angle at t"0.0. This strategy does not require any intensive calculation. However, the rotational velocity of the cockpit is still calculated based on the rate of change in the aircraft heading angle. In the second strategy, the transient behavior of the RCC is controlled based on the characteristics of the turning maneuver and the RCC control system is designed using the following set of criterion: 1. The time (t ) that RCC begins to operate  2. The rotational velocity of the cockpit

Fig. 3. Di!erent turning scenarios.

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3. The magnitude of the cockpit rotation (no overshoot is admissible) 4. The rise time and the settling time 5. The minimum and the maximum amount of time to stay at the secondary position 6. The dynamics of return to the original position. Obviously, any speci"c maneuver requires that its own suitable values are calculated depending on the #ight condition, aircraft capabilities and "nally the pilot's physical characteristics. Both strategies have been used to simulate the response of the Arya's rotary cockpit in a simple turn (Figs. 5}7).

5. Equations of motion As far as designing an RCC control system is concerned, the most important #ight condition to be studied is the turning #ight and in general all maneuvers involving a change in the aircraft heading angle. The aircraft equations of motion in a turning #ight in both conventional and state space form are widely available. For derivation of such set of equations see, for example, Ref. [3]. In the general sense, the aircraft equations of motion consists of twelve equations which can be divided into four groups. The "rst group deals with the aircraft linear accelerations through total linear velocities (;, <, =). The second group deals with aircraft angular accelerations through rotational velocities (P, Q, R). The third group expresses the relationships between the Earth "xed axes and the aircraft body axes through Euler angles ( , , ) and "nally, the fourth group consists of the aircraft navigation equations. The aforementioned set of equations are coupled and nonlinear and numerical techniques are needed to solve them. A simulation program has been developed to solve the equations using the Mathlab environment [4]. Conventional simpli"cations or uncoupling techniques have not been used in the simulation program to have the most reliable results on the RCC behavior. Once the set of commands for Arya to make a turn are given, the set of equations of motion are integrated in time using fourth-order Runge}Kutta technique to "nd the change of heading angle ( (t)) and its rate in time. These informations are then given to the RCC control system, which in turn, computes the speed and the magnitude of cockpit rotation. The total quantities (X, >, Z, , , ) are used to monitor the aircraft position in space. The orientation of the pilot is also shown with vector I) as the aircraft enters a turn (Fig. 5).

6. Rotary cockpit control system The general arrangement of the RCC control system is shown in Fig. 4. Such a control system essentially consists of three parts as follows: 1. A computer which is linked to the aircraft #ight control system that computes the magnitude and the speed of cockpit rotation based on the geometry of the maneuver, 2. An ampli"er, which is used to amplify the error signal. The error signal is merely the di!erence between reference orientation and the desired orientation that optimizes the visibility pattern.

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Fig. 4. General arrangement of the RCC control system.

The ampli"er output provides the necessary current to drive the DC motor linked to the cockpit shaft, and 3. A tracking system to suitably perform the cockpit rotation. Once the magnitude and the speed of cockpit rotation are calculated, the remaining task would be to select a suitable model for control system to follow. Controlling cockpit rotation is therefore a tracking problem which is handled by optimization methods. One of the important factors in the design of an RCC control system is the fact that in a turning #ight, the aircraft heading angle is continuously changing. So, in addition to the starting time (t ),  the RCC control system needs to know the following: 1. The time to reach the secondary position (t )  2. The time to leave the secondary position (t )  3. Whether to return to the original position or to move to a third position. The starting time (t ) is in fact related to the change in the aircraft heading angle and as described  earlier, the RCC control system commands to rotate the cockpit as soon as the heading angle exceeds a pre-selected value. The time (t ) would be estimated by using the performance measure (J), which consists of three  elements as follows: E The duration of the cockpit rotation (t !t ),   E The angular acceleration imposed on the pilot due to the cockpit rotation and E The orientation of the vector !I) .  The vector !I) de"nes the opposite direction of the pilot LOS or the orientation of the pilot's back  at the time the aircraft starts to turn, so (!I) "180.0!(I)  

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The time (t ) and the the third question, mentioned above, are related to one another and  di$culties arise while computing (t ) in very high-speed turns. Since, in high-speed turns the time  needed to stay at the secondary position (t !t ) is long enough for the aircraft heading angle to   change drastically during that period and therefore, it might not be suitable to return to the original orientation. Therefore, the magnitude of (t !t ) is considered as a design choice and three   di!erent scenarios could be assumed to calculate its value as follows: a. Cockpit remains at its secondary position as long as aircraft controls, which have been used to make the current turn, remain at their secondary positions. b. Cockpit remains at the secondary position only for a speci"c amount of time, for example one second, which is adjustable by the pilot. c. Cockpit remains at its secondary position until rate of change of the aircraft heading angle is lower than a speci"c amount, which is adjustable by the #ight control computer. It turned out that the "rst scenario was suitable for the Arya in the #ight condition under investigation (see case studies).

7. Case studies The RCC control system response in a simple turn of Fig. 3(a) is presented in Figs. 5}7. Figs. 5 and 7 are related to one another. Fig. 5 shows the set of commands given to the Arya to

Fig. 5. Simulation of RCC response in a simple turning maneuver.

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Fig. 6. RCC response ("rst alternative).

Fig. 7. RCC response (second alternative).

make a 903 left turn. From the time the aircraft starts to turn (t"0.0) until t"7.8, the change in the aircraft heading angle is small and no command is given to rotate the cockpit. However, at t"8.0, the change in becomes big enough for RCC control system to start rotating the cockpit. As it is seen, at t"9.0, the cockpit has rotated as much as 1503. The latter position of the cockpit

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remains "xed until t"11.2. At this time, the cockpit starts returning to its original orientation and reaches there at t"12.2. Fig. 6 shows the dynamics of the cockpit rotation, called the "rst alternative. In this approach, the RCC rotates as much as 1803 and returns to its original orientation after approximately 2.3 s. The actual response shows some waviness (solid lines) at the secondary orientation due to the fact that the aircraft heading continues to change while the cockpit is rotating. These undesirable responses were "ltered (dashed lines) in the simulation program. If the aircraft continues its level turn to complete a 3603 level turn, the RCC control system repeats the same response four times (Fig. 6), since, a 3603 level turn consists of four quadrants of 903 turn which are similar to one another. It is also noted that the RCC control system for Arya is fast enough to return the cockpit to its original orientation before the aircraft enters the second quadrant. Evidently, this cannot be the same for all #ight conditions. Usually, a trade-o! study would be needed to harmonize the RCC response and the aircraft speed of turn considering the angular accelerations and associated g-forces imposed on the pilot. In this example, the extra g-force imposed on the pilot was limited to 1.0g. Fig. 7 shows the dynamics of the cockpit rotation, using the second alternative. By using this approach in a 903 left turn, the cockpit rotates as much as 1503 and returns to its original orientation after 2.2 s. Again, if the aircraft continues its level turn to complete a circle, the amount of each cockpit rotation becomes smaller w.r.t. the previous one. This is because, the direction of the #ight is gradually changing toward what the RCC control system wishes to command and therefore, the magnitude of cockpit rotation decreases.

8. Discussion and concluding remarks This manuscript concentrates on two subjects. The "rst one is the concept of the rotary cockpit compartment, as a device for arbitrarily selection of the line of sight in a single seat aircraft and the second one is the e!ectiveness of such a system in maneuvers involving rapid turns. Regardless of how e!ectively one might design an RCC control system for various maneuvers, selecting an arbitrary line of sight in a steady-state #ight condition, such as cruise, would be an interesting feature for an aircraft. However, di!erent case studies show that, there exist maneuvering #ights during which the RCC behavior might cause pilot confusion. This can typically occur due to any immediate response to successive turns. To solve this problem, some other #ight parameters could also be used as an indication to engage and disengage the RCC control system, for example, aircraft acceleration normal to the #ight path. In this approach, acceleration is a measure to activate the RCC instead of the change in the aircraft heading angle. In complex maneuvers, a speci"c decision is also required to prevent the continuous motion of the cockpit. In other words, the time between each command to rotate the cockpit must be in such a way that it does not a!ect the pilot behavior (pilot transfer function) or his/her attitude toward the aircraft. This strongly depends on the aircraft capabilities. Since the human pilot behavior is not known in this regard, more studies would be needed. Obviously, like other existing control systems, a look-up table can always be used to limit the activity and/or authority of the RCC control system. It turns out that matching aircraft dynamics to that of the RCC in a turning #ight is a demanding task and requires quite a number of adjustments both in the RCC control system and in the dynamics of the aircraft. That is, a control strategy for a low-speed turn might not be suitable for

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a high-speed turn. In general, a low-speed turn is much easier to handle compared to a high-speed turn. Other di$culties are due to the fact that there exist no aircraft with a rotary cockpit compartment. So, important parameters, such as weight of the aircraft and the rotary part of the cockpit compartment, including its moments of inertia had to be estimated by using available weight equations [1] and data bases. Aerodynamic characteristics of the aircraft components were also estimated by using methods available in Ref. [2]. Obviously, the degree of precision in the aircraft properties have signi"cant roles in the "nal results such as those given by Figs. 5}7 and it is needless to mention that, a #ight simulator and in some cases only a prototype is needed to precisely evaluate the RCC and its e!ectiveness in turning maneuvers.

References
[1] [2] [3] [4] Roskam J. Airplane design series. DAR Corporation, Lawrence, KS. USAF DATCOM, Stability and control DATCOM methods. Wright Patterson AFB. Roskam J. Airplane #ight dynamics and automatic #ight control. DAR Corporation, Lawrence, KS. Mathlab/Simulink reference manual.