Design of sliding mode flight control system for a flexible aircraft
The evolution of large transport aircraft is characterized by longer fuselages and larger wingspans, while efforts to decrease the structural weight reduce the structural stiffness. Both effects lead to more flexible aircraft structures with significant aeroelastic coupling between flight mechanics and structural dynamics, especially at high speed, high altitude cruise. The lesser frequency separation between rigid body and flexible modes of flexible aircraft results in a stronger interaction between the flight control system and its structural modes, with higher flexibility effects on aircraft dynamics. Therefore, the design of a flight control law based on the assumption that the aircraft dynamics are rigid is no longer valid for the flexible aircraft. This paper focuses on the design of a flight control system for flexible aircraft described in terms of a rigid body mode and four flexible body modes and whose parameters are assumed to be varying. In this paper, a conditional integral based sliding mode control (SMC) is used for robust tracking control of the pitch angle of the flexible aircraft. The performance of the proposed nonlinear flight control system has been shown through the numerical simulations of the flexible aircraft. Good transient and steady-state performance of a control system are also ensured without suffering from the drawback of control chattering in SMC.