Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Ping Lu

Second Advisor

Bion Pierson


This thesis discusses both normal aircraft flight control where the control surfaces are the primary effectors, and unconventional emergency flight control by engines only. It has long been realized that nonlinearity in aircraft dynamics is a prominent consideration in design of high-performance conventional flight control systems. The engine-only flight control problem also faces strong nonlinearity, although due to different reasons. A nonlinear predictive control method and an approximate receding-horizon control method are used for normal and engine-only flight control system designs for an F-18 aircraft. The comparison of the performance with that of linear flight controllers provides some insight into when nonlinear controllers may render a much improved performance. The concept of nonlinear flight control system design is extended to output tracking control problem. The capability of the nonlinear controller to stabilize the aircraft and accomplish output tracking control for non-minimum phase system is successfully demonstrated. Numerical simulation results of longitudinal motion based on two typical flight conditions for an F-18 aircraft is presented to illustrate some of these aspects. It is suggested in this thesis that nonlinear flight control system design, particularly the engine-only controller design and output tracking control design for non-minimum phase system by using a nonlinear method is more effective for the highly nonlinear environment. The recently developed continuous-time predictive control approach and an approximate receding-horizon control method are shown to be effective methods in the situation while the conventional linear or popular nonlinear control designs are either ineffective or inapplicable.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lijun Tian



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

130 pages