NASA Dryden's Full-Scale Advanced Systems Test bed is the dedicated test aircraft for NASA's Integrated Resilient Aircraft Controls (IRAC) project. (NASA / Tony Landis) The Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control, or IRAC, project is researching advances in aircraft flight control technology to provide onboard control resilience for ensuring safe flight in the presence of unforeseen, adverse conditions.
NASA Dryden's full-scale advanced systems test aircraft, a modified F/A-18A, is being used for IRAC project flight tests.
The IRAC project examines state-of-the-art adaptive controls as a design option that could lead to improved stability and maneuverability margins for safe landing. While many IRAC studies focus on current and next-generation transport aircraft, project results will also have applications for other aircraft types, as well as to the military and space sectors.
IRAC research objectives include development of a set of validated, multidisciplinary, integrated aircraft control design tools and techniques to enable safe flight in the presence of adverse conditions such as structural damage, control surface failures, icing, or aerodynamic upsets. Carefully integrated math models are required to simulate the interactions among control inputs, flight navigation, aircraft structures and propulsion systems.
An additional objective is improved understanding of the dynamics of aircraft loss-of-control incidents to learn how flight control computer software can be used to help regain control of an aircraft without exacerbating a deteriorating situation. The project is also researching engine modeling enhancements for situations that require improved engine response during full or partial loss of flight control.
Successful transition of this foundational research into future aircraft depends greatly on the ability to verify and validate innovative control and guidance technologies, particularly those based on adaptive control.
Verification and validation of these technologies will be performed through a combination of analyses, simulation, wind tunnel and flight tests, using model-scale and full-scale test aircraft.