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Acquiring Flight Data Using an Optimized Multiple Frequency Waveform
March 11, 2011

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Innovators at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center have patented a method and apparatus for acquiring in situ flight data quickly and efficiently. This type of system is essential for flight testing situations where an aircraft is flown on the envelope of its operable capability. The system compresses frequency conditions so that multiple conditions can be evaluated simultaneously, decreasing the data collection time required. Previous systems were inaccurate or required unacceptably long periods of time at flight extremes. This innovation includes an algorithm that generates a waveform consisting of an arbitrary number of frequency sweeps combined from adding and subtracting the acquired data. Optimization routines determine the best combination order of frequency sweeps to minimize the maximum deflection or maximum command rate of the waveform. The maximum amplitude and rate are recorded in a vector for each combination. After all combinations are calculated, the frequency and amplitude ranges and sweep exponents for the final waveform are provided as outputs. The final waveform is recalculated and also provided as output.


  • Efficient: Provides more data in less time as a result of the capacity to evaluate multiple conditions concurrently
  • Safer: Decreases the amount of time an aircraft must be at the extremes of its operable capability
  • Accurate: Produces high quality data despite the reduced collection period


This technology has applications in flight testing for a variety of aircraft including:

  • Experimental aircraft
  • Military aircraft
  • Space vehicles


Armstrong has one patent issued (U.S. Patent No: 6,446,015→ ) for this technology.

Commercial Opportunity

This technology is part of NASA's technology transfer program. The program seeks to stimulate development of commercial uses of NASA-developed technologies. NASA is flexible in its agreements, and opportunities exist for licensing and joint development. Armstrong is interested in a partnership to commercialize this technology.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:

Technology Transfer Office
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center
PO Box 273, M/S 1100
Edwards, CA 93523-0273
Phone: (661) 276-3368
E-mail: DFRC-TTO@mail.nasa.gov

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