Project Description

Intelligent Flight Control System
NF-15B Intelligent Flight Control System aircraft banking over Rogers Dry Lake Bed at Edwards.(NASA Photo by Carla Thomas) Dryden's NF-15B Intelligent Flight Control System flight research project seeks to exploit revolutionary technological breakthroughs in aircraft flight controls that can efficiently optimize aircraft performance in normal and failure conditions. The IFCS is designed to incorporate adaptive control concepts into the flight software to enable a pilot to maintain control and safely land an aircraft that has suffered control surface failures or airframe damage.

Major control surface or airframe damage hinders an aircraft flight control system's design integrity, rendering traditional non-adaptive control systems useless. The IFCS team has integrated innovative adaptive control technologies and state-of-the-art control algorithms that will correctly identify and respond to changes in aircraft stability and control characteristics, enabling the system to immediately adjust to maintain the best possible flight performance during an unexpected failure. The adaptive software "learns" the new flight characteristics, on board and in real time, helping the pilot maintain or regain control and prevent a potentially catastrophic aircraft accident.

The project's primary goal is to develop adaptive and fault-tolerant flight control systems leading to unprecedented levels of safety and survivability for both civil and military aircraft. The IFCS project is representative of the type of flight research used to explore new control technologies, blending intelligent flight controls with adaptive airframe structures to expand aircraft performance and capabilities.

The IFCS testbed aircraft formerly flew in the Advanced Control Technology for Integrated Vehicles project at Dryden from 1996 through 1999.