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From 2004-2008, a research group on Fault Tolerant Flight Control, comprising a collaboration of thirteen European partners from industry, universities and research institutions, was established within the framework of the Group for Aeronautical Research and Technology in Europe (GARTEUR) co-operation program. The research group, Flight Mechanics Action Group FM-AG(16), demonstrated the capability and potential of innovative reconfigurable flight control algorithms to improve aircraft survivability. The group facilitated the proliferation of new developments in fault tolerant flight control design within the European aerospace research community towards practical and real-time operational applications. This addressed the need to improve the resilience and safety of future commercial aircraft and aid the pilot to recover from adverse (upset) conditions induced by (multiple) system failures and damage that would otherwise be potentially catastrophic.

Up till now, faults or damage on board of aircraft have been accommodated by hardware design using duplex, triplex or even quadruplex redundancy of critical components. The approach of the GARTEUR research focussed on providing redundancy by means of new adaptive control law design methods to accommodate (unanticipated) faults and/or damage that dramatically change the configuration of the aircraft. These methods take into account a novel combination of robustness, reconfiguration and (real-time) adaptation of the control laws.

The potential of the developed fault tolerant flight control methods to improve aircraft survivability, for both manual and automatic flight, has been demonstrated within the GARTEUR programme during a piloted assessment in the SIMONA Research Flight Simulator of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The assessment was conducted using unique high-fidelity non-linear simulation models based on realistic failure scenarios that were validated against accident flight data.














GARTEUR FM-AG(16) Fault Tolerant Control group, Delft, the Netherlands             

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