Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Douglas F. Hunsaker


Douglas F. Hunsaker


James J. Joo


Stephen A. Whitmore


The United States Air Force (USAF) will likely seek to remove the vertical tail of next-generation fighter aircraft. This work seeks to characterize the static and dynamic stability and handling qualities of a vertical-tailless aircraft concept that would satisfy the USAF’s goal. This concept aircraft, one modified with a Bio-Inspired Rotating Empennage (BIRE), does not have a vertical tail, and is instead capable of rotating the horizontal tail about the fuselage axis for maneuvering. The dynamic characteristics of the BIRE-modified aircraft are compared to a baseline unmodified aircraft, similar to the F16, with a traditional vertical tail. Linearized aerodynamic models for each aircraft, based on previous work, are used alongside a set of coupled dynamic equations of motion for asymmetric aircraft, derived in this work, to estimate the dynamic response of each aircraft to disturbances from steady level and banked trim conditions.
The static stability analysis suggests that modifying the baseline with a BIRE decreases the aircraft’s static pitch, roll and yaw stability. The dynamic stability analysis suggests that modifying the baseline aircraft with a BIRE; 1) slightly decreases the aircraft’s short period damping and slightly increases the aircraft’s short period frequency, 2) decreases the aircraft’s phugoid damping and slightly increases the aircraft’s phugoid frequency, 3) slightly increases the aircraft’s roll damping, 4) decreases the aircraft’s spiral damping for steady level flight and increases the aircraft’s spiral damping sensitivity to center of gravity location when banked, and 5) produces a non-traditional dutch roll mode. The handling quality analysis suggests that modifying the baseline aircraft with a BIRE decreases only the aircraft’s dutch roll handling quality levels.