Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference



American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc.

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Future tactical aircraft will likely demonstrate improvements in efficiency, weight, and control by implementing bio-inspired control systems. This work analyzes a novel control system for a fighter aircraft inspired by the function of – and the degrees of freedom available in – a bird’s tail. The control system is introduced to an existing fighter aircraft design by removing the vertical tail and allowing the horizontal tail surfaces to rotate about the roll axis. Using a low-fidelity aerodynamic model, an analysis on the available controlling moments and actuation speeds of the baseline aircraft is compared to that of the bio-inspired rotating empennage design. The results of this analysis at a takeoff and approach flight condition indicate that the bio-inspired tail design is able to improve upon the baseline in terms of control power available for yaw by up to 170%, while also improving the actuation speed by about 450 milliseconds for moments about the pitch axis. The bio-inspired design is shown to have actuation times that are up to 600 milliseconds slower for generating yawing moments and a reduced roll control contribution from the tail in certain moment combinations. The impacts of these issues on control will need to be determined with analysis at additional flight conditions and a flight dynamics analysis.