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Low‐cost flight test system for light aircrafts

Paulo Iscold (Center of Aeronautical Studies, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Pampulha, Brazil)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 16 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to present the research efforts of the Center of Aeronautical Studies of the Federal University of Minas Gerais – Brazil to develop a low‐cost flight test data acquisition system for light aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAEs).


The development of this system was based on a microcontroller, chosen in accordance with main requirements of light aircrafts flight tests. The system uses the microcontroller in order to communicate with different kinds of sensors, including a GPS, and organize this information to be sent to a PDA device, which is used to control the acquisition process and storage the data acquired. Details about the development of this system, including firmware algorithm and sensors development, are presented and discussed in the paper.


The paper presents example results obtained with this system in applications such as performance evaluation and stability and control derivatives estimation problems. Take into account all the aspects of the system and the quality of the results, the main conclusion is that this system can efficiently support the demands of the aerospace industry for light aircraft and UAEs development programs as well as the necessities of the research centers and universities developing aeronautical research and didactic programs.

Practical implications

Recently, results confirm the applicability of this system in order to perform flight tests of aircrafts in accordance with FAR‐Part 23 or CS‐VLA or Light Sport Aircrafts as required by FAA Order 8130.2F and ASTM Designation F2245‐04.


This paper presents details about the construction of a low‐cost data acquisition system for flight tests of light aircrafts. The main advantage of this system is the use of a PDA device in order to control and storage the acquisition, which reduce costs, weight and size of the system and permits its installation in light aircrafts or UAVs.



Iscold, P. (2008), "Low‐cost flight test system for light aircrafts", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 80 No. 3, pp. 243-252.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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