Longitudinal flight dynamic analysis of an agile UAV

Adnan Maqsood (Division of Aerospace Engineering, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Tiauw Hiong Go (Division of Aerospace Engineering, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Publication date: 7 September 2010



The purpose of this paper is to describe the longitudinal dynamics of a hover‐capable rigid‐winged unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) under various equilibrium flight conditions. The effects of the variable‐incidence wing in comparison with the fixed in‐incidence wing on the dynamics of UAV are also discussed.


The aerodynamic modeling of the vehicle covers both pre‐stall and post‐stall regimes using a three‐dimensional vortex lattice method incorporating viscous corrections. The trim states across a velocity spectrum are evaluated using a nonlinear constrained optimization scheme based on sequential quadratic programming. Then linearized dynamic analysis around trim states is carried out in order to compare the characteristics of the conventional platform with the modified platform incorporating variable‐incidence wing.


It is found that with the variable‐incidence wing, the longitudinal equilibrium flights can be achieved with reduced thrust‐to‐weight ratio demands and lower elevator deflection. However, the use of the variable‐incidence wing changes the dynamic characteristics of the vehicle considerably as indicated through the linear dynamic analysis.

Research limitations/implications

The results presented in this paper are based on linear dynamic analysis about static trim point data. Further analysis taking into account nonlinearity, the unsteady aerodynamic effects and associated cross‐coupling because of asymmetric forces may be needed to reveal the true dynamics of the vehicle under unsteady maneuvers.

Practical implications

The variable‐incidence wing is a useful design feature to reduce the thrust‐to‐weight ratio requirements and to increase elevator control authority, however its effect on the dynamics warrants further investigation.


This is the first paper highlighting the effects of variable‐incidence wing on an agile hover‐capable UAV.



Maqsood, A. and Hiong Go, T. (2010), "Longitudinal flight dynamic analysis of an agile UAV", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 82 No. 5, pp. 288-295. https://doi.org/10.1108/00022661011092938

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