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Analysis of flight dynamics for large-scale morphing aircraft

Rongqi Shi (Tsinghua University, Beijing, China,)
Weiyu Wan (Beijing Electro-mechanical Engineering Institute, Beijing, China)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 5 January 2015




This paper aims to clarify the flight dynamics characteristics and improve the flight performance for large-scale morphing aircrafts. With specific focus on the effects of morphing on mass distribution, aerodynamics and flight stability, the study aims to develop the dynamic model, outline the morphing strategies design and evaluate the flight stability in transient stage of morphing.


The mode of relaxing the rigidity condition was opted, which introduced the functions of position of center of mass and moments of inertia with respect to the morphing parameters, and yielded a parameter-dependent flight dynamics model. The morphing strategies were designed by optimizing the morphing parameters with the corresponding performance metric of each mission segment, where the aerodynamics was estimated concurrently by DATCOM. Based on the decoupled and linearized longitudinal parameter-dependent model, the flight stability in transient stage of morphing was evaluated based on Hurwitz rules, with the stability condition proposed.


The research suggests that the longitudinal flight stability in transient stage of morphing can be evaluated by the relationship of aerodynamic pitching moment derivatives and the effects of morphing on the mass distribution, which results in a constraint on the morphing rate.

Research limitations/implications

The aerodynamics is computed under quasi-steady aerodynamic assumption in low morphing rate and only the longitudinal flight stability is analyzed. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to evaluate the lateral stability and aerodynamics in high morphing rate.

Practical implications

The paper includes implications for the improvement of the flight performance of a multi-mission morphing aircraft and the design of the flight control system.


Methods of dynamic modeling and morphing strategies design are proposed for large-scale morphing aircrafts, and the condition of flight stability in transient stage of morphing is obtained. The results provide reference to research works in the field of dynamics and control of large-scale morphing aircrafts.



Shi, R. and Wan, W. (2015), "Analysis of flight dynamics for large-scale morphing aircraft", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 87 No. 1, pp. 38-44.



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