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Landing trajectory and control optimization for helicopter encountering different tail rotor pitch lockups

Xufei Yan Orcid Logo, Ye Yuan Orcid Logo, Renliang Chen

Aerospace Science and Technology, Volume: 145, Start page: 108828

Swansea University Author: Ye Yuan Orcid Logo

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Abstract

In recent years, tail rotor failure has been a significant factor in helicopter accidents, contributing to around 30 % of all incidents. Among these failures, tail rotor pitch lockup accounts for nearly 2/3. However, there is currently a lack of research on the landing trajectory and control optimiz...

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Published in: Aerospace Science and Technology
ISSN: 1270-9638
Published: Elsevier BV 2024
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa65413
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Abstract: In recent years, tail rotor failure has been a significant factor in helicopter accidents, contributing to around 30 % of all incidents. Among these failures, tail rotor pitch lockup accounts for nearly 2/3. However, there is currently a lack of research on the landing trajectory and control optimization for piloted helicopters facing tail rotor pitch lockup. Therefore, this paper aims to study the landing trajectory and pilot control strategy optimization during helicopter tail rotor pitch lockup. The findings of this research are expected to provide valuable insights and serve as a reference for subsequent real-time pilot-in-the-loop simulations and final flight tests. In this paper, we utilize the UH-60A helicopter as a prototype to establish a flight dynamics model and a pilot model. The aerodynamic forces and induced velocity of the main rotor are calculated using the blade element method and Pitt-Peters model. The rotor flap motion is simplified to a first-order harmonic quantity. We then formulate the problem of safe landing and control optimization as a nonlinear optimal control problem, with the cost function designed to reflect safety and feasibility during the flight and touchdown process. To solve the optimal control problem numerically, we use direct multiple shooting and sequential quadratic programming algorithms. Flight test data for the UH-60A, encompassing steady-state flight, dynamic response, and autorotation landing, are utilized to validate the accuracy of the flight dynamics model and the effectiveness of the optimal control algorithm. Finally, the paper investigates the safe landing trajectories and control strategies for the sample helicopter when encountering high tail rotor pitch lockup and low tail rotor pitch lockup, respectively. Simulation results demonstrate that when the tail rotor is stuck at a high pitch, it is advisable for pilots to execute a high-power state landing by maintaining the engine at high power while reducing forward speed and descent rate. Conversely, when the tail rotor is stuck at a low pitch, flying at an economical speed (in a low-power state) is advantageous, but it does not facilitate a safe landing thereafter. If the pilot attempts a conventional landing, the yaw rate at touchdown would be very high and potentially dangerous. In contrast, if an autorotation landing is executed, the landing will be safer with a much lower yaw rate at touchdown. The optimal landing trajectory and control process align with the recommendations from actual helicopter flight tests. The proposed method provides feasible pilot control strategies for safe landing when helicopters encounter various tail rotor pitch lockup situations. This research can serve as a reference for pilots before conducting actual flight tests.
Keywords: Helicopter, Tail rotor pitch lockup, Flight dynamics model, Optimal control, Autorotation
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funders: Swansea University
Start Page: 108828