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nxControl instead of pitch-and-power

concept and first results of a control system for manual flight

Schreiter, Karolin; Müller, Simon; Luckner, Robert; Manzey, Dietrich

A command system for manual control of the longitudinal load factor (nx) of an aircraft is designed that completes existing flight control command systems (e.g. sidesticks normal load factor nz). nxControl's aim is to assist pilots during manual flight by reducing the workload for monitoring flight parameters and the controlling of thrust and airbrakes. Important for nxControl concept is the direct relation between load factor and changes of the total aircraft energy. In the current paper a system concept and a prototype realisation are presented. The nxControl system consists of the control law that combines the actuation commands for engines and airbrakes in flight, a new input device for the longitudinal load factor command and new display elements that informs pilots about energy states to assure situation awareness. In order to investigate the feasibility of the concept as well as human performance consequences and cognitive demands, a flight simulator study with airline pilots was conducted.The results provide first evidence for the feasibility of the concept. As expected a change of scanning behaviour became apparent. For test scenarios with standard flight tasks, no impact in situation awareness and performance was observable. However, for more demanding tasks benefits are expected. Additionally, the assumed effect of a lower input device activity with the use of nxControl can be confirmed.
Published in: Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress 2013, Stuttgart, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Luft- und Raumfahrt