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The use of electric motors in operation of control surfaces

Electric motors as primary actuators in light aircraft flight control systems, except for the use in the trim systems (stabilizer/elevator, aileron, rudder)have not been used in light aircraft. They have been used in the autopilot systems for many years. In either case, the systems are designed to be easily overridden by normal pilot inputs so they can be dissengaged safely in the event of a failure. For this reason (time and altitude required to dissengage safely)most autopilots in light aircraft are required to be dissengaged during takeoff until you reach and altitude defined as a safe one for the system and disengaged at some altitude prior to landing the airplane. I know several small aircraft manufacturers, like the old Beech Aircraft(Raytheon) have experimented with electric controls for the airplane - particularly the engine controls - i.e. FADEC, but there has been very little interest in building a true electric airplane even with the advantages of the new high voltage DC systems. The weight penalty of all of the electrical power cables and control signal wiring, the batteries, electric motor actuators(probably dual for redundency) would probably outweigh a cable operated mechanical system by a factor of 10 to 1, as cables, pulleys and push rods don't weigh much. Even in a large airplane such as Lockheed's "Electric controlled C-141", which tested an all electric lateral flight control system before it was shipped off to the boneyard, the common complaint of the test organizations was the electric actuation system weighed in at 15 to 20% above the current hydro-mechanical system then in use. Maybe with newer technology developments, electric type primary flight controls will get lighter and cheap enough for small airplanes but I personally doubt it. Cables and pully systems are simple and real cheap to build(relative!)- and they have worked reliably since the days of the Wrights

Lateral control with spoilers.

A simple basic control system as operated by a pilot

Control surface operations.

Control effectiveness.

Butterfly tail operation.

Control
Control is the ability of a pilot to change the airplane's flight conditions. It is brought about by the use of devices that alter the lift force on the surface to which the device is attached. Familiar controls include the elevator to provide longitudinal control (in pitch), the ailerons to provide lateral control (in roll), and the rudder to provide directional control (in yaw). The pilot's link to the control surfaces is by use of the control stick and rudder pedals. From the pilot's point of view, if he pulls the control stick back, the elevator turns upward, giving a negative camber to the entire horizontal tail surface and producing a downward lift. This, in turn, produces a nose-up moment about the airplane's center of gravity and the airplane pitches upwards. A sideward motion of the control stick results in the movement of one aileron up and the other down. This reduces the camber of one wing while it increases the camber of the other wing. One wing then produces more lift than the other and a rolling moment results. This condition causes the airplane to roll about its longitudinal axis in the direction toward which the control stick was pushed. Pushing on the rudder pedals will deflect the rudder. If the pilot pushes the right pedal forward (the left pedal comes back), the rudder deflects to the right. This movement increases the vertical tail camber and a tail force to the left results. A moment arises that yaws the nose to the right and hence, the airplane turns right. Control effectiveness is a measure of how well a control surface, e.g., the rudder, elevator, or aileron, does its job. In general, the larger the control surface is with respect to the entire surface to which it is fitted, the greater the control effectiveness. Also, high-aspect-ratio control surfaces possess greater control effectiveness than low-aspect-ratio surfaces. Whenever a pilot deflects a control surface into the airflow, a pressure distribution will be set up that tends to force the control surface back to its original position. The effort necessary to hold a particular control surface in the desired position may vary depending upon the control surface design. Not only must the pilot be able to deflect the surface at will, but the effort should also be small enough to ensure that the pilot does not tire. One way to reduce the necessary effort is through aerodynamic balance. With aerodynamic balance, the hinge of the control surface is set so that when its surface is deflected, the air that strikes the surface in front of the hinge creates a pressure distribution, hence a force, that helps turn the surface even more. This counteracts the force behind the control surface tending to reduce the control surface deflection. By careful design, the pilot-supplied effort is considerably reduced. However, care must be exercised so that the controls are not "too light" (too little effort needed to move them) lest the pilot unwittingly overcontrol the airplane to its destruction. The control systems of today's airplanes are power-operated and, whether aerodynamic balance is used or not, the pilot-felt control forces are small. In fact, artificial feel is incorporated into the controls so that the pilot has a sense of feel in the controls. Another way to reduce the effort required by the pilot is through mass balance, which is used to prevent flutter of the surface that may occur due to accelerations of the airplane. It is a dynamic effect, and a control surface that moves about on its own may lead to dynamic instability of the airplane. The solution is to move the control surface center of gravity near or in front of the hinge line. This may be accomplished by adding lead in front of the hinge line or by using small mass balances. Tabs are auxiliary control surfaces placed at the trailing edges of the primary control surfaces. Tabs serve two purposes: (1) to balance and (2) to trim. Balance tabs are set up to move opposite

and proportional to the primary control surface movement. They are used to assist the pilot in moving the control surface and in reducing the amount of force that the pilot needs to apply to the stick. If the pilot wishes, for example, to move the elevator down, the balance tab will deflect upward as the elevator deflects downward and the pressure distribution set up will create a force, hence moment, to move the control surface down. Because they are placed at the trailing edge, balance tabs possess long moment arms and are very powerful in action. Trim tabs are used to reduce the force the pilot applies to the stick to zero for particular chosen flight conditions. They are very important since they ensure that the pilot will not tire in holding steady flight. Trim tabs may be set when the airplane is on the ground or may be manually operated and set by the pilot. Some control devices do not fall into the conventional categories outlined above. They are used in unusual flight circumstances or for added control advantages. These include spoilers, allmoving surfaces, reaction controls, and the butterfly tail. Spoilers are used to reduce or "dump" the lift on a wing by altering the pressure distribution. They are useful on gliders to vary the lift-to-drag ratio for altitude control and on airliners on landing to reduce lift quickly to prevent the airplane from bouncing into the air. Spoilers are also useful in lateral (roll) control. At low speeds, ailerons are the primary lateral control devices. However, at high speeds, ailerons may cause bending moments on the wing that distort the wing structure. At transonic speeds, compressibility effects may limit their effectiveness. Spoilers may be used to avoid these disadvantages. By reducing the lift on one wing, the spoiler will cause a net rolling moment to roll the airplane about its longitudinal axis. Conventional control surfaces are, as a group, considerably less effective at high speeds where compressibility effects are dominant. The all-moving control surface, found on high-speed aircraft, operates differently and is more effective. Whereas the conventional control surface changes lift by a change in camber, the all-moving control surface controls lift by changing the angle-of-attack. Examples are to be seen on the horizontal tail surfaces of the F-4 Phantom and the F-14A airplanes. By being able to change its angle of attack, the all-moving surfaces can remain out of a stalled condition. The all-moving horizontal tails may be moved independently as well to provide lateral control. At low dynamic pressures, aerodynamic control surfaces become largely ineffective because only small forces and moments are present. Under these conditions, reaction control devices may be used. These are small rockets placed at the extremities of the aircraft to produce the required moments necessary to turn the airplane about each of its axes. At zero or low speeds, the Hawker Harrier vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) airplane uses reaction rockets placed in the nose, wing tips, and tail. The North American X-15 rocket plane used reaction controls for its high-altitude flights where the air density was so low as to render the aerodynamic control surfaces useless. In the same manner, the Space Shuttle uses reaction controls for the same reason to change its pitch, yaw, and roll attitudes. The butterfly tail is an interesting variation of the conventional control system since it combines the functions of the vertical and horizontal tail. The advantages claimed are reduced weight and drag. However, there are increased problems in cross-coupling of the pitch, yaw, and roll motions and reduced directional dynamic stability. To pitch up or down, both control surfaces are moved up or down together. To yaw right or left the "ruddervators" as they are called are moved in opposite directions through equal deflections.

In summary, many factors influence the design of an airplane. The final design is at best a compromise to often-conflicting requirements. As one moves toward multimissioned airplanes, the compromises become more frequent. Adapted from Talay, Theodore A. Introduction to the Aerodynamics of Flight. SP-367, Scientific and Technical Information Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C. 1975 For Further Reading: Smith, Hubert. The Illustrated Guide to Aerodynamics, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa.: TAB Books, 1992. Wegener, Peter P. What Makes Airplanes Fly? New York: Springer-Verlag, 1991. Ailerons. http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane

Ailerons can be used to generate a rolling motion for an aircraft. Ailerons are small hinged sections on the outboard portion of a wing. Ailerons usually work in opposition: as the right aileron is deflected upward, the left is deflected downward, and vice versa. This slide shows what happens when the pilot deflects the right aileron upwards and the left aileron downwards. The ailerons are used to bank the aircraft; to cause one wing tip to move up and the other wing tip to move down. The banking creates an unbalanced side force component of the large wing lift force which causes the aircraft's flight path to curve. (Airplanes turn because of banking created by the ailerons, not because of a rudder input. The ailerons work by changing the effective shape of the airfoil of the outer portion of the wing. As described on the shape effects slide, changing the angle of deflection at the rear of an airfoil will change the amount of lift generated by the foil. With greater downward deflection, the lift will increase in the upward direction. Notice on this slide that the aileron on the left wing, as viewed from the rear of the aircraft, is deflected down. The aileron on the right wing is deflected up. Therefore, the lift on the left wing is increased, while the lift on the right wing is decreased. For both wings, the lift force (Fr or Fl) of the wing section through the aileron is applied at the aerodynamic center of the section which is some distance (L) from the aircraft center of gravity. This creates a torque T=F*L

about the center of gravity. If the forces (and distances) are equal there is no net torque on the aircraft. But if the forces are unequal, there is a net torque and the aircraft rotates about its center of gravity. For the conditions shown in the figure, the resulting motion will roll the aircraft to the right (clockwise) as viewed from the rear. If the pilot reverses the aileron deflections (right aileron down, left aileron up) the aircraft will roll in the opposite direction. We have chosen to name the left wing and right wing based on a view from the back of the aircraft towards the nose, because that is the direction in which the pilot is looking.

At the rear of the fuselage of most aircraft one finds a horizontal stabilizer and an elevator. The stabilizer is a fixed wing section whose job is to provide stability for the aircraft, to keep it flying straight. The horizontal stabilizer prevents up-and-down, or pitching, motion of the aircraft nose. The elevator is the small moving section at the rear of the stabilizer that is attached to the fixed sections by hinges. Because the elevator moves, it varies the amount of force generated by the tail surface and is used to generate and control the pitching motion of the aircraft. There is an elevator attached to each side of the fuselage. The elevators work in pairs; when the right elevator goes up, the left elevator also goes up. This slide shows what happens when the pilot deflects the elevator. The elevator is used to control the position of the nose of the aircraft and the angle of attack of the wing. Changing the inclination of the wing to the local flight path changes the amount of lift which the wing generates. This, in turn, causes the aircraft to climb or dive. During take off the elevators are used to bring the nose of the aircraft up to begin the climb out. During a banked turn, elevator inputs can increase the lift and cause a tighter turn. That is why elevator performance is so important for fighter aircraft.

The elevators work by changing the effective shape of the airfoil of the horizontal stabilizer. As described on the shape effects slide, changing the angle of deflection at the rear of an airfoil changes the amount of lift generated by the foil. With greater downward deflection of the trailing edge, lift increases. With greater upward deflection of the trailing edge, lift decreases and can even become negative as shown on this slide. The lift force (F) is applied at center of pressure of the horizontal stabilzer which is some distance (L) from the aircraft center of gravity. This creates a torque T=F*L on the aircraft and the aircraft rotates about its center of gravity. The pilot can use this ability to make the airplane loop. Or, since many aircraft loop naturally, the deflection can be used to trim or balance the aircraft, thus preventing a loop. If the pilot reverses the elevator deflection to down, the aircraft pitches in the opposite direction.

At the rear of the fuselage of most aircraft one finds a vertical stabilizer and a rudder. The stabilizer is a fixed wing section whose job is to provide stability for the aircraft, to keep it flying straight. The vertical stabilizer prevents side-to-side, or yawing, motion of the aircraft nose. The rudder is the small moving section at the rear of the stabilizer that is attached to the fixed sections by hinges. Because the rudder moves, it varies the amount of force generated by the tail surface

and is used to generate and control the yawing motion of the aircraft. This slide shows what happens when the pilot deflects the rudder, a hinged section at the rear of the vertical stabilizer. The rudder is used to control the position of the nose of the aircraft. Interestingly, it is NOT used to turn the aircraft in flight. Aircraft turns are caused by banking the aircraft to one side using either ailerons or spoilers. The banking creates an unbalanced side force component of the large wing lift force which causes the aircraft's flight path to curve. The rudder input insures that the aircraft is properly aligned to the curved flight path during the maneuver. Otherwise, the aircraft would encounter additional drag or even a possible adverse yaw condition in which, due to increased drag from the control surfaces, the nose would move farther off the flight path. The rudder works by changing the effective shape of the airfoil of the vertical stabilizer. As described on the shape effects slide, changing the angle of deflection at the rear of an airfoil will change the amount of lift generated by the foil. With increased deflection, the lift will increase in the opposite direction. The rudder and vertical stabilizer are mounted so that they will produce forces from side to side, not up and down. The side force (F) is applied through the center of pressure of the vertical stabilizer which is some distance (L) from the aircraft center of gravity. This creates a torque T=F*L on the aircraft and the aircraft rotates about its center of gravity. With greater rudder deflection to the left as viewed from the back of the aircraft, the force increases to the right. If the pilot reverses the rudder deflection to the right, the aircraft will yaw in the opposite direction. We have chosen to base the deflections on a view from the back of the aircraft towards the nose, because that is the direction in which the pilot is looking

When a solid body is moved through a fluid (gas or liquid), the fluid resists the motion. The object is subjected to an aerodynamic force in a direction opposed to the motion which we call drag. As with aircraft lift, there are many factors that affect drag. We can group these factors into (a) those associated with the object, (b) those associated with the motion of the object through the air, and (c) those associated with the air itself The Object Geometry has a large effect on the amount of drag generated by an object. As with lift, the drag depends linearly on the size of the object moving through the air. The cross-sectional shape of an object determines the form drag created by the pressure variation around the object. The three dimensional planform shape affects the induced drag of a lifting wing. If we think of drag as aerodynamic friction, the amount of drag depends on the surface roughness of the object; a smooth, waxed surface produces less drag than a roughened surface. This effect is called skin friction and is usually included in the measured drag coefficient of the object. Motion of the Air Drag is associated with the movement of the aircraft through the air, so drag depends on the velocity of the air. Like lift, drag actually varies with the square of the relative velocity between the object and the air. The inclination of the object to the flow also affects the amount of drag generated by a given shaped object. If the object moves through the air at speeds near the speed of sound, shock waves are formed on the object which create an additional drag component called wave drag. The motion of the object through the air also causes boundary layers to form on the object. A

boundary layer is a region of very low speed flow near the surface which contributes to the skin friction. Properties of the Air Drag depends directly on the mass of the flow going past the aircraft. The drag also depends in a complex way on two other properties of the air: its viscosity and its compressibility. These factors affect the wave drag and skin friction which are described above. We can gather all of this information on the factors that affect drag into a single mathematical equation called the Drag Equation. With the drag equation we can predict how much drag force is generated by a given body moving at a given speed through a given fluid. You can investigate the various factors that affect drag by using the FoilSim III Java Applet. Have fun! You can use the browser "Back" button to return to this page. If your want your own copy of FoilSim to play with, you can download it at no charge.

Since we live in a three dimensional world, it is necessary to control the attitude or orientation of a flying aircraft in all three dimensions. In flight, any aircraft will rotate about its center of gravity, a point which is the average location of the mass of the aircraft. We can define a three dimensional coordinate system through the center of gravity with each axis of this coordinate system

perpendicular to the other two axes. We can then define the orientation of the aircraft by the amount of rotation of the parts of the aircraft along these principal axes. The yaw axis is defined to be perpendicular to the plane of the wings with its origin at the center of gravity and directed towards the bottom of the aircraft. A yaw motion is a movement of the nose of the aircraft from side to side. The pitch axis is perpendicular to the yaw axis and is parallel to the plane of the wings with its origin at the center of gravity and directed towards the right wing tip. A pitch motion is an up or down movement of the nose of the aircraft. The roll axis is perpendicular to the other two axes with its origin at the center of gravity, and is directed towards the nose of the aircraft. A rolling motion is an up and down movement of the wing tips of the aircraft. In flight, the control surfaces of an aircraft produce aerodynamic forces. These forces are applied at the center of pressure of the control surfaces which are some distance from the aircraft cg and produce torques (or moments) about the principal axes. The torques cause the aircraft to rotate. The elevators produce a pitching moment, the rudder produces a yawing moment, and the ailerons produce a rolling moment. The ability to vary the amount of the force and the moment allows the pilot to maneuver or to trim the aircraft. The first aircraft to demonstrate active control about all three axes was the Wright brothers' 1902 glider.

Aerodynamic and mass balance.