Fixed-wing approach techniques for complex environments

P. R. Thomas, S. Bullock, U. Bhandari, T. S. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The landing approach for fixed-wing small unmanned air vehicles (SUAVs) in complex environments such as urban canyons, wooded areas, or any other obscured terrain is challenging due to the limited distance available for conventional glide slope descents. Alternative approach methods, such as deep stall and spin techniques, are beneficial for such environments but are less conventional and would benefit from further qualitative and quantitative understanding to improve their implementation. Flight tests of such techniques, with a representative remotely piloted vehicle, have been carried out for this purpose and the results are presented in this paper. Trajectories and flight data for a range of approach techniques are presented and conclusions are drawn as to the potential benefits and issues of using such techniques for SUAV landings. In particular, the stability of the vehicle on entry to a deep stall was noticeably improved through the use of symmetric inboard flaps (crow brakes). Spiral descent profiles investigated, including spin descents, produced faster descent rates and further reduced landing space requirements. However, sufficient control authority was maintainable in a spiral stall descent, whereas it was compromised in a full spin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)999-1016
Number of pages18
JournalAeronautical Journal
Issue number1218
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


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