Macro-fiber composite actuators for a swept wing unmanned aircraft

O Bilgen, KB Kochersberger, DJ Inman

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

88 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the research presented here is to exploit actuation via smart materials to perform shape control of an aerofoil on a small aircraft and to determine the feasibility and advantages of smooth control surface deformations. A type of piezoceramic composite actuator known as Macro-Fiber Composite (MFC) is used for changing the camber of the wings. The MFC actuators were implemented on a 30° swept wing, 0·76m wingspan aircraft. The experimental vehicle was flown using two MFC patches in an elevator/aileron (elevon) configuration. Preliminary flight and wind-tunnel testing has demonstrated the stability and control of the concept. Flight tests were performed to quantify roll control using the MFC actuators. Lift and drag coefficients along with pitch and roll moment coefficients were measured in a low-speed, open-section wind tunnel. A vortex-lattice analysis complemented the database of aerodynamic derivatives used to analyse control response. The research, for the first time, successfully demonstrated that piezoceramic devices requiring high voltages can be effectively employed in small air vehicles without compromising the weight of the overall system.
Translated title of the contributionMacro-fiber composite actuators for a swept wing unmanned aircraft
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385 - 395
Number of pages10
JournalAeronautical Journal
Issue number1144
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Macro-fiber composite actuators for a swept wing unmanned aircraft'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this