Perched Landing Manoeuvres with a Variable Sweep Wing UAV

Colin Greatwood*, Antony Waldock, Tom Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

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

23 Citations (Scopus)
588 Downloads (Pure)


A variable sweep wing UAV is developed utilising off the shelf components with a custom mechanism for the wing box. The movement of the wing sweep in flight enables large pitching moments suitable for performing perching manoeuvres. Wind tunnel data is presented that confirms the favourable characteristics expected from sweeping the wing and achieving high pitch rates. Whilst only small sweep changes are required during flight, the design allows up to 30 forward sweep for significant pitching moments during the flare. A new collection of controllers is developed based on observations from similar landing techniques performed by birds and hang-gliders onto flat ground. The three-stage landing process takes the aircraft along an approach path, through a roundout procedure during which airspeed decays and concludes with rapid pitch up. Flight test results are presented during which it is found that the airspeed can be reduced to, on average, under 3 m/s in the final moments before landing – well below the stall speed of 9 m/s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-520
Number of pages11
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Early online date25 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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