Universiti Sains Malaysia researcher, Endri Rachman, from the School of Aerospace Engineering has come up with a unique small flight control simulator also known as the Iron bird system for F-16 fighter planes. The Iron Bird performs the rotational motion about x-, y- and z- axis (rolling, pitching, and yawing) and deflects the control surfaces (elevator, rudder, ailerons)
The main aim of the Ironbird F-16 is to visualise the flight motions (level, turn, climb, descend, autonomous flight) and the deflection of primary control surfaces on the ground. The Ironbird system is used as a design tool in designing, developing and testing the control laws/logics for autonomous flight.
The Ironbird system consists of aircraft model attached on a rotating support system, control unit and computer hosting a flight model and simulation software. The software on the host computer simulates the flight motion of the F-16 by sending the aircraft attitude (roll, pitch and yaw angle) and deflection of control surfaces to the F-16's aircraft model via the control unit. Based on received data, the control unit activates the servomotors to rotate the aircraft model and the control surfaces. The motions are measured and sent back to the host computer via DAQ-system inside the control unit to be compared with the calculated data of aircraft's attitudes and control surface deflection on computer.
The Ironbird system can be used as one stop center in designing and developing the control laws/logics for autonomous flight of the flying vehicles, such as passenger aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicle UAV, fighter because of its capability to perform the following tasks
- generating nonlinear and linear aircraft's flight model
- determining and visualising a stationary trim flight condition
- simulating the linear and nonlinear flight motion
- performing dynamics analysis and designing the control laws
- performing the non linear simulation of controller in form of hardware - in the loop simulation.
In the framework of experimental works in the field of flight mechanics and control for aerospace students, the Ironbird system of F-16 is used to do experiments on the steady powered flights, the trimmed flight characteristics, the impact of centre of gravity, displacement on the static and dynamic stability of aircraft, the stabilisation of the unstable aircraft dynamics, the autopilot design and simulation.