Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Meyer

Second Advisor

Dr. Kapseong Ro

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Hudson


model predictive control, nonlinear control, flight control, ICE, optimal control

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


A nonlinear model predictive control law was developed for the Lockheed Martin Innovative Control Effector tailless fighter aircraft to track way points. In general, aircraft are described by nonlinear dynamics that are dependent on the regime of flight. Additionally strict requirements on state and actuator constraints are common to all aircraft. Tailless aircraft are usually overdetermined systems, meaning solutions to control problems are not unique, and the system is non-affine. The proposed nonlinear control law considers those constraints during run-time, and solves the nonlinear control problem for a range of points within different flight regimes. The control law was developed using a computer simulation of the tailless fighter aircraft, and further simulation was used to validate the control law when applied to the aircraft. It was found that the controller was able to track reference step commands in altitude anywhere from sea level to 50,000 ft and remain stable. It is also shown that the single nonlinear controller is able to handle lateral translations at the same time as altitude commands, demonstrating its authority over the entire 6 degree of freedom system. The controller is not real time applicable but research indicates that it is possible to apply such a technique in real time. It was concluded that nonlinear model predictive control is a viable control synthesis technique for tailless fighter aircraft if real-time algorithms can be developed.