Life extending control of aircraft: trade-off between flight performance and structural durability

A. Ray, J. Caplin

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

11 Scopus citations


The goal of life extending control (LEC) is to enhance the service life of complex mechanical systems, such as aircraft, spacecraft, and energy conversion devices, without any significant loss of performance, and can be achieved by making a trade-off between dynamic performance and structural durability. This paper presents the concept and a design methodology for robust life extending control of aircraft structures that are typically subjected to cyclic mechanical stresses. The controller design procedure relies on the specifications of flight performance and allowable fatigue crack damage at critical points of aircraft structures that serve as indicators of the effective service life. As an example, an aeroelastic model of the aircraft wings has been formulated and is incorporated into a nonlinear rigid-body model of the flight-dynamics. The H∞-based structured singular value (μ) synthesis method has been used to design robust life extending controllers based on a linearised model of the aircraft and a (nonlinear) state-space model of fatigue crack growth. The results of simulation experiments show significant savings in fatigue life of the wings while retaining the dynamic performance of the aircraft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages12
Specialist publicationAeronautical Journal
StatePublished - Sep 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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