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Strickly speaking, most autonomous parafoil and payload aircraft possess only lateral control, achieved by right and left parafoil brake deflection. An innovative new technique to achieve direct longitudinal control through dynamic incidence angle changes is reported. Addition of this extra control channel requires simple rigging changes and an additional servo actuator. The ability of dynamic incidence angle to alter the glide slope of a parafoil and payload aircraft is demonstrated through a flight test program with a micro parafoil system. Results from the flight test program are synthesized and integrated into a 6 degree-of-freedom simulation. The simulation model is subsequently used to assess the utility of glide slope control to improve autonomous flight control system performance. Through Monte Carlo simulation, impact point statistics with and without glide slope control indicate that dramatic improvements in impact point statistics are possible using direct glide slope control.


Used with permission of AIAA. Originally proceedings of the 2007 AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Conference, Williamsburg, VA, 2007. Paper Number AIAA 2007-2526.