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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2018, Article ID 8654031, 18 pages
Research Article

Adaptive Differential Thrust Methodology for Lateral/Directional Stability of an Aircraft with a Completely Damaged Vertical Stabilizer

Department of Aerospace Engineering, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Kamran Turkoglu; ude.usjs@ulgokrut.narmak

Received 19 April 2017; Revised 25 September 2017; Accepted 23 October 2017; Published 15 January 2018

Academic Editor: Mahmut Reyhanoglu

Copyright © 2018 Long K. Lu and Kamran Turkoglu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper investigates the utilization of differential thrust to help a commercial aircraft with a damaged vertical stabilizer in order to regain its lateral/directional stability. In the event of an aircraft losing its vertical stabilizer, the consequential loss of the lateral/directional stability and control is likely to cause a fatal crash. In this paper, an aircraft with a completely damaged vertical stabilizer is investigated, and a unique differential thrust-based adaptive control approach is proposed to achieve a stable flight envelope. The propulsion dynamics of the aircraft is modeled as a system of differential equations with engine time constant and time delay terms to study the engine response time with respect to a differential thrust input. The proposed differential thrust control module is then presented to map the rudder input to differential thrust input. Model reference adaptive control based on the Lyapunov stability approach is implemented to test the ability of the damaged aircraft to track the model aircraft’s (reference) response in an extreme scenario. Investigation results demonstrate successful application of such differential thrust approach to regain lateral/directional stability of a damaged aircraft with no vertical stabilizer. Finally, the conducted robustness and uncertainty analysis results conclude that the stability and performance of the damaged aircraft remain within desirable limits and demonstrate a safe flight mission through the proposed adaptive control methodology.