PhD Studentship: A Flight Dynamics and Control Computational Framework for Morphing Aircraft.

United Kingdom
Dec 04, 2015
Dec 02, 2016
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

PhD Studentship: A Flight Dynamics and Control Computational Framework for Morphing Aircraft.

Education Hub (Engineering & the Env)

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Friday 02 December 2016
Reference:  659215MM
Project Reference: NGCM-0063


A morphing aircraft continuously adjust its wing geometry to enhance flight performance, control authority, and multi-mission. The severe and rapid changes in geometry, mass distribution, and centre of gravity that occur while and after morphing have a great impact on the stability, control, and dynamics of the aircraft. The traditional approach of studying the flight dynamics of a rigid, symmetric aircraft is incapable of robustly simulating the situation and couplings that occur during morphing. Few technical papers have discussed flight dynamics of morphing wings but they were limited to computational studies and they focused on wings with one morphing degree of freedom (dof) each and on small displacements. Experimental and flight testing of morphing UAVs to study their flight dynamics and control have been very limited.

The fundamental hypothesis of this project is that during the transitional phase while the aircraft is morphing from one state to another, its dynamics, stability and control, and aeroelastic behaviour will vary significantly. These variations have a direct impact on the design of the structure, control law, and actuation system as they may excite some unstable flight dynamics mode(s). Therefore, it will not be possible to assess the benefits of morphing technologies, and design their control law without understanding their impact on the flight dynamics.

This project has two main objectives. The first objective is to develop and validate a computational framework that allows robust modelling, simulating, optimising and better understanding of the flight dynamics of aircraft while morphing. The framework will be capable of handling both rigid and flexible morphing and both symmetric and asymmetric and it will be computationally efficient running in real-time. The second objective is to use the framework to investigate using morphing technologies to facilitate new types of bio-inspired manoeuvres and to optimise how to morph from one state to another.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Rafic Ajaj, Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2453.

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see

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