Toward a Flying Qualities Standard for Unmanned Aircraft

Kara M. Greene

The full-text download link for this item is available to Department of Defense personnel only at this time.


The topic of aircraft flying qualities has been pursued since before the Wright Brothers'. As aircraft have advanced, the understanding of flying qualities has progressed; however, a new field of aviation has been uncovered. Unmanned aircraft have garnered an increasing amount of attention and are on the way to becoming a third major aircraft type next to manned fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The reason for the increased attention is unmanned aircraft have demonstrated operational usefulness and success in accomplishing missions that were too dull, dirty, or dangerous for manned aircraft. In spite of this, the design and development cycle for unmanned aircraft has not achieved the level of sophistication observed in manned aircraft, to include a lack of a flying qualities standard. This research begins the discussion of how this standard can be created to ensure the unique benefits of unmanned aircraft are upheld while still ensuring a necessary safety level. Focusing on specific tasks accomplished during missions will alleviate the complications that arise with the current delineation for manned fixed-wing aircraft according to weight, airspeed, and operational altitude. Three hypothetical models are created to test this proposed flying qualities framework. Various criteria are used to validate this new methodology.