Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Robert Klenke


This thesis documents a research project in which an autonomous flight control system (FCS) was designed to control and navigate small, high-speed, unmanned, jet-turbine powered fixed-wing aircraft. The FCS was designed to allow the aircraft to maintain controlled flight, and return to a home location, without any operator intervention. The flight control computer was built with an FPGA, using a Microblaze soft-core microprocessor running the uClinux operating system. The configurable FPGA computing platform allowed flexibility for interfacing quickly with a wide range of sensors and control modules. A commercial inertial measurement unit was used for aircraft state estimation, and the flight control system was able to provide stability and precise flight-path control for multiple turbinepowered aircraft over the wide flight airspeed envelope these vehicles are capable of. In addition, the custom ground control station which provides an operator control interface for the FCS is discussed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2010

Included in

Engineering Commons