Lorenzo Novoa

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Autopilot design is a technical and essential skill prevalent in the guidance, navigation, and control field of the aerospace industry. A Simulink example flight simulator based on the D-200 Sky Hogg Design Proposal was utilized as the simulation platform to attempt to design a single axis pitch controlling autopilot. The task was approached by reviewing the simulation framework capabilities, designing a control for the pitch angle, and simulating the vehicle with the adjusted controller. The design of the controller consisted of developing transfer functions for the elevator actuator and aircraft longitudinal dynamics, integrating a two loop autopilot into the simulator, and selecting the gains for the controller using the Root Locus plots of the inner and outer loops. The results of the controller design were an unstable closed loop system for any combination of values for the two loop gains. The simulation with the controller design resulted in divergence of the aircraft from the commanded altitude. The uncontrollability of the system was likely due to an error in the vehicle modeling or the implementation of the two-loop autopilot into the simulation. Many lessons were learned about controller design and implementation into a flight simulator in the process of trouble shooting and modifying the simulator and controller design. Many of these lessons will directly translate to relevant skills necessary to excel in the aerospace industry. All in all, the project was a useful exercise to gain experience in topics outside of the scope of general coursework at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).

Publication Date






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