Model Identification and Control of a Convertible Aircraft

ANR 2016 JCJC grant

This projects focuses on the design of control algorithms for convertible aircraft (or convertible drone), with emphasis on the design of autonomous fault tolerant trajectory tracking control algorithms. A convertible aircraft, as considered here, denotes a flying machine capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), such as a multi-copter, but which behaves as a regular airplane during cruise flight.

Integrating these aircraft in spaces with high population density requires that a certain level of safety be guaranteed, in particular during phases of take-off and landing. It is therefore necessary to implement trajectory control systems that are robust to disturbances, fault tolerant, and capable to generate last resort rescue trajectories ensuring safety for people and habitations. This project aims to contribute to these expectations with the realization of a technological brick capable of running and maintaining the convertible on security transition paths (in nominal and emergency paths) and thus meet future national and international aerial regulations.

An experimental platform should be used to validate algorithms proposed during this project. Two solutions are considered at this point. The first is to build our own convertible aircraft; the second is to buy one provided that sufficient support would be offered by the manufacturer. Actuator and sensor redundancy in this platform should allow testing different types of defects.


During a first student internship, we have worked on developing the nonlinear equations that describe the dynamics of the convertible aircraft. We have also obtained conditions under which it is possible to prove the flatness of the convertible aircraft model.

We are currently working on a 3D model of the convertible drone. This step will help us in making the technical decisions with respect to the dimensions of the drone and mechanisms necessary for the conversion phase.