Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Richard "Pat" Anderson

Committee Member

Professor Charles Eastlake

Committee Member

Dr. Charles Reinholtz


The purpose of this thesis is to develop fly-by-wire pilot controls for a transport category airship propelled with six thrust vectoring engines, and to develop control laws to maintain position, heading, and attitude during hover and cargo operations. Owing to the large body area, most airships require that they be pointed into the wind to maintain their position. This research aims at controlling an airship attitude and position during hover cargo delivery, irrespective of the wind direction.

Control laws were developed for two primary modes of the airship: Flight (High Speed Mode) and Hover (Cargo Delivery Mode). Different sets of pilot controls were developed for each mode, oriented towards reduced pilot work load and simplicity of operation. A proof of concept sub-scale model of the airship was built and flown in an indoor hangar environment. An Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS) system was implemented using Inertial Measuring Unit (IMU) and a Magnetometer. Indoor positioning of the airship was achieved using target LEDs, and applying robotic vision techniques such as motion detection, color blob analysis, and stereo vision. The developed control laws were tested during indoor flight tests, and conclusions were drawn regarding their feasibility.

Included in

Aviation Commons