Date of Award


Embargo Period


Access Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Physics


Doctoral Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. William Mackunis, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Dr. Vladimir Golubev, Ph.D

Second Committee Member

Dr. Mahmut Reyhanoglu, Ph.D

Third Committee Member

Dr. Sergey V. Drakunov, Ph.D


Limit cycle oscillations (LCO), also known as utter, cause significant challenges in flight control of small unmanned aerial vehicles (SUAVs), and could potentially lead to structural damage and catastrophic failures. LCO can be described as vibrational motions in the rocking, pitching and plunging displacements of an aircraft wing. To address this, the use of synthetic jet actuators (SJAs) in UAV flight control systems is becoming popular as a practical alternative and to mechanical deflection surfaces.

Synthetic jet actuators are promising tools for LCO suppression systems in small UAVs due to their small size, ease of operation, and low cost. Uncertainties inherent in the dynamics of the synthetic jet actuators present significant challenges in the synthetic jet actuator-based control design. Specifically, the input-output characteristic (voltage-virtual deflection angle relationship) of the synthetic jet actuators is nonlinear and contains parametric uncertainty. Further control design challenges exist in situations where multiple actuators lose effectiveness.

This dissertation focuses on the suppression of limit cycle oscillations on small unmanned air vehicles using synthetic jet actuators. A brief description on how wind gust affects aircraft tracking control is presented. It shows an extension to a paper by adding the wind gust model to the system while also varying the uncertain synthetic jet actuator parameters using a Monte Carlo method. Next, a robust nonlinear control method is presented, which achieves simultaneous aircraft tracking control and limit cycle oscillation suppression using these synthetic jet actuators and a robust controller. Following that, a nonlinear LCO regulation method is presented, which uses a bank of dynamic filters to eliminate the need for pitching and plunging LCO rate measurements. Finally, an alternative method of LCO regulation control is presented, which utilizes a sliding mode observer in lieu of a bank of filters to estimate the pitching and plunging LCO rates.