This 1-minute, 42-second video taken April 6, 2010 shows a of a NASA F/A-18 full-scale advanced systems testbed over Edwards Air Force Base in California’s Mojave Desert during the Integrated Resilient Aircraft Controls (IRAC) project. The project was flown by NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Research Center.

The Integrated Resilient Aircraft Control, or IRAC, project researched advances in aircraft flight control technology to provide on-board control resilience for ensuring safe flight in the presence of unforeseen, adverse conditions.

The IRAC project examined state-of-the-art adaptive controls as a design option that could lead to improved stability and maneuverability margins for safe landing. While many IRAC studies focused on current and next-generation transport aircraft, project results also had applications for other aircraft types, as well as to the military and space sectors.

IRAC research objectives included development of a set of validated, multidisciplinary, integrated aircraft control design tools and techniques to enable safe flight in the presence of adverse conditions such as structural damage, control surface failures, icing, or aerodynamic upsets. Carefully integrated math models were required to simulate the interactions among control inputs, flight navigation, aircraft structures, and propulsion systems.

An additional objective was improved understanding of the dynamics of aircraft loss-of-control incidents to learn how flight control computer software can be used to help regain control of an aircraft without exacerbating a deteriorating situation. The project also researched engine modeling enhancements for situations that require improved engine response during full or partial loss of flight control.

Successful transition of this foundational research into future aircraft depends greatly on the ability to verify and validate innovative control and guidance technologies, particularly those based on adaptive control.

Verification and validation of these technologies were performed through a combination of analyses, simulation, wind tunnel, and flight tests, using model-scale and full-scale test aircraft.

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