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Emergency Flight Control of a Twin-Jet Commercial Aircraft using Manual Throttle ManipulationThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the PCAR (Propulsion-Controlled Aircraft Recovery) project in 2005 to mitigate the ManPADS (man-portable air defense systems) threat to the commercial aircraft fleet with near-term, low-cost proven technology. Such an attack could potentially cause a major FCS (flight control system) malfunction or other critical system failure onboard the aircraft, despite the extreme reliability of current systems. For the situations in which nominal flight controls are lost or degraded, engine thrust may be the only remaining means for emergency flight control [ref 1]. A computer-controlled thrust system, known as propulsion-controlled aircraft (PCA), was developed in the mid 1990s with NASA, McDonnell Douglas and Honeywell. PCA's major accomplishment was a demonstration of an automatic landing capability using only engine thrust [ref 11. Despite these promising results, no production aircraft have been equipped with a PCA system, due primarily to the modifications required for implementation. A minimally invasive option is TOC (throttles-only control), which uses the same control principles as PCA, but requires absolutely no hardware, software or other aircraft modifications. TOC is pure piloting technique, and has historically been utilized several times by flight crews, both military and civilian, in emergency situations stemming from a loss of conventional control. Since the 1990s, engineers at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) have studied TOC, in both simulation and flight, for emergency flight control with test pilots in numerous configurations. In general, it was shown that TOC was effective on certain aircraft for making a survivable landing. DHS sponsored both NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (Edwards, CA) and United Airlines (Denver, Colorado) to conduct a flight and simulation study of the TOC characteristics of a twin-jet commercial transport, and assess the ability of a crew to control an aircraft down to a survivable runway landing using TOC. The PCAR project objective was a set of pilot procedures for operation of a specific aircraft without hydraulics that (a) have been validated in both simulation and flight by relevant personnel, and (b) mesh well with existing commercial operations, maintenance, and training at a minimum cost. As a result of this study, a procedure has been developed to assist a crew in making a survivable landing using TOC. In a simulation environment, line pilots with little or no previous TOC experience performed survivable runway landings after a few practice TOC approaches. In-flight evaluations put line pilots in a simulated emergency situation where TOC was used to recover the aircraft, maneuver to a landing site, and perform an approach down to 200 feet AGL. The results of this research, including pilot observations, procedure comments, recommendations, future work and lessons learned, will he discussed. Flight data and video footage of TOC approaches may also be shown.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Cole, Jennifer H. (NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility Edwards, CA, United States)
Cogan, Bruce R. (NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility Edwards, CA, United States)
Fullerton, C. Gordon (NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility Edwards, CA, United States)
Burken, John J. (NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility Edwards, CA, United States)
Venti, Michael W. (NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility Edwards, CA, United States)
Burcham, Frank W. (NASA Dryden Flight Research Facility Edwards, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
November 12, 2007
Subject Category
Aircraft Stability and Control
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
International Test and Evaluation Association(Hawaii)
Distribution Limits