Skip to main content Accessibility help

A handling qualities analysis tool for rotorcraft conceptual designs

  • B. Lawrence (a1), C. R. Theodore (a2), W. Johnson (a2) and T. Berger (a3)


Over the past decade, NASA, under a succession of rotary-wing programs, has been moving towards coupling multiple discipline analyses to evaluate rotorcraft conceptual designs. Handling qualities is one of the component analyses to be included in such a future Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization framework for conceptual design of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft. Similarly, the future vision for the capability of the Concept Design and Assessment Technology Area of the U.S Army Aviation Development Directorate also includes a handling qualities component. SIMPLI-FLYD is a tool jointly developed by NASA and the U.S. Army to perform modelling and analysis for the assessment of the handling qualities of rotorcraft conceptual designs. Illustrative scenarios of a tiltrotor in forward flight and a single-main rotor helicopter at hover are analysed using a combined process of SIMPLI-FLYD integrated with the conceptual design sizing tool NDARC. The effects of variations of input parameters such as horizontal tail and tail rotor geometry were evaluated in the form of margins to fixed- and rotary-wing handling qualities metrics and the computed vehicle empty weight. The handling qualities Design Margins are shown to vary across the flight envelope due to both changing flight dynamics and control characteristics and changing handling qualities specification requirements. The current SIMPLI-FLYD capability, lessons learned from its use and future developments are discussed.


Corresponding author


Hide All

This is a version of a paper first presented at the RAeS Virtual Engineering Conference held at Liverpool University, 8-10 November 2016.



Hide All
1. Gorton, S.A., Lopez, I. and Theodore, C.R. NASA technology for next generation vertical lift vehicles, AIAA SciTech, 56th AIAA/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference, 5–9 January 2015, Kissimmee, Florida, US.
2. Morris, C.C., Sultan, C., Allison, D.L., Schetz, J.A. and Kapania, R.K. Towards flying qualities constraints in the multidisciplinary design optimization of a supersonic tailless aircraft, 12th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference and 14th AIAA/ISSM, 17–19 September 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, US.
3. Raymer, D.P. Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach, 5th ed., 2006, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, Washington, DC, US.
4. Padfield, G.D. Rotorcraft handling qualities engineering; managing the tension between safety and performance, J American Helicopter Soc, January 2013, 58, (1), pp 1-28.
5. Andrews, H. Technical evaluation report on the flight mechanics panel symposium on flying qualities, AGARD-AR-311, April 1992.
6. Johnson, W. NDARC — NASA design and analysis of rotorcraft, Theoretical Basis and Architecture, American Helicopter Society Aeromechanics Specialists’ Conference Proceedings, 20–22 January 2010, San Francisco, California, US.
7. Lawrence, B., Berger, T., Theodore, C.R., Tischler, M.B., Tobias, E.L., Elmore, J. and Gallaher, A. Integrating flight dynamics & control analysis and simulation in rotorcraft conceptual design, 72nd American Helicopter Society Annual Forum, 17–19 May 2016, West Palm Beach, Florida, US.
8. Johnson, W. NDARC, NASA design and analysis of rotorcraft, NASA TP 2009–215402, 2009.
9. Tischler, M.B., Colbourne, J., Morel, M., Biezad, D., Cheung, K., Levine, W. and Moldoveanu, V. A multidisciplinary flight control development environment and its application to a helicopter, IEEE Control Systems Magazine, August 1999, 19, (4), pp 22-33.
10. Tischler, M.B. and Remple, R.K. Aircraft and Rotorcraft System Identification: Engineering Methods and Flight Test Examples, 2nd ed, 2012, AIAA, pp 332-333.
11. Anon, Handling qualities requirements for military rotorcraft, Aeronautical Design Standard-33 (ADS-33E-PRF), US Army Aviation and Missile Command, 21 March 2000.
12. Anon, Flying qualities of piloted aircraft, MIL-STD-1797B, Department of Defense Interface Standard, February 2006.
13. Forrester, I.J., Sóbester, A. and Keane, A.J. Engineering Design via Surrogate Modelling: A Practical Guide, 2008, John Wiley & Sons.
14. Duda, H. Prediction of pilot-in-the-loop oscillations due to rate saturation, J Guidance, Navigation, and Control, May–June 1997, 20, (3), pp 581-587.
15. Perry, T. ALPINE: Automated layout with a python integrated NDARC environment, OpenVSP Workshop 2016, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA, 25 August 2016 [PDF File]
16. Gloudemans, J.R., Davis, P.C. and Gelhausen, P.A. A rapid geometry modeler for conceptual aircraft, 34th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, AIAA-1996-52, 15–18 January 1996.
17. Johnson, W. and Sinsay, J.D. Rotorcraft conceptual design environment, 2nd International Forum on Rotorcraft Multidisciplinary Technology, 19–20 October 2009, Seoul, Korea.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Aeronautical Journal
  • ISSN: 0001-9240
  • EISSN: 2059-6464
  • URL: /core/journals/aeronautical-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed