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Chapter: Avionics and Instrumentation Technologies, new invention technology, Research project papers,

Platform Precision Autopilot (PPA)

Platform Precision Autopilot (PPA)
Avionics and Instrumentation Technologies, Advancing technology and science through flight 2014, Research, Technology, and Engineering Accomplishments, National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA, Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center. new invention technology, Research project papers;

Platform Precision Autopilot (PPA)


Armstrong innovators have developed a flight control system that allows an aircraft to maintain an attitude and heading within 5 meters of a desired position. The PPA is a digital system that augments the legacy analog Gulfstream III (G-III) autopilot system. The PPA consists of an embedded microcontroller-based flight computer and navigation algorithms that


use externally provided attitude and differential GPS information to generate aircraft control commands. The system features a unique use of a controller area network (CAN) system and design interface to imitate an instrument landing system (ILS) and enable precise repeat-pass flights. This proven technology has been flying on Armstrong's G-III aircraft for more than 5 years.



Work to date: The technology was developed for NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) program to aid in precise repeat-pass scientific missions. The PPA enables the G-III aircraft to perform missions that are more complex and demanding than ever.


Looking ahead: The team is working to establish an F/A-18 interface for pilot pitch queuing in support of launch vehicle adaptive control research. A potential NASA application is the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission, where the PPA would provide precision automated heading control. Additionally, the PPA is being revised to support the Coordinated Trajectories project by hosting a peak-seeking control algorithm.





 Precise navigation: Controls an aircraft within a specified tolerance


 Compact and low power: Measures 3x5 inches and operates at less than 5 watts




 Scientific and military surveillance  Terrain mapping


Avionics and Instrumentation Technologies


Armstrong innovators design and integrate data acquisition systems for research, support, and one-of-a-kind platforms. In many cases, these systems leverage commercial off-the-shelf parts to keep costs low and ease integration with legacy systems. At the same time, these cutting-edge data systems are finding innovative ways not only to collect data efficiently but also to flexibly configure collection parameters.


Designed for aerospace applications, many of these innovations can benefit numerous industries in a variety of situations where data optimization is critical, such as manufacturing operations, business processes, and energy management, to name a few.


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