ACS6411 Flight Dynamics and Control

Module Description

The module provides students with an understanding of the principles of aircraft flight dynamics and the problems of controlling aircraft’s motion. It introduces the equations of motion for a rigid body aircraft and the aerodynamic forces and moments are then determined. Static and dynamic stability, response characteristics are defined and methods for their analysis are next introduced. Flying and handling qualities of an aircraft, and disturbances affecting its motion, are developed. The fundamentals of aircraft feedback control system design and analysis are introduced together with stability augmentation and automatic flight control systems. The module provides knowledge for state-space approaches for aircraft control and guidance systems linked with airworthiness requirements for flying qualities and stability.

Credits: 15 (Spring semester)

Pre-requisites: ACS124 or equivalent

Module Leader

Lyudmila MihaylovaProfessor Lyudmila Mihaylova
Room D01, Amy Johnson Building

If you have any questions about the module please talk to me during the lectures or the labs in the first instance. It is likely that other students will learn from any questions you ask as well, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Outside of lectures please contact me via email, or drop in to see me.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the modules students will be able to:

1. appreciate the nomenclature used in describing aircraft stability and control [SMb1, SMb2]
2. understand the equations of motion of aircraft [SM1p, SM3p]
3. understand the difference between static and dynamic stability [SM1p]
4. understand the factors affecting static and dynamic stability [SM5m, SM1fl, EA1i, EA6m]
5. perform calculations to predict aircraft stability [SM3m, SM3fl, SM2fl, EA1i, EA3i, EP1fl, EA3fl, EA6m, SM4m]
6. understand and apply control system analysis and design methodologies to flight control systems [SM3m]
7. appreciate relevant flight and handling qualities and the disturbances acting on an aircraft [EA2, SM6m]
8. recognise and describe the different control systems employed in flight [SM5m]
9. appreciate recent advances in flight dynamics and control with particular emphasis on Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) [SM6m]

This module satisfies the AHEP3 (Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes, Third Edition) Learning Outcomes that are listed in brackets after each learning outcome above. For further details on AHEP3 Learning Outcomes, see the downloads section of our accreditation webpage.



Aerodynamic nomenclature, forces and moments acting on aircraft. Longitudinal and lateral static and dynamic stability and control. Aircraft equations of motion, axis systems and stability derivatives. Longitudinal and lateral dynamic stability. Flight and handling qualities. Spiral and Dutch roll modes. Phugoid and short period oscillatory motions. Automatic flight control systems. Application of modern control theory to autopilot design. Instrument landing systems and sensors for air traffic control. Autonomy and UAVs.

Teaching Methods

Learning and Teaching Methods

Lectures: 30 hours
Tutorials: 6 hours
Directed Lab Work: 6 hours
Independent Study: 106 hours

Teaching Materials

Learning and Teaching Materials

All teaching materials will be available via MOLE.



2 hour examination worth 75%.
Coursework assignment worth 25%

No resit examination is available for this module.



  1. During lectures a number of examples will be worked through that will provide opportunities for students to gauge their understanding of the module. These will also provide opportunities for students to ask questions and gain feedback through these. Students can also discuss their understanding at the end of lectures or via email/meetings with the lecturer.
  2. A brief summary of how the class performed in the examination, both on the paper overall and on individual questions will be provided shortly after the examinations board. Students will also have the opportunity to view the example answers and to see their scripts.
Student Evaluation

Student Evaluation

Students are encouraged to provide feedback during the module direct to the lecturer. Students will also have the opportunity to provide formal feedback via the Faculty of Engineering Student Evaluation Survey at the end of the module.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

Primary Texts:

  • Cook, M.V., Flight Dynamics Principles: a linear systems approach to aircraft stability, Butterworth-Heinemann, 2013 [Available in Information Commons, 629.1323 (C)]
  • Nelson, R.C., Flight Stability and Automatic Control, 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill, 1998 [Available in Information Commons, 629,13236 (N)]
  • Nikolai, L. and Carichner, G., Fundamentals of Aircraft and Airship Design, Volume I - Aircraft Design, 2010. [available in Information Commons, 629.1341(N)]
  • Hill, D., Fundamentals of Airplane Flight Mechanics, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2007. [Available online]

Secondary Text:

  • Russell, J.B., Performance and Stability of Aircraft, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1996, [Available in Information Commons, 629,13236 (R)]
  • McLean, D., Automatic Flight Control Systems, Prentice-Hall, 1990 [Available in Information Commons, 629,135 (M)]
  • Etkin, B. and Reid, L.D., Dynamics of Flight: Stability and Control, 3rd Ed., John Wiley & Sons, 1996 [Available in Information Commons, 629.13236 (E)]
  • Barnard, R.H. and Philpott, D.R., Aircraft Flight: a description of the physical principles of aircraft flight, 2nd Ed., Pearson, 1994 [Available in Information Commons, 629.1323 (B)]
  • Pallett, E.H.J and Coyle, S., Automatic Flight Control, 4th Ed., Blackwell, 1993 [Available in Information Commons, 629.135 (P)]