Future flight vehicles may comprise complex flight surfaces requiring coordinated in-situ sensing and actuation.
Inspired by the complexity of the flight surfaces on the wings and tail of a bird, it is argued that increasing the number of
interdependent flight surfaces from just a few, as is normal in an airplane, to many, as in the feathers of a bird, can
significantly enlarge the flight envelope. To enable elements of an eco-inspired Dynamic Servo-Elastic (DSE) flight
control system, IFOS is developing a multiple functionality-sensing element analogous to a feather, consisting of a very
thin tube with optical fiber based strain sensors and algorithms for deducing the shape of the “feather” by measuring
strain at multiple points. It is envisaged that the “feather” will act as a unit of sensing and/or actuation for establishing
shape, position, static and dynamic loads on flight surfaces and in critical parts. Advanced sensing hardware and
software control algorithms will enable the proposed DSE flight control concept. The hardware development involves
an array of optical fiber based sensorized needle tubes for attachment to key parts for dynamic flight surface
measurement. Once installed the optical fiber sensors, which can be interrogated over a wide frequency range, also allow
damage detection and structural health monitoring.