Cross-Coupling Criteria

Helicopters are characterized by cross-couplings in practically every axis-pairing, and the ubiquitous nature of cross-coupling constitutes one of the chief reasons why piloting this type of aircraft requires such high skill levels developed through long training programmes. Satisfying the direct, or ‘on-axis’, response characteristics, described in previous sections for roll, pitch, heave and yaw, is necessary but not sufficient to guarantee good helicopter flying qualities. Any helicopter test pilot would be quick to confirm this and might even advise that fixing the off-axis, cross-coupled response, was a higher priority for conferring Level 1 on-axis handling. Ideally, a designer would like to eliminate all sources of coupling. This is not only impossible (with only four controls), but probably also unnecessary, and one focus of the efforts in handling research has been to establish the maximum level of tolerable coupling. As with on – axis response criteria, this has proved to be task specific and particularly task-gain, or task-bandwidth, dependent. In very general terms, the low frequency/trim coupling effects are driven by the velocity couplings; the moderate frequency effects are reflected in the angular rate couplings and the higher frequency effects are dominated by the control couplings, in either sustained or washed-out form. Pilot subjective opinion of the degrading influence of coupling will therefore depend on the task, e. g., precise positioning, rapid slalom or target tracking. Many of the physical sources of cross­coupling have been described and discussed in Chapter 4 of this book. Here, we shall review the major types of couplings, and the database of results relating to handling qualities criteria and discuss what more needs to be done to set quality requirements. In the following subsections, the use of the condensed descriptor, e. g., pitch to roll, refers to the roll response due to pitch; any distinctions between control and motion couplings will be made as appropriate.

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