The design, analysis, construction and flight testing of a miniature Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) tail-sitter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) prototype is presented in detail. Classic aircraft design methods were combined with numerical analysis to estimate the aircraft performance and flight characteristics. The numerical analysis employed a propeller blade-element theory coupled with momentum equations to predict the influence of a propeller slipstream on the freestream flow field, then the aircraft was analyzed using 3-D vortex lifting-line theory to model finite wings immersed in the flow field. Four prototypes were designed, built, and tested and the evolution of these prototypes is presented. The final prototype design is discussed in detail. A method for sizing control surfaces for a tail-sitter was defined. The final prototype successfully demonstrated controllability both in horizontal flight and vertical flight. Significant contributions included the development of a control system that was effective in hover as well as descending vertical flight, and the development of a strong but light weight airframe. The aircraft had a payload weight fraction of 14.5% and a maximum dimension of one meter, making it the smallest tail-sitter UAV to carry a useful payload. This project is expected to provide a knowledge base for the future design of small electric VTOL tail-sitter aircraft and to provide an airframe for future use in tail-sitter research.
College and Department
Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hogge, Jeffrey V., "Development of a Miniature VTOL Tail-Sitter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1373.
unmanned air vehicle, UAV, vertical takeoff and landing, VTOL, vertical attitude takeoff and landing, VATOL, tail-sitter, tail sitter, BYU