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Advances in Aircraft and Spacecraft Science
  Volume 5, Number 1, January 2018 , pages 073-105

Constant speed, variable ascension rate, helical trajectories for airplanes
Gilles Labonte

    A particular type of constant speed helical trajectory, with variable ascension rate, is proposed. Such trajectories are candidates of choice as motion primitives in automatic airplane trajectory planning; they can also be used by airplanes taking off or landing in limited space. The equations of motion for airplanes flying on such trajectories are exactly solvable. Their solution is presented, together with an analysis of the restrictions imposed on the geometrical parameters of the helical paths by the dynamical abilities of an airplane. The physical quantities taken into account are the airplane load factor, its lift coefficient, and the thrust its engines can produce. Formulas are provided for determining all the parameters of trajectories that would be flyable by a particular airplane, the final altitude reached, and the duration of the trajectory. It is shown how to construct speed interval tables, which would appreciably reduce the calculations to be done on board the airplane. Trajectories are characterized by their angle of inclination, their radius, and the rate of change of their inclination. Sample calculations are shown for the Cessna 182, a Silver Fox like unmanned aerial vehicle, and the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Key Words
    airplane helical trajectory; automatic trajectory planning; banked turn; airplane equation of motion; helical arc connection
Gilles Labonte: Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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