News & Events
Challenges and Modern Approaches to the Control of Transition Vehicles
Release time:April 2, 2018

Topic: Challenges and Modern Approaches to the Control of Transition Vehicles

Date: April 4 at 10 : 00

Venue: B221, New Main Building

Speaker: Prof. Florian Holzapfel

Bio of the Speaker:

Prof. Holzapfel’s (b. 1974) research field is flight system dynamics. His four key interests are flight control of manned and unmanned systems, trajectory optimization, sensor technology, data fusion and navigation and modeling, simulation and parameter estimation. Prof. Holzapfel takes a holistic approach to teaching and fosters close cooperation with a number of aerospace companies, mainly in Bavaria.

After studying aerospace engineering at TUM and working in flight control, Prof. Holzapfel returned to the Chair of Aeronautical Engineering and Control at TUM to complete his doctorate under Prof. Gottfried Sachs (2004). After that, he spent several years working in the industry (IABG, Ottobrunn) before accepting an invitation from TUM in 2007. Prof. Holzapfel is a member of the AIAA and heads up the Flight Control expert group at the German Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics (DGLR). He is also an agent of the DGLR executive committee for collaboration with the AIAA.


Currently, transition vehicles, capable of efficient wing-borne flight while still being able to take-off and land vertically, receive high attention, as they combine the efficiency of long-range high-speed wing-borne flight with the advantage of not requiring large specific take-off and landing infrastructure. This trend comprises both manned and unmanned aircraft.
Recent advances in electric propulsion and actuation components, the low-cost availability of high quality sensors and other enabling disruptive technologies and high-integrity computational power have opened a new window of opportunity that triggers a multitude of new developments worldwide.  

However, a lot of technical challenges arise which very often cannot be addressed by classical approaches:

  • Control inputs are no longer decoupled and highly non-affine, strong nonlinear effects of rigid propellers operated at unconventional flow conditions generate highly nonlinear effects just like propulsion-lifting surface-interactions along with challenging load conditions.

  • Dynamics of the propulsion system and structural elasticity get important roles for controllability of the new configurations.

  • The need that active closed loop control during take-off and landing suddenly requires fly-by-wire systems in new cost constrained market segments puts challenges on the architectural and systems engineering side.

  • Finally, the desire to operate such systems without qualified operators poses high demands on safe and robust automation.

In total, we are at the dawn of a new era in aerospace – for many decades, large companies with billions of public funding have dominated the scene, now the torch is passed to privately funded young and dynamic start-ups in the strive for the best ideas to win the new markets.

The students of today are those to turn these new visions to reality – shaping the new aerial mobility of tomorrow.


School of Transportation Science and Engineering