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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Flight demonstration technology for MuPAL-α

Based on the Dornier 228-202, JAXA’s research aircraft "MuPAL-α", a multi-purpose aviation laboratory, is a turbo prop Flying Test Bed (FTB). Equipped with a Fly-By-Wire (FBW) control system, "MuPAL-α" can simulate the motion of other aircraft. Demonstration of newly developed control algorithms can be also flight tested with MuPAL-α.

JAXA’s research aircraft "MuPAL-α"

Needs for flight demonstrations are expected to grow further in the future. These need include the establishment of flight demonstration technology required for the development of aircraft; the flight evaluation of newly developed guidance and control algorithms, sensors, actuators, and avionics; and the flight evaluation of aircraft operation technology developed for safer and more efficient operation. In fact, we receive various requests of flight demonstration from wider society including aircraft manufacturers, avionics manufacturers, airliners, research institutions. To meet these social needs, JAXA will keep improving flight demonstration technologies with the "MuPAL-α"

One example is a flight demonstration of an unmanned aircraft system. By adding a ground-based remote control function to the fly-by-wire (FBW) control system of a manned "MuPAL-α" research aircraft, it enables flight simulation and demonstration of an unmanned aircraft system in the manned airspace under current air traffic control. Thus, feasible solutions in integrating manned and unmanned airspace, which are separated under the current air traffic control system, are expected to be developed with the enhanced flight demonstration capability of "MuPAL-α". Technical improvement of the FBW control system itself, which is in operation for more than 13 years since its installment, is also being studied.