Dr. Joseph Horn, Pennsylvania State University

Penn State Research on Rotorcraft ship Launch and Recovery: From Advanced Simulations to Flight Experiments
April 1, 2022


Rotorcraft shipboard launch and recovery (L&R) operations present some of the most challenging piloting tasks. Pilots must deal with turbulent airwakes behind the ship superstructure, moving ship decks in high sea states, adverse weather, limited visibility, and operation in confined environments. These conditions can present serious safety issues, as piloting tasks can cause excessive pilot workload or force the rotorcraft to operate near power and control margin limits. Meanwhile, the physics of the coupled dynamics and aerodynamics of the rotorcraft /ship environment presents one of the most complex technical problems to aerospace researchers (as evidenced by the fact that it has been an active research area for over 25 years!). This seminar presents a summary of several past and ongoing research programs related to rotorcraft shipboard L&R, with specific focus on modeling & simulation tools, flight control design methodologies, and design of fully autonomous shipboard L&R systems. Projects include the integration of CFD airwake models with rotorcraft flight dynamics simulations, handling qualities analysis of advanced response types for piloted ship landings, in-flight estimation of wind and airwake velocities, and design of fully autonomous ship landing controllers. The research combines both piloted simulation studies as well as flight experiments with small-scale multi-rotor drones.


Dr. Joseph Horn

Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Penn State University. He conducts teaching and research in the areas of flight dynamics, modeling & simulation, controls, handling qualities, and autonomy with emphasis on rotary-wing vehicle applications. Dr. Horn received his Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1999 and has five years of experience in the rotorcraft industry in addition to his 21 years at Penn State. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA and received the 2017 AIAA de Florez Award for Flight Simulation. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal analysis of the American Helicopter Society from 2016 to 2019, and he is currently the Deputy Technical Director of Aeromechanics for the Vertical Flight Society.