Professional and Continuing Education
Missouri University of
Science and Technology
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216 Centennial Hall
Rolla, MO 65409-1560
Phone: 573-341-6222
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Aircraft Loss of Control: Future Research and Technology Directions

Speaker: Dr. Christine Belcastro, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Wednesday, May 21, 2014  |  2:00 PM CDT


Aircraft loss of control is a leading cause of fatal accidents across all transport airplane and operational classes.1,2  Aircraft loss-of-control (LOC) accidents are highly complex in that they can result from numerous causal and contributing factors acting alone or (more often) in combination. Hence, there is no single intervention strategy to prevent these accidents. This presentation will define LOC as a dynamics and control problem3, summarize LOC accident analysis results4,5, and discuss current NASA research that supports a holistic approach6 for significantly reducing aircraft LOC accidents for current and future aircraft.  The approach includes onboard systems technologies for LOC prevention and recovery7, as well as a parallel effort for their validation8,9,10. The onboard systems technologies provide improved situational awareness, guidance, and control under realistic LOC hazards, and include: hazards effects detection and mitigation; upset detection, prevention and recovery; and multiple hazards mitigation.  Validation technologies include analytical, simulation, and experimental methods, tools and testbeds as well as the development of a comprehensive set of realistic LOC test scenarios. Future research directions will also be discussed.
Christine M. Belcastro received the Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in May 1980, and the Master of Engineering Degree in May 1986, both from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. She received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering in December 1994 from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Belcastro has been a research engineer at the Langley Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) since June 1980. She is a Senior Research Engineer and Project Scientist for Assuring Safe and Effective Aircraft Control under Hazardous Conditions within the Vehicle Systems Safety Technologies (VSST) Project of NASA’s Aviation Safety Program (AvSP). Her research interests include resilient aircraft control for multiple hazards mitigation, vehicle upset prevention and recovery, real-time aircraft flight safety assessment and assurance, multidisciplinary modeling of vehicle dynamics under highly nonlinear and adverse conditions, analysis of uncertain nonlinear systems under adverse conditions, and the validation of complex integrated systems that provide real-time prediction, detection, identification, and mitigation of hazardous conditions and their implications for flight critical aircraft applications.
“Statistical Summary of Commercial Jet Airplane Accidents, Worldwide Operations, 1959-2011”, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, July 2012. URL:

2 Evans, Joni K., “An Examination of In Flight Loss of Control Events During 1988–2004”, Alliant Techsystems, Inc., NASA Langley Research Center, Contract No.: TEAMS:NNL07AM99T/R1C0, Task No. 5.2, 2007.

3 Wilborn, J. E. and Foster, J. V., “Defining Commercial Aircraft Loss-of-Control: a Quantitative Approach,” AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference  and Exhibit, AIAA, Providence, Rhode Island, 16-19 August 2004

4 Belcastro, Christine M. and Foster, John V.: Aircraft Loss-of-Control Accident Analysis; AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, Toronto, August 2-5, 2010

5 Belcastro, Christine M., Groff, Loren, Newman, Richard L., Foster, John V., Crider, Dennis A., Klyde, David H., and Huston, A. McCall, “Preliminary Analysis of Aircraft Loss of Control Accidents: Worst Case Precursor Combinations and Temporal Sequencing”, AIAA Conference on Guidance, Navigation, and Control, SciTech Forum, National Harbor, Maryland, January 2014.

6 Belcastro, Christine M. and Jacobson, Steven: Future Integrated Systems Concept for Preventing Aircraft Loss-of-Control Accidents; AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, Toronto, August 2-5, 2010.

7 Belcastro, Christine M., “Loss of Control Prevention and Recovery: Onboard Guidance, Control, and Systems Technologies,” AIAA Conference on Guidance, Navigation and Control, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2012.

8 Belcastro, Christine M.: Validation and Verification of Future Integrated Safety-Critical Systems Operating under Off-Nominal Conditions; AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference, Toronto, 2010.

9 Belcastro, Christine M., “Validation of Safety-Critical Systems for Aircraft Loss-of-Control Prevention and Recovery,” AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2012.

10 Belcastro, Christine M., Groff, Loren, Newman, Richard L., Foster, John V., Crider, Dennis A., Klyde, David H., and Huston, A. McCall, “Aircraft Loss of Control Analysis and Test Scenarios for Technology Development and Validation”, NASA Technical Paper(To be submitted in 2014)