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12th May 2011, 4:14pm
High flying researchers land prestigious engineering prize
F16 Researchers from the University of Lincoln’s new School of Engineering have won a coveted industry prize for their paper examining the application of Artificial Intelligence techniques to the flight control system of the Lockheed Martin F16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

Professor Paul Stewart and Dr Jill Stewart from the School of Engineering, in collaboration with Dr Dan Gladwin from the University of Sheffield, have been awarded the Charles Sharpe Beecher Prize by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) for their 2010 paper: Multi-objective evolutionary–fuzzy augmented flight control for an F16 aircraft. The prize is awarded for the best paper on an aerospace subject published by the Institution in the previous year.

Dr Stewart said: “This is a prestigious award and it is a great achievement to be selected to receive it. What makes this achievement especially satisfying, however, is that it is for the very first paper from the new School. We have certainly started as we mean to continue.”

The paper examined, in particular, a modified controller for the F-16, a single-engined, supersonic, multi-role tactical aircraft. The F-16 was designed to be a cost-effective combat ‘workhorse’ which could perform various kinds of missions and maintain around-the-clock readiness. It is much smaller and lighter than its predecessors, but uses advanced aerodynamics and avionics, including the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire (RSS/FBW) flight control system, to achieve enhanced manoeuvre performance. The modified controller aims to enhance the performance of the flight controller to reduce pilot fatigue during extended combat flight manoeuvres.

Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:
“As this paper shows, engineers can help improve the lives of people from all walks of life. Long-term this project could help make a huge difference to pilots – improving the performance of supersonic jets and reducing the physical strain of flying for long periods of time.”

The Prize will be awarded at the Annual General Meeting and Awards Ceremony at the Institution’s London headquarters on 17 May 2011.

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