Analysis of accuracy characteristics, probabilistic characteristics and expert evaluations of aircraft by the pilots while in-flight refueling

Aeronautical and Space-Rocket Engineering

DOI: 10.34759/vst-2021-4-219-231


Tikhonov V. N.

Moscow Aviation Institute (National Research University), 4, Volokolamskoe shosse, Moscow, А-80, GSP-3, 125993, Russia



The article performs the analysis and definition of the in-flight refueling as a problem of the high-precision piloting, and considers refueling system of a «hose—cone—link rod». Statistical characteristics evaluation of the piloting process was performed based on experimental data obtained while full-scale and semi-natural experiments on the flight simulator employing various dynamic configurations. A widely known Neil-Smith database as well as the data obtained by the identification results in flight experiments with the Russian planes underlie the basis of the dynamic configurations structure.

The experiments were being performed with the TM-21 flight simulator at the Moscow Aviation Institute. The semi-natural model for the refueling imitation was structured so that the electro-hydraulic loading of the central control stick corresponds to the range of the steering levers loading of modern maneuverable aircraft as well as speed control characteristics. A totality of 263 experiments was performed with participation of six professional test pilots. The gross amount of runs was 897. Conditions of the experiments corresponded to the average values of flight speeds and altitudes.

The simulation system verification revealed rather high correlation coefficient value (k = 0.834) between the «simulation» and «real» ratings, which confirms the obtained results authenticity. Besides the pilots participating in the experiment, three more test pilots, highly experienced in the refueling flights, were being engaged additionally as experts to estimate the flight simulation adequacy. The pilots-experts stated the high level of the simulation congruency.

The following indicators were adopted as the basic quality indicators of the refueling performing and aircraft controllability characteristics:

  • by a particular experiment — the target accuracy characterized by the radius of deviation fr om the cone center at the instant its shear plane crossing, and subjective pilot estimation;
  • by a number of experiments — the relative frequency of hitting as the hitting probability estimation. The results of the experiments revealed that according to the expert-pilots esteems the piloting characteristics qualities are being correlated rather closely with the relative number of hits. The boundary of the first level of flying qualities (PR = 3.5) corresponds to the relative number of hits of about 60%, and the lower lim it of the second level of flying qualities (PR = 6.5) corresponds to the relative number of hitting of about 30%.

The obtained results are recommended to be employed for the requirements forming to the aircraft piloting characteristics at the in-flight refueling modes.


in-flight refueling, high-precision piloting, ground-based simulation, pilots’ ratings of the piloting process, contacting probability and accuracy assessment


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