The Great Planes Avistar Elite is a commercially available radio model aircraft for flight training purposes. The aircraft comes partially pre-built in an "Almost-Ready-to-Fly" (ARF) form, which requires 6-12 hours of final assembly. Additionally, has a balsa and plywood built-up structure that is very resilient. Due to the aforementioned reasons, it has often been used as a testbed aircraft for various research activities.
The airframe was constructed mainly following manufacturer recommendations with the exception of the propulsion system change and some small improvements to the control surface actuator linkages. The aircraft was originally designed to use an internal combustion gasoline engine, however, the aircraft was adapted to use an electric propulsion system as it provides near constant performance, increased reliability, and low vibrations. Aircraft specifications can be found in Specifications .
The aircraft was instrumented with an Al Volo FC+DAQ flight control and data acquisition system. The system operates at 400~Hz and integrates with a 9 degree-of-freedom (9-DOF) XSens MTi-G-710IMU with a GPS receiver. A pitot-static probe was be installed on left wing tip. The flight control commands were recorded by measuring the pulse width modulation (PWM) signals sent to the servos. The propulsion system information was logged by FC+DAQ through an interfaces with the Castle Creations ESC. Using the sensors, the system was able to log and transmit: 3D linear and angular accelerations, velocities, and position along with GPS location; pitot-static probe airspeed; 3D magnetic field strength and heading; control surface deflections; and motor voltage, current, RPM, and power. Specifications for the instrumentation can be found in Specifications .
Flight testing was performed autonomously with the aircraf being flown through a predetermined set of manuevers using the Flight Testing Automation Tool outlined in Dantsker, Yu, Vahora, and Caccamo 2019. These manuevers were performed under the direction a flight coordinator while being monitored by a safety pilot.