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Thomas Lombaerts

Since April 2012, Thomas is a visiting researcher at the ACES group, seconded from the German Aerospace Center DLR.


Ph.D. Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, 2010
M.Sc. Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, 2004
B.Sc. Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, 2001

Research interests

  • Aircraft state estimation and Kalman filtering
  • Aerodynamic model identification: structure selection and parameter identification, fault detection
  • Adaptive control and nonlinear dynamic inversion, Pseudo Control Hedging
  • Control Allocation
  • Handling qualities and pilot workload analysis

Research experience

Research Fellow at German Aerospace Center DLR

Development of Methods and Tools for Fault Tolerant Flight Control:

  • Design and flight testing of nonlinear manual flight control laws on ATTAS laboratory aircraft
  • Design and flight testing of nonlinear autopilot flight control laws on ATTAS laboratory aircraft
  • Aircraft model identification of UAV
  • Guest lecturer at Technische Universität München

Research project

Adaptive Flight Control for Advanced Aircraft Concepts

Worldwide aviation traffic is predicted to increase manifold, putting challenges on the safety and environmental impact of air transport. This will require advanced aircraft concepts. Advances in the development of nonlinear and adaptive control theory turn these control algorithms into enabling technologies for these advanced aircraft concepts. Two important examples are fault tolerant and next generation "green” aircraft. In the former category, a Fault Tolerant Flight System (FTFS) is capable to detect and adapt to changes in the aircraft behavior. For next generation "green” aircraft to enforce energy efficiency and environmental compatibility (fuel consumption, emissions and noise), non-conventional strategies are required to control them.

Therefore, this project will focus on some key aspects of reconfigurable flight systems for these new concepts. In his PhD, the researcher has already focused on system identification and adaptive control. However, flight envelope estimation and flight path prediction, to be considered in this research, are other crucial aspects which need to be included in the global setup of technological solutions for safety. This approach differs from others since it is physically inspired. This more transparent approach allows interpreting data in each step, and it is assumed that these physical models based upon flight dynamics theory will therefore facilitate certification for future real life applications.

This research is supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (IOF) within the 7th European Community Framework Program.

The results of this research project contribute to the VSST project (Vehicle Safety Systems Technologies).


Previous journal publications:

  • Lombaerts, T.J.J., H.O. Huisman, Q.P. Chu, J.A. Mulder, and D.A. Joosten; Nonlinear Reconfiguring Flight Control based on Online Physical Model Identification. AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 32(3):727-748, 2009. DOI: 10.2514/1.40788
  • Lombaerts, T.J.J., M.H. Smaili, O. Stroosma, Q.P. Chu, J.A. Mulder, and D.A. Joosten; Piloted Simulator Evaluation Results of New Fault-Tolerant Flight Control Algorithm. AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 32(6):1747-1765, 2009. DOI: 10.2514/1.44280
  • Lombaerts, T.J.J., E.R. Van Oort, Q.P. Chu, J.A. Mulder and D.A. Joosten; On-Line Aerodynamic Model Structure Selection and Parameter Estimation for Fault Tolerant Control. AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 33(3):707-723, 2010. DOI: 10.2514/1.47256
  • Thomas Lombaerts, Ping Chu, Jan Albert (Bob) Mulder, Diederick Joosten; Modular Flight Control Reconfiguration Design and Simulation. Invited for a special Safeprocess '09 section in Control Engineering Practice, Elsevier, 19(6):540-554, 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.conengprac.2010.12.008
  • Thomas Lombaerts, Gertjan Looye, Ping Chu, Jan Albert (Bob) Mulder, Design and Simulation of Fault Tolerant Flight Control based on a Physical Approach. Aerospace Sciences and Technology, Elsevier, 23(1):151-171, 2012. DOI: 10.1016/j.ast.2011.07.004


  • Edwards, C., Lombaerts, T. J. J., & Smaili, M. H. (2010). Fault tolerant control — A benchmark challenge. In Lecture Notes in Control and Information Sciences, Vol. 399. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg; ISBN: 978-3-642-11689-6, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-11690-2

Book chapters:

  • Thomas Lombaerts, Michiel van Schravendijk, Ping Chu and Jan Albert Mulder. Adaptive Nonlinear Flight Control and Control Allocation for Failure Resilience. In: Advances in Aerospace Guidance, Navigation and Control, Edited by Florian Holzapfel, Stephan Theil. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 2011; ISBN 978-3-642-19816-8. Pages 41 – 53. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-19817-5_4
  • Thomas Lombaerts and Gertjan Looye. Design and Flight Testing of Nonlinear Autoflight Control Laws Incorporating Direct Lift Control. In: Advances in Aerospace Guidance, Navigation and Control, Edited by Chu Q., Mulder B., Choukroun D., Van Kampen E.-J., De Visser C. and Looye G. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 2013; ISBN 978-3-642-38253-6. Pages 549 – 568. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-38253-6_32

Contact details

Visiting researcher
Intelligent Systems Division
Ames Research Center
Mail Stop 269-1
Moffett Field, CA 94035

Phone: 650-604-6007
Email: Thomas.Lombaerts at

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