FRAME-Lab - Fixed and Rotary-wing Aircraft Multidisciplinary Eng.


Currently, the group is working at several projects that focus on rotorcraft. The first one is a consequence of the success of the GARTEUR AG-16 activity, that led the participants to a successful FP7 European project, ARISTOTEL ↗ (, which investigated Rotorcraft Pilot Coupling and defined guidelines and methods for designing RPC-free aircraft. This activity brought significant development in the area of biomechanical and behavioral modeling of pilots and its integration in the aeroservoelastic simulation of aircraft and rotorcraft. This field of activity remains extremely active at FRAME-Lab, in cooperation with industries, research centers, universities and operators, to create awareness on the problem and provide support for its mitigation and solution.
Design methods for the investigation of innovative cyclocopter configurations are applied in the FP7 project CROP, exploiting knowledge gathered and capabilities developed in the US Army MAST-CTA project.
The research on novel investigation methods for the stability analysis of dynamic systems lead to the development of a new framework based on the robust control theory. This method has been used for the analysis of rotorcraft ground and air resonance problems and for RPC stability problems.
The Investigation of chiral structural topologies for the realization of morphing aerodynamic surfaces has been developed. Innovative solutions to increase the efficiency of rotorcraft are investigated in the FARB project Shape-It, where variable camber helicopter blades are investigated. In this field a research activity on the optimization of the shape of the elastic rotor blades during each rotor turn to improve the rotorcraft performance is currently developed in collaboration with prof. Pietro Congedo at INRIA Bordeaux, France.
Research on in-flight icing prediction and control are currently being carried out in collaboration with Alenia Aermacchi, McGills University, the University of Bergamo and the University of Trento. These studies led to the development of the novel icing prediction software PoliMIce.
Virtual Sensing technologies are at the core of a series of activities aimed at gathering the capability to reconstruct shape, stresses and load distributions from indirect measurements. An activity supported by US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, in cooperation with Oregon State University, led to the capability to reconstruct shape and pressure distribution on dynamically loaded membranes. Subsequent activity on real-time rotorcraft blades shape reconstruction from strain measurements was performed in cooperation with Roma Tre University. Its continuation, with the support of Siemens, KU Leuven and VLAIO, focuses on the use of innovative fiber optic sensors and the development of novel algorithms.
FRAME-Lab plays a pivotal role in the inter-departmental project COMFORT, in cooperation with Leonardo Helicopters, which focuses on the investigation of means for helicopter vibration reduction. FRAME-Lab coordinates the project, provides the comprehensive aeroservoelastic modeling of the vehicle, the integration with passive and active vibration alleviation devices, and the related control systems, investigates the vibration effects on vehicle and occupants, developing ad-hoc metrics, and conceives, designs, develops and tests some of the devices.
NITROS ↗ ( is a successful European Joint Doctorate (“Marie Curie”) initiative on rotorcraft safety, coordinated by FRAME-Lab. 12 joung researchers in 4 leading European Universities investigate key aspects of rotorcraft safety, sharing their activity through a Summer School that takes place every year. Of them, 11 work with Politecnico di Milano under double degree agreements.
FRAME-Lab coordinates the Clean Sky 2 project RoCS – Rotorcraft Certification by Simulation, a project that investigates and develops procedures to support certification of next generation rotorcraft by piloted flight simulation.
The expertise gathered through several years of activity by FRAME-Lab, with continuous cooperation with NASA, US Army, and within several EC FP7 projects about tiltrotor aeroelastic stability investigation granted the participation in the Clean Sky 2 project ATTILA ↗ ( The projects aims at designing, manufacturing and testing in NASA's Transonic Dynamics wind Tunnel an aeroelastically scaled model of the next generation civil tiltrotor.


Future plans will focus on the development of genuinely multidisciplinary methodologies for the conceptual design of rotorcraft system. The aim is to introduce in the conceptual design phase more sophisticated models and aspects usually neglected at this stage, such as aeroelasticity, pilot modeling and flight control systems, that may have a significant role in performances, stability and handling qualities of the final vehicle. On this subject we proposed the creation of an exploratory group to the consortium GARTEUR, and started a cooperation with NASA Ames, based on the use and extension of the NDARC rotorcraft sizing code.
A work on the design of a novel gurney flap configuration to improve rotorcraft performances is under development in collaboration with the Rotorcraft Aerodynamic Laboratory.
Currently several contacts are ongoing with the University of Bristol and TUD to set up a research program on morphing rotorcraft blades. On the same subject, the collaboration with the research group at INRIA Bordeax, France is expected to lead to important results on shape optimization of morphing blades.
Finally, a collaboration with the Research Group of Prof. W Habashi at McGill University is starting on the investigation of rotorcraft performance in icing conditions.


  • PE7-9 Man-machine-interfaces
  • PE7-4 Systems engineering, sensorics, actorics, automation
  • PE7-1 Control Engineering
  • PE8-1 Aerospace Engineering


  • Rotary-wing aircraft
  • Multidisciplinary analysis

Research projects