Contact Us:

David Throckmorton
Vice President of Research

James Closs
Director of Research Program Development

Carly Bosco
Director of NASA Langley Programs

Peter McHugh
Director of FAA Programs

Samantha Austin
Program Manager, Advanced Composites Consortium Integration

Peter Copp

Peter Copp bg

Tel: (757)864-8409


Research Interests

  • Active rotorcraft blades
  • Swashplateless rotorcraft
  • Structural motion sensors
  • Scaled rotorcraft testing


  • Ph.D. (2012), Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland with advisor Inderjit Chopra
  • B.S. (2004), Aerospace Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
  • B.A. (2002), Philosophy, Wheaton College


Current Research

  • Military operations, earthquake relief in Nepal and Ebola aid in Liberia have highlighted how indispensable rotorcraft are. This has led to a renewed push to increase future rotorcraft speed and range. Peter is part of a unique joint Army-NASA team that designs and carries out testing of state-of-the-art rotorcraft technologies on scaled models. The team integrates many directorates into its testing, thus taking full advantage of the expertise at Langley Research Center. This includes flow visualization (PIV, shadowgraph, LDV) and advanced manufacturing methods in both metal and composites. The team comes up with its own innovations while also providing a testing base for these other groups to test out their ideas. The small size allows the team to respond to short term customer concerns as they arise.


  • Recent work in active flow control has demonstrated significantly reduced fuselage drag and rotor download. Flow visualization showed that injecting momentum into the flow around the fuselage did not stop the flow from separating, but instead formed a virtual boat fairing so the flow sees a streamlined structure.


  • Faster rotorcraft will require monitoring of the blade deformations over the entire span. This requires new sensing and means to transfer large amounts of data from the rotating blade to the fixed frame. With the team’s ability to measure small blade deflections in the wind tunnel, validation of a new sensor to measure blade deformations in-flight will begin. Also, an optical slip-ring will vastly increase the data that can be collected from the rotating blades.



  • Gupta, N. and Peter Copp and Inderjit Chopra. “Development of a Test-bed for Closed-loop MAV Flight Control”, AHS International Specialists’ Meeting on Unmanned Rotorcraft, Chandler, AZ, 2007.
  • Copp, P. and Inderjit Chopra. “Continued Development of a Mach Scale Swashplateless Rotor with Integrated Trailing Edge Flaps”, American Helicopter Society 64th Annual Forum, Montreal, Canada, 2008.
  • Copp, P. and Inderjit Chopra. “Mach Scale Swashplateless Rotor Using Piezobender-Actuated Trailing Edge Flaps for Primary Control”, 21st International Conference on Adaptive Structures and Technologies (ICAST), University Park, PA, 2010.
  • Saxena, A., Copp, P. and Inderjit Chopra. “Piezobender and Brushless DC Motor as On-Blade Actuators for Trailing Edge Flaps on Mach Scale Rotor for Primary Control”, 23rd International Conference on Adaptive Structures and Technologies (ICAST), Nanjing, China, 2012.
  • Copp, P. “In-flight Rotorcraft Blade Elastic Twist Sensor”, Journal of Smart Materials and Structures. Vol. 23, No. 4, April 2014.



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