This paper focuses on designing and implementation of fractional order proportional integral (PIα) flight controller on a small fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It describes mainly the controller design and simulation studies. The basics of UAV flight control are introduced first with a special emphasis on small UAV platforms. Time domain system identification methods are tried on the UAV roll channel. A new fractional order PI controller design method is then provided based on the identified first order model. The fractional order PIα controller can outperform the traditional integer order PID controller because it has a larger memory and more candidate solutions to choose. The simulation results show the effectiveness of the proposed controller design strategy and the robustness of fractional order controller under conditions of wind gusts and various pay-loads.

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