Eric N. Johnson 

Lockheed Martin Professor of Avionics Integration
School of Aerospace Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology

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Short Biography (updated early 2014)

Eric N. Johnson is the Lockheed Martin Associate Professor of Avionics Integration in the School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, and Director of the UAV Research Facility.  He is an Aerospace Engineer and Instrument-Rated Pilot, experienced in: guidance/navigation/control systems, aerodynamics, stability & control, flight simulation (including dynamic modeling and scene generation), aerospace software, flight test, and human factors. 


Research Flight Testing at the UAVRF:  (left to right) Fault tolerant control, vision-based formation flight, sling loads, vision-based obstacle avoidance, laser-aided inertial navigation

His research interests include: fault tolerant estimation and control theory; and digital avionics system design and integration.  He performs research sponsored by a variety of sources, including: The National Science Foundation , AFOSR , DARPA , NASA , AFRL/VACA , NIST, Sikorsky, and Lockheed Martin .  Major research programs have included the Active-Vision Control Systems MURI and the Software Enabled Control program, as well as the development of several research Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Systems.  A majority of this research is conducted in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Research Facility at Georgia Tech.  Highlights of their work has been neural network adaptive flight control of a large number of different aircraft, vision-based guidance/navigation/control (including GPS-denied operations), autonomous aggressive maneuvering, the first air-launch of a hovering aircraft, and automatic flight of an airplane all the way to zero airspeed and back to forward flight.

GTMax    GTMax Research UAV (Yamaha RMAX)

     Research UAV Operations, showing Operator Interface on Right

 Helispy/GTSpy Research UAV          First Air Launch of a Hovering Aircraft (GTSpy Launched from GTMax)

  John Christian, Aerospace Engineering Senior, Testing a Microgravity Experiment on a NASA KC-135A in 2003

 Adaptive Flight, Inc. Hornet Micro D

He is a co-founder of Adaptive Flight, Inc.; which has commercialized technology developed at Georgia Tech.  This includes autopilots and turn-key unmanned aircraft systems. 

  2008 Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics Team, 1st Place

Winning Entry in the 2001 Aerial Robotics Competition

He is also the faculty advisor of the Georgia Tech Aerial Robotics (GTAR) team, which competes in the AUVSI Aerial Robotics Competition, the leading entry in 2001-2003, 2008, and 2010.  

  X-33 technology demonstrator

He has a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech .  His thesis work was in the area of non-linear adaptive flight control applied to the NASA/Lockheed-Martin X-33.

C-5 Avionics Modernization Program main instrument panel (Proposed)

Prior to becoming an Assistant Professor at Georgia Tech, Eric Johnson was a Senior Engineer at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company (Marietta, GA) in the Advanced Design Department, which primarily does airplane conceptual and preliminary design.  Projects included: C-5 Avionics Modernization Program, Real-Time Information in the Cockpit (RTIC), Common Support Aircraft, and simulator and flight test work on the C-130J.  He has also supported the Southern Polytechnic Aerial Robotics Team with flight control system development as an industry advisor.

 Lockheed C-130J flight deck

 Kistler K-1 (Graphic)

He has also worked in the Simulation Laboratory at The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory , where he did primarily vehicle system simulation and system integration work. He was involved in a wide variety of projects, including: NMRS mine-detecting unmanned underwater vehicle, Draper Small Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (DSAAV), ASDS mini-submarine, AH-1 Cobra, A-10, ERGM (guided munition), Hunter UAV, and Kistler K-1 re-usable launch vehicle. He received two Recognition Awards, one for the victory of the MIT/BU/Draper team at the 1996 AUVSI Aerial Robotics Competition . They made a 6 ft. helicopter fly itself using an integrated GPS/INS/Sonar/Compass navigation system and added a working image processing subsystem in less than 6 months. 

DSAAV, small autonomous helicopter and winner of the 1996 AUVSI Aerial Robotics Competition

 Snapshot of DSAAV simulator scene generation


B777 navigation display schematic, the white diamond represents another aircraft (left); and a display from a typical ASL experiment (right)

Situation display for multi-agent simulation

Prior to this, he worked as a graduate research assistant at MIT , in the Aeronautical Systems Laboratory (ASL) .  He earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics .  While there, he designed and implemented a multi-agent simulation architecture, now used for human factors experiments and human centered design analysis.  This system is ideal for the testing of traffic displays and alerting systems.   In his spare time, he did the dynamic models, AI, and graphics objects for a shareware WWI-era combat flight simulator.  But more importantly, he met his future wife Amy Pritchett while at MIT.  Their son Elliot was born in May of 2004. 


He also worked as a graduate research assistant at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia for two years, in the Aircraft Guidance and Control Branch (since reorganized).  He assisted in the development of a research lateral-directional flight control system for the NASA F-18 HARV. He worked with non-linear simulations (batch and real-time piloted) and did MIMO control system synthesis/robustness analysis. His assistantship was through the Joint Institute for the Advancement of Flight Sciences - resulting in a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics from The George Washington University .  He also obtained Private Pilot's License while flying from Langley AFB - routinely having the unusual experience of being in a Cessna 152 sharing the airspace with F-15s.  He also did quite a bit of sailing in his sailboat on the James River.

 A Boeing HSCT design tested at Kirsten Wind Tunnel

Prior to this, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering from the University of Washington in less than three years. Also during that time, he worked at the University of Washington Aeronautical Laboratory (Kirsten Wind Tunnel, 8x12 ft test section). He was the data reduction crew chief for the final six months, managing 9 undergraduate students.  His duties included wind tunnel data reduction, test planning, and wind tunnel operations. The projects included: Boeing projects (757, 767, 777, HSCT), cars/trucks, and research projects.

Eric flying with his friend Scott Riddell in about 1984 (Eric is hooking up the tow line)  

Eric went to Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, Oregon. While in High School, He first got into aviation through sailplane flying.  He soloed at age 14 while flying with Aviation Explorer Post 233.