Existing low-cost unmanned aerospace systems are unreliable, and engineers must blend reliability analysis with fault-tolerant control in novel ways. This dissertation introduces the University of Minnesota unmanned aerial vehicle flight research platform, a comprehensive simulation and flight test facility for reliability and fault-tolerance research. An industry-standard reliability assessment technique, the failure modes and effects analysis, is performed for an unmanned aircraft. Particular attention is afforded to the control surface and servo-actuation subsystem. Maintaining effector health is essential for safe flight; failures may lead to loss of control incidents. Failure likelihood, severity, and risk are qualitatively assessed for several effector failure modes. Design changes are recommended to improve aircraft reliability based on this analysis. Most notably, the control surfaces are split, providing independent actuation and dual-redundancy. The simulation models for control surface aerodynamic effects are updated to reflect the split surfaces using a first-principles geometric analysis.The failure modes and effects analysis is extended by using a high-fidelity nonlinear aircraft simulation. A trim state discovery is performed to identify the achievable steady, wings-level flight envelope of the healthy and damaged vehicle. Tolerance of elevator actuator failures is studied using familiar tools from linear systems analysis. This analysis reveals significant inherent performance limitations for candidate adaptive/reconfigurable control algorithms used for the vehicle. Moreover, it demonstrates how these tools can be applied in a design feedback loop to make safety-critical unmanned systems more reliable.Control surface impairments that do occur must be quickly and accurately detected. This dissertation also considers fault detection and identification for an unmanned aerial vehicle using model-based and model-free approaches and applies those algorithms to experimental faulted and unfaulted flight test data. Flight tests are conducted with actuator faults that affect the plant input and sensor faults that affect the vehicle state measurements. A model-based detection strategy is designed and uses robust linear filtering methods to reject exogenous disturbances, e.g. wind, while providing robustness to model variation. A data-driven algorithm is developed to operate exclusively on raw flight test data without physical model knowledge. The fault detection and identification performance of these complementary but different methods is compared. Together, enhanced reliability assessment and multi-pronged fault detection and identification techniques can help to bring about the next generation of reliable low-cost unmanned aircraft.