Gulfstream readies new sensor, actuator technologies

Washington DC
Source:
This story is sourced from Flight International
Subscribe today »

Gulfstream continues to pursue leading-edge technologies with a new series of sensor and actuator tests taking place on Gulfstream and NASA test aircraft.

The company revealed on 14 October that it had successfully tested a fly-by-wireless spoiler control on its G550 advanced flight-controls aircraft over Savannah on 18 September. In the sensor realm, NASA revealed that it is working with Gulfstream on a series of sensor-aided flying trials to determine if a pilot can fly a mission with no forward-looking windshield.

The work appears to be linked to company's closely held research into a supersonic business jet, a vehicle that could have little natural forward view for pilots.

Gulfstream's fly-by-wireless control system was tested along with three other traditional or modern systems during the 2h flight in mid-September - mechanical, fly-by-wire and fly-by-light, a fibreoptic-based system the company successfully demonstrated on a 75min flight in March.

The wireless system, developed by Houston-based systems engineering firm Invocon was used to control the G550s mid-spoilers, while FBL handled the inboard spoilers and FBW, the outboard spoilers. Pilots controlled the ailerons with the traditional mechanical links.

Pres Henne, Gulfstream senior vice-president for programmes, engineering and test, says pilots used all four control input methods simultaneously during the flight, noting "consistent handling characteristics regardless of the actuation control technology".

In addition to reducing the complexity and weight of an actuation system without sacrificing safety or reliability, Henne says wireless also reduces the number of failure scenarios and associated design drivers that an airframer must considered if an engine rotor bursts. As such, wireless is a likely candidate as a back-up to critical flight-control systems, assuming the potential of electrical interference can be dealt with.