Gulfstream this year could take fly-by-wire to a new level by throwing out the wire. In addition to its tests with fly-by-light control, the Savannah, Georgia-based aircraft maker has been experimenting with a system that will use a wireless channel or channels to pass data back and forth to a spoiler actuator on the company's G550 advanced flight-controls testbed.
Pres Henne, senior vice-president of programmes, engineering and test, told Flight International that a key benefit of wireless control, beside the obvious savings in weight, is the reduction in failure scenarios and associated design drivers that must be considered if an engine rotor bursts.
While wireless control may not be applicable as a primary means of control, at least in the near term, Henne says it may prove to be beneficial as a back-up control mode. In addition to electrical interference concerns, wireless design issues include finding ways to power receivers and transmitters for the actuators.