Flight testing of a wing with a higher proportion of electrical flight-control assemblies could be achieved by 2015 following the maiden flight of an Airbus A320 fitted with an electromechanical aileron actuator.

The actuator was installed on an A320 to act as the primary flight control for the aileron during a test flight in January.

Safran Group's Sagem division, which specialises in manufacturing flight-control assemblies, has assisted with producing the lightweight actuator as part of a project known as e-Wing.

"With this new type of actuator, aircraft manufacturers will eventually be able to replace all or part of the hydraulic systems that activate flight controls with lighter and simpler electrical systems," says Sagem.

The test flight lasted 2h 45min and Sagem says the event was the result of three years' research and technology work with Airbus and other partners.

"Based on the success of this latest test, a flight test of a 'more electric' wing should be possible by about 2015, including [such actuators] for the primary flight control of ailerons and spoilers in a near-production-standard configuration," it says.

Airbus has been participating in a programme called Covadis that includes demonstration of the potential and performance of electromechanical actuators for flight control.

Sagem says the actuator in the A320 test is a "highly integrated design", the small size of which enables its installation in narrow wing spaces. "It will also offer a very long service life to meet one of the main challenges facing tomorrow's jetliners," it adds.

Source: Flight International