Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Lucas Aerospace has launched development of an electric actuation system suitable for combat aircraft and large commercial transports, following successful completion of a 1,000h in-service test of "power by wire" on a US Air Force Lockheed C-141 Starlifter transport.

The so-called Electric Starlifter has Lucas-developed integrated actuation packages (IAPs) replacing the conventional hydraulic actuators on the ailerons. Each dual-channel IAP houses two electric-motor-driven hydraulic pumps which move the actuator.

The Electric Starlifter uses 7kW (9hp)IAPs. Steve Croke, director of technology at Lucas Aerospace Utica, says the company has begun development of a 20-30kWIAP aimed at the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and other applications requiring more power. The larger actuator will be demonstrated early in 1999, he says.

The 1,000h in-service test demonstrated the reliability and maintainability of the IAP, Croke says, with no removals in the final 400-500h of testing and a remove-and-replace time between four and 10 times faster that for the current hydraulic system.

A parallel 5 million-cycle endurance test, equivalent to a 30-year, 30,000h service life, has been completed without the need to replace seals or pumps or refill the small hydraulic-fluid reservoir in each IAP, Croke says. Predictions had indicated that seals would need to be replaced at 1-2 million cycles.

Having completed its 1,000h test, the Electric Starlifter visited Boeing in Seattle and Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, to be viewed by the rival JSF design teams.

Source: Flight International