Diamond Aircraft has tested on the DA42 what it considers the first fly-by-wire system for an aircraft in the general aviation category.
The four-axis fly-by-wire system was flown on the twin-engine aircraft as part of a European Union funded research project called small aircraft future avionics architecture (SAFAR), Diamond says.
The DA42 control system is designed to prevent pilots from accidentally overstressing the aerodynamic or structural characteristics of the aircraft, Diamond says. A digital computer interprets inputs by the pilot, and signals the control surfaces with the optimal movement.
Fly-by-wire technology is a critical step in Diamond's ultimate goal to introduce more sophisticated safety features in the DA42, including automatic take-off, flight and landing.
Airbus introduced fly-by-wire in commercial aircraft with the A320 in the late-1980s, and it has since been adapted for smaller aircraft, including the Bell 525 and the midsize Embraer Legacy 500.