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ILA 2008: Pilots get to grips with Liebherr sidestick

Liebherr Aerospace has brought its active control sidestick system to ILA. The system already features on Sukhoi’s Superjet and KAI’s T-50 trainer. According to Matthias Ludwig, Motion Control Systems, it is very much the future of flight controls.

Fly-by-wire controls now have the ability to give force feedback. And it is this ‘feeling’ through the controls that every pilot remembers from when they were learning to fly.

But the system is so much more than that. Because of the higher functionality this system gives the controls feeling.
It is highly customisable and able to offer a host of stick-feeling functions.

The system can also adjust the ‘heaviness’ felt through the stick.

When the opposing inputs are detected the computer can be set to lock the sticks and ignore both commands until a single command is given, or it can be told to give preference to one of the sticks. Shaking can be incorporated and for the purposes of training a ‘gate’ can be created. This means a limited area of movement is available with the stick before you hit heavy resistance. A strong push will take the stick ‘through the gate’.

“Having the gate puts a warning in to say ‘hey, you are leaving the flight envelope’,” says Ludwig. “The system is very complex, but because of the feedback the cables used are actually smaller and lighter than traditional fly-by-wire cables.

“Because the initial complexity level is fairly high adding extra functionality only requires small increases in complexity. It is redundant too - while in redundant mode it is not as comfortable, but it is easily able to get you home,” he adds.

“And it’s not just restricted to fixed-wing aircraft. We’ve already flown it on a DLR helicopter for collective control. The next step will be to look at the pedals and the yaw control,” explains Ludwig.


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