Military Embedded Systems

Autonomous flight technology demonstrated by Collins Aerospace and Sikorsky at Paris Air Show

News

June 19, 2019

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Photo: Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company

PARIS AIR SHOW. Collins Aerospace Systems (a unit of United Technologies) and Sikorsky (a Lockheed Martin company) demonstrated fly-by-wire technology that enables autonomous flight for rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

The new triple-redundant system, according to information from Collins Aerospace,  replaces a mechanical system of rods and pulleys with electromechanical actuators controlled by an enhanced flight-control computer. Collins Aerospace and Sikorsky engineers designed what they call this “jam-free” system with purely magnetic coupling, thereby eliminating the need for gearing, ball screws or clutches, marking the first time such a system has been used in a safety-critical aerospace application.

The fly-by-wire solution enables much of the logic that would typically reside within the primary fligh- control computer to now reside externally in its own control module or the actuator itself, which engineers say further simplifies the system architecture and increases reliability. Additionally, say Collins Aerospace officials, the system can be installed without modifying the hydraulic system or hydraulic actuator, removing the need for requalification of the hydraulic system.

Read more about the Sikorsky technology here.