At Aviation Week’s 60th Annual Laureate Awards earlier this month, BAE Systems and Gulfstream were joint winners in the Technology category, for the first commercial active side-stick controller, to be certified in the G500 and G600 business jets. The honor comes with hefty praise for the electronic linking of the sticks.
“The new active side sticks provide such realistic tactile and visual feedback that they appear to be mechanically linked,” says Fred George, Aviation Week’s aircraft evaluation editor after flying the G500 flight-test aircraft in October 2016. “From the immediacy and precision of their actions, they could well have been mechanically connected rather than electronically linked.”
Gulfstream began evaluation of our active side stick technology in the 2008 timeframe. Once it had integrated our sticks into its simulator, the company invited its customers to experience the tactile cueing and got very positive feedback. This then led to it being incorporated in the design of the ‘Symmetry Flight Deck” for its next generation of business jets, the G500 and G600. The G500 is on a path to receive FAA certification by the end of the year.
“This award is truly an honor for BAE Systems, and I accept it on behalf of the technologists and engineers who created this game-changing product,” said Dr. Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems, while accepting the award. “Active sticks will make aviation safer and flying more enjoyable for the pilots. We are also honored to have enabled the cockpit of the future with our customers at Gulfstream.”
Active sticks provide force feedback directly to the pilot’s hand. The force feedback is intuitive, programmed to help the pilot control the aircraft and maintain stable flight. It also provides an indication to the pilot of impending aerodynamic operating limits — thereby improving the pilot’s awareness and ability to control the plane. Electronic linking of the two control sticks in the cockpit allows each pilot to feel the forces and see the displacements the other is causing.