What are active control sidesticks?

Active control sidesticks (ACS), often called “active sticks” or active inceptors, are flight-critical controls used by pilots to guide and control today’s fly-by-wire aircraft more efficiently and effectively.

Unlike passive controls, Active Sticks use tactile cueing – intuitive sensory feedback in response to hand and finger motions – giving pilots maximum situational awareness in their aircraft to reinforce stability and performance. These tactile cues are designed to give the pilot and co-pilot an improved physical "feel" for the aircraft's motions and aerodynamic limits.

Military aircraft first moved to digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight controls from mechanical controls many years ago, then commercial aircraft followed. One result was a loss of the tactile feedback pilots depend on as they hold their controls. They needed electronic controls that would return that tactilefeedback to the pilot, and that's what Active control sidesticks provide.

Acceptance and adoption of ACS systems have slowly increased as improvements to designs, control features, and reliability have proven successful. Leading commercial aircraft manufacturers have understandably so far been most open to adopting "active stick" designs that already have a proven record of safety, performance, and reliability in a variety of aviation platforms.

 


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