The Rochester, UK facility of BAE Systems has developed the world’s first control stick that tells a pilot, through feel, that the airplane is exceeding the design envelope. The stick provides discernably greater resistance when the pilot moves it beyond the limits by the aircraft’s flight control software. Unlike “carefree handling” systems, which automatically take control, the “active stick” system allows the pilot to make that final judgment of whether or not to push the envelope.
Developed originally for the Joint Strike Fighter program, BAE believes that the active stick has a huge potential in rotary-wing development. “Helicopter pilots can easily over-torque the gearbox if they pull up too much on the collective,” said a company official. The U.S. Army has realized the benefits, he added, and the remanufactured Sikorsky UH-60N will have an “active collective.” In Europe, BAE is eyeing the NH-90 as a potential application, although “this technology can be applied to any helicopter that has fly-by-wire,” the official added. &nbs