Gulfstream Sees the Light

 - March 20, 2008, 10:53 AM

On the heels of launching the fastest, longest-range large-cabin jet–the G650–Gulfstream announced this morning that it successfully flew a GV testbed fitted with a fiber-optic “fly by light” (FBL) control system late last month. The FBL technology that is being demonstrated on the testbed is actually a generation beyond the fly-by-wire system developed for the new G650 that was announced last Thursday. During the inaugural 75-minute flight with the FBL system, a fiber-optic harness transferred pilot control input from a flight control computer to spoilers on the wing. According to Gulfstream, the FBL technology provides “significant” weight savings over fly-by-wire systems by streamlining a “bulky wire bundle into just four fiber-optic cables.” Further, the FBL system enhances safety by transmitting a redundant signal, an inherent feature of the fiber-optic system that would require a second wire bundle for a FBW system to match, the company said. So far, the FBL testbed has made two flights and logged 1.8 hours. A Gulfstream spokesman said the FBL system could be commercially available in less than 10 years.