Gulfstream’s G500 large-cabin business jet will be the first fly-by-wire civil aircraft with active control sidesticks when it enters service as expected next year, followed closely by its sister jet, the G600. BAE Systems (Booth C11646), which is supplying the sidestick controllers, or “inceptors,” is demonstrating their look and feel on a new simulator the company brought to NBAA 2017.
BAE claims to be the world’s only provider of flight-standard, active inceptors. Its systems are flying on the Korea Aerospace Industries T-50 Golden Eagle military jet trainer, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II multirole fighter, Embraer’s new KC-390 military transport and the Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter now undergoing flight testing.
Early in the development process, BAE “was very pleased” to learn that Gulfstream wanted active control sidesticks for the Symmetry flight deck of the G500/600, said Adam Taylor, business development and engineering capability director for active inceptors. “We believe this is the ultimate in situational awareness,” he told a crowd gathered at BAE’s booth on Tuesday.
The active control sidesticks are electronically linked between pilot stations and provide both pilots with simultaneous, tactile and visual feedback to control inputs. They are active in that dual redundant motors drive their movement in each axis; in passive mode, tactile feedback comes from dampers and springs. The active inceptors can be programmed by aircraft manufacturers to various parameters.
Active control sidesticks help improve aircraft handling qualities, reduce pilot workload and free up screen space on the instrument panel, said Colin Miller, Gulfstream vice president of flight operations. Maintaining handling quality was key to Gulfstream’s decision to incorporate them on the Symmetry flight deck, added Miller, a former U.S. Air Force test pilot.
The 10 G500s and G600s built for the flight-test campaign are all now flying, Miller said, with active control sidesticks racking up 5,000 hours in test.