Flight Control The Collection
This category covers a wide range of systems such as Fly by Wire, Auto-Pilot, Auto-Throttle, Flight Management and Energy Management.
• Fly-by-Wire only implies an electrically-signalled control system; however, it is generally used in the sense of computer-configured controls. This is where a computer system is interposed between the operator's controls and the aircraft flight control surfaces' actuators; modifying the pilot's inputs in accordance with software based models and the sensed aircraft motion. This can be used to impart stability to inherently unstable aircraft to deliver controllablity and high agility.
• Auto-Pilots relieve the pilot of the need to fly the aircraft continually and, as well as basic modes such as height and heading hold, it can give very precise control for automatic landing and, for military aircraft, terrain following.
• Auto-Throttles provide a closed loop that controls engine thrust to maintain a demanded airspeed.
• Flight Management Systems can vary considerably in complexity but may provide flight guidance with lateral and vertical control of the flight path. They may monitor the flight envelope to optimise the speed and fuel burn and allow for flight planning .
• Energy Management Systems are essentially a Flight Management System for military aircraft and used to optimise missions with real time planning.
All the above require control devices for the pilot's control inputs (inceptors and control panels) and actuators to operate the aircraft's flight control surfaces. The complexity and weight of mechanical flight control systems increases considerably with the size and performance of the aircraft. Hydraulic, electrical and electro-hydraulic power systems have overcome these limitations.