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Pilots Sidestick Controller

Technical Information

Catalogue No: C1640
Category: Flight Control
Object Type: Inceptor
Object Name: Pilots Sidestick Controller
Part No: 15-042-01
Serial No: 00003
Manufacturer: GEC-Marconi Avionics
Division: Flight Controls [FCD]
Platform(s): Boeing JSF
Year of Manufacture: 1999
Dimensions: Width (mm): 195
Height (mm): 470
Depth (mm): 500
Weight (g): 16,780
Location: Rack RAA04 [Main Store]

GEC-Marconi Avionics Limited
Cll 127C5034-103
Contract N00019-97-C-0038
Controller Assy. Active Side Stick
Part No. 15-042-01
Ser. No. 00003
Date 06/99
Cage K0656
Modification Record 1, 2, 3, 4
[handwritten marks]
MRB 570/3383
MRB 570/3339
MRF 570/04292
Wvr. 016
Wvr. 016
Dev. 016
Dev. 010
Dev. 015
Red Label
Nomenclature ASSCA
Part No. 127C5034-107
Change Description 520X
Qual Unit (Loaned) Assy. 127C5057
Not Cleared For Flight


BAE Systems developed an Active Linear Throttle and an Active Side Stick for the Lockheed Martin X-35 demonstrator, which was further developed into the F-35 Lightning II. The Throttle is located on the lefthand side of the cockpit and the Stick on the right. This is the Active Control Side Stick and at least three of these were made for this programme.

Active sticks and throttles, otherwise known as active control sidesticks or active inceptors, are the controls a pilot uses to fly the aircraft. Active controls replace the traditional springs and dampers of a passive control system with motors and gearboxes, which are then commanded by real-time software to provide intuitive tactile feedback that helps pilots control the aircraft and maintain a stable flight.  Decades ago, aircraft moved to digital fly-by-wire controls from mechanical controls, meaning much of the tactile feedback from pilot controls was lost. Active inceptors return that feedback to the pilot, within a completely electronic system, which also offers significant weight and volume savings over mechanical controls. By providing an indication of any impending structural or aerodynamic operating limits — such as excessive bank angle or stall — the active sticks improve a pilot’s awareness and ability to control the plane. Active inceptors provide force feedback directly into the pilot’s hand, in real time. This force feedback may take the form of various cues to warn pilots of impending flight envelope limits, which can mean the plane is being flown unsafely. It provides an intuitive means of giving immediate feedback to the pilot and links the controls across the cockpit, so each pilot can feel the forces and see the displacements the other is causing. Two important reasons for the development are the reduction in pilot workload and the potential for carefree handling and expanding the flight envelope

BAE Systems has been providing its active stick technology for fixed- and rotary-wing military aircraft for more than two decades. Early non-flightworthy systems were supplied for a Boeing programme for vehicle management systems integration technology for affordable life cycle costs (VITAL).This was a joint Boeing and US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency effort directed at an upgrade to the Apache Helicopter. Later flightworthy systems were supplied to both the X-35 and X-32 JSF contenders. A second generation of this technology was used on the F-35 and T-50.When certified for F-35, it became the first certified military active stick in the world. A third generation designs was used on the UH-60M helicopter and a fourth generation on the CH-53K

Active sticks are now being fitted to commercial aircraft and the Gulfstream G500 is the first commercial aircraft to feature BAE Systems’ active stick technology. The key feature in this application is to constrain the flight envelope to an entirely safe area but reducing costs is also important.

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