August 13, 2019
Step onto an aircraft and the chances are good that BAE Systems developed the electronics that enabled its flight. From controlling the aircraft to keeping its engine running at peak performance, BAE Systems moves the world by serving more than two million passengers each day. In fact, every second of everyday a plane safely takes off and lands because of our products.
BAE Systems introduced fly-by-wire technology to military aircraft over four decades ago. In fact, both the F-16 and the F-18 flew in 1976 with our systems. Just five years later, we introduced fly-by-wire on a commercial aircraft, the A310. These systems receive inputs from the pilot and command the actuators to move the surfaces accordingly.
Our active inceptors – ‘active sticks’ – provide intuitive tactile feedback that helps pilots control the aircraft and maintain a stable flight. While our innovation started with military aircraft more than 25 years ago, we recently became the first to integrate the same technology on a commercial aircraft with Gulfstream’s G500. These sticks are the world’s first certified commercial active inceptors and earned us, along with Gulfstream, the 2017 Aviation Week Technology Laureate Award.
To further assist pilots, we’ve created flight deck systems with intuitive, streamlined cockpit interfaces that optimize the performance of aircraft. These systems are on more than 12,000 aircraft around the world and serve as the conduit between pilots and their aircraft. The idea behind our systems is to simplify actions for pilots based on the challenges that they face.
We also keep passengers on the move with full authority digital engine controls (FADEC) that power more than 30,000 aircraft around the world. Our FADECs have logged over 1 billion flight hours on military and commercial aircraft. Engine controls receive command from the pilot’s thrust control levers, as well as a multitude of sensors to control the injection of fuel in the combustors. To maximize fuel, the FADECs control the stationary airfoils inside the engine’s fan. The airfoils, also known as stators or vanes, help the aircraft to be most efficient by managing its bypass on the engine.
Venture outside the cockpit to the cabin aisle and you’ll find that our systems create a better flight experience for passengers and crews. To create that experience we give crews the tools to manage power, lighting, climate, and communication systems on more than 2,000 aircraft.
For nearly a half century we’ve solved some of the toughest challenges in aviation, while bringing forth innovative solutions that changed the flight experience for pilots, passengers and crews. Over time a lot has changed, but our desire to push the limits of what is possible remains a constant.
We are building on our past to set the pace for the future of aviation as we embrace autonomous and hybrid-electric systems on aircraft. In the years ahead, we will remain steadfast in providing the controls and avionics that have helped keep our customers flying. Our eyes are on the future and we are focused on writing the next great chapter of aviation history.