Video: The benefits of fly-by-wire in eVTOL air taxis

26 August 2022

As more electric vertical takeover and landing (eVTOL) aircraft get closer to real world testing or even beginning real world operations, the ramp up to testing is becoming a developing trend among aerospace companies.

Archer Aviation is testing its control systems on the ground before it begins full prototype testing of its aircraft. The company is using flight control systems to translate pilot intent into aircraft movement.

The company is using fly-by-wire (FBW) flight controls to help remove the need for hydraulic plumbing as well as to simplify the operation of the eVTOL air taxis.

What is FBW?

FBW is a system that replaces conventional manual flight controls inside an aircraft with an electronic interface. The movements of flight controls are then converted to electronic signals that are transmitted via wires. Flight control computers then determine how to move the aircraft based on the provided response.

Sensors are used to interpret the pilot’s control inputs and are sent to the flight control computer where the desired outcome of movement is plotted. This could be anything from moving the rudder, elevator, aileron, flaps and other engine controls to stabilizing the aircraft or adjusting the flying characteristics depending on the situation.

Currently, FBW systems are used as control backup systems.

Archer said using FBW will help improve performance and safety as well as introduce a series of redundancy to help with overall safety when it comes to future air taxis. The FBW system allows controls to be performed on the ground or be completely automated, the company said.

Earlier this month, Archer made waves by having United Airlines order 100 eVTOL aircraft from Archer over the next few years. United made an initial deposit of $10 million in pre-delivery payments.

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