Fly-by-wire - Analog Systems

Analog Systems

All "fly-by-wire" flight control systems eliminate the complexity, the fragility, and the weight of the mechanical circuit of the hydromechanical or electromechanical flight control systems. Fly-by-wire replace those with electronic circuits. The control mechanisms in the cockpit now operate signal transducers, which in turn generate the appropriate electronic commands. These are next processed by an electronic controller, either an analog one, or more modernly, a digital one. Aircraft and spacecraft autopilots are now part of the electronic controller.

The hydraulic circuits are similar except that mechanical servo valves are replaced with electrically-controlled servo valves, operated by the electronic controller. This is the simplest and earliest configuration of an analog fly-by-wire flight control system. In this configuration, the flight control systems must simulate "feel". The electronic controller controls electrical feel devices that provide the appropriate "feel" forces on the manual controls. This was used in Concorde, the first production fly-by-wire airliner.

In more sophisticated versions, analog computers replaced the electronic controller. The canceled 1950s Canadian supersonic intercepter, the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow, employed this type of system. Analog computers also allowed some customization of flight control characteristics, including relaxed stability. This was exploited by the early versions of F-16, giving it impressive maneuverability.

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