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TIN news:   BAE Systems introduced active control sidesticks to the business jet market only a week before the NBAA convention, but they already face a rising challenge from Safran.
The French aerospace giant’s Sagem division revealed the fruits of a a two-and-a-half-year-old internal project aimed at developing a working active control sidestick system, with business jets and helicopters targeted as the initial markets.
Safran’s exhibit featured a two-seat cockpit simulator with sidesticks on either side. Unlike passive sidesticks found commonly on Airbus commercial airliners, the active system integrates a digital feedback loop. It allows pilots to feel how the aircraft responds to control inputs. As control forces climb higher, for example, the stick feels heavier. Over-speeding the aircraft triggers a vibration in the control stick to warn the pilot.
The dual sidesticks are also electronically linked, so the co-pilot’s stick imitates the movements of the pilot’s control inputs. In a sense, it reintroduces the aircraft feedback loop normally associated with mechanically-linked control systems into a new generation of fly-by-wire aircraft.
At the moment, Sagem has not signed up any customers, although it has briefed Dassault, Airbus, Boeing and the French air force, says Phillippe Arnaud, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Sagem.
So far, the company has demonstrated a complete system on the ground. It plans to begin flight tests possibly within 18 months, Arnaud says. Unless an early customer accelerates the schedule, the system should be available for production in 2017, he says.

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