BAE Systems in the UK has used this week's Farnborough International Air Show to announce it will soon release a tactile feedback system for pilots flying commercial jets. The technology is called Active Sticks.
Previously limited to military pilots, Active Sticks, also known as Active Inceptor Systems, offers pilots cues through a standard-looking control stick. The cues allow pilots to feel feedback from the plane. BAE said pilots will be able feel how their planes are being flown, for instance, and if they are reaching the limits of the aircraft’s capabilities. The technology will also link two pilots without mechanical couplings, thus increasing awareness in the cockpit.
According to BAE, fliers will enjoy "improved performance and safety" from the active sticks implementation. But that's not all: the active sticks will reduce the number of corrections and adjustments pilots have to make when flying. Although this type of technology has been used for years by who BAE described as "Top Guns", this is the first time Active Sticks has been introduced for the commercial aviation market.
"Active Inceptors have features and benefits over existing pilot control technologies, including improved safety via electrical communication between pilot and co-pilot – so both individuals are aware of what the other is experiencing – and complete stick-to-surface capability enhancing what pilots detect through their controls, depending on the flight modes and condition of the aircraft," explained Nigel Wright, a director at BAE Systems, in a press release.
"We have been supplying these cutting-edge solutions to military aircraft across the globe for many years, and to be able to now bring this technology to the commercial sector is a significant and exciting milestone for our business," he continued.
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BAE Systems is British company that specialises in defence, security, and aerospace. It is headquartered in London but has won evelopment contracts for flight-worthy active inceptor systems in both the military and civil markets across the globe.
There's no word yet on when Active Sticks will release for commercial pilots (other than "soon"), though you can see a demonstration at the Farnborough International Air Show on 19 July.