The Aerion supersonic business jet will have a state-of-the-art
fly-by-wire control system, reducing aircraft weight, improving
performance, enhancing safety, increasing reliability and
augmenting stability across a transonic speed range.
"Fly-by-wire technology employing mild stability augmentation
allows us to tune handling qualities over a wide range of operating
speeds," notes Aerion Chief Technology Officer Richard Tracy. The
flight envelope of the supersonic aircraft varies from below 120
knots in full-flaps landing configuration to Mach 1.6 at high speed
Fly-by-wire also permits designers to relax some natural
stability requirements, allowing the aircraft design to be
optimized for cruise flight.
Fly-by-wire technology can reduce pilot workload during rapid
transitions from supersonic flight to subsonic flight, as the
aerodynamic center of pressure shifts. A fuel transfer system,
which is also planned for the Aerion jet to reduce trim drag, will
also adequately compensate for this shift, but fly-by-wire with
stability augmentation ensures excellent handling qualities during
such speed changes.
Aerion calculates that a fly-by-wire system will reduce aircraft
weight. Of more importance, it will eliminate the needs for complex
mechanical and hydraulic systems with high maintenance and
difficult certification requirements.
Fly-by-wire provides pilots with more precise handling
characteristics and the ability to extract maximum performance from
the aircraft when necessary without concern for stalling or
overstressing the airframe. Aerion concluded that the benefits of
fly-by-wire technology for a supersonic aircraft easily justified
the cost to design such a system.