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Integrated flight control systems: a new paradigm for an old art

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1 Author(s)
T. J. Redling ; Aerosp. Electron. Syst., Albuquerque, NM, USA

The automatic flight control computer was a revolutionary development in the early days of flight, even in its primitive electromechanical form. It evolved into an electronic computing device, starting as an analog computer and maturing into software run on a digital, general-purpose microprocessor. The current accepted industry standard is to use a dedicated microprocessor in its own enclosure for this function that is essentially firewalled from the rest of the systems on the aircraft. This paper will explore the opportunity to integrate the flight control function into an integrated processing platform, which is a robustly partitioned platform that supports multiple functions of dissimilar design assurance levels. This approach provides all of the benefits of an integrated system, while still maintaining the separation provided by a stand-alone unit. The paper will consider both the advantages and disadvantages of this approach. The discussion will describe each of the alternatives in general and then focus specifically on autopilot and flight control functions that have potential for integration. The end goal of the paper is to impress on the reader an understanding of the different alternatives available for autopilot, flight control, and avionics modernization in general. This includes the development of a selection matrix that will assist the reader in making decisions on how best to implement these functions according to criticality and the volatility of their future requirements.

Published in:

IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine  (Volume:16 ,  Issue: 5 )