An important step towards the final testing phase of a more affordable fly-by-wire, to be installed into small aircraft, has been achieved with the delivery to Piaggio Aerospace of an innovative Flight Control Computer.

The new equipment has been developed within the Clean Sky 2 Program by the “Integrated Modular Avionics for Small Air Transport” (IMASAT) Consortium, formed by the Spanish companies AERTEC and Clue Technologies. The just delivered key component will be integrated into Piaggio Aerospace’s testing system (iron bird) to verify the fly-by-wire modular architecture and test the digital control of the aircraft surfaces movements.

Fig. 1 – FbW layout for SAT

The first unit of the Flight Control Computer (FCC) developed by IMASAT Consortium has been delivered to Piaggio Aerospace.

FCC hardware is a small computer designed to guarantee reduced weight, volume, and power dissipation. It has been developed with the purpose to provide a Computing Node to be integrated within the fly-by-wire (FbW), which is the digital system controlling aircraft surfaces actuation by means of computers and electronic interfaces in place of conventional manual flight controls.

The delivered unit is a computer connected to the other equipment through an innovative dual avionic full duplex switched ethernet (AFDX): it is a safety-critical and deterministic ethernet network, which is a key characteristic for FbW system to assure that network communication is provided within fixed delivery time.

The system is based on integrated modular architecture (IMA) approach, both at software and hardware point of view, permitting to realize a scalable and flexible system: it is possible to implement additionalfunctionalities (if and when requested) without changing what has been already verified and certified. In this way, time, cost and effort to develop and modify the system are strongly reduced. The delivered unit will be integrated in the test rig demonstrator (iron bird) under development at Piaggio Aerospace Design Office Laboratory in Villanova d’Albenga (Italy). The iron bird will be used to execute lab tests in 2022 to verify the functionality of the FbW developed within Clean Sky 2 Systems Integrated Technology Demonstrator (CS2 SYS ITD) Project.