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A fresh view of the fly-by-light/power-by-wire programNASA has been funding a focused program to promote the development of optical signaling and electrical actuation for civil transports. This program is reviewed in the context of other government and private sector initiatives. It is concluded that significant resources have and continue to be expended to develop these technologies. A second goal of the program is to develop certification methods for aircraft that implement these new technologies. It is concluded that there is a significant need for this effort and that NASA in cooperation with the FAA are well suited to do satisfy the need. Electrical actuation is not new but has recently been made feasible for a broader array of high power applications than previously because of developments in power switching technologies, motors, and computers. This development has been well explored by the Air Force and the private sector and requires little more government attention. Light signal and sensor technology has been developing under public and private funding and has reached a level of maturity such that some companies are using optical signal carriers for flight control on private jets. Several issues remain unresolved but centrally focused government effort is not an effective way to pursue the variety of issues that persist. Certification of aircraft for flight is a government activity. The poor preparedness of the FAA to certify fault tolerant digital flight control systems against electromagnetic effects coupled with the increasing number of electromagnetic emitters constitutes an impediment for development of this technology. The complete lack of preparation to certify optical components is currently causing concern for a general aviation supplier who is having difficulty certify their system. NASA with the FAA should work to develop clear, reasonable, and cost effective ways of certifying the reliability of fault tolerant digital and optical flight control components and systems.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Wander, John
(Alabama Univ. Tuscaloosa, AL United States)
Date Acquired
August 17, 2013
Publication Date
December 1, 1995
Publication Information
Publication: The 1995 NASA-ODU American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Summer Faculty Fellowship Program
Subject Category
Aircraft Stability And Control
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19960020755Analytic PrimaryThe 1995 NASA-ODU American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Summer Faculty Fellowship Program
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