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FBW Flight Controls To Reduce Empennage Size?  
User currently offlinefaro From Egypt, joined Aug 2007, 1540 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 5300 times:

I believe it is not the case today but maybe sometime in the future, can regulators take into account the effect of FBW flight control systems with regard to neutralising pitch/yaw oscillations in the design of new aircraft so that one can implement smaller/lighter empennage surfaces?

Faro


The chalice not my son
53 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 1, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5245 times:

Quoting faro (Thread starter):

I believe it is not the case today but maybe sometime in the future, can regulators take into account the effect of FBW flight control systems with regard to neutralising pitch/yaw oscillations in the design of new aircraft so that one can implement smaller/lighter empennage surfaces?

It is the case today, and yes they do.

Tom.


User currently offlineairbuske From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 466 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5230 times:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 1):
It is the case today, and yes they do.

Do current production FBW airliners possess sufficient natural static and dynamic stability to be safely flown by the pilot in the unlikely event that the flight control system, while redundant, suffers a complete failure?


User currently offlinefaro From Egypt, joined Aug 2007, 1540 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5221 times:

Quoting airbuske (Reply 2):
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 1):
It is the case today, and yes they do.

Do current production FBW airliners possess sufficient natural static and dynamic stability to be safely flown by the pilot in the unlikely event that the flight control system, while redundant, suffers a complete failure?

Yes, my question exactly. Not an expert but I thought that today the regulator requires a minimum level of natural, non-FBW stability. If that is true it entails an empennage of a certain minimum size. How then can you reduce that via FBW?

Faro



The chalice not my son
User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9594 posts, RR: 52
Reply 4, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5160 times:

Quoting airbuske (Reply 2):
Do current production FBW airliners possess sufficient natural static and dynamic stability to be safely flown by the pilot in the unlikely event that the flight control system, while redundant, suffers a complete failure?

The only fly by wire airplane that can be controlled with a full flight control electronic system failure is the 777. It has backup pitch via stabalizer cable, roll via spoilers cables and yaw via engines. Its crude, but can allow the pilot to aim the imminent crash at something soft or give them some time to get the primary or backup systems working again.

A complete flight control system failure is close enough to statistically impossible that airplanes can be certified. The rules are extremely strict with independent power sources, wire separation, computers built by different manufacturers using different code, etc. You have to lose engines, fail a RAT and drain the batteries to get something like that to happen.

Load alleviation using FBW controls allows for smaller control surfaces and less structure in an airplane since the plane can by limited in certain conditions whereas it cannot be done with cable controls. It is all very specific to each airplane, but things like acceleration limits can significantly reduce the stress on an airplane. An accident like the AA A300 in Queens would be far less likely to happen with a thoroughly modern FBW load alleviation system in place.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4402 posts, RR: 76
Reply 5, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5150 times:

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 4):
The only fly by wire airplane that can be controlled with a full flight control electronic system failure is the 777.

Incorrect. That can be achieved on all FBW aircraft, from the Airbus A320 to the latest Bombardier.
Moreover, you should get a look at the A380 flight control architecture and its unmatched - for some time - redundancy.



Contrail designer
User currently offlineNorthwest727 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 491 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5127 times:



Quoting Pihero (Reply 5):
Incorrect. That can be achieved on all FBW aircraft, from the Airbus A320 to the latest Bombardier.
Moreover, you should get a look at the A380 flight control architecture and its unmatched - for some time - redundancy.

I thought with "full flight control electronic system failure," the only things the pilot could do in a Airbus (not including the A380) would be to control the pitch via the trim wheel, and use the rudder and differential thrust for lateral control (yaw). Wouldn't that imply no roll control? I'm no Airbus pilot though, so I do not know the procedures in place.

Edit: Incorrect quote reference

[Edited 2011-02-08 11:23:14]

User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 7, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5120 times:

Quoting Pihero (Reply 5):

Phew. I was beginning to think I'd imagined all the previous discussions over the past 11 years here! I seem to recall that the rudder is still available on the Airbuses, via cables and hydraulics... though it's about time I was spectacularly wrong again.


User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 8, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5111 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
Wouldn't that imply no roll control?

But wouldn't that be coupled to yaw? Not ideal, perhaps, but workable in an emergency?


User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9594 posts, RR: 52
Reply 9, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5112 times:

Quoting Pihero (Reply 5):

Incorrect. That can be achieved on all FBW aircraft, from the Airbus A320 to the latest Bombardier.
Moreover, you should get a look at the A380 flight control architecture and its unmatched - for some time - redundancy.

How does the A320 have roll control? I was under the impression, the 777 is the only FBW plane with cables to the wing.

I'd be really curious to learn more about the A380. Never really seen an architecture map of it.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15730 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5079 times:

Quoting faro (Thread starter):
I believe it is not the case today but maybe sometime in the future, can regulators take into account the effect of FBW flight control systems with regard to neutralising pitch/yaw oscillations in the design of new aircraft so that one can implement smaller/lighter empennage surfaces?

That could be an important factor in making blended wing body aircraft more efficient. They lack the long moment arm to mount the tail on, so they will probably require larger and heavier vertical stabilizers, unless they can be certified with relaxed stability. Manufacturers could probably save a fair bit of weight if they can reduce the size of the stabilizers.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 5031 times:

Quoting David L (Reply 7):
Phew. I was beginning to think I'd imagined all the previous discussions over the past 11 years here! I seem to recall that the rudder is still available on the Airbuses, via cables and hydraulics... though it's about time I was spectacularly wrong again.


Why would Airbus want to have the "rudder" as the last functioning control surface? Of the "primary controls" the rudder is the least used and required control surface.


User currently offlinefaro From Egypt, joined Aug 2007, 1540 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 5014 times:

Getting a little back on topic, one simple question: assuming one had sufficient actuation authority with the FBW system out, are the A320/A330/777/etc stable in pitch and yaw or not? Are their empennages sufficiently big to naturally dampen oscillations on their own or not?

Faro



The chalice not my son
User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4402 posts, RR: 76
Reply 13, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4963 times:

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 6):
I thought with "full flight control electronic system failure," the only things the pilot could do in a Airbus (not including the A380) would be to control the pitch via the trim wheel, and use the rudder and differential thrust for lateral control (yaw). Wouldn't that imply no roll control?

Roll control is achieved through the rudder pedals as * induced roll* : push the right rudder, for instance, you generate yaw to the right, then your left wing will go faster than the right one, therefore generating more lift, thence a bank to the right.
One doesn't need to use engine differential thrust for turns as the rudder is powerful enough (as a matter of fact, that situation makes one realise how powerful these control surfaces are (the rudder and the stabiliser) as you'd only need very small inputs to fly the airplane.

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 9):
I was under the impression, the 777 is the only FBW plane with cables to the wing.

Those cables are linked to the spoilers 4 and 11 IIRC on each wing. Other cables link the trim wheel to the stabiliser.

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 9):
I'd be really curious to learn more about the A380. Never really seen an architecture map of it.

See this, then A380 Flight controls
The A380 doesn't have a manual back-up but a dedicated independent system, a simpler FBW in fact called *Electrical back-up*

Quoting 474218 (Reply 11):
Why would Airbus want to have the "rudder" as the last functioning control surface? Of the "primary controls" the rudder is the least used and required control surface.

It's not *the last* control surface as the THS is also used in this back-up mode.
Remember the 747 which lost its entire fin ? It was quite unflyable. That fin, on a *normal airplane* - not a flying wing - is essential for stability..
It is interesting to note that the rudder mechanical back-up disappeared on the 340-600, for an electrical one.

Quoting David L (Reply 7):
Phew. I was beginning to think I'd imagined all the previous discussions over the past 11 years here! I seem to recall that the rudder is still available on the Airbuses, via cables and hydraulics

Long memory, David !

Quoting faro (Reply 12):
assuming one had sufficient actuation authority with the FBW system out, are the A320/A330/777/etc stable in pitch and yaw or not? Are their empennages sufficiently big to naturally dampen oscillations on their own or not?

Yes. As a matter of fact, one has too much authority if anything.



Contrail designer
User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 14, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4924 times:

Quoting Pihero (Reply 13):
It's not *the last* control surface as the THS is also used in this back-up mode.
Remember the 747 which lost its entire fin ? It was quite unflyable. That fin, on a *normal airplane* - not a flying wing - is essential for stability..


By the "fin" I assume you mean the vertical stabilizer, the loss of which is a completely different than losing use of the rudder.

The rudder is the least required "primary flight control surface". Provided it will fair when power it is lost, safe flight is possible.

Remember the Aircoupe doesn't even have a rudder!


User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 15, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4863 times:

Quoting airbuske (Reply 2):
Do current production FBW airliners possess sufficient natural static and dynamic stability to be safely flown by the pilot in the unlikely event that the flight control system, while redundant, suffers a complete failure?

Yes. The problem in the event of complete control failure is lack of control, not loss of stability.

Quoting faro (Reply 3):
Not an expert but I thought that today the regulator requires a minimum level of natural, non-FBW stability.

They do. But it's a lot lower than the level you have with all the FBW active. The certification standard for failures is safe operation and landing...it's OK if the handling sucks or causes a high crew workload, provided that it will still get you home.

Quoting faro (Reply 3):
If that is true it entails an empennage of a certain minimum size. How then can you reduce that via FBW?

It's the difference between normal flight characteristics and characteristics with the FBW partly failed. With non-FBW, the systems are basically the same (minus stuff like yaw dampers). With FBW, you can get artificial stability through closing control loops, so you can achieve the same flight characteristics with smaller surfaces. With loss of the FBW you revert to the natural stability of the aircraft, which can be considerably worse than with the FBW on but it still stable and controllable.

Quoting faro (Reply 12):
assuming one had sufficient actuation authority with the FBW system out, are the A320/A330/777/etc stable in pitch and yaw or not

Yes.

Quoting faro (Reply 12):
Are their empennages sufficiently big to naturally dampen oscillations on their own or not?

Yes, other than phugoid, but that's usually almost undamped on all designs anyway so nobody really cares.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 13):
The A380 doesn't have a manual back-up but a dedicated independent system, a simpler FBW in fact called *Electrical back-up*

This is where it gets thorny to talk about "full flight controls failure." There are FBW systems out there, like the A380 and 787, where complete and total failure of all electrical power on all buses will kill you. But those systems have so many different levels of power and actuator redundancy that the probability of simultaneous failure of all systems is vanishingly small.

Tom.


User currently offlinefaro From Egypt, joined Aug 2007, 1540 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4836 times:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 15):
Quoting faro (Reply 3):
Not an expert but I thought that today the regulator requires a minimum level of natural, non-FBW stability.

They do. But it's a lot lower than the level you have with all the FBW active. The certification standard for failures is safe operation and landing...it's OK if the handling sucks or causes a high crew workload, provided that it will still get you home.

Interesting, so gusty conditions/wind shear/etc are out of the question. Interesting to note Pihero's dissenting opinion in the last comment in reply 12...

Which I guess is rather academic anyway since the probability of losing all FBW control is ridiculously remote. Can someone kindly confirm that no such total FBW control loss has occurred on any FBW type since the introduction of the A320 in the late 1980's?

Faro

[Edited 2011-02-09 00:49:48]

[Edited 2011-02-09 00:52:52]


The chalice not my son
User currently offlineferpe From France, joined Nov 2010, 2803 posts, RR: 59
Reply 17, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4822 times:

There was an article about the different Airbuses in the french magazine Air&Cosmos, they relate one incident where a A320 pilot accidentilly switched of the FBW system during cruise. As the aircraft was naturally stable the crew flew the aircraft with the trim+rudder until the system had rebooted, no-one in the cabin felt anything. I suppose it should be true.


Non French in France
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17017 posts, RR: 67
Reply 18, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4823 times:

Quoting faro (Reply 16):

Which I guess is rather academic anyway since the probability of losing all FBW control is ridiculously remote. Can someone kindly confirm that no such total FBW control loss has occurred on any FBW type since the introduction of the A320 in the late 1980's?

I may be missing some incident but I believe such an incident has never occurred. No FBW Airbus or Boeing has ever crashed due a problem with the flight control systems.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineDavid L From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 9524 posts, RR: 42
Reply 19, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 4804 times:

Quoting 474218 (Reply 14):
The rudder is the least required "primary flight control surface". Provided it will fair when power it is lost, safe flight is possible.

Doesn't that assume the ailerons are functioning?


User currently offlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4402 posts, RR: 76
Reply 20, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 4800 times:

Quoting 474218 (Reply 14):
The rudder is the least required "primary flight control surface". Provided it will fair when power it is lost, safe flight is possible.

I don't know about more or less required flight control. All I know is that without rudder, your flight stability is degraded - as every bank will be in most cases induce reverse yaw and a sideslip into the turn.
On a multi engine airplane, an engine failure will very quickly make you totally and utterly change your mind about the usefulness of a powerful rudder ! Believe me, you'll need it a lot more than anything else !

Quoting 474218 (Reply 14):
Remember the Aircoupe doesn't even have a rudder!

Incorrect : It has the control surfaces ; what it lacks is the *rudder pedals*, replaced by a system linking the control wheel to the ailerons and rudders for well coordinated turns.

Quoting faro (Reply 16):
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 15):
Quoting faro (Reply 3):
Not an expert but I thought that today the regulator requires a minimum level of natural, non-FBW stability.

They do. But it's a lot lower than the level you have with all the FBW active. The certification standard for failures is safe operation and landing...it's OK if the handling sucks or causes a high crew workload, provided that it will still get you home.

Interesting, so gusty conditions/wind shear/etc are out of the question. Interesting to note Pihero's dissenting opinion in the last comment in reply 12...

This is where the discussion gets interesting : we have two ways of defining FBW :
1/- all electrics are lost and we're left with manual back-up . I persist in saying that one has sufficient authority on the aiplane three axis (just remember that the A320 stabiliser, as one single moving pitch control is bigger than a DC-3 wing).
2/- FBW is about control laws, so if we revert to direct control, i.e. a stick movement is proportional to a flight surface deflection, therefore making the piloting of the aircraft in that situation no differet from any "classical" airplane. In this case, I personally have not seen / experienced / felt any stability problem with the flying.
Now, is the 'Bus fin / rudder smaller, relatively speaking, than the 737 ? I cannot say. Visually, I'd say they're quite equivalent. But it's just me.

[Edited 2011-02-09 02:29:49]

[Edited 2011-02-09 02:32:32]

[Edited 2011-02-09 02:34:49]


Contrail designer
User currently offlineKlaus From Germany, joined Jul 2001, 21442 posts, RR: 54
Reply 21, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4785 times:

Quoting Pihero (Reply 13):
See this, then A380 Flight controls

Very interesting to see the stabilizer trim screws of the A380, A340 and A320 side by side for comparison...


User currently offlinetravelavnut From Netherlands, joined May 2010, 1607 posts, RR: 7
Reply 22, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4783 times:

Quoting faro (Reply 16):
Can someone kindly confirm that no such total FBW control loss has occurred on any type since the introduction of the A320 in the late 1980's?

I actually don't think that is possible, but somebody correct me if I'm wrong. Could it have been that they accidently turned of some flight control reverting the airplane back to Direct Law?



Live From Amsterdam!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17017 posts, RR: 67
Reply 23, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 4723 times:

Quoting travelavnut (Reply 22):
Quoting faro (Reply 16):
Can someone kindly confirm that no such total FBW control loss has occurred on any type since the introduction of the A320 in the late 1980's?

I actually don't think that is possible, but somebody correct me if I'm wrong. Could it have been that they accidently turned of some flight control reverting the airplane back to Direct Law?

Sorta depends how you define it. Is reversion to Direct Law a failure of the FBW system if it doesn't lead to a crash? I mean, the system has managed to activate its own fail-safe if you will.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinetravelavnut From Netherlands, joined May 2010, 1607 posts, RR: 7
Reply 24, posted (3 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 4710 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 23):
Quoting travelavnut (Reply 22):
Quoting faro (Reply 16):
Can someone kindly confirm that no such total FBW control loss has occurred on any type since the introduction of the A320 in the late 1980's?

I actually don't think that is possible, but somebody correct me if I'm wrong. Could it have been that they accidently turned of some flight control reverting the airplane back to Direct Law?

Sorta depends how you define it. Is reversion to Direct Law a failure of the FBW system if it doesn't lead to a crash? I mean, the system has managed to activate its own fail-safe if you will.

Reading back I see I made a mistake and quoted the wrong post   My post should have been;

Quoting ferpe (Reply 17):
There was an article about the different Airbuses in the french magazine Air&Cosmos, they relate one incident where a A320 pilot accidentilly switched of the FBW system during cruise. As the aircraft was naturally stable the crew flew the aircraft with the trim+rudder until the system had rebooted, no-one in the cabin felt anything. I suppose it should be true.

I actually don't think that is possible, but somebody correct me if I'm wrong. Could it have been that they accidently turned of some flight control computers reverting the airplane back to Direct Law?



Live From Amsterdam!
25 Pihero : Everything is possible but here, to have a full reversion to mechanical back-up means at least the loss of ELAC 1 and 2 and SEC 1 and 2... and these
26 Post contains images PGNCS : It is entirely possible if you turn off the ELACs and SECs. No. A failure of some type has occurred (could be hydraulic, electric, or many other thin
27 Post contains images travelavnut : I know, but I thought maybe the article got it wrong and mistook going to Direct Law for actually turning off the complete control system. It´s clea
28 Post contains links and images Pihero : Nothing better than a picture. See the overhead panelView Large View MediumPhoto © Robert Domandl the (very) small flight control panels are - on th
29 Post contains images Starlionblue : I was sort of being rhetorical.
30 tdscanuck : Not at all...it's just more work. Going to direct mode is, at worst, doing direct position-to-position coupling between stick/yoke and control. The a
31 SEPilot : I do not think that a BWB could be safely flown without FBW; aerodynamically it will be very similar to the flying wing. Northrup's first flying wing
32 tdscanuck : A flying wing, and BWB, can be perfectly safely flown without FBW. It can be unstable/unrecoverable once you actually stall it...there's no circumsta
33 SEPilot : I thought I had read that the flying wing was unstable, and that was the primary reason for its failure. But I will defer to your much greater knowle
34 BMI727 : A BWB can be done without FBW. But, it would be better with it, since the required size of the vertical surfaces will be reduced, saving weight.
35 Starlionblue : I think it was. But it was also built 60 years ago. As Tom says aerodynamics have made a couple of steps forward since then.
36 SchorschNG : You can roll an aircraft with the rudder. Looks ugly, feels ugly, but works.
37 SchorschNG : Tails are usually not sized by stability requirements. If it was for stability in cruise, the empenage could be mush smaller. The vertical tail is us
38 ferpe : Sorry, I find that hard to believe, if you mean negative stability margin = reduced static stability I can be with you but if you mean if we cut the
39 Post contains images Klaus : Nothing is 100% failsafe – military fighter planes just happen to have ejection seats.
40 Post contains links SchorschNG : How do you think this "proof" should look? You are free to believe whatever you want, and if you consider my statement wrong I honestly don't care. I
41 travelavnut : Thanks a lot Pihero! You must be quite physically challenged to hit all those buttons by accident.
42 tdscanuck : The flying wing is unstable in certain flight regimes, notably post-stall. This is not unique to the flying wing...there are flight regimes outside t
43 ferpe : I looked into the A380 document and found what can be expected, the A380 is a normal stable aircraft in all flight regimes inside it's envelope. What
44 ferpe : Re the A320 crew that switched of the FBW I checked the article again, it says the system has been deliberately switched of during certification and d
45 SchorschNG : He actually said that the A380 in cruise is "slightly unstable". But being unstable can mean only a negative damping on the rather sluggish Phugoid m
46 ferpe : All stable aircraft which does not have a pitch damping loop has a pughoid motion, the frequency and amplitude is dependant on the stability margin. T
47 tdscanuck : I think this might be a translation problem, but you can't have negative damping...damping can never get lower than zero. You can have negative stabi
48 Wingscrubber : I concur, flight control system architecture should not affect actual control surface size, regardless of damping method. Not quite sure where this t
49 faro : Just to clarify, by slightly unstable, does that mean that a nose-up pitch divergence due to a gust will have a tendency to become slightly more nose
50 Klaus : Literally it would not be "damping" any more, but when the correction feedback in a damping mechanism changes sign, the damping effect will in fact g
51 tdscanuck : That is what "slightly unstable" would mean, but it can't be the case since that's not how the plane actually flies in normal law (I don't know about
52 Post contains images Klaus : It wasn't my own post I was clarifying there, but when there's a hair in need of being split, I'm still at your service.
53 Post contains images Pihero : No; A flying wing has to be inherently stable, otherwise, it can't fly. The problem is quite difficult to solve : Approaching stall, the *center of l
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