BAE Systems Avionics has recently signed a multi-million pound development contract with AgustaWestland to develop an electric actuation flight control system for helicopters.
BAE Systems will be a member of a team, which includes Westland Helicopters, FHL (formerly Claverham) and the UK Ministry of Defence, which will develop a digital flight control computer as part of the Helicopter Electric Actuation Technology (HEAT) programme.
In this development conventional power hydraulic systems, which help the pilot to control the aircraft, are replaced by all-electric controls. The HEAT programme, jointly funded by Industry and the UK Ministry of Defence, will be demonstrated on an EH101 helicopter.
This new control development is said to bring fly-by-wire technology to helicopters, boosting performance by offering increased range or payload, enhanced handling, lower cost of ownership and improved reliability and safety.
Upon successful demonstration of the HEAT programme, the system will be available to fit to new build helicopters as well as for upgrading existing in-service helicopters.