Search form

Space Technology Hall of Fame

Digital Fly-by-Wire

Year: 
Inducted Individuals: 
Ken Szalai (NASA Dryden Flight Research Center)
Gary Krier (NASA Dryden Flight Research Center)
Philip Felleman (Charles Stark Draper Laboratory)
Individual Commendations : 
Robert Bairnsfather (Draper Laboratory)
Technology Description: 

The early 1960's saw embedded computers advance sufficiently to be used in Apollo spacecraft. By the late 1960s, NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden) engineers began work to replace mechanical flight-control with digital fly-by-wire technology. Support came from Neil Armstrong who backed the transfer of a U.S. Navy F-8C Crusader to NASA which became the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire (DFBW) research aircraft. Proven performance and solid cooperation between NASA and industry translated into use of DFBW systems in new aircraft design in a remarkably short time.

Today DFBW equipped aircraft maintain constant speed and altitude over long distances to increase fuel efficiency. The elimination of bulky hydraulics, cables, rods and pulleys allows for increased payload and greater range. The electronic systems require less maintenance and improved reliability with fewer mechanical parts to fail. These systems are also easier to install and troubleshoot which make assembly and maintenance more efficient. And the reduced vulnerability to battle damage makes DFBW ideal for military aircraft. DFBW technology has enabled a quantum jump in design and performance to deliver vastly improved flight characteristics that could not have been achieved otherwise. Safer and more efficient aircraft around the globe represent a major aeronautics success and as well as another prime example of how technology developed for space exploration directly benefits life on Earth.

*Credits - photos by Nasa

Live Sun Image
 
X

Share This Page

Share this page with friends and bookmark for future reference.

Facebook Share on Facebook Twitter Tweet This LinkedIn Share on LinkedIn

Additional networks and bookmarking websites:

X

Give Us Feedback

We want to hear from you! Feel free to send us your comments about this page. General feedback for the Space Foundation is also welcome.