Thin Airfoil Flight Control Actuators – Neutral Configuration
project name

Thin Airfoil Flight Control Actuators – Neutral Configuration

Primary Flight Controls for an Unmanned, Expendable Air Vehicle


Primary flight controls for an unmanned, expendable, low-cost air vehicle with fighter-like speed, G-loads, and performance.

Problem Statement
The simplex, active, Electromechanical Actuator (EMA) (with an integral controller) had to be cost effective so that the aircraft will be acquired in the anticipated high-volume quantities. The aircraft is recovered after controlled splashdown, immersion, and dwell in sea water. The EMA design must interface with the aircraft flight control computers, meet all performance needs, and could not allow any ingress of water during any portion of the water recovery. The EMAs must be highly reliable, cost competitive, and readied for the next sortie, which could be only hours after water recovery.

A high response linear EMA was implemented in the aircraft design. To help realize the cost target, commonality and use of the same EMA form factor in several locations aboard the aircraft was implemented. The EMA design is ‘neutral’ to accommodate left-hand or right-hand installations as well as operate with different surface inertias, hinge moments, ram velocities and stroke between the flight control surface applications. The embedded Circuit Card Assembly (CCA) employs RS-485 communications protocol as well as Built-in-Test capabilities. The CCA also has a configuration mode that allows control variables such as electrical limits, rates, and temperature limits to be set or modified for each application. In addition, the CCA limits can be modified via configuration mode and electrical limits.

Results & Outcome
Ingenium Aerospace engineers worked closely with the customer to layout interface control points for the EMA to refine the universal installation on the air vehicle. Ingenium Aerospace engineers modeled and simulated the EMA using graphical programming software. The models were shared with the client. Actual test results for the EMA closely matched the model projections. Prototype hardware was delivered to the customer with onboard aircraft System Integration Laboratory testing in 2018.