The Challenges of Fly-by-Wire by Gerry Shanks is a record of the Fly-by-Wire programmes conducted by the RAE from the early 1960’s up to 2001 and the relationship with industry. During this period the RAE pioneered the technology, firstly with the Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig, followed by the Short SC1, the Avro 707C and a Hunter aircraft. These programmes led to its direct application to the Tornado aircraft design. The technology in the digital age was matured in the 1970s by industry and RAE through the Fly-by-Wire Jaguar and the Experimental Aircraft Programme providing sufficient confidence to apply it to the Eurofighter Typhoon. The later application of the technology to a Harrier research aircraft at RAE built on these foundations, but raised further issues including a reluctance of several experienced Harrier pilots to accept the innovations. Nevertheless the product from the Harrier research programme was selected by Lockheed for the flight control system of the Joint Strike Fighter, F35-B Lightning II aircraft.
In producing this account it is not the intention to provide a rigorous scientific or engineering description of Fly-by-Wire. It is a personal view of the subject by the author from forty years of experience in the field and it is an account based on the actual programmes.