Gulfstream Test-Flies Electric-Powered Controls

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The Gulfstream G650 flight-test aircraft recently flew for the first time using only an electrically powered, fly-by-wire backup flight-control actuation system, the company said this week. "There was no difference in handling qualities between the electrically and hydraulically powered modes," said Pres Henne, of Gulfstream. The flight, on Dec. 21, evaluated the electric backup system for over two hours, performing five landings with the system engaged. "It flew so well that unless pilots were told they were in backup actuation mode I don't think they would notice," said test pilot Gary Freeman.

Fly-by-wire systems typically use a third hydraulic system to provide redundancy in the event of a dual hydraulic system failure, Gulfstream said, but the G650 uses electrically controlled actuators that are primarily hydraulically powered but offer electric power as a backup. A self-contained hydraulic reservoir and motor pump allow full operation in the event of a hydraulic loss. Providing two different power sources enhances safety, Gulfstream said.