Steering the future of flight control

Published: 04 Jan 2018

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Pierre Bettini is business and programme manager at Lord Fly-by-Wire Systems in France, where he is helping to drive synergies between its cutting edge products and those of its new parent company.

What ignited your interest in aviation?

I’ve always been attracted by the power of the wind and water in the countryside. At college, one of my teachers came from an aerospace control systems background. He explained to me the importance of fuel, hydraulic fluid and air management for aircraft operation. The technical challenges that must be met to enable an aircraft to take off with a good chance of landing safely – whatever the air conditions might be – became my passion and my profession.

What have been the highlights of your career?

My first position after graduating was to lead design projects for fuel, brakes and flight-control system components such as servo valves, pumps and actuators. As the aerospace industry was looking for more electrical solutions, I moved to Fly-by-Wire Systems France as Airbus’s project leader and then engineering manager.

How is Lord growing its fly-by-wire business?

Lord has a very strong position in vibration control products and systems for aerospace applications, particularly in the rotary wing market. By acquiring, from SKF, Fly-by-Wire Systems France one year ago, Lord has created several synergies and a lot of opportunities. Lord now has a broader industrial base in Europe, and a broader product portfolio with major original equipment manufacturers, especially in the fixed-wing market. The combined Lord engineering teams in France and the USA are now working on new concepts and designs to bring improved solutions and new technologies to existing and new customers globally. An example is the addition of legacy Lord active control solutions to cockpit control inceptors, allowing some real-time haptic cueing for pilot awareness of their vehicle situation.

Tell us about your role

My current role is business and programme manager. As a programme manager, I’m involved with the customer in the entire new product introduction process, from initial model announcement to product support. Each customer and aircraft has unique expectations and needs I must understand and ensure we address in our offer. As a business manager, I must also address the commercial and contractual challenges to leverage opportunities and assess risks for each new request.

What are your challenges?

My first challenge is to manage our customers’ raised expectations. They are excited about the combination of Lord and Fly-By-Wire Systems. Additionally, the synergy between our technologies, capabilities, product lines, customers and applications is being discussed internally to define new road maps for the future.

What next for Fly-by-Wire Systems?

The Lord team is working hard to capture several ongoing opportunities and demonstrate our new broader capability and capacity to manage the largest programmes. In parallel, we are preparing to move during the summer of 2018. The new plant, 15 miles south of the current location in Saint-Vallier, will offer more space for production, technological development and administration.

What are the major trends in flyby-wire technology?

Originally used in military applications, fly-by-wire technology entered commercial use with the Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde and the Airbus A320 in the 1980s. New commercial programmes adopted the technology, followed by regional jets early this century and now some business jets. The market trend is to use fly-by-wire on new programmes for business jets and some helicopters, and even for some general aviation aircraft. Any new fly-by-wire products must meet dedicated segment regulations. There are also special requirements for these new applications. On the technology side, digital sensors and digital power busses are driving new fly-by-wire system architectures with some impacts on current-generation products.

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