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Engine controls take flight to a cleaner future

BAE Systems has applied energy management and engine controls technology to enable the next generation of propulsion systems.

Mounted to the side of a jet engine is a set of high-tech electronics roughly the size of a personal computer. These smart, digital controls pack enough punch to optimize engine performance in aircraft of all sizes, even in the harshest conditions.

They monitor and manage engine performance – reducing cost, driving efficiency, and improving safety of flight. They use a series of sensors to keep an eye on the current flight conditions and how the engine is running. The controls use that information to adjust fuel flow, air bypass, and other engine parameters to get the best performance from the engine. This technology has served as the brains of aircraft engines for decades, and it has been improved with every new generation of engines.

The rise in greenhouse gases has airlines considering how they can reduce aircraft emissions and save on fuel – with the eventual goal of going all-electric.

To prepare for this, BAE has been investing in core technologies to reduce the size and weight of its controls. This has resulted in controls being 40% smaller and lighter than their original size and weight, but with 10 times the processing power.

In addition to size and power improvements, the company is making its technology safer and more reliable. It is adding protections against threats you cannot see, like cyber-attacks. BAE is also refining the prognostic systems to predict when a failure may occur to enable airlines to plan maintenance.

BAE’s first-generation engine controls took flight in the early 1990s and have logged 1.5 billion flight hours. Today, its engine controls are on more than 30,000 aircraft around the world. Its aftermarket support maintains the technology through its full lifecycle and keeps planes flying safely.

Another way BAE is preparing for electric flight is pairing its experience in engine controls with more than 20 years of expertise in energy management systems. Its electric power and propulsion technology powers more than 12,000 buses, trucks and marine vessels around the world. Those systems not only save fuel, but eliminate 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year.

As transportation technology advances toward a greener tomorrow, the power sources for flight will change dramatically. BAE is pioneering the key technologies and setting the standard to get the industry there.


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  • BAE Systems