Sensata Technologies Develops New Joystick & Controls For Urban Air Mobility

Sensata Technologies revealed today that it has created a new fly-by-wire joystick control system for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and it has given prototypes to several sophisticated air mobility firms.

“Our decades of expertise in the aerospace sector, together with our wide range of sensing and power solutions that enable electrification, uniquely positions Sensata as a leading supplier in the advanced air mobility space.” explained Stuart Parker, Aerospace General Manager at Sensata Technologies. “We’re excited to be a part of the industry’s transformation as we work with innovative companies to develop solutions for new electric aircraft.”

In aviation, an inceptor is a device that gives input to the computer controlling the aircraft. Active inceptors provide power to the system (and mechanical feedback to the pilot), while passive inceptors provide signals that the computer uses to determine what the pilot is doing (without a direct mechanical link between pilot and control surfaces). Sensata’s new inceptor is the latter kind, allowing for true fly-by-wire control.

Sensata combines its world-class position sensors, multi-axis controllers, and experience in other cockpit controls to provide inceptor solutions that meet stringent safety and reliability standards in order to obtain airworthiness certification and are ideal for advanced air mobility, urban air mobility, trainers , and other electric aircraft applications. Sensata’s passive inceptor is available with 1, 2, or 3 axes of movement to control yaw, pitch, and roll.

“As the industry shifts towards more electric propulsion systems, we are developing solutions that will help aerospace manufacturers meet the challenges of weight, efficiency, and safety,” Parker said. “Sensata is committed to being at the forefront of this rapidly evolving market and we look forward to continued collaboration with our customers as they develop the next generation of aircraft.”

The inceptor is designed for both single-pilot and multi-crew aircraft, according to Sensata. The 3-axis inceptor is most often used to control the vehicle’s pitch, roll, and yaw, as well as a self-centering and independently programmable operating force in each axis. The pilot may customize the grips that he or she uses to match the operational demands of each vehicle.

Sensata will showcase its new inceptor at the Farnborough Airshow from July 18-22 in Farnborough, United Kingdom, at Hall 4, Booth 4138.

For more information about Sensata’s inceptor, please visit its website here.

How This Will Help The New Urban Air Mobility Market

Passive inceptors will help eVTOL aircraft by making them lighter, more efficient, and quieter than their active inceptor counterparts. The lack of a mechanical connection between the pilot and the control surfaces also eliminates potential failure points and makes the system simpler and more reliable. In addition, the independent programmability of each axis allows for greater flexibility in how the aircraft is piloted, making it easier to fly in tight urban environments.

Sensata’s experience in providing cockpit controls for a variety of aircraft, including trainers and UAVs, gives them a unique perspective on the needs of the new advanced air mobility market. Their knowledge of what is required to obtain airworthiness certification will be invaluable to eVTOL manufacturers as they work to bring their products to market.


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