NBAA Convention News

BAE Develops Flight Controls for Supernal eVTOL

 - October 19, 2022, 6:29 AM
Supernal's eVTOL aircraft will have flight controls produced by BAE Systems. (Image: Supernal)

BAE Systems will design and develop the flight control computer for Supernal’s five-passenger eVTOL. On Monday at NBAA-BACE, the aerospace group said it will define the requirements and architecture for a lightweight, fly-by-wire system in partnership with Hyundai Motor Group’s advanced air mobility subsidiary.

The flight controls for Supernal’s SA-1 eVTOL will need to be compact and support its advanced processing needs and autonomous functions. BAE said it intends to develop the system in a way that it could be easily adapted for use with other new electric aircraft.

BAE Systems (Booth 3200), which has more than 40 years of experience in developing flight controls, will run the program from its new facility in Endicott, New York. “The development of advanced, high-integrity controls is crucial to meet the demands of electric aircraft,” said Ehtisham Siddiqui, BAE’s v-p and general manager of controls and avionics solutions. “BAE Systems is harnessing its investment in electrification and expertise in flight-critical systems to advance sustainable aviation. We look forward to working with Supernal to make this shared vision a reality.”

Supernal (Booth 2400F) said it expects to start the FAA type certification process for the SA-1 in 2024. Earlier this year, it announced plans to introduce a hydrogen-powered eSTOL aircraft. 

Initially, the SA-1 will be flown by a pilot and will seat four passengers, although the company plans to eventually switch over to autonomous flights with a six-passenger version of the vehicle. It will be designed to cruise at up to 180 mph (290 km/h) and an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet (300 to 600 meters), with a range of about 60 miles (100 km) on a single charge, with a recharge expected to take no more than five to seven minutes.

BAE also specializes in power conversion and energy management systems. The company is already working with two other eVTOL aircraft developers, Jaunt AIr Mobility and Eve, as well as with General Electric on a NASA project to develop hybrid-electric propulsion systems.

This week, Supernal also announced the selection of Honeywell Aerospace to provide the SA-1's avionics suite. Honeywell will provide its new Anthem integrated flight deck, which has already been chosen for eVTOLs being developed by Lilium and Vertical Aerospace.