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Stirling Dynamics delivers purpose-designed cockpit controls for ONERA’s SCHEMAX flight simulator

Bristol, UK, 22nd November 2022 – Stirling Dynamics, world leaders in haptic control technology, has successfully delivered and integrated pilot and co-pilot cockpit controls for French aerospace laboratory, ONERA’s new flight simulator, called SCHEMAX.     

The cutting-edge simulator will be used by ONERA’s Cognitive Engineering and Applied Neuroscience unit (ICNA) to study human-system interaction (HSI) concepts to managing complex systems or operations within the cockpit. Based on the aircraft, SCHEMAX will be used to test new technologies and functionalities to support the design of future cockpits, to the benefit of the European aerospace industry. The originality of SCHEMAX lies in the integration of tools, models, and knowledge from the cognitive sciences in the design and evaluation of future pilot assistance systems. 

Having successfully produced multiple bespoke active control simulator cockpit designs including the UH60, CH47, CH-53K and the F-35, ONERA selected Stirling Dynamics to create a set of replica A320 cockpit flight controls using active control technology. These controls needed to match the feel of the flightworthy units in every way yet allow additional non-standard features to be programmed to support advanced research by the ONERA engineers. 

Stirling Dynamics used its standard simulator product range, which is fully active, compact, and linkable as a starting point for development. The company’s Compact Sticks and Compact Dual Rotary Throttle products were configured to look and behave like A320 products. The tiller was a new design, created to replicate the A320 product exactly. 

Commenting on this contract award, Stirling’s Head of Cockpit Controls, Jonathan Boon, stated: “We were pleased to continue our successful relationship with ONERA and to provide simulator equipment for this innovative simulator. Our teams worked closely together during this 9-month development programme, and we are delighted with the results.” 

The final controls featured all the benefits of Stirling’s active control products, such as electronically linking, user-configurability and low through-life costs. The project involved the concurrent development of an active A320 tiller, as well as additional capabilities unique to the ONERA application for the pedals and side sticks, which included features such as gates, detents, static and dynamic friction (via Software), and the ability to unlink Pilot and Co-Pilot controls via a tunable force from each of the linked controls.  

The cockpit controls have now been delivered to the ONERA and Stirling’s engineering team supported the integration of the controls onsite, training and assisting with first-time set-up. The controls are performing reliably in the field and providing carefree operations. 

 “The offer of Stirling Dynamics fully met our expectations, we particularly appreciated their high level of technical expertise, professionalism, and respect for deadlines. Thanks to Stirling Dynamics, ONERA will have a new unique scientific testing platform. SCHEMAX will contribute to the design of future aircraft cockpits, to the benefit of the French and European aerospace sector, by integrating humans in the loop, early in the design process.” said Gregory Bonin, research engineer at ONERA and “SCHEMAX” Project Manager. 

22nd November 2022