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TRIBHUWAN UNIVERSITY

INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING
PULCHOWK CAMPUS

A REPORT ON
FADEC
A PROPITIOUS INVENTION,
ITS
OPERATION AND FUTURE ADVANCEMENT

Submitted to:
Sudip Bhattarai
Submitted by:
ANMESH GAIRE
PUSKAR KHANAL
SAMIKARAN BHATTARAI
SAWAN ADHIKHARI

(067/BME/604)
(067/BME/628)
(067/BME/636)
(067/BME/640)

12th August, 2014


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Abstract
FADEC, an acronym for Full Authority Digital Engine Control, has been stated
as close to perfection technology that one will ever find. This paper presents the
advantages, operation and possible improvements of FADEC system. The FADEC
system primarily does three functions: Engine control, safety and diagnostics and
Data logging. It eliminates the need for the use of magnetos, carburetor heat, mixture controls and engine priming. Preinstalled single throttle lever in FADEC reduces the tiresome task for the pilots to monitor and control the air fuel mixture.
By doing so, they increase the efficiency of the engine by 15%. Basic components
used in FADEC are: Two Electronic Control Units (ECUs), Central Air digital
Computer (CADC), Health Status Annunciator (HSA) and FADEC sensor sets.
Sensor sets detects the temperature, pressure, throttle position. The information is
carried to CADC. CADC converts the analogue data to digital and send them to
ECUs. ECU the brain of FADEC analyzes the data and guides actuators to operate accordingly. All the action carried out by FADEC will be displayed to pilots
through HSA. Undoubtedly, FADEC has been a boon to aviation but they too are
not free from voids. Despite coming up with better solutions at times, pilots cannot override the decisions of FADEC. Likewise, use of centralized operation has
reduced the life of FADEC. Advancement in these parameters would transform
FADEC from a close to perfection to a perfect technology.

Contents
1

INTRODUCTION
1.1 DEFINITION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.2 HISTORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.3 ADVANTAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2
2
3
3

COMPONENTS AND OPERATION OF FADEC


2.1 COMPONENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2 OPERATION OF FADEC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3 USE OF SENSOR IN FADEC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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5
6
8

USE OF FADEC IN MODERN AIRCRAFT

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FUTURE ADVANCEMENT

14

SUMMARY

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Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION
1.1

DEFINITION

FADEC, doesnt just live up to all the advanced billing, it leaps over it.
-Ben SmithPilots have long sought automatic assistance for the engine management system.
Well, the solution has arrived in the appearance of FADEC. Full Authority Digital
Engine Control (FADEC) is merely a system with digital computer, sensors and
actuators that control an aircrafts engine and propeller. The major functions of
FADEC include monitoring and controlling the fuel and ignition portions of the
engine. First used in turbine-powered aircraft, this cutting edge technology has
quickly found its way in piston powered aircraft. The FADEC system primarily
does three functions: Engine control, safety and diagnostics and Data logging.
Likewise, its ability in controlling the fuel pump and adjusting the amount of fuel
injection during the combustion process assist it in maintaining high efficiency.

Figure 1.1: Different types of FADEC produced by SAGEM


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1.2

HISTORY

The FADEC system is the result of an aggressive program of Aerosance ( a TCM


company) to certify such systems in aircrafts. If rumors are to be believed, the
FADEC system was reverse engineered from similar system in General Motors
Cadillac Northstar V-8. The then recently introduced Cadillac Northstar V-8 used
a computer to control the mixture and spark advance system for each cylinder. Although the system was developed by Aerosance in the late 1990s, the system took
long to be introduced to piston powered aircrafts. By July of 2007, there were only
two aircrafts in the United States that had factory installed FADEC systems: The
Thielert powered Diamond DA42 and the Teledyne Continental Motors powered
Liberty XL-2, the liberty XL-2 being the first one to be certified for use of FADEC
in 2005. Due to high costs and equally high maintenance charges, these systems
posed to be quite expensive. The FAA regulations also hindered its way to piston
powered aircrafts. The FADEC to be installed in aircrafts must pass high levels of
lightening, vibration and EMI testing which surpasses the automobile standards.
FADEC systems are currently in operation in many aircrafts which includes military aircraft F-18E/F and Euro fighter and the commercial aircrafts Airbus 320,
321 and Boeing 777.

1.3

ADVANTAGES

During the starting of the aircraft, FADEC adjusts the fuel to air mixture and positions the throttle based on the relative environmental parameters. Likewise, during
flight condition, FADEC constantly monitors the engine and adjusts the fuel flow.
Moreover, FADEC systems eliminate the need for the use of magnetos, carburetor heat, mixture controls and engine priming. Preinstalled single throttle lever in
FADEC reduces the tiresome task for the pilots to monitor and control the air fuel
mixture. The pilot just needs to position the throttle lever to a desired output such
as start, idle; cruise power or maximum power, and the FADEC system adjust the
engine automatically for the desired output. As the work is done automatically
air-fuel mixture is leaned in each cylinder which maximizes performance and efficiency in all conditions.
The other advantages of FADEC have been described below:
1. Limiting the disadvantages of carburetor
A very important advantage of fuel injection is that it eliminates the risk of
carburetor icing. Carburetor ice occurs due to the effect of fuel vaporization
and the decrease in air pressure in the venture meter, which causes a sharp
temperature drop in the carburetor. If water vapor in the air condenses when
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the carburetor temperature is at or below freezing, ice may form on internal surfaces of the carburetor, including the throttle valve. The reduced air
pressure, as well as the vaporization of fuel, contributes to the temperature
decrease in the carburetor. This restricts the flow of the fuel/air mixture and
reduces power. If enough ice builds up, the engine will suddenly stop with
little or no warning. Carburetor ice is most likely to occur when temperatures are below 20C (70F) and the relative humidity is above 80 percent.
However, due to the sudden cooling that takes place in the carburetor, icing
can occur even with temperatures as high as 38C (100F) and humidity as low
as 50 percent. This temperature drop can be as much as 20C (70F0).
The ECU has a complete 3D map programmed into it so it can decide on how
long each injector needs to be open to get the right amount of fuel through in
all different circumstances. Looking at RPM and throttle position the ECU
calculates the amount of air going into the engine and sets the injector timing accordingly. FADEC unit will even fine tune the fuel flow to compensate
for changes in barometric pressure as well as inlet air temperature in the
inlet collector. The higher the aircraft goes, the more the barometric pressure drops so less fuel will need to be injected. When the inlet air changes
(not only differences in hot or cold days, but also as the aircraft climbs) the
amount of fuel will be adapted.
2. Single lever control
FADEC reduces a pilots engine management tasks to simply selecting the
desired power setting through a single control. Pilots can now forget about
managing the engine and focus on flying. The recreational pilot doesnt really want all the hassle, but just wants to enjoy flying. With just the throttle
to adjust, there is certainly less risk for the pilot (and certainly less experienced ones) to forget something (for example applying carburetor heat) or
do something wrong such as flooding the carburetor on start-up or leaning it
too much and possibly damaging the engine.
With single lever control and FADEC taking care of all of the engine management tasks, the risk of pilot error is much reduced. As human error is still
large factor in many accidents we believe the FADEC controlled engine will
increase safety in general in any powered aircraft.
3. Extra features
Another safety feature is that it controls the electric fuel pump. If the engine stops, it will shut-off the fuel pump automatically. If the fuel would
not be shut-off immediately, fuel leaks and continuing fuel circulation under
pressure could cause fire and the hazard of explosion.

Chapter 2

COMPONENTS AND
OPERATION OF FADEC
2.1

COMPONENTS

Main components used in FADEC system are listed below:


Two Electronic Control Units (ECUs)
Central Air digital Computer(CADC)
Health Status Annunciator (HSA)
FADEC sensor sets
ECUs are the brain of the engine control system. They perform the most important
task of receiving the output from sensors, analyzing it and taking the immediate
required action. ECU is divided into an upper and lower portion. Lower portion
contains the Electronic Circuit Board that processes all data whereas; upper portion
contains the ignition coils for the spark plugs. Lower portion of each ECU contains
two microprocessors. One microprocessor is assigned for one cylinder. Let us say,
cylinder 1 and 2 are operated by ECU no.1 and cylinder 3 and 4 are operated by
ECU no.2. If any problem is encountered with ECU no.1, cylinder no. 1 and 2
will be operated by ECU no. 2. This is the backup plan which has been mentioned
earlier.
The CADC (Central Air Digital Computer) consists of a analogue to digital converter, several quartz pressure sensors, and the microprocessor. Inputs to the system
includes the primary flight controls, a number of switches, static and dynamic air
pressure (for calculating stall points and aircraft speed) and a temperature gauge.
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The output controls the primary flight controls, wing sweep and the flaps.
FADEC sensor set are used to detect speed, cylinder head temperature, exhaust
gas temperature, manifold air pressure, manifold air temperature, fuel pressure
and throttle position. Health Status Annunciator(HSA) consists of five lights on
panel and WOT .HSA provides information regarding the status of the FADEC
system. Whenever, any problem is encountered, following warnings might pop up
in FADEC windows:
FADEC WARN: Engine Failure may be imminent, more than one cylinder
is affected, land ASAP
FADEC CAUTION: 99.9% of installed components are working. No prompt
action is required.
PPWR FAIL: Primary Battery is not being charged, will be accompanied
by EBAT FAIL, you will start draining both batteries and have at least 60
minutes to land. Your secondary battery will only power FADEC, AI, and
Turn Coordinator
EBAT FAIL: Backup Battery not being charged, everything can run from
Primary Power Source/Battery.
FUEL PUMP: illuminates when Fuel Boost Pump Mode Switch is in ON or
OFF. If this light is illuminated it means that you are manually controlling the
fuel pump or that the fuel pressure is out of the 20-40 psi range. Illuminates
for electric driven fuel pump as well as engine driven pump.
WOT: It is situated below HSA panel. Illuminates when Throttle Position
Switch (TPS) is contacted (full throttle), signal sent to ECU that max power
is required which causes FADEC to set fuel to air ratio for Best Power.

2.2

OPERATION OF FADEC

As the name suggests these sensors are employed to detect speed, temperature,
pressure, throttle position and they are equipped at particular functional positions.
The output from the sensors is flown to Central Air Data computer (CADC) and
then to Electronic Control Units (ECUs) for data processing and analysis.
Each ECUs has two Central Air Data computer (CADC) inputs. All the sensors
mentioned above flow their outputs to CADC before they are sent to ECUs. There
is cross link between each ECUs and CADC which helps in normal operation

during failure of one CADC inputs. Generally, CADC receives inputs from five
sources:
1. Static pressure sensor
2. Dynamic pressure sensor
3. Analog pilot information
4. Temperature probe and
5. Digital switch pilot input

Figure 2.1 cross link between ECUs and CADCs

Failure of one CADC inputs does not have any effect but when both CADC inputs
fail to operate, FADEC operates in alternative way. That is, FADEC takes the latest input sensed by CADC to calculate thrust. Now, FADEC utilizes an internal,
fixed routine to determine thrust level for the selected throttle position. However,
internal routine may cause the trust to increase but it will never cause the thrust
to decrease. After the detection of information, ECUs direct actuator to perform
accordingly.
The FADEC system continuously monitors fuel and ignition conditions. The ECU
units receive information from sensors via the Low Voltage Harness which interfaces with the MPC units via 50-pin connectors. The status of the FADEC system
is conveyed to the pilot by the HSA. Discrete lamps in the HSA will illuminate
upon detection of system faults and during some normal control actions.
Sensor input to each control channel includes engine speed, crank position, fuel
pressure, intake manifold air pressure, intake manifold air temperature and Wide
Open Throttle (WOT) position. In addition, each control channel also receives
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exclusive signals for measuring its cylinders head temperature and exhaust gas
temperature.
The ECU units use the signals from sensors to determine the required fuel mixture and ignition timing for its cylinders next combustion event. The required fuel
quantity is injected into each cylinder intake port at the appropriate time, with respect to crank position, by a solenoid style fuel injector. The injectors control coil
is driven directly by the associated control channel.
FADEC systems are either powered by the aircrafts main electrical engine or from
a separate generator connected to the engine. However, a backup source of 12 or
24 voltages is available for both the cases because failure of FADEC system could
result in complete loss of engine thrust. To eliminate the loss of thrust, two separate
and identical digital channels are installed which are capable of providing thrust to
all engines. Two channels are housed in one assemble but are physically separated.
FADEC comes with an impressive improvement to the electrical system. In the
event of an alternator failure, the automatic bus tie will connect the buses together.
This event requires no input from the pilot and the alternator which still remains
online supporting night time operations.

2.3

USE OF SENSOR IN FADEC

Sensor is a device that is designed to transform acoustic, biological, chemical, electrical, magnetic, mechanical, optical, radiation or thermal stimuli into an electrical
signal for the purpose of transmitting information. Sensors and sensing techniques
are needed to be integrated into the FADEC. This requires the addition of signal
conditioners and software addition to the control algorithms. Signal conditioning
of the signal may involve amplification, filtering, and may contain some. All the
sensors need to be interfaced with the hardware through analog signal multiplexer
and analog-to-digital converters.

Figure 2.2: Different Sensors and their location


FADEC systems employ three types of sensors:
Control sensor
Feedback sensor and
Diagnostic sensors
Control sensors are critical to maintaining stable engine operation including
temperatures, pressures, and speed measurement. Feedback sensors are primarily position sensors for measurement and control of actuator position. Diagnostic
sensors may include all control sensor types and additionally, vibration, strain, Infrared, and gas measurement.
Control loops are required to maintain safe and stable engine operation. Each
sensor is routed to a central Controller (FADEC). Todays manufacturer employs
dedicated wiring for each measurement and actuation location. Figure 2.3 shows
typical sensors suits used in a typical turbine engine control.

Figure2.3: Block Diagram for components and data flow in FADEC

At present, all the FADEC systems are installed in centralized way. All the information is carried only after being passed from it.

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Figure 2.4 : Centralized FADEC system


[http://www.decwg.org/pages/current.html]

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Chapter 3

USE OF FADEC IN MODERN


AIRCRAFT
Alike every electronic goods, FADEC are improved and optimized periodically.
FADEC are classified into different generations according to their latest version.
Three generations of FADECs for powerful civilian aircraft engines have been developed one after another.

Table 3: Use of FADEC in different Aircrafts


Capable of controlling single or dual channel turboprops, turbo shafts, turbojets and turbofans, FADECs control the various actuators in real time by continuously processing and analyzing data collected by multiple sensors (oil, kerosene,
engine, ignition, alternator, etc.). Equipped with a comprehensive set of built-in
tests, FADECs are designed to resist severe environments (electromagnetic interferences, lightning, contaminations, vibrations, high temperatures, etc.) and offer
lower costs of ownership. Featured in several programs such as CFM56, CF6,
GE90, GEnx, TP400, GP7200 and SaM146 engines, Developed and built alongside BAe Systems within the framework of the FADEC International joint venture,
FADEC 3s processing power is 10 times higher than its predecessors for the same
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overall size. Its highly embedded electronic architecture features several new functions such as maintenance and diagnostic functions, in particular. Among its multiple tasks, FADEC 3 controls engine thrust, interfaces with the thrust reverser and
ensures electronic engine protection in case of over speed, etc. FADEC 3 equips
the GE90-115B, the Boeing 777 Extended Range most powerful aircraft engine in
the world.

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Chapter 4

FUTURE ADVANCEMENT
FADEC has been a boon to Aircraft. It has reduced concentration of pilots and
increased efficiency by 15%. However, we can expect further advancement form
the device in the future.
FADEC are programmed by the manufacturer and the installed program varies for
different engines. As it operates within the given code, pilot cannot override its
decision, despite coming up with better solutions at times.
Most importantly, the current centralized FADEC system must be replaced with
distributed FADEC system. Distributed system will increase the life cycles of
FADEC and would provide greater flexibility. NASA has been carrying out this
research. The success in the research will certainly revolutionize FADEC.

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Chapter 5

SUMMARY
It has been quite clearly stated that FADEC has made aircraft performance far
better. They have been able to eliminate the need for magnetos, carburetor heat,
mixture controls and engine priming as well. Due to presence of automatic sensing
and optimum fuel supply, the system also proves to be advantageous in increasing
fuel efficiency and overall performance of the engine. Moreover the best part of
using FADEC is that the engine starts with a push of a button. The pilot gains more
time and concentration since he is relieved from several responsibilities like leaning or enriching the fuel mixture. Thus he can focus on keeping above blue-line,
stowing the gear and flying the airplane even in critical conditions like engine out.
Still the system is not void of disadvantages. During critical conditions the system does not provide with manual override. Therefore the pilot has nothing to do
than pray that the system performs reliably and according to he wishes. Although,
research is being carried out, no solution has been obtained for centralized system. Despite these limitations, FADEC has been proved as a boon for Aircraft
industries.

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Bibliography
[1] Khan A. MD. (et al.) 2013. Experimental study of FADEC system
on Lycoming engine. International Journal of Modern engineering
Research
[2] Smith D. 2007. FADEC: Aviation maintenance
[3] FADEC Powerpoint presentation. Liberty XL2
[4] Menne C. 2007. FADEC is here, Malibu Mirage
[5] Airplane and systems description. Liberty Aerospace
[6] Engine control units.
Available at: http://www.sagem.com/spip.php?rubrique16
[7] Cenntrally controlled FADEC.
Available at: http://www.decwg.org/pages/current.html
[8] FADEC.
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FADEC
[9] CADC.
Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CADC
[10] Behhahahi.R.A 2006. Need for Robust sensors for inherently fail
safe gas turbine engine controls, monitors and prognostics. Air force
research laboratory.

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