Airbus fly-by-wire architect Bernard Ziegler honoured
No-one has more influenced contemporary aircraft design than Bernard Ziegler, who drove the program to develop the fly-by-wire FBW cockpit and control systems first applied in a civil airliner to the Airbus A320 in 1987, and who received the Flightglobal Lifetime Achievement Award during the Farnborough Air Show overnight.
Ziegler, 79, is the son of one of the founding fathers of Airbus, Henri Ziegler, who became its first president. He flew as an Airbus Industrie test pilot on the A300, and A310 airliners, which preceded FBW, and was the first flight test pilot on the A320 when it began its certification flying in 1987, and also flew on subsequent Airbus FBW developments in his career as senior vice president engineering until his retirement in 1997.
At the Le Bourget Air Show in 1973 the writer was one of many who flew in the open cockpit A300 prototype captained by Bernard Ziegler, standing behind the pilots using a monkey grip bar while being given a running commentary on its characteristics, and the occasional thrill, in what was a very different environment to that of air shows today, back when reporters had ready access to the leading figures in aviation and their remarkable flying machines.
In an earlier report, there is even a blurry photo of the back of Ziegler’s head (above) as we cross the runway end at Le Bourget, as shown by the lights on what was a typically very rainy air show day. The A300 handled the contaminated runway really well, which is why the media didn’t end up falling forward into the action which on this occasion, included US Senator and Presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater as the guest co-pilot.
Goldwater gave this reporter and an ABC TV crew a very entertaining interview, shot on 16 mm film, then synched for sound in a four hour exercise in purgatory for reporters of those times off a quarter inch magnetic tape, and then sent by air freight to Rippon Lea in Melbourne to go to air about three days later.
So much for spontaneity in electronic media, since satellites cost up to $US 70,000 for a few minutes, and there weren’t many of them, and they had to be booked days in advance.
The thrill of joy flights in an A300 were forgotten shortly afterwards, when the pride of the USSR, the supersonic TU-144, crashed during a showing off competition with a Concorde prototype.
It is good to see Ziegler looking so well, under the wing of an A380, which when he retired, remained in the project phase as the A3XX.