Can anyone help me with a link or advice on how I can identify whether an aircraft is fly-by-wire (FBW)?

I understood the function of FBW, however if I want to know if a SA227 or smaller type of aircraft has FBW, I am not sure how to identify it? Is there a link or a way to exactly say which type of aircraft have FWB and which don't?

The same applies for FADEC as well.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Generally you use a search engine to look up the airplane, and read the description of its control system. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Nov 29, 2019 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Sa227 is not FBW. It has a single redline computer (SRL) but no FADEC. $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    Nov 29, 2019 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ thank you for feedback $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2019 at 8:13

2 Answers 2


Only an aircraft model can be fly-by-wire or not, not an individual airframe of the same model.

Designing FAA/EASA certifiable fly-by-wire systems is extremely expensive, so only expensive aircraft, produced in large numbers, are going to have it. All Airbus since the A320 and Boeing 777 and 787 airliners are fly-by-wire, so are high-end Dassault bizjets. Recently the club has been joined by Bombardier, Embraer, Sukhoi, Irkut (Yakovlev) and Mitsubishi.

This doesn't include military aircraft, though you'll largely see the same players there with the addition of Lockheed, Northrop, MiG, BAE and a few other all-military contractors. Air forces have more need for fly-by-wire and are more risk-tolerant than airlines.

The SA227 is not fly-by wire. For the most part, if you have to ask, or if it's affordable below corporate level, it's probably not fly-by-wire.

EEC (of which FADEC is the most advanced subtype) versus hydromechanical engine control choice is specific to the engine and the airframe. It's not readily visible. An airframe will either have cables and hydraulic lines or sensors and wires. The majority of jet airliners currently flying use EEC or FADEC engines.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ All currently in production Airbus aircraft are fly-by-wire, but all currently flying definitely *not*—there is still quite a few A300 and A310s still in service, mostly as freighters. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Nov 29, 2019 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ Therac /Jan Hudec: thank you for the feedback, very informative. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2019 at 8:16

There are two ways to tell if an aircraft is fly-by-wire. The first is to open the access panels, trace the wires coming from the controls, and see if they lead to a computer or not. The other way is to look it up in the aircraft's documentation.

The same thing is true for FADEC, except that FADECs are specific to the engine, not the plane. It's entirely possible to replace a non-FADEC-equipped engine with a FADEC-equipped one and vice versa. So, if you're going to look up the answer, you first need to identify what engine it has.

  • $\begingroup$ It is not relevant whether wires coming from the controls lead to a computer. What matters is whether the control column is connected via pulleys, hydraulic lines, or electric wires. It is also the control column specifically—there is a computer even in a modern C172, the G1000, but it does not make it fly-by-wire. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Nov 29, 2019 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JanHudec That's a common myth in the aviation community, but it's not true. Fly-by-wire is a term that specifically indicates computer control of the control surfaces. Just because an airplane uses electric wires to actuate servos does not make it fly-by-wire. If you google "fly-by-wire", you'll see that this is confirmed by both general knowledge sources (Wikipedia, USA Today) and by aviation-specific sources (AOPA). $\endgroup$ Nov 30, 2019 at 0:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don't think Wikipedia says it must involve computer specifically. It even includes analog systems in the examples… $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Nov 30, 2019 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JanHudec Why, so it does. I didn't realize that. However, at the time if writing this, if you google "fly-by-wire", every link on the first page of results says that computer control is a necessary component of the definition of the term, except for Wikipedia and one link back to this very site. This includes a dictionary of aviation terms, the AOPA's website, and... $\endgroup$ Nov 30, 2019 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ ... two different magazine articles. I still think I'm right. $\endgroup$ Nov 30, 2019 at 21:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .