The advent of FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) engines permits operation of the flight control systems and autothrottles for the engines to be fully integrated. On modern military aircraft other systems such as autostabilization, navigation, radar and weapons system are all integrated with the flight control systems. FADEC allows maximum performance to be extracted from the aircraft without fear of engine misoperation, aircraft damage or high pilot workloads.

Full Authority Digital Engine (or Electronics) Control (FADEC) is a system consisting of a digital computer, called an electronic engine controller (EEC) or engine control unit (ECU), and its related accessories that control all aspects of aircraft engine performance. FADECs have been produced for both piston engines and jet engines.

In the civil field, the integration increases flight safety and economy. The Airbus A320 and its fly-by-wire brethren are protected from dangerous situations such as low-speed stall or overstressing by flight envelope protection. As a result, in such conditions, the flight control systems commands the engines to increase thrust without pilot intervention. In economy cruise modes, the flight control systems adjust the throttles and fuel tank selections more precisely than all but the most skillful pilots. FADEC reduces rudder drag needed to compensate for sideways flight from unbalanced engine thrust. On the A330/A340 family, fuel is transferred between the main (wing and center fuselage) tanks and a fuel tank in the horizontal stabilizer, in order to optimize the aircraft's center of gravity during cruise flight. The fuel management controls keep the aircraft's center of gravity accurately trimmed with fuel weight, rather than drag-inducing aerodynamic trims in the elevators.

True full authority digital engine controls have no form of manual override available, placing full authority over the operating parameters of the engine in the hands of the computer. If a total FADEC failure occurs, the engine fails. If the engine is controlled digitally and electronically but allows for manual override, it is considered solely an EEC or ECU. An EEC, though a component of a FADEC, is not by itself FADEC. When standing alone, the EEC makes all of the decisions until the pilot wishes to intervene.FADEC works by receiving multiple input variables of the current flight condition including air density, throttle lever position, engine temperatures, engine pressures, and many other parameters. The inputs are received by the EEC and analyzed up to 70 times per second. Engine operating parameters such as fuel flow, stator vane position, bleed valve position, and others are computed from this data and applied as appropriate. FADEC also controls engine starting and restarting. The FADEC's basic purpose is to provide optimum engine efficiency for a given flight condition.FADEC not only provides for efficient engine operation, it also allows the manufacturer to program engine limitations and receive engine health and maintenance reports. For example, to avoid exceeding a certain engine temperature, the FADEC can be programmed to automatically take the necessary measures without pilot intervention.


With the operation of the engines so heavily relying on automation, safety is a great concern. Redundancy is provided in the form of two or more, separate identical digital channels. Each channel may provide all engine functions without restriction. FADEC also monitors a variety of analog, digital and discrete data coming from the engine subsystems and related aircraft systems, providing for fault tolerant engine control.


A typical civilian transport aircraft flight may illustrate the function of a FADEC. The flight crew first enters flight data such as wind conditions,runway length, or cruise altitude, into the flight management system (FMS). The FMS uses this data to calculate power settings for different phases of the flight. At takeoff, the flight crew advances the throttle to a predetermined setting, or opts for an auto-throttle takeoff if available. The FADECs now apply the calculated takeoff thrust setting by sending an electronic signal to the engines; there is no direct linkage to open fuel flow. This procedure can be repeated for any other phase of flight.

In flight, small changes in operation are constantly made to maintain efficiency. Maximum thrust is available for emergency situations if the throttle is advanced to full, but limitations can’t be exceeded; the flight crew has no means of manually overriding the FADEC.

FADECs are employed by almost all current generation jet engines, and increasingly in piston engines for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

The system replaces both magnetos in piston-engined aircraft, which makes costly magneto maintenance obsolete and eliminates carburetor heat, mixture controls and engine priming. Because it controls each engine cylinder independently for optimum fuel injection and spark timing, the pilot no longer needs to monitor fuel mixture. More precise mixtures create less engine wear, which reduces operating costs and increases engine life for the average aircraft. Tests have also shown significant fuel savings.


Better fuel efficiency

Automatic engine protection against out-of-tolerance operations

Safer as the multiple channel FADEC computer provides redundancy in case of failure

Care-free engine handling, with guaranteed thrust settings

Ability to use single engine type for wide thrust requirements by just reprogramming the FADECs

Provides semi-automatic engine starting

Better systems integration with engine and aircraft systems

Can provide engine long-term health monitoring and diagnostics

Number of external and internal parameters used in the control processes increases by one order of magnitude

Reduces the number of parameters to be monitored by flight crews

Due to the high number of parameters monitored, the FADEC makes possible "Fault Tolerant Systems" (where a system can operate within required reliability and safety limitation with certain fault configurations)

Can support automatic aircraft and engine emergency responses (e.g. in case of aircraft stall, engines increase thrust automatically).


Full authority digital engine controls have no form of manual override available, placing full authority over the operating parameters of the engine in the hands of the computer. If a total FADEC failure occurs, the engine fails. In the event of a total FADEC failure, pilots have no way of manually controlling the engines for a restart, or to otherwise control the engine. As with any single point of failure, the risk can be mitigated with redundant FADECs.

High system complexity compared to hydromechanical, analogue or manual control systems

High system development and validation effort due to the complexity