The European manufacturer Airbus released the news of the death of Bernard Ziegler at the age of 88. Ziegler was one of Airbus’s pioneering engineers and his engineering role was instrumental in introducing the first fly-by-wire (FBW) controls and the side control stick in the development of the A320 aircraft, which began operations in 1988.
Ziegler was part of the Airbus team for four decades and saw the potential that a digital FBW could have, such as in-flight wraparound protection built into the control software. Its legacy will remain in all current generation Airbus aircraft thanks to digital FBW and its inclusion as a standard on all modern passenger aircraft around the world.
Bernard Ziegler was born in 1933 in Boulogne-sur-Seine, graduated from the French École Polytechnique in 1954 and subsequently studied at various engineering and flight training schools (École Nationale de l’Air, École de Chasse, École Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique, École du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Réception). For ten years, he was also a fighter jet pilot in the French Air Force.
At the beginning of the sixties he studied Aeronautical Engineering at the ENSA (l’École Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique) in Toulouse, currently, ISAE-SUPAERO, to later enter the prestigious EPNER test pilot school, before undertaking the military test pilot career.
In 1972, Ziegler joined Airbus as chief test pilot and was tasked with leading the creation of a new flight test division. To do this, Ziegler created a team that shared the objectives of the design office and partner countries, fostering collaboration between flight test teams and design engineers. In addition, he served as a test pilot on the maiden flight of the first A300 in 1972.
Later on, the program constituted one of the first FBW test benches, which transfers the pilot’s commands to the aircraft through digital signals, and presents important advantages thanks to commonality, improved flight safety, reduction of pilot workload, fewer mechanical parts and real-time monitoring of all aircraft systems
He was also a test pilot for the A310, A320 and A340-200. In June 1993, Ziegler was part of the longest flight ever made by civil airliners, when an A340-200, dubbed the World Ranger, circled the world in just over 48 hours with a single stopover in Auckland. departing from Paris.
Until his retirement in December 1997, Ziegler served as Airbus Vice President of Engineering. Rest in peace…