Monday, October 06, 2008

Bernard Ziegler 1933-2021

Bernard Ziegler was born in 1933, and is the former Airbus senior vice president for engineering. He is the son of the former Airbus CEO, Henri Ziegler.

He was educated at the Ecole Polytechnique (1954) as an engineer and École de l'Air (1955) for his pilot training and military commission. Mr. Ziegler began his career as a fighter pilot in the French air force. He saw action in the Algerian War and was decorated twice. Principal medals and decorations received include Officer de L’Ordre National due Merite, Médaille de l’Aéronautique,Croix de la valeur militaire and Officer de la Legion d’honneur.

He continued his studies in Ecole Nationale Superieure de L’Aeronautique et de L’Espace (Supaero) (1961) and was later posted to École du Personnel Navigant d'Essais et de Réception (EPNER), the French Air Force test pilot establishment in 1964. He was the chief test pilot for the Dassault Mirage G in 1968. In Airbus, his career spans from chief test pilot (1972) to senior vice president for flight and support, and then to senior vice president for engineering. As a test pilot, he flew the first flight of the A300,A310, A320 and A340.

Bernard Ziegler was the most influential figure in developing the cockpit design and fly-by-wire control system for the Airbus airliners. He proposed that numerous technological innovations be applied to Airbus aircraft; for example using composites, twin-engine configuration for the A300, fly-by-wire and many others. He was the guiding force in the creation of the flight-envelope protection incorporated in the Airbus flight-control software. This innovation allows the pilot to apply the maximum control forces considered necessary while preventing inadvertent inputs that could place the aircraft outside the safety margin. This feature is considered by many to be highly beneficial in avoiding unusual attitudes in flight and in safely maximizing the effectiveness of evasive manoeuvres in response to GPWS warnings.

For his efforts in advancing the fly-by-wire cause, he was honoured by Flight Safety Foundation in 1998. He retired from Airbus after 25 years of service in 1997.