DETROIT -- An Israeli F-15 pilot landed his plane safely after a midair collision had sliced off one wing. A DC-10 pilot used engines alone to land after all mechanical controls had failed. These examples show how some humans still can outdo by-wire systems.
They are the exceptions, though, said Don Winter, director of Network Centric Operations for Boeing Phantom Works.
In general, the aviation experience has shown that fly-by-wire gives more control and better efficiency and allows planes to accomplish things that mere pilots could never do, Winter said.
He was part of a panel on by-wire technology last week at the SAE World Congress.
The aviation industry's fly-by-wire experience is a stalking horse for automotive engineers seeking to introduce drive-by-wire systems, including those for braking, steering and occupant safety.
Automotive suppliers say that moving away from mechanical and hydraulic systems could save weight, boost fuel economy and intervene to prevent poor driving techniques.
Automakers are feeling their way through the introduction of by-wire technology, with electrically assisted mechanical controls making their way into cars.