The upgraded CH-47 Chinook, outfitted with bright red skis, hovers over the airfield at Naval Air Station Patuxent River as it completes checks of a new digital automatic flight control system. The system gives the aircraft better low speed capabilities, allowing for safer maneuvering and increased control. (Courtesy photo by Fred Troilo)
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — Royal Air Force (RAF) flight crews completed testing of their new MK6 tandem rotor helicopter with the help of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) here Aug. 10.
NAWCAD employees provided assistance to the RAF under a commercial service agreement with Boeing. NAS Patuxent River offers many unique testing areas such as sloped landing pads, maneuvering courses and heavy lift stations. Flying in these testing areas ensured the helicopter’s new digital automatic flight control system (AFCS) could operate successfully in a wide range of environments and scenarios, from operations in a desert theater to supply drops in the Arctic.
“This is going to give us increased control in degraded visual environments, when operating in very difficult conditions such as in the dark or with dust and snow that prevent the pilot from seeing,” said RAF Flight Leader Chris Boddy. “This gives control to the aircraft so the pilot can monitor the profiles of the aircraft flying and not be overworked.”
In addition to the digital AFCS, the upgraded version of Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook contains distinctive items such as the COBRA fire suppression system, the external rescue hoist and a rotor brake. The new frame structure of the MK6 allows for lower maintenance and vibration signatures for longer life.
Several RAF teams visited NAS Patuxent River over the test period, allowing different crews to conduct tests and gain experience flying the aircraft.
“We really appreciate all the facilities we have been able to use on base and places in the local community as well,” Boddy said. “It’s been a good place to work and live.”
Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Aug 21, 2013