Pilots of the world’s most successful and proven training aircraft, Hawk, will have vital information at their fingertips thanks to new tablet computers fitted by us.
At the tap of a touch-screen
The Hawk team, based at our site in Brough, East Yorkshire, has found a way to allow training pilots to view everything from technical publications, landing trajectories, conversion apps and weather forecasts at the tap of a touch-screen.
Previously, the pilots would have information on reference cards and maps kept in their flight suit pockets.
Hand over for trials
Following rigorous testing which included checks on how the tablets would handle rapid decompression, the first four tablets were handed over to officials from the South African Air Force to trial in September.
Lee Franks, Head of Engineering – Hawk Product Development, said: “This is the latest in a long line of developments for Hawk which are centred on making sure we make the aircraft the best it can be for our customers.
“Now we have handed over the first of these tablets, we want the South African Air Force to try them out; part of the beauty of them is they can be tailored to carry whatever information is needed by each customer.
“They are an additional resource available to the pilot, they do not replace anything, only add to a truly world-class aircraft.”
Along with the tablets, the team even had six sets of gloves specially-made to allow the pilots to use the computers.
Lee said: “Their traditional flying gloves were not suitable, so we immediately looked in to what was available on the market and then tailored the gloves to what would be needed by pilots.”
More trials to follow
The team is now working on getting more ready to trial by the RAF, the Indian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force – which are among the 18 countries to have bought the aircraft.
Above and beyond
But, just as impressive as the latest development of Hawk has been the speed with which the team has worked to get them ready to fly. Having been set the challenge of getting them ready by the end of the year, the Hawk team achieved a ‘stretched target’ in South Africa of 9 September to suit a senior visit with the customer.
Lee explains: “It was a case of looking at the tablet as being no different to taking a book into the cockpit, it is not a new display, and it is independent of the display software in there.
“Once we started thinking about it like this, we concluded there were three main areas we needed to look at which made the tablet different to a book.
“We needed to ensure the tablet would not explode if exposed to rapid decompression and to ensure they did not interfere with the aircraft electronic systems or magnetic compass.”
Working together with a common goal
The team tested the tablets against rapid decompression and analysed system interference from an Electromagnetic Compatibility perspective. In addition, compass effects were also tested before giving it the all-clear.
Lee said: “The main factor in the team achieving this challenge in the timescales was around having a vision and a clear end goal, we knew we wanted to get something done and we knew we had to find a way to do it.”
Source: BAE Systems PLC (LSE: BAES.L)
Date: Oct 14, 2013