Recently, engineers and test pilots at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division successfully transitioned the newly-developed F/A-18 flight control software called MAGIC CARPET from the virtual world of the simulator to the blue skies above the Chesapeake Bay.
MAGIC CARPET is an acronym for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. The software is designed to make landing on an aircraft carrier easier by maintaining a commanded glideslope and angle of attack, giving the pilot the opportunity to focus more attention on maintaining a proper line-up.
On Feb. 6, Navy test pilot Lt. Cmdr. Tyler Hurst flew the first flight in “Salty Dog 222,” an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23. On Feb. 11, Navy test pilot Lt. Brent Robinson flew a follow-on test flight to expand the MAGIC CARPET’s flight envelope.
“With the initial set of flights, we were able to confirm that these new flight control laws performed very much in line with our predictions from the simulators,” said Robinson, MAGIC CARPET project officer. “The initial airborne response characteristics observed in both Path and Rate modes with both Full and Half flaps are very encouraging.”
Test pilots from VX-23, working closely with engineers manning the control rooms of the Atlantic Test Ranges, will put the flight control system “through its paces over the next few weeks with myriad of approaches and touch-and-go landings in preparation for the initial shipboard testing,” Robinson said.
The engineering group responsible for developing the flight control software, new heads-up displays, and simulators was encouraged by the first initial flights, which included practice field carrier landings.
“After the first test flights, we needed only minor tweaking of a few feedback gains which showed good correlations with our aerodynamic models and flight response predictions,” said James “Buddy” Denham, a senior engineer in the aeromechanics division at NAVAIR. “We also received very positive feedback on the enhanced heads-up displays, we are now completing much of the off-nominal work, and the initial results and pilot feedback are favorable.”
Test pilots, engineers, and landing signal officers (LSO) from VX-23 will continue to test MAGIC CARPET on F/A-18E/F aircraft through nominal and off-nominal approaches in the coming weeks, leading up to an at-sea testing period scheduled for later this year.
Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Mar 16, 2015