Defense

November 21, 2012

Keeping the warfighter safe: 416th FLTS continues to enhance life-saving auto collision avoidance technology

Tags:
Jet Fabara
412th TW Public Affairs


Since the beginning of the partnership between the Department of Defense, NASA and Lockheed Martin, the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System has evolved into an instrument intended to keep civilian and military aircrew members fit to fly and fight another day.

More than 25 years later, team members from the 416th Flight Test Squadron continue to test that life-saving technology in order to see it fully integrated and implemented into the Air Force’s fourth generation fighters.

“Controlled flight into terrain, or CFIT, has proven to be a significant contributor to loss of life and aircraft in the U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft fleet. Between 1992 and 2004 there were 34 F-16 CFIT mishaps with 24 fatalities in the U.S. Air Force. The Auto GCAS was developed under the Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology program to reduce the number of CFITs in direct response to a Secretary of Defense mandated 75-percent reduction of DOD mishaps,” said Jessica Peterson, 416th FLTS flight dynamics lead.

“From the combat effectiveness standpoint, each aircraft lost to CFIT is one less asset combatant commanders have to employ during wartime. Clearly, that impacts our national security,” added Lt. Col. Robert Ungerman, 416th FLTS director of operations. “From the human standpoint, nothing destroys morale like losing a squadron mate and friend. Families and friends are devastated with each F-16 fatality we experience. The prevention of CFIT mishaps will avoid that anguish for dozens of spouses, parents, and children of lost pilots.”

According to the flight dynamics team, the Auto GCAS is designed to prevent CFIT mishaps by executing an automatic recovery maneuver when terrain impact is imminent. The system predicts CFIT conditions by means of a continuous comparison between a trajectory prediction and a terrain profile that is generated from onboard terrain elevation data. At the instant the predicted trajectory touches the terrain profile; the automatic recovery is executed by the Auto GCAS autopilot. The automatic recovery consists of an abrupt roll-to-upright and a nominal 5-g pull until terrain clearance is assured. The Auto GCAS recovery maneuver can be terminated at any time by the pilot.

“The Auto GCAS was not only designed to prevent CFIT, but to not interfere during normal F-16 operational maneuvers such as strafing missions and low-level flights,” added Peterson. “Furthermore, since spatial disorientation is a common cause of CFIT mishaps, the Pilot Activated Recovery System, or PARS, was designed to provide a disoriented pilot with a way to manually engage an automated recovery.”

The Air Force Research Laboratory, in partnership with the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Lockheed Martin Aero and the Air Force Flight Test Center initially demonstrated the feasibility of integrating an Auto GCAS and a PARS into the F-16 during the Fighter Risk Reduction Project in 2010, conducting more than 2,000 auto-recoveries.

“Although there are other automatic systems in development for other platforms, nothing has been implemented at this point,” Peterson said. “Since 2010, minor changes have been made to increase the protection envelope and decrease nuisance potential by making adjustments to the trajectory predictions, automatic recoveries, altitude buffers and the pilot-vehicle interface.”

The F-16 design try out flight test program has been ongoing at the 416th FLTS since fall 2011.

“In the end, Auto GCAS is an amazing compilation of technologies that will provide the final safety net should a pilot ever unknowingly put the aircraft in danger of hitting the ground,” said Maj. Kyle Schlappi, 416th FLTS Auto GCAS project test pilot. “Once AGCAS is fully fielded, I imagine we’ll see an abrupt decrease in fatal F-16 accidents as the CFIT rate drops to nearly zero. To the warfighter, and the warfighter’s family, Auto GCAS provides significant peace of mind to know such a capable system is keeping our pilots safe.”

The F-16 Auto GCAS is projected to save the U.S. Air Force 14 F-16 aircraft, 10 personnel, and $530 million over the future life of the F-16, according to Peterson. The system is expected to be fielded on all U.S. Air Force Block 40/42/50/52 F-16s by spring 2014, which totals approximately 640 aircraft.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 23, 2014

News: U.S. conducts spy flights over Russia - After a tit-for-tat series of delays, the United States conducted an Open Skies Treaty intelligence flight over Russian territory April 21, a State Department official said.  Army paratroopers heading to Poland after Russian annexation of Crimea - U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland to begin a series of...
 
 

News Briefs April 23, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 22, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is one less than the Defense Department’s tally. At least...
 
 

Northrop Grumman sets new greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 30 percent by 2020

Northrop Grumman announced April 22 its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2010 levels by 2020, as part of its commemoration of Earth Day.   “Northrop Grumman is dedicated to top performance in environmental sustainability,” said Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president. “This new goal sets the bar significantly...
 

 

Lockheed Martin demonstrates enhanced ground control system, software for small UAV

Lockheed Martin’s Group 1 family of unmanned aircraft systems is migrating to enhanced automation capabilities using its Kestrelô “Fly Light” flight control systems and industry-leading mobile Ground Control Station software. The increased automation allows operators to focus on executing the mission, rather than flying various aircraft. Earlier this year, Lockheed MartinR...
 
 

U.S. Navy awards General Dynamics $33 million to operate, maintain military sealift ships

The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics American Overseas Marine LLC a $32.7 million contract modification to operate and maintain seven large, medium-speed, roll-on / roll-off ships for the Military Sealift Command. AMSEA is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics. Under the terms of the modification, AMSEA will provide services including crewing, engineering, maintenance,...
 
 

US Navy deploys Standard Missile-3 Block IB for first time

In partnership with the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Navy deployed the second-generation Standard Missile-3 Block IB made by Raytheon for the first time, initiating the second phase of the Phased Adaptive Approach. “The SM-3 Block IB’s completion of initial operational testing last year set the stage for a rapid deployment to theater,” said Dr....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>