A full authority digital fly-by-wire Flight Management System (FCS) is one in all many spectacular capabilities setting the CH-53K King Stallion heavy raise helicopter other than another heavy raise plane. “Full authority” means the FCS supplies the entire plane movement – not simply supplementing the pilot for stability. A digital fly-by-wire FCS is an digital flight management system teamed with a digital pc that replaces mechanical management techniques in an plane. It makes the plane simpler to deal with in degraded visible environments at gross weights as much as 88,000 lbs. The CH-53K is at the moment cleared to 27,000 lbs. exterior raise however will finally be cleared to 36,000 lbs. The excessive efficiency of the FCS is a direct results of the continuing collaboration and cooperation between material consultants inside the Naval Air Methods Command (NAVAIR) Heavy Carry Helicopters Program Workplace (PMA-261), the Built-in Check Workforce (ITT), and the Flight Controls System design engineers from Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Firm.

“FTVs are an especially highly effective instrument. It permits us to check design fixes on plane in between main software program releases. this implies the staff can frequently enhance the FCS software program. If a problem is recognized in flight take a look at, the FTVs will be adjusted inside a preapproved vary, offering the pilots a possibility to guage the correction within the plane within the meant surroundings. These FTVs are then included into the following main FCS software program launch. With every main FCS software program drop, the plane baseline efficiency markedly will increase as a result of incorporation of those verified FTVs,” mentioned Craig Merriman, CH-53K assistant program supervisor for take a look at.


“The CH-53E/D have been a lot tougher to fly. And the benefit of flying this, the flight management system might be the most important recreation changer for the 53 neighborhood. We’re not used to something like this,” mentioned retired Lt. Col. Lucas Frank, previously of Marine Operational Check and Analysis Squadron 1 (VMX-1).

A CH-53K King Stallion plane plugs a refueling drogue behind a KC-130J aerial refueling tanker throughout a take a look at occasion over the Chesapeake Bay in 2021. (Photograph by U.S. Navy Navair)

For pilots, the FCS supplies extra predictable and steady management responses to enhance security and mission effectiveness. For maintainers, the FCS reduces complexity by eliminating typical helicopter {hardware} like mixers, push-rods and tail rotor cables, whereas enhancing diagnostic functionality and upkeep time. For members of the CH-53K ITT, essentially the most spectacular FCS profit is how it may be used to attain future capabilities and shortly right recognized deficiencies. The flight take a look at program for the CH-53K makes use of 4 Engineering Growth Mannequin (EDM) CH-53K plane. In these 4 take a look at plane, the fly-by-wire FCS permits using adjustable parameters known as Flight Check Variables (FTVs), giving the take a look at staff alternatives to enhance the plane management traits. The CH-53K FCS is a piece in progress and a staff effort. When points have been recognized by means of flight take a look at, which required a fast decision, the entire staff collaborated from websites in Florida, Maryland and Connecticut. One instance of the staff’s success was the correction of air knowledge faults throughout aerial refueling. Throughout preliminary aerial refueling testing on the CH-53K in 2018, the FCS confirmed faults as a result of turbulent air knowledge created by the tanker plane.

The FCS air knowledge computer systems have been studying giant stress fluctuations inflicting the FCS to suppose the air knowledge computer systems had failed. With the deficiency recognized by the flight take a look at staff, the design engineers started growing FTVs and performing evaluation. The FTVs have been evaluated within the Flight Controls System Integration Lab (FCSIL), a Sikorsky-owned lab in Stratford, CT, utilized by the ITT. The FCSIL is a CH-53K plane consultant laboratory and simulator with triplex redundancy – a flight consultant management system. The ability is used to simulate plane conduct and consider the plane efficiency relative to new FTVs. The ability can be used to confirm the secure load and unload of FTVs to the software program. Following the FCSIL testing, the NAVAIR Airworthiness group reviewed the evaluation and granted approval to fly the FTVs. With this approval, the take a look at staff loaded the FTV on the plane. The repair was examined with no degradation, allowing the fleet aerial refueling operations that are in use right this moment. Using FTVs has been key in resolving FCS deficiencies found throughout flight take a look at and might be used to boost the already profitable fly-by-wire system because the CH-53K takes on extra capabilities sooner or later.

A CH-53K prepares to receive fuel from a KC-130J while carrying a 27,000 lb. external load during aerial refueling tests in late 2020.
A CH-53K prepares to obtain gas from a KC-130J whereas carrying a 27,000 lb. exterior load throughout aerial refueling checks in late 2020. (Photograph by U.S. Navy Navair)