Friday, January 4, 2013

F-35 pushes the envelope

Great article in Aerotech News about the high AOA testing the F–35 has undergone recently. Of course, the critics haven't had much to say about this. However, it has gone very well. That's not to say that things were perfect. That's the point of testing. Discover, define and tweak/fix things that are correctable.

Here is what one of the test pilots had to say about the ongoing testing.
“We are significantly matching models and it gives us good confidence in the aircraft and how to polish the flight control systems so it’s even better than what we started with. Going into this unknown area of High AoA, we really like when things match. It makes you feel very safe, although we will remain cautious all the way though,” said David Nelson, F-35 chief test pilot from Lockheed Martin.
“We don’t want a first lieutenant going through F-35 school to be the first person to see something. We, as a flight test community, feel this is a protection and a promise we must deliver to the warfighter,” he continued.
The significant point here is that the flight characteristics are matching models and simulations and, as Nelson says, giving the pilots "good confidence" in the aircraft. And, just as significant, is the fact that testing progressed quickly to the 50° high angle of attack threshold.
As a result of the success, the F-35 ITF has also gained momentum in delivering an envelope in 2014 to the program office to the design limit o 50 degrees AoA, along with the ability to pull 7gs throughout the envelope, and also ensuring that the jet can fly out to 700 knots and 1.6 mach. “This is a huge milestone for the program. This is so important because in 2014, the F-35 program has made a commitment to deliver a flight envelope to the U.S. Air Force.

But more than that, we are doing this so we put test pilots like “Doc” Nelson in a position where we hope no other pilot ever has to deal with. But, if they find themselves in that position, we will have seen it and have verified that they can recover the aircraft,” said Lt. Col. George Schwartz, 461st Flight Test Squadron commander.
 So again, the aircraft continues to show marked progress in its development, and appears it will be on track to deliver the promised flight envelope to the U.S. Air Force in 2014.

That is progress in anyone's book.


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