Thu, Jul 22, 2010
AFF System Will Automate "Routine" Formation Flight
The first flight of the Sikorsky Autonomous Formation Flying
(AFF) system was carried out on June 4 by Sikorsky Innovations, the
company announced Tuesday at the Farnborough International Air
The demonstration used the Sikorsky AFF system implemented on
the U.S. Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate's (AFDD) JUH-60A
RASCAL(TM) aircraft, flying in formation with an unmodified EH-60L
aircraft. The AFF Project is aimed to reduce a helicopter pilot's
workload by automating routine formation flight. The AFF system
will allow a pilot to designate a lead aircraft and engage the
system to maintain flight at a specified relative position.
"The AFF control system is the first in a series of
demonstrations showcasing Sikorsky Aircraft's competence in
autonomy," said Mark Miller, Vice President of Engineering. "This
is the first in a series of planned technology demonstrations that
highlight our capabilities in key areas to promote autonomous
flight, including, sensing, control, and system integration."
The AFF system demonstrated is completely passive, as it uses a
single visual range camera and requires no modifications in the
lead aircraft, thus placing no special requirements on the
aircraft. It can be used to follow an unmodified Black Hawk
helicopter or modified to follow another type of helicopter.
Sikorsky says the AFF control system is another example of new
capabilities enabled by fly-by-wire technology (FBW), and is
another in a series of demonstrations that highlight the importance
of FBW and the new capabilities it brings to the customer.
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