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Fri, Aug 29, 2008

Two-For-Two: Sikorsky Marks First Flight Of UH-60M Upgrade

Special Black Hawk Uses Fly-By-Wire Controls

Look Ma... no control linkages! Two days after the helicopter maker announced the first flight of its X2 Technology Demonstrator rotorcraft, Sikorsky said Friday it completed the first flight of its UH-60M Upgrade Black Hawk helicopter... currently the only fly-by-wire rotary wing aircraft in flight test development within the Department of the Army.

In a test flight that lasted approximately 60 minutes, Sikorsky Chief Test Pilots Mike Skaggs and Steve Silder maneuvered the aircraft through a variety of exercises including hover, forward flight, and a hover turn. The test flight was conducted at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility in Florida.

Sikorsky President Jeffrey P. Pino said Friday's milestone represents a major step forward in the company’s continuing efforts to provide the US military with superior technology.

"The UH-60M Upgrade will reduce pilot workload, increase lift, offer better protection and enhance survivability," said Pino. "The next generation of Black Hawk helicopters is ideally suited forits mission and will provide a safer, more responsive, deployable, versatile and effective weapon system for the Army."

US Army Col. L. Neil Thurgood, Utility Helicopter Project Manager for the US PEO Aviation office, said, "Today's first flight of the UH-60M Upgrade aircraft, with fly-by-wire technology represents the next step in providing the US military the best capability to execute its mission. This aircraft contains dramatic technological advances, yet retains and improves on the proven design of the world’s most capable and robust utility helicopter."

The fly-by-wire system used on the UH-60M Upgrade is similar to that used on the X2, and incorporates "active stick" technology and dual channel-triple redundant flight control computers.

Fly-by-wire flight control systems electronically link the controls inside the cockpit with the exterior actuators, the movement of which enable the aircraft to maneuver where and how the pilot intends. Eliminating the traditional mechanical linkage saves weight, reduces maintenance costs, adds capability and improves performance.

The upgraded Black Hawk also sports a Rockwell Collins glass cockpit with a Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS), as well as fully authority digital engine control (FADEC) for the General Electric T700-GE-701E engines.

In 2007, the Pentagon and US Army approved the full rate production of 1,227 UH-60M aircraft and long lead procurement for 11 Upgrade LRIP aircraft. In June, the 4-101st Aviation Battalion became the First Unit Equipped with the UH-60M baseline model of the aircraft.

The first delivery of approximately 900 UH-60M Upgrade aircraft is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010.

FMI: www.sikorsky.com, www.army.mil

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