Navy helos get new instrument package

May 26, 2011 at 7:39 AM
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PATUXENT RIVER, Md., May 26 (UPI) -- The first of five UH-72 Lakotas at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School has been outfitted with a state-of-the-art instrumentation package.

"The UH-72 project is a great example of how NAVAIR's (Naval Air Systems Command) acquisition and test communities come together to ensure the fleet user, in this case U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, has the proper tools to accomplish their mission safely, effectively and efficiently," said Dan Shannon, PMA-205 Strike Training program manager.

The Lakota, produced by Eurocopter, also has USNTPS' first hingeless rotor system with composite main rotor blades and is the school's first helicopter with a glass cockpit with displays incorporating push buttons instead of knobs and dials.

It also has an Automatic Flight Control System with navigation modes, or "augmented flight controls," which are new to the school.

Engineers and artisans from NAVAIR's Air Vehicle Modification and Instrumentation directorate designed, fabricated and installed the instrumentation package comprising a removable pallet, two glass-cockpit displays and a test boom with airspeed, angle of attack and sideslip sensors.

The package includes a digital recorder that time stamps data so students can see how the Lakota moves three-dimensionally.

The instrumented Lakota should be ready to fly this spring, to Johnson and Craig Nixon, flight curriculum manager, USNTPS, said.

The other four Lakotas, which replaced the Vietnam-era TH-6B Cayuse, are to be instrumented at the rate of one per month.

The twin-engine, two-pilot H-72 is a utility helicopter used for medical evacuation, transport, personnel recovery and general support.

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