CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, 5 May 2009. Researchers at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are developing damage-tolerance flight control for unmanned aerial systems (UASs) under terms of a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va.
Under the third-phase contract, Rockwell Collins will demonstrate completely autonomous takeoff, recovery from extreme damage and failure, and autonomous landing of an unmanned subscale F/A-18 jet fighter bomber. Additional flight tests will be on an operational unmanned aerial system (UAS).
Flight tests will demonstrate increasing damage to the subscale F/A-18 and an operational UAV, including the failure of control surfaces and parts of the wing, as well as loss of vertical and horizontal tail surfaces. The flight tests also will include an "engine-out" condition followed by automatic adaptive recovery and emergency autoland.
"In addition to demonstrating increased reliability of unmanned aircraft, the damage tolerance work we are doing with DARPA goes a long way in facilitating evolving applications for UAV and the safe coexistence of manned and unmanned aircraft in common airspace," says Dr. David Vos, senior director of control technologies for Rockwell Collins.
Damage Tolerance Phase III follows Phases I and II, which were completed in April 2008. In Phase II, the technology demonstrated an aircraft could survive catastrophic wing damage, recover its baseline performance, and safely land -- all autonomously.
For more information contact Rockwell Collins online at www.rockwellcollins.com.