BECOME A MEMBER DONATE TODAY

FVL: Robotic Co-Pilots Will Help Fly Black Hawks In 2021

WASHINGTON: The Army and Sikorsky are converting a pair of aging UH-60 Black Hawks to use cutting-edge automation and fly-by-wire controls, with side-by-side formation flights planned for late 2021. A successful demonstration could pave the way both for upgrades across the entire helicopter fleet – not just Black Hawks – and for the next-generation Future Vertical Lift aircraft, which the Army wants to be “optionally manned” from day one.

Just replacing maintenance-intensive mechanical and hydraulic controls with all-electric fly-by-wire would be a major improvement. But installing fly-by-wire also makes it possible for a computer to fly the aircraft or help a human to do so, potentially preventing deadly accidents due to human error.

Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin, makes the UH-60 – the modern-day mainstay of Army aviation – and is competing to build both the scout and transport versions of FVL.

READ MORE

U.S. Army experimental test pilots fly Bell V-280 Valor

In support of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) selection program, U.S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC) experimental test pilots (XPs) conducted flights of the Bell V-280 Valor in August 2020, as part of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) preparations for the FLRAA test effort, a key element of Army Modernization.

The FLRAA is on track for full rate production by 2030. On Mar. 16, the Army awarded Other Transaction Agreement contracts to Bell and Sikorsky for the competitive demonstration and risk reduction (CD&RR) phase of the FLRAA aircraft. The CD&RR will extend over two years; informing the final Army requirements and the program of record planned for competition in fiscal year 2022.

READ MORE