A Twist of the Wrist -- How to Drive an X-47B

RSS

Standing off to one side at last week's press unveiling of the US Navy's X-47B unmanned combat aircraft system demonstrator at NAS Patuxent River was a guy with what looked like a Borg cybernetic implant on his arm.

All photos: Navair

In fact, it was the wireless hand controller for maneuvering the X-47B on the aircraft-carrier deck.



The battery-powered device uses an RF data link to control nosewheel steering, engine thrust, mainwheel brakes and tailhook, and provides a display, keys and lights to communicate aircraft status to the operator maneuvering the unmanned X-47B on the flight deck.

Initial deck handling trials are planned for this week on the ramp at Pax using air vehicle 2. The operator will stand directly behind the "yellow shirt" flight-deck director, both of them looking at the aircraft, and follow the director's hand signals to maneuver the X-47B.

Using the hand controller, the deck operator will maneuver the X-47B on to the catapult, run up the engine to tension the cat, initiate a control "wipe out" to check the flight-control surfaces are clear and indicate the aircraft is ready to launch, then hand over control to the mission operator below decks.

On landing, once the aircraft has caught the wire, sensed the deceleration and reduced the engine to idle, the deck controller with take command of the X-47B from the mission operator, raise the hook and maneuver the aircraft off the wire and out of the way of the next to land.



AV-2 conducted the 35 min. first flight from Pax on July 29, beginning the East Coast work-up to the first unmanned-aircraft carrier operations in 2013. AV-1 is getting a new software load and will begin carrier-suitability testing with shore-based catapult launches and arrested landings at Pax late this fall.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week's defense blog

From The Archives

Aviation Week is approaching its 100th anniversary in 2016. In a series of blogs, our editors highlight editorial content from the magazine's long and rich history.

 

Aug 27, 2015
blog

Aviation Week Lifts Veil On Boeing B-52 Bomber (1952) 20

In 1952, Aviation Week provided the first details on the new Boeing B-52 bomber....More
Aug 14, 2015
blog

Bonanza Travel Pays 3

The legendary Beechcraft Bonanza has an impressive production record, so perhaps the marketers back in 1949 were onto something when they coined the phrase "Bonanza travel pays."...More
Aug 14, 2015
blog

Venerable Boeing 727 Prototype To Fly Again 29

The most famous 727, the prototype aircraft which would join United as N7001U, was delivered to the airline in October 1964 having served its time as a Boeing test aircraft....More
Aug 13, 2015
blog

Aviation Week And The Bomb

Aviation News did not predict how nuclear weapons would change the world. But neither did anyone else....More
Aug 13, 2015
blog

Collins Radar Takes The Ups And Downs Out Of Flying

Turbulence? Rockwell Collins had a solution for those bumpy rides in the early 80s with its WXR-700 Doppler Weather Radar....More
Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×