Mary Sandy Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

(Phone: 202/453-2754)

March 23, 1990

Don Haley Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. (Phone: 805/258-8381) RELEASE: 90-43 NASA F-15 DEMONSTRATES SELF-REPAIRING FLIGHT CONTROL SYSTEM NASA research pilots have successfully tested a flight control system that detects in-flight failures and automatically reconfigures an aircraft's ailerons, rudders and elevators, allowing pilots to continue their missions or land safely. The self-repairing flight control system, first system of its type in the aerospace industry, has been demonstrated on NASA's F-l5 Highly Integrated Digital Electronic Control research aircraft based at Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. The primary purpose of the system is to detect damaged flight control components and adjust undamaged flight surfaces so the pilot can maintain good aircraft response. When the system senses a failure, it selects the best pre-computed solution from a set of control laws loaded into the F-15's computer. The system also can constantly monitor subsystems throughout the aircraft to diagnose and identify failures that are hard to repeat and isolate during post-flight maintenance. "This is a very significant and far reaching development in aviation," said James F. Stewart, project manager of the F-15 research program at Ames-Dryden. "Once it is fully developed and

operational, the self-repairing flight control concept could greatly increase tactical aircraft survivability in combat and enhance safety during training missions. It also has the potential for adaptation to civil aircraft, enhancing aircraft and passenger safety." - more -2On the initial self-repairing system demonstration flight, NASA research pilot James Smolka, flying at Mach 0.7, purposely locked the F-15's right horizontal stabilator to represent a failure of hydraulic or electronic systems. The self-repairing system instantly reconfigured the remaining stabilator, ailerons and rudder to establish aircraft pitch and roll control with the right stabilator remaining in the "failed" state. A battle damage scenario in which control effectiveness of the right stabilator was changed to simulate flight with 80 percent of the span missing was then demonstrated. The system correctly identified the "damage" and reset the other flying surfaces to restore normal controlled flight. During self-repairing system activation, the pilot receives a preprogrammed visual warning on the cockpit heads up display that explains the type of system failure. This alert readout gives the pilot new flight limits such as reduced speed or maneuvering loads that the failure or battle damage may impose. The maintenance diagnostic capability of the self-repairing system was demonstrated by five types of failures programmed into the F-15 research aircraft's flight computer. Each was selectable by the pilot and set to activate only under specified maneuver conditions. The system was able to identify all five intermittent electrical, mechanical and hydraulic faults. After the F-15 aircraft returned to Ames-Dryden, the failure data and appropriate repair instructions were displayed on a ground station screen that would have facilitated repair work to return the plane to 100 percent flight status. An advanced self-repairing system is expected to be developed and thoroughly tested before the technology is used in

future aircraft designs or retrofitted on existing aircraft. The operational envelope of such an advanced system may include landing tasks, supersonic speeds and flight in automatic terrain-avoidance and terrain-following modes. Feasibility studies on the system began in 1984 at the Air Force's Flight Dynamics Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Ground-based and in-flight simulators verified the data before development of the system demonstrated on NASA's F-15 research aircraft. Besides James Smolka, other NASA pilots taking part in the system development have been Tom McMurtry, chief of Ames-Dryden's Aircraft Operations Division and Ames-Dryden chief test pilot Bill Dana. - more -3-

McDonnell Aircraft Co., St. Louis, and General Electric's Aircraft Control Division, Binghamton, N.Y., developed the self-repairing system under contract to NASA's Ames-Dryden facility. The U.S. Air Force Wright Research and Development Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, sponsors the program. - end NASA news releases and other information are available electronically on CompuServe and GEnie, the General Electric Network for Information Exchange. For information on CompuServe, information on GEnie, call 1-800/638-9636.

TO: MDS/PRA Group 1615 L Street, N.W. - Suite 100 Washington, D.C. 20036 DATE & TIME: March 23, 1990 4:15pm ORDERED BY: Edward Campion

NASA Headquarters/LMD 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20546

PHONE: 202/453-8400

PROJECT TITLE: Release No: 90-43 PRINT ORDER: 2230 PRINTING: Camera Ready, lst pg on NASA logo, other pages plain ENCLOSE & MAIL: Release of 3 pages MAIL DATE: March 26, 1990 EXTRA COPIES: Deliver specified quanities to locations below:

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