Navy hopes landing tweaks will increase Osprey cargo capacity
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Navy is tweaking takeoff and landing procedures to increase the cargo load of its helicopter of the future — the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey.
Helicopter Test Squadron 21 performed nine days of tests in October aboard the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, said Naval Air Systems Command spokesman Billy Ray Brown. The team flew 25.6 flight hours, performing 69 short take-offs and minimum run-on landings. This maneuver is used to transition from forward flight to a landing when there may not be sufficient power available to sustain a hover as might be the case when the helicopter/airplane hybrid is at high gross weight.
Testing was a success in that engineers were able to complete the assessment plan without missed or canceled events, Brown said. However, in-depth analysis is still required before the maneuvers can be added to an Osprey pilot’s repertoire.
Results, expected in late spring, will be used to expand the envelope for the Marine Corps and Air Force variants of the V-22, known as the MV-22 and CV-22 respectively, as well as a future variant that will be employed by the Navy.
“Throughout the lifetime of an aircraft, there are lessons learned and new tactics and techniques which are identified,” Brown wrote in a statement to Stars and Stripes. “Before they are included in the standardized flight operating procedures, the tactics and techniques are tested by the developmental test team to develop how and under what conditions a pilot could safely employ them.”
Rolling take-offs and run-on landings would allow the aircraft to take off and land at a higher gross weight due to the “aerodynamic advantage” known as “translational lift,” Brown said. Further examination is required to determine adequate control margins and the effects of changes in movement on the flight deck as well as atmospheric conditions.
When the final parameters and procedures have been developed and evaluated, they will be incorporated into the Osprey’s Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization program, or NATOPS. NATOPS manuals contain standardized operating procedures, training requirements, aircraft limitations and the technical data necessary for safe and effective operation.
The Osprey, created through a partnership between Bell Helicopter and Boeing, is the military’s only tilt-rotor aircraft. Following a checkered development history that saw deadly crashes and questions raised about its abilities, the Osprey has performed admirably in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and in humanitarian relief operations across the Asia-Pacific. Pilots like the aircraft for its speed, versatility, maneuverability, cargo capacity and durability.
The Osprey is designed to carry two pilots, two crewmembers and 24 troops, Brown said. During the October tests, the aircraft did not carry a troop complement. Weight was controlled using a water tank.