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Flight Testing and Real-Time System Identification Analysis of a UH-60A Black Hawk Helicopter with an Instrumented External Sling Load

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Master's thesis

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Historically, helicopter and load combinations have been qualified through flight testing, requiring considerable time and cost. With advancements in simulation and flight test techniques, there is potential to substantially reduce costs and increase the safety of helicopter sling load certification. Validated simulation tools make possible accurate prediction of operational flight characteristics before initial flight tests. Real time analysis of test data improves the safety and efficiency of the testing programs. To advance these concepts, the US Army and NASA, in cooperation with the Israeli Air Force and Technion, under a Memorandum of Agreement, seek to develop and validate a numerical model of the UH-60 with sling load and demonstrate a method of near real time flight test analysis. This thesis presents results from flight tests of a US Army Black Hawk helicopter with various external loads. Tests were conducted as the US first phase of this MOA task. The primary load was a container express box CONEX, which contained a compact instrumentation package. The flights covered the airspeed range from hover to 70 knots. Primary maneuvers were pitch and roll frequency sweeps, steps, and doublets. Results of the test determined the effect of the suspended load on both the aircrafts handling qualities and its control systems stability margins. Included were calculations of the stability characteristics of the loads pendular motion. Utilizing CIFER software, a method for near-real time system identification was also demonstrated during the flight test program.

Subject Categories:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Helicopters
  • Computer Programming and Software

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