July 7, 2022
Helicopter's Flight Control Computer
Helicopter’s Flight Control Computer

Military avionics designers at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut will redesign the U.S. Marine Corps’ flight control computer. The CH-53K King Stallion Heavy Helicopter was ordered for $36 million over three years.

U.S. Naval Aviation Systems Command officials at Patuxent River Naval Airfield in Maryland are asking Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky to redesign the aging CH-53K flight control computer.The order includes a non-repeatable engineering effort to integrate, test, and validate an updated flight control computer for the CH-53K. The redesigned flight control computer is qualification tested to ensure that all changes meet the CH-53K performance specifications and are backwards compatible with all CH-53K flight control system hardware and software interfaces. The flight control computer receives input from the flight control surfaces and engine controls of the CH-53K helicopter and outputs to the engine indication and crew warning system (EICAS) and flight management computer (FMC). Flight control computers play an important role in safe flight.

Over time, some of the electronic components inside the flight control computer become obsolete and no longer supported by the manufacturer, making maintaining and upgrading these computers difficult, if not impossible. Officials of the Navy PMA-261 CH-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters Program Office have contracted with Sikorsky sole supplier. Sikorsky is the designer, developer and sole producer of the CH-53K helicopter and is solely responsible for the redesign of the flight control computer, officials say.

Experts say that Sikorsky is the only company with the data, technology and essential knowledge on the design, build, performance, operation, maintenance and support characteristics of the CH-53K helicopter, able to meet these needs in a reasonable time. The CH-53K King Stallion is a heavy cargo helicopter designed to replace the Marine Corps’ CH-53E heavy-duty helicopters, helping to move Marines and their equipment from sea vessels to attack beaches. The CH-53K is an overall redesign of the CH-53E.

The CH-53K sea-based long-range helicopter is designed to provide three times the lift capacity of its predecessor. The CH-53K will be a large expeditionary transport of armored vehicles, equipment and personnel to support distributed operations from naval operations headquarters to deep inland, Sikorsky officials said. It can lift more than 18 tons. The CH-53K will have a new engine and cockpit avionics layout, and will have more than twice the lift capacity and combat radius of the CH-53E. The new aircraft will have a wider cargo hold and new composite rotor blades to internally carry light combat vehicles. It uses General Electric’s GE38-1B engine. It can operate in high altitude, high temperature and poor viewing conditions. sling load 36,000 pounds; It can fly faster than 200 knots. You can make a bank turn at a 60 degree angle. It can climb up to 18,500 feet above sea level. 12 degree incline landings and takeoffs can automatically remove external loads and survive gunfire.