Navy completes software fix on EMALS issueNews
July 25, 2017
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. The Naval Air System Command's Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) team reports that it has finished testing and data review at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, validating a software fix that will ensure safe launches.
The team initially discovered an issue in April 2014, when a review of aircraft instrumentation data following System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Aircraft Compatibility Testing revealed that holdback release dynamics exceeded current fleet allowances during launches of these aircraft configured with the wing-mounted external fuel tanks (EFTs). Although the aircraft met its programmed end speed and launched without incident during actual testing, the post-test data analysis led to a deficiency report, which was cited as a concern in the annual Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) report on the newly commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the first aircraft carrier to employ EMALS.
According to George Sulich, EMALS integrated program team lead, the EMALS team resolved to further tune of the system’s control algorithm, which would reduce the loads on the EFTs to within established operational limits. All design, development, software coding, laboratory testing and dead-load testing -- using weighted, aircraft-representative sleds -- was completed in 2015. Since several other software updates had occurred since the fix was originally established, the team was able to load the software intended to correct the original deficiency plus conduct an additional 152 dead-load launches at the System Functional Demonstration Site to support flight test readiness.
The final step of testing the fix with instrumented aircraft launches was delayed a year due to competing test priorities, but is now finished; the final software will be incorporated on board CVN 78 to support shipboard launches of F/A-18s with EFTs in 2019, following the ship’s operational performance testing.