Flight Testing and Real-Time System Identification Analysis of a UH-60A Black Hawk Helicopter with an Instrumented External Sling Load
McCoy, Allen H.
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Helicopter external air transportation plays an important role in today's world. For both military and civilian helicopters, external sling load operations offer an efficient and expedient method of handling heavy, oversized cargo. With the ability to reach areas otherwise inaccessible by ground transportation, helicopter external load operations are conducted in industries such as logging, construction, and fire fighting, as well as in support of military tactical transport missions. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter with various external loads. Tests were conducted as the U.S. 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 aircraft's handling qualities and its control system's stability margins. Included were calculations of the stability characteristics of the load's pendular motion. Utilizing CIFER(R) software, a method for near-real time system identification was also demonstrated during the flight test program.
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