Sikorsky New Technology to Perfect Cockpit Automation Kits For Fixed-Wing Aircraft and Helicopters

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, VA., announced in late December the third and final phase of the DARPA Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) PROGRAM. U.S. military avionics are almost in completion of making a cockpit automation to reduce the number of air crew. Researchers are getting close to develop drop-in flight automation systems that could eliminate the need for co-pilots. Which includes at least 80 percent of the U.S. military’s multi-crew aircrafts. The goal is to cut cost, enhance system performance, and reducing the human exposure to dangerous and life threatening situations.

DARPA ALIAS contracted Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation for an initial $8 million phase-one contract, a $9.8 million ALIAS phase-two contract and $35.7 phase-three contract to complete the cockpit automation. ALIAS goal is to create an installable and removable kit that can be used in the majority of military aircraft and some commercial aircraft. ALIAS is also seeking automation technology applicable to a wide verity of military aircraft, rather than use aircraft-specific pilot controls and interfaces to automate flight tasks. By separating the operator interface from legacy hardware, the ALIAS program projects to reduce the costs of training aircraft pilots. They also are developing partitioned model that enables aircraft designers to introduce new software without causing major problems for host aircraft.

ALIAS provided ground demonstrations showing it can respond to various simulated flight emergencies and how the removal of the kit does not affect airworthiness. By the final phase, Sikorsky goal is to develop ALIAS cockpit automation kids that take a month or less to install on new aircraft types, and one day to install aboard existing aircraft. In launching Sikorsky original autonomy program in 2013, they provided an S-76 commercial helicopter with fly-by-wire controls and a Matrix Technology suit, creating the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA) as its flying test lab. SARA is making rapid flight testing of software and hardware which included multispectral sensors previously integrated in Sikorsky systems integration labs. Sikorsky are hoping to complete phase 3 project by February 2018 in Stratford, Conn., Westford, Mass., Orland, Fla., Canton, Conn., and East Hartford, Conn.

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