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The Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Aviation Development Directorate is one of five primary investigators on the U.S. German Project Agreement on Advanced Technologies for Rotorcraft.

In place since 1979, the project agreement is a cooperative research arrangement between the United States and Germany. Primary investigators conduct collaborative research on their respective tasks and meet twice a year, once in Germany and once in the U.S.

The project agreement has three tasks: tactile cueing for active inceptor-controlled helicopters, pilot aids for helicopter operations in degraded visual environments, and manned-unmanned teaming with limited datalink communications. ADD is a primary investigator on the first task.

“Tactile cueing is the mechanism by which signals are detected by humans through the sense of touch,” Jeff Lusardi, ADD engineer, said.

A tactile cueing flight test was conducted in February at Joint Base Langley-Eustis on ADD’s Rotorcraft Aircrews Systems Concepts Airborne Laboratory JUH-60A full authority fly-by-wire research platform, operated by the ADD rotorcraft in-flight laboratory. The test assessed cyclic and collective tactile cue characteristics in a real-world flight environment and meets the first task under the project agreement.

“This tactile cueing flight research test is designed to make it easier for the pilot to follow calculated landing guidance without having to spend all of (their) time focused inside the aircraft, staring at flight guidance symbology on the instrument panel,” said Lt. Col. Dave Hnyda, ADD’s deputy associate director in Moffett Field, California.

Evaluations were performed by engineers from the German Aerospace Center and two experimental test pilots from the German flight test center Bundeswehr Technical and Airworthiness Center for Aircraft.

“Data from the German pilot evaluations will be combined with data collected from evaluations of the system by U.S. Army XPs to develop requirements for helicopter tactile cueing systems that will be used to inform the next generation of fly-by-wire Future Vertical Lift platforms,” Lusardi said.

The flight test is in support of the Future Vertical Lift program, of which one goal is to cognitively offload the Army aviator so the pilot can spend less time concentrating on flying the aircraft and, instead, direct more focus on overall mission support, Hnyda said.

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