Sikorsky has selected BAE Systems to develop an active pilot inceptor system for the U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk program. The new system will replace the mechanical pilot controls on the current UH-60 with active technology that saves weight and provides pilots with intuitive tactile cues for easier handling and reduced workload.
The Black Hawk will be the world’s first production helicopter to combine active inceptor technology with a fly-by-wire system, which Sikorsky plans to install on production UH-60M starting with the 150th aircraft. The active collective and cyclic control system will replace a mechanical setup of rods and bellcranks, providing an electrical interface with the helicopter’s fly-by-wire system, which in the process reduces weight.
Increasingly obliged to operate over urban areas that harbor terrorists capable of delivering ground fire, army helicopter pilots will be significantly assisted by the new system that squarely addresses their need for reduced workload. The inceptor system will help them to face extreme demands in balancing mission objectives and the challenge of handling the aircraft.
No doubt, other Black Hawk operators will monitor this development, which they may adopt for their own fleets. Indeed, this development adds credence to BAE Systems’ claim to be an industry leader in safety-critical systems, as in addition to the Black Hawk program, the company has development contracts for active inceptor technology for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Korean Aerospace Industries T-50 trainer.