Date of Award

12-2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Aviation Systems

Major Professor

Frank Collins

Committee Members

Ralph Kimberlin, George Garrison

Abstract

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is the result of major upgrades to previous series of F/A-18 Hornet aircraft (F/A-18A/B/C/D). These upgrades resulted in an airplane requiring a complete Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase. Catapult minimum end airspeed tests took place near the end of the three and a half year EMD program to provide data for the Aircraft Launch Bulletin for Operational Evaluation and fleet operations. The tests had occurred on average only every six years for any type of aircraft and 10-15 years for the same model of aircraft in the last 30 years.

The objective of this thesis was to document, for future testers and other interested parties, the issues, preparation, method, and results of the F/A-18E/F catapult minimum end airspeed flight tests. The tests occurred during Follow-On Sea Trials aboard the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75) between March 3 and 12, 1999. Seventeen launches were conducted with aircraft F1 and F2 in FULL flaps configuration at four gross weights, two in full non-afterburner thrust and two in full afterburner thrust.

Results showed that the F/A-18E/F met the Specification for launch from the decks of existing U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. The non-afterburner launches above 58,000 pounds were limited by longitudinal acceleration. The afterburner launches up to the maximum gross weight of 66,000 pounds were limited by 10 feet sink-off-of-the-bow.

The opinions, analysis and conclusions expressed in this thesis are solely those of the author and have not been officially approved by the Department of the Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, or The Boeing Company.

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