Date of Award
Master of Science
Ralph D. Kimberlin, Fred Stellar
F/A-18 developers failed to identify the dependency of single-engine control on angle-of-attack and lateral weight asymmetry despite numerous test efforts and nearly twenty years of operational experience. This failure was the result of over reliance on classic flight test techniques, a lack of understanding with regard to certain F/A-18 specific characteristics, and insufficient emphasis on constraints imposed by the shipboard environment.
A discovery made during testing of the navy's newest aircraft, the F/A-18E/FSuper Hornet,prompted another investigation into the single-engine control characteristics of the original Hornet. The test program used an innovative constant AOAtechnique to quantify a strong dependency of single-engine control on both angle-of-attack and lateral weight asymmetry. The nature of this relationship suggested that fleetF/A-18 pilots were being subjected to significant, unacceptable, and previously unknown hazards during catapult launch.
A systems based,problem solving approach using batch simulation and human factors studies yielded three products to mitigate the implications stemming from the testdata. These included higher minimum catapult endspeeds,modified longitudinal trim settings, and redesigned emergency procedures. Together,these products combined to make the F/A-18 catapult launch environment significantly less hazardous.
Woodbury, David L., "F/A-18 single-engine minimum control airspeed : an investigation of angle-of-attack and lateral weight asymmetry effects. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2000.