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Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS150504-06
Release Date: 5/4/2015 10:55:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Ian Crimmins, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH (At Sea) (NNS) -- The 'Salty Dogs' of Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 tested for the first time on an aircraft carrier the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies (MAGIC CARPET) system while underway on board the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the Atlantic Ocean, April 20-23.

MAGIC CARPET aids pilots in landing aircraft onto aircraft carriers.

'This was the field-test period for MAGIC CARPET,' said Lt. Cmdr. Dan Marzluff, assistant air operations officer. 'It marked the first use of this technology on an aircraft carrier.'

MAGIC CARPET software, designed for F/A-18E/F/G aircraft, simplifies the process of landing on an aircraft carrier. Initial tests of the system took place in early February at Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIRSYSCOM), Patuxent River, Maryland.

'The flight operations conducted at NAVAIRSYSCOM tested the software's use from computer simulations to real-world applications in F/A-18 Hornets,' said Buddy Denham, senior engineer of the aeromechanics division at NAVAIRSYSCOM. 'The tests on board the Bush confirmed the software works as intended at sea.'

The idea for MAGIC CARPET started with a desire to simplify carrier-based air operations and pilots' carrier qualifications (CQ). Landing F/A-18s with current flight-computer software requires adjusting multiple, interconnected variables at once.

'Normally when a pilot is attempting to manage glideslope, lineup and angle-of-attack all at the same time, a change in one of those parameters affects the other two,' said Lt. Brent Robinson, carrier suitability test pilot attached to VX-23. 'MAGIC CARPET lets us unlink those parameters, so when a pilot wants to change glideslope all he has to do is push or pull on the stick. The system can essentially hold the ideal glideslope for the pilot, so he doesn't have to make very large corrections. When he wants to make lineup changes all he has to do is move the stick left or right.'

Traditionally, landing an F/A-18 on a moving aircraft carrier requires months of training and hours of qualifications. MAGIC CARPET greatly reduces the amount of time required to qualify a pilot.

'CQs train pilots to learn how to effectively address and adjust each aspect of landing the aircraft,' said Denham. 'It's like learning how to juggle, you start slowly and work your way up to proficiency. Now, we can let the computer do the work. With this software and 15 minutes in a simulator, we can teach anybody to safely land on a ship.'

The tests conducted by VX-23's pilots began with traditional, unaided CQs to create a baseline of recovery locations on the flight deck. Then they activated the system and compared their findings.

'The tests proved what we saw in the simulations and what we learned at Patuxent River,' said Denham. 'Without the software, landing deviation was pretty big. Once we turned it on, it was like flipping a light switch. We had five pilots and they were all landing in almost the same spot every time.'

Marzluff said the software greatly reduces misses and wave-off from the landing safety officer (LSO).

'The majority of flight operations with the system were touch-and-goes,' said Marzluff. 'We didn't have to actually land to determine how the software takes the aircraft to the flight deck.'

Various approaches tested how the software reacted to different pilot input, plane position and other variables, like wind or extreme approach angles. Over the course of the night, VX-23 conducted 30 traps and 168 touch-and-goes.

'From the pilot's perspective, the results were very positive,' said Robinson. 'The overall response aligned very well with our simulator designs and we were extremely pleased with the results.'

MAGIC CARPET is only available for use with fly-by-wire airframes. Fleet-wide implementation of the software is planned for 2018 in F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, F/A-18G Growlers, and F-35C Joint Strike Fighters.

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