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MAGIC CARPET, which stands for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, is a new technology designed to lift the stress off of naval pilots who have to land on carriers. The broader idea of MAGIC CARPET is simply to make landing at the ship easier; to make it repeatable, to make it safer and just in general less work or easier for the pilots to do a very difficult task, to do that repeatedly.

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division engineers and test pilots successfully completed the first at-sea testing of the newly-developed F/A-18 flight control software on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) 20 April 2015. Production-level software for the Fleet is scheduled to start flight testing in 2017, with general fleet introduction to follow via the F/A-18 and EA-18G program office.

MAGIC CARPET reduces touchdown dispersion, which refers to the repeatability of aircrafts' tailhooks to land in approximately the same spot on the carrier deck, and improves the overall success rate for carrier landings. As an added benefit, MAGIC CARPET can help to minimize hard landings, reduce the number of required post-hard landing aircraft inspections, and improve overall aircraft availability. The results from this initial round of testing give good confidence that MAGIC CARPET can provide substantial benefits to reduce initial and currency training for pilots and lower the costs of Naval Aviation.

Magic carpet is a two-part program; it is a change to the flight controls on the Super Hornet so it adds direct lift control and then the other part is the HUD symbology, it gives some ships cueing that makes it easier to land on the boat. What is different is that it really provides the pilot direct control of the flight path; so the flight control computer is controlling and closing the loops around flight path, which is important for landing on the carrier and is something not previously done.

As the pilot is trying to land on the boat, the boat is moving away, so the pilot continuously chases after the boat to get to it. All of the symbology right now in the HUD, or in our heads up display, is kind of in reference to the airplane, what is the airplane doing? This new HUD symbology inputs the speed of the boat and takes into account the winds. The pilot just puts the velocity vector in the landing area of the boat and that is exactly where the airplane goes because it already compensates for the movement of the boat.

It reduces the workload so pilots can focus on maintaining the proper glide scope and proper approach so they dont get too low and dont get too high. Landing will be easier for day and night. That reduction in workload and stress overall throughout the flight can be applied that to other areas, to tactics. Pilots can focus more on that and make the ship landing a more administrative task.

It definitely makes it a lot safer. One pilot flew some 30 touch and gos in a 2-hour period, and would not have had the mental capacity to be able to do that safely if it wasnt for this technology. It is going to make it safer when pilot are coming back from long missions, six to seven hours over Iraq or Afghanistan, and they come back to the boat, and they are tired and exhausted. This is just going to make it a no-brainer to land at the boat.

Another perspective is from the LSO perspective, the landing signal officer, the guys on the ship that are helping the planes land, safety is their number one concern. The LSO knows, that the jet throttle is linked up and the altitude of the jet is constant, so he is not worried as much about the new pilot, pulling the throttles back to idle and possible crashing into the back of the ship.

So the overall result has been much more repeatable, much more consistent between pilots even with different techniques and that is the goal with taking this to the fleet between new guys and very old Salty guys that have been around for 25-30 years, the deviations that you should expect are now going to be much smaller across the board. It is awesome to be able to be in one of the first landings in Magic Carpet to experience this technology, and the first time anyone gets to fly it they say, this is wow, this is what I want, this is what I need.

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