Sikorsky Demos Optionally-Piloted Tech Kit on Black Hawk Helicopter

Jeff Brody

Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky subsidiary flew a Black Hawk helicopter aircraft through the use of an optionally piloted vehicle technology kit in a flight demonstration May 29.

The full-authority fly-by-wire kit helps users carry out uncrewed and crewed flights through the use of a pilot-directed autonomy approach, Lockheed said Thursday.

Sikorsky developed the technology via the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System program, an initiative that seeks to reinforce operators' decision making capacities for manned missions and allow uncrewed flight operations.

“We’re excited to be transforming a once mechanically controlled aircraft into one with fly-by-wire controls. This flight demonstrates the next step in making optionally piloted – and optimally piloted – aircraft, a reality,” said Chris Van Buiten, vice president at Sikorsky’s innovations business.

The company also tested its MATRIX autonomous system aboard a customized S-76B aircraft and has unveiled plans to integrate the technology on S-92 helicopters.

Sikorsky plans to continue enhancing their flight system, and intends to develop technology for completely autonomous flight by 2020.

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