SPARKS, NV April 29, 2008 - Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced today that it successfully achieved a major milestone with its Helicopter Autonomous Landing System (HALS) when an Army UH-60 landed in brownout conditions at the Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds. The system provided continuous three-dimensional (3D) real-time radar imagery of the landing zone throughout the approach, hover and landing in complete brownout. The Army’s Experimental test pilots reported that there was no discernable degradation of the image quality in brownout with the system.
The team evaluated multi-aircraft landing operations in brownout using an UH-1 as the lead helicopter which flew through an obstacle course simulating an approach and landing in brownout that obscured the landing zone. The HALS equipped UH-60 followed in trail. Using the HALS radar imagery, the UH-60 crew was able to maintain continuous visual contact of the UH-1 and landing zone which was obscured at times.
The 3D HALS radar imagery was evaluated during multiple low level and nap-of-the-earth courses at both Fort Eustis and the Yuma Proving Grounds. The 3D HALS radar imagery was easily correlated to the outside world. During the flight tests, the test pilots were able to detect and see wires with sufficient time to avoid them. The HALS 3D radar imagery also showed other obstacles such as rocks, ground vehicles, trees, rivers, buildings and even individual Saguaro cacti.
The HALS system consists of a 94 GHz, 3D radar imaging system, coupled with precision symbology. Cockpit displays provided crews the ability to see outside the cockpit in zero visibility conditions to conduct take-off, landing and enroute operations while avoiding wires, cables, terrain and other obstacles. The system provides a 3D image to the pilots using pseudo colors to denote the height of terrain and obstacles.
Initial flight tests of HALS were conducted at Fort Eustis to verify system performance. Subsequently, flight tests were conducted at Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds utilizing an obstacle field surrounded by a graded field of fine powder-like dirt was created that closely replicates the levels of brownout experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The HALS program is an Army Utility Helicopter Project Office sponsored program focused on reducing the risks of operating helicopters in degraded visual environment conditions such as brownout, whiteout and fog. SNC is under contract to Sikorsky to develop and demonstrate the system. The Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) managed the flight tests and provided the UH-60 helicopter, test pilots and crew.
The next phase of HALS development will be the integration of the system into the UH-60 with development of the A/B Kit, while transitioning the system to a qualified production configuration.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is a world-class prime systems integrator and electronic systems provider known for its rapid, innovative, and agile technology solutions. Over its 45 history, SNC has a strong and proven track record of delivering innovative and cost–effective high technology Electronics, Avionics, and Communications systems and solutions to our customers. SNC employs an extremely talented workforce of over 1300 people, all of whom are dedicated to satisfying our customer’s needs. Our seven different business areas operate from over 30 locations in 20 states along with numerous customer support sites located throughout the world. Building on our success, SNC is expanding our tradition of excellence into the areas of Space, Telemedicine, Nanotechnology, Energy, and Net-Centric Operations.