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Boeing's Adaptive Vehicle Management System takes flight

As a specially-modified Boeing H-6 helicopter cruised over the desert landscape of Mesa, Arizona, the future of rotorcraft technology was put to the test. Aboard the agile helicopter was Boeing’s Adaptive Vehicle Management System, or AVMS. The system is designed to optimally adapt the aircraft’s flight controls for flight conditions, the environment, and even pilot intent. It makes use of all of the information on the aircraft and interacts with the pilot through tactile cues provided through the pilot control sticks.

“It’s a way for the pilot to communicate with the aircraft and the aircraft to communicate with the pilot. By working together better, it allows them to do more, more efficiently, safer, and easier, while reducing workload and even reducing the operating cost of the airplane,”
said James Dryfoos, Boeing AVMS program manager.

“It’s a way for the pilot to communicate with the aircraft and the aircraft to communicate with the pilot. By working together better, it allows them to do more, more efficiently, safer, and easier, while reducing workload and even reducing the operating cost of the airplane,” said James Dryfoos, Boeing AVMS program manager.

The flight tests performed during the third week of December proved that the advanced flight control system and software prototyped in just 24 months by Boeing Phantom Works engineers can successfully adapt to any conditions an aircraft might be flying in. For example, a pilot landing in “brown-out” conditions in a desert landscape can rely on the AVMS system to help hold the aircraft attitude stable, even in severely-reduced visibility conditions.

The AVMS system is a 50-50 joint development project between the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD)* and Boeing. Boeing won the first phase of the $5 million competition to develop the future rotorcraft control system two years ago. The next phase of the competition is scheduled to be awarded in the first quarter of 2012.

Jeffery Bender, Boeing Test & Evaluation experimental test pilot and chief pilot for Chinook programs, sees a future for the new system in a wide range of Boeing platforms.

“As we develop these flight controls, they’ll be applicable for our mobility aircraft, the strike aircraft and many other future projects,” Bender said as he sat gripping the AVMS flight stick next to his seat in the Boeing H-6.

*AATD Note:
This research was partially funded by the Government under Agreement No. W911W6-10 -2-0002. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes not withstanding any copyright notation there on. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate or the U.S. Government.