EMALS team completes test to ensure safe aircraft launches


The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) has completed testing a software fix that will ensure the US Navy's aircraft launches are conducted safely.

The launch system has been tested at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, US.

A total of 71 launches were carried out by the EMALS team and the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 during the test period, in order to confirm F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft outfitted with wing-mounted, 480-gallon external fuel tanks (EFTs) could successfully launch without surpassing their respective stress limits.

The post-test review of the instrumentation data revealed that updates to software control algorithms have rectified the issue, which was initially identified in April 2014.

The concern was initially discovered when a review of aircraft instrumentation data, following System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Aircraft Compatibility Testing, indicated that holdback release dynamics exceeded current fleet allowances during launches of these aircraft when configured with the wing-mounted EFT systems.

"A total of 71 launches were carried out by the EMALS team and the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 during the test period."

EMALS integrated programme team lead George Sulich noted that the team immediately planned a resolution for further tuning of the system’s control algorithm, which would help decrease the loads on the EFTs to levels within the established operational limits.

Design, development, software coding, laboratory testing and dead-load testing using weighted, aircraft-representative sleds was originally completed in 2015.

The EMALS team loaded the software build intended to correct the deficiency in April. They also performed an additional 152 dead-load launches at the System Functional Demonstration Site to support flight-test readiness.

Final testing of the fix has now been completed via instrumented aircraft launches.

The software will be installed on-board the US Navy’s CVN 78 carrier in order to support shipboard launches of F/A-18s with EFTs in 2019, following the vessel’s post-shakedown availability (PSA).