Optionally piloted Black Hawk

Sikorsky recently flew an optionally piloted technology kit on a UH-60 Black Hawk for the first time. The flight, on May 29 in West Palm Beach, Florida, using N600PV (c/n 70-115, ex-US Army serial number 79-23298) marked the official start to the flight test programme for the optionally piloted Black Hawk.

It is intended to build the helicopter’s flight envelope before a fully unmanned, fully autonomous flight in 2020, using the first full authority fly-by-wire retrofit kit developed by Sikorsky that has completely removed mechanical flight controls from the helicopter.

Through the Defence Advanced Research Project’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System programme, Sikorsky is developing an approach it calls “pilot-directed autonomy” to give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in different modes with two, one or no crew. The programme aims to improve operator decision aiding for manned operations, while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations. Sikorsky has been demonstrating optionally piloted technologies with its modified S-76B Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft.

Sikorsky is building up to fly a fully unmanned UH-60A Black Hawk in 2020.
Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin