AUSA 2012: Boeing preparing for next steps on Chinook roadmap
Boeing has begun flight tests with the new Cargo Onload Offload System (COOLS) for the CH-47 Chinook, one of a trio of enhancements set to be fitted to the aircraft in the coming years.
The COOLS system, is designed to speed up the loading and unloading process by introducing a multi-use floor. Sections can be flipped over to reveal rollers that allow easier unload and offload of pallets. The sections can then be turned back over to make for easier access for troops.
The system also improves the aircraft's ballistic protection levels. Work is continuing on the development of the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades. Wind tunnel tests have shown that the aircraft will give the aircraft a further 1,800 lb (810 kg) without any changes to the rest of the aircraft. The composite material blades will be fitted to a test Chinook in 2014 and fielded in 2016.
Another key addition is a new HUMS system, dubbed Cargo Platform Health Environment (CPHE), which will monitor a larger number of components in a bid to move maintenance towards condition-based monitoring of the aircraft's health.
'Currently, if we want to do rotor track and balance we have to fit a series of sensors to the aircraft and then take them off again, but CPHE adds new sensors and data sniffers to parts of the aircraft, this will allow them to move towards more on condition based maintenance,' said Mark Ballew, director of business development for Chinook at Boeing, speaking to Shephard at the AUSA 2012 convention in Washington DC.
Boeing hopes to feature these improvements in the aircraft built under the Multi-Year II contract, which is expected to consist of 155 aircraft for the US Army and 60 aircraft for Foreign Military Sales.
Work is continuing on producing the 'Foxtrot' model for foreign customers with examples now delivered and in operation with the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the United Arab Emirates Army. More than 70 hours of flight tests have now been conducted on the first two of 15 CH-147Fs for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Canadian machines are highly modified over the standard 'CH-47F' model and feature the much enlarged 'fat tanks' developed for the CH-47SD and the MH-47 giving the aircraft an hugely extended range.
The aircraft also feature a new cockpit avionics suite and a new electrical system centred on two new 60KvA generators - producing twice the electrical power of the standard CH-47F. Flight trials are being conducted at the Boeing facilities in Mesa, Arizona while Electromagnetic Interference and Electromagnetic Compatibility work is being carried out at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
The first two new Chinook HC6 for the UK Royal Air Force are on the production line at Philadelphia and the first is expected to make its first flight at the beginning of 2013.
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