V-22 Osprey ⚔️ US Military Transport Aircraft [Review]
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V-22 Osprey ⚔️ US Military Transport Aircraft [Review]

October 15, 2019

The Bell Boeing V-22 is the world’s first
production tiltrotor aircraft, successfully blending the vertical flight capability of
a helicopter with the speed, range, altitude and endurance of an airplane. This unique combination provides the warfighter
with an unprecedented advantage. This allows more effective mission execution
and realization of missions previously unachievable in one aircraft. Comprehensively tested and currently in full-rate
production, the Bell Boeing V-22 has proven to be a survivable and transformational platform
in the most challenging environments on the planet. U.S. Naval Air Systems Command worked on software
upgrades to increase the maximum speed from 460 km/h to 500 km/h, increase helicopter
mode altitude limit from 3,000 m to 3,700 m or 4,300 m, and increase lift performance. Implementation of these upgrades began in
September 2011 and proved largely effective. By 2012, changes had been made to the V-22’s
hardware, software, and procedures in response to hydraulic fires in the nacelles, vortex
ring state control issues, and opposed landings. In October 2015, NAVAIR tested rolling landings
and takeoffs on a carrier, preparing for Carrier onboard delivery. Composite materials make up 43% of the airframe,
and the proprotor blades also use composites. For storage, the V-22’s rotors fold in 90
seconds and its wing rotates to align, front-to-back, with the fuselage. Due to the requirement for folding rotors,
their 38-foot diameter is 5 feet less than optimal for vertical takeoff, resulting in
high disk loading. Most missions use fixed wing flight 75% or
more of the time, reducing wear and tear and operational costs. This fixed wing flight is higher than typical
helicopter missions allowing longer range line-of-sight communications for improved
command and control. The V-22’s two Rolls-Royce AE 1107C engines
are connected by drive shafts to a common central gearbox so that one engine can power
both proprotors if an engine failure occurs. Either engine can power both proprotors through
the wing driveshaft. However, the V-22 is generally not capable
of hovering on one engine. If a proprotor gearbox fails, that proprotor
cannot be feathered, and both engines must be stopped before an emergency landing. The V-22’s autorotation characteristics are
poor partly because the rotors have low inertia. In September 2013, Rolls-Royce announced that
it had increased the AE-1107C engine’s power by 17 percent via the adoption of a new Block
3 turbine, an increase in fuel valve flow capacity, and accompanying software updates. The upgrade should increase the reliability
in high-altitude, high-heat conditions and boost maximum payload limitations from 1,829
m to 2,4338 m. A Block 4 upgrade is reportedly being examined,
which may increase power by up to 26 percent, producing close to 10,000 hp, and improve
fuel consumption. The V-22 is equipped with a glass cockpit,
which incorporates four Multi-function displays (compatible with night-vision goggles) and
one shared Central Display Unit, to display various images including: digimaps, imagery
from the Turreted Forward Looking Infrared System primary flight instruments, navigation
(TACAN, VOR, ILS, GPS, INS), and system status. The flight director panel of the Cockpit Management
System allows for fully coupled functions that take the aircraft from forward flight
into a 15 m hover with no pilot interaction other than programming the system. The glass cockpit of the canceled CH-46X was
derived from the V-22. The fuselage is not pressurized, and personnel
must wear on-board oxygen masks above 3,048 m. The V-22 has triple-redundant fly-by-wire
flight control systems, which included computerized damage control to automatically isolate damaged
areas. With the nacelles pointing straight up in
conversion mode at 90° the flight computers command the aircraft to fly like a helicopter,
with cyclic forces being applied to a conventional swashplate at the rotor hub. With the nacelles in airplane mode (0°) the
flaperons, rudder, and elevator fly similar to an airplane. This is a gradual transition, occurring over
the nacelles’ rotation range; the lower the nacelles, the greater effect of the airplane-mode
control surfaces. The nacelles can rotate past vertical to 97.5°
for rearward flight. The V-22 can use the “80 Jump” orientation
with the nacelles at 80° for takeoff to quickly achieve high altitude and speed. The control systems automate and simplify
to the extent that the V-22 can hover in low wind with no hands on the controls. According to some who have flown the aircraft,
former fixed-wing pilots may be preferable over helicopter ones as they are not trained
to constantly adjust the controls while hovering.

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