Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cargo cabin mockup ready for some heavy lifting

A CH-53K cargo cabin mockup, built by NAVAIR Vehicle Engineering department – Sub System division, is operational here and ready to support the Marine Corps’ heavy lift mission with critical cargo development and evaluation capabilities.

The cargo cabin mockup, built to the exact size and specifications as the proposed CH-53K cargo cabin structure, will help identify interferences with cargo items that will be carried, especially the Air Force’s 463L pallet – the future standard for cargo, said Dave Baden, CH-53K deputy program manger, Heavy Lift Helicopters program office.

Marines now have to unpack 463L pallets then re-pack all 10,000 pounds of cargo into containers that fit into the cargo cabin of the H-53.

‘‘Without even taking a valuable aircraft from the front lines we are going to be able to provide the program office ground test and evaluation data for many different types of cargo loads,” said Doug Mousseau, NAVAIR internal cargo and special operations lead. ‘‘We will be able to fully understand and test the cargo restraint technologies and systems before 53K production begins.”

The test data gathered with the cargo cabin mockup will be crucial as the CH-53K, currently in system development and demonstration, moves toward preliminary design review, in late 2008, and toward critical design review, in late 2009.

‘‘If we don’t have it quite right, right now, if something in the cargo area needs tweaking - we have a chance to influence the design while it is cheaper and easier to change,” said Lt. Col.. Robert D. Pridgen, CH-53K deputy program manger, Heavy Lift Helicopters program office. ‘‘The last thing we want to do is to deliver a brand new helicopter that does not fit the bill,” he added.

As the mockup becomes a major asset to training the war fighter it will also provide flexibility and increased testing capability, as well as significant cost savings to the program, said Mousseau.

After the cargo system development and evaluation phase ends, the CH-53 K cargo cabin mockup will continue to be used for integration between the aircraft and fleet air-transportable equipment, such as rolling stock, wheeled vehicles, other potential cargo and special operations loads, Mousseau added.