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GE Aviation performs navigation system flight testing for aerial refueling applications

GE Aviation successfully completed initial flight testing of its Electro-Optical Grid Reference System (EOGRS) for aerial refueling applications in late June. This activity demonstrates that GE's grid navigation system is on target to support automatic aerial refueling of both manned and unmanned aircraft using either probe and drogue or boom and receptacle techniques.

"These flight tests validate our technology for refueling drogue stabilization as well as positioning of aircraft in the vicinity of the tanker," said Lorraine Bolsinger, president and CEO of GE Aviation Systems. "This marks the first use of GE proprietary laser grid technology and positions us to continue to advance state-of-the-art aerial refueling technology."

A series of flights were conducted using an Omega Aerial Refueling Services Inc K-707 tanker with centerline hose and drogue aerial refueling systems. The K-707 was modified by adding GE's EOGRS transmitter and a form, fit, and function replacement US/NATO standard MA-3 refueling drogue with EOGRS detectors. The modification also included a "truth data" package that generated independent navigation information to allow the reference system performance to be quantified and validated.

In addition to validating the navigation system, the testing collected drogue motion data when the aircraft and refueling equipment were subjected to atmospheric turbulence and aircraft maneuvers, which included various pilot control inputs. The flight tests were conducted across the speed and altitude envelope of the tanker aircraft and all normal drogue extension, retraction and stowage functions were exercised.

Advances in automatic aerial refueling technology such as GE's EOGRS will increase the safety of manned refueling as well as facilitate unmanned refueling operations. This technology is a key enabler of persistent, world-wide aerial refueling operations. The GE EOGRS tanker-relative navigation system is on a path toward certification as a sole and/or supplemental means of navigation.

Press release issued by GE Aviation Systems on July 7, 2009

 

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