Boeing [BA] will continue developing a technology that improves helicopters’ maneuverability and performance through an $18 million Army contract for Phase II of the Adaptive Vehicle Management System (AVMS) program.

The advanced rotorcraft flight control system, a joint development project between Boeing and the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD), reduces aircrew workload and overall operating costs. AVMS adapts the flight controls to the aircraft’s flight condition, environment and even pilot intent.

“AVMS is a step forward from a traditional flight control system in that it is able to process large amounts of information and communicate with the pilot through forces applied to the control sticks,” said James Dryfoos, Boeing AVMS program manager. “These tactile cues allow the pilot and aircraft to work together better and maximize mission effectiveness.”

Dryfoos added that the second phase will incorporate more than 100 hours of flight test time, and allow Boeing “to build on the great work we’ve accomplished over the past two years with the AATD."

In Phase II, the team will fly the AVMS system on the modified Boeing H-6 helicopter used in Phase I, as well as on the larger Boeing AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The tests will demonstrate the design’s portability and show how it enhances flight performance during attack and cargo missions.

"Phase II also allows us to continue H-6 flight control test bed prototyping activities to expand AVMS’ capabilities," said Steve Glusman, director, Boeing Advanced Mobility. "AVMS will be a key capability in future Boeing aircraft such as Future Vertical Lift rotorcraft."

Earlier in the year, Boeing said seven successful flight tests were conducted with the H-6 using the AVMS, showing how the advanced system improved the helicopter’s ability to operate in reduced visibility situations with greater stability and improved safety (Defense Daily, March 13).