“We started with 30 knots and will conclude with a 110 knot data point,” Tucker explained. “We drive across the lakebed and have to hold a precise ground speed while the aircraft has to hit the exact center of the ramp.”
The significance of the testing is it will allow the airplane to operate on an unimproved runway in the combat area, he said. The runways there tend to be bumpier sometimes due to repaired battle damage.
“As far as the results go, the team is still working on the numbers,” Tucker noted. “As we increase the ground speed, we are getting closer to the limit of the structure, which is what we want. However, the test team is being more and more careful as we proceed.”
The dynamic testing is also a prerequisite of the “flutter testing” and only a fraction of the RERP testing, Wojtanowski said.
With flutter testing, pilots fly the C-5 at certain altitudes and speeds out to the very limits of the aircraft envelope, she said. The control surface will be moved rapidly and the test team will observe the aircraft’s structural response.
“We are doing the testing on the ground that would help predict the result in flight,” Wisniewski said. “It also helps us to know if the instrumentation works as they should in flight.”
Prior to C-5’s RERP phase, the aircraft underwent an Avionics Modernization Program that installed digital controls in the airplane, including computer instrument display, Tucker said.
“We updated our technology to be in line with what the commercial sector had,” he explained. “Instead of doing voice communication, we can do datalink communication with the air traffic control and the new instrument displays are easier to maintain.”
The RERP, on the other hand, was designed to improve the reliability of the C-5 weapon system.
“If we are going to extend the C-5 for another 20 years and support strategic airlift operations, we need to exploit new technologies in order to make the C-5 better,” Tucker emphasized.
“The reason we are doing this is to prove the reliability of the aircraft so we can better support the warfighter," he concluded. "With RERP, the C-5 can move more cargo, faster, using less fuel.”