12 March 2012 - by Tony Osborne – Sheparmedia.com
German officials have approved the production of a sensor-based landing system to assist CH-53 crews making brownout landings in Afghanistan.
The decision, taken by the Defense and Budget Committee of the German Bundestag with the Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) on 22 February, approved the fitment of the ESG-developed SeLa (Sensor-based Landing Aid) onto some 26 CH-53s over the next two years.
Brownout is a serious issue for the CH-53 as the aircraft produces a heavy downwash, restricting the pilots’ view of the ground during landings at remote locations and some forward operating bases.
Part of the problem has been mitigated through greater use of crew chiefs providing the pilots with information from the rear ramp. With the introduction of SeLa, however, the German authorities hope that pilots will be able to make safer landings, first time, and reduce the risks to the crew chief working on the rear ramp.
As part of the project, 26 helicopters will be modified to carry SeLa, with all the work due to be complete by 2013.
SeLa uses radar distance and drift sensors providing data into a computer which in turn feeds the crew with aircraft attitude and other information directly into a helmet-mounted display. With this information, the crews no longer have to keep looking into the cockpit for height, speed and other critical information. A low-light TV sensor allows the crew chief to examine the landing site before an approach is made.
The system has been under test with the Bundswehr's air test unit, WTD-61 at Manching in Bavaria, and it is hoped that the first aircraft with SeLa will be deployed later this year.