Magic Carpet makes landing aircraft aboard aircraft carriers easier

The U.S. Navy recently spent time testing a technology innovation that makes landing fixed-wing aircraft aboard an aircraft carrier easier.

The Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies, or Magic Carpet, was tested by the Strike Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX-23) aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) June 23-28.

Magic Carpet is an advanced technology designed to streamline the aircraft carrier landing process, which provides improved safety, efficiency and success rates in recovering fixed-wing aircraft on board aircraft carriers.

On typical carrier landings, pilots must align glide slope, angle of attack and line up, often making up to hundreds of individual adjustments in order to safely land. Magic Carpet seeks to simplify this process by reducing the pilot’s work load.

“We are testing the initial fleet release version,” said Lt. Christopher Montague, a project officer for Magic Carpet attached to VX-23. “It makes the job (of landing on a carrier) a lot easier. We have taken a number of leaps in what we can do with flight control technology to be more accurate and use fewer passes to successfully trap an aircraft.”

“With the technology, we decoupled the glide slope, angle of attack and line up into three separate pieces,” said Capt. David Kindley, the F/A-18 & EA-18G program manager. “Before, if a pilot made one small change to any of these it would affect all the other things. With Magic Carpet, if the pilot wants to adjust glide slope, he just pushes the stick without changing the power or anything else.”

The initial version of the software was tested April 20-23, 2015 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

“On CVN 77, we were just trying to test the feasibility of the software,” said Kevin Teig, the lead flight test engineer. “We were also looking for deficiencies and ways to improve. One of the refinements we made for this test iteration was to fine tune the gains and sensitivity of the flight control and see how the system handles.”

Now, VX-23 pilots are testing a new feature, an improved heads up display (HUD) on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G GROWLER.

Ultimately, one of the goals of the Magic Carpet software is to reduce training time for future pilots.

The final fleet release version of the technology is expected to come out in 2019.