US Navy rolls out upgraded flight control tech MAGIC CARPET for carrier landings

The US Navy has introduced new upgraded flight control technology, the new version of the Precision Landing Mode (PLM) called the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies (MAGIC CARPET).

As disclosed, the new technology will make the landing of a fighter jet at 150 miles per hour on a small runway much easier and safer. The engineers at the Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division developed the business case and concept of the new tool.

Photo: NAVAIR

Furthermore, they worked with the Office of Naval Research to bring this concept to life and prove its feasibility. According to F/A-18 A-D Deputy Program Manager Dave Howe, an intense collaboration between stakeholders served as the linchpin for this effort.

“PMA-265, after discussions with the fleet and Air Boss, embraced the development and received funding for the PLM project in 2016. We formed a team of flight control experts and fostered relationships across NAVAIR [Naval Air Systems Command] and industry enabling the success of the PLM contract,” said Howe.

This new flight control technology can reduce the number of inputs a pilot must make on the final approach to the aircraft carrier. With its optimized control laws and tailored displays, PLM eases the pilot workload and makes landing much safer and simpler. Additionally, it improves overall recovery time, reduces tanker requirements and streamlines training requirements, according to the navy.

Delivered to the fleet last October, the latest upgrade of PLM allows pilots to use the technology even under failure conditions. This was not possible with the earlier version released in 2016. FA-18E/F and EA-18G Military Class Desk Cmdr. Luke Davis describes how this could be helpful in an emergency like an engine fire.

“During a single-engine approach, PLM helps to provide the pilot with a platform that feels very similar to a dual-engine approach, maximizing climb performance and helping the jet stay in balanced flight,” said Davis. “PLM provides the pilot with a reliable, stable platform to safely recover at the ship or airfield.”

Aside from its enhancements to aircraft landings, PLM has also changed the way the fleet trains. New pilots for the F/A-18 E and F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler now train with PLM from day one.

Additionally, air wings take this capability on carrier qualification deployments, reducing training requirements by up to 50%. PLM will enable the aircrew to maximize flight time to train for a diverse and ever-expanding assortment of tactical and strategic missions, according to the navy officials.

NAVAIR began fielding the upgraded PLM to the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G fleet in the fall of 2020.

Photo: NAVAIR