Lockheed Martin has launched a planned software modification to its lone F-35 test asset, after suffering an unexpected power failure during the aircraft’s 19th and most recent test flight on 3 May.
“We had some very unusual electrical transient through the airplane,” says Joint Strike Fighter programme executive officer US Air Force Brig Gen Charles Davis. “All the electrics dropped offline and came back after a few milliseconds.”
Lockheed confirms: “The test pilot observed a partial failure of the electrical power system. The issue required that the pilot return to base and the 45min flight was slightly shorter than planned. Although the aircraft’s redundant systems worked, we wanted to recover the aircraft to investigate the fault as soon as possible.” The JSF uses electrical power to control all its primary flight control surfaces.
The conventional take-off and landing aircraft – AA-1 – has been returned to its run station for an engineering review and to receive flight software update FTU-2, which Lockheed says will adjust its flight parameters following the 20h flown to date and introduce on-board prognostic health management systems. “The F-35 team does not expect any overall delays in the flight testing programme as a result of the incident,” it says.
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