Boeing and the US Navy are to report in mid-December on the prospects for curing a persistent wing-drop problem with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Fixes tested so far have failed to eliminate sudden uncommanded wing drops during manoeuvres, which have been described as "the toughest problem to date" in the flight-test programme (Flight International, 8-14 October).

Vice Adm John Lockhard, commander of Naval Air Systems Command, was briefed on the problem in mid-November and directed the Boeing/Navy team to report back by mid-December having gathered data "to fully identify the problem and find solutions," says a Navy official.

Quick, low-cost fixes, including flight-control software changes and a 450mm extension to the leading-edge flap, have not completely eliminated the wing drop. Both the US manufacturer and the Navy still hope that a combination of software changes and simple wing modifications will provide a cure to the problem.

A more complex wing redesign, if required, could delay full-rate production of the F/A-18E/F, which is scheduled to get under way in late 1998.

Source: Flight International