In the mid-1970s NASA astronaut Fred Gregory advised Space Shuttle managers to talk to the agency’s aeronautics experts after he learned that the Atlantis cockpit was slated for an update. NASA conducted research on displays that could process the raw aircraft system and flight data into an integrated, easily understood picture of the flight situation, culminating in a series of flights demonstrating a full glass cockpit system.
Borrowing from the work done by NASA and commercial airlines, Lockheed Martin developed the Common Cockpit avionics suite for the U.S. Navy’s MH-60 SEAHAWK helicopter program.
Today (Feb. 25), it will bring the 400th Common Cockpit to the Royal Australian Navy via the MH-60 Romeo helicopter program. Lockheed Martin delivered the first MH-60 Common Cockpit avionics suite in 2002 when U.S. Navy MH-60 Sierra helicopters became operational.
“The Common Cockpit avionics suite has proved to be a highly effective flight and mission systems hub during more than 600,000 flight hours aboard the U.S. Navy’s fleet of 360 MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters built and delivered to date,” said Capt. James Glass, the U.S. Navy’s program manager for H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopters. “A digital, all glass cockpit that’s common to both platforms and operationally proven will enable critical interoperability between MH-60 aircraft operated by both the Australian and U.S. navies.”
The Common Cockpit avionics suite features four large, flat-panel, multi-function, night-vision-compatible, color displays. The suite processes and manages communications and sensor data streaming into MH-60 multi-mission helicopters, presenting to the crew of three actionable information that significantly reduces workload while increasing situational awareness.
Australia is the first international customer to buy the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R multi-mission helicopter, which became operational in January 2006. The U.S. Navy is expected to take delivery of the first mission-ready MH-60R helicopter in December 2013 for transfer to the Royal Australian Navy in early 2014. All 24 Australian aircraft are to be delivered by mid 2016.
“The MH-60R is a proven capability with the Common Cockpit at its core,” said Capt Scott Lockey, who is the Project Director for the Australian MH-60R program. “The Australian acquisition of 24 multi-mission Romeo helicopters means that we will have the capacity to provide at least eight warships with a combat helicopter at the same time, and we can rely on the Common Cockpit to successfully network and communicate with our fleet.”