18 Oct 2018

F-35B pilot performs world first shipborne rolling vertical landing

The first ever Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) has been carried out by an F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter jet conducting trials onboard the UK’s new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The UK is the only nation currently planning to use the manoeuvre, which will allow jets to land onboard with heavier loads, meaning they won’t need to jettison expensive fuel and weapons before landing.

Previously the jets have conducted vertical landings, coming to a hover to the side of the ship, translating sideways over the deck, before gently lowering to land on. It is regarded as a safer method to reduce speed before the jet lands on in this way, rather than landing on at speed, coming to a stop before it runs out of deck.

An SRVL uses a different approach, with the jet using a more conventional landing pattern, approaching the ship from the aft end, at speed, using the thrust from the nozzle and lift created by air over the wings to touch down and come to a stop as soon as possible.

The landing was conducted by BAE Systems UK test pilot, Peter Wilson, who commented: “I’m excited and thrilled to have achieved this, the whole team is. It’s an inherently risky manoeuvre. We have always understood that it is safer to stop before you land than it is to land before you stop and the prime reason for that is that if something goes wrong with the airplane it is far better for it to be stationary than a rolling wreckage.

“I’ve worked on this for the past 17 years; it’s fantastic to know that it’s matched the modelling and simulation we have done over the years. I’ve flown over 2000 SRVLs in the simulator, and am honored to have been able to do the first one onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth here today.”

image © Crown Copyright

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