For the first time Naval Aviators assigned to the “Gladiators” of Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 qualified onboard the Ford-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) using the Precision Landing Mode (PLM), Feb. 8.
Carrier Strike Groups have been using PLM since 2017. In October 2017, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 was the first to conduct Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) with PLM.
Precision Landing Mode (PLM) provides improved safety, efficiency, and success rates in recovering fixed-wing aircraft onboard aircraft carriers while easing pilot workload. The new flight control technology improves overall boarding rates, creates the potential to reduce tanker requirements and improves Naval Aviation’s effectiveness.
“The pilots still have to fly the landing pattern around the ship and control the line-up, but with PLM, the glide slope control is smoother, and deviation is much smaller, making for a much safer landing qualification,” said Rear Adm. John Meier, Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic. “The improved wave-off characteristics make PLM inherently safer for the aircraft carrier.”
PLM increases the safety of the most challenging evolution our pilots and flight deck crews face on a daily basis. Our most valuable asset is our people. PLM will also increase training efficiency, pilot proficiency, and enable aircrew to better use flight time to train for the diverse, and ever expanding assortment of tactical and strategic missions for which the Super Hornet and Naval Aviation as a whole is so renowned.
Precision Landing Mode was originally developed as part of the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies (MAGIC CARPET) program. The technology as implemented in the Super Hornet was first tested at sea in April 2015, when Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 pilots and Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) aeromechanics division engineers from Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Md. demonstrated the software aboard CVN 77.
Ford’s Commanding Officer, Capt. J.J. Cummings, has used PLM to land F/A-18Fs on CVN-78 and is impressed with the technology and ease with which it allows Naval Aviators to gain their confidence while landing aircraft at sea.
“I first heard about PLM seven years ago and to be quite honest, it sounded too good to be true,” Cummings said. “I now have about 20 traps on Ford using PLM, and it is as good as advertised. In fact, it is straight up amazing. I was fortunate to get eight traps this underway and found that using PLM really stabilized the jet and significantly reduced the amount of corrections I was making during the approach.”
Using her state-of-the-art Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), Ford helped student naval aviators assigned to VFA-106 complete their carrier qualifications (CQ).
Ford is underway conducting ISE 15 as part of her post-delivery test and trials phase of operations.