True phoenix: static source position error corrections for the pitot-static systems on an F-16 falcon



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Texas Tech University


This report presents the objectives, procedures, and results of the TRUE PHOENIX test project. TRUE PHOENIX calibrated a “Coral Phoenix” F 16B, S/N 92 0457, to serve as a high-speed pacer aircraft for the calibration of other aircraft air data systems and to replace an older F 16B (S/N 80-0633). Ground testing of the Pitot-static system was conducted from 19 February to 5 April 2004, and flight testing was conducted from 7 April to 30 April 2004 with a total of eight successful missions.

The pacer instrumentation on F 16B S/N 92 0457 utilized the production F-16B noseboom-mounted air data probes to collect data for both total and static pressure systems. A total air temperature probe was mounted on the underside of the left forebody strake and provided the pacer air data computer with an air temperature measurement. The pacer instrumentation did not affect the performance or flying qualities of the aircraft.

The overall test objective was to determine the air data system position error corrections of F-16B S/N 92-0457. This objective was met with marginal results; however, some of the sub-objectives were successfully met. The position error corrections were determined using the tower fly-by and F 15B pace flight test techniques. Independent validation of these position error corrections were attempted using the level acceleration/deceleration and cloverleaf flight test techniques. In addition, a limited investigation into angle of attack effects was accomplished using the constant airspeed turn flight test technique.

Overall, while position error corrections were determined for calibrating F-16B S/N 92 0457, the reliability of the position error corrections at some altitudes were questionable and considered MARGINAL for calibrating F 16B S/N 92-0457 as a high-speed pacer aircraft. Through tower fly-by data analysis, the ground-level position error correction curves were accurately determined. The curves determined by the pace mission had some inaccuracies, particularly at 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet pressure altitude. The data from the level acceleration/deceleration and cloverleaf flight test techniques were not reliable enough to alter these pace curves. It was also determined that the aircraft Pitot-static system was sensitive to small changes in angle of attack. Overall, the difference in results from the various flight test techniques requires further investigation to explain the data scatter. The total air temperature probe testing resulted in a recovery factor of 0.98, slightly below that expected from a flight test probe, and should be investigated for defects. The Pitot-static pacer calibration system software installed in this aircraft was a stable system, satisfactory for use in calibrating future aircraft air data systems.