Fruits of Labor

Engineers and test pilots from the 416th Flight Test Squadron were able to see the significance of their work on Aug. 25, when they met a pilot who owes his survival, in part, to their diligence. The allied nation pilot lost consciousness in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a training flight maneuver on May 5, according to a 412th Test Wing release. But the aircraft’s Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System sensed the conditions of an imminent crash, took over, and responded with an automatic roll-to-upright maneuver. The 416th FLTS flight-tested the Auto GCAS before it started to be installed across the USAF F-16 fleet in 2013 and still tests fixes to issues found in the field. The system has been credited with saving four pilots. Lt. Col. Chris Keithley, commander of the 416th FLTS, said the system’s success “means their families didn’t lose a husband, father, son or brother,” according to the release. “It also means they’re able to serve their country another day. It’s a huge win and I can’t overstate how meaningful it is.” The 416th FLTS is now working on the Automatic Integrated Collision Avoidance System, which integrates the Auto GCAS and the Automatic Air Collision Avoidance System, and the Hybrid Flight Control Computer, which allows digital applications to be run on older F-16s. (See also: The Science of Avoidance from the February 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.)