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Thread: Auto-GCAS Saves Unconscious F-16 Pilot—Declassified USAF Footage

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Auto-GCAS Saves Unconscious F-16 Pilot—Declassified USAF Footage


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    Automation at its best.
    “We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.”
    ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

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    After only 22 sec., the F-16 was nose-down almost 50 deg. below the horizon and going supersonic. The shocked instructor called “2 recover!” as the student passed 12,320 ft. at 587 kt. Two seconds later, with the nose down in a 55-deg. dive, altitude at 10,800 ft. and speed passing 613 kt., the worried instructor again calls “2 recover!” In a little less than another 2 sec., as the now frantic instructor makes a third call for the student pilot to pull up, the Auto-GCAS executes a recovery maneuver at 8,760 ft. and 652 kt.
    That's truly terrifying...

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    The pilot owes a team of engineers at Lockheed some top shelf scotch.

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    Awesome technology, but what happens if a pilot stays unconscious?!?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator View Post
    Awesome technology, but what happens if a pilot stays unconscious?!?
    A mechanical hand comes out and splashes him/her with cold water.

    The system doesn't detect "unconscious pilot", but "bad way to fly"; corrects that and... that's it, I guess.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator View Post
    Awesome technology, but what happens if a pilot stays unconscious?!?
    I expect they'll cruise along until they run out of fuel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I expect they'll cruise along until they run out of fuel.
    Right, but where?!? It might not be over the range. As depending on the fuel load, the A/C might have another 30-45mins of fuel, and could cover alot of distance. Then you end up with a similar situation as: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_S..._Learjet_crash where you have an aircraft flying for miles, and miles with no one at the controls not knowing where it may end up. So I'm all for the system itself, I'm just curious, as to the safeguards put in place for the situation I described.

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    The situation you are describing is technically possible but unlikely without a specific chain of events occurring.

    The pilot would have to get into a situation where he suffered G-LOC. G-LOC incapacitates a pilot for an average of 12 seconds, with another ~15 seconds of confusion after regaining consciousness.

    This is plenty of time for an F-16 on full burner to go from controlled flight maneuvers to being a flaming wreck on the ground without an automated system to avoid such a fate. It isn't enough time for the aircraft to depart an area like the ~5000 square mile Nevada Testing and Training Range.

    An F-16 at full afterburner like the one in the video can plough through >64,000 lbs of fuel an hour. Thats maybe 20 minutes of flight assuming it is loaded up with as many external fuel tanks as it can carry (unlikely for BFM maneuvers), so there's a good chance it never makes it back to civilization even if the pilot never recovers control.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 16 Sep 16, at 20:17.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    The situation you are describing is technically possible but unlikely without a specific chain of events occurring.

    The pilot would have to get into a situation where he suffered G-LOC. G-LOC incapacitates a pilot for an average of 12 seconds, with another ~15 seconds of confusion after regaining consciousness.

    This is plenty of time for an F-16 on full burner to go from controlled flight maneuvers to being a flaming wreck on the ground without an automated system to avoid such a fate. It isn't enough time for the aircraft to depart an area like the ~5000 square mile Nevada Testing and Training Range.

    An F-16 at full afterburner like the one in the video can plough through >64,000 lbs of fuel an hour. Thats maybe 20 minutes of flight assuming it is loaded up with as many external fuel tanks as it can carry (unlikely for BFM maneuvers), so there's a good chance it never makes it back to civilization even if the pilot never recovers control.
    I guess this is a better example (no it's not a Viper): http://www.gazettenet.com/Archives/2.../f15-hg-072115 Again in no way whatsoever, am I knocking the system. It'll be a life saver! But in the case of the Eagle, what happens if the pilot stays unconscious? Especially here on the east coast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Operator View Post
    I guess this is a better example (no it's not a Viper): http://www.gazettenet.com/Archives/2.../f15-hg-072115 Again in no way whatsoever, am I knocking the system. It'll be a life saver! But in the case of the Eagle, what happens if the pilot stays unconscious? Especially here on the east coast.
    The Auto-GCAS attempts to avoid collision with the ground and return the aircraft to level flight or perhaps a climb. Without any pilot input (heart attack, stroke, etc.) the aircraft would just continue to fly until running out of fuel, and hopefully come down somewhere lightly inhabited.

    At that point the pilot is probably screwed if he isn't dead already and is unable to eject. The good news for the folks on the ground is that due to the Auto-GCAS expending all the jet fuel prior to the aircraft crashing, the potential for a huge explosion and subsequent fire is greatly reduced as it's now just a hunk of metal hitting the ground.

    I don't know how long fighters can maintain hydraulics after the engines die from lack of fuel. If it is a sufficiently long time, the Auto-GCAS may actually bring the fighter down "relatively" slowly as it continues to attempt to keep it from nose diving towards the ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    The Auto-GCAS attempts to avoid collision with the ground and return the aircraft to level flight or perhaps a climb. Without any pilot input (heart attack, stroke, etc.) the aircraft would just continue to fly until running out of fuel, and hopefully come down somewhere lightly inhabited.

    At that point the pilot is probably screwed if he isn't dead already and is unable to eject. The good news for the folks on the ground is that due to the Auto-GCAS expending all the jet fuel prior to the aircraft crashing, the potential for a huge explosion and subsequent fire is greatly reduced as it's now just a hunk of metal hitting the ground.

    I don't know how long fighters can maintain hydraulics after the engines die from lack of fuel. If it is a sufficiently long time, the Auto-GCAS may actually bring the fighter down "relatively" slowly as it continues to attempt to keep it from nose diving towards the ground.
    Spot on, thanks!!! And The Viper has a back-up gen that runs of hydrazine that would probably allow for a more controlled descent, once the main gen goes offline due to the motor shutting down for lack of fuel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    The situation you are describing is technically possible but unlikely without a specific chain of events occurring.

    The pilot would have to get into a situation where he suffered G-LOC. G-LOC incapacitates a pilot for an average of 12 seconds, with another ~15 seconds of confusion after regaining consciousness.

    This is plenty of time for an F-16 on full burner to go from controlled flight maneuvers to being a flaming wreck on the ground without an automated system to avoid such a fate. It isn't enough time for the aircraft to depart an area like the ~5000 square mile Nevada Testing and Training Range.

    An F-16 at full afterburner like the one in the video can plough through >64,000 lbs of fuel an hour. Thats maybe 20 minutes of flight assuming it is loaded up with as many external fuel tanks as it can carry (unlikely for BFM maneuvers), so there's a good chance it never makes it back to civilization even if the pilot never recovers control.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_Belgian_MiG-23_crash

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    That's wild. The biggest question I have about that situation is why the autopilot would even be engaged at 500ft during a climb out? As always in aviation however, takeoffs are optional, but landings are mandatory.

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    Aviation, like the sea, is terribly unforgiving.
    Use enough gun

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