NASA's F-18 #853, dubbed the Full-scale Advanced Systems Testbed, or FAST aircraft, began Research Flight Control System checkout flights recently for NASA's Integrated Resilient Aircraft Controls (IRAC) project. The flights are designed to demonstrate the functionality of the RFCS. This research will benefit aviation safety by creating technology that could help damaged aircraft to fly and land safely. (NASA photo/Tony Landis) NASA's F-18 #853 is a former Navy F/A-18A fighter plane modified by Armstrong technicians that now performs research duties. This workhorse in the NASA fleet demonstrates its versatility by serving in many capacities:
Tier 1-Testbed: Vehicle that is used to integrate experiments (test fixtures, sensors, subsystems) that are minimally intrusive to flight control systems. "The vehicle carries the experiment."
- Fiber Optic Wing Shape Sensor; flight research phase
Tier 2 -Disciplinary / System Research Aircraft: Vehicle that is used to focus the validation of discipline specific or system (multi-disciplinary) specific research elements that require extensive modification to the flight control systems, vehicle structure, and vehicle operation. "The vehicle is highly modified by the experiment."
- Adaptive Flight Controls
Tier 3 - Research Aircraft: Vehicles that are developed or extensively modified to validate new vehicle configurations, integrated vehicle designs, and high-performance research objectives. "The vehicle is the experiment."
- X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing (F-18 TN 853)
Points of Contact
Director for Flight Operations
Mariaelena A. Nichols
Flight Operations Business Analyst