Testers from the Holloman High Speed Test Track, in conjunction with members of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin, Martin Baker, and BAE Systems, successfully conducted an F-35 static ejection seat test to evaluate pilot survivability using a canopy transparency from a new manufacturer. The purpose of this test was to demonstrate that the ejection seat is able to penetrate through the canopy without severely injuring the pilot if there is ever a failure with the Transparency Removal System (TRS); TRS is a charge designed to fracture the cockpit canopy acrylic prior to ejection.
The test environment simulated worst-case conditions for ejection, which is standardized at 0 knots airspeed; a 200 degrees Fahrenheit canopy, which represents worst-case solar heating on a hot day, limiting fracture characteristics of the canopy transparency; and failure of the TRS to activate.
To accomplish this test, the setup included a thermal conditioning box around the forebody of the aircraft to heat the canopy to the required condition. It also included a large soft-capture net placed behind the forebody, to allow for recovery and reuse of the manikin and seat. The test setup did not include the full explosive and rocket motor compliment of F-35 ejection seat components, as it was only meant to evaluate the fracture characteristics of the canopy, and not the fly-out conditions of the seat and manikin. For this test, the seat and manikin successfully penetrated through the canopy transparency and landed in the net.
This test was the final evaluation in an eight-test series at the HHSTT, meant to qualify a second vendor for F-35 canopy transparency production. The qualification of the second source of supply is the single most important aspect of the F-35 enterprise’s plan to ensure there are sufficient canopies available to the demands of the more than 500-aircraft global F-35 fleet.