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Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche Prototype No. 1 will soon begin flight tests with a new empennage, or tail structure. Boeing has completed fabrication of a newly designed tail, consisting of vertical and horizontal stabilizers and new vertical endplates on the horizontal structure, for the Comanche. The new tail structure is a reconfigurable unit that permits adjustments of tail components to validate and optimize a final tail design for production. The new tail’s development is a pilot program to demonstrate the Comanche team’s ability to meet stringent production cost and schedule requirements. It involved utilization of advanced digital virtual reality engineering design software that facilitated rapid fabrication and assembly of the composite and metal structure. Design changes, including the endplates on the horizontal stabilizer, have incorporated data — from test flights, computer modeling and wind tunnel simulations — that will improve the Comanche’s flying qualities by increasing control response. The RAH-66 Comanche, the U.S. Army’s 21st century combat helicopter, is being developed by U.S. Army Aviation and a team of leading aerospace companies headed by Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.
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