F-35 engineers in top gear for aircraft certification process

Australia's first Lockheed Martin F-35 flying with a US Air Force counterpart (Image Dept of Defence)

Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Division engineers are working hard in the lead-up to an Airworthiness Board in August to ensure the Australian F-35A JSF is successfully certified before the arrival of the country’s first two aircraft in December.

While industry partners like Lockheed Martin prepare for the arrival of Australia's first two F-35A JSFs, the Air Force and broader Defence establishment has been preparing for the certification processes ahead of the planes arriving in country later this year. 

The Defence Aviation Safety Authority (DASA) recently introduced revised terminology and concepts to the ADF aviation environment via Defence Aviation Safety Regulations (DASR). As a result, JSF Division engineers have been working closely with DASA, Air Combat Transition Office (ACTO) and Air Combat Group personnel to align F-35A Airworthiness Board processes and governance activities with the new DASR requirements.

Mission Systems engineers in the JSF Division are also co-ordinating the development of the F-35A Accomplishment Summary, which is a comprehensive document summarising the entire F-35A aviation systems and supporting constructs underpinning ongoing F-35A air operations in Australia.

The F-35 Accomplishment Summary was submitted to DASA in late June, six weeks prior to the F-35A Airworthiness Board, scheduled for 1 August 2018. This Airworthiness Board is an important milestone for the F-35A Project. It will review any aspect of Defence aviation as it applies to the F-35A construct, as well as impose limitations or conditions that may be incorporated in the Military Type Certificate (MTC) or Military Air Operator Certificate (MAOC) being applied for via the Accomplishment Summary.

An MTC is issued by an airworthiness regulator (such as DASA for the ADF, or the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for civil aviation) that signifies the aircraft design (called ‘Type Design’) has been proven to be designed against internationally recognised standards. The authorities will also check regularly that organisations operating aircraft do so in a manner consistent with how the aircraft was designed. 

The Military Air Operator – Air Combat Group in the case of the F-35A – applies to DASA for an MAOC to operate the F-35A in Australia. DASA will review Air Combat Group’s application for the MAOC via the Accomplishment Summary and supporting artefacts at the Airworthiness Board on 1 August.

If DASA is satisfied with the system of systems to ensure safe F-35A air operations, the MAOC will be issued.

F-35 engineers in top gear for aircraft certification process
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