Teams at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, recently completed stress testing on the Navy’s F/A-18E Super Hornet aircraft from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, Maryland. The Super Hornet is seen here in a top view from March 2022 while in a wing loading test configuration at Armstrong.

Understanding what stress, or strain, an aircraft can endure is critical to carrying out its intended mission. To better understand the aircraft’s capacity for strain, unique facilities can “load” the aircraft to specified stress points and document its performance. The test data resulted in the development of loads equations that calculate real-time loads experienced during flight testing, which can be compared to established design limits to ensure safety of flight and crew.

Currently, NAVAIR is using NASA facilities to restore the aircraft from its testing configuration by removing test equipment, reinstalling hardware, and the landing gear, and preparing it for a return to its test squadron.

NASA photo by Joshua Fisher