Monday, April 21, 2014

ASIG Awarded STC for Enstrom 480B TACAN + Sandel SN3500

Avionics Systems & Integration Group
10 Collins Industrial Place, Suite 3-B
North Little Rock, AR 72113
Phone: (866) 890-2744 or (501) 771-9388
Fax: (800) 903-9607
Email:  sales@asigllc.com
Web: www.asigllc.com | www.flyTab.aero

Little Rock, AR | April 21, 2014 - Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG) has announced today that the company has been awarded a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the installation of an L3 AN/ARN-154 TACAN system and Sandel SN3500 EHSI system on the Enstrom 480B rotorcraft.  The certification has been accomplished in cooperation with Enstrom Helicopter Corporation and Helicopter Specialties, Inc. of Janesville, WI and has been undertaken in support of a foreign military service customer.
The L-3 airborne TACAN AN/ARN-154(V) is the world's lightest and smallest TACAN ever produced at only 6.5 pounds and is the only multi-station tracking TACAN available in the world. The system has the capability to track up to four ground stations simultaneously in range and two in bearing. Tracking velocity is up to 1800 knots.  The complete TACAN system consists of an RT-1634(V) Receiver/Transmitter; TACAN Control Unit with mounting base; and an Indicator Unit ID-2502. The system can be used for Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground operations and meets MIL-STD 291C and NATO STANAG-5034. 
The Sandel SN3500 EHSI is a sunlight readable Primary Navigation Display which features an ultra-wide-angle field of view and LED-backlit illumination.  When installed with the L3 AN/ARN-154(V) TACAN on the Enstrom 480B, the platform provides improved situational awareness by presenting compass map, flight plan and RMI data in a bright, crisp and easy-to-read format which can be configured for NVIS flight operations.
About the Avionics & Systems Integration Group
ASIG specializes in system integration and supplemental engineering, installation kit and component manufacturing and other system design and certification requirements in support of COM/NAV, IFE, Situational Awareness and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM); maintenance, modification and AMOC/non-SRM repair compliance activities.  ASIG also performs design research and development of emerging technologies in support of aircraft and rotorcraft operations for civil, commercial, government and foreign flight departments.  Additionally, ASIG is the lead developer and technology owner for the flyTab™ Class 2 EFB solutions for use with Apple® iPad™.  For additional information regarding ASIG's operating activities, products, and services, visit them online at www.asigllc.com or subscribe to the company’s bi-weekly technical journal, “Wired – An Avionics & Integration Weblog” at http://asigllc.blogspot.com.  To obtain technical details and other information about the flyTab Class 2 iPad EFB visit ASIG’s product website at www.flyTab.aero.  ASIG, Avionics & System Integration Group, is not affiliated with Aircraft Services International Group or BBA Aviation. – END OF RELEASE
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Class 2 Tablet EFB's - From Want to Necessity in 48 Months

Digital technology and aviation is rapidly evolving. Most operators hold on absolute reliance on automated systems both in the air and on the ground and most of us now except the assumption that computers do a better job of things than we do. Computers, in aviation, are everywhere – in large form they are controlling airplanes and in small form many are carried onto aircraft in the pockets and bags of aircrew and passengers.
It’s important to be reminded that the electronic flight bag or EFB see that out of necessity to reduce costs by improving efficiency. In its simplest form the EFB is a method of replacing aircrew amenities that were once provided on paper by sorting them and storing them in a mobile computer that is built into the airplane.  There are numerous advantages to this, for example a library of manuals that must be carried on-board may weigh up to 50 or 60 pounds and it costs money to haul this added weight around the skies. Also, aircrew no longer has to fly with missing or out-of-date documentation. Gradually as aircraft operators have realized the benefits that their EFB systems were delivering, they also recognized their potential.  So the EFB has evolved into a tool that now plays a major role in flight safety due to the information that it delivers, and the manner in which humans use this data, largely due to its modern ability to connect with on-board avionics.
So what else can the EFB do?  Here are a few examples:
  • Navigation and Instrument Approach chart display like the one below;


  • Hold, maintain and sort libraries of manuals like the Minimum Equipment List or the Aircraft Flight Manual
  • Forms such as Aircraft Logbooks and other Air Safety Reports can be completed, and even automated, using the EFB in ways that ensure clarity and standardization of notation that reduce human induces errors and oversights.

Additionally, EFB’s can hold aircraft performance and weight & balance calculators and in so replace tabulated paper charts while providing more accurate takeoff performance information (V speeds) because they use actual data rather than data which is rounded to the nearest 100 Lbs. to make arithmetic easier for humans.  Here is a performance calculator for a B757:



There are many other uses, which are relevant in the modern, often unpredictable world, including: cabin surveillance, communications, Air Traffic Control applications like ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast).

The advantages and benefits to airlines of deploying EFB fleet-wide are compelling and, depending upon the total cost of entry, can easily be justified through competent ROI analysis in as little as 12-18 months.  Here is another example:
  • Flight Tracking – rapid dissemination and promulgation of vital information to aircrews is an important safety feature.  Tracking allows flight crew managers on the ground to see when a crewmember has opened an important flight crew notice and obtain an “R&I” declaration that s/he has read and understood its contents.

The principle of the EFB is a sound idea that offers the operator gains in air safety and operational efficiency through enhanced surveillance and operating cost reductions.  And today, with the ubiquity offered by Tablet EFB (computer) platforms like the Apple iPad, Class 2 capabilities are easily afforded in a form factor that allows pilots to carry on/off their company issued, or approved BYOD (bring your own device), allowing these cost and operating advantages to extend beyond the cockpit and support a broader base of training, communications, reporting and planning requirements.
Today, the next era of these connected realities is upon our industry with Class 2 connected tablet computers.  The flyTab Class 2 iPad EFB solution is now a reality, and certified for use in nearly every Part 25 transport category aircraft.  This convergence of advanced avionics domain data with the usability and portability of the COTS iPad tablet allow airlines to not only provide low-cost augmented reality and forms/document automation but also allows the real-time recording of aircraft flight data, and speedy delivery over air-ground data systems such as Iridium SATCOM, Gatelink, LTE or inexpensive Wi-Fi.  IT also allows the rapid architecture, design and deployment of Type A & B EFB software applications that can easily be deployed upon highly qualified and airworthiness certified platforms using development tools and processes that are not only abundant, but are frameworks already approved by the world’s CAA’s.  Operator customization, which used to be non-existent in early EFB platforms, is now fast, inexpensive and can be adapted, even conformed, to the airlines own unique operating environment, minimizing implementation obstacles – which directly relates to cost savings.  And because the developmental frameworks for the customized systems is built upon a proven hardware platform and fielded with TSO’d equipage, device and applications training is minimal and often transparent to the end-user and regulatory authorizers.
To conclude, EFB computing devices have everyday benefits that support not only aircrew members, but also corporate managers and executive leaders in their visibility over nearly ever aspect of the flight operations and continued airworthiness.  These advances directly lends to enhanced access to information and allows everyone from cockpit-to-corporate to make the most informed decisions possible thus enhancing safety, dispatch reliability, minimizing strains to crew resource management, improving communications, training, materials management, and overall operating efficiency.  And in a world of razor-thin margins, what responsible airline manager is willing to cede the obvious benefits these data points provide in the name of short-terms gains.  Our sources say very few.
Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready and Wired!

Monday, January 20, 2014

ASIG & Team flyTab Achieves First Flight with FAA-Conforming flyTab Class 2 iPad EFB

For Immediate Release

1/20/2014 | North Little Rock, AR
Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG) today announced that its flyTab Team has successfully completed the first on-aircraft certification of its FAA-conforming flyTab Dual Class 2 iPad EFB. The event is a significant step in the flyTab Team’s delivery of the completely customizable flyTab Class 2 EFB system, which is built upon system attached Apple iPad devices.
The first conforming flyTab system was installed on a NAV CANADA Flight Inspection CL-600-2B19, which, following system sign-off, lifted off Saturday January 18, 2014, from Calgary International airport upon completion of the test evolution. The flyTab system was configured with dual 3-stage flyTab EFB mounts, two Power Conditioning Modules (PCM) and an Aircraft Interface Module (AIM).  Off-The-Shelf Apple iPad devices, which ASIG environmentally qualifies at the company's North Little Rock, AR environmental test facility, were loaded with the company’s flyTab Cockpit app for iOS, which is a free diagnostic and simulation tool available online from the Apple App store.  Operationally, NAV CANADA’s Flight Inspection team will utilize Jeppesen Flight Deck Pro for aeronautical data with flight referencing upon FAA and TCCA aviation authorities issuance of the STC approval.  The flyTab system was activated for system testing and remained online for approximately 8 hours, during which time the aircraft’s avionics and performance data were recorded and analyzed while systems checks were conducted. Various test data gathered during the test evolution were transmitted real-time to FAA inspectors and ASIG’s product certification team.
“This is a very important milestone for the flyTab product line,” said Van Simmons, Director of flyTab SDK and iOS AppDev. “The system was assembled, installed and tested in accordance with strict FAA certification processes, and we are very pleased to have achieved this successful operational milestone. Our team has worked extremely hard to reach this critical step in the flyTab program, and these results reflect the flyTab Team’s focus and determination to develop a class-leading and cost effective EFB platform.”
“We are very encouraged by our initial review of the aircraft data, which indicates the conforming flyTab system performed as expected. As we move forward, we will continue to focus all of our efforts and energy to deliver to our customers the most advanced EFB integrations, at the best value while ensuring our customers are able to collect, aggregate and analyze flight operations data in both the cockpit and corporate environment so they can make more informed decisions faster.” said Luke Ribich, Managing Director of ASIG.
To support the company’s certification program, ASIG will complete its second FAA-conforming aircraft, a NAV CANADA DHC-8; and third, Aramco Services B767-2AX, soon after the FAA issues the AML-STC. ASIG also has completed configuration assessments for a variety of Part 27 and 29 rotorcraft.
While ASIG concludes this test program with its conforming flyTab system, the company is nearing completion of developer license agreements with a variety of domestic and international OEM and third-party applications developers. Upon issuance of the AML-STC by the U.S. FAA, TCCA and EASA, validation will be completed for the supplemental type certificate, making flyTab Class 2 iPad EFB solutions available for transport category aircraft operators across the globe.
The flyTab is the only Class 2 EFB solution for Apple iPad devices in the world which features full aircraft integration and modular support for one-to-one iPad deployments by allowing pilots and flight departments to deploy the iPad EFB in a “walk-on / walk-off” configuration. flyTab EFB features an average ROI of less than 12 months and is the perfect balance of technology, form, fit, function and cost. And with the available flyTab Software Developers Kit (SDK), airlines, OEMs and aircraft manufacturers can easily develop, deploy and support a full catalogue of embedded applications and enterprise tool for iOS with rapid and low-cost deployment cycles using Apple design standards for iOS applications while ensuring aviation human factors standards aren’t compromised by sluggish designs!
The flyTab iPad EFB is the definitive Class 2 iPad EFB solution, specifically designed with commercial air carriers and Part 25 transport category aircraft operators in mind. Providing far more than a simple user interface, the flyTab suite of products and available installations allows any airline or operator to affordably integrate FOQA/FDM and other enterprise applications while lowering operating costs, reduce compliance risk and fees, enhance dispatch reliability while increasing crewmember situational awareness.
The flyTab team’s goal is to extend aircraft systems and sensor data into the broader airline and flight operations enterprise through deliberate alliances with equipment and aircraft OEMs, air carriers, civil aviation authorities and enterprise intelligence providers serving the broader aviation industry. flyTab’s alliances with these industry partners is pushing the boundaries of typical aircraft “connected” technologies and creating a whole new, and smarter, operating reality to our common customers, allowing them to be more informed decision makers from the cockpit... all the way to corporate.
Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG, LLC)., a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) is a privately owned Texas Limited Liability Company., ASIG specializes in integration engineering, certification & program management, FAA-PMA manufacturing and the installation/repair of Communication, Navigation, Situational Awareness and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) equipment for aircraft & other air vehicles. ASIG also performs research and development of emerging technologies in support of aircraft operations, maintenance, alteration and repair activities for civil, commercial, government and foreign flight departments.  More recently, ASIG has been redefining traditional class 2 EFB systems from the very start of the tablet era. We are building a whole new ecosystem of connected devices intended to extend existing flight deck functionality beyond the cockpit, and beyond the airport! Our leadership in this new and exciting field of convergence is thorough and established on the core principles of dependability, knowledge, integrity, and excellence in both attitude and execution. No one individual or company is an expert at all things, that is why ASIG has established the flyTab consortium and is working closely with thoughtfully selected industry partners who are leaders in their respective fields, Shadin Avionics and SpatiOS, an AppOrchard company. Together the flyTab team is ensuring the entire flyTab ecosystem delivers the absolute best in modular avionic design, technology, function and efficiency iPad EFB available on the market.
-    Visit us online at: http://www.flyTab.aero 
-    Visit our YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/KhMXqg
-     Download flyTab Cockpit for iOS Free: http://bit.ly/14VXgJX

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Airline Economics: The App Economy for Commercial Aviation (or So, we have this tablet thing, now what?)


The App Economy

Since the advent of the iPhone in 2007 and its associated Software Development Kit (SDK) in 2008, a major technology trend disrupting businesses in almost every industry (and consumer behavior around the globe) has been the introduction of an entire new category of mobile software applications (Apps). This step change in the how/where/when of software usage and the purchase process surrounding app acquisition has been referred to as the “App Economy”. 

As a reader of this blog, you may well be holding a platform for the App Economy in your hand right now.  iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices are busy displacing existing laptop and web-based applications all across the economy and delivery of content to users (whether written like this blog or in audio/visual form as for music and movies) are prime activities being displaced.

Tablet-based EFB Applications as part of the app economy

In the aviation industry, there are several cockpit activities that are ripe for disruption under the content delivery model.  Anything currently paper-based in the cockpit is a prime candidate for displacement since every scrap of paper that can be removed from an aircraft and replaced with electrons represents a potential weight and fuel savings on every flight.  The economic benefits of this are clear and enormous and accordingly the industry is, at its own deliberate pace, moving to displace paper operating documentation, charts, weather briefings, check lists and the other paper contents of a pilot’s flight bag with a suite of applications running on a mobile device and using downloaded data from the cloud, thereby creating an “Electronic Flight Bag” or EFB.

Tablets as sensor platforms

EFB’s in the form of paper replacements however, neglect one of the most important features of this generation of mobile platforms  - their capability as an integrated sensor platform. Think about it, the reason that consumers everywhere have discarded Blackberries or WinCE devices is not that they suddenly became incapable of displaying emails or of surfing the web, but that newer devices offered easier access to a collection of sensors thereby enabling applications that the older devices simply couldn’t match.  Geolocation (GPS and Bluetooth LE), photography (camera sensors), gaming (accelerometers), music recognition (microphones), and a host of other activities suddenly became available to creative app developers along with a simple distribution mechanism that was guaranteed to reach a wide audience. The explosion of available apps that resulted has enormous meaning for aviation - because from the point of view of an app developer, an aircraft is the most incredible sensor platform going.

Tablets as sensor platforms for aircraft

From an app developer's point of view, an aircraft positively bristles with incredibly accurate and reliable sensors that can provide everything from the orientation, position and speed of the aircraft to, as we jokingly say around our office, the temperature of the coffee pot in the galley - plus everything in between.  Radio antennae and radar pick up everything from position of other aircraft to the current images of ground based weather radar. The sensors for all of this already exist on the aircraft, but attaching them to a tablet accomplishes something completely new - huge amounts of data that currently resides in the “cloud” can now be moved onto the aircraft via a mobile device and that data can be integrated with real-time data from the sensors of the aircraft to create completely new applications.  You can imagine easy-to-use suggestive rerouting apps that display weather, flight restrictions and other aircraft in the context of a moving map as just a first example, many more are waiting to be developed.  All that is necessary is a platform which meets regulatory scrutiny and which can listen to the aircraft’s sensors plus  a way for applications to access that system.

Enhancing existing Tablet-based EFB applications with sensor data

One quick hit for improving the existing EFB tablet application experience would be to integrate GPS data from the aircraft itself with current systems.  By accomplishing this benign but technically challenging feat, charting applications can now suddenly provide moving maps with chart centering and track-up display from qualified sensors. Airport moving map display becomes just a basic map-overlay feature. 
It turns out that all of the major tablet platforms provide the ability to do just this when aircraft originating GPS data is fed into them via an external port.  All of the major charting vendors take advantage of this ability - all that’s needed is a way to connect the tablet to FAR Part 25 aircraft in a way that is reliable, latency free and secure.

New applications centered around sensor data

Even better than simply enabling moving maps is the ability to create a whole new classes of applications that improve situational awareness and operational efficiency through enhanced alerting and augmented reality. Today’s “aircraft-aware” applications allow checklist fields to be completed automatically by obtaining and presenting visual statuses of onboard systems and sensors from discrete and numeric data outputs.  G-forces and turbulence are able to be measured and recorded continuously in flight from aircraft accelerometer and gyroscopic data.  Soon, route planning will be automated to a much greater extent as flight and mission planners convey flight plans to pilots in a single digital file, capable of being “burst tuned” or data loaded to aircraft flight management systems.  Enormous amounts of paperwork are becoming electronic, charts and plates are merely the obvious start of this process.  The possibilities for cost savings, reduced crew work load and improved customer service can then go far beyond simply removing the weight of paper from the aircraft.

Economics of sensor-centered applications

Sensor-based applications such as those we are discussing present a very interesting cost analysis.  Unlike existing technology, tablet based EFB deployments, centered upon comparatively low cost and ubiquitous platforms such as the Apple iPad, when coupled with an aircraft integration such as the flyTab system, support a wide array of applications which can be rapidly developed and deployed at very low cost.  Customization for specific needs becomes much more affordable. 

The flight operations and aircraft performance and airworthiness data that become easily and cost effectively accessible and distributable from an aircraft-aware tablet platform poses real challenges for traditional accounting methods used by airlines.  Since the cost savings of an app walks on and off the plane with the pilot, how does one amortize cost of the enabling on-aircraft platform against all of the apps which may be deployed to the aircraft/fleet, many of which have not even been written yet. Traditional accounting analyses are based on fuel or labor savings without consideration of such future opportunities, i.e. those analyses are a trap which precludes operators from achieving efficiencies unless they can look past an initial cost and imagine a different future. 
It may help financial managers to see the future if they also realize that, by a pilot walking on to the aircraft and “docking” his/her tablet EFB equipped with those apps that best support corporate enterprise continuing analysis and surveillance systems, finance will gain access to data for CASS, FDM, and FOQA trend and cost analysis without the need for additional manpower and without the risk of human induced errors that they have grappled with in the past.

Risks of such applications

That last item regarding deployment bears some analysis.  The App Economy described in herein is sui generis in the aviation industry.  Care must be taken to ensure the security of the app and its connection to the aircraft, the security of the tablet itself and the appropriateness of the app for use in a cockpit.  It is incumbent upon hardware/software developers to meet the rigors of commercial aviation standards in both design and function, as well as regulators in ensuring the efficacy, reliability and domain security of these systems from traditional threats associated with the digital landscape.  Nevertheless, time marches on and as these regulatory and operation hurdles are cleared and their technology adopted by CAA’s worldwide, the use of mobile platforms to enhance benefits and cost savings of through applications development are compelling for everyone in the industry.

If your flight operations or finance departments are looking for effective cost justification strategies to aid in the implementation of tablet based EFB solutions, contact ASIG's system integration team or visit us online at www.asigllc.com.  We welcome the opportunity to discuss your Class 2 EFB integration efforts; and, are likely to have STC'd installation solutions for your tablet EFB program that may defer, or all together eliminate, any related certification costs.

Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready and Wired!