Wednesday, May 23, 2007

ATC Reality 2007 - 2025

Welcome to Wired!

Today’s ATC environment is rapidly changing. The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) plan to modernize the National Airspace System through 2025. Through NextGen, the FAA is developing a roadmap of new technologies and procedures to support greater capacity and less congestion. Performance-based navigation (PBN) is helping the FAA chart a course toward achieving NextGen goals.

The demands on our nation’s airspace and the complexity of aircraft are increasing and may result in increased flight delays, choke points, and passenger inconvenience, particularly during unpredictable weather. For example:
  • The FAA predicts that passenger demand for air transportation will increase an average of 3.4 percent each year through 2017, totaling one billion passengers in that time period.
  • General Aviation will grow, with the piston aircraft fleet increasing at an average annual rate of 1.4 percent, and business jets growing at an average rate of 4 percent per year.
  • Growth in scheduled and general aviation aircraft will increase point-to-point and direct routing, increasing the need for greater system flexibility to handle peaks in traffic demand, convective weather, military operations, and security needs.
  • By 2017, traffic will peak at the nation’s busiest airports, at a level 30 to 40 percent higher than today.
  • The introduction of very light jets and the operation of unmanned aircraft will create new complexities.
  • High fuel costs are pushing air carriers to find new ways to combat inefficiencies.

What is performance-based navigation?
PBN establishes precise approach, arrival and departure procedures at airports. It increases efficiency by providing smoother traffic flow, saves fuel, and benefits the environment by reducing the effect of aircraft noise and emissions. Allowing aircraft to fly the same path consistently lets the FAA design procedures that avoid noise-sensitive areas. The FAA and the aviation community are working together to make performance-based navigation a reality.

The aviation community is using the FAA’s Roadmap for Performance-Based Navigation to leverage advances in flight deck navigation capability to meet the demands of future air travel. A government and industry effort, the Roadmap focuses on the acceleration of two key elements of performance-based navigation at U.S. airports: Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP). RNP is RNAV with the addition of an on board performance monitoring and alerting system.

What is RNP?
RNP is RNAV with the addition of an on board performance monitoring and alerting system. It takes advantage of an airplane’s onboard navigation capability to fly a more precise flight path into an airport. RNP increases airport access during marginal weather, thereby reducing diversions to alternate airports. Flying straight down the middle of a flight path means that people on the ground perceive less jet noise and experience fewer engine emissions.

The FAA has authorized a total of 37 RNP procedures at 17 airports. In 2006, the FAA published 28 RNP Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (SAAAR) procedures at 14 airports. The FAA plans to publish at least 25 more RNP approach procedures in FY 2007.

What is RNAV?
Area Navigation (RNAV) enables aircraft to fly on any desired flight path within the coverage of NAVAIDS, within the limits of the capability of self-contained systems, or a combination of both capabilities. RNAV aircraft have better access and flexibility for point-to-point-operations.

To date, the FAA has authorized 155 RNAV procedures at 38 airports and plans to publish an additional 42 procedures by the end of FY 2007.
What’s in the Roadmap?

The Roadmap for Performance-Based Navigation addresses five key areas:

  • Expediting the development of performance-based navigation criteria and standards.
  • Introducing airspace and procedure improvements in the near-term.
  • Providing benefits to operators who have invested in existing and upcoming capabilities.
  • Establishing target dates for introducing navigation mandates for selected procedure and airspace, taking benefits and costs into consideration.
  • Defining new concepts and applications of performance-based navigation for the mid-and far-term, building synergy and integration among other capabilities toward the NextGen goal.

The Roadmap details the FAA’s transition plans in three time periods:

  • Near Term: Today-2010
Realize the value of investments by operators in current aircraft and new aircraft acquisitions, FAA investments in satellite-based navigation and conventional navigation infrastructure. The focus is on wide-scale RNAV implementation and the introduction of RNP for en route, terminal, and approach procedures. The near-term strategy compliments the agency’s efforts to alleviate choke points at the 35 airports in the FAA’s Operational Evolution Plan (OEP).
  • Mid-term: 2011-2015
Shift to predominantly RNP operations for improving flight efficiency and airport access. The mid-term strategy will employ RNAV extensively to improve flight operations.
  • Far-term: 2016-2025
Concentrate on performance-based operation through integrated RNP, Required Communications Performance (RCP, and Required Surveillance Performance (RSP); optimizing airspace, automation enhancements; and modernization of communications, navigation, and surveillance (CNS) infrastructures.

ASIG Helps Operators Accelerate Their PBN Operational Plans

In order to help accelerate PBN, the FAA is allowing consultants such as ASIG - to help airlines through the approval process and develop actual flight procedures. In addition to helping operators develop and implement their approval packages for RNP SAAAR, ASIG designs, certifies and manufactures STC’s and Installation Kitting for avionics suites across numerous classic and contemporary aircraft type/model/series capable of RNP SAAAR flight procedures for operators using FAA criteria, allowing our customers to extend the safe and cost efficient in-service life spans of otherwise antiquated airframes, avoiding the enormous fiscal burden of widespread fleet replacement programs. ASIG provides products and services to a variety of customers, including Dassault Aviation, Air Transport International and AStar Air Cargo to name a few. As the FAA continues to develop and implement RNP procedures in accordance with the agency’s Flight Plan goals, ASIG will continue to be engaged as an industry partner and co-collaborator in the development and maturing of future technologies.

In our next edition of Wired, we’ll expand on the future of COTS & Open Source technologies and how today’s integrated avionics capabilities are rapidly meeting and exceeding tomorrow’s operational requirements. We’ll also update you with the FAA’s most recent list of airports with authorized RNAV procedures and those planned for approvals by the close of FY07.

Until next time stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!

To learn more about our approach to aircraft modernization or the products and services available from Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG), please visit us online at, via email at, or contact us direct at 866.890.ASIG [2744].

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

ASIG Welcomes Mr. Bill Helliwell to LIT HQ

Little Rock, AR: May 14, 2007- The Avionics & Systems Integration Group, LLC (ASIG) today announced the addition of Mr. William L. Helliwell. Mr. Helliwell, he will serve the company as the Manager of Engineering & Programs. Mr. Helliwell is an FAA Airframe & Powerplant license holder. Bill received his initial aviation education and training from the United States Air Force; however, he has held ever increasing roles of responsibility throughout his 25 year aerospace career including line maintenance technician, systems engineer, program manager, maintenance manager, quality assurance manager and engineering manager. Mr. Helliwell’s experience includes senior positions with Air Transport International, LLC (formerly a Brinks Company), E-systems and the United States Air Force.

"Bill’s pervious experience, work ethics and understanding of industry regulatory rulemaking lend to our confidence in his proficiency and professionalism; and, better equip ASIG to fulfill the ever increasing demands for precision and quality solutions being sought from ASIG by the greater aviation community.” – Luke Ribich, Managing Director

ASIG performs integration engineering, FAA certification & program management, PMA Manufacturing / installation kit assembly and the installation of Communications, Navigation, Situational Awareness and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) equipment for aircraft & other air vehicles. Additionally, the Company performs research and development of emerging technologies in support of aircraft operations, maintenance, modification and repair for civil, commercial, government and foreign flight departments.

For additional information regarding ASIG's operating activities, product & services offerings contact ASIG, toll-free at (866) 890-ASIG [2744], online at or via email at – END OF RELEASE

Thursday, May 10, 2007

ASIG Wins Air Force C-17 Globemaster III Contract

Little Rock, AR: May 7, 2007Avionics & Systems Integration Group, LLC (ASIG) today announced that the company has received an Air Force Materials Command multi-year IDIQ contract to supply various avionics kitting for VHF Communications, Engine Indication & Pedestal Module sub-systems. “The award of this contract speaks volumes about the government’s confidence in ASIG’s ability to provide needed support and materials to the war fighter. As a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), and as individual veterans, the management and staff of ASIG are honored to continue our service of this great nation. - Luke Ribich, former U.S. Marine & ASIG Managing Director.

ASIG performs integration engineering, FAA certification & program management, PMA kit manufacturing and the on-airframe installations of Communications, Navigation, Situational Awareness and Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) equipment for aircraft & other air vehicles. The Company also performs research and development of emerging technologies in support of aircraft operations, maintenance, modification and repair for civil, commercial, government and foreign flight departments. Additionally, ASIG has expanded their capabilities to include the repair, overhaul and manufacture of wire and cable harnesses and components.

For additional information regarding ASIG's operating activities, product & services offerings contact Mr. Luke Ribich, Managing Director of ASIG, toll-free at (866) 890-ASIG x100 or via email at

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Welcome to Wired!

The SEMPER process as described in this series has evolved over a multi-year time period while working the referenced programs and other similar avionics studies. Only ASIG and its teaming customers have applied all of the SEMPER principles throughout the planning and execution of avionics modernization programs. ASIG does not claim that SEMPER represents all new concepts. However, it is an approach to avionics planning and execution that emphasizes use of a migration strategy, life cycle or CAIV cost estimation and the application of Open Systems & COTS concepts.

In evaluating business considerations, the on-going acquisition reform process could be viewed as presenting a paradox with a proposition that advocates detailed analysis of the architectural alternatives, cost analysis and Opens Systems & COTS concepts. If aircraft owners/operators will only specify performance requirements and industry will propose the design solution then what is the purpose of the up-front and rather detailed study? ASIG does not share this view. While there is a level of frustration in stepping through the design process a second time, prior planning and market research sets the framework for understanding the range of possible solutions. Cost estimates prove invaluable to the customer/owner/operator in deciding the program approval and in the establishment of a budget for the program standup. The Open Systems/COTS approach can provide the "building codes" that let us upgrade avionics rationally, affordably, flexibly and within the timeframes needed by today’s mainstream and supplemental air carriers who seek to capture their own market share. While acquisition reform such as Sarbanes-Oxley has changed many paradigms and concepts, SEMPER does not appear to be at odds with this new way of doing business.

The planning and execution of avionics upgrades for legacy aircraft can be a challenging process for system and program managers as they work to incorporate operator needs into the aircraft systems in a timely and affordable manner. Over the past ten years the engineers and managers of ASIG have been involved in a number of avionics planning and execution programs and have defined the SEMPER model process from that experience. The SEMPER suggests that an overall migration strategy for the avionics upgrades, greater use of Life Cycle Cost estimation and the application of Open Systems concepts are the three principal legs of the process.

In our next edition of Wired we will address the benefits of WAAS-EGNOS & Space Based Augmentation Systems in relation to today’s CAN/ATM air traffic control environment. We will also look forward to 2026 and how the FAA and other international rulemaking bodies are retooling the future ATC environment.

Until next time stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!

The preceding are excerpts from the whitepaper, “SEMPER: A Model for the Planning & Implementation of Avionics & Systems Upgrades.” To learn more about the author, ASIG’s modernization planning and implementation philosophy; or, to receive a complimentary copy of the expanded document, contact Luke Ribich; Managing Director of Avionics & Systems Integration Group, LLC at, or toll free at (866) 890-ASIG.

Friday, May 4, 2007


Welcome to Wired!

Let us begin to delve further into the various elements of the SEMPER model. In this edition I’ll begin to share with our readers the various components necessary to ensure that your avionics system platform modifications yield the greatest return on investment and are scaleable enough to last the projected life cycle of your aircraft or fleet. The SEMPER process elements are the Migration Strategy, Life Cycle Cost Estimation and the application of COTS/Open Source architecture; however, system architecture, alternatives analysis, program approval, the solicitation of providers and suppliers, sourcing and implementation all play obvious and important roles when condisering the goals of the overall business unit charged with undertaking the campaign.

While the “standard” systems engineering process is an essential ingredient, there are three unique elements of SEMPER. These are the development of a migration strategy for the aircraft that is time phased to the budgeting process. This shows the strategy for the system projected over the longer term, usually 10 to 15 years. A second unique element is the use of life cycle cost estimates throughout the process to support the system engineering IPT and the customer's program decision and budgeting process. Open Systems application is the third element and the mechanism to effect the modifications and retain the ability to do later upgrades at reasonable cost. SEMPER can be considered to be the incorporation of new techniques for internally or collaboratively with the assistance of integrators such as ASIG, to develop a technical migration and evolution strategy, performing CAIV estimation as a recurring process throughout the pre-RFQ activities and applying Open Systems or COTS technologies. Thus in aggregate, SEMPER is comprised of no startling new techniques. Many of these SEMPER precepts evolved from our experience with the retrofit of classic and contemporary transport category airframes; and, by capturing lessons learned and subsequently consolidating and applying these methodologies as a formal process for the accomplishment of analogue-to-digital conversions of legacy aircraft. The SEMPER model is adding capability, reliability and expediting return on investments and is a proven technique towards modernizing aircraft cockpits. Some of our success in getting various DC-8, B737 & MD-80 programs through customer approval and budget approvals can be attributed to the migration strategies that identified the viable alternatives. Not to be understated, life cycle cost estimates were also a key factor that has allowed our customers to determine their specific level of affordability for an upgrade program.

Next time we will review the application of SEMPER as discussed in relation to the traditional steps in a major avionics upgrade.

Until then, stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


Welcome to Wired!

As previously discussed, aircraft owners and operators are currently being pressed to accept the reality that as global air traffic control systems are modernized in order to handle the expected tripling of capacity while maintaining acceptable margins of safety, they will be forced to accept inefficient airspace routing and receive non-preferential ATC handling; undertake large scale fleet modernization programs. Recently reported by Aviation Week & Space Technology [Ed. April 9, 2007, pg. 44] NextGen, the an enterprise architecture plan for short, mid and long-term changes to the Air Transportation System, will cost aircraft operators of all types between $14-20 billion in terms of unit procurement, certification and modification manpower dollars. The question then is how best to plan, execute and realize these regulatory changes by the most efficient and scaleable means possible?

The Avionics & Systems Integration Group has evolved the concept of SEMPER during a series of upgrade planning activities for commercial, civil and government operated legacy aircraft. The SEMPER model embraces the systems engineering and business planning processes and is focused on structuring the information for the customer to use during the modification decision process. The need for an SEMPER-like process becomes more apparent with the requirement to install new capabilities on all aircraft operating in the National Airspace. For example, the congressional “mandate” to install Global Positioning System capability on all aircraft by the year 2000 resulted in a number of engineering and modifications managers with a need to incorporate these upgrades into other requirements for their respective aircraft programs. ASIG has either developed or assisted several program managers in the development of their specific and unique requirements, "throughout our experience it became clearer that the approach to avionics upgrade planning was often piecemeal, particularly among the legacy tier operators and freight haulers, with each modification evolved and funded without consideration towards the relationship of a particular modification in the context of the overall aircraft capability or intent," said Darryl Bishop, Director of Quality for ASIG. Mr. Bishop continues, "The end users (pilots & mechanics) of the aircraft were absent an overall view of how the aircraft capability would evolve due to the uncertainty of the funding approvals from executive decision makers, since airframe systems budgeting had been changed from the supporting departments such as engineering and quality to the using elements such as operations and technical services." The SEMPER model then is intended to be a process method that can yield a successful modernization program that meets the user needs and it applies current Sarbanes-Oxley and other acquisition reform policies as this has become an increasing concern for publicly held entities, government agencies as well as private organizations. The concept provides the information for an end user approval process by incorporating cost evaluation as an independent variable (CAIV) and by the utilization of COTS/Open Systems application to ease later upgrades and costs. By evaluating CAIV and current technologies in contrast to theoretical and developmental technologies owners/operators of aircraft can ensure that their current or planned retrofit programs are scaleable enough to meet future ATC requirements.

My grandfather reiterated time and again to me, "Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance," aka: The Principle of the "5" P's. By following the SEMPER model when planning the implementation of avionics systems upgrades operators can avoid program pitfalls and developmental shortsightedness through study and fresh reflection of emerging technologies so programs can be evolved in such a fashion to minimize recurrent fiscal and out-of-service exposure.

In our next post to Wired, we will explore process elements of the SEMPER model and provide program examples of how the application of the SEMPER model has yielded broad-based acceptance of improvement programs for one legacy tier operator.

Until the next edition stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!