Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Modern Avionics + RNP Navigation = “Triple-Double” for Investment Returns

Welcome to WIRED!

This year the ASIG team has spent lots of time advising our readers and clients about the actual technologies and integrated systems that make up an RNP capable flight deck. However, it was recently asked of our program management team, "What do all these capital improvements really achieve other than preferred placement by ATC?" What a great question. The fact is the improvement in flight operations safety alone are reason enough to invest in the lives of your crew and passengers, just ask your Risk Managers. However, if your Financial Managers haven't yet been convinced of the overall value of the capital improvements, the following list might help those of you trying to make the case, or at least start a compelling dialogue.

  1. Safety Benefits
    1. Safer Flight for Everyone
      Safety is the first concern of every aircraft operator, air traffic manager and regulator not to mention passengers, and
RNP fits the bill. With carefully engineered landing and takeoff procedures precisely repeated every time, RNP is greatly increasing the safety of transporting people and goods by air.
  1. CFIT Reductions: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) is the leading cause of aircraft accidents today. The vertical and lateral path guidance of RNP procedures—accurately repeated with every flight—avoids all obstacles, virtually eliminating the possibility of CFIT.

  2. Stabilized Approaches: With RNP, aircraft arrive at the runway aligned with the centerline, in the same configuration and at the same speed every time. Variations in altitude and speed are virtually eliminated, touchdowns with adequate runway to slow the plane are ensured.
  3. Safer Missed Approaches: All RNP approach procedures are designed with an automatic missed approach at any point along the path, even beyond the Decision Altitude.
  4. Safer Non-Normal Procedures: When an engine is lost, Tailored RNP takes over, allowing crews to focus on flying rather than complex emergency navigation procedures—particularly helpful in complex terrain and/or poor weather or low visibility. In some cases the Tailored RNP guidance will route an aircraft over a less obstacle-challenged path to account for degraded performance.
  5. Less Stress on Flight Crews: Pre-loaded RNP approaches and departures are much easier and more straightforward than traditional procedures.
  6. More Consistency: Operators using RNP throughout their network enhance safety by employing approach and departure procedures that are consistent from airport to airport—a key component of safe operations.
  7. No ILS Signal Distortion: Instrument Landing System (ILS) glide paths can be severely distorted by temporary obstructions such as taxiing aircraft or even snow piles near the ILS transmitter. Satellite-based RNP does not suffer from these ground-based interferences.

  • Access Benefits
    1. Go Where and When You Want - Go where passengers want to go and cargo needs to go! Reliable service rain or shine. Don't let construction or ground-based navigation outages disrupt your schedule.

      1. New Market Access: Because it can allow consistent takeoff and landing in difficult terrain and weather, RNP gives access to markets previously lacking regularly scheduled service which can be a source of high yields and passenger volumes.
      2. Lower Minima: RNP "fits" into obstacle-restricted areas, lowering landing minima (the height at which crews must be able to see the runway to carry out the landing). Lower landing minima reduce flight diversions and cancellations due to weather.
      3. Increased Reliability: RNP does not rely on ground-based navigation aids, whether radar control or radio-beacon-based. Even when those services are not present, RNP still functions normally.

  • Efficiency Benefits

    1. RNP Makes Cents for the Bottom Line: The efficiency benefits of RNP are truly compelling. Fuel, insurance, engine maintenance and disruption costs go down. Asset utilization goes up. In a tough aviation market, RNP provides a competitive edge.

      1. Lower Fuel Consumption: Because RNP shortens flight tracks and allows for Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) it saves fuel. Traditional procedures often involve unnecessarily long flight paths and utilize "dive and drive" descents which require higher thrust settings. RNP can be designed to take the most efficient course to the runway—day in and day out.
      2. Tax Credits: With heightened awareness of environmental concerns, some governments are offering financial incentives to go green. RNP fuel efficiency means lower emissions—which can mean environmental tax credits.
      3. Lower Insurance Premiums: Airline hull and liability insurance underwriters understand that RNP lowers risk which results in lower premiums for users.
      4. Lower Thrust, Lower Rates: By avoiding paths with onerous climb requirements RNP allows for lower thrust settings on take-off. These de-rates can be used to reduce engine power-by-the-hour maintenance rates.
      5. Reduced Variance: Traditional navigation procedures add uncertainty requiring longer block times to compensate for the outliers. RNP mitigates this, resulting in higher gate and aircraft utilization as well as increased on-time performance.
      6. Higher Crew, Gate and Aircraft Utilization: Crews, gates and aircraft are utilized at higher rates because of shorter more predictable block times.

  • Capacity Benefits

    1. Fill Aircraft & Maximize Airspace: By carefully engineering flight paths to avoid obstacles aircraft can utilize their full payload potential. Thousands of flights and years of data show that RNP operations produce extremely consistent flight tracks. This precision combined with RNP crew alerting features gives confidence to reduce aircraft separation standards, thereby increasing the capacity of busy terminal environments around the world.

      1. Increased Payload Limits: RNP operations can raise payload limits—meaning more fuel, freight or passengers—by avoiding paths with onerous climb requirements.
      2. Assured Separation Equals Airspace Efficiency: Traditional navigation procedures and radar vectoring require large distances between aircraft in terminal environments. By utilizing RNP technology, which offers precision measured in meters, the airspace in busy metropolitan areas can be much more efficiently utilized.

  • Environmental Benefits

    1. RNP is Easy on the Earth: Saving fuel means saving money, but it also means lower emissions and reduced fuel consumption — both crucial in a world with increased awareness of global warming and other environmental concerns.

      1. Lower Emissions: The combination of continuous descent approaches and shorter tracks built into RNP procedures can reduce emissions by thousands of tons per year per aircraft.
      2. Less Noise: Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) use lower, quieter thrust levels. Because of their precision and ability to curve, RNP paths can also be designed to avoid noise-sensitive areas.
  • Until next time stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!

    To learn more about ASIG's approach to aircraft modernization programs, virtual engineering services subscriptions or other products and services available from the Avionics & Systems Integration Group, please visit us online at http://www.asigllc.com/, via email at info@asigllc.com, or contact us toll-free at 866.890.ASIG [2744].

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    International Considerations in STC Kit Export

    Welcome to Wired!

    One of the interesting things the management and staff of ASIG has noted over the last several months is that much of our kit manufacturing work is being requested from abroad. Specifically non-US clients are either required to (by airframe leases), or have made an intentional company decision, to seek-out and deploy United States FAA STC and FAA-PMA kitting in their aircraft. One of the export related questions our project managers and sales team are asked regularly is, "Are ASIG's U.S. STC's and FAA-PMA approved parts authorized for installation and operation in EASA registered and operated aircraft?"

    The answer, as you would imagine, in not nearly as straight forward as one might hope. According to EASA Executive Director Decision 2007/003/C, dated July 16, 2007, on the acceptance of certification findings made by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States under the Parts Manufacturing Approval of the FAA, in regards to the approval of the design of certain PMA parts:

    "An approval is hereby issued by the agency to an organization under the regulatory oversight of the FAA for a part designed under its PMA system, provided:

    1. The PMA part is not a "critical component." Typically, such components include parts for which a replacement time, inspection interval or related procedure is specified in the airworthiness limitations section of the manufacturer's maintenance manual or instructions for continued airworthiness. The statement, "This PMA part is not a critical component," should be written in Block 13 of FAA Form 8130-3; or, A critical component is a part identified as critical by the design approval holder during the validation process, or otherwise by the exporting authority;


    2. "The PMA part conforms to design data obtained under a licensing agreement from the holder of the FAA design approval, according to 4 CFR § 21.303(c)(4) of the Federal Aviation Regulations The statement "Produced under licensing agreement from the FAA design approval holder" should be written in Block 13 of FAA Form 8130-3;


    3. The PMA holder can show that the part has received an explicit approval by means of a design change or STC from the Agency or, when this approval was granted prior to 28 September 2003, from any of the National Aviation Authorities of the Members States of the European Union. The reference to this authorization should be written in Block 13 of the FAA Form 8130-3."

    What does this mean to maintainers and operators of EASA registered aircraft? It means, that PMA parts will be subject to reciprocal acceptance between the United States FAA and those countries subject to EASA jurisdiction, provided that the FAA-PMA part is: not flight critical; may be flight critical but conforms to OEM standard and has been manufactured under license from the OEM; or, is approved for installation, operation and continued airworthiness via the issuance of a United States of America FAA Supplemental Type Certificate. In short, item "c" of EASA Executive Director Decision 2007/003/C provides European operators the confidence in knowing that FAA-PMA components and kitted materials may be installed in accordance within the requirements of EASA as long as the prevailing bilateral agreement governing these reciprocal agreements remains in effect.

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

    To learn more about ASIG's approach to aircraft modernization programs, virtual engineering services subscriptions or other products and services available from the Avionics & Systems Integration Group, please visit us online at http://www.asigllc.com/, via email at info@asigllc.com, or contact us toll-free at 866.890.ASIG [2744].

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    NextGen 301: Automatic Dependent Surveillance

    Welcome to Wired!

    Having discussed Performance-based Navigation and Satellite Based Augmentation Systems we've explored the technology and regulatory enhancements that air traffic control agencies are developing in order to moderate aircraft transitioning national and international airspace. It has quickly been proven that these changes to the regulatory environment when coupled with advanced navigation aid aloft that operators and controllers can achieve maximized utilization of what is already densely populated airspace. But what technology and methodologies exist to allow the greatest efficiency to the operators and controllers as they consume more and more airspace resources? Automatic Dependent Surveillance

    Automatic Dependent Surveillance is a crucial component of the nation's Next-Generation Air Transportation System, and its implementation over the next 20 years will turn the NextGen vision into a reality. There are three classifications of Automatic Dependent Surveillance technology: Address (ADS-A); Broadcast (ADS-B); Contract (ADS-C). ADS-B is the prevailing component of this technology and has taken the early lead in forging the lead of this new technology.

    Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Addressed (ADS-A) is a capability where aircraft are equipped to determine their own position automatically and to broadcast this information to specific addressees of listeners whether on the ground or aloft. The technology is good; however, its overall effectiveness is limited to those addresses specifically called-to by the ADS-A operator.

    Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) is a capability where aircraft are equipped to determine their own position automatically and to broadcast this information to interested listeners at regular time intervals. Recipients of the broadcast position information are other nearby aircraft and ground ATC systems.

    Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) is an operational precept that enforces the ground system to set up a contract(s) with individual aircraft such that the aircraft will automatically provide information obtained from its own on-board sensors, and pass this information to the ground system under specific circumstances dictated by the ground system (except in emergencies). Contracts are only initiated by the ground and cannot be modified by the pilot. These contracts are an electronic 'dynamic agreement' between the ground system and the aircraft. It is not (as one could think) a piece of paper that has some legal value.

    Rulemaking Sidebar: RTCA DO-212 [Minimum Operational Performance Standard (MOPS) for Airborne ADS equipment] Compliance with this standard is recommended as one means of ensuring that the equipment will perform its intended functions satisfactorily under all conditions normally encountered in routine aeronautical operations.

    As previously stated, the aircraft equipage taking the lead in this marketplace is ADS-B due to its broad based reporting of situational awareness data. With ADS-B, pilots, like their controllers counterparts, will see radar-like displays, on existing electronic flight instruments, with highly accurate traffic data from satellites. This data updates and displays traffic situational information in real time and don't degrade with distance or terrain. The system will also give pilots access to weather services, terrain maps and flight information services. The improved situational awareness means that pilots will be able to fly at safe distances from one another with less assistance from air traffic controllers.

    The gains in safety, capacity, and efficiency as a result of moving to a satellite-based system will enable the FAA to meet the tremendous growth in air traffic predicted in coming decades. Because ADS-B is a flexible and expandable platform, it can change and grow with the evolving aviation system.

    ADS-B Benefits
    • Provides air-to-air surveillance capability.
    • Provides surveillance to remote or inhospitable areas that do not currently have coverage with radar.
    • Provides real-time traffic and aeronautical information in the cockpit.
    • Allows for reduced separation and greater predictability in departure and arrival times.
      Supports common separation standards, both horizontal and vertical, for all classes of airspace.
    • Improves ability of airlines to manage traffic and aircraft fleets.
    • Improves ability of air traffic controllers to plan arrivals and departures far in advance.
    • Reduces the cost of the infrastructure needed to operate the National Airspace System.

    The United States FAA has issued an NPRM concerning the Avionics Equipage and is already deploying ADS-B field installations. The final rule and initial operating capabilities are planned for completion in Q2FY10. This leaves approximately 18 months from the date of this posting for aircraft owners and operators to evaluate potential solutions suitable for their aircraft and fleets.ASIG is currently supporting numerous ADS-B projects for a variety of aircraft and operators.

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

    To learn more about ASIG's approach to aircraft modernization programs or the products and services available from the Avionics & Systems Integration Group, please visit us online at http://www.asigllc.com/, via email at info@asigllc.com, or contact us direct at 866.890.ASIG [2744].

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    NextGen 201: Performance-based Navigation

    Welcome to Wired!

    As we discussed in the NextGen 101, the future of National Air Space, specifically Air Traffic Control, is drastically changing. We discussed the benefit of Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) in terms of performance and shared an insight into the technology, standards and governing agencies. In this edition of Wired we will take a look at how SBAS and other technologies are a component of Performance-based Navigation and how these technologies yield operational improvements that directly affect operational safety and fiscal exposure to the operator.

    Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and Area Navigation (RNAV) are keen aspects of any airspace modernization program. There are currently 209 RNAV SIDS and STARS and 22 RNP approaches published in the United States alone. The RNAV and RNP procedures create more airways into and out-of otherwise congested airports. Performance-based navigation is proved to save fuel, relieve congestion and reduce delays at many airports both domestic and international. RNP approaches take advantage of onboard flight management computers and/or systems computational capabilities to affect precise navigation, including guidance for precise curved flight paths such as Constant Radius Arc (RF) legs, to direct the aircraft through difficult and specified flight corridors during both the arduous transitional phases before and after arrival/departure, and during less demanding enroute phase of flight. ASIG is a technology leader in the development of integrated flight decks capable of sustained RNAV and RNP flight operations. Our STCs feature both integration architecture and equipage capable of precise navigation to RNP 0.3 standards without the benefit of extra-sensory IRU and DME/DME input.

    Looking forward, WAAS-enabled systems will provide additional enhanced RNP capabilities. Improved crew alerting, Course Deviation Indication (CDI) scaling, and display output provide the operational approval path for the Federal Aviation Administration to develop RNP approaches into numerous airports such as Palm Springs, Long Beach, Orange County, Sun Valley and Washington, DC.

    PRNAV in the European performance-based navigation standard. ASIG is keeping abreast of these developments and ensuring that our integrated flight decks continue to provide the precise guidance and alerting necessary to support future performance-based navigation flight paths and truly global dispatch ability. At ASIG, we are committed to the advancement of navigation systems that allow our clients to bridge international boundaries thereby benefiting the aviation community worldwide, the flying public and operator bottom-lines which will benefit the consumer through competition in the marketplace.

    In our next edition of Wired we will expand on the modern age of navigational aids by looking at Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) by looking at the operational benefits and FAA program objectives of ADS-B. We'll also start to generalize about the implementation schedule for these exciting NextGen technologies.

    Until next time stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!
    To learn more about ASIG's approach to aircraft modernization programs or the products and services available from the Avionics & Systems Integration Group, please visit us online at http://www.asigllc.com/, via email at info@asigllc.com, or contact us direct at 866.890.ASIG [2744].

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    NextGen 101: Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS)

    Welcome to Wired!

    As our industry enters the new dawn of airspace management and integrated avionic capabilities we at ASIG felt it was appropriate to share the benefit of our experience and know-how with those laymen of our industry who are most directly charged with keeping and maintaining safe skies, the Technical and Flight Operations Managers. We'll start this year's look at the future of Air Traffic Control (ATC) with an intro to SBAS. Satellite Navigation and positioning systems represent the most important technological breakthrough in aviation navigation history. Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) refers to geostationary satellites over various regions of the world supported by a network of precisely located ground reference stations. These ground stations monitor, collect and process satellite signals and send this information to ground-based master stations. The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) master stations develop a WAAS correction message that is relayed to airborne, WAAS enabled aircraft via geostationary satellites.

    This highly precise SBAS navigation system improves accuracy, availability, and integrity of GPS-derived position thereby increasing the navigation capacity for all classes of aircraft in all phases of flight. When operating in North America, WAAS equipped aircraft achieve a dramatic improvement in signal availability over traditional GPS sensors. This is due to the use of WAAS geostationary satellites as distance ranging sources. The large gain in availability eliminates the need to perform GPS integrity predictions (aka: RAIM) prior to departure. This allows for easier flight planning and fewer delays or canceled departures.

    All Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) are regional systems. There is currently an international effort to establish cooperation among SBAS providers so their implementation becomes part of a seamless worldwide navigation system. ASIG's integrated flight decks allow even classic and contemporary generation aircraft to be compatible with all international satellite-based systems. Whether operating within Europe's (EGNOS), Japan's (MSAS) or India's (GAGAN) system you can be assured of global dispatch ability. Working with our clients and the end-user operator(s) our integrations are designed and developed with forward-fit future compliance with the standards established in RTCA DO-229D. ASIG's designs largely feature off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment for efficiency of integration and ease the procurement effort of Line Replaceable Units (LRUs). Our retrofits and architecture provide all the necessary capabilities that will extend into Canadian airspace as well. NAV CANADA has participated in the development of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) by proposing a Canadian WASS (CWASS) that supplements the United States installation of WAAS by adding additional reference stations within Canada in order to increase coverage across North America. Flying in one of ASIG's fully integrated cockpits provides virtually seamless international satellite-based navigation for a fraction of the implementation cost of manufacturer Service Bulletin modifications.

    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 http://www.asigllc.com/, via email at info@asigllc.com, or contact us direct at 866.890.ASIG [2744].

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    ASIG Receives FAA §145 Air Agency Certificate

    Little Rock, AR: January 30, 2008 - Avionics & Systems Integration Group, LLC (ASIG) yesterday received 14 CFR §145 Repair Station Certification. This important certification proves that the ASIG service center has met the FAA’s stringent aircraft component repair and maintenance regulations. ASIG can now lead the repair and maintenance of any article contained in their PMA’d aircraft modifications kits and other components as contained in their FAA accepted capability list.

    The comprehensive five-phase certification effort consisted of preapplication, formal application, document compliance, demonstration / inspection, and certification. ASIG’s repair station manual was reviewed and found acceptable by the FAA for conformity to applicable regulations and safe operating practices. In addition, the FAA approved ASIG’s repair station training manual. Also throughout the certification process, the company’s facilities and equipment were found to meet the regulatory requirements.

    “We are building an enduring aviation legacy, and this latest FAA nod of approval represents another important step in our journey,” said Luke Ribich, Managing Director of ASIG. “Previously, we have designed and certified superior aircraft articles and now are well on our way to delivering and maintaining a large array of aircraft and components ranging from use on GA through large transport aircraft. This certification reflects the seriousness with which we are approaching our entire customer experience – from sale, through design, certification and delivery, to the service and maintenance of each of our products over its lifetime.”

    In 2006, ASIG introduced a revolutionary customer care program that will continue to drive down cost of aircraft ownership and operation. The VESSA (Virtual Engineering Services Subscription Agreement) Program, is ASIG’s one-stop solution for for operational support, engineering & design service, DER/DAR approvals and component maintenance, it provides the engineering, solutions development and FAA certifications customers need to operate and manage their aircraft or fleet at a fixed, guaranteed price. The VESSA Program leverages the experience and proficiencies of its cadre of highly skilled multi-disciplined aerospace engineers, designers, technicians and fleet/program planners to aid its clients implement safety enhancements, airframe mid-life extensions, maintaining regulatory compliance, reliability improvement programs and reducing the challenge of acquiring and maintaining internal engineering, manufacturing and MRO capabilities. As is done for customers of modern automotive companies like Lexus, the VESSA program significantly improves the customer ownership experience by providing a 24/7/365 single point of contact that greatly simplifies day-to-day and AOG aircraft management.

    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 lribich@asigllc.com. – END OF RELEASE