Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Class 1 and 2 EFBs not Certifiable for use with Aircraft PSS or Lithium Batteries

Welcome to Wired!

Last month the FAA issued a policy memorandum providing additional guidance on the certification of Class 1 and 2 portable Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs). The memorandum cites a potential safety hazard in the use of EFBs with rechargeable lithium batteries, and requires that such systems meet minimum performance standards or that warning placards be added to prevent their connection to aircraft electrical power.

"An aircraft electrical power source may provide power to Class 1 and 2 EFB systems with lithium batteries. Lithium batteries and charging circuitry may be flammable under certain conditions and could cause an unsafe condition during flight operations," states the memorandum.

"In particular, lithium battery systems have the potential to pose a safety hazard when recharging. The aircraft electrical power source is not certified to mitigate unsafe conditions that occur when connected to portable equipment which contains lithium batteries and charging circuitry."

The memorandum requires that EFBs containing lithium batteries are tested to RTCA DO-311, "Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Rechargeable Lithium Battery Systems," which was intended to test permanently installed equipment.

EFBs that do not meet the standards are not eligible for connection to aircraft electrical power sources. FAA says a warning placard should be added as part of the supplemental type certification, defining what type of equipment can be connected to aircraft power. "The placard, must be legible, easy to see and as close as practical to the docking location(s)," the memorandum states.

So what does all this mean? Simply put, when considering power supply systems (PSS) for use with personal electronic devices (PEDs) it is necessary to ensure that your installation considers the operational ramifications and forward looking system scalability needs of your operations early in the design process to ensure that you customers, air/cabin crew and ground maintenance crew needs are being met. This will aid your organization in garnering the greatest return on the capital improvement dollars you invest in your aircraft modifications program. ASIG is experienced in the design and certification of PSS for use with PEDs, as well as other CNS/ATM & IFE upgrades and enhancements.

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 www.asigllc.com, via email at info@asigllc.com, or contact us toll-free at 866.890.ASIG [2744].

Monday, February 2, 2009

NextGen Governing Principles for Avionics Equipage

Welcome to Wired!

As the United States, and other world governments, face a deepening economic situation it is becoming more clear that both politicians and constituents must do all they can to improve their national and international air traffic infrastructures in order to maximize on each elements operational efficiencies. To that end, the aviation community has long been at work seeking to maximize the safety, efficiency and cleanliness of aircraft operation from flight origin to termination. As we have discussed previously in Wired, the United States' initiative is called NextGen, whereas the European initiative is designated SESAR. As usual we at ASIG will start this year's discussion by reviewing these global harmonization efforts. Going forward this year we will explore the methods and philosophies that contribute to ensuring the greatest path of acceptance across all sectors of constituents and what efficiencies exist that can help operators achieve the greatest return on their capital investment dollars.

NextGen will require investment by both the government and the private sector to be successful in delivering the desired National Air Space (NAS) performance improvements; and, towards contributing to both a technological and economic strengthening of the global economy. These investments will be largely in the areas of avionics technology, operational procedures and flight planning processes. And while lesser equipped aircraft will still be accommodated in the NAS, the FAA and private partners such as ASIG will be working to ensuring that a significant portion of the aircraft fleet is appropriately equipped to take advantage of NextGen infrastructure improvements, which is perhaps the most critical issue in achieving success. Change is necessary for a variety of reasons, and change seldom evolves without its detractors. The paramount of which is the cost to both aircraft operators and the FAA, in order to realize the NextGen benefits. But, with the enhancements offered by the installation of the equipment and technologies described in the FAA's NextGen roadmap, prices will fall as the industry base broadens. Therefore, private partners in this transformation process, such as ASIG, recognize that through partnership and proactive planning through processes like ASIG's SEMPER model. Those companies specializing in technology insertion and operational certifications, such as ASIG, have a responsibility to help its customer's internal program managers to build the strong business cases that is necessary for operators to equip their aircraft. By sharing the "map through the mine-field," we as an industry ensure that the challenges and proposed solutions are matured with the benefit of fulfilling the needs of each unique constituent in the cycle. Therefore, as we start 2009, we've decided pause to take a look back at the governing principles and technology that will improve the safety and experience we encounter when we fly, so that we can establish a good foundational underpinning for future discussions, where we will address the "How" questions.

Developmental Principles

The following high-level governing principles establish a foundation for an integrated avionics equipage strategy aimed at accelerating NextGen and SESAR operational capabilities in the 2012-2018 mid-term timeframe. These principles span possible operational, financial and regulatory actions, and will serve as the basis for future FAA, and international, decision-making, specific policy development activities, and engagement with industry stakeholders:

  • Target equipage and associated capabilities to maximize operational benefits for the specific locations or airspace that require a higher performance level in order to elevate system performance and to satisfy demand.
    • Leverage and maximize the benefit of existing equipage.
    • Take advantage of normal maintenance cycles to minimize disruptions to operators when installing new equipment.
    • Leverage operational evaluations and other cooperative arrangements with industry to accelerate NextGen equipage.
  • Consistent with safe and efficient operations, provide "best-equipped, best-served" priority in the NAS to early adopters.
  • Minimize the business risk associated with early deployment of NextGen equipage, such as those resulting from application of initial certification standards; FAA may assume portions of that risk or otherwise incentivize operators.
  • Target government provided financial incentives for new equipment toward aircraft that will meet evolving environmental requirements.
  • Harmonize operations, performance requirements and avionics solutions globally to ensure maximum benefits to operators who fly internationally.

Supporting Technologies

Because of the volume of available detail concerning these emerging technologies, and to some degree the absence of operational maturity in them, we have limited the following expanse of them to those areas that are currently available, or, at a minimum, currently planned for implementation by 2018. To garner more specific information on these capabilities, we encourage our readers to review past issues of Wired, which are available online.

  • 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.
  • System Wide Information Management (SWIM): Is a NAS-wide information system that supports NextGen information and data delivery goals. SWIM will enable increased common situational awareness and improved NAS agility to deliver the right information to pilots and controllers at the right time – before issues occur.
  • Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS): Is a technology designed to allow greater situational awareness through visual medium using advanced imaging technologies such as forward looking infrared, sonagraphic imaging and thermal visioning to name a few. EVS will allow aircraft to commit to flight operations and flight procedures beyond today's minimums and in inclement weather by giving pilots real-time visual data when their natural view is obstructed by weather, darkness or other traditional/nontraditional impediments.
  • NextGen Network Enabled Weather (NNEW): Will serve as the infrastructure core of the NextGen aviation weather support services, providing access to a NAS-wide common weather picture. NNEW will identify, adapt and use standards for system-wide weather data formatting and access. A virtual 4-D Weather Data Cube with aviation weather information from multi-agency sources is being developed. The virtual 4-D Weather Data Cube provides improved aviation weather data which can be directly and commonly accessed by and integrated into user decision support tools. The virtual database will consolidate a vast array of ground-, airborne-, and space-based weather observations and forecasts. This will provide a single, national—eventually global—picture of the atmosphere, updated as needed in real-time.
  • Airport Surface Detection Equipment – Mode X (ASDE-X): is a surveillance system using radar and satellite technology that allows air traffic controllers to track surface movement of aircraft and vehicles. ASDE-X enables air traffic controllers to detect potential runway, and taxiway, conflicts by providing detailed coverage of movement on runways and taxiways. By collecting data from a variety of sources, ASDE-X is able to track vehicles and aircraft on the airport movement area and obtain identification information from aircraft transponders.

In all, these and other TBD technologies and procedures will pave the way for a safer, more efficient, greener and a more user friendly air travel experience in the years and decades to come. Now, in 2009, is the time to start fleet planning exercises to ensure the timeliest NextGen/SESAR compliance readiness for aircraft and fleets. If your organization is interested in learning about ASIG's Systems Evolution/Modernization Planning, Execution & Realization (SEMPER) process; or, to learn ways to fiscally justify the up-front expense of these technologies, we encourage you to contact our modification project managers. In our next edition we will start evaluating how these capital improvement projects can be accomplished most efficiently, using available and scalable products and methodologies that will help your team to expedite the developmental and certification processes supporting these alterations.

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].