Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ATC Global Updates SESAR Progress

Welcome to Wired!

Following up on “NextGen + SESAR = Air Traffic Harmony,” ASIG wanted to share some of the information presented at ATC Global 2011, held March 8-10, in Amsterdam. Even if you don’t operate in Europe, what is going on there matters to everyone, even those who never wing their way out of US airspace. 

Before ATC Global began, the FAA and European Union signed a formal Memorandum of Cooperation. Befitting aviation’s worldwide reach, they signed the document in Budapest, Hungry. A research agreement that encourages industry participation, the memo focuses on the interoperability of avionics, communication protocols, procedures, and operational methods between America’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and the EU’s Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR).

It seems that in some areas, SESAR has a slight lead on NextGen. In ATC Global’s opening presentations, Florian Guillermet, chief program officer of SESAR Joint Undertaking, reported that 75 percent of the SESAR “factory” is in place.   That “factory” covers more than 300 projects, many directly involving those who use the airspace. Those projects are now starting to deliver.

Much of what was presented at ATC Global is now online. Rather than an in-depth report on it, a synopsis, with links to the source material, seemed more efficient.

SESAR Forum: SESAR is making the jump from development to deployment in 2011. This forum provided background and details, including key milestones for 2011 and 2012. There are 16 operational focus areas and 29 validation exercises set for 2011. This includes flight trials of air and ground data link services that support the initial 4D (i4D) traffic synchronization of computed and predicted controlled time arrival of aircraft.

[SESAR-LOGO2.jpg]Other 2011 SESAR deliverables include Point Merge procedures in complex terminal control areas (see Now is the Time to Invest in NextGen RNP.) These procedures better exploit flight management system capabilities, including continuous descent arrival procedures. SESAR will be validated all over Europe in 2012.

SESAR Interoperability Symposium Part I & II:  Global harmonization depends on universal technical standards defined by ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and coordinated industry standards. There are significant differences in how various parts of the world organize Air Traffic Management, so one solution doesn’t meet the needs of all nations and regions. Global interoperability, therefore, depends on common technology (systems) and operational procedures that can be equally applied and scaled to meet an area’s needs.

The keynote forum and symposium were followed by a number of Technical Workshops.

Data Mobile Communications Systems: Data link supports all airspace users from airlines and the military to general aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles. “Data will be the primary mode of future operations” with voice communications for emergency situations. It uses a multi-link approach of C-band for airport surface, L-band for general terrestrial, and satellite for oceanic and continental routes.

Green ATM: SESAR meets growing mobility needs while protecting the environment. Of particular interest to operators are efficiencies that predict 10-percent fuel savings per flight. This includes AIRE, Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions. Objectives for 2012 includes operational validation of i4D trajectory supported by satellite-based technology.

Avionics: This workshop covered avionics progress within the SESAR program, from 4D trajectory and airport navigation functions to ASAS (airborne separation assistance system) tools for pilots (including ADS-B and TCAS), and combined vision systems that include the detection of wake vortex. Four key development areas—4D Trajectory Management, Information Management, Collaborative Network Planning, and Enhanced Automation Support—are integrated across Airborne, En-Route & Terminal, Airports, Airline Operations, Military Operations, and CNS Infrastructure (including space).

SWIM: System Wide Information Management is ATM’s air-to-ground and ground-to-ground intranet. Automation handles most of the routine tasks, allowing controllers to concentrate on high value-added tasks. It includes a Registry, a complete and consolidated source of reference and service information.

It is clear that the systems and procedures required to operate in 21st century airspace are quickly coming on line with building-block functionality. Now is the time to for operators to make the transition from planning for these realities to acting on them. ASIG stands ready to help operators implement them in a phased effort that will keep you on pace with the future.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

MROs: ASIG is Your EWIS Specialist

Welcome to Wired!

March 10, 2011 is a date organizations dedicated to the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of transport category aircraft should be aware of it because thereafter they will likely see a growing number of tasks that may now be beyond their core competencies. It is the deadline for operators of these aircraft to incorporate in their maintenance programs OEM-dictated inspections and procedures for electrical wiring interconnection systems (EWIS).

For operators and MROs alike, EWIS is a paradigm shift in thinking. Before its creation 39 months ago,  thinking of wiring as a system within a system was an alien concept because it includes everything from cables and  harnesses to connectors and clips, ties, mounts, and trays that physically integrate it with the airplane. (For more information, see EWIS Maintenance Program Deadline and EWIS, EZAP & ICA: What’s It all Mean?)

Where MROs may encounter EWIS maintenance program requirements depends on the job, but they stand out in scheduled heavy inspections, especially Cs and Ds. Depending on the operator’s program, it could be a combination of general and detailed visual inspections that seek out moisture or abrasive accumulations of dirt by specific zones, followed by prescribed  cleaning procedures and/or repair methods for wiring, connections, and physical integration.

This situation is not unlike the specialization of medicine. Like the family doc, MROs can expertly treat their patients’ everyday structural and circulatory needs. But EWIS is akin to neurology, with a unique set of tools, tooling, and processes. Like family docs, MROs can either invest the time and money needed to add this specialty to their list of capabilities, or they can call in a specialist, which would be ASIG’s FAA Repair Station. 

ASIG developed its EWIS maintenance, repair, and overhaul expertise by working with it every day to connect the systems and equipment the company integrates in a variety of aircraft. This capability, supported by a robust and reliable supply chain, makes ASIG responsive, flexible, efficient, and economical. Adding a new task to the repair station’s list of capabilities begins with an internal audits of ASIG’s facilities, tooling, tech data, and personnel. 

damaged wiresRare would be the task beyond its capabilities. It’s dealt everything from fuel quantity systems that require specific impedance to cleaning and repairing the tape-style ribbon harness for the DC-9’s air stair. Usually, the EWIS comes to ASIG, but its technicians will and do travel. And the repair station opens its doors wide to EWIS still affixed in a component, like the wing of a CRJ. Removed for a skin graft, the MRO asked ASIG to make field repairs on several harnesses permanent. A complex undertaking, it required breaking through and restoring the harnesses’ outer braided shielding, which ASIG easily accomplished before returning the wing for re-skinning.

EWIS overhauls can range from new wiring, wire marking, and new connector terminations in all or just a few strands. It all depends on the EWIS requirements, which may only allow a single repair for multiple defects in the wiring instead of three or four fixes. Another example might be environmentally sealed repairs, which might be good once every 10 feet—until it’s overhaul time, when you must replace all affected wires, conduits, shielding, and anti-abrasion devices as specified.

Like any specialist, ASIG maintains, repairs, and overhauls  complex wiring systems, major harnesses that run well into five figures. A landing gear harness, for example, can cost $7,000, not counting the time and money to remove and re-install it with the interceding logistics shuffle. A quick engine change harness is another example, and any lead time increases the cost that much more. MROs can contain these costs and reduce them by keeping select EWIS on the shelf as replacements and sending the harness needing treatment to ASIG, which returns it shelf-ready. 

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