Maintenance - Page 7 Aviation Articles

Business Aviation & NextGen, Part I: Updates and Mandates


Image Courtesy: FAA

By now, everyone on the general aviation industry is tired of hearing about NextGen and its amazingness, right? I mean, it all sounds great - until you realize that in just a few short years, that new avionics upgrade you got a few years ago could be almost worthless.

While it will be beneficial to have ADS-B, weather mapping and CPDLC, these fancy upgrades don't come cheap. And it's not just the high dollar that destroys people's optimism. There are other decisions involved, too - like whether to upgrade now, wait until the equipment is required or just start over with a brand new jet. Add to this an overabundance of confusing FAA rules, the need for STCs, waiting for paperwork to go through and aircraft downtime, and it's a pretty unappealing process for the typical Citation or Gulfstream owner.

But NextGen has its benefits, too, in the form of safety and efficiency, and maybe it's time for everyone to get on board. But what exactly will you need? When should you equip your aircraft? How much will it cost? Should you upgrade or sell?

In this two-part series, we'll look first at the requirements of NextGen, the equipment upgrades in question, what is mandated and what will be mandated soon. In part two, we'll examine insider opinions and go over some advantages and disadvantages of upgrading avionics versus replacing your aircraft.

If you're not familiar with The FAA's NextGen program and all that it entails, it's time to get cozy with it. The program is a complex one with many different facets within it, including a series of new technologies that will allegedly make the nation's airspace more safe and efficient. A few of these new systems are especially important to aircraft owners because of the high cost and complex avionics involved. We'll go over two of the more significant systems below:

ADS-B:
ADS-B, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, is the most accurate system to date for determining aircraft position. Because both ATC and other pilots in the area will be able to determine your aircraft's precise position while flying, ADS-B will allow for reduced separation minimums and a safer flight environment.

According to an FAA mandate, all aircraft owners that intend to fly in class A, B or C airspace must be equipped with ADS-B Out capabilities by January 1st, 2020. This sounds easy enough, but the exact installation requirements vary greatly from aircraft to aircraft, depending on the current avionics package and the type of flying accomplished.

At a minimum, aircraft will need to be equipped with a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and (for aircraft flying above 18,000 feet) a 1090 MHz ES link with a Mode S Transponder.

ATN-B1 (Datacomm) and FANS-1/A:
ATN-B1 has many names. It's known by the FAA as Datacomm and it's known still to others as Link2000+, PMCPDLC, or CPDLC. It uses datalink technology to send data communications from air traffic controllers to the cockpit of the aircraft via a text message, and vice versa. The FAA's Datacomm program intends to improve communication by reducing voice communication errors that come with fuzzy or congested radio frequencies and improving the accuracy of transmissions. Currently, there is no FAA mandate for the use of Datacomm in the United States, but ATN-B1 will be mandated by EASA in February 2015. The program is expected to be implemented in the U.S. in 2016 and expanded on until 2024.

FANS-1/A is a datalink system that incorporates CPDLC with a surveillance feature called ADS-C. The ADS-C feature provides position reports over areas not served by ground systems, such as the Atlantic Ocean. FANS-1/A is mandated by the North Atlantic Track System (NATS) for the two center tracks over the Atlantic, and this mandate is expected to expand.

Whether an operator decides to equip with ATN-B1 or FANS-1/A will largely be determined by mandates, cost and the aircraft's current equipment status. But one thing is for sure: These datalink upgrades are something operators should prepare for in one way or another.

Stay tuned more information about how business aviation is preparing for NextGen, including why some business jet owners are choosing to upgrade now!

The Importance of WAAS with LPV

Mark Wilken – Director of Avionics Sales with Elliott Aviation
www.elliottaviation.com

Traditionally, ground-based landing systems have been the only method for low visibility approaches. Many business aircraft, however, are operated from airports without ground-based systems and are restricted to using non-precision approaches. If your aircraft is equipped with WAAS and LPV you have many more options to get to where you are going safely and efficiently.

There is a common misconception in the industry that WAAS and LPV are one in the same, however, they are two completely different systems.

WAAS, or Wide Area Augmentation System, was developed by the FAA to augment GPS to improve accuracy. Put simply, it is a corrected GPS. It is accurate to about one meter of your actual position. Combined with LPV, it can get you into more airports in a more direct manner. Without LPV, WAAS is just nothing more than an accurate sensor.

LPV, or Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance, gives you an enhanced database in your FMS GPS and allows ILS-like approaches at airports that do not have an ILS or ground-based system. LPV approaches allow for minimums to be as low as 200 feet.

If LPV approaches are not available at the airport you are traveling, they likely have LP approaches available. LP, or Localizer Performance Approaches, provide precision lateral guidance using the enhanced accuracy WAAS provides. As an example, an LP approach into Telluride, Colorado allow for minims of an additional 460 feet for days when the weather is less than perfect.

Mark Wilken is the Director of Avionics Sales for Elliott Aviation which employs over 40 avionics technicians at their headquarters in Moline, IL. Mark began his career at Elliott Aviation in 1989 as a bench technician repairing radios and quickly became the manager of the department. Mark helped launch Elliott Aviation’s Garmin G1000 retrofit program where the company has installed more King Air G1000’s than all other dealers in the world combined. Recently, he has headed STC programs for the newly-launched Aircell ATG 2000 system for Hawker 8000/850/900, Phenom 300 and King Air 350/B200/B200GT. Mark is a licensed pilot and holds an associate’s degree in avionics and a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Southern Illinois University.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Beechjet Landing Gear-Falling Into Place

Specific Repairs for Proper Beechjet Landing Gear Operation

Brian McKenzie-Elliott Aviation Accessory Shop Manager
www.elliottaviation.com

Image of Repaired Bushing

A Beechjet is a unique airframe as it does not have a pneumatic blow down for landing gear. It primarily relies on airspeed and gravity. When the landing gear and trunnion have been maintained and repaired properly, this is never an issue. However, if the trunnion bearings are not aligned properly a slow wear eventually causes it to bind requiring repair to the trunnion bearing journals of the main landing gear.

Last year we had an AOG situation with a customer located in Caracas, Venezuela, that required this repair. The customer ran an approach to Miami and did not have all three landing gear down and locked. They cycled the landing gear a couple of times with no luck. They declared an emergency and proceeded to land anyway. As they taxied to the FBO, the line service technician noticed the left side main landing gear was not locked. They brought the aircraft in for swing tests and discovered that the left side landing gear was not swinging freely, in fact, it would fall only 7/8ths of the way down and not lock.

The aircraft was ferried back to its home base to trouble shoot the landing gear. They found that the landing gear would not pass the free fall test and removed the affected landing gear from the aircraft. During inspection of the trunnion, they found the forward trunnion bearing was seized and needed to be replaced. In this particular instance, there was an initial repair of the trunnion bearing journals where the bore was not reamed correctly and an oversized bearing was installed. This caused a misalignment, which ultimately caused the bearing to seize and the landing gear to not fall freely.

In this instance, the customer was very lucky. In these situations, the landing gear can collapse on landing or turns. In order to provide on our core values of Unmatched Quality, Uncompromising Integrity and Unbeatable Customer Service, I traveled to Venezuela amid political turmoil just days after Hugo Chavez’s death to make the repair. The aircraft was returned to service in less than five days and I returned two days before the Venezuelan Presidential election.

Another instance where this repair applies is when the factory bearing bore is enlarged due to repeated landings. If the bearings do not have an interference fit, this repair must be done in order to prevent further damage to the airframe.

At Elliott Aviation, we have seen this issue occur at least a half a dozen times in Beechjets. Properly repairing this requires pinpoint accuracy of lining up the bearing bore to the opposite side and our specialized tooling is centered between both pieces. In fact, we have developed a special tooling system that includes a series of reamers, specialized bushings and NDT capabilities to ensure the repair is handled correctly.

Brian McKenzie started with Elliott Aviation in 2007 as a Quality Control Inspector and led the development of Elliott Aviation’s Accessory Shop in 2011. He received his A&P in 2004, IA in 2009 and ASNT NDT Level III in 2010. Brian started his career in the US Navy where he was part of the fixed wing and rotor wing maintenance and aircrew. He has maintained airframes and components on a diverse number of aircraft including Beechcraft products, Gulfstreams, Citations, Falcons and helicopters. Brian has also worked for Aero Air, Evergreen International, Flightcraft and Jet Services Inc.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Traceability Equals Peace of Mind

Getting Exactly what You Want from Your Parts Vendor

Thomas Rountree – Parts Manager for Elliott Aviation
www.elliottaviation.com

Everyone wants to have a hassle-free shopping experience and shopping for aircraft parts is no exception. It’s likely that you and your company are short on time and resources so the less time you have to research aircraft parts, the better, especially in an AOG situation. This is where a computer maintenance management system can save you dozens of hours.

If your parts dealer has a good computer maintenance management system, they will be able to tell you the history of that aircraft part from the time the order was placed, what work order it went on, when it was installed, or who it was sold to. It also allows them to trace a specific part to a serial number or lot number sequence so you know how close in age available parts are to the one you have specified.

I recently had a customer experience a computer problem in his airplane and he wanted to know the serial number of the part. At the time, he either wanted his existing equipment repaired or exchanged for a newer model. With just the serial number of his aircraft, we were able to give him options in less than a minute and shipped him a loaner to install the following day while we repaired his faulty device.

A good computer maintenance management system can also help you if you happen to lose your trace documentation. Any reputable company with a good system could replicate and send you the documentation in a matter of minutes. It can also provide you with logbook/date of installation validation. Ultimately, it saves you a lot of hassle. You are the customer; make sure your parts supplier is taking the time to do the research on your behalf.

Thomas Rountree started in logistics when he joined the US Army at the age of 18. His entire career has revolved around that field, including 25 years in retail distribution. He joined Elliott Aviation in 2006 as a shipping-receiving associate, after one year he moved into the Avionics procurement group. A short year later he became the Parts Department Manager and was later promoted to Material Support Manager. He is currently the Director of Parts & Component Services overseeing the Parts Departments, Accessory Shop and Elliott Parts Sales (EPS) group for Elliott Aviation, Inc. ).

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Aircraft Accident Prevention: Getting Uncomfortable

Photo © Phil Ostroff/Flickr

As pilots, we do a number of things to prepare for a safe flight: Pre-flights, checklists, flight planning and a proper weather review. But are we too comfortable with our safety measures?

For those of us in the aviation industry, safety is the number one priority. It's instilled in us (hopefully) from the first time we step foot into the airplane. I don't know of a single pilot who would categorize himself as anything but safe, but even pilots with the utmost regard for operational safety can find themselves in an emergency situation without recognizing it.

There's an old theory that a person is better off flying with a brand new pilot than one with thousands of hours. There is both absurdity and truthfulness in this single statement. With experience comes knowledge and of course, the right knowledge can keep us from danger. But that same knowledge also brings a certain level of ease into our every-day flying habits, and this comfort can lead to a casual disregard for safety.

Instead of simply following the safety protocols we find in checklists and ops manuals, we need to be on the lookout for an accident-worthy chain of events. We need to change our mindset from "I follow the rules, so that means I'm safe" to "what decisions do I face that present a risk?" Pilots need to remain uncomfortable.

The moment we get comfortable is the moment we begin to ignore the warning signs of an impending emergency.

Aircraft emergencies aren't usually the result of a single wrong decision. Instead, accidents tend to occur after a series of ill-fated events, so it's important that we weigh the risk and value of each and every decision we make - even the small ones. If the decision doesn't bring us toward a safer flying environment, is it leading us toward risk? How far will we allow ourselves to venture from accuracy and perfection in flight? Are we comfortable with a certain decision because it's a habit or because we thoroughly weighed the risk? How many red flags do we come across before we change our course?

Take Air Florida Flight 90, for example. Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac River during takeoff as a result of icing conditions, but the investigation provided insight into a long chain of events that occurred before the accident: corporate culture problems, departure delays, taking off with icing, failure to use anti-ice, failure to reject takeoff, failure of the first officer to speak up and limited crew member experience, to name a few. Had one of the pilots interrupted that chain of events somewhere, the accident may have been prevented.

We won't fly perfectly every flight. But if we keep ourselves from getting too comfortable in our flying operations, we can work to remove as many unsafe decisions as possible in an effort to prevent the downward spiral of events that could lead to an accident.

Remember, removing a single link from a chain of unfortunate events can prevent an accident.

End of content

No more pages to load