Aircraft Maintenance Technology

OCT 2018

The aircraft maintenance professional's source for technological advancements, maintenance alerts, news, articles, events, and careers

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30 OCTOBER 2018 AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS AVIATION Aircraft owners are increasingly bringing in their own tablets, smartphones, and computers to use inflight, and it is changing connectivity needs. “We are seeing a lot of USB installs to make sure they can plug in their devices,” says Elliott’s Welch. “We’ve also done a lot with speaker systems, so they can play Bluetooth music in their cabins. They also watch movies on their devices in flight.” Though today’s connectivity options are straightforward, with most owners settling on the same product or product family for internet browsing, Deal reports “educating customers on the typical user experience and the associated plans for data and voice can break the mold of what they initially thought they wanted.” Most companies take a consultative approach to internet upgrades and installs, sources report. But Heiss notes how much consultation is needed can vary. He explains, “Some customers know exactly what they want. But in a lot of cases, they know they want inflight connectivity, but they don’t understand their options. We walk them through the different options and help them determine the best fit.” In the end it’s all about speed, adds Levangie. He says the systems are ever-evolving and speed increases all the time. If they travel internationally, owners may need to go to a KA- or KU-band installation to get the speeds they desire. “The key is to marry the right option for their employee profile to the right service plan, because it can get very expensive otherwise,” Levangie adds. He says the MRO must peel back the layers to get at the heart of what the customer needs by asking a few key questions: • What do you plan on doing on the internet? • How often do you want to do it? • Do you want to stream video or just use the internet to check email and things like that? • How many streams? In other words, will one person be streaming video or all passengers at the same time? “Once we have the answers, we don’t just say, ‘Here, we recommend this.’ We go through each option and list their advantages and drawbacks. We also go through service plans, so that when they get their $30,000 bill, they understand why it’s the amount that it is.” CMS Considerations “There are many flavors of customers,” states Deal. This statement becomes abundantly clear as MROs design cabin management systems (CMS). Business aircraft passengers not only want to watch video on high-definition (HD) flat-screen monitors, they also want to use an array of personal electronic devices to connect to the internet and to control functions within the cabin. “With some older aircraft, switch panels are no longer supported so we have to come up with options that give customers an operational cabin and entertainment system that allows them to control the lights and everything else in the back from their devices,” states Levangie. And, he explains most older aircraft do not support HD systems. An upgrade to HD requires the MRO to run the HD cables, routers, and upgrade equipment, including thermometers, within the aircraft. “We can do everything from changing out the switch panels to a full retrofit of their cabin management system, replacing it with something like Rockwell Collins’ Venue or Honeywell Ovation or the new Innov8 system,” says Levangie. CMS upgrades also include lighting to improve the ambience of the entire cabin. The most typical change is to move from fluorescent bulbs to LED lighting, which can offer a variety of light temperatures from warm to cool. “LED lighting is a big draw, for both the interior and the exterior,” reports Weiss. “It’s much better lighting. It offers less draw on your electrical system and it’s more maintenance friendly because you’re not replacing bulbs as frequently. When it comes to landing lights, it can make a pretty dramatic difference in that it allows you to see much farther down the runway at night.” Elliott has developed Prizm lighting, which is RGB lighting. This new lighting system will debut in late 2018 and will be available to end-users as well as 145 repair stations. “It allows us to create some ambience in flight,” says Welch. “You can customize these lights via an app and change your upwash or downwash lighting. There is cup holder lighting, toe kick lighting, and floor lighting. Lighting colors can be changed to create a relaxing feel or a feeling of energy.” SmartView shades, from Elliott, are controlled by the CMS. These electronic window shades allow users to electronically control the amount of light entering the cabin, while their opacity helps match the shades to an aircraft’s interior colors. Changes in how customers use technology has also impacted furniture upgrades. Traditionally, passengers watched movies on a full, cab-mounted screen. Now they bring up movies on their personal electronics. “We’ve got arms that mount to the side rails, where they can simultaneously charge their iPad and position it exactly where they want it,” states Weiss. “It’s all hands-free so they can do other things while watching a movie.” Interior Installations “When it comes to interior decisions, most directors of maintenance are going to make sure they involve the principal to get a really good idea of what they want,” Weiss says. “They’re going to show renderings, talk about colors, look at samples and swatches, to get something that is very customized.” "Aircraft owners don't necessarily care about ADS-B, though maintenance managers do. But they do care about phone system and internet upgrades." — Doug Levangie, Vice President of Maintenance, Pentastar

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