By Woodrow Bellamy III | April 28, 2017
Three new ARINC avionics standards and eight supplements to existing standards have reached an industry consensus for the 2017 annual Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC) and Avionics Maintenance Committee (AMC) general session. Also to be discussed are Boeing 787 HF receiver issues, the European VHF Data Link Mode 2 (VDL Mode 2) infrastructure and global aircraft tracking.
Ahead of the conference, Avionics caught up with Paul Prisaznuk, executive secretary and program director for the AEEC, and Marijan Jozic, a European airline avionics maintenance engineer and the chairman of AMC. Both provided updates on key communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) as well as air traffic management issues that will be highlighted during the annual conference.
AEEC and AMC are organized to function simultaneously in separate sessions, with AEEC noting its mission as developing engineering standards for "avionics, networks, and cabin systems that foster increased efficiency and reduced life cycle costs." AMC notes its objectives as promoting "reliability" and reducing air transport avionics operational life cycle costs by "improving maintenance and support techniques through the exchange of technical information."
Among the top avionics issues up for ARINC standardization at AEEC 2017 are the VDL Mode 2 infrastructure issues for the European air-to-ground data communications protocol. After the ELSA program provided its report on the issues that lead to a delay in the 2015 mandate, the AEEC executive committee’s agenda includes two items specific to VDL mode 2.
“First, a mature Supplement 7 to ARINC Specification 631: VHF Digital Link (VDL) Mode 2 Implementation Provisions, includes VDL-2 multi-frequency management and changes as a result to the European data link services implementation rule," said Prisaznuk. "Looking further down the road, the AEEC Executive Committee will consider adding a Connectionless VDL-2 Protocol Variant to ARINC Specification 631.”
The connectionless protocol will create efficiencies in the link set-up time and improve VHF channel utilization. The work package to prepare the connectionless VDL-2 protocol is expected to be completed in 2019, he added.
AeroMACS, a new broadband data link that has the ability to support the ever-expanding range of air traffic management communications technologies emerging under the modernization initiatives of NextGen and Single European Sky, is already installed in several airports in the U.S. During the AEEC general session, ARINC Project Paper 766, which focuses on AeroMACS Transceiver and Aircraft Installation Standards, will be up for adoption. Prisaznuk notes this is a leap forward in ground-ground communication on the airport surface. AeroMACS is based on the IEEE 802.16 family of WiMAX protocols and can achieve 3Mbps data throughput (compared to 31kbps for VDL-2).
“AEEC’s action in Milwaukee will send a clear signal to the world’s airports that the airlines are prepared to add AeroMACS radios to their aircraft once the ground infrastructure is in place and business case makes sense. The AEEC Executive Committee will consider a new activity to introduce IPv6 to aircraft and avionics,” said Prisaznuk.
IPv6 is expected to apply to safety services and non-safety services alike. An IPv6 roadmap is expected to be available in 2019, he said.
A security overlay for the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband Safety system (SB-S) is also now mature and ready for AEEC approval, according to the AEEC executive committee member. Additionally, a fifth supplement to ARINC 622, which standardizes air traffic services data link applications over the ACARS air-to-ground network is also ready for approval from the executive committee. AEEC is working with FAA on this activity.
Finally, among the new and emerging topics to be discussed in the general session will include unmanned aircraft systems technologies. General Atomics will provide a presentation at the session on this topic.
The annual AMC session always features an open forum style, where airline maintenance engineers discuss current challenges and issues they’re encountering regularly with in-service commercial aircraft avionics hardware and software. Jozic said he is looking forward to a discussion on the contamination of Boeing 787 HF receivers by a leaking water issue within the aircraft that many airlines maintenance engineers are experiencing right now.
“The water is leaking on HF receivers and destroying power supply,” said Jozic. “Every burned power supply brings replacement costs of $15,000 to operators.”
Two new standards have also been adopted by the AMC committee within the last year, including the ARINC 422 guidance for avionics service bulletins and modification status as well as the guidance for assignment, accomplishment and reporting of engineering investigation for aircraft components. There will also be new standards adopted by the AMC steering committee in a meeting before the conference, including aircraft support data management ARINC 675 and field loadable software ARINC 667.
AMC also plans on launching the mechanical maintenance conference later this year, giving mechanical engineers a chance to meet their peers and resolve issues in the same way AMC does with its annual meeting.