ATM Modernization, Business & GA, Commercial, Military

Perspectives: Avionics Cooperation

By Ray Glennon | April 1, 2006
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In the inaugural Perspectives column, published in the January 2003 issue of Avionics Magazine, Roger Goldberg, executive secretary of the AMC (Avionics Maintenance Conference), wrote: "There are times to be competitive and times to be cooperative. When it comes to aviation efficiency and safety, cooperation works best." What Roger said in 2003 is even more timely today. Unfortunately, in mid-February, Roger was suddenly and unexpectedly taken from us. (See below.)

For nearly 60 years, ARINC-organized industry activities have fostered avionics cooperation, leading to improved cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and interoperability across the aviation community. The AEEC (Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee) develops ARINC standards for airborne electronics that reduce acquisition and modification costs, improve current and future operations, and enable a standardized, lower-cost infrastructure for 21st century aircraft systems. AMC generates more rapid and widely implemented solutions to avionics maintenance problems through exchange of maintenance and associated technical information and development of maintenance-related ARINC standards.

The benefits of AEEC and AMC cooperative efforts are well known. In recent years Avionics Magazine has published articles discussing value created by AEEC and AMC in fields as diverse as aircraft data networks, file servers and connectors; real-time operating systems; component testing and no fault found; flight data recorders and acquisition units; and lead-free avionics. Other areas where avionics cooperation creates value for all include electronic distribution of software; cabin equipment and seat integration; tooling, testing, and parts equivalency; cockpit display systems; and digital audio and video distribution.

Last fall Scott Pelton, chief engineer, avionics and cabin systems for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, wrote: "Boeing strongly supports the AEEC standardization activity because it adds value to our customers and to our business. With the AEEC’s help, we continue to find innovative ways to reduce costs, reduce cycle times, improve reliability, maintain physical interchangeability, foster supplier innovation and competition, and introduce new value-enhancing features to help airline customers be successful." Pelton also indicated that ARINC standards add value by providing a quality and reliability baseline, and enabling design reuse across multiple airplane platforms. Furthermore, AEEC addresses the need for worldwide standards for communication, navigation and surveillance methods that will contribute to global interoperability of air traffic management processes and data exchanges.

In Avionics Magazine‘s sister publication Aviation Maintenance, KLM’s Marijan Jozic has written that for avionics maintenance professionals, "AMC is like the Olympic games for athletes." Attended by over 700 individuals from more than 60 airlines and nearly 200 other organizations, including airframers, avionics original equipment manufacturers and other suppliers, AMC is the most important global event in the field of avionics and, unlike the Olympics, AMC is held annually. By bringing avionics maintenance issues to light, AMC stimulates a collective effort to resolve them for everyone’s benefit.

The AMC formula has been so successful that it was adopted by the flight simulator community in 1995, when ARINC organized the FSEMC (Flight Simulator Engineering & Maintenance Conference).

Although the benefits of avionics cooperation are clear, it is also true that the aviation industry is continually changing. Relationships among airlines, airframers and avionics suppliers are much different from what they were 10 or 20 years ago. So AEEC and AMC must change as well.

Last year a strategic business plan was developed for the aviation industry activities organized by ARINC. Implementing this plan in 2006 is essential to the continued success of the aviation community. One key step is to broaden the current AEEC and AMC structures to become global membership organizations with governance and work planning that meet current industry realities. Equally important, we must broaden the financial support for AEEC and AMC to include organizations that currently benefit from the work of those activities but do not provide funding used to ensure their success. The industry will hear more about how we are addressing these challenges at the 2006 AMC in Paris in early April and throughout the year.

AEEC and AMC are changing with the times. With the continued commitment and support of the aviation community, the cooperation that they foster and the value that AEEC and AMC create will remain constant.

Roger Goldberg died at home on Feb. 14, 2006. He was well known throughout the avionics maintenance community for the commitment, dedication, enthusiasm and hard work that marked his distinguished service to the Avionics Maintenance Conference. We have lost a good friend, and he will be missed.

Ray Glennon is vice president, industry activities for ARINC, Annapolis, Md.

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