E-Jets on five continents part of airframer’s lightning study

By Mary Kirby

A batch of Embraer E-Jets in operation at 10 airlines from around the world are the focus of a 10-year simultaneous study by the airframer to determine the effects of aging and environment on the high intensity radiated fields (HIRF) and lightning protection features of the aircraft.

The programme, which began last year and is expected to be concluded by 2017, involves inspections and regular checks on a sampling of ten aircraft – five E-170s and five E-190s, reveals Embraer.

Operating on five continents, the E-Jets represent the world fleet in terms of geographic distribution and environmental effects on the HIRF and lightning protection features. A sampling period of 12,000 flight hours has been considered for the inspection interval for the elected aircraft.

“In sequence, the results give the necessary feedback to determine the final maintenance plan inspection requirements and intervals and, if necessary, the corrective actions to improve the aircraft maintenance plan,” Embraer VP engineering airline market Waldir Goncalves tells ATI.

“As a result, the developed programme shall show that the inherent level of HIRF and lightning protection along the life cycle of the Embraer aircraft fleet is assured.”

Embraer has always been concerned about the direct and indirect effects of lightning bolts, which are common in all regions of the world, but more frequent in the tropics. “The direct effect of a lightning bolt usually results in lesser or greater damage to the airframe, while indirectly, but subtly, it could cause damage to the electronic-digital systems that are increasingly found on modern jets,” says the Brazilian airframer in an article running in its Banderainte magazine.

This study is timely since the use of composite materials with low electrical conductivity is growing, “along with the digital electronics and automation that increase vulnerability to lightning”, notes engineer Marcelo Tadeu Motta Ferreira in the article.

Embraer applied a similar programme to the ERJ-145 fleet beginning in 2002. The study, in which five airlines participated, is expected to end this year.

“The sample fleet inspections, thus far performed for the ERJ-145 fleet, have demonstrated that the aging and environmental effects upon the HIRF and lightning protection features are negligible and have defined that the presently stated maintenance procedures are adequate,” says Goncalves.

“As a consequence, no additional maintenance procedures will need to be incorporated to the maintenance plan of this [ERJ-145] aircraft.”


E-Jets on five continents part of airframer’s lightning study

By Mary Kirby

A batch of Embraer E-Jets in operation at 10 airlines from around the world are the focus of a 10-year simultaneous study by the airframer to determine the effects of aging and environment on the high intensity radiated fields (HIRF) and lightning protection features of the aircraft.

The programme, which began last year and is expected to be concluded by 2017, involves inspections and regular checks on a sampling of ten aircraft – five E-170s and five E-190s, reveals Embraer.

Operating on five continents, the E-Jets represent the world fleet in terms of geographic distribution and environmental effects on the HIRF and lightning protection features. A sampling period of 12,000 flight hours has been considered for the inspection interval for the elected aircraft.

“In sequence, the results give the necessary feedback to determine the final maintenance plan inspection requirements and intervals and, if necessary, the corrective actions to improve the aircraft maintenance plan,” Embraer VP engineering airline market Waldir Goncalves tells ATI.

“As a result, the developed programme shall show that the inherent level of HIRF and lightning protection along the life cycle of the Embraer aircraft fleet is assured.”

Embraer has always been concerned about the direct and indirect effects of lightning bolts, which are common in all regions of the world, but more frequent in the tropics. “The direct effect of a lightning bolt usually results in lesser or greater damage to the airframe, while indirectly, but subtly, it could cause damage to the electronic-digital systems that are increasingly found on modern jets,” says the Brazilian airframer in an article running in its Banderainte magazine.

This study is timely since the use of composite materials with low electrical conductivity is growing, “along with the digital electronics and automation that increase vulnerability to lightning”, notes engineer Marcelo Tadeu Motta Ferreira in the article.

Embraer applied a similar programme to the ERJ-145 fleet beginning in 2002. The study, in which five airlines participated, is expected to end this year.

“The sample fleet inspections, thus far performed for the ERJ-145 fleet, have demonstrated that the aging and environmental effects upon the HIRF and lightning protection features are negligible and have defined that the presently stated maintenance procedures are adequate,” says Goncalves.

“As a consequence, no additional maintenance procedures will need to be incorporated to the maintenance plan of this [ERJ-145] aircraft.”


Honeywell expects to solve PC-12 avionics problem by third quarter

By John Croft

Honeywell says it expects to have a fix in place by the end of the third quarter that will remove temporary restrictions placed on Primus Apex-equipped Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft earlier this month.

The European Aviation Safety Agency on 3 April issued an emergency airworthiness directive against the integrated avionics suite, alerting operators to the possibility that both primary flight displays could indicate an erroneous roll attitude offset of up to 10° in the same direction when the Apex-equipped aircraft are taxied on to the runway in an accelerated turn, with take-off immediately following.

Honeywell says the problem is linked to a “software issue” in Apex’s air data, attitude and heading reference system that “affects attitude indication on the primary flight displays of the PC-12 NG.”

PC-12 NG
© Pilatus

As an interim fix, the emergency AD requires PC-12 NG operators to hold in place for 60s before lining up on the runway for take-off, followed by a low-acceleration turn on to the runway and waiting 15s once aligned with the runway centreline before departure.

Further, the AD requires pilots to follow their electronic standby instrument system (ESIS), located to the left of the pilot’s primary flight display, if there is a discrepancy between the bank angle on the display and the ESIS. EASA notes that the flight director and autopilot navigation and heading modes are unaffected by the issue.

Pilatus began delivering the Apex suite in the PC-12 as part of the NG upgrade in May 2008.


Wizz Air selects Honeywell avionics, APUs

By John Croft

Honeywell today announced that Central European budget carrier Wizz Air has selected its auxiliary power units (APUs), 3-d weather radar and other avionics and safety tools for 70 new Airbus A320 aircraft to be delivered through 2014.

The sale makes Wizz Air the launch customer for the company’s IntuVue weather radar for the A320 in Europe, says Honeywell. IntuVue allows pilots to visually dissect storms as much as 320nm ahead, helping to avoid convective-related turbulence and its associated costs.

Included in the contract is a service agreement for the company’s 131-9A APUs that extends until 2029, coverage that will also apply to APUs for 25 optional A320s that Wizz Air may select for delivery between 2014 and 2106. The 131-9A, in service since 1998, is now flying on more than 1,400 aircraft belonging to 100 customers, says Honeywell.

Along with weather radar, Wizz Air also ordered Honeywell’s enhanced ground proximity warning system and its airborne collision avoidance system with ADS-B and Mode S communications. Also included in the deal are air data inertial reference systems, emergency locator transmitters, digital flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders.


First Emivest SJ30 to fly by the end of the month

By John Croft

Sino Swearingen Aircraft owner Emivest Aerospace says the initial production SJ30 light jet will fly before the end of the month.

The aircraft is the first of five or six light jets Sino Swearingen plans to fly, certificate, complete and deliver this year from its final assembly site in San Antonio, Texas. The manufacturer had previously delivered only two SJ30s since certificating the aircraft in 2005.

One of those aircraft now belongs to Emivest and is being used as a demonstrator and flight training aircraft in San Antonio. Emivest became Sino Swearingen’s majority owner last year after it bought an 80% share of the company from Taiwanese investors.

© Emivest Aerospace

Along with restarting deliveries, Emivest has been working to optimise production of the five-passenger Williams FJ44-2A-powered twinjet in an attempt to attain a production rate of 45-50 aircraft a year by the end of 2010. As part of the optimisation, Emivest will transfer fuselage, vertical tail and rudder production from its Martinsburg, West Virginia site to another location, possibly San Antonio.

In return, Martinsburg, which employs 30% of Emivest’s 300 US-based staff, will become a “centre of excellence” for wings and as such will also produce the wing control surfaces that are now built in San Antonio.

Emivest’s first aircraft, serial number 8, will be delivered to a private company in southern California, the first of three jets it has ordered. Company pilots are receiving ground and flight training in San Antonio.

Emivest says the orderbook is steady at 250 orders for the $7.25 million jet, a backlog representing 24-30 months of production. Emivest initially priced the aircraft at $6.2 million last year, but included a built-in cost escalator based on the US consumer price index.