Top Aviation Maintenance & Technology Exchange 

April 20, 2015  -  No. 28

In This Issue
Emirates Orders Trent 900 For Future A380s
GE announces first FAA approved 3D-printed engine part
Tragic crash prompts debate over remote controlled passenger aircraft
PRISM is the single-source provider for all you safety management needs
Twitter-joking security expert barred from another United flight, lawyer says
QET Tech Aerospace is Expanding its Facilities 3,000 M2 to Build Aviation Shops
CaseBank Technologies to Present at World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow
Safety Expertise
Emirates Orders Trent 900 For Future A380s

LONDON-Emirates has placed the largest order ever for Rolls-Royce engines following its decision to engine its next batch of 50 Airbus A380s with the Trent 900.

The $9.26 billion order, announced in London on April 17, reverses Emirates' trend to power its A380s with the Engine Alliance GP7000 engine and potentially steers the airline toward a reengined A380neo that Airbus President Tim Clark says the manufacturer is still deliberating. 

The first Trent 900-powered Emirates A380 will join the fleet in late 2016, with Emirates planning to induct the first 25 aircraft of the 50-aircraft order up to the first quarter of 2018. Clark hopes that the second batch of 25 aircraft could be inducted in 2019-20. 

Clark said the decision to go with the Rolls-Royce engine had been driven by the manufacturer's willingness to improve reliability and inject technology from the Trent XWB engines developed for use on the Airbus A350.

Clark said, however, that the Engine Alliance-a joint venture of U.S. engine companies General Electric and Pratt & Whitney-had been "disingenuous" about their willingness to advance the GP7000 engine.

"I don't think the commitment was there in the other competitor [Engine Alliance] to develop an improved engine, it's a good engine, but the Rolls-Royce was arguably a better one," Clark told reporters.

For Rolls-Royce, the order is the largest non-governmental deal in the company's history, as well as being one of the largest non-defense export orders for a U.K.-based company. The order should somewhat help reverse the company's fortunes after a 2014 blighted by profit warnings. The order also includes a long-term TotalCare engine support and maintenance package.

But while the order secures Rolls-Royce jobs in the U.K., as well as the engine manufacturer's international supply chain, Rolls-Royce says it won't affect the company's ongoing manpower reductions.

Clark suggested that if the A380neo was launched, NEO aircraft could form part of the 50-aircraft order, but any reengined A380 would have to deliver at least a 10% performance improvement. 

"With a combination of reliability, weight reductions and improvements in aerodynamics, I would hope for an improvement of 10-13% in fuel economy," Clark told journalists. "If we see those improvements, that will be stellar."

Emirates currently has 60 A380s currently in operation, with a further 80 on order. Since the type's introduction with Emirates in 2008, A380s have flown 36 million passengers. The company also claims that its purchase of the aircraft has had a positive impact on the U.K. and European economies, with 7,000 jobs sustained in the U.K. as a result of the Emirates orders and $630 million added to the British economy, a Frontier Economics report said. 

Clark said there was no plan for offloading the Engine Alliance-powered aircraft in the near future, pointing out that even the oldest A380 in the Emirates fleet was only eight-years-old, compared with aircraft flying in the United States, which can be 35-years-old. 

But he expressed confidence that the company would find buyers for its second-hand A380s, particularly if airports in Europe don't increase runway capacity, which may then prompt airlines to purchase larger aircraft in order to accommodate passenger growth.

Clark also suggested further aircraft orders may be on the horizon, stating that the company was now well into its assessment of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9 and -10 models. The assessment follows the order cancellation by Emirates for 70 A350s last June, as the A350 could not be properly assessed until it was in operational service, as it is now.

GE announces first FAA approved 3D-printed engine part

We've only just begun to see the huge impact 3D-printing technology will have on manufacturing, and the aerospace industry is a prime example. Earlier this year we saw the first example of a 3D-printed jet engine, now GE has announced the first 3D-printed part certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a commercial jet engine. The fist-sized T25 housing for a compressor inlet temperature sensor was fabricated by GE Aviation and will be retrofitted to over 400 GE90-94B jet engines on Boeing 777 aircraft.

The T25 housing is located inlet to the high-pressure compressor and protects the sensor electronics from cold and being buffeted by airflow, and is the product of a decade's experimentation in additive manufacturing. In this, the usual fabrication methods of casting or milling metal are replaced by building up a part layer by layer guided directly from a CAD file like a hobbyist's 3D printer.

The difference is that instead of making an item by adding layers of molten plastic, the T25 housing is made of a fine powder of cobalt-chrome alloy. This is spread out in a flat layer and a laser or electron beam fuses a section of the CAD plan in it. Another layer of dust is laid down and the process is repeated. When the printing is completed, the excess powder is blown and brushed away, and the part is given a finish.

This method has a number of advantages. The part can be made lighter and extremely complex shapes can be made in a single piece, instead of several fitted together. This allows for designs that were previously impossible, much faster turnaround times from design to finished product, and much lower manufacturing costs with very little waste.

According to GE, making a prototype of the T25 would have taken a year longer using conventional methods.

Though the T25 is the first 3D-printed part to go into service, it won't be the last. GE says that the next-generation LEAP jet engine currently being flight tested will include 19 3D-printed fuel nozzles. In addition, 3D-printed fuel nozzles and other parts are also under development for the GE9X engine for Boeing's new 777X aircraft; the largest jet engine ever built. The new engines' development also includes ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) and carbon-fiber fan blades.

"The 3D printer allowed us to rapidly prototype the part, find the best design and move it quickly to production," says Bill Millhaem, general manager for the GE90 and GE9X engine programs at GE Aviation. "We got the final design last October, started production, got it FAA certified in February, and will enter service next week. We could never do this using the traditional casting process, which is how the housing is typically made." 

Tragic crash prompts debate over remote controlled passenger aircraft

LANGEN, Germany - Technology that would allow planes to be controlled remotely in situations similar to the Germanwings tragedy is being eyed by German authorities. 

 Investigators believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed the Germanwings plane into a French mountainside on March 24, killing 150 people. 

 Flight 4U9525's descent took eight minutes, but authorities were powerless to intervene. 

 "French air traffic controllers were monitoring how the co-pilot put commands for zero altitude into the computer system, but could not do anything," Axel Raab from German Air Traffic Control (DFS) told NBC News. 

 German officials have now started examining whether new research should be launched into systems that would allow the plane to be flown from the ground. 

 "We have to think past today's technology," DFS head Klaus Dieter Scheurle said at a press conference earlier this week. 

 In the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks and a Helios Airways crash in 2005, where the crew and passengers became unconscious, the European Union and several companies including DFS launched a research project called "Safe automatic flight back and landing of aircraft" - or SOFIA - in 2006. 

 Experts spent three years evaluating new systems that would allow air traffic controllers on the ground to take remote control of a passenger plane and safely land it in case of emergency. 

 "The crash of the Germanwings aircraft has given us some new impulse to think again about our research project," DFS spokeswoman Kristina Kelek said. "The main thought has been how could it be possible that we try to influence a flight, a cockpit from the ground in case of an emergency." 

 "One big question is if this would be an actual improvement or if we just create new risks." 

 Kelek said that the project did not lead to a real-world experiment "because the development of that specific equipment hasn't been yet done." 

 So far, airlines have reacted cautiously to the renewed initiative. A spokesperson for Lufthansa Group, the parent company of Germanwings said: "We took notice of the new proposals and are evaluating, in coordination with our partners in the task force, how we can improve aircraft security." 

 Some experts have warned of the vulnerability and safety risks of data streams between ground systems and aircraft. 

 The U.S. Government Accountability Office found in a report this week that because modern aircraft are increasingly connected to the Internet, "interconnectedness can potentially provide unauthorized remote access to aircraft avionics systems." 

 Markus Wahl, the deputy spokesperson of the German airline pilots' association Cockpit, told NBC News that the concept of remote-controlled aircraft raised potential safety issues. 

 "At the current time there are too many unsolved questions, so we cannot support this," he said. "One big question is if this would be an actual improvement or if we just create new risks." 

 Wahl warned that once there is a remote control system, it could be used by someone who is not authorized. He also said that pilots are still best equipped to handle an emergency. 

 "In the event of an emergency, you need all the information, and the pilots sitting in the cockpit are the only ones who have all of it," he said. 

 Rescue workers near debris at the crash site of the Germanwings crash in the French Alps. Earlier this month, a task force of experts, industry representatives and government officials was established to assess new criteria for flight safety following the fatal Germanwings plane crash. 

 It will also examine the DFS' proposals "towards the end of its work process," a German official told NBC News. 

 However, DFS stressed that remote controls for passenger aircraft would be a "long-term project" and that any new technology would need to be approved and certified internationally by the International Civil Aviation Organization. 


Twitter-joking security expert barred from another United flight, lawyer says

It seems that joking about messing with the security systems on a United Airlines flight might be asking for more trouble than you imagine.

Earlier this week, computer security researcher Chris Roberts was removed from a United flight by the FBI. His transgression was to have tweeted: "Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SATCOM, ? Shall we start playing with EICAS messages? "PASS OXYGEN ON" Anyone ? :)"

For those who don't speak this peculiar strain of English, he was jesting that he could hack into the communication systems of the plane and even make the oxygen masks appear. 

At the time, neither United nor the FBI commented on Roberts's removal. However, his new lawyers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation declared on Saturday that their client had just been removed from another flight. Or, rather prevented from boarding it, despite already having his boarding pass and clearing TSA checks.

The EFF's Andrew Crocker told me: "Roberts was told to expect a letter explaining the reasons for not being allowed to travel on United. He was flying from Colorado to SFO. United has already said that they would provide a refund."

Roberts was on his way to speak at the RSA Conference. He managed to securely board a Southwest Airlines flight to make his trip.

I have contacted United to ask for details of Roberts' flight status and will update, should I hear. His lawyers say that he still hasn't had his laptop and other devices returned to him by the FBI after the first incident. 

At the time, Roberts admitted to CNN that in his tweet he'd been "probably a little more blunt than I should have been."

The EFF described this latest incident as "disappointing and confusing." It added: "As a member of the security research community, his [Roberts'] job is to identify vulnerabilities in networks so that they can be fixed."

This might be true, though some will wonder whether a tweet is the finest way to expose those alleged vulnerabilities.

QET Tech Aerospace is Expanding its Facilities 3,000 M2 to Build Aviation Shops

Miami, Florida, at the Aviation Week MRO conference. April 15th 2015. QET Tech Aerospace (QTA) just completes its preliminary negotiations with the state of Sonora to operate 3,000 m2 of a new 6,000 M2 industrial building located with its wide body hangar.

Further to the announcement made at the MRO Americas 2014 conference by Gómez Reyna, minister of the economy of Sonora Mexico, the first 6,000 m2 industrial manufacturing unit building is being built in the Industrial Park for Advanced Technology in Manufacturing or "PITAM" (PITAM - Parque Industrial de Tecnología Avanzada en Manufactura). Half of this building will house the back shops QET Tech Aerospace needs to support its heavy maintenance facility.

"We have had many discussions with companies to set up shops in the PITAM which include component, wheels, brake, seat, composite shops. We are particularly happy with discussions to relocate a radome repair shop which includes the necessary transitivity test equipment. This will be the only place in Mexico that will be able to do transitivity tests." Says Julio Alvarez, CEO of QET Tech Aerospace. "We are still looking for more shops to come. The state provide many incentives to relocate including from other countries which we can help with." continues Julio.

QET TECH Aerospace is a Mexican company based in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora. It employs over 100 people and provides maintenance, recycling and consulting, as services.

CaseBank Technologies to Present at World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow

CaseBank Technologies Inc., the leading provider of software for the identification of equipment performance and reliability defects, has announced that it will present a session at the World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow 2015, the world's largest meeting of aviation training professionals. The event will be held from April 21-23, 2015 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL. On April 21, Phil D'Eon, President and Chief Technology Officer at CaseBank, will be presenting on "Using Maintenance Records and Guided Diagnostics to Improve Training." 

Fiscal pressures and a growing need to create more experienced maintenance personnel are key drivers to find new ways to adapt maintenance training for today's airlines," said D'Eon. "With ever-increasing equipment complexity, conventional training methods and single training courses cannot teach a technician everything that he/she needs to know. As a result, training gaps are inevitable, and maintenance organizations increasingly rely upon on-the-job training. But technologies are now available to help identify key topics for classroom training, and for delivering refresher training on the job, when the need arises." 

CaseBank's SpotLight® solution provides diagnostic guidance based on a knowledgebase of troubleshooting events and validated repair experience from one's own organization and other operators around the world. The knowledgebase implicitly imparts training by offering a comprehensive view of maintenance and pilot reports that manufacturers and operators have experienced, and it can deliver refresher training directly related to the subject of the troubleshooting. "It's an intelligent troubleshooting solution that draws upon the collective experience of the global aircraft maintenance team, so it's the ideal channel for just-in-time delivery of training materials relevant to the current need," said D'Eon. 

ChronicX® for Aviation uses an innovative approach to analyze aircraft maintenance records and uncover hidden service trends such as 1) recurring problems on individual aircraft; 2) repeat defects/fixes that have occurred across multiple aircraft and/or repair stations; and 3) emerging failure modes that have not yet reached critical status. The technology evaluates aircraft maintenance histories to accurately identify valid repeats and reduce false alerts, helping maintenance teams recognize the most costly and critical problems. 

About CaseBank Technologies 
CaseBank's software solutions improve fault isolation and defect trend analysis of complex equipment and systems-supporting engineers and technicians as they respond to scheduled and unscheduled maintenance events-in a variety of industries, including medical, aviation and defense, rail and transit, automotive and heavy equipment, high technology, energy exploration and extraction, and continuous process industries. 

CaseBank's technology combines anticipated product issues (from engineering) with actual product issues (from service and support) and uses case-based reasoning (CBR), differential diagnostics and other weighting factors (cost, time, etc.) to deliver a faster, more accurate and inexpensive troubleshooting and repair process. With visibility into fleet-wide service histories engineers can identify recurring or emerging problems to modify service plans, develop corrective actions and redesign components. CaseBank solutions help organizations improve product performance, increase equipment uptime, reduce warranty and service costs, and boost customer satisfaction. For more information, visit http://www.casebank.com.


Curt Lewis, PhD, CSP, FRAeS


PH:  817-845-3983



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Curt Lewis, PhD, CSP, FRAeS
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Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC is an international, multi-discipline technical and scientific consulting firm specializing in aviation and industrial safety. Our specialties are aviation litigation support, aviation/airport safety programs, accident investigation, safety & quality assessments/audits, system safety (PRA), human factors, Safety Management Systems (SMS) assessment/implementation & training, safety/quality training & risk management, aviation manual development, IS-BAO Auditing, airfield/heliport lighting products and Technical Support.