New Adventures

by Joy Finnegan, Editor in Chief

Since 2004 I have been working at Aviation Maintenance – first as managing editor and then, starting in 2006, as editor-in-chief. I met a former editor-in-chief of this publication, Matt Thurber at the 100th Anniversary of Flight celebrating the monumental accomplishments of the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. He was without a managing editor at the time and learned I was looking for work. He offered to have me out for an interview and said he’d rather teach someone who knew aviation to run a magazine than to try to teach a journalist the intricacies of our unique and complex industry.

When he left for greener pastures, I became editor-in-chief and have been ever since. I did take a brief hiatus to work as editor-in-chief of another aviation publication, Rotor & Wing. I had left that magazine due to a family relocation and when the interim editor of this magazine also found another position and left, I quickly returned to Aviation Maintenance – that was five years ago.
For a total of ten years I have followed, written about, rooted for and been amazed by the dedication and hard work put in by each and every person in this industry. It has been my honor and pleasure to head up this magazine and cover the amazing things you do.

I have never been at a loss to find things to write about – quite the contrary. I am constantly challenged to find room to include all the news, features and information I would like to. From continuous improvement to Lean to software to borescopes to refurbs to high-velocity maintenance to innovation, there never seems to be a lack of things to write about.

During the last ten years I have seen good times and bad times in the aviation industry. The magazine itself has had its ups and downs as well. I have also seen the publication change ownership from a large media company owner to its current owner, Adrian Broadbent, an entrepreneur with a keen eye toward new opportunities.

Borescope Technologies Fit Every Need

Aviation Inspector251Borescopes, the tools that are used to assess the health of everything from engines to airframes, are a mainstay of the aviation industry, from the original equipment manufacturers to the MROs, to the smaller repair stations and FBOs. The technology can yield an almost immediate return on investment if it allows a facility to avoid unnecessary downtime for valuable assets or prevents an accident. The market is mature and highly competitive. The technology moves quickly, tracking advances in areas such as optics and microelectronics.

Aviation is a prime consumer of these remote inspection products. But oil & gas, power production, pharmaceuticals – any industries that use machinery with piping and internal cavities – invest in the technology and drive its advances. There’s also a wide range of capability. At the high end there are scopes that not only let technicians view the turbines of pricey commercial jets but let them measure identified defects to thousandths of an inch.
Mid-tier scopes provide fewer bells and whistles but offer much the same basic remote visual inspection capability. They tend to be used in general aviation and business aviation by smaller aviation maintenance and repair facilities. The equipment is used for inspecting items such as engines – especially the PT6 – wing spars, and landing gear assemblies, says Frank Menza, owner and president of Titan Tool Supply, a distributor that has been in business since 1952.

At the low end are inexpensive and basically disposable products that might be used for very simple tasks but that are not really intended for aviation.

Mid-Market Dynamics
From the low end to the high end prices range from less than $100 to more than $40,000. Customers sometimes employ a combination of high-end and mid-tier scopes to meet different needs. “A lot of aviation maintenance and repair facilities don’t need a $30,000 to $40,000 scope,” Menza says. Titan sells video scopes in the $3,995 to $10,000-$12,000 range, competing in quality, availability, and delivery times. The company offers a combination of video scopes, fiber scopes, and rigid scopes across all of the borescope markets.

Gradient Lens Corp. also competes on price as well as quality and believes in keeping its products simple. “We make a Ford or a Chevy, not a Mercedes,” says Doug Kindred, Gradient’s president and chief scientist. Ninety percent of customers don’t need all the bells and whistles of high-end scopes, he adds. Gradient’s prices start at about $9,000 and go up to about $14,000. In the aviation market the company targets smaller and medium-sized FBOs. Its equipment is used on “a lot of helicopters.” The company’s new Hawkeye V2 video scope includes features such as 5x to 10x magnification – depending on the tip – and 2x digital zoom, plus a 60 degree standard tip. There are two optional tips – a 90 degree tip and a close focus tip with a 60 degree field.

What’s Up with Aviation Parts Distribution?

All indicators show that the aviation industry is expected to grow marginally in upcoming years. The predicted boost in commercial flights will benefit aviation industry distributors; increased domestic trips by U.S. residents will result in higher demand for commercial aircraft repair and maintenance. As commercial flights increase, demand for aircraft parts will grow.

Introducing next-generation aircraft increases the demand for aircraft components compatible with the newest models. Moreover, new parts are increasingly being delivered by manufacturers themselves, thereby increasing the segment’s markets share as producers claim a larger share of the aftermarket. Declining used part and supply prices helps new parts gain a greater share of the industry’s revenue stream.

An airline’s reliability is largely dependent on the maintenance of its aircrafts and this in turn is decided based on turnaround time and lead time of aircraft parts procurement and repair. So, what’s available today to make it easier for the customer to get the aviation parts they need?

Parts Procurement
Aviation parts procurement is a collection of processes that involves many steps and interactions with other company departments and with suppliers. Traditionally, procurement was paper and conversation-based, and with procurement officers interacting with long-time partners or well-known suppliers, purchasing was done at fixed prices. This process then involved creating RFQs (request for quotations), purchase orders, order acknowledgment, shipping, invoicing, and other steps, which over a period of time were done via e-mail, fax and other forms of communication.

This form of procurement meant a smaller number of the suppliers and fewer parts available in the database. Moreover, the dependency on existing suppliers and inaccessibility to adequate parts pricing details occurred. These problems caused higher expenditures, and delays in aircraft maintenance and movement, thus hindering the airlines’ reliability.

All of this necessitated advanced aviation procurement technology. “The speed of technological development and its rapid pace has brought about new advancement and capabilities throughout the industry,” says Eric Strafel, president, Availl, A Boeing Co., DFW Airport, Texas. “Customers continue to see increased digital activity, web portals and other optimized channels that offer greater access to information, while also providing a faster and more seamless parts fulfillment process. Aviall expects this to continue and is constantly looking for ways to leverage improved technology and innovation to further increase connectivity and integration, data analysis and customer value management and optimization.”

Because of Aviall’s successful use of technology advancements, it aviation parts (including its best-in-class inventory) are more easily accessible for its customers.

Improving MRO Processes Using Distributed Part History Data — “Smart Assets”

For many products the cost of service, maintenance, replacement parts, and upgrades over its lifecycle can be a larger proportion of lifecycle cost of ownership than the original acquisition cost. Managing these “downstream” activities efficiently is an essential element of ensuring product availability, product safety, and minimizing total cost. For the product supplier this can also be a larger profit pool than that of selling new products. In aerospace in particular, maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) is key to operational efficiency and safety, to maintaining airframe asset values, and as a profitable revenue stream both for part and service providers.

Why Does Part History Matter?

Effectively managing parts histories is a key element of improved MRO economics. This is especially true when the parts are time limited and/or rotable. But ensuring part authenticity, proper application of service bulletins, configuration compatibility, time in service limits and prior maintenance/overhaul status is important for many types of parts. Missing or incomplete history data can result in labor expense for researching history and possibly an inability to validate airworthiness. Incomplete part histories or counterfeit parts can lead to lower performance, compromised safety and lost revenue for MRO suppliers and their customers.

The most common way to track a part’s history includes identifying them using serial numbers which are then matched against records in paper or electronic logs. Many parts are not serialized making their maintenance histories perishable. Inspections to identify parts, researching parts histories, and validating the physical configuration of an airframe, engine or other system components can be time consuming and expensive.

Where physical serial number tags are used, they can be replaced or supplemented with machine-readable bar codes or RFID tags. However, these tags typically contain only a limited amount of information such as part number, manufacturing date and serial number and they still require researching logs for history data. Some of this can be automated with enterprise IT systems, a large investment, and in most cases is problematic when customers use multiple third party MRO providers and for rotables which may move between customers at every service or overhaul.

There is A Lot Going on with Documentation!

FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have been discussing new ways to document and transfer aircraft articles across international borders. This ends up affecting the rest of the world, because it sets standards for how both of those authorities will operate that they then incorporate into their other international relationships.

Many of the recent changes have their roots in the FAA-EASA Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG). This document is meant to reflect that working procedures for shared maintenance oversight between FAA and EASA. In theory, it should not add any new legal requirements. But in practice, it has recently evolved into a document that is setting new legal standards that do not exist in the regulations of either FAA or EASA. Because inspectors for the two authorities are requiring compliance to the MAG, it is important to review it and understand what new standards are included in that document.

The MAG changes are motivated in part by a recent change in US law that has permitted US production approval holders (PAHs) to issue their own 8130-3 tags for their articles. Those who take advantage of this option would no longer need to rely on the legal fiction of designees. This was meant to ease the process of creating 8130-3 tags, which have recently been viewed by the FAA as an administrative matter that merely documents a finding of airworthiness that is made whether the tag is created or not. This change also helps to harmonize with EASA, which has permitted European manufacturers to issue EASA Form One since EASA’s inception.

Although this new privilege should permit more manufacturers to issue 8130- 3 tags, thus creating a wider pool of documented articles, the fact remains that many existing aircraft articles do not bear EASA Form One or 8130-3 tags. Real-world implementation hurdles have mean that manufacturers needed some time before they could start issuing the tags. In addition, there is a huge quantity of existing articles in distributors’, air carriers’, and repair stations’ inventories. Many of those existing articles do not bear EASA Form One or 8130-3 tags.

The industry has struggled for the last twenty years to obtain these documents, or in the alternative to find ways to receive aircraft articles into inventory without these magic documents. In many cases, the easiest path has been to find a way to determine airworthiness without the Form One or 8130-3 documentation – this is a path that remains legal under United States law because we have no general documentation requirements for articles under the FAA regulations.

Call for Papers for Aviation Electronics Europe 2017

Aviation Electronics Europe is the premier platform for the international aviation electronics industry to learn, network and source new information, products and services at one unique annual event.

The conference will discuss the hot topics and issues of the day, whilst the exhibition enables companies and organisations to demonstrate and showcase new products, developments, technologies and services available on the market, and also key elements of the upgrades and retrofits market.

- The only event for the Aviation Electronics and Avionics community in Europe
- For the latest in SESAR, NextGen and performance based navigation
- For what the Pilot wants, the Aircraft needs and Industry must have
- From aircraft to the ground and all communications and technologies inbetween.

With the global market for commercial avionics equipment set to grow at an annual rate of 4.8 percent through to 2019, the industry has not been this buoyant for some time, setting the scene for some active discussions at Aviation Electronics Europe on the future policies, performances and innovations in the aviation electronics and avionics sector.

Aviation Electronics Europe will discuss topics and issues of the day and demonstrate and showcase new products, developments, technologies and services available on the market, and also key elements of the upgrades and retrofits market.

The Aviation Electronics Europe 2017 Organizing Committee are inviting abstracts for consideration for inclusion in the conference.

If you are interested, you are invited to submit your abstract for consideration by the conference committee by submitting an abstract. Your presentation should not be overtly commercial in nature.

For further details, guidelines and to submit your abstract online visit www.ae-expo.eu/call-papers

Submit your proposal immediately or no later than 31st July 2016.
If you wish to discuss your proposal, email:
Neil Walker – Conference/Marketing Director at neilw@aerospace-media.com

Maintenance Software: More Real-Time, More Mobile

by Charlotte Adams

SoftwarePix251Automation is everywhere you look — in the hangar and repair shop as well as the cockpit. For the repair shops, line maintenance operations, MROs, and airline support departments that make the best use of it, computer technology gives a competitive edge in this tight-margin business. Benefits include lower costs, higher efficiencies, and greater capacity.

But automation isn’t static. In aviation maintenance as in other industries automation continues driving towards higher-speed, lower-cost processing and to deeper levels of integration both within individual software systems and between enterprise maintenance software and complementary aftermarket applications.

Perhaps the highest-profile trend in the aviation maintenance software market is the integration of mobile devices with core software and the proliferation of Web apps that can allow maintenance technicians to log their hours and sign off on work more quickly yet be trackable by managers in near real time. As a result, traditionally paper-intensive maintenance operations promise to become less costly and more efficient.

Ultramain
Ultramain offers a suite of integrated, but user-selectable, applications oriented around an “ePaper” strategy, according to Mark McCausland, company president. The latest release, ULTRAMAIN v9, was designed for paperless use, he says.

The company provides a series of mobile products – Mobile Mechanic, efbTechLogs, eCabin, Mobile Inventory, and Mobile Executive – that work together with ULTRAMAIN’s M&E/MRO suite as well as with other maintenance systems, he says. Headquartered in Albuquerque, N.M., the company has units in Ireland, India, and Hong Kong. It is mainly focused on the commercial aviation sector.

Ultramain notes three recent go-lives, one of which involved a line maintenance MRO in Mexico, serving 70 airlines with 23 destinations in that country. The latest involved a large international carrier that initiated efbTechLogs for its 777 fleet.

Ultramain software also incorporates optimization into functions such as fleet planning, maintenance scheduling, labor resourcing, and hangar bay usage. It includes cost accounting functions throughout its maintenance and supply applications, McCausland says, and “comes with off-the-shelf integration capabilities … with financial systems such as Oracle and SAP.”

TRAX
Miami-based TRAX has introduced a new Web product called eMRO, a mobile MRO solution usable on any platform, it says. The software is “totally mobile” in that “all functions can be used on mobiles.” And since eMRO is “pure Web,” there is no installed client,” it says.

Most of TRAX’s customers are passenger and cargo airlines although “pure” MROs like Lufthansa Technik Philippines and Turkish Technic also use the software. The company regards Swiss Aviation, SAP, Mxi Technologies, and IFS as competitors.

Both eMRO and the company’s legacy platform, TRAX Maintenance, provide materials management, resource management, technical publications, fleet management, component management, and EDI functions.

Commsoft
Commsoft, a UK-based software developer with a wide-ranging, global customer base, also stresses Web alignment and mobile applications although managing director, Nick Godwin, notes that the trend toward cloud and mobile technologies “is evolving more slowly in reality than optimistic theoretical predictions” imply in the context of the larger environment.

You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to PMA-ty

By Jason Dickstein

Over the years, I have heard a lot of debate about the use of PMA parts on leased aircraft. Challenges may arise from restrictive clauses in lease agreements that prevent the use of PMA on the asset. This can cause particular headaches when the lessor is an air carrier that is looking to reduce maintenance costs, but whose largely (or exclusively) leased fleet means that restrictive clauses (either perceived or actual) restrict use of PMA.

The good news for the aviation industry is that lessors’ position with respect to use of PMA appears to be loosening as:
– lessees demand the right to use PMA,
– lessors become more familiar with PMA, and

– the industry continues its shift toward ever greater PMA acceptance.

The first, and most important, step in greater PMA acceptance on leased aircraft is demand by the operators. If PMA is not useful to the operators then it is not useful at all. We have already heard at least two air carriers–Delta Air Lines and Copa Airlines–state unequivocally that they will not sign leases with “no PMA” clauses in them. Many – MANY – others have asked how they can start using PMAs on their leased aircraft. At several industry trade shows over the past year, we have heard multiple parties–both air carriers and lessors–state that the use of PMA on leased aircraft was a common occurrence; the lessee (the air carrier) just has to ASK.

Lessors typically enter a lease negotiation with a set of boilerplate terms. Those terms, however, are subject to change to suit the lessee’s business model and to satisfy the needs of both parties. At MRO Asia last year, Ananta Widjaja from Sriwijaya Air pointed out that a lessor will never give a lessee anything outside of the boilerplate unless the carrier asks for it. This point was echoed by a number of lessors over the course of that conference, who recognize that use of PMA is a reality in virtually every air carrier’s operation.

This is an important point for air carrier maintenance departments to discuss with their leasing departments. Remind the leasing department that most lessors will permit PMA to be used on leased aircraft (with a few exceptions); the carrier just has to demand the right. As lessors continue to grow more familiar with PMA, and recognize that use of PMA does not in any way devalue their asset, they grow more willing to waive the “no PMA” clauses in their lease agreements. This is beneficial for the lessee and lessor, as the lessee can continue to realize the savings and reliability improvements provided by PMA, and the lessor opens up more potential customers by allowing the use of PMA.

A number of the air carrier representatives I have met at recent trade shows have pointed out to me that they are quite likely to use PMA during the middle of the lease. For lessors, the most important part of any lease is the return conditions, because these are the terms that dictate the condition of the aircraft for the next lessee. When permitted by the lease, lessees can take advantage of this fact by using PMA throughout the term of the lease (as allowed by the lease terms) and as necessary return, remove PMA parts during the heavy check prior to the return of the aircraft.

I would have expected leasing companies affiliated with OEMs to be the last folks to embrace PMA, but I recently encountered an executive from one such leasing company who admitted that there are PMAs on his company’s products, and acknowledged that it is something they are managing.

Lessors are becoming more accepting of PMA for a couple reasons.

[fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20px” padding_bottom=”20px” padding_left=”0px” padding_right=”0px” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”double” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]CURRENT ISSUE[/title][one_third last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”https://www.avm-mag.com/wp-content/mag/flipbooks/AVM-2016-06-DIGITAL/index.php#Aviation_Maintenance_Magazine/page2-page3″ linktarget=”_blank” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”20″ sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”” class=”” id=””][/one_third][one_third last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”underline” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]IssueHighlights:[/title][checklist icon=”” iconcolor=”#81d742″ circle=”no” circlecolor=”” size=”18px” class=”” id=””][li_item icon=””]Editor’s Notebook[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Intelligence: News[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Intelligence: About People[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Intelligence: Aviation Electronics News[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Setting the Standard[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Borescopes from Basic to Bodacious[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Parts, Parts, … Who has the Parts?[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Smart Assets[/li_item][/checklist][/one_third][one_third last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”http://www.avm-mag.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/AVM_Calendar_2016_FINAL_v10_LORES.pdf” linktarget=”_blank” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”20″ sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]NEW – the large fold out 2016 Wall planner was inserted into the Dec/Jan issue but you can also click/view above.[/fusion_text][/one_third][/fullwidth]

Crystal Ballin’

by Joy Finnegan, Editor in Chief

Record low oil prices. Record high airline profits. Slow growth in the U. S. and slower than predicted in China. Workforce retirements. Big data. More electric aircraft. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). New technologies.

All of those factors and many more impact the MRO marketplace. Every year at this time, industry forecasts are released by the FAA and consulting groups. Let’s take a look at some of the forecast numbers and see what they are saying about our industry.

2015 was the fifth consecutive year of profitability for the industry. The FAA Annual Forecast says, “The 2016 FAA forecast calls for U.S. carrier passenger growth over the next 20 years to average 2.1 percent per year, slightly faster than last year’s forecast. The sharp decline in the price of oil in 2015 is a catalyst for a short-lived uptick in passenger growth in 2016.” The report goes on to say even though oil prices are projected to fall to around $43 per barrel in 2016, their forecast assumes that they will rise thereafter to exceed $100 by 2023 and $150 by 2036, the end of the forecast period.

“Although the U.S. and global economy continued to sputter in 2015, stable demand and lower energy prices resulted in record profits for U.S. airlines. U.S. carrier profitability should remain steady or increase as the recovery leads to strengthening demand,” the report goes on to say. The U.S. commercial fleet is forecast to increase from 6,871 in 2015 to 8.414 in 2036. That is an average annual growth rate of 1.0 percent a year. See the FAA Forecast here: https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/FY2016-36_FAA_Aerospace_Forecast.pdf

Dave Marcontell, VP of Oliver Wyman’s Cavok Group, presented the Oliver Wyman 2016-2026 Global Fleet & MRO Market Forecast at the recent MRO Americas conference in April, agreed with the FAA saying, “Record net profits are due in large part to the glut in the oil market.” Interestingly, their report says that this will not impact the fleet plans of operators. They predict new aircraft deliveries and backlogs will continue to grow. But, Marcontell cautioned, economic growth, interest rates and oil prices could disrupt the equilibrium at any time. See their report at www.oliverwyman.com.

The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) in conjunction with Oliver Wyman released a joint MRO market report with the following MRO specific figures. Airframe MRO will account for $16 billion in 2016 and grow to $19.2 billion in 2026. Engine MRO will be around $25.7 billion in 2016 and grow to $43 billion in 2026. Component MRO is on track for $13.1 billion this year and headed for $18.6 billion by 2026. And finally, line MRO is targeted at $12.8 billion in 2016 and aiming for $18.1 billion in 2026. The total forecast for the 2016 year is $67.7 billion growing to $98.9 billion by 2026.

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Can Batteries Be Maintenance Free?

by David Jensen

Battery251Well, perhaps not totally so. However, one manufacturer is applying a chemistry and design that takes battery operation a step closer to a maintenance-free goal.

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have become ubiquitous, powering everything from smart phones to electric-powered automobiles. They can be found in aircraft, too, in portable radios, electronic flight bags and the laptop computers pilots bring on board for flight planning and check lists. Li-ion batteries have been used in military aircraft for years—for engine starts, emergency power and other functions—and they have become widely employed in unmanned air vehicles. They serve as main-ship batteries in the Boeing F-18, Lockheed Martin F-35, Sikorsky CH-53K and Northrop Grumman Global Hawk, among other aircraft.

However, Li-ion batteries have yet to reach their full potential in the civil aviation arena. This is primarily because new-technology batteries require extensive effort and money to prove they meet certification requirements.

But the use of Li-ion batteries in aircraft may soon become widespread after more light is shed on their benefits. These rechargeable power units—in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and move the opposite direction during charging—represent the latest generation in the evolution of aircraft batteries. They succeed those utilizing lead-acid and nickel-cadmium (NiCad) chemistries, both more than a century old.

Improved battery technology has become more and more vital, not only to perform conventional functions such as engine starts, power stabilization and running onboard electrical systems, but also to supply an ever-growing number of systems in what many commonly call “the more electric airplane.” To give just one example of this trend, Honeywell and Safran have partnered to develop electrically controlled taxiing for commercial aircraft, to allow engine startups away from the gate thus reducing fuel consumption.

A relatively new (introduced as a product in the 1970s) and therefore emerging technology, Li-ion offers advantages over lead-acid and NiCad technologies. Newer aspects of Li-ion technology can provide greater energy density, more consistent power delivery, environmental benefits and reduced weight, among other gains. They also can reduce battery maintenance significantly, in part by simplifying and reducing the required number of battery checks. Indeed, new versions of Li-ion chemistry may some day reduce the need for dedicated battery shops at fixed-base operations (FBOs).

Bit of Controversy

A relatively new technology invariably draws controversy, however. In the field of consumer goods, a spate of incidents occurred late last year in which the Li-ion batteries on hoverboards—essentially self-balancing, powered scooters—burst into flames during recharge mode. It prompted airlines to bar stowing hoverboards on board their aircraft.

In the aviation field, two operators of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, made emergency landings in January 2013 because the lithium metal oxide batteries in the new-design aircraft overheated, released electrolyte vapors and created oxygen within their cases. The incidents resulted in internal thermal runaway, or accelerated heat buildup, that created fire outside the batteries’ steel cases. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) cited “deficiencies in the [battery’s] design and certification processes” as the overall reason why the incidents occurred.

The 787 has two lithium metal oxide batteries onboard that provide backup power. Their malfunction invoked a three-month, fleet-wide grounding. Boeing had the battery installation redesigned, and in April 2013 the FAA gave the 787 fleet the green light to fly.

[fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20px” padding_bottom=”20px” padding_left=”0px” padding_right=”0px” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”double” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]CURRENT ISSUE[/title][one_third last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”https://www.avm-mag.com/wp-content/mag/flipbooks/AVM-2016-02-DIGITAL/index.php#Aviation_Maintenance_Magazine/page2-page3″ linktarget=”_blank” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”20″ sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”” class=”” id=””][/one_third][one_third last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][title size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”underline” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]IssueHighlights:[/title][checklist icon=”” iconcolor=”#81d742″ circle=”no” circlecolor=”” size=”18px” class=”” id=””][li_item icon=””]Getting schooled by Robinson[/li_item][li_item icon=””]The Care and Feeding of Batteries[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Lithium Ion Batteries[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Intelligence: News[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Intelligence: About People[/li_item][li_item icon=””]Intelligence: Aviation Electronics News[/li_item][li_item icon=””]2016 Aviation Maintenance Repair Center Directory[/li_item][li_item icon=””]NEW! Aviation Maintenance Buyer’s Guide[/li_item][/checklist][/one_third][one_third last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” hover_type=”none” link=”” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”bottomshadow” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”http://www.avm-mag.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/AVM_Calendar_2016_FINAL_v10_LORES.pdf” linktarget=”_blank” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”20″ sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]NEW – the large fold out 2016 Wall planner was inserted into the Dec/Jan issue but you can also click/view above.[/fusion_text][/one_third][/fullwidth]