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THE SAFE AND ECONOMIC STRUCTURAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT OF AIRTANKER AND LEAD AIRCRAFT INVOLVED IN FIREBOMBING OPERATIONS

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Title: THE SAFE AND ECONOMIC STRUCTURAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT OF AIRTANKER AND LEAD AIRCRAFT INVOLVED IN FIREBOMBING OPERATIONS


1
THE SAFE AND ECONOMIC STRUCTURAL HEALTH
MANAGEMENT OF AIRTANKER AND LEAD AIRCRAFT
INVOLVED IN FIREBOMBING OPERATIONS
  • Presentation at 7th Annual Wildland Fire Safety
    Summit, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 19th July,2003
  • Steve Hall (Celeris Aerospace Canada Inc.)
  • Dick Perry (Sandia National Laboratory)
  • Joe Braun (Systems and Electronics Inc.)

2
OVERVIEW
  • Reasons for Structural Concerns Related to
    Aircraft Operating in the Firebombing Role
  • Potential causes of structural problems
  • Addressing the Structural Concerns
  • Rationale behind the procedures and processes
    that need to be implemented with particular
    reference to fatigue and damage tolerance
  • Understanding the loads imposed on firebombing
    aircraft
  • Structural Health Management of Aircraft Involved
    in the Firebombing Role
  • Short and longer term issues related to the safe
    and economic use of these aircraft
  • Inspection, Maintenance and the Bottom Line
  • Accumulating Knowledge
  • Pending Activities
  • Conclusions and Recommendations

3
SUMMER 2002 WING FAILURES
  • C-130A
  • Built 1957
  • 21,900 hours total
  • Both wings failed June 2002
  • PB4Y-2
  • Single Tail Liberator
  • Built 1944/45 timeframe
  • 8,200 Special Mission hours
  • Failure one wing July 2002

4
REASONS FOR CONCERN
  • Resulted in the formation of the Blue Ribbon
    Commission by the USDA/FS and BLM which reported
    in December 2002
  • Number of recommendations/observations including
  • Many of the aircraft involved in the firebombing
    role were not designed for this role
  • Loads to which they have been subjected are
    largely unknown as is their current structural
    health status
  • There is a need to harmonize the inspection and
    maintenance of firebombing aircraft with modern
    day certification approaches such as fatigue and
    damage tolerance
  • Approach to funding, contracts and the ongoing
    and modernization of the fleet needs to be
    reviewed

5
ADVERSE OPERATIONAL IMPLICATIONS
  • C-130A and PB4Y-2 Fleets immediately grounded
  • Loss of approx 10-12 Heavy Tankers
  • Major concerns about USDA/FS Beech Baron Lead
    Aircraft
  • Immediate need for replacement?
  • Forest Service note that contracts will not be
    awarded to C-130A and PB4Y-2 aircraft
  • Heavy airtankers operating with a 15 reduction
    in payload for the 2003 fire season
  • Unanticipated expenses associated with additional
    inspection and maintenance actions
  • Delayed contract award and operational
    availability

6
OVERVIEW OF FIREBOMBING AIRCRAFT CONFIGURATIONS
AND OPERATIONS
7
FIREBOMBING AIRCRAFT
  • Heavy Air Tankers
  • 2,200 3,000 gallons and above
  • Translates to approximately 22,000 to 30,000 lbs
    retardant
  • Air Tankers
  • 800 1,200 gallons
  • Translates to approximately 8,000 to 12,000 lbs

8
FIREBOMBING AIRCRAFT (cont)
  • Lead Aircraft
  • Initial Survey of Fire for Escape Routes
  • Guide Heavy Tankers in over fire
  • Ensure Fire Prevention Officer has view of drop
  • Spend far more time over the fire than do the air
    tankers

9
AIR TANKER CONFIGURATION
10
TYPES OF TANK
  • Constant Flow
  • One pair doors
  • Computer controlled
  • Aperture changes to ensure constant flow
  • Consistent Coverage Level
  • Sequenced Doors
  • Two, four, eight or more
  • Door sequence automatically selected
  • Release percentage of load that is proportional
    to the number of doors
  • Coverage Level not as consistent

11
TYPES OF LOAD
  • Retardant or Foam
  • Pre-mixed or mixed on board
  • Drop as a barrier to the fire
  • Water
  • Dropping on the fire

12
OPERATIONAL PROFILE AIR TANKERS
  • Transit to fire
  • Depends on distance, if relatively close often
    below 2000 ft AGL
  • Holding pattern around the fire
  • Generally around 1,000 ft to 1,500ft around the
    fire
  • Drop Zone
  • 150 ft AGL (or 150ft parallel to terrain in
    mountainous drops)
  • Airspeed around 110 120 knots
  • Flap often required (typically 50, occasionally
    100)
  • Want available power when retracted
  • Load, usually dropped in 50 increments,
    occasionally 100
  • Drop Time
  • Of the order of 4 -10 seconds depending on
    coverage level

13
Potential Causes of Structural Problems
14
SPECIAL MISSION AIRCRAFT
  • Aircraft that is operating in a role for which
    was not envisaged during its design
  • Firebombing Aircraft
  • ILS/VOR Calibration
  • Pipeline/Geological Survey
  • Crop-Spraying
  • Atmospheric Research (Hurricane Hunters)
  • Majority tend to operate in Low-level roles
  • Low-level consistent use below 2,500 ft AGL
  • Turbulent environment aircraft subject to an
    increased gust frequency
  • Some roles involve increased manoeuvre spectrum
    for terrain avoidance
  • Note that even when an aircraft has been designed
    for the environment, care is required regarding
    the source of the design loads
  • Lots of data for low-level data is transit data
    and is not usually representative of consistent
    low-level operation

Low-level Roles
High-Level Role
15
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT SPECIAL MISSION SPECTRUM?
  • Generally very little
  • Limited number of health monitoring programs
    completed to define the loads
  • NRCC/IAR Circa Mid 1970s - 1988
  • Limited NASA Work (Reliability Issue)
  • FAA Collecting Low-level data, yet to be collated
  • However, from the limited data available some
    initial trends have been identified which
    indicate an urgent need for further work

16
LOADING MECHANISMS
  • Two mechanisms that have to be considered
  • High Load Exceedance or Overstressing the
    aircraft
  • Over-g of the aircraft
  • High Load at High Weight Concerns
  • Long-term impact of cyclic loading
  • Fatigue and Damage Tolerance
  • Repetitions of cyclic loading and its accumulated
    impact
  • A major focus of past analyses of special mission
    aircraft has been the high load exceedance
    aspects
  • Part of the picture and something of which we
    have to be constantly vigilant
  • However, it is by no means the full picture, nor
    the major reason for the structural failures that
    have occurred

17
IDENTIFYING HARSH OR UNUSUAL USAGE
18
COMPARATIVE SEVERITY
19
ILS/VOR CALIBRATION
20
CROP-DUSTING
21
DC-6 DATA
22
MILITARY DATA (ALL ROLES)
23
AIRCRAFT DESIGN vs FIREBOMBING
24
F-27 DATA SAMPLE 003
25
F-27 DATA SAMPLE 004
26
FATIGUE CONCEPTS
Alt Stress (Sa)
Max Stress (Smax)
Stress
Alternating Stress (Sa)
Sa1
Mean Stress (Sm)
Min Stress (Smin)
Different Mean Stress Levels (Sm)
N1
Time
Number of Cycles (N)
Miners Cumulative Damage Law
Smin Smax
R
27
MAIN OBSERVATIONS
  • Aircraft in Low-level Special Mission Roles see a
    much more severe spectrum than comparable
    aircraft operating in the roles for which they
    were originally designed
  • Inordinate amount of relatively low-level loads
  • Much more turbulent environment
  • More Manoeuvres
  • Control Aircraft
  • Terrain avoidance
  • Some high loads, but generally the majority of
    the structural damage can be attributed to the
    low level loads
  • A large amount of accumulated world-wide flying
    in the original design role is a necessary, but
    not a sufficient condition for ongoing structural
    integrity in the special mission role
  • Acceleration of damage in critical areas
  • Damage being sustained in previously unknown areas

28
ADDRESSING THE STRUCTURAL CONCERNS
29
SO WHAT?
  • The previous slides have illustrated that the
    limited data available suggests that from a
    cyclic loading perspective (fatigue) firebombing
    usage is more severe than many operational roles,
    including the roles for which the majority of the
    aircraft were designed
  • The next issue that has to be addressed is what
    are the implications of these loads for
    individual aircraft structures?

30
EVALUATING THE SIGNIFICANCE
  • Identify areas in the structure that are likely
    to be adversely impacted by firebombing usage and
    assess exactly how they will respond
  • Structural Analysis/Certification terminology
    these are termed critical areas, Principal
    Structural Elements (PSEs) or Structurally
    Significant Items (SSIs)
  • To do this we need to understand the cyclic
    stresses experienced at each location
  • Load is what is applied, stress is how the
    structure responds
  • Typically we measure loads
  • Mechanism of translating these to stresses (Use
    of Transfer Functions)
  • Detail structural configuration
  • Evaluate the structural health at each location
  • Where are we starting from, ie what has happened
    in the past
  • Where are we going, ie based on the starting
    point how fast is future usage consuming the
    health of the structure?

31
COMPARISON ASW vs FIREBOMBING
  • Data from Grumman Tracker (S2)
  • Canadian Forces ASW
  • OMNR Firebombing (Undulating)
  • West Coast Firebombing (Mountainous)
  • Assuming similar weights and Stress/g of between
    5ksi/g and 10ksi/g
  • Firebombing is approximately 1.8 to 2.0 times as
    severe as ASW

32
CHALLENGES OF SPECIAL MISSION AIRCRAFT
  • Generally older aircraft
  • May or may not be supported by the OEM or a type
    certificate holder
  • Frequently not supportive or consider it not
    cost-effective to generate data for this role
  • Liability/Risk issues
  • Engineering data is often limited
  • Regular data collection and validation is not
    easy as aircraft are frequently geographically
    dispersed
  • Frequently not equipped with a data-bus that
    facilitates the straightforward capture of many
    parameters

33
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT EVALUATING THE ONGOING
STRUCTURAL HEALTH OF AN AIRCRAFT?
What do you measure, what criteria do you use?
34
ACTIONS INITIATED
  • USDA/FS Sandia Laboratory inspection
    base-lining program
  • Development of Structural Health Management Plans
    by some operators
  • Including generic and specific parameters
  • Instrumentation of a C-130A Aircraft and
    development of initial firebombing profiles
  • Sponsored by the FAA and TBM/IAR
  • Initial instrumentation and limited preliminary
    analysis of North American Based Airtankers
  • Sponsored by the USDA/FS and Sandia Laboratories
  • 2003 P2, P3, DC-7 and possibly CV-580
  • 2004 Additional aircraft

35
BASELINE INSPECTION PROGRAM
36
PURPOSE
  • Reduce risk of major structural failure
  • One time for 2003 season
  • Enhanced Inspection Program
  • Determine the condition of the fleet
  • Basis for continuing program for long-term
    airworthiness
  • Standardization among contractors and types
  • Identify best practices

37
PROCESS
  • Documentation search
  • Historical information
  • OEM and other user documents
  • Site visits to all large air tanker contractors
  • Inspection documentation
  • Inspection practice
  • Damage histories

38
SANDIA FINDINGS
  • Damage Tolerance Assessment
  • P-3
  • US Navy missions most relevant to P-3C
  • Full scale fatigue testing (P-3C, 2002-2003)
  • P-2V
  • No relevant data identified
  • C-54-DC, DC-6, DC-7
  • SID on DC-6 only
  • 1992
  • Based on service history

39
SANDIA FINDINGS (cont)
  • Inspection Programs (AIPs)
  • Wide variation in depth and detail of AIPs
  • No FAA process for standardization or periodic
    review
  • Wide variation in use of NDI beyond visual
    inspection

40
SANDIA FINDINGS (cont)
  • Existing history data and inspection practice are
    less effective than true damage tolerance
    assessment as air tanker time builds in relation
    to prior mission time
  • Flight environment and loads data are essential
    elements of a damage tolerance based continuing
    airworthiness program, for both current and
    future air tankers

41
IMPLEMENTING A STRUCTURAL HEALTH MONITORING
PROGRAM
42
Structural Health Management Plan Considerations
Critical Area Identification
Certified, Safe and Economically Viable Aircraft
Fatigue and Damage Tolerance Analysis
Inspection, Maintenance and Overhaul Intervals
43
PROGRAM SCOPE
  • Limited Survey and assume representative of fleet
    usage
  • Loads Environment Stress Survey (LESS)
  • Most severe Safety Factors
  • Finite Commitment
  • Repeat periodically to assess validity
  • LESS plus limited Individual Aircraft Tracking
    (IAT) program
  • Representative IAT aircraft to confirm LESS data
    remains valid
  • Safety Factors not as severe
  • Ongoing commitment
  • Repeat LESS when significant change in usage
    occurs
  • LESS program plus full IAT program
  • Generally subset of LESS parameters on IAT
    aircraft
  • Least severe safety factors
  • Ongoing commitment
  • Repeat LESS when significant change in usage
    occurs

Initially Required for Firebombing as
representative usage may not exist
44
SELECTING PARAMETERS
  • Principle 1
  • Minimize parameters to be monitored
  • Even though cost of additional channels and
    sensors relatively cheap
  • Avoid If we are not sure lets monitor it
    syndrome
  • AKA More data has to be better

45
IDENTIFYING PARAMETERS
  • Requirements
  • New requirements
  • Service History
  • Testing
  • Use of Existing or Development of Transfer
    Functions
  • Stress Analysis, Test Data, etc.
  • Durability/Reliability in Operational Environment
  • If you cannot reliably measure it or if robust
    sensor cannot be installed, the parameter is of
    little use
  • Integration with aircraft systems
  • Avoid impact on critical systems or structure
  • Do not want airworthiness or certification issues
  • EMI/EMC has to be considered
  • Components themselves
  • Installed in aircraft

46
GENERIC vs SPECIFIC PARAMETERS
  • Generic parameters are universal parameters
    that characterize the phenomena being measured
  • Vertical Centre-of-Gravity Acceleration (Nzcg)
  • Specific parameters are parameters which
    represent the actual response of the structure to
    the phenomena
  • Strain gauge readings measured at specific
    locations on a structure
  • Location specific
  • Ideally, require as many generic parameters as
    practicable
  • Practice Require a combination of both

47
SIGNIFICANT PHASES OF FLIGHT?
HEAVY
TAXI/TAKE-OFF
BOMBING RUN
LIGHT
LANDING
48
DATA CAPTURE REQUIREMENTS
49
HOW/WHERE WILL IT BE OBTAINED?
  • For each parameter you need to know
  • Measured
  • Direct reading?
  • Computed on Aircraft or Post-Flight?
  • Constant Recording or Discrete Signal
  • What triggers/toggles recording on/off?, eg
  • Application of Aircraft Power
  • Weight-on-Wheels
  • Airspeed below a certain value for a certain time
  • Derived from data on Aircraft Bus
  • Computed on Aircraft or Post-Flight?
  • Derived from Ground (Meta) Data
  • Interrogation of hard-copy data from form?
  • Interrogation of electronically stored data?
  • Will data be obtained from a central location or
    from geographically dispersed locations?

50
POTENTIAL PARAMETERS
  • Continuous
  • Airspeed
  • Centre-of-Gravity Acceleration (Nzcg)
  • Roll acceleration
  • Pressure Altitude
  • Radar Altitude
  • Flap Position
  • Aileron Position
  • Elevator Position
  • Float Position ( Continuous Flow)
  • Discrete
  • Weight-on-wheels
  • Firebomb door sequencing (weight)
  • Supplementary Data
  • Fuel Load (Average Fuel Burn rate)
  • Flying Hours
  • Configuration
  • Expansion
  • 4-8 channels to address type related issues if
    required
  • Probably with strain gauges

51
(No Transcript)
52
COMMUNICATION POTENTIAL
Maintenance/ Overhaul Depot
Life-Cycle Manager
Flight Operations
OEM
ISP
ISP
ISP
ISP
Internet
ISP
ISP
ISP
Contractors
Field Service Reps
Operational Bases
53
SENSORS
  • Are they capable of capturing (sampling) the
    required signal?
  • Can be challenging if higher frequency dynamic
    response involved
  • Environment
  • Reliability in operational environment
  • Bonding of strain gauges
  • Back-up gauges do not necessarily back you up!!
  • Temperature compensation
  • How will I know if I switch sensors?
  • Calibration curves
  • Transfer functions
  • How can a faulty sensor be detected?
  • What action should be taken when it is found?
  • What is the volume of data I anticipate?
  • Is the capability of existing aircraft sensors
    sensitive enough for my requirements
  • Sink speed from incremental changes in altitude

54
RECORDERS
  • Can the recorder sample the data from the sensors
    at suitable rate to preserve the essence of the
    signal?
  • EMI/EMC considerations
  • Cost, robustness and processing capabilities
  • Download independent of aircraft power
  • How much, if any onboard processing should be
    carried out?
  • Will the memory provide convenient downloading
    periods?
  • Recorder environment
  • If not in cabin, will warm-up etc. miss
    significant data?

55
RECORDERS (cont)
  • What happens if the recorder fills-up before a
    scheduled download?
  • How will the data be removed from the recorder
    and transferred to a central location?
  • Onerous workload on maintenance personnel?
  • Dont force people to make decisions for which
    they are not trained
  • Calibrating black-box processing algorithms
  • Many standard processing algorithms
  • Rainflow, Peak-Valley etc.
  • Check accuracy and response against known data
  • Hook up recorder to a test

56
DATA PROCESSING TRADE-OFFS
  • Onboard versus Post-Flight Processing
  • Onboard is processing of the data by the
    recorder such that the raw data is discarded
  • Post-Flight is any processing which is based on
    raw data to which there is still access.
  • Issue is Data Transparency
  • Solution is somewhere between total onboard
    processing and no onboard processing
  • The decision is a trade-off reduced data-volume
    versus
  • impact of not being able to reconstruct anomalous
    events
  • risk of failure to identify errors

57
DEALING WITH ERRORS
  • Principle 2 Obtaining continuous, valid data
    is critical to the success of the program
  • Basis for all predictions
  • Valid data is a costly and valuable commodity
  • Greatest Costs associated over the life of a
    program are the data acquisition and processing
    costs and the cost of not having or being able to
    access reliable data when it is needed
  • Cost of acquisition, validation, processing,
    storage and analysis
  • Recorder Manufacturers generally only validate
    data based on Built-in-Tests (BIT) which
    primarily validate integrity of electronics
  • Dont validate the engineering/scientific
    reasonableness of the data
  • Sometimes there is a capability to program
    additional data validation capability into the
    recorder

58
SOURCES OF DATA ERROR
  • Hardware
  • Faulty Recorders and or Sensors
  • Sensor installation problems
  • Incorrect recorder initialization procedures
  • Software
  • Incorrect data downloading and/or transcription
  • Incorrect configuration tracking
  • Universal implementation of fleet-wide
    modifications
  • Inappropriate application of Fill-in data

59
TYPES OF DATA ACQUISITION ERROR
  • Two general classifications
  • Logical Errors - Errors that can easily be
    identified as right or wrong
  • Range checks
  • Event response frequency
  • Potential Errors - Errors which only become
    apparent over time and/or require detailed
    analysis by skilled personnel
  • Strain gauge drift

60
FINAL DATA VALIDATION
  • Confirming initial (logical error) checks
    performed at operational bases
  • Evaluating potential error checks
  • Strain gauge drift
  • Over time, implicit need for historical data
  • Have to compare like data, implicit need to track
    data by configuration
  • Tracking initialization readings a good first
    start
  • Statistical Validation
  • Beware of self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Look for change in usage
  • Value of Exceedance curves and other tools

61
OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
  • Primary requirement is to provide a minimal
    increase in operational workload
  • You will not get the data you require if
  • Acquisition equipment requires
  • Too much hand holding
  • Takes too much time to download
  • Is not straightforward to use
  • Cannot easily be maintained or supported
  • Benefits of collecting data you do not require!!!

62
PRELIMINARY CHARACTERIZATION OF FIREBOMBING
ROLETBM/IAR/FAA C-130A FLARE PROGRAM(YUMA
ARIZONA February, 2003)
63
C-130A AIRCRAFT (3,000 gallon)
  • Flight Test at U.S Army Test Range in Yuma
    Arizona
  • End February 2003
  • Defined Profiles (No Fire)
  • Calibration Flights
  • Typical Firebombing Terrain
  • Level and Mountainous
  • Twelve Continuous Parameters
  • Accelerations
  • Strains
  • Control Positions
  • Eight Discrete Parameters

64
REMOVABLE TANK INSTALLATION
65
RECORDER HARDWARE
66
CONTROL POSITIONS
67
door closed
door open
68
door closed
door open
69
door closed
door open
70
door closed
door open
71
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72
(No Transcript)
73
OPERATIONAL DATA ACQUISITION ACTIVITIES2003 FIRE
SEASON
74
OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES - 2003
TBM DC-7B Tanker 66 Approx 30 hrs Operational Data
IAR C-130A Tanker 31 (Spain) Approx 50 hrs
Operational Data
Aero Union P3-A Tanker 55 (Final Stages
Instrumentation)
Minden Aircraft P2-V7 Tanker 55 (Final Stages
Instrumentation)
75
SEI CUMULATIVE FATIGUE RECORDER (CFR) MODEL A1002
  • The analog signals will be 12 high level and 12
    low level signals. The low level signals will be
    capable of accepting strain gauge type signals
    (millivolts).
  • The recorded flight data will be stored on a 32
    megabyte PCMCIA card.
  • The weight of this unit is less than 3 pounds.
  • It is designed to DO-160 for environmental and
    EMI.
  • The CFR Model A1002 made by SEI is capable of
    recording 24 analog signals, 16 digital signals
    and global positioning as an option

76
AIRCRAFT DATA ACQUISITION PROCESSING AND
TRACKING (ADAPT) (Secure Web-based Download and
Analysis)
77
WORLD-WIDE DATA MANAGEMENT AND ACCESS
78
INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS
  • Preliminary Aircraft Survey
  • Three to four days
  • Production of Survey/Installation Report and
    approval by Local Regulatory Agencies (eg
    FAA/FSDO)
  • One Week to ??????
  • Manufacture and Distribution of Installation Kits
  • Six to Eight weeks
  • Initial Running of Wires and Equipment (Operator
    Personnel)
  • About one week of continuous effort
  • Connection of equipment and validation of
    operation (SEI/Celeris Aerospace Personnel)
  • Connection of Sensors Continuity Checks etc.
    (approximately 1 day)
  • Ground Calibration Checks (approximately 1 day)
  • Flight Checks (approx 2 hours flying with some
    simulated drops using water)
  • Training of Operational Crews on Data Upload
    System (approx 1 day, undertaken in conjunction
    with calibration process

79
Zero-g Strain Calibration
e 422nZ 454 59 me (95)
e 366nZ 445 49 me (95)
80
C-130A SPANISH DATA
81
C-130A SPAIN (High G Flaps Down Global View)
82
C-130A SPAIN (High G Flaps Down Detail View)
83
EXAMPLE WING LOCATIONS - TBM DC-7
Vertical c.g and Roll Accelerations Control
Position transducers Discrete Signals to
delineate flight phases Strain Gauges 3 Wing
Locations (Matching Left and Right 1 Horizontal
Stabilizer 1 Vertical Stabilizer
Up
Inboard
Strain Gauge Location
Centre-Spar Close View Left (Port Side) Wing,
Looking Aft
84
DC-7B CALIFORNIA FIRES(Steep Descent High G
Flaps Down)
85
DC-7B CALIFORNIA FIRES(Two Sequential Drops
Global View)
86
DC-7B CALIFORNIA FIRES(Two Sequential Drops
Detail View)
87
P-3A INSTALLATION
Left Aileron Position Transducer (String-Pot)
Cumulative Fatigue Recorder and Synchro to
Analogue Converter
Left Wing Lower spar Cap Strain Gauge (Looking
Aft)
Airspeed and Altitude Transducers (Interface with
Aircraft Pitot-Static System)
Up
Inboard
88
LESSONS LEARNED - IMPLEMENTATION
  • Preferable to do the installation in the
    off-season
  • Should be starting now for 2004
  • Funding for these type of activities can be
    challenging
  • Need for consistency in approval process
  • Depending on experience of local regulatory
    authorities approval can take anywhere from one
    to ten plus weeks
  • Central area in regulatory agencies with
    expertize in the installation of structural
    health monitoring systems
  • Remote support capability for troubleshooting is
    essential
  • Take advantage of inherent remote support
    capabilities of Windows XP
  • Regular Data downloading essential
  • Every one to two days when active on fire as
    large amounts of significant structural activity
  • Essential to make this a bullet proof and
    straightforward process with minimal data
    footprint (slower modem connection compressed
    files)

89
LESSONS LEARNED PRELIMINARY DATA
  • G-Levels limits particularly with flaps down are
    exceeded on a frequent basis
  • Appears to be during or after drop
  • However, CORRESPONDING STRAIN/STRESS LEVELS ARE
    NOT THAT HIGH
  • G has traditionally been used as a proxy for
    strain
  • Transport aircraft conservative but OK
  • Firebombing where large instantaneous change in
    weight it may be inappropriate
  • For Firebombing harsh or unusual usage should be
    based on combined G and strain criteria?
  • Should ensure safe operation but minimize
    unnecessary in-field inspections and or
    change-out of aircraft
  • Better feel for this aspect once additional data
    has been collected during the 2004 fire season

90
OBSERVATIONS RELATED TO LONGER-TERM ISSUES
91
THREE PRONGED APPROACH
STRATEGIC FIREBOMBING MANAGEMENT PLAN (Ten Year
Sliding Window)
ONGOING SAFE AND ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT OF CURRENT
FLEET
TRANSITIONING TO REPLACEMENT AIRCRAFT
REGULATORY AND CERTIFICATION ISSUES
92
FLEET REPLACEMENT
  • Based on current financial and practical
    limitations current fleet replacement is
    realistically five to seven and more likely ten
    years away
  • Implies have to address issues related to current
    aircraft as there is no short-term fix
  • Two Implications
  • There is a need to monitor the existing fleet as
    it is going to be around for some time
  • Efforts devoted to doing this will not be wasted
    as the data collected will both help to ensure
    ongoing safety and provide a basis of selection
    for future firebombing aircraft
  • Prior to conversion and usage

93
REGULATORY AND CERTIFICATION ISSUES
  • Regulatory and Certification Authorities have to
    be involved in the process as ultimately they
    determine the airworthiness criteria against
    which the aircraft will be evaluated
  • Direct impact of their cost and economic
    viability
  • There are a number of issues which need to be
    addressed with the industry to ensure safe,
    economic and practical provision of firebombing
    services
  • Change Product Rule (CPR)
  • Impact/Implications on future aircraft
    conversions
  • Pending NPRM on evaluation basis of operational
    aircraft over the next ten years
  • Impact/Implications for existing firebombing
    fleet
  • Access to engineering and support data
  • In the light of liability/risk concerns versus
    potential revenue streams
  • Relevance of this data from an aging aircraft
    perspective
  • Agreed Firebombing Certification Methodology?
  • Based on a recognition of the unique and
    challenging demands of this role

94
TRANSITIONING TO REPLACEMENT AIRCRAFT
  • Fleet Replacement
  • Suitable Aircraft
  • Capability to carry/deliver the retardant
  • Evaluating the ability of the structure to
    perform in the firebombing role
  • Development of a firebombing specification ??
  • Economic Basis
  • Investment in alternate aircraft
  • Ongoing monitoring of firebombing aircraft
  • Fatigue and Damage Tolerance Basis
  • Maintenance and Inspection Intervals
  • Delivery and Payment Models

Significant re-thinking of these issues as it
would appear that the costs associated with the
Blue Ribbon panel recommendations are not
compatible with the current levels of funding
95
ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS
  • Addressing all the issues related to the ongoing
    safe and economic operation of firebombing
    aircraft is a task for which no one organization
    would appear to have sufficient resources
  • Although this environment is a competitive one,
    there are significant economic benefits to
    collaboration on issues that effect everyone
  • Common recorder usage
  • Common data collection and validation
  • Combined efforts for fatigue and damage tolerance
    analysis of similar aircraft types
  • Now that the USDA/FS and SNL have developed the
    Infrastructure they are prepared to let other
    organizations can take advantage of this
    infrastructure on a cost recovery basis
  • Cost-effective way of implementation that allows
    everybody to benefit from generic data and trends
  • Coordination of efforts and regular exchange of
    information between regulatory agencies, client
    organizations and operators
  • Wealth of experience distributed through a
    variety of forums
  • Can a system of meetings and working groups be
    set-up to disseminate information and develop
    policies and procedures that would be beneficial
    to all?

96
THE MISSING LINKS
  • Predominantly focused on large airtankers
  • Other aircraft involved in firebombing operations
    may be just as critical as they all work in a
    similar environment
  • Smaller multi-engine and single engine airtankers
  • Lead Aircraft
  • Spotter (Bird-dog?) aircraft
  • Rotary Wing Aircraft

97
PENDING ACTIVITIES
  • Collect data from existing instrumented aircraft
    and hopefully instrument more aircraft during the
    2004 fire season
  • Funding Provisions are a challenge more
    reliance on inter-agency collaboration?
  • These activities need to be commenced within the
    next month
  • Develop a consistent and coherent certification
    and operational monitoring mechanism in
    collaboration with regulatory agencies and
    operators
  • Make best use of resources
  • Avoid frustration
  • Develop a certification and fatigue/damage
    tolerance template using data from the existing
    program
  • Confidence and consistency of approach
  • Cost-Effective as approval of a plethora of
    approaches will not be required
  • Develop collaborative efforts with other North
    American and non North American Agencies
  • Benefits of accumulating data to characterize the
    firebombing role quicker
  • Shared lessons learnt improve both safety and the
    cost-effectiveness of implementation

98
CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS
  • There is an urgent safety and economic need to
    fully characterize the loads experienced in the
    firebombing role
  • Existing Aircraft
  • Develop specifications for future aircraft
  • Due to the variability of operation, individual
    aircraft (total fleet) tracking systems should be
    implemented as soon as possible
  • Initial data acquisition should be expanded to
    lead aircraft as soon as possible
  • Appear to experience the most severe usage and
    yet are currently not monitored
  • Programs to assess how best lower capacity
    multi-engine aircraft, single engine aircraft and
    rotary wing aircraft can best be monitored should
    be explored as soon as possible
  • A consistent and coherent certification and
    evaluation mechanism should be developed between
    contracting agencies, regulatory agencies and
    operators as soon as practicable
  • Validation through a template based on analysis
    of one or more existing aircraft types
  • The establishment of a Strategic Firebombing
    Structural Health Management Plan (Rolling Ten
    Year Window) for the Acquisition and Ongoing
    Operation of all Fixed and Rotary-wing Aircraft
    Involved in Firebombing Roles is essential if the
    ongoing safe and economic operation of current
    and existing fleets is to be ensured
  • Reflect, current and future requirements together
    with associated funding levels
  • It is hard to envisage how the approaches
    recommended by the Blue Ribbon panel as a
    consequence of the 2002 heavy airtanker accidents
    can be implemented within the current funding
    structure
  • Inter-agency and International collaboration for
    the assessment of aircraft in the firebombing
    role will provide the quickest and
    most-cost-effective method of addressing the many
    common challenges that are faced by all agencies
    using aircraft in this role

99
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • TBM, IAR who have initiated and supported a lot
    of this recent work
  • Woody Grantham/Fritz Wester (IAR)
  • Norm Stubbs (TBM)
  • FAA, USDA/FS and Sandia Laboratories for their
    ongoing support of the recent work
  • John Howford, Tom Defiore, Carl Gray, Todd Martin
    and Steve Edgar of FAA
  • Tony Kern and Ron Livingston of USDA/FS
  • Staff members at Celeris Aerospace and SEI who
    have established an infrastructure for
    structural health monitoring of heavy airtankers
    and lead aircraft in an incredibly short
    time-frame

100
CONTACTING THE PRESENTER
  • Celeris Aerospace Canada Inc.
  • 880 Taylor Creek Drive
  • Orleans, Ontario
  • CANADA, K1C 1T1
  • Tel (613) 837-1161
  • FAX (613) 834-6420
  • Internet
  • Steve Hall - halls_at_celeris.ca
  • Webpage - http//www.celeris.ca
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