Nov 19, 2009

Please remove your belt and shoes before repairing that airplane...

I'd be curious to read the comments collected from this proposed rule:

Tue, 17 Nov '09

Would Require All Repair Stations To Adopt TSA Security Program

TSA announced publication in the Federal Register of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to strengthen the Aircraft Repair Station Security program on Monday. The proposed rulemaking would establish security requirements for maintenance and repair work conducted on aircraft and aircraft components at domestic and foreign repair stations certificated by the FAA.

The increased security protections proposed in the NPRM are designed to build on the extensive certification and safety requirements for repair stations instituted by the FAA. Aircraft repair stations vary widely in size, type of repair work performed, number of employees and proximity to an airport.

"This proposed rule supplements FAA requirements that protect aircraft undergoing repairs from terrorist threats," said TSA Office of Security Operations Assistant Administrator Lee Kair. "By enhancing repair station security, this rulemaking guards against the potential threat of an aircraft being destroyed or used as a weapon."

The NPRM requires FAA-certificated foreign and domestic repair stations to adopt and carry out a standard TSA security program to safeguard the security of a repair station, the repair work conducted, and all aircraft and aircraft components at the station.

The program will require certificated stations to implement strict access controls, provide security awareness training, and allow for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspections.

The NPRM fulfills the Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act's requirement for DHS to put forth security regulations for domestic and foreign aircraft repair stations.

The public has 60 days to comment on the NPRM once published in the Federal Register.



Nov 17, 2009

Something for Nothing...

Log Entry 1975 - B727 Second Officer-in-training - CYUL - Departure Gate

When I was training as a Second Officer on the Boeing 727 just a few years ago, I learned a neat thing about airflow entrainment. The Trusty Trijet has two air conditioning systems, called "packs." In flight pack 1 draws bleed air from engine 1 and pack 2 bleeds engine 3. Then using the black magic principles of expansion and compression and so on these packs pump air of the desired temperature into our cabin. So far so good.

But what if we're on the ground and the engines are not running? Then we use the auxilliary power unit's (APU) bleed air to do the job. Trouble is one little APU cannot match the flow of two big JT8Ds - the APU just can't produce that much bleed air. So, (now this is the neat part) Boeing engineers equipped the system with a Flow Multiplier. They use the high velocity bleed air from the APU to entrain ambient air from the wheel well and Voila! We now get enough "bleed" air to run two packs. Amazingly, the bleed load on the APU with both packs running is less than with just a single pack.

One surprisingly hot spring day early in my training I was sent on a fam-flight. I had just finished the technical "ground school" part of the 727 course and was awaiting to pass through the bottleneck at the flight simulator portion. Fam-flights were great. We would tag along for a day with an operating crew and see how it all works. Of course not all the line pilots were equally good examples of how the job is to be done. But it sure gave a student the context for how all the parts should finally fit together.

This afternoon we're on the ramp in Montreal and it's a scorcher. The outside temperature is in the mid thirties Celcius. We board the aircraft just ahead of the passengers to discover the interiour is like a suana. Our winged aluminum tube has been sitting in the sun for over an hour baking because the unexpected hot weather caught everyong by surprise. Most of the airport's ground air conditioners are still in winter heating mode wating to be changed over to summer cooling. Whatever the excuse the cabin air is unbreathable.

The pilots shed their formal "blues" and get down to the ramp checks so we can depart on time. I try to be inconspicous as I settle into the observer's seat behind the captain's chair, across from Second Officer Milo. His first priority is starting the APU so he can then get the packs running. The procedures for checking the APU fire protection systems seem to take forever but finally the APU is started and stabilized. Milo flips on the first air conditioning pack watching the electrical load surge as the pack's cooling fan kicks on, followed by the APU exhaust gas temperature needle rising. There is a weak gush of hot air from the overhead grills and a slight change in the background noise. But suddenly the flow stops and the flight deck gets quiet again. The EGT has rapidly spiked to its top limit and the APU's self-protection circuit has tripped the pack off to prevent damage. Milo looks puzzled and goes through the reset drill and tries again. Same results.

Meanwhile the passengers were boarding, the cabin is getting hotter still, and the purser is calling out from the flight deck door - "Air! We need air back here fellas!"

Someone suggests as diplomatically as possible to SO Milo that he might try throwing on the second pack immediately after the first, "So the flow multiplier will kick in and reduce the bleed load..."

"Really?" he asks looking puzzled. He is reassured that this should work. So this time Milo flips on the first pack ... again a weak flow of hot air trickles from the vents and the EGT needle rockets towards the redline. As soon as the electrical surge of the first cooling fan subsides Milo tentatively flips on the second pack. And almost miraculously as the demand for even more bleed air awakens the flow multiplier, the APU EGT slows, stops its climb, and actually reverses down to sit in the middle of the green band. A welcome whoosh of air pours from the vents along with the happy roar of contented packs. In just a few minutes the icy air is having the desired effect. Everyone regains their true cool and we depart on time.

Since then I've always wondered what a flow multiplier looks like and how it works. Today I came across a new consumer product which employs the same principle. I'm sure the ole B-727 flow multiplier did not look nearly so elegant, but it sure did do the trick.

Something for nothing. Now there's a bargain you don't see everyday.

Nov 15, 2009

I want one of these on my little plane:

But will have to settle for this (for now):

Nov 13, 2009

3D Details of Cactus 1549

This is an excellent presentation. The crew had so little time to work with. Truly amazing!

Nov 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

Thanks to all who made the ultimate sacrifice...

A day to remember

and long

for peace

for a time when people

are prepared to die

rather than kill

for their beliefs

"Trump" your ride?

In case you're getting tired of shlepping around the skies in steerage - here's a good deal on a gently-used B727.

Nov 10, 2009

Does self-regulation work?

Findings from this bizjet crash continue to challenge Transport Canada's policies regarding air safety. (see my previous posting)...

Nov 9, 2009

Inflight Movies You Could Do Without?

This is probably not everyone's idea of great in-flight entertainment.

It's from a series that has aired under various names - "Mayday," or "Air Crash Investigations." It's often available on the Discovery Channel or the National Geographic Channel. And happily - Youtube!

Nov 7, 2009

Olympic Flight Restrictions

For anyone planning to fly in the Vancouver area during the upcoming winter olympics there are several flight restrictions to be aware of. Click Here for a site with the appropriate links: