Section: Volunteer Spotlight
Rob Hughes is the Senior Policy Adviser for the Office of Independent Airworthiness at Northrop Grumman. While his office is relatively new, having been created a little over three years ago, it is increasingly busy, developing systems that integrate both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Among these are the high-endurance platforms Global Hawk and Triton, and the tailless flying wing system, Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator, which Rob says recently completed a successful autonomous air refueling as well as launch and recovery from an aircraft carrier.
The work of Special Committee 159, Navigation Equipment Using the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), led by Co-Chairs Chris Hegarty and George Ligler, has enabled major improvements to the safety of the US airspace. Among their many accomplishments, Chris and George are members of the Program Management Committee (PMC), which provides oversight to the work of all RTCA Special Committees.
Other industries may take note of the news of a child's hoverboard battery causing a fire, or a cell phone battery exploding, concerned about damage and bad press. But to the aviation industry, that same news commands attention, so that the same problems will not result in catastrophic damage onboard an aircraft. This vital concern has never been far from the minds of aircraft and battery manufacturers after several incidents occurred on different aircraft models involving rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium batteries. These incidents spawned investigations by regulatory and investigative agencies on three continents.
Safely dealing with electronic devices on board aircraft has been a long, evolving process, ever since concerns were raised about the usage of electric razors onboard planes in the 1950's. Fast forward through the testing of operating two hundred laptops onboard an empty aircraft fifteen years ago, to today when airlines cannot escape the ubiquitous use of cell phones, and the variety of PEDs, is limited only by the imagination of PED creators. Consolidating all guidance material for usage of PEDs on aircraft has been a massive undertaking for SC-234, under the leadership of Chair Billy Martin, Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Electromagnetic Effects Test Lab with the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University, and his international counterparts, Robert Kebel of AIRBUS and Stephan Schulte of Lufthansa, Co-Chairs of EUROCAE Working Group (WG)-99.
There is a stark contrast between the VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range (VOR)-based navigational system of the past and the new normal of Performance-Based Navigation (PBN). It may not be easy to understand the highly-technical components of satellite navigation or the intricate on-board aircraft flight management systems that assist pilots in dealing with everyday challenges associated with flying aircraft around the world. But leading the transition to migrate away from the increasingly obsolete VOR-based navigational infrastructure, and the mounting costs associated with maintaining that aging system, to the new, more accurate routes and procedures of Performance-Based Navigation is the PBN Route Structure Task Group. The Co-Chairs of this Task Group are Mark Hopkins of Delta Air Lines, and Dave Surridge of American Airlines.
Like every RTCA Special Committee, SC-223 was tasked to deal with safety, efficiency and new technology. But unlike most committees, SC-223 is headed not by two co-chairs, but one leader, Aloke Roy of Honeywell International, Inc.
One of the most significant dangers facing nations around the globe is also one of the most challenging dangers facing the world's aviation system: cyber security. And while businesses and governments have been dealing with these concerns since the advent of the internet, it is only in the last twenty-five years that the vulnerabilities of aircraft have been studied and addressed. This need for the study and evaluation of current security concerns, and mapping out the future direction of aeronautical systems security led to the creation of SC-216, co-chaired by Dan Johnson of Honeywell International, Inc., and Chuck Royalty of The Boeing Company.
The majority of RTCA Special Committees deal with new advancements in aviation that bring much-needed updates to outdated systems. But not every Committee's deliverables outline such a measurably huge step forward as does the upcoming document from SC-232, Airborne Selective Calling (SELCAL) Equipment.
The two women at the helm of SC-233 bring many similarities and a common mission to the Committee addressing Human Factors/Pilot Interface Issues. They have both been in the field for more than twenty years, both acknowledge the vast challenges the Committee faces, and both are grateful for the committee participation across the industry, as well as the contributions of RTCA.
By design, RTCA's NextGen Advisory Committee is organized meticulously, with carefully laid-out timelines of quarterly meetings and monthly subcommittee meetings. The NextGen Advisory Committee SubCommittee (NACSC) structure takes this planning a step further, ensuring the perspectives of all in the aviation industry are carefully considered together, choosing Co-Chairs to represent the spectrum of interested parties.
A big part of RTCA is bringing together aviation industry professionals for meetings at RTCA Headquarters. A big part of setting up these meeting rooms is RTCA staff member Jeffery McNeil. He is the one responsible for coming in after hours, before events large and small, to ready the rooms to exact specifications, ensuring a seamless meeting the next day. It’s a task Jeffery expertly and easily handles, and has for more than two years.
In the past two decades, advancements in weather detection systems, turbulence detection and forward-looking wind shear capability have been astronomical. This made the task of creating an updated set of Minimal Operational Performance Standards (MOPS) an equally astronomical undertaking. Tackling this monumental task is SC-230, Airborne Weather Detection Systems, led by Jeff Finley of Rockwell Collins and Dawn Gidner of Honeywell International.
Serving as Chair of RTCA's oldest operating Special Committee, SC-135, Environmental Testing, Brad Green has been actively involved with RTCA since 1993 and has been Chair of SC-135 since 2010. He also just became a member of RTCA's newest Special Committee, SC-234, Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs).
For more than 20 years, Robert "Rocky" Stone has contributed his technical expertise and leadership skills to advance the work of RTCA. Rocky currently serves as Co-Chair of SC-186, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, along with Jessie Turner of The Boeing Company; as Co-Chair of SC-206, Aeronautical Information Services Data Link, along with Allan Hart of Honeywell International; and for the past year, he has been Chair of the Wake Vortex Tiger Team. Rocky first got involved with RTCA in 1993 when he served on SC-147, Traffic Alert & Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). In 1995, Rocky was asked to chair SC-186 and has served for the past 20 years as either Chair or Co-Chair. Additionally, Rocky has been a panel member at numerous RTCA symposia and also served on Task Force 5. "Rocky exemplifies the caliber and commitment of our incredible RTCA volunteers and we are grateful to Rocky for the many years of leadership that he has given to advancing RTCA's work," stated RTCA President Margaret Jenny.
SC-231, Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), at the request of the FAA, is developing a new Minimum Operations Performance Standard (MOPS) document for TAWS, modernizing standards and guidances published decades ago. Established in May 2014, SC-231 is co-chaired by Yasuo Ishihara of Honeywell and Rick Ridenour of ACSS with Charisse Green serving as the Designated Federal Official (DFO).
RTCA's Tactical Operations Committee (TOC) has made significant progress since being established as a Federal advisory committee in January 2013. Unlike other RTCA committees that focus on developing policies and standards, the TOC is designed for quick response times to issues and challenges in the air transportation system. The Committee's focus is to work with the FAA and industry partners to identify and make recommendations on near-term, tactical issues affecting safety and efficiency in the National Airspace System (NAS). The TOC is Co-Chaired by Jim Bowman and Dale Wright, both of whom bring to the table a wealth of technical, management and consensus-building experience.
Once again, an RTCA Special Committee is taking the lead in a consensus-based effort to advance international aviation safety. Tom Pack of ACR Electronics and Philippe Plantin de Hugues of the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA) serve as Co-Chairs of SC-229, 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs), which is updating RTCA's Minimum Operations Performance Standards (MOPS) for 406 MHz ELTs. SC-229 is working in conjunction with EUROCAE WG-98, which is completing a simultaneous update to its ELTs standards, ED-62A. ELTs are radio transmitters that send out a distress signal that is tracked by satellites and aid in the detection and location of an aircraft in distress. As Tom says, "Given recent international incidents involving missing aircraft and the need to locate aircraft in distress, this is a very timely effort."
A December 2013 tasking from the FAA to RTCA's NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) to develop a process for more efficiently implementing PBN has resulted in the PBN Blueprint Task Group. The Task Group is co-chaired by Jim Crites of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Brian Townsend of New American Airlines.
Recognizing the leadership and dedication of RTCA volunteers, the Annual Awards Luncheon honored the impressive achievements of individuals during 2013. Awards were given in five categories - the President's Award, the Achievement Award, the William E. Jackson Award, Outstanding Leader Award and Significant Contributor Award. "It should be abundantly clear...that RTCA is the sum of the collective efforts of many, many hard working volunteers," stated RTCA President Margaret Jenny.
In the same manner that airline pilots guide us safely through the skies to our destination, SC-214 Members and its Co-Chairs, Jerome Condis of Airbus SAS and Chuck Stewart of United Airlines, Inc., have completed a seven year trip that will result in improved airline safety and efficiency. SC-214 just recently completed four Baseline 2 ATS Data Communications documents, which received conditional approval by the Program Management Committee (PMC) at its March meeting, and RTCA expects to publish in early April. These documents contain nearly 2,000 pages of very complex safety and performance standards. The standards are designed to support existing and new capabilities and bring the industry much closer to global harmonization of next generation ATS Data Link services and applications.
Bob Buley's career in the world of aviation has spanned an incredible range of roles, starting with his service as an airman in the U.S. Navy, a bush pilot in the interior of Alaska, Captain and Manager of Flight Technical Development for Northwest Airlines (now Delta), Senior Account Manager at Lockheed Martin, Regional Director at Naverus and currently an independent consultant. His consultancy is with a variety of aviation industry companies where he brings his TCAS expertise and more than thirty-five years of advancing aviation modernization, growth and safety.
Chuck LaBerge serves as Chair of RTCA's SC-222, Inmarsat AMS(R)S, which has been working since October 2008 to produce several documents focused on satellite systems safety service capability. Chuck is known industry-wide for his expertise in radio signal processes and interference and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Committee's work. Chuck has a long and active history of contributing to RTCA products and first became involved with RTCA in the late 70s, helping to produce DO-177, a MOPS document focusing on Microwave Landing System (MLS) Airborne Receiving Equipment. He has been involved in producing 20 RTCA documents, not including document updates.
SC-226, Audio Systems & Equipment, at the request of the FAA, is in the final stages of updating DO-214, Audio Systems Characteristics and Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Aircraft Audio Systems and Equipment. DO-214 has not been updated since it was published in 1993, and is very much in need of revising to address new and advanced audio technologies. SC-226's Co-Chairs, Don Hamilton and Allan Prince, have, along with the Committee members, been working for nearly two years to complete this update.
Since 2007, Patrick Krohn of Universal Avionics Systems Corporation and Tim Etherington of Rockwell Collins, Inc. have been co-chairing the efforts of SC-213, Enhanced Flight and Synthetic Vision Systems. SC-213 has completed four MASPS-related documents - one basic document for EVS, SVS, CVS and EFVS, and three others that focus on system architectures for approach and landing, EFVS for approach/landing/rollout, and SVS for approach.
Highlighting the vital contributions of RTCA volunteers, the Annual Awards Luncheon recognized the impressive achievements of these leaders for their significant contributions during 2012. Awards were presented in four categories - the Achievement Award, Outstanding Leader Award, Significant Contributor Award, and, a category only awarded on special occasions, the Chairman's Award. "We simply could not succeed without the sustained efforts of these individuals, "stated RTCA President Margaret Jenny.
In a world that is rapidly transforming from paper to digital, the aviation industry is one where global standardization and quality information processing are critical to the safety of millions of people. SC-217, Aeronautical Databases (formerly Terrain and Airport Databases), was originally established in March 2008 to revise and update database standards for airport mapping information to keep it current with advanced flight deck applications. SC-217 works jointly with EUROCAE WG-44 and is capably led by Co-Chairs Stephane Dubet of DSNA/SIA and John Kasten of Jeppesen. Each one commented on their complementary fit as co-chairs with their very diverse backgrounds: industry vs. government, U.S. vs. Europe and database expertise vs. regulatory affairs expertise. Both, however, have the experience of working with a variety of cultures from around the world and with people representing all facets of the aviation industry, resulting in both having a "big picture" vision and the ability to look at solutions from multiple angles.
Steve Dickson, Senior Vice President of Flight Operations at Delta Air Lines, no stranger to RTCA leadership, recently stepped in as Co-Chair of the NextGen Advisory Committee's Working Subcommittee (NACSC). In 2009, Steve chaired the RTCA NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force (TF5). As Co-Chair of the NACSC, Steve is working closely with Co-Chair Steve Brown, Chief Operating Officer of the National Business Aviation Association, to oversee the Work Groups and Task Groups whose products have resulted in the NAC forwarding 19 recommendations and reports for consideration by the FAA in implementing NextGen.