Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Software helps military aircraft techncians centralize maintenance

24.02.2006


Aircraft technicians these days are as likely to use a laptop as a printed manual and logbook, and to turn to the Internet for the latest job-status reports and technical information.



Engineers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are assisting them, using current computer and database technology to help military aircraft maintainers get their work done more efficiently. A team from GTRI’s Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL) has been developing and improving maintenance software for the U.S. Navy since 2000.

Called the Maintainer’s Electronic Performance Support System (MEPSSTM), this software was initially developed for the Navy’s P-3C Orion patrol aircraft. A more recent version is now helping maintain the RQ-2 Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, and portions of the GTRI software are being used in other aircraft maintenance programs.


"The idea is to give maintainers all the information tools and decision-making capabilities that they need," said Gisele Bennett, director of EOSL and principal investigator for the project. "From a simplified standpoint, you can almost look at it as an information portal, where you’re collecting and disseminating information to the maintainers."

MEPSS is typically installed on a laptop computer. Technicians can check parts lists, consult manuals, and add information about their work as they go.

The system can be updated in a variety of ways – through a squadron LAN, a standalone server, CD-ROMs, USB devices, or the World Wide Web. A Web-enabled system gives maintainers access to up-to-the-minute technical and parts information, and helps them both access and share work-related information.

Whatever the connectivity approaches used, the software performs a needed centralizing function, Bennett says. For example, by reviewing software reports maintainers can detect trends involving, say, troublesome parts that need multiple replacements. Or they can pinpoint repair techniques that need improvement.

And maintainers can conveniently brief themselves on an aircraft’s maintenance history, right down to work done recently by a previous shift that is not on site to answer questions.

MEPSS uses MS Internet Explorer as the delivery mechanism for the information that is extracted from a database. The system also has the ability to post announcements, allowing effective dissemination of critical issues and information among an entire maintenance community.

"The maintainer can look up all kinds of information about how to repair a system, document what they did, document any problems, and add any helpful hints that they need to share," Bennett said. "It’s a collaborative tool that lets them share information with other maintainers and between squadrons."

Keesah Hall, an EOSL research scientist, says that in constructing MEPSS, researchers spent considerable time at Naval air bases watching how maintainers performed their work. That kind of first-hand observation gave the research team insight into what maintainers needed.

"We made sure they were integral in the design process," she said. "It was designed for them specifically, to help them with the tasks that they complete every day."

When maintainers are working overseas in the field, they find that electronically controlling maintenance records is an advantage. That’s because high winds, rain, sand and other environmental hazards will destroy paper publications.

"The paper can go flying everywhere, so having everything on a portable computer is helpful for them," Hall said.

By contrast, the special hardened laptop computers used by maintainers shrug off most environmental effects.

MEPSS software won the 2001 Gold Award for Excellence in E-Learning in the Performance Centered Design Category. This awards program is sponsored by brandon-hall.com and Online Learning Magazine.

The maintenance program is written in the Java programming language and integrated with an Oracle database. Java is "platform-independent," which means that Java-based programs are easy to move between various computer types such as the IBM-PC / Microsoft Windows computers, Apple Macintosh systems, or Unix-based and Linux-based computers.

The MEPSS system has several different components including:

  • Passdown Log – tracks aircraft through the maintenance cycle;
  • Troubleshooting Tips – allows new repair techniques to be disseminated over the system;
  • Interactive Training – offers refresher courses and procedural guides for complex repairs;
  • Parts Catalog – offers a pull-down menu format with links to various parts sources;
  • Personal Notes – allows maintainers to document issues for future reference.

Hall recalls that the aircraft maintainers used to carry individual "wheel books," which they used to make paper notes about important points and problems. The problem was, sharing information between the individual wheel books wasn’t automatic. Now, she notes, being able to enter such information into a linked computer system makes it much easier to share.

Trouble-shooting tips are among the most important capabilities the system offers, Hall believes. When GTRI researchers interviewed maintainers, they learned that knotty maintenance problems can sometimes take a week or more to solve. Now maintainers can share these hard-won solutions with their coworkers via MEPSS.

"When we were designing the system we asked, ’How can we help them save money and time by documenting these kinds of issues?’ " Hall said. "Now the system lets them keep track of things that are not easy to figure out."

John Toon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex

nachricht UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>