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Avionics Training

Installation and
Second Edition

Len Buckwalter

Avionics Communications Inc.

Leesburg, VA, USA
Copyright ©2005, 2007, 2009, 20 10 by Len Buckwalter
ISBN 978- 1-88-554421-6
All ri ghts reserved. No portion of thi s book may be reproduced in any form or in any medium without
the written consent of the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publicati on Data

Buckwalter, Len. "

Avionics training : systems, installation, and troubleshooting / Len Buckwalter.
p. cm.
lncludes index.
ISBN 978-1-88-55442 l-6
I. Avionics-Textbooks. 2. Ai rplanes--Electronic equipment--lnsta llation--Textbooks. 3.
Airplanes--Electron ic equiprnent--Maintenance and repair--Textbooks. I. Title.

TL693.B752 2005
629 . I 35--dc22

Avionics Communications Inc.

P.O. Box 2628
Leesburg, VA 20 177 USA

Tel: 703/777-9535
Fax: 703/777 -9568
E-mail: len@av ioni


Avionics is changing rap idly, thanks to the com- just about anything. It 's the same idea as a personal
puter revo lution, sate llites, digital e lectronics and flat computer and its appl ications software; it 's a word
panel displays, to name a few. These changes are a lso processor, spread sheet or video gamc---at the press of
affecting the direction of avionics training. a few buttons.
Technic ians a half-century ago were "radio me- For the avionics shop, these developments reduce
chanics," removing broken black boxes from ai 1vlanes, the need for bench technic ians to repair down to the
taking the m to the shop and testing the c ircuit. They did component level. M aintaining the new avion ics requires
"all-purpose" maintenance, equally at home on the flight expensi ve automatic test stations beyond the reach of
line or work bench. But as avionics grew more compli- most shops. Today's digita l avionics are sent back to
cated, the job was split in two. One person became the factory or a maj or depot for repair. Some fau lts in
the " installer" ---troubleshooting on the ramp, or mount- this equipment, in fact, will not appea r unl ess tests are
ing and wiring equipment in airpl anes. The other per- repeated over many hours, often in a test cha mber that
son , trained in repairing circuits inside the box , became run s hot and cold. These tasks must be done automa ti-
the " bench technician," skilled in troubleshooting down cally, and not by a tec hnician with a pa ir oftest probes.
to the smallest component. For decades radio shops
separated technical skills this way to service private On the other hand, demand fo r insta llation techni-
cians working on the ramp or Oi ghtline not only re-
aircraft in Gene ra l Aviation.
mains strong but w ill grow. Upgrades for old a ircraft
In the a irlines, the divis ion of labor went further. continue at a remarkable rate because new-ge neration
Flightline maintenance was hand led by radio mechan- equipment makes flying more economical, effic ient and
ics scattered at major airports a long the ir routes, sup- safe. Some avionics return the ir investme nt in as little
ported by A&P mechanics. After a defective radio was as one or two years, then function another ten to twenty.
pulled, it was sent back to the a irline maintenance de-
Airline and c01vorate aircraft must upgrade to fly
pot for repair by benc h technic ians . Amo ng large air-
in the com ing ai r traffic systern---to get more direct
lines, it was usua l to have different be nches for spec ia l-
routes, altitudes with less headwind, fewer delays and
ists in each type of instrument or rad io; autopil ot, auto-
better communication services, a ll of which repay the
mati c direction finder, communications, etc.
cost of avionics and keep passengers happy.
By the l 990's, avionics took off in a new direc-
tion . Manufacturers began bui lding radios with disap-
Beyond the flight deck. A whole new category
called "cabin avionics" is spreading among a irli nes.
pearing parts ! Instead of resistors, capac itors and tubes,
Once ca ll ed " in-flig ht en tertainment ," it adds l nte rnet
they populated them w ith integrated c ircuits encased
connectivity to every seat, e-ma il, global telephone,
in tough e poxy coatings that we re difficult to remove.
video games a nd new for ms of e ntertainment. An air-
Other components no longer had w ires, but were "sur-
liner typically has two or three radios per fu nction in
face mounted" directly to the board.
its instrument pane l--- but hu nd reds of passenger seats
Other areas grew smaller. Radi os had diffe re nt with equipment in the cabin that now fits under the
sections to tune, amplify or produce some othe r func- heading "avionics".
tion but much of that construction is now replaced by
Yet another growth area is the world-w ide ai r traf-
invis ible so ftware, w hich instructs the c hips to become
fie manage ment system under construction. No longer Instead, simplified block diagrams illustrate the func-
w ill a irpla nes move point- to-p oint over la nd or on tion and fl ow of signa ls with arrows. Where the shape
crowded tracks to cross the ocean. They will fly di- of a signa l is important, it is illustrated with graphic
rectly to their destinations in a concept called "Free images.
Fligh t," a new mode which depends on satellite nav i-
gation a nd data communications. Most of what is writte n on avionics is fi ll ed with
abbrev iations a nd acronyms---TAWS, EGPWS, MFD,
The new technician. These developments call fo r TACAN, T CAS---and more. T hey make an unfair
the ski ll s of a technician w ho understands avionics at de mand on the reader because even the most experi-
the systems level---a ll the major function s a nd how enced avionics person must stop at each one and trans-
they relate to each other. Finding trouble fast is c riti- late it to plain English. For this reaso n, abbreviations
cal in ai rline operations, where every minute of delay at and acronym s a re a lmost a lways spe ll ed out in dia-
the gate causes missed connections, lost revenue and grams and in the text where they appear.
angry passengers. In Genera l Avia ti on, corporate a ir-
craft provide vita l transportation for industry. Even the Gender. Throughout this book, a tec hnic ian or
private pilot needs competent servicing for the fl eet of pilot is referred to as " he." The avionics industry is
Iight aircraft fitted with the latest "glass" cockpits ( elec- populated by both genders and this should not be con-
tronic instruments). Ln the pages that follow, som e 30 sidered insensitivity. [t avoids the awkward use of " his/
different systems describe a w ide range of communica- her."
tions and navigation systems aboard aircraft of all sizes Maintenance Information. This book is not meant
and types.
to be a "cook book" ---w ith step-by-step instructions
N FF. A systems understanding reduces one of the fo r ma intenance. It is intended, ra ther, as a guide to
costliest e rrors in avionics maintenance . it's NFF, for understanding man ufactu rer's man uals. A lso, it does
"No Fault Found." The technician pull s a suspicious not rep lace the FAA document on maintenance; Ad-
box and sends it back to the shop for repair. T he re, the visory C ircular 43.1 3 IA-2B. This book is intended
diagnosis finds nothing wrong, and the radio is returned as a backgrou nd to understandi ng manufactu re r's
to service. Or it may be sent back to the factory or manua ls that cover specifi c equipment.
depot. After further testing, the radio is returned la-
Appreciation. I want to thank the manufacturers
belled "NFF." When the radio is re-insta lled on the
w ho provided me with graphic materia l and documents.
airplane, the problem returns. Not only does it waste They are c redited below the ir photo, drawing or text.
hours but often costs the airline over $8000 in diag-
lf the reade r wa nts fur ther information , they are eas-
nostics, labo r a nd shipping. In the genera l aviation ily reached by inserting the ir name in a search engine
shop, the no-fault fou nd not on ly incurs extra expense a long w ith the word "avionics."
and was ted time, but an unhappy customer who loses
confidence in the shop.

Simplified Diagrams. In describing these systems Len Buckwalter

in this book, there are no schematics showing, resis- Leesburg, Virginia
tors, capacitors or other small, interna l compone nts.



Section 1 Systems
Chapter 1. The Meaning of "Avionics" ....................... .................. .1
First Instrument Panel ......... .. ........................ ...... ........ .................. .. ...... 1
"Blind Flying" .......... ... ......................................... ........ .................... ...... 2
All-Glass Cockpit ............................ ............. ... ............ ................. ... .. .... 4

Chapter 2. A Brief History .. ........... ............. ........ ................... .. ........ 6

Sperry Gyroscope ....................................... ............... ............... .. .......... 7
Turn and Bank ............. .......................... ... ............ ....... ....... ............. ..... 8
Morse, Bell and Hertz ............................. ............... ..... .. ............ ............ 9
First Aircraft Radio ....... ........ ............. .. ........... ............... .. ... ........... .. .. .... 10
Lighted Airvvays ................................................... .................................. 11
Jimmy Doolittle; Beginning of Instrument Flight ...... .. ......... ................... 12

Chapter 3. VHF Com (Very High Frequency Communications) ... 16

Acceptable VHF Com Radios .. .... .. ............................... ... .. ............. ... .. . 17
VDR (data rad io) ................................................... .. .. ............................ 17
Navcom Connections ....... ............. ... .. ............. ....... .......... ... ........ ...... .... 18
VHF System .................... ...... ... .... ........ .... ....... ... .......... ... ..... ................ 19
Com Control Panel ............................................................................ ... 20
Com LRU ............ .. ................................... ............. ....................... ........ 20
Splitting VHF Channels ................... .......................... ............ ................ 21

Chapter 4. HF Com (High Frequency Communications) ............. 23

HF Control-Display ....... ................ .......... ................... ........................... 23
HF System ................................................................................. .. ... .... . 24
SSB (Single Sideband) ...... ........................... .. ............ ............. ............. 24
Line Replaceable Units ... .... ............... ............................... ............... .. ... 25
HF Datalink ......................................................................... .................. 25
Control Panel (Airline) .............................. ..................... ........................ 26
HF Transceiver ............... ................................. ............. ............ ............ 26
Antenna Coupler ......................... ............ ... ...... ........................... .......... 27
HF Antenna Mounting ... .. ... .... ........... .............. ..................... ......... ........ 27 -

Chapter 5. Satcom (Satellite Communications) ....... ...... .. ... ......... 29

lnmarsat ............................ ................................................................... 29
Aero System ........ ........................................................... ....... .............. . 31
Space Segment ........................................... ...... ...................... ............. 32
Cell Phones .... ...... ............. ... .. ............................. ............. .................... 33
Ground Earth Station (GES) ............. .............. ....... ............ .. ...... .. .......... 34
Aircraft Earth Station (AES) .. ................... .. .... ....................................... 35
Satcom Antennas for Aircraft ..................................................... ........... 36
Steered Antennas ................... ............. .. ...................... .. .. ...................... 37
High Speed Data ..................... ................... .......................... ............... .. 38
Aero Services ... ............... ...... ...... ....... ............ ... ................................... 39

Chapter 6. ACARS (Aircraft Communication Addressing and ....... 41

Reporting System)
In the Cockpit ... ...... ............................................. ... ........... .................... 4 1
ACARS System ..... .. ................ .. ..... ...................................................... 42

Messages and Format .......................................................................... 43
ACARS Bands and Frequencies .......... .... ......................... .... ..... ........... 45

Chapter 7. Selcal (Selective Calling) ................. ..................... ......... 46

Controller, Decoder ......... ........ ....... ......................... ....... .................... ... 46
How Selcal Code is Generated ...... .. ............................................ ....... .. 47
Ground Network ......................................................... ........................... 47
Selca I Airborne System ................................................... ......... ...... ... .. .. 48

Chapter 8. ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) ............ ............. 50

Search and Rescue .. ..... .. ....... ..... ............................... ....... ........ ........... 51
ELT Components .......................... .. ............................. ......................... 52
406 MHz .............................................. ... ... ........................................... 52
406 ELT System ............................. .. ........... ......................................... 53
Fleet Operation ............................................................... ...................... 54
Cospas-Sarsat ...................................................................................... 55

Chapter 9. VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) .. ............................ 57

Coverage .............................................................................................. 58
VOR Phase ........ .. ........... ............. ...................................... .................. 59
VOR Signal Structure ..................................................................... ....... 60
Subcarrier ................................................... .......................................... 61
VOR Receiver ................... .. ....... ..... ...... ....... ......................... ............... 62
Navigation ............................................................................... .. ........... 63
Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) ......................................... ............. 64
Radio Magnetic Indicator (RMI } ............................................................ 64
Nav Control-Display ................ .............................................................. 65

Chapter 10. ILS (Instrument Landing System) ........... .................... 67

ILS System ........................................................................................... 68
ILS Components and Categories .... ...................................................... 68
Approach Lighting ............................................. .. .................................. 69
Flight Inspection and Monitoring ........................................................... 70
ILS Signals ............ .. ............................... .................................. ............ 71
Glideslope ............................................................................................ 72
Glideslope Receiver .................................. ..... ....................................... 73
Marker Beacon Receiver ............................. ............................... ...... .. .. 74
Marker Beacon Ground Station .............................. ............................... 74

Chapter 11. MLS (Microwave Landing System) ................. ........ .... 76

Azimuth Beam ...................................................................................... 77
Elevation Beam ..... ..... ............. ... ....................... .... ............................ ... 78
Time Reference ................. .. ..... .......... .. .. ........ ..................................... . 79
Multimode Receiver ... .. .................................... .............................. ...... . 79

Chapter 12. AOF (Automatic Direction Finder) ............................. 81

Radio Magnetic Indicator .. .......... ............................. ................. .. .......... 82
Sense ......... ..... .. ....... ............. ....... ...................................... ...... ............ 82
ADF System ......... .......... ...................................................................... 83
NOB (Non-Directional Radio Beacon) ................................... .... .. .......... 83
Control-Display (Airline) ......... ..... .. ........ ....... .. ... ...... .......... .. .. ............. ... 84
Line-Replaceable Unit (Airline) ..................... .. .......... .............. ............. .. 84
Limitations ........... ................ .... ... ......... .......................... ....................... 85
Digital ADF ......................... ........... ......... .. ............................ ................ 85
EFIS Display ......... ................................................................................ 86

Chapter 13. DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) ...................... 88

Obtaining Distance ................................................................................ 89
DME "Jitter" for Identification ............ .. ................................ .. ................ 89
EFIS Display of DME ........................................ ........... ......................... 90
Airborne and Ground Stations ................... .......................... ........... ....... 91

Channels X and Y ....................................... ...................... ............ .. ...... 92

Chapter 14. Transponder .. ..... .......................... ........ ............. ......... 94

Control-Display ........... ....... ................................................................. .. 94
Transponder Interrogator ........................ ..................... ...... ...... ....... ....... 95
Panel-Mount .......... ..... .. ................................ ...... ...... ..... ... .................... 96
ATC RBS and Mode S ......... ........ ...... .................... ................................ 96
Transponder System ... .. ............. ...... .. ................................................ ... 97
Airline Control-Display .. ...... .................... .................... ............. .. .. ......... 98
Line-Replaceable Unit .... ............................................ ......... .................. 98
Mode S Interrog ations and Replies ................................. ......... ... ..... .. .. . 98

Chapter 15. Radar Altimeter ......................................... .................. 104

Antennas ............ ........... .. .. .......... .................. ... ... .. ....... ............. ....... .. .. 105
Operation ............. .................. ................... .. .... ......... ..... ......... ...... ......... 106

Chapter 16. GPS/Satnav (Satellite Navigation) .. ........ ... ................ . 108

GPS Constellation ..... ... .................. .. .... ............ ........................... ......... 109
Frequencies ............................................................... ........................... 110
Satnav Services .. ... ............. ................................................................. 111
Panel-Mount Receiver ...... ........ .. ... ............................................... ....... . 111
Time Difference Measurement ........................................ ........ ............. . 111
Finding Position ........ .. ...... .................... ............ .. ... .......... ... ......... ... ...... 112
The Satellite Signal .......................................................................... ..... 113
GPS Segments ...................................... ....... .... .. .. .. ... ... ........................ 114
WMS: Wide Area Augmentation System ................................. ............ 114
Second Frequency for Civil Aviation ............................ .. ..... .. .... ..... ....... 112
LMS: Local Area Augmentation System ................................... ........ ... 11 6
RAIM: Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring ................................. 117
Galileo Constellation .................... ...... ............ .. ..... ........ ....... ....... .. ........ 118

Chapter 17. EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System) ............... 120

Electromechanical to EFIS .................... ............................................... 122
Three-Screen EFIS ........................................................... .................... 123
EFIS Architecture .............. .................... ................................................ 124
Multifunction Display (MFD) ... .. .............. ...... .............. ... ................. .. ... .. 125
EFIS on the B-747 ......... .............. ............ ............... ..... ..................... .. .. 126
Airbus A-320 Flight Deck ..................................................... ................. 127

Chapter 18. Cockpit Voice and Flight Data Recorders ................... 129
CVR Basics .......................................................................................... 129
Underwater Locating Device (ULD) ....... .... ......... ....... ............... .......... ... 131
CVR Interconnect .............................................. ...... ............... ....... ....... 132
Flight Data Recorder: Solid State .............................. ... ... ...................... 134
Flight Data Recorder: Stored Information ...... ............. ............ ......... ...... 135

Chapter 19. Weather Detection .... ..................................... ............. 136

Radar Color-Coding ....... .. ..... ........ .......... ..................... .. ............ .. ......... 137
Multifunction Display .............................................. ....... ... ..... ........... .. ... 137
Types of Detection ... ......... ............. .. ................ .. .................. ........ .. ....... 138
Radar Transmitter-Receiver ................ ....... ........ .. ................. ....... .. ....... 139
Weather Radar Control Panel .................... .. ..... ..................... .. ... .. ........ 140
Lightning Detection .... ...... ........ ...... ...................... .................. .. ...... ... ... . 140
Radar Antenna ................. .. ......................... ................................... ...... . 141
Datalink ........... .. ........................ ............... .. .. .... ... ....... ... ....................... 14 1
Ra domes ........ ............. ................................. .......... ... .. ............ ... .... .... .. 142
Rado me Boot ........... .. ......... ....... .................... ........ .......................... .. .. 142
Windshear .................................. .......... .......................... .. ... ................. 143
Lightning Detection ................ ........................... ....... .............. ............... 145
Windshear Computer ........ .. .......... ... ... .. .. ........... ...... ............................. 144

Satellite Datalink ........................ .. ..... .............................................. ...... 145

Chapter 20. TCAS

(Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System) .............. 147
Basic Operation .................................................................................... 148
Traffic and Resolution Advisories (TA, RA) ............................................ 150
TCAS System ...................... ................................ ................................. 150
TCAS I and II ... .. ................................................................ ............ ...... . 150
Coordinating Climb and Descend ........................................ .................. 150
TCAS Components .. ................... ......... ................. ............... ................. 150
Whisper-Shout ................ ....................... .... .. ..... .................................... 151
Directional Interrogation ................................................. ....................... 151
Non-TCAS Airplanes ......................... ............. ................. ...................... 152
TCAS Ill ...................... ......... ......................................................... ........ 152
Voice Warnings ..................................................................................... 152

Section 2 Installation

Chapter 21. Planning the Installation ............................................. 154

Replacing "Steam Gauges" ................. ................................ .. .......... ...... 155
Required Instruments and Radios .................... .. .................. ................. 156
Flight Instrument Layout .................... ....... ............................................ 157
Basic T .................................................................... ............................. 157
Large Aircraft EFIS ... ....... ............ ....... ...... ............... .. ... ........ ....... .. ... .... 158
Flat Panel Integrated ............................................................................ 159
Avionics Planning Worksheet ............................. .................................. . 160
Manuals and Diagrams ......................................................................... 161
Installation Drawing .................... .. ................ ....................................... .. 162
Connectors and Pin Numbers ...... ............ .. ........................................... 162
Pin Assignments ... ... ................................. .. .... ...... ... .. ... ............ ...... ...... 163
Schematic Symbols .................... .......................................................... 164
Viewing Angle ......... ...... ........ ........ .... .. ..... ...................... .. .......... ...... .. ... 165
Survey Airplane ... ................................................................................. 165
Navcom Connections, Typical ...... .......... ............................................ ... 166

Chapter 22. Electrical Systems ..... ... ... .. .... . ... ..... ... ..... ..... ... .. .. . ... .. .. 168
AC and DC Power ...................................................... .......................... 168
DC System ....... ........................................ ......................... ................... 169
Airline Electrical System ........... .. ...... .................. .......... ................. ....... 171
Switches ............................................................................................... 172
Lighted Pushbutton .. ................................. .......... .............. .................... 174
Circuit Breakers/Fuses ................................ .......................................... 173

Chapter 23. Mounting Avionics ................................................ ....... 178

New or Old Installation? .................................... .. .............................. .... 179
Hostile Areas ........................................................................................ 179
Selecting Metal ................ .. ........ ..... .......................... ................... ......... 179
Cutting Holes ......................................................................... ............... 180
Structures ........................................................ .. .................................. . 181
Avionics Bay ..................... ................ .. .......................... ........................ 182
Airlines (ARING) MCU Case Sizes ............................. ............. .. ..... ....... 183
ATR Case Sizes .................................. .................................................. 184
Electrostatic Discharge .. .............................................................. ......... 185
Cooling ............................................................................................... .. 186
Cooling for Airline Avionics ................................................................... . 187
Locking Radios in Racks .. .......................... ...... .. ...... ...... ....................... 188

Panel-Mounted Radios ................... .. ............................. .................... .... 188
Remote-Mounted Radios (Corporate) ................................................... 190
Airline Mounting .................................................................................... 191
Locking Systems (Airline) ..................................................................... 192
Indexing Pins ................................... ............................ ......................... 193
Integrated Modular Avionics ........ ................................. .. ...... .. ............... 194
Instrument Mounting ..................................................... .. ...................... 195
Round Instruments: 2- and 3-inch ......................................... ................ 196
Airline Instrument Mounting ....... ... ... ....................................... .. ..... ...... 197

Chapter 24. Connectors ............. ................ ................................ .... 199

Typical Connectors ........................ ....................................................... 200
RF Connectors ... ............. ... .... .. ................................................ ............. 200
How to Identify Connector Contacts ................................ .......... ............ 201
Contact Selection ....... .. .. .. ... ......................................................... ......... 201
Identify Mil-Spec Part Numbers ................. ....... ....... ................ ..... ...... .. 202
Coaxial Connectors, Typical ........... ............................. ............. .. ........... 203
ARING Connectors ... ............................................................................ 203
Crimping Contacts ................................................ ..... .. ................... .. .... 205
Releasing Connector Pins ...................... ............. .. ................................ 207
Heat Gun for Shrink Tubing .......................... .. ... ........ .......................... . 207
Safety Wiring Connectors ............................................................... ...... 208
Attaching Coaxial Connectors .. ............................................................. 204

Chapter 25. Wiring the Airplane ............................................. ........ 210

Swamp ................................. ....................................... ................... .. .... 210
High Risk Areas ......................... .. .. ............................. .. ........................ 211
Selecting Wire ....................... ........... ...... .. .................. .. ....... ...... .. ......... 213
High-Grade Aircraft Wire .............. ........... ... ...... ...... ...................... .. ....... 213
Wire Sizes ... .. ............................................ ...... ............. .............. ........ .. 214
Wire and Cable Types ................................ .................................. ..... ... 215
Wire Stripping ........................ .. ..... ...... ................................... ..... .. ........ 2 16
Nicked or Broken Wires ......... ................................... ..................... .. ..... 217
Precut Cables· ..... ............. .................................. .. ........................... ..... 217
Splicing Wires ................................................................... ...... .............. 217
Location of Splices ............................................. ................................... 218
Ring Terminals ...... ....... ...... ........ ....... .. ... ........................... ............. ....... 219
Terminal Strip (Block) .......... .............................................. .................... 219
Marking Wires ....... ...... ....... ........ .. .................................................... .... 220
Harnessing the Wire Bundle ................................ ................................. 222
Tie Wraps .. ....... .... .................................................. .. ........................ .... 223
Problems: Chafing and Abrasion ........................................................... 224
Clamping .. .. ............................................................ ............. ................. 224
Grounding to Airframe ....... .......................................................... ....... ... 227
Bending Coaxial Cable ................. ........................... ........ ....... ............ .. 228
Service Loops .. ..................................................................................... 229

Chapter 26. Aviation Bands and Frequencies ............ ................... 230

Radio Frequency Bands ................................................................... ..... 231
Higher Bands (Microwave, Millimeter) ............................... .. ............ ...... 232
Low Frequencies ... ........ ....... ....... .......................... .... ..................... .. .. ... 232
Skipping through Ionosphere ..................... ............. ....... ....... ....... ...... .... 233
High Frequencies .. ........ .............. ....................................................... ... 233
Very High Frequencies .................. ............. ...... .. ....... ..... ................. ...... 234
L-Band .......................................................................................... ....... . 234
From Hertz (Hz) to Gigahertz (GHz) .............................................. .. ..... 234
Line of Sight Communications ......... .................. ... .... ............................ 235
Control and Display of Bands and Frequencies ......................... ...... ...... 236

Chapter 27. Antenna Installation .......... ................................ .......... 239

Antennas for Airline, Corporate and Military Aircraft ............. .............. ... 240

How to Read an Antenna Spec Sheet ...................................... ............. 241
Antennas for Light Aircraft ............................. ...... .. ...... ............. .. .......... 242
Airline Antenna Locations ............................ .................. ........................ 243
Antenna Types .......................................... ...... .......................... ....... ..... 244
Location ................... .............. ....................... ......................... .... ... ...... .. 245
Bonding the Antenna to the Airframe ....... ....................................... ....... 248
Antenna Mounting ............... ......................... ....... ......................... ......... 249
Antenna Couplers ....... ................... ....... ......... ................... ... .. .. ........... .. 251
Base Station and Mobile Antennas ...................... .. ......................... ....... 252
GPSAntennas .......... ........................ .. ... .................. ...................... ... .. .. 251

Chapter 28. Panel Labels and Abbreviations ................................ 254

Silk Screen, Engraving, Tape ... .... .................. .. ..................................... 254
Panel Abbreviations ........ ............................ ...... .. ............. ............. ........ 255

Section 3
Chapter 29. Test and Troubleshooting .......................................... 261
ADF .... ......................................................................................... ......... 262
Antennas ..... ...... .. .... ....... .................................. ........ ..... ........ ........... .. .. 263
Antenna VSWR .............................................................................. ...... 263
Autopilots ............... .... ... ...................................... .................... ..... ......... 264
Com Transceivers .......... ..... ..... ....... .. .......... ........ ................... ... ............ 264
DME .. ...... ............. .................... ............................................................ 265
ELT-Emergency Locator Transmitter ..................................................... 266
Glideslope Receiver ....... .. .... ............. ............. ........ .............. ................. 266
Lightning Strikes ...... .. .... ........................... ................... .................... ..... 266
Software Loading .. ................................................................................ 267
Transponder .............. ................... .............. .......... ... ............ ........ ......... 267
VOR .................... ......................................................... .. ...................... 268
Wiring and Connectors ......................... ....................................... ......... 270
Fault Detection Device (Wiring) ...... .............. ...... .................................. 271
Precipitation (P) Static ............................................... ............ ............... 273
Avionics Checklist ... ......................... ...... .............. ... .. .. .......................... 274

About the Author ............................ ............... ........... ....................... 275


Chapter 1

The Meaning of "Avionics"

The wo rd "avionics" first appeared in the l 940's and the "computer on a chip." Small in size and light
during World Wa r II. Derived from "aviation electron- weight, they consume little power, have few mov ing
ics," it referred to fire control systems aboard U. S. parts a nd, some believe, w ill operate a hundred years
Navy aircraft. During that time, the civilian world called without wearing out. Mi ll ions of semiconductors w ithin
it "aircraft radio" or "av iation electronics." Tcclrni- the size o f a postage stamp created the microprocessor,
cian s w ho re pa ired them were known as "radio me- which quickly became known as the "computer on a
chanics." c hip." It triggered the greatest technical achievement
Avionics remained a mi litary te rm for 30 more of the 20th Century; dig ital electronics. For the first
years. C iv il aviation could not afford the systems aboard time, an aircraft radi o could not only rece ive, amplify,
military a ircraft. Not only was equ ipment built to mili- oscillate, filter and perfom1 other simple functions; now
ta ry specifications, but each fighte r and bomber had it could perform log ic, store large amou nts of data, send
its own av ionics suite that fit no other model. thousands of pieces of information down one pair of
But the world was rapidly changing as new com- wires, wa rn of prob lems, co1Tect its own errors---and
pone nts eme rged from research labs; the tra ns istor, that's just the beginning .
integrated circuit, flat-pane l display, solid-state memory

First Instrument Panel


The three instruments shown

here are ancestors of what will
become "avionics" in 50 yea rs.
Th e y w ere inst alled in the
Wright Flyer that made the first
successful powered flight in
1903. Although mechanically
operate d, th ese gauges will
evolve into electronic instru-
ments that comprise avionics
on every type of 21st-Century PROP COUNTER
Thus the Wright brothers not (RPM)
only deserve credit for invent-
ing the first practical airplane,
but the concept of an instru-
ment panel in view of the pilot
to provide valuable flight infor-

Early Gauges

The Curtiss JN (" Jenny" ) was the first airplane

to fly the US mail in 1918. But a look at the
instrument panel shows why pilots were killed
while trying to live up to the Post Office motto;
" Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night...stays
these couriers from their appointed rounds." No
pilot can fly an airplane in very low visibility with-
out " attitude" instruments to replace the sight
of the horizon. Even flying at night was consid-
ALTIMETER MAGNETIC ered by an emergency by U.S. Army regulations.

First "Blind Flying" Instruments

Afte r the Wright brothers, Ch arl es Lindbergh

made the most famous flight in aviation history.
In 1927 he flew solo f rom New York to Pari s in
a little over 33 hours. Although celebrated as a
hero throughout the world, Lindbergh had more
than skill a nd courage. His pane l had a turn- 1927 cockpit. Spirit of St. Louis
and -b ank, a gyroscopic inst rument that indi-
cated how rapidly the airplan e turned left or
right. Without such guidance, he could not have
penetrated bad w eather and low vi sibility (still
the major cau se of fatalities among low-time pi-
lots ). Lindb ergh ' s airpl an e, the Spirit of St.
Loui s, h ad another important instrument; an
earth inductor compass, s hown in the panel. It
was powered by an a nemometer atop the fuse-
lage (photo at right). This w as an improvement
ove r the simple magnetic compass, which is dif-
ficult to rea d in turbulence. Today, the earth-
inducto r compass is known as a " flux gate" and
is standard o n all but the s mallest aircraft.

Wind-drive n a n e mom eter p owere d Lindbe rgh 's

earth-i nductor compass

Higher Tech , Lower Cost
. . The new devices were snapped up. not on ly by the
military but the telecommunications and consumer elec-
troni cs industries. Semiconductors created hundreds Airline View of Avionics
ofnew products, from the personal computer and DVD,
to data networks, cell phones and high-definition TV •Line Maintenance •Air Conditioning
"Ch ips" became building blocks of the Internet. Mass •Test Systems •In-Flight Entertainment
production reduced prices so far that a hobbyist •Communications •Engine Systems
could bui ld digital projects with parts from the she lfof •Indicating Systems •Fire Detection
a local radi o store. •Navigation •Landing Gear
These devices were embraced by aviation, w hich •Autoflight
• Flight Controls
continuous ly seeks to reduce size, weight and power
• Electrical Power
consumption . Old vacuum tubes were replaced by tiny •Lightin g
integrated circuits that deliver many more functions.
By the l 980's the term "aviation electronics," over a
half-century old, no longer described a cutting-edge in- These major topics are discussed each year at
dustry. Manufacturers, repair shops, parts distribu- the Avionics Maintenance Conference, run by
ARINC, the airline avionics organization . The
tors, airlines and general aviation sensed the need fo r a left column shows traditional avionics. But as
better term to replace "aviation electronics." And what electronics creep into other systems, shown in
better word than---"avionics?" During that period, "avi- the right column, they often become the respon-
onics'' also appeared for the first time in volumes of sibility of avionics maintenance.
FAA regulations on aircraft electronics.

The first generation of the new avionics was so

successful, it began to outclass the military. Airlines,
business jets and private aircraft were outfitted with
fl at-panel displays, anti-collision systems, fli ght man- ln the airlines, the digital revolution just about
agement and GPS---long before they reached mi Iitary eliminated the problem of " mid-airs." After two air-
cockpits. Recognizing the trend, the U.S. Department liners collided over the Grand Canyon in 1956 the FAA
of Defense launched a cost-saving program known as investi gated several anti-col lision systems. Every de-
"COTS," for Commercial Off the Shelf equipment. s ign fail ed because of high cost, weight, size or an
Today, many military a ircraft are outfitted w ith c ivil- inability to detect small a ircraft. One system required
ian avionics of high capability. an on-board atomic clock, which cost more than most
Getting out the Mechanicals
But as the price of computing power dropped,
An early example of how the new techno logy was
"TCAS" (Traffic A lert and Collis ion Avoida nce Sys-
applied is the King KX- 170, a combi ned navigation and
tem) became practical. It warns when two aircraft
communications radio (or "navcom"). Despite rugged
head toward each other with a closing speed over 1,000
construction it contained large mechanical switches with
miles per hour---and detects most small aircraft not
dozens of contacts that inevitably failed.
equipped with TCAS.
When semicondu ctors became avai lable, the
manufacturer not on ly eliminated mechanical switch-
ing, but added functions to reduce pilot workload. A Gauges: From Round to Rectangular
new model , the KX-155, could store frequenc ies and By the l970's cockpits of aircraft began to lose
give the equi valent of two radios-in-one. An elec- their "steam gauge" appearance, where instrument pan-
tronic display elim inated rotating mechanical drums and els resemble an 1830 railway locomotive. ]nstcad of
painted numbers, shrinking the size of the radio and round dials and pointers, the new look became the "glass
free ing up valuable panel space. cockpit," where sepa rate gauges are rep laced by im-
ages on a C RT or flat panel LCD. The system is called
Di gital electronics also introduced systems that "EF IS," for Electronic Flight lnstrument System and it
were impossible to build with old technology. The Stonn- rapidly spread through every size ai rcraft.
scope appeared as the first practical thunderstorm de-
tector for small a ircraft. Other companies looked at Today, a blank screen may become any instrument-
the poor accuracy of fue l gauges. creating a digital --altim eter, airspeed, tachomctcr----or a ll s imu lta-
fuel fl ow instrument that measures fue l consumption neously. It's done by modifying software, or simply
precisely, and also tells time and fuel to a destination. changin g the plug on the back during installation. This

Toward the All-Glass Cockpit

The trend toward the "all-glass" cockpit is seen in this the pilot an uncluttered view of the instrument panel.
instrument panel for a Cirrus aircraft. Round gauges The large Primary Flight Display shows all flight in-
are replaced by large LCD screens which produce im- struments, weather, moving map and traffic. The Mul-
ages of any instrument. What remains of the old-style tifunction Display can also show these functions. Hav-
panel is at the lower left, where standby instruments ing two such displays enables the pilot to put flight
act as backup. In the center stack, GPS navigation instruments on one screen and navigation and terrain
and communications are integrated into one radio, with on the other. This advanced cockpit is neither a mili-
a backup below it. There are no large control yokes. tary nor airline system , but in a kit-built airplane. The
Th ey are replaced by sidestick controllers which give large panel displays are Avidyne 's Flight Max.

te ll s the screen what it will be. This also reduces the excess temperature and pressure. Each year the avia-
num ber of spares needed on the shelf, a great cost ben- tion industry moves closer to what it calls the "all-elec-
efit to a irlines flying far-fl ung routes. tric airpl ane," a concept that wi ll slash heavy oil-fi lled
hydrauli c lines, steel control cables and hundreds of
More than CNS miles of copper wire. ln their place will be thin wires
As the term "avionics" established itself in the carry ing multiple messages (the "databus" ) to electric
civil world , it divided into three categories often called actuators. These airplanes will fly fa rther on less fuel
"CNS"---Communications, Navigation and Surveillance and in greater safety. Airliners arc already equipped with
(the last referring to radar surveill ance). CNS includes the first of the "fl y-by-wire" systems.
most avionics systems installed on the airplane. An au-
topilot, for example, falls under "Navigation," a tran- The growth of avionics is also refl ected in the price
sponder is a component of"Surveillance." tags of aircraft. In the transport aircraft of 1945-
1950, about fi ve percent of the cost was e lectrica l,
The list of avionics, however, grows longer. A radio and lighting systems. Some 20 years later, that
look at the agenda of the Av ionics Ma intenance Con- portion quadrupled to about 20 percent. More recently,
ference (an airline organization) reveals more than airlines added the most costl y and extensive electronics
CNS. One-third of the new items were never consid- aboard aircraft. l t is IFE, or In-F light Entertainment,
ered avionics or even aircraft e lectroni cs (see table also called "cabin e lectronics." If an airplane has 300
"A irline View of Avionics). What happened is that en- seats, that means 300 IFE installations, each wired for
gineers began using sem iconductors to replace sections audio, video, satellite phone, Internet and other services.
of mechanical and hydrauli c systems. The nose wheel In the military sector, the cost of a figh ter aircraft rose
steering of a LcarJet, fo r example, is by microproces- to more than 40 percent for avionics.
sor. Engine control is no longer th ro ugh levers and
steel cable. lt is done by FADEC, for Full Authority These percentages can only increase. Airplanes
Digita l Eng ine Contro l, whi ch provides better fue l divide into three main sections; airframe, propu lsion
economy, precise engine settings and protection against and avion ics. Airframes have grown larger bu t they
still fl y with the three-ax is control system patented by
the W right brothe rs. ln propulsion, the jet eng ine is a (I nte rnational Civil Aviat ion O rganization) deliberated
ma rvel of re liabili ty and power, but it still works on fo r 20 years. They agreed that tech no logy is here and
a basic princ iple---actio n a nd reaction---dcfin ed by aviation is ready for its biggest change in moving more
lsaac Newton 300 year ago. airplanes safely within limited airspace, and provide
passenger services to make the flight enjoyable and pro-
Avionics, on the other hand, re-invents itself nearly ductive. Nearly all the systems--- described through-
every te n years, providing the industry w ith fres h solu- out thi s book---are created from bu ild ing b locks pro-
tions to rising fue l pri ce , fewe r a irports a nd crowded vided by avionics.
skies. To find a nswers for the 2 1st Century, two hun-
dred countries of the world under the banner of !CAO

Review Questions
Chapter 1 The Meaning of Avionics

1.1 In the first solo across the Atlantic in 1927, how l. 7 What replaces early "steam gauges" in air-
did Charles Lindbergh keep control of the airplane craft instrument panels?
while flying in clouds and darkness?
1.8 How can the function of an electronic instru-
1.2 Name three instruments used by the Wright ment be easily changed?
Brothers in their first flight that marked the begin-
ning of what would become "avionics". l.9 What does "CNI," which describes basic func-
tio ns of avionics, stand for?
1.3 What generated power for Lindbergh's earth-
inductor compass? 1.10 What docs the term "FA DEC" mean?

1.4 Why do airlines consider the following sys- t.ll Na me the world body that deliberates fu -
tems part of "avionics" : air conditioning, fire de- ture aviation technology?
tection, landing gear?
1.12 "Avionics" is a contraction of
1.5 What technology was widely adopted in avion- and
ics to reduce size a nd weight, as well as provide - - --
greatly increased function.

1.6 What system, made possible by digital elec-

tronics, greatly reduces the problem of mid-air col-

Chapter 2

A Brief History

T he inve nti on of the a irpla ne is tied to the begin- sastrous . Many air ma il pilots lost the ir lives in crashes
ning of radio. Both arri ved at about the same time; the w here nothing went w rong with the a irpl ane. Some-
W ri ght brothers made the first powered fli ght in I 903, how, w hen fog or c loud obscured a pi lot's view out-
two years after Marconi sent the first radi o messages s ide, even the most ski lled p ilot couldn't keep the a ir-
2 I 00 miles over the Atlantic from England to Canada. plane straight and level. For this reason, military pi lots
U ntil then, peopl e fl ew in hot a ir balloons or g lided were warned that flying at nigh t is an emergency. This
downhill in oversize kites. Radio was a laboratory cu- inability to remain upright in less than visua l condi-
riosity and one of its early experimenters ( He rtz ) didn 't tions a lso held back early a irliners. A passenger fly ing
think much wo uld come of it. from New York to L os Angeles hardly ga ined tim e over
Aviation a nd radio quickly grew together w ith the riding the ra ilroad . When da rkness fell, he got off the
coming of World Wa r I ( I 9 14), when a irplanes proved a irpla ne, boarded a n overnight tra in---t he n reboarded
to be deadly fighting mac hines. Whe n the war e nded, the airplane in the morning.
barnstorming pilots spread over the count1yside, amaz-
ing people w ith stunts and j oy rides in ope n bi-planes. First Radio Waves Over the Atlantic
But w hen the young industry atte mpted to get serious
by transporting people a nd ma il--- the results we re di- G. Marconi, after experi-
menting at his home in
Italy, was first to com-
municate long distances
by radio. In a 1901 dem-
onstration, he sent sig-
nals over two thousand
miles. The first mes-
sage was three dots---
the letter "S" in Morse
code. Early aircraft ra-
dio adopted the
Marconi system, which
consisted of a spark
transmitter and mag-
netic detector for re-
The first practical use of aviation and electronics
ceiving. Although not
began at nearly the same time. The Wright Broth-
known in 1901, the ra-
ers' first powered flight was 1903. The first radio
dio signals had travelled great distances by "skipping"
message was sent from England to Canada in 1901 .
from an electrical layer known as the ionosphere.
Skipping is still used today by long-range aircraft with
high frequency (HF) communications.
What went wrong? The av iati on community di s- no fee ling the ai rplane is turning and descending. That's
covered that, no matter how ex perienced the pilot, he what confronted the budding aviatio n industry. Unless
cannot contro l a n a irpla ne when unable to see outside. a pilot had arti ficial guidance inside the cockpit, ai r-
Whether it's fog, cloud, blowing snow, dust or othe r planes would remain in the realm of barnstorming and
obscuration, any pilot is about five mi nutes from los- a ir racing.
ing control.
The breakthrough happened whe n E lmer Sperry
No pilot can outwit the Barany
chair. Just a few slow turns
invented the " turn a nd bank" indicator. Using a gyro-
and reversals while blind - scope as a stabl e platform, a need le on the instrument
folded remove the sense of showed when the a irplane entered a turn . If the pilot
which way is up. Without the
eye, humans sense balance by
an inner-ear mechanism, Sperry Gyroscope
which is confused by motion (1914}
of the chair.
Unless the pilot flies by in-
The greatest single
struments after entering a
device for aviation
cloud, a " graveyard spiral"
safety was the gyro-
begins in about five m inutes.
scopic instrument, a
spinning wheel that
remains stable, even
This is clearly demonstrated by FAA in its noto- as the aircraft maneu-
rious " Barany chair," which is demonstrated at air shows vers . This pro vides
and safety meetings. A pilot sits in the cha ir blind- the pilot with a refer-
fo lded. The instructor turns the chair (which is on a ence within the cock-
pit when he cannot
rotating base) at moderate speed. After several revolu- see outside. A gyro is
tions, the c ha ir is stopped and the pilot asked, " Point to shown here with
the d irection that yo u 're turning." As the pi lots points, Elmer Sperry, the in-
the audience breaks into la ughter; he or she is pointing ventive genius who
applied it to the turn-and-bank indicator, the first life-
in the opposite direction. Jt is comical to watch , but is
saving device for instrument flight. Sperry went on to
a lso the g reatest killer of pilots. The accident report develop the artificial horizon, autopilot and other sys-
reads; "Continued VFR (visual ) fli ght into lM C (In- tems based on gyroscopes.
strument M eteorol ogical Conditions)."
T he reason is that the eye is the prima ry organ fo r
indicating "which way is up ." When vision outside is " Look ... no hands!"
blocked, however, the inner ear, which contro ls sense
o f bala nce, takes over. The proble m is, the balance
mechanism is easily foo led. Whe n the Barany chair
turns, the i1rner ear responds first to acceleration. When
the chair is stopped the pilot senses deceleration. But
the rotating motion of the c hair confuses the inne r ear
and the pilot g ives the wrong answer when asked which
way he 's turning.

Now transfer this scenario to an airplane ente ring

a c lo ud . T he untrained pilot looks out the w indows and
secs solid gray. Let's assume a gust of turbulence moves Sperry also used the gyroscope to design the first
one w ing down---then, a second or two later the w ing autopilot. A remarkable demonstration in 1914 is
slow ly returns to level by itself. T his cau ses the same shown above. Sperry's son, Lawrence, is in the
phenomenon as in the Bara ny cha ir, causing the pilot pilot's seat, holding his arms away from the flight
controls. Standing on the wing to the left is a me-
to correct in the w ron g direction. T he airplane enters a
chanic, whose weight should cause the wing to
tightening spiral from which the re is rarely a recovery. drop. The airplane, however, is stabilized by
Sperry's gyro control system and remains level.
To worsen matters, there is another fa lse c lue. In The inventor wins France's Airplane Safety Com-
straight and level flight, a pilot fee ls gravity pushing petition (50,000 francs} and the distinguished 1914
Collier Trophy in the U.S.
him into the seat. But in a turn, centrifuga l fo rce starts
acting on his body---a nd it fee ls exactly like gravity.
T he pi lot believes he is still sitting verticall y and has

It Started With Turn-and-Bank

This simple turn-and-bank indicator was a break-

through that turned the flying machine into a practical
airplane. Developed by Elmer Sperry and his gyroscope,
the instrument began the quest for all-weather operations.
A pilot could now fly with confidence inside clouds,
approach airports during low visibility and fly safely on
dark, moonless nights.
The instrument indicates if the airplane is turning.
The turn needle remains centered so long as the wings
are level. But if a gust lowers a wing, the airplane starts a
turn, causing the needle to move to one side of center.
Shown here is a turn to the right, as the needle moves
under the right tick mark, usually called a "dog house."
The pilot now knows he should apply left aileron to bring
the wings back to level, which stops the turn.
The instrument does not show bank angle, or posi-
tion , of the wings. It indicates only "rate of turn"---or
how fast the airplane is turning. This is sufficient infor- The effectiveness of the turn and bank instrument
mation to keep the wings level. If the pilot wants to turn, was shown during Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across
he lowers a wing with the aileron and puts the needle on the Atlantic to Paris in 1927. During the ocean crossing
the "dog house." The airplane now turns at the rate of 3 he spent several hours on the instrument to fly through
degrees per second. bad weather.
The ball at the bottom is not a gyro instrument, but The turn and bank is sometimes called the "turn-
moves freely. It helps the pilot coordinate the turn with and-slip indicator," and is still required in many aircraft
the rudder (or the airplane would slip or skid in the air). as a backup. A later version is called a "turn coordinator.
Keeping the ball centered with the rudder during a turn Today, an improved gyro instrument, the artificial hori-
assures good control of the airplane when there is no zon, is the primary reference for instrument flying .
view outside.

kept the needle centered. the airplane remained in level li ghthouse) every 10 miles along the route. It was an
fli ght. Sperry's device removed a maj or obstacle to immediate s uccess; a irplanes could fly at night, speed-
depe ndable flight operations. ing mail and passengers in less time. T he day of navi-
gating by compass, chart and timepiece seemed to be
Instruments were g rea tl y im proved by 1929 over.
through the work of Jimmy Doolittle ( who later became
a n Air Corps Genera l in World War 11). He came up But it soon became painfully obvious that light
w ith the idea of an a11ific ial hori zo n that displayed the cannot penetrate fog, clouds and heavy snow. The an-
wings of an a irpla11e against a hori zon li ne. As the ai r- swer was to abandon guida nce by light and create a ir-
plane maneuvers, the pilot sees miniature w ings bank ways formed by radio waves, which easily move through
left or ri ght, and rise and fall with the angle of the any for m of precipitation.
nose. By showing w ing and nose position ---roll and
p itc h--- on one instrum ent, the d isplay is easy to fl y The I 930's saw g reat advances in radi onaviga tion
because it recreates w hat the pilot sees through the w ind- and the growth of commercia l avia tion. Let's look at
s hie ld o n a c lear day. The artific ial ho ri zon was de- milestones that merged aviation and e lectronics into one
s ig ned around Sperry's gyros . of the fastest, safest for ms of transpo11ation.

Now that an a irp lane could be controlled in a l-

most any vis ibility conditio n, aviation was ready fo r
the next adva nce; the g uida nce req ui red to fly to cross-
country to a destination a irport and make a safe land-
ing. The first attempt placed a Iightcd beacon ( Iike a

Morse and the Code First Voice Transmissi on

Code keys were found

aboard long-range aircraft
of the 1930's. Radio
operato rs were called
" brass pounders."

Samuel FB Morse was first to transmit informatio n by

electrical signals. In an 1836 demonstration between
Baltimore and Washington, DC, letters are encoded
into dot and dashes. The first message: "What hath
God wrought?"
Early aircraft used Morse code because voice was
not possible until the invention of the vacuum tube.
Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, was
Morse code survives today as the identifier for thou-
first to transmit voice through wires (1876). The tech-
sands of radionavigation stations. To avoid naviga-
nique is later applied to wireless voice transmission
tio n error, pilots must listen to a station's identifier be-
and adopted by aviation for air-ground communica-
fore using the signal (although many stat ions are tions .
also identified by voice).
Bell announced his next project would be a "flying ma-
chine. " He worked closely with Glenn Curtiss, who im-
proved airplane design after the Wright brothers accom-
plished the first successful flights.

Hertz Demonstrates Radio Waves

2. Spark produtu tltdromaa:acli• wans
J . •:rcctrom11nctic wavn create ' /
electric c•rnnt J• n,oa1•or. pro•
duce• ,m,11,park ia ,park i•p ~ j ·•• I',
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In a Berlin laboratory in 1887, Prof. Heinrich Hertz sends radio waves

across a room. A transmitter (on the right) discharges sparks across
a gap, creating radio waves. A receiver (left) responds by producing
sparks (the received signal) across metal balls. The Professor is hon-
ored 160 years later when his name becomes the term to describe
He inrich Hertz radio frequency as " hertz." Meaning the number of cycles per sec-
ond, it's now written as kilohertz (kHz), megahertz (MHz), gigahertz
(GHz), etc.
After the experiment, Prof. Hertz's students asked, " So what is
next?" Hertz replied with the understatement of the century;
" Nothing, I guess."

First Aircraft Radio

Carried aboard a Curtiss bi-plane in 1910, this

rig made the first radio transmission from air to
ground while flying over Brooklyn, NY. It weighed
40 lbs and mounted on a 2-ft-long board strapped
to the airplane's landing skid . The pilot, James
Mccurdy, a Canadian aviation pioneer, transmit-
ted with a Morse code key mounted on the con-
trol wheel.
The transmitter was a spark type. An induc -
tion coil created high voltage from a 6-volt bat-
tery (seen at far right). When the operator closes
the code key, voltage jumps across a spark gap
(much like a spark plug in an automobile) . This
sends current into the large coil at left. The coil is
part of a tuning circuit which causes energy in
the spark to circulate back and forth at a rapid
rate. This is coupled to an antenna wire trailing
outside the aircraft, which converts the oscillations into radio waves. In later
experiments the aircraft carried a receiver to hear transmissions from the
ground .
Spark transmitters were inefficient and emitted signals on many frequen -
cies at the same time . Not until the invention of the vacuum tube , which
could generate clean, powerful signals, did 2-way radio become practical in
aircraft. The vacuum tube also made possible transmission of the human
191 O Curtiss Biplane
voice .

Air-Ground Messages in England

Thorne-Baker in England holds a 1910 aircraft radio

which used a Marconi electromagnetic detector for re-
ceiving. He communicated with a Farman biplane f ly-
ing one-quarter mile away.
The radio aboard the airplane was a 14-lb transmit-
ter fastened to the passenger seat. Pilot Robert Loraine
transmitted with a Morse code key tied to his left hand.
The antenna consisted of wires fastened along the
length and width of the airplane.

Marconi Museum

Lifting off from New Jersey in 1911 , the
airship America headed toward Europe. En-
countering bad weather and engine prob-
lems 100 miles out, the crew abandoned the
airship and took to a lifeboat. The wireless
operator was able to communicate with the
nearby Royal Mail Steamship Trent, which
rescued the crew. The Marconi radio had a
guaranteed range of 30 miles.
Note the cable dropping from the air-
ship. It trailed in the seawater to provide a
good electrical ground for the antenna.
Marconi Museum

Lighted Airways
Before 1926, air mail pilots could fly only during the
day. That changed when lighted beacons were installed
every 10 miles. A rotating light appeared to the pilot
as a flash every ten seconds. Just below the bea con
were course lights th at pointed up and down the air-
way. Course lights a lso flashed a number code, the
same number that appears on the roof of the build·
ing. " 5" indi cates it is the fifth beacon in a 100-mile
airway. Although lighted beacons shortened the tim e
for mail delivery, their effectiveness was poor in bad
weather. Navigation by radio waves would provide the

1927. Aviati o n receives own radi o frequencies. weather information throughout the US .
The Internati ona l Radio Convention meets in Washington, 1929: First a ircraft operatio nal frequencies.
DC to assign aircraft and airway contro l stations freq uencies fo r Until now, radio was on ly lo send weather and safety in-
the ir exc lusive use. fo rmation to pi lots. This year. the Federal Radio Comm ission
1928. US Dept. o f Commerce expa nds statio ns. assigned frequencies to airline companies lo allow them lo speak
This yea r begins the rapid expans ion of ground radio sta- directly with their aircraft in fli ght
tions for transmitting weather and safety informati on to pil ots. This led to the creation of"AR INC' (Aeronautical Radio
Old "spark gap" transmitters capab le only of code are replaced Inc), an organi zation of ai rlines wh ich operates com muni cati ons
by equipment that carries voice. Until this time, aircraft could services today.
only rece ive, but an increasing number insta ll transmitters for Another development during 1929: pi lots flying airways
two-way communication with th e gro und . By 1933 there were 68 were requi red to report their posi ti on, thus mark ing the begin-
ground stations. The next year. over 300 aircra ft nying airways ning of Air Traffic Control.
had two-way radio ; over 400 could still on ly receive. 1930: A irport traffic co ntro lled by radio.
1928. First practica l radi onavigation. First installed at Clevela nd. the system spreads to 20 more
U.S. Department of Commerce adopts the "four-course ra- cities in the next fi ve years (replac ing the flagma n on the roof).
dio range," where pilots listen in headsets fo r audio tones that 193 1: Weath er maps begin.
gel them "on the beam." After beginning between Omaha, Ne- Experiments transmit weather maps over the same teletype
braska and New York, the stations spread through the country. machines used in the Federal Airway System (wh ich had been
The last fou r-course range was taken out service in Alaska in the capable of operati ng on ly on paper tapes). By the next year,
I 970's. maps of the U.S. were transm ined six times per day lo 78 ci ties.
1928 was also the beginning of teletype machines to carry Bricfers on the ground could now give pi lots weather information.
Jimmy Doolittle and Beginning of "Blind" Flight
Jimmy Doolittle, an army lieutenant, was the first
to take off, fly a course and land without seeing out-
side the cockpit. He controlled the aircraft solely by
reference to instruments. Attitude information (pitch
and roll) were indicated on an artificial horizon. A di-
rectional gyro, more stable than a magnetic compass,
indicated direction, while a "sensitive" altimeter, which
could be corrected for barometric pressure, replaced
the conventional instrument.
Doolittle followed a radio course aligned with the
runway created by a radio range station on the ground.
"BLIND" FLIGHT ~ Marker beacons indicated the airplane's distance from
the runway.
INSTRUMENTS....._ The flight was the single most important demon-
stration of what would become "avionics." Because
guiding aircraft to landing had been done only by light
signals, which don't penetrate clouds, Doolittle's flight
made commercial aviation a reality.

Bri tish Isles for detecting hosti le aircraft during World War II.
1931: Glideslopc Appears To avoid shooting down friendl y a ircra ft. a device known as IFF,
By tilting a radio beam vertically, experi menters al Col- Identifica tion , Fri end or Foe. is installed on British airplanes.
kge park, MD created an electron ic path that matched the gl ide Today IFF is known as the " transponder." Later in the war, the
angle or an ai rplane. Airplanes now had guidance for descend- Massachusetts Insti tute of Technology sca les down the size of
ing to a runway in low visibility. It later became the glidt:slope radar fo r install ation aboard aircraft, the firs t major instrument
part of the ILS (Instrument Landing System). of electronic warfare.
1932: Instrum ent Rating Req uired 1935 Air Traffic is Cont rolled
Air Commerce Department rules that air transport pilots Airlines operate the fi rst airway traffic control center at
must show an abili ty to use airway navigation aids and fl y cer- Newark, NJ. to provide safe separation for ai rcraft flyin g in in-
tain maneuvers guided entirely by instruments. strument conditions. Ch icago and Cleveland soon fo ll ow. It is
1933: Cross Country Instrum ent Flig ht the beginning of the en route Air Traffic Control system to
Bureau of Standards demonstrates a radio system for blind separate traffi c after it leaves the airport area.
flight. Arriving at Newark , NJ, from College Park. MD, the 1940: Radio for Oceanic Flight
airplane llew the first cross-country all-instru ment fl ight. Six powerfu l high-frequency rad io stations are in stalled
1935: Radar on Long Island, Y, to provide the first two-way radio communi-
The De fe nse Resea rch Council or Great Britain receives a cat ions for aircra ft fl ying the Atlanti c. The frequencies are in the
report on a new system known as " radar'· (for radio detection HF band which, unli ke lower av iation bands, "skip" great dis-
and ranging). It goes on to become a chai n of stati ons along the tances.
These stations also pl ay an important role in fe rrying mili-
tary aircraft to England at the outbreak of World War II.
1944: !CAO is Born
Fifty-two countries meet in Chi cago to launch ICAO. the
International Civil Aviation Organization. The fi rst global avia-
tion authori ty, ICAO will publish standards lo assure technical
un iformi ty throughout the world. By 2004, ICAO had 188 mem-
ber coun tries. wh ich it ca ll s "States."
1945: CCA Honored
The distinguished Collier Trophy is awarded to Dr. Luis W.
Alvarc.: for his concept of Ground Cont rol led Approach. GCA
uses a ground-based radar that emits two beams; one to indicate
aircrati distance from the runway, the other LO measure its height
above ground. The radar operator watches the di splay and "talks"
the pilot down to landing. Although successfu lly used by the
mi litary, GCA was never adopted for civi l use. Airline pil ots anti
government authorities prefe rred the Instrument Landing System
(ILS), which became the standard fo r well into the 2 1st Century.
1946: Radar-equipped Control Tower
Al Indianapoli s, a demonstration of the first control tower
eq uipped wi th radar for civil flying. Adapted from nava l equip-
ment. it coul d reduce ground clutter by ignoring targets not in
Today, this type of radar is known as a Tracon, fo r Termi -
nal Radar Control, and manages traffic in and out of ai rports at a
range of 30-40 mi les.
During the 1920's, traffic in and out of air- 1947: VOR Commissioned
ports wa s controlled by a flag man stand- After experiment ing on the New York-Ch icago airway, the
ing atop a hangar.
Civil Av iation Authority opens the first YOR (Very Hi gh Fre- 1957: Narrow Band Receivers
quen cy Omnidirectional radio range) station. YOR grows rap- The Civi l Aeronautics Admini stration (CAA) begi ns insta l-
idl y to about 1,000 stations throughout the U.S. and replaces the lati on uf' new radios des igned to double the number of aviat ion
obso lete rour-course radi o range. channels. Until that ti me, rad io chan nels were 200 kl lz apart.
1947: Navy Pu r·sues TACA N The new radios "split" channels for a spaci ng of I 00 kHz .
An effort to make YOR a common system fo r both military 1956: Flight Recorde rs
and civ il navigat ion fails . The U.S. Navy sc lel:ts TACAN (Tacti- The CAA ru les that air carrier and commercia l aircra ft over
cal Air avigation). a development whi ch the Navy needed dur- 12,500 lb must have a fl igh t data recorder by 1958. The FDRs
ing the Korean War in 1950. record airspeed, time, altitude, vertical acceleration and head ing.
Since most military flyin g is done in civil airspace. mili - 1957: Boeing 707 first llight
tary aircraft must al so be equipped with YOR receivers. On the After building 857 ai rplanes. 707 product ion ends in 1991.
other hand, civil aircraft use a part o r TACAN to operate thei r 1958: FAA and NASA are Born
DME (Dista nce Measuri ng Equipment). Durin g April and May. mil itary ai rcra ft co llided with civil
1948: Bell Labs Demonstrates the Transistor airliners in two scriara tc accide nts. Th e col li sions ra ised a storm
In sea rc hing for a device to replace electromec hani ca l of protest to eliminate the Civ il Aeronautics Agency. wh ich con-
switches in telephone systems, Bell scientists invent the transis- trol led onl y the civi l sector. Leg islators ca ll for a uniried agency
tor. It was tiny, had no moving parts. didn't wear out and gener- to control both mil itary and civil aircra rt when fl ying in civil
ated little heat. airspace.
The transistor wil l become important in avionics for the Later that year, Congress passes the bil l that creates the
same reasons. FAA (Federal Aviation Administrat ion). A maj or respons ib ility
1953: Transmissometer 1.nstallcd is to control ai rspace in the US and deve lop a co mmon system of
The first electronic dev ice for measuring visibili ty on the air traffic control fo r civ il and mi litary aircraft.
gro und is comp leted at Washington Na tional Airport. Located In October o f the same year. Congress creates NASA (Na-
ti onal Aeronaut ics and Space Admi nistrati on). Although NASA
is identified with space exp lorati on, it also justifies the ··aero-
nautics.. part of its name. NASA will contribute to airline av ion-
ics in the fo rm or databuscs, di splays, synthet ic vision and hu-
man factors. It wil l so lve prob lems in small aircraft that lim it
their usefuln ess in bad weather. There arc NASA progra ms on
safer cockpits, airframe icing and low-cost ant i-colli sion devices.
1959: DME Approved
The International C ivil Aviation O rgan ization chooses DME
(di stance measuring equ ipment) as the world standard to comple-
ment YOR nav igation .
1959: Transponders Begin (ATCRBS)
Known as ·'secondary radar," the transponder not only pro-
vides more powerful returns thnn conventi onal radar, but encodes
aircra ft iden tification as well. lt is based on World War II " IFF"
( ldcnti ti cation, Fri end or Foe).
The system is "ATC RBS,'' for Air Traffic Contro l Rada r
Beacon System, and triggers rep li es from an aircraft tra nsponder.
The rirst ground interrogator is installed in New York and ex-
pands to 19 more air route traffic control centers. ·A pi lot can dia I
up to 64 codes (fo r ID ). which is expanded lo 4096 codes in later
Before surveillance radar, air traffic controllers plotted air- equipment.
craft from pilot position reports sent by radio. Today, traffic 1960: Air borne Weather Radar
is viewed on radar screens. Note the four-course radio FAA requires US ai rl iners to carry airborne weather radar.
range station on the chart. It provided radionavigation dur- It is phased in over several years and, in 1966, expanded to cover
ing the 1930's, but was later replaced by VOR and ILS. large cargo aircraft.
1960: More Com C ha nn els
alongside the run way, a tra nsmitter sends a light beam to a re- The first increase in V HF commun ications channels in the
ce iver several hundred feet away. The rece iver meas ures the aircraft band since 1946. It adds 5 megahertz to the band. with
loss or light due to fog or other obscuration and converts it to I00 more channels for air tra ffic control. The new channels, in
RVR , or Runway Visual Range. Thi s value, in fee t, is more accu- MHz: 126.825 to 128.825, 132.025 to 135.0
rate than a hum an looking at a distant point and estimati ng vis- 1964: Cockpit Voice Recorders
ib ility. FAA requires CY Rs in large turbi ne anti 4-engine ai rcraft.
1956: Airliners Collide 1n the event of an accident, the recorder prov ides cockpit conver-
A TWA Constell ation and United DC-7 co llide over the sation during the 30 minutes precedi ng the crash.
Grand Canyon (A ri zona) ki lling 128 people. Both airplanes were 1964: Inertial Navig ation Systems ( INS)
fl ying YFR (visually) on a sunny day in wide open airspace. Pan Am installs INS on most of its jct aircra ft to provide
The response by auth orities is to require all aircra ft fl ying accurate nav igation over ocea ns and remote areas where ground
over 18,000 feet to fl y IFR (instrument fl ight rules), keeping them stati ons arc not available.
under positi ve co ntro l. in radar surveillance and sa rely sepa- 1964 : Category II Landings
rated. FA A announces requirement for Cnt II (ILS) instrument
The accident starts development o f an on-board anti-colli - landings, another step toward all-weather operations Decision
sion system. The searc h continues for 40 ycars---until the intro- height is lowe red to 100 fee l and runway visibility range (RYR)
duction ofT CAS (Traffi c Alert and Coll ision Warn in g System) . of 1200 feet. Un ited Airl ines is first to quali fy, with its DC-8s

(in 1965}. closes down High Frequency s tation in California.
1964: Helicopter Certified for IFR 1970: Advanced Flig ht Data Recorder (FDR)
Sikorsky S-61 becomes first civil helicopter to be certified FAA requires advanced FDR's for large transport aircraft.
for IFR ( Instrument Flight Rules). The new type records over three times more information.
1964 : Single Sideband Radio (SSB) 1972: Category I Ila Landing
FAA begins operat ing first single sideband (SSB) ground TWA receives fi rst authorization to operate Cat Illa ( ILS)
station in Alaska for air traffic control over the North Pole. SSB, weather minimums. It allows Lockheed L-10 11 to operate down
wh ich operates in the high frequency ( I IF) band. wil l eventually to visibility of I000 feet (Runway Visual Range). then as low as
replace older, less-efTic ient HF radio for oceanic and remote 700 ft RVR .
communications. 1973: Mode C Tra nspo nders
1964: Fi rst Au tomatic To uchdown F/\A requires aircraft fiying in Te rminal Control Areas
A British European Trident at London makes the first au- (which surround major airports} to carry transponders capable of
tomatic touchdown of a schedu led commercial airliner carrying Mode C (al titude report ing}.
passengers. 1973: Public Add ress ystem
1965: DME FAA issues a rule requ iring aircrall carrying more than 19
FAA requires large foreign transports Oying in U.S. to carry passengers to have public address and interphone systems to keep
Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) crew and passengers informed during an emergency.
1966: Satellit e Communications 1974: Radio Ra nge Shu t Down
FAA reports "voice messages of exce ll ent clarity" during Th e last four-course radio range, located in A laska, is de-
rirst test of a satel lite for long-range communications. The ve- commissioned by FAA. Replaced by VOR and ILS. it was the
hicle is ASA's Applications Technology J. ··Satcom·· wi ll even- fi rst radionavigation system for ·'blind"' (instrument) Oight in bad
tually replace High Frequency equipment. weather. The four-course radio range was important for the growth
1967: Satcom Data lin k of aviation during the I9JO's.
PAA and NASA demonstrate a datalink system using a sat- 1974: Ground Prox Installa tion
ellite for transmitting navigation data from aircraft to ground sta- A rule requi rin g G rou nd Proxim ity Warning Systems on
tions . A Pan AM cargo jct sends data lo the ATS- I satellite. airliners is p ublished by FAA. GPWS warns when the aircraft is
which relays it to a ground station in California. It is also the below 2500 fee t and in danger of closi ng too rapidl y with the
firs t test or an aircraft antenna designed to transmit satel lite ground.
messages. 1980: Avio nics and Two-Pe rson C rews
1968: Alt itu de A lerting Boeing plans o n two-person crew for its new B-75 7-767
FAA requires an altitude alerting system on turbojet air- airliners. Digital system s in these aircraft redw.:c the need for
cra ll bei:ause o f their rapid climb and descent rates. Pilot pre- th ird person ( flight engineer). It's made possible by new !::FIS
sets an altitude and receives aural and visual warn ing in time to (Electronic Flight Instrument System). wh ich centralizes instru-
level off. A lso alerted is straying from an ass igned altitude. ments and di sp lays, as wel l as automatic monitoring of engine
1970: M icrowaye La nding Syste m (M LS) parameters.
Secretary of Transportation forms group to study develop- 1981: FAA Selects TCAS
ment of MLS. the eventual re placement for ILS FAA adopts the Traffic A lert and Collision Avo idance Sys-
1970: Satcom for Air Traffic Control tem (TCASJ. Compatible with existing and future transponders.
FAA establishes communications via satellite between San there are two versions: TCAS I, which delivers only a trafTic
Francisco and Hawa ii . The first full -time satcom for air traffic alert, and is practical fo r small aircraft: and TCAS I I. which
control uses Intelsat. Because of superior communications, FA/\ adds vertical escape mane uvers and is req uired fo r airliners.

Radar surveillance room of an

Air Traffi c Control facility. Pi-
lots call in position reports by
radio; the airplane appears on
the "PPI," or Plan Position In-
dica tor, see n at lower left.
"Flight Strips" are print-outs
which inform the controller of
flights arrivi ng in hi s secto r.
These paper strips are replaced
in fu ture ATC with electronic

TCAS Ill , wh ich adds horizontal maneuvers, proved diffi- chase 235 new ILS's (lnstrumem Land ing Systems). Rap id de-
cu lt to develop and was dropped. velopment of G PS is the reason.
Future anti-collision systems will be based on satellite 1994: Free Flig ht
surveiIlance. In one of the most sweep ing changes in air navigation, FAA
198 1: Sea rch a nd Rescue Satellite begins study or"Free Fli ght." Aircraft will fly with greater free-
U.S. launches weather satellite carrying Sea rch and Res- dom, enabl ing pil ots to choose the most favorab le routing. Air
cue Satellite-Aided Track ing (SA RSAT). It is capable of receiv- trafTic contro ll ers would intervene only to assure safety or avoid
ing signa ls from an ai rcraft ELT (Emergency Locator Transmit- crowding in the airspace. Because of' this, the term "air traffic
ter). A sim ilar satellite ca lled COS PAS is launched in 1982 by controller" wi ll become "air traffic 11w1wger."
the USSR (now Russia). A two-year trial or Free fli ght begins in 1999 in Alaska
1983: C PS Nav Across the Atlantic and Hawaii.
A Rockwe ll Internati onal Saberliner is first to cross the 1995: FANS Trial
Atlantic gu ided on ly by GPS. FAA and Australia's Qantas Airlines complete first trials
1984: Lo ran Approved of new satellite-based communication, navigation and surve il-
FAA approves Lora n as an area navigation system fo r IFR lance system recommended by the Internat ional Civil Av iation
(Instrument Flight Rules) flight. Organization (!CAO). Called " FANS" (Future Air Navigation
1988: Wind Shear System), it improves commu nicati ons with aircraft flying in oce-
Turbine-powered airliners wi th 30 or more passenger scats an ic and remote areas. This is the beginning of a global
must carry equ ipment that warns of low-a lti tude wind shear. changeover to the next-generati on of ai r tra ffi c contro l.
Guidance for recovery from wi nd shear is also required. 1996 : Flight Recorders Expa nd
1991 : Lora n Gap Closed FAA proposes increase in the amount of in fo rmation col-
Complete coverage of the US by Loran signa ls resu lts from lected on Fli gh t Data Recorders (FDR ). The number or param-
new station constructed to fi ll the "mid -continent gap." eters would in crcase--from as few as 29 to as many as 88, de-
1991: Mod e S I ntcrrogators pending on when the airplane was manufactured. Airlines would
The fi rst two Mode S systems are delivered to FAA. It's retrofit over abo ut fou r years from the effective date of the ru le.
the beginning of the new radar beacon grou nd interrogator sys- 1996: Enhanced Gro und Prox
tem that will eventually number 137 in U.S. ai rspace. Aboard American Airlines is the first carrier to receive FAA ap-
aircra ft, Mode S transponders will rep lace the ATCRBS system. proval for the En hanced Ground Prox im ity Warning System
1993: CPS Approach Approved (EG PWS). Installations are on all American 's B-757's.
Continental Express fli es approved non-precision approach
using GPS into two Colorado a irports.
1994: M LS Halted
FAA will no longer develop the Microwave Landing Sys-
tem (MLS). Future effort at all-weather land ing systems wi ll be
done wi th G PS.
Following this annou ncement. FAA cancels plans to pur-

Review Questions
Chapter 2 A Brief History

2.1 Radio frequencies are measured in Hertz (Hz), 2.6 What was the first radionavigation system for
after Heinrich Hertz. What was his contribution to guiding airplanes?
2. 7 Who was the pioneer who flew the first instru-
2.2 What was the first system for marking cross- ment flight, sometimes known as "blind flying," in
country airways? Row was it limited? 1929?

2.3 What was the first instrument to enable pilots 2.8 What system in Air Traffic Control replaced
to maintain control of an airplane without seeing position reports by voice?
outside the cockpit?
2.9 In 1980, manufacturers bega n d esigning airlin-
2.4 What component led to the artificial horizon ers without a third crew member. What avionics
and autopilot? Name the developer of these early development made it possible?
2 5 What type of transmitter sent the first radio
message from an airplane to the ground?

Chapter 3

Very High Frequency Communications

Communications move in formation in and out of both communications and nav igation a re combined in
an airplane for a ir traffic contro l, a irline company op- a single case or housing. Because the com hal f trans-
erations and passenger services. T he earliest "com" ra- mits and receives, it is a " transceiver."
dios sent and received Morse code, then adva nced to
The V HF band is under g reat pressure because of
voice as technology became available. Today, voice
the growing number of a ircraft. Frequencies are as-
mes ages are also headed for extinction, as digital in-
signed by international agreement and difficult to ob-
formation travels more efficiently on " data link," a tech-
tain becau e many non-aviation serv ices compete for
nology spreadin g throug h aviation.
limited s pace in the radio spectrum. These include
VHF-Com. Radios for communication may be public-safety (police, fire, e mergency medical and other
label led "Com, Com m, V HF-Com" or imply " VHF." gove rnment activity). V HF is also in de mand by
They rece ive and transmit in the VHF com band from " landmobile" services such as taxi, and de livery ve-
11 8.00 to 136.975 M i lz . When a radio is a 11a vcom hicles. As a result, avionics eng inee rs have developed
new techniques for expanding communications inside
the ex isting Vl-1 F aviation band.
S plitting. One method for squeezing in more chan-
nels is "splitting." As the accompanying c hart shows.
the VHF band has bee n split four times, resulting in a n
increase from 90 channe ls to over 2,280. This became
possible with advances in digita l signal process ing, es-
pec ia lly to make the com rece iver re pond ve ry selec-
tively to the new, narrow c hanne ls .
A large number of old-techno logy avionics could
Three VHF com radios are often carried aboard airlines;
the antenna location s are shown above. VHF com 1 and not operate with such tight spacing an d, in 1997, radios
2 are fo r communicating with air traffic control. VH F com with 360 channe ls or fewer were banned (sec cha1t).
3 operates in the ACARS system for what is commonly
called "company communications." VHF Data Rad io. In the coming years, there wi ll
be a dramatic drop in the numbe r of vo ice transmis-
sions on the VHF a ircraft band. It is due to the rise of
Acceptable VHF Com Radios


January 1, 1997 banned radios with

90 100 kHz No
360 or fewer channels

The increase from 180 to 360

180 50 kHz No channels resulted when the band was
expanded from 126.90 to 135.9 MHz

Doubling of channels resulted from

360 50 kHz No "channel splitting" (moving
frequencies closer together).

Again channels were split, but new

technology produced selective
receivers which could separate close-
760 25 kHz Yes
spaced channels. Also, another
megahertz was added to the band,
providing 40 more channels.

Further channel splitting tripled the

channels to accommodate increasi ng
2280 8 .33 kHz Yes air trattic. This spacing, 8.33 kHz,
was first used in Europe, where
frequency congestion became critical.

"datalink," where messages are sent and received in digi-

tal coding. The human voice delivers information at a VDR Radio
slow rate---about 300 words per minute. Compare this
to an e-mail message bui lding on a computer screen.
Three hundred words appear in about one-tenth of a
second.' Not only will datalink take one channel and
split it more than fou r ways, it operates faster, and
eliminates misunderstood words.
VDR. Airliners and other large aircraft are equip-
ping with a new generation known as VDR, for VHF
Data Radio . Because many years are required to tran-
sition to a new system, the VDR must operate on both
ex isting and future systems. 25 KHZ
Voice. This is the traditional air/ground commu-
nications where the pilot talks over a microphone. It is
known as AM, or ampl itude modulation. 8 .33 KHZ D IGITAL
ACARS. An automatic system that reports via
VHF radio to an airline company when its aircraft take Honeywell
off and arri ve, and carries messages about company Control-display head for the VDR (VHF data radio).
opera tions (d esc ribed in the nex t c hapter ). The knob at the lower left enables the pilot to select
either channel spaci ng ; 25 kHz or the newer 8.33
kHz. The next position is "TOMA" whi ch can send
VOL. Yet another mode is VDL , for VHF datalink. digital voice and data.
Many airliners have equipped with VDL because their
wide-ranging flights must be prepared to communicate
with systems everywhere.

Basic VHF-Navcom Connections: General Aviation

7. COM 8. NAV 9. COM 10. NAV


1. DC POWER INPUT - -- --.

• •• .....

- ""'
ffll =
• OWi om,,.. .... m
... .
6. INSTRUMENT ....,._ _ __ _.

1. DC Power Input
Depending on the airplane's electrical system, this and drives the pilot intercom or passenger add ress
is primary power to the radio; 14- or 28-volt DC. It syste m.
from a circuit breaker or fuse designated for a navcom.
6. Instrument Lighting
In some diagrams, DC power input is also called the
At night, the pilot may dim lights on the panel with
"A" lead.
one control. When this connection is wired to the dim-
2. Switched Power mer, radi o lighting is controlled along with all other
When the radio is turned on, this connection sends illumination.
power from the radio to certain accessories, such as an
7. Corn Antenna
external ind icator that displays navigation information.
Coax ial cable that runs to the VHF com an tenna.
An example is the VOR instrument that displays left-
right, up-down steering commands. 8. Nav Antenna
Coax ial cable to the VO R nav antenna.
3. Ground
The negati ve side of the electrica l syste m, it can 9. Corn Audio
be any part of the airplane 's metal structure that goes Audio received from an incoming signal. In simple
back to the negative side of the battery. insta llations, this line connects to the pilot's headphone
jack. Audio at this po int is " low level," meaning it can
f n compos ite (non-metal) a irpla nes, the ground is onl y drive a headphone, and not a cabin speaker. Al-
a "bus bar," or heavy copper w ire or braid that extends though some radios have built- in a mplifie rs, many air-
the negati ve battery lead through the airplane. craft add an audio pane l. It not only provides amplifi-
4. Mic Key Line cation for the cabin speaker, but boosts and mixes low
Turns on the transmitter when a microphone but- level audio from othe r sources.
ton is pressed. The button may be on the mike, or 10. Nav Audio
mounted on the control yoke. Re leasing the button This enables the pilot to listen to and identify navi-
switches the radio back to receive. gati onal signals, w hich broadcast an ID in Morse code
5. Mic Audio and voice.
This is the voice s ignal from the pilot micro-
phone brought into the radio through a microphone jack
or audio panel. Mic audio is applied to the transmitter,
VHF-Com System




MIC -~---~----•~•

A com radio typically found in airliners and radio between transmit and receive. The
large aircraft. The pilot operates the VHF button is on the microphone or the con-
Control Panel, while the main unit of the VHF t rol yoke.
transceiver is in a remote electronics bay. The transceiver also provides an au-
Two frequencies may be selected at one dio output to the Cockpit Voice Recorder
time; the active channel sends and re- to retain radio messages in the event of
ceives, the stored channel remains inactive. a safety investigation.
When the transfer button is pressed, the two There are usually three VHF com radios
channels exchange places. aboard an airliner. One radio, however,
The Audio Panel connects pilot micro- is operated in the ACARS system, as de-
phone and headset or loudspeaker. "PTT" scribed below.
is the push-to-talk button that switches the


Third Com Radio

This is the same as the other two com ra-
dios, except for modifications to operate on VHF TRANSCEIVER
ACARS (Aircraft Communication and Report-
ing System) described in a later chapter. M A P
There is no pilot control panel because the I U T COCKPIT
frequency is pre-set to an assigned ACARS

channel. ACARS automatically receives and RECORDER
transmits messages about company opera-
A pilot may also use voice on this radio
through the mic and receiver audio connec-
tion. ACARS
VHF com radios in large aircraft typically AUDIO
operate from a 28 VDC power source. The RECEIVER PANEL
transm itter is often rated at 25 watts of ra- AUDIO
dio frequency output power.

VHF-Com Control Panel


Typical airline control head FREQUENCY
for one VHF transmitter-re-
ceiver (transceiver). The pi-
lot is communicating on the
left display ; the frequency
transfer switch is pointing
left. He has stored the next
frequency on the right side.
A flip of the transfer switch
activates the next frequency.
This panel-mounted unit con- FREQUENCY
trols a remote transceiver in SELECTOR
the electronics bay.
The " Com Test" button at
the bottom disables the au-
tomatic squelch. This allows
atmospheric noise to be
heard , which is an approxi-
mate test of whether the ra-
dio is operating. FREQUENCY FREQUENCY





Located in the electronics bay, the VHF transceiver is reflected power is high, there's a problem in the antenna
remotely tuned by the control head in the instrument or cable. This is covered in the chapter on test and
panel. This LRU (line replaceable unit) has several test troubleshooting. The jacks at the bottom enable the
features built in. The indicator at the top shows trans- technician to talk and listen while testing in the elec-
mitter power in the forward direction (toward the an- tronics bay.
tenna) or power reflected back to the transmitter. If

"Splitting" VHF Channels
Almost every decade for the last 50 years, VHF com channels have been " split,"
dividing the space occupied by one frequency. Another way of viewing it is that
channels are moved closer together within the same band.
The first aircraft radios had "200 kHz" spacing. (Note that " 200 kHz" can be
written as ".2 MHz" by moving the decimal three places to the left.) Thus, the dials
of early com radios appeared as:

120.......... 120.2 .. ........ 120.4.......... 120.6 ....... ... 120.8 .......... etc.

This spacing divided the VHF com band into 70 channels. As aviation grew, the
band was increased in size and 20 more channels were added (still with the 200 khz

But aviation was growing and demanding more frequencies. Fortunately, the avi-
onics industry was also advancing with techniques that made receivers more " se-
lective," enabling them to separate two channels that are closely spaced. The
progress of splitting went like this:

Spacing No.of Channels

200 kHz 90
100 kHz 180
50 kHz 360
25 kHz 760
8.333 kHz 2280

For channel-splitting to work, transmitting frequencies are held to tight tolerances

to avoid drifting and causing interference to other channels. Because early radios
could not comply, they were outlawed on the aviation bands. Most radios now oper-
ate on 25 kHz and 8.333 kHz spacing.

The last split, to 8.333 khz, marks the beginning of a new-type com radio that handles
both voice and digital data. It is VDL (Very High Frequency Data Link). Using digital
signals, each 8.333 frequency can operate simultaneously with up to four channels
of information; four voice and two digital messages.

Radio Management System

Chelton Av1orn cs



A Radio Management System eliminates numerous codes, etc. All the other units are mounted in re-
knobs, buttons and separate control heads for op- mote racks and are controlled through a databus
erating com and nav radios. It's less of a workload (ARINC 429).
to operate and saves space on the instrument panel. This system, the Chelton RMS 555, is used by
The pilot sees only the control-display unit (at the corporate, regional airline and military aircraft.
left) and selects or stores frequencies, transponder

Review Questions
Chapter 3 VHF Com
3.1 What frequencies define the Very High Fre- plays; one for the _ _ _ frequency, the
quency (VHF) ba nd? other for the frequency.

3.2 What is the freque ncy coverage of t he VHF 3.8 What is the purpose of a sque lch?
com b and?
3.9 What function does the " com test" control pro-
3.3 What is "splitting" channels? vide?

3.4 What development greatly reduces the num- 3.10 Where is the LRU (line replaceable unit) for a
ber of voice reports on VHF com? com transceiver of a large aircraft located ?

3.5 What is the narrowest spacing for channels in 3.11 What is the benefit of a radio management sys-
the VHF com band? tem?

3.6 Wha t is the purpose of a mic key line? 3.12 What is t he third VHF com radio of an airliner
often used for?
3. 7 A typical com radio has two frequency dis-

Chapter 4

HF Com
High Frequency Communications

When an airplane leaves the coastline for a trans-

HF Control-Display
oceani c flig ht, it moves into a po lar region or ve ntures
over a re mote area, it loses VHF communi cations. VHF
signa ls are line of sight and cannot curve over the ho-
rizon. For long-ra nge fli ght, the airplane switches to
HF---high frequen cy---communicati ons.
In a band from 2-30 MHz, HF radi o travels
2000-6000 miles by "skipping" tlu-ough the ionosphere,
an e lectrica l mirror tha t reflects radio waves bac k to
ea rth. Bendix/King
Control-Display for an HF radio for General Aviation. With
HF has never been a pilot's favorite radio . Early output power of 150 watts (Single Sideband, or SSB} it
tunes 280,000 channels. An antenna coupler (remotely
models didn 't have the re liability ofVHF because the
located with the receiver and transmitter) ) automatically
ionosphere is a lways changing---betwecn day and night tunes the antenna when the microphone button is pressed.
and season to season. It is struck by mag neti c storms Some models, like this one, have a "Clarifier" control
from the sun w hich repeat over a n I I-year s unspot (lower left} to fine tune the incoming voice.
cycle, interrupting communicati ons for hours, even days. The radio also solves the problem of hunting for a work-
able frequency under changing ionospheric conditions.
With circui t called "automatic link establishment" it
T he cure is the eve ntua l e limination of HF radio searches for the best available channel. This model is
by satellite communications. Nevertheless, thousands the Bendix/King HF-950. Weighing about 20 lbs, it is also
of a ircraft w ill continue to fly w ith HF for decades used by helicopters, which often fly in remote areas be-
before the transition is comple te. Fortunately, HF has yond VHF communicating range.
enjoyed severa l improvements.
tenna at 120 MH z, fo r example, has a quarte r-wave-
Ea rly HF radi os were difficult to operate. Most length of only two feet, easy enough to mount as a small
antennas fo r aircraft measure from inc hes to several whip or blade on the airframe. But as operating fre-
feet long. The le ngth tunes the antenna to one-quarter que ncy goes lower, wave length grows lo nger. A quar-
wavelength, which is standard for a ircraft. A VHF an- te r-wave HF antenna on 2 MHz wo uld have to run

HF System

_ I_ ,

MIC •~a-~--.~~•

When the pilot keys the transmitter on a new channel, a 1000 Hz (au-
dio) tone is modulated onto the radio wave and sent to the antenna
coupler. This enables the coupler to match the antenna to any HF fre-
quency. A tone is used because, unlike voice, it produces a steady
radio-frequency output for the coupler to measure. Antenna tuning usu-
ally takes less than four seconds.

over I 00 feet long! from the time the pilot turns the channel selector.
Radio pioneers solved this with a "trailing wire" Automatic Hf antenna tuning, w hich greatly re-
antenna----reelin g it out to float behind the ai rp lane. If duced pilot workload, was followed by a development
radio conditions changed, they hunted for a new fre- that improved HF radio's ability to avo id fad ing sig-
quency and c hanged antenna length. T hey also h ad to nals and poor radio conditions caused by va ri ations in
manually adjust an antenna tuner. the ionosphere.
A breakthrnugh happen ed when Arthur Colli ns
(founder of a compan y that produces air transport avi- SSB HF rad io originally transmitted in the AM
onics) came up with an improvement called "Autotune." (amp litude modulation) mode, the same as AM broad-
Tt is a tun ing unit that matches a sho rt, fi xed antenna cast radio today. An AM transmitter generates three
on the airplane to the wavelength of a ny HF freq ue ncy. components; a radio-freq uency (RF) carrier, a n upper
it's don e automatically when the pilot selects a chan- sideband and lower sideband . The audio ( or voice) is
ne l. fo und only in the sidebands . This was discovered in
The concept of a utomatic antenna t uning is based the 1920's, along with the observation that the RF car-
on "refl ected power." lf an antenna and ante nna tune r rier served only to create the sidebands inside the trans-
arc adjusted for, say, an operating frequency of 12 MHz mitte r. The carrier doesn't "carry" the sidebands. Side-
and the pi lot changes to 5 MHz, there wi ll be a large bands travel just as wet I with or without a carrie r. Be-
electrical m is matc h between the antenna and feed line cause the sidebands lie just above and below the carrier
from the transmitter. This ca uses rad io frequency freque ncy, they are termed USB and LSB (for upper
power to refl ect back from the antenna and be lost. and lower).
The Autotune syste m measures the re fl ected power and Tn regular amplitude modulation, more than two-
operates tuning elements in the antenna coup ler to re- thirds of the transmitter power is lost in the carrier.
duce the reflection lo the lowest possible value. (The What's more, the upper and lower sidebands carry the
concept of refl ected power reappears in the chapter on identical information. So all that's required for trans-
test and troubleshooting, where it's called VSWR, for mitting the voice is a "singl e sideband ."
voltage standing wave ratio.) It took severa l decades for the electronics industry
fn today's HF radios, chang ing frequencies and to develop stable transmitters and receive rs a nd s harp
retuning the antenna can occur in less than a second filtering to make " SSB" practical. As a res ult, today's

HF-SS B transceiver places nearly all transmitter power municati ons to the aeronautical industry. Thi s threat-
into a si ngle sideband, producing a powerful signal that ened to kill further development in HF, bu t the airline
punches through worsening ionospheri c conditi ons. industry wasn't ready for "satcom." Satel lite installa-
tions at the time proved too expensive for many carri-
HF Data link . Despi te the improvement of SSB, ers, which motivated researchers to design a workab le
pi lots were not yet completely satisfi ed; HF still didn 't HF datalink.
provide the solid reliability of VHF communications.
In seeking further improvement, the avionics industry Today, HF datalink is a real ity. The new radios
con idercd dig ital communi cati ons to handle routine perform "sound ings"---! istening fo r short bur ts of data
messages. The first experiment s fa iled as researchers from ground stations around the world. A link is estab-
discovered that digital signal s barely surv ived the tur- lished to the best one for communications. If cond itions
bulent ride through the ionosphere. Too many digital deteriorate, the radio automatically searches fo r, and
bits were lost in transmission. switches to, a better channel. If there are errors in trans-
mission, the grou nd station senses them and automati-
At about th is time, the first communications satel- cally calls for repeats until the data is correct.
lites were rising in orbit, offering solid long range com-

Remote Line Replaceable Units (HF)

ANT ENNA COUPLER The final stage of the
Automatically matches transmitter, the Power
transmission line to the Amplifier raises the signal
antenna for any frequency. to 200 watts for transmission

Contains the HF receiver
and low-level stages of
the transmitter.

Three remote-mount boxes for an HF radio installed on business aircraft.
They are controlled by the pilot on the flight deck.
The radio tunes 280,000 channels and stores 99 user-programmable fre-
quencies (for quick retrieval). For sending distress calls, the international
maritime distress frequency on 2.182 MHz is pre-programmed. The model
shown here, the Primus HF-1050, is upgradeable for HF datalink.

HF Control Panel: Airline


o• •

Pilot's HF control panel. Frequency is selected by two outer knobs. RF SENSE
adjust s receiver sensitivity. The knob at bottom---OFF - USB - AM---selects
mode of o peration. Most HF communications for aircraft are on USB (Upper
Sideband). Lower sideband is not permitted in aeronautical service. The AM
kn ob selects old-type Amplitude Modulation, which i s much less effective than
SSB, but enables pilot to talk to ground stat ions not equipped for SSB,

HF Transceiver
Advantages of HF Datalink


•Lower Pilot Workload
•Shorter Message Transmission Time {less
than 3 seconds vs more than 1 minute)
·Channel Access Time (less than 60
0 CONTROL INPUT FAIL seconds vs up to 10 minutes)
•Less Operational Training fo r Flight Crew
® SQL/LAMP TEST •Data Relieves Congestion on Voice
•Automatic Selection of Frequency and
PHONE MIC Data Rates
I I •Voice Is Prone To Human Error and
I I Interpretation
•Data Detects Errors and Automatically
Retra nsmits
@ @

0 ·Data Extracts Signals in Noisier
I-= Environments (3dB/1OdB)
Mounted in an electroni cs bay, the HF transceiver •I ncreased HF Traffic Capability
is operated from the pilot's HF control panel. It •Assured Communication Li nk
has several provisions for testing. Three lights Automatic Air/Ground HF linkage With
show sy stem status (the red lamp is i ndicating Less Acquisition and Message Cost
" LRU FAIL," meaning th is transceiver, a line-re-
(Compared to Satcom)
placea ble unit) . Th e button " SQL/LAMP" is
pressed for two tests; all lamps should light, and •I mproved Voice/Data Quality
the squ el c h i s di sable d. During a disabled •Data Link Messages Are Not Written
squelch , the t echnician should hear atmospheric or Sensitive to Verbal Language
no ise, whi ch is an approximate test th at the re-
ce iver is worki ng. He ca n also plug a mic ro- (Based on a Honeywell report)
phone into the "MIC" jack and talk on th e radio
during troubleshooting.
The t ransmitter in airline service is u sually
rated at 400 watts of radio frequency power dur-
ing s ingle-si d eband (SSB) trans mis sion ; 125
watts in th e AM mode.
HF Antenna Coupler
(at rear)

CONTROL WIRING Mounted below antenna in rudder fin, HF

FROM HF antenna coupler tunes antenna to the fre-
TRANSCEIVER quency in less than 4 seconds after pilot
selects a channel.
Pressure Nozzle at the bottom pressur-
izes the coupler enclosure. Otherwise, low
air pressure at altitude would cause high
voltage in tuning coils to arc over and

HF Antenna Mounting


ANTENNA /\ . / / /
-- _::::;,- .,.. - __I -

00 00 00
o o o o o of]o a a o a o a a a • o a a a a• a

The HF antenna on a typical airliner is located in the vertical tail fin . The radiating
antenna is inside a U-shaped fiberglass leading edge. The antenna coupler is just
below, inside the rudder fin . The coupler matches any HF frequency (2 - 30 MHz} and
sends it through a feedline to the antenna.

Review Questions
Chapter 4 HF Com

4.1 Why are High Frequency communications not 4.5 What are three major components of an HF
as reliable as those of VHF? Line-replaceable unit (LRU)?

4.2 What is the advantage of "Autotune." 4.6 Name two advantages of HF datalink?

4.3 Why is SSB (single sideband) more efficient 4.7 What is the purpose of an HF antenna cou-
than conventional AM radio? pler?

4.4 What made HF datalink successful? 4.8 Where is the HF antenna mounted on many

Chapter 5

Satellite Commun ications

Satcom provides communications between aircraft

and ground through m ost of the world. Free from at-
mospheric interfe rence and limited bandwidth , it is the
rep lace ment for High Frequency (HF) as the band for
long-range communications. Satcom signa ls penetrate
the ionosphere without bending or reflecting and arc
unaffected by e lectrica l noise or weather. As satcom
avio nics build through aircraft fleets, they will even-
tually replace VHF com, as well. T he signals of satcom
are digital, not only fo r data communications, but voice,
as well. This means voice messages can be encrypted
for security.

Satcom is a lso the fou ndation for the next genera-

tion of a ir traffic control. After a half-cen tury of a ir-
craft confined to nan·ow routes and tracks, a changeover
is beginning to a new architecture known as FANS, fo r
Future Air Navigation Systems. More ai rplanes will
fly safely within the same airspace under a concept
.k nown as "Free Fl ight." Satcom makes it possible, as
we.II as providing information, cnte11a inment and other
services for passengers in the cabin.
A Ground Earth Station communicates with orbit-
lnmarsat ing lnmarsat satellites, which relay messages to and
The London-based organi zation prov iding satel- from aircraft. The Ground Earth Station receives
and sends those messages through telephone com-
lites and ground support is Lnmarsat (Internationa l Mari-
panies and other telecommunications services
time Sate llite) . Consisting of more than 60 member throughout the world .

Generations of lnmarsat Spacecraft
lnmarsat-2 (called 1-2) was launched in 1991
after the first generation raised the demand
in aviation for more satellite services. 1-2
provides four times more capacity than 1-1.
The constellation consists of four active sat-
ellites, with four spares in orbit to assure
continuous service.
All satellites are monitored by control
centers on the ground. As gravity causes a
satellite to drift from orbit, the vehicle's at-
titude and orbit are adjusted by a control
station. When the satellite moves into the
dark side of the earth at night, its solar cells
are eclipsed. Batteries provide power in the
dark. Controllers monitor the battery backup
to be sure satellite power is sufficient.

lnmarsat-3 has ten times the capacity of 1-2.

Each of the four spacecraft has one global
beam which covers a wide area of the earth.
Each also has 7 spot beams which concen-
trate power over a narrower area (usually
where demand is high, along heavily trav-
eled routes). Backup for I -3 is the previous
generation of 1-2 spacecraft.
The next constellation is 1-4, designed
to be 100 times more powerful and have ten
times the communications capacity.

countries, it prov ides the space segment known as " ln- the gro und earth station receives it through te lecommu-
marsat Aero". Using four atellites, it provides two- nications networks and beams it up to a satellite for re-
way vo ice and data (fax, Internet, e-mail, ATC) over lay to t he a irplane.
most of the world. Because the sate II ites hover over Aircraft Earth Station. T his is the avionics sys-
the equator, the ir beams cannot extend into the North te m aboa rd the aircraft for communi cating w ith sate l-
and South Po le regions. Future systems wi ll add po lar lites. lt must confonn to Inmarsat standards a nd the
orbi ts to fi ll in these limited areas. The four lnmarsat specification for ARlNC 741.
sate IIitcs: Satcom antennas. A compone nt of the a irborne
system is the antenna, whic h must a lways a im directl y
Pac ific Ocean Region ( POR) a t the satellite (to receive all of its services). A lthough
Indian Ocean Region (!OR) lnmarsat sate llites appear never to move (they are in
Atl antic Ocean Region West (AOR-W) geostationary orbit), the a irplane o fte n crui ses over 500
Atlantic Ocean Regio n East (AOR-E) mph, rap idly changing position. This is solved by a
beam steering unit on the a irpl ane that operates a mo-
Each satellite is backed up w ith a spare orbiting in tor-dri ven antenna or an e lectronic syste m known as a
same vicinity. The other two major components of the " phased array." Consider the satcom ante nna catego-
satcom system are: ries:
Ground Earth Station (GES). These radio sta- Low Cain. Various communications via sate llite
tions around the world operate large d ishes fo r com- require a diffe rent amo unt of power. A message consist-
municating w ith sate llites. T hey receive messages sent ing onl y letters and numbers moving at a slow rate (300-
to a satell ite by an aircraft, then pass them to a tele- 1200 bits per second) uses re lati vely little power and
communications company fo r relaying them to any tele- can operate on a " low gain" antenna on the ai rplane.
phone or data te rmina l in the wo rl d. The a ntenna is si mple, little more tha n a blade, a nd
Tfthe message is intended for an aircraft in fli ght, pic ks up s ignals from any direction.
lnmarsat-Aero System




The system for satcom consists of three basic world (coverage falls off at the poles). Four additional
elements; satellites (space segment), airborne satellites are in orbit as spares, ready to take over during
avionics (aircraft earth station) and the connec- a malfunction.
tion into telecommunications networks (tele- An airplane communicates with satellites, not ground
phone companies, for example.) This last ele- stations. There are ten ground stations throughout the
ment is known as the ground earth station. world for relaying aircraft communications into telecom-
Four lnmarsat satellites cover nearly all the munications networks.

High Gain . This anteruia supports the fu ll range as done in an astronomica l telescope).
of satcom serv ices, which require more power tha n is A n airplane in cruise is a lways moving w ith re la-
possible with a simple bl ade . The " high gain" ante nna tion to the satellite. To keep the high gain antenna point-
is more complex and expe ns ive . T he improvement in ing toward the sate llite, the ai rborne satcorn steers the
power ("gain") is achieved in two ways. First, the an- beam using information from the airp lane's navigation
tenna is made highl y directiona l w ith additional ele- system. As shown in the ii lustration, the e lectromechani-
ments to focus s igna ls into a beam. The narrow beam, ca l high ga in ante nna fits in the tail cap of the airplane.
however, must a lways aim directly at the satel lite. Conformal. The second type of high gain anten na
Steering the beam is accomp lished in two types of is the "conforma l," which fits the curve of the fuselage
high gain antenna, shown on the following pages . One a nd protrudes less than a ha lf-inch. The radio signa l is
is the e lectromechanical ; the antenna is rotated in azi- shaped into a narrow beam and a imed e lectronical ly.
muth and elevation by electric motors (m uch the sam e Inside the confor mal radorne are many smal l micros-

~ . . : - - : - - - -'
Space Segment
Four lnmarsat satellites provide global coverage. All are plete one orbit in 24 hours (also one rotation of the earth),
directly overhead the equator {at 22,300 miles, or 36,000 the satellites appear to remain fixed in position.
kilometers) and in geostationary orbit. Because they com- Each satellite is backed by a spare orbit ing nearby.
trip anteru1as. T he beam steering Lmit adjusts the signal Interm ediate Gain. A more rece nt deve lopme nt
in eac h microstrip antenna so its energy adds or sub- affects the gain of signals from the space vehic les.
tracts according to a pattern that forms a beam. The The fi rst two satellite generations broadcast "g lobal"
ene rgy is focussed and steered in a technology known beams to cover as much of the ear1h as possib le---and
as " phased a rray." the latest gene ratio n still does. Recent satell ites, how-
Eithe r conformal or e lectromechanica l, high gain ever, add " spot beams," whic h concentrate power over
antennas suppo11 all satcom se rvices . D ata rates be- a sma ller area (b ut tota l earth coverage is still about
gin at I0.9 ki lobits per second, which handles fax, voice 75% ). Because of this added power, a third type of
and high speed data, but thi s rate is increasing . a ircraft antenna e merged; the " intermediate gain" type,
Swift64. A recent service is Swift64, which com- which falls between the low and high gain mode ls. lt is
muni cates at 64 kilobits . With a high gain antenna o n less costly and simpler, yet prov ides a w ide range of
the a irp lane, thi s rate acco mmodates such wideband satcom serv ices.
serv ices as Internet, e-mail a nd v ideo conferencing.

Cell Phones in the Cabin

Cell phones were banned in aircraft becau se

they contact too many ground stations simul-
taneously while at altitude. But intense pas-
senger interest is producing new systems that
will almost certainly be adopted. They work
with the passenger's own cell phone and bill-
ing is done on his regular ce ll phone account.
The technology places a base station
aboard the aircraft that commands cell
phones to operate at low power and avoid rais-
ing regular ground stations. The base station
relays the calls through satellites, then into
the regular landline telephone system.

Ground Earth Station (GES)


A.\l'J'E~l\A AN 0

Ai'.JU SJGKAll.!7\'G




Ten ground stations like this one are located com band between 4 and 6 GHz.
around the world for communicating with air- Voice sent via satellite uses " codec, " for digital voice
craft via satellite. The ground station connects coding and decoding. Digitizing the voice reduces error
to international telecommunications net- in transmission and speech is high in quality.
works to route calls and messages to any The various blocks seen at the bottom of the illustra-
telephone, fax machine or data terminal in tion reveal a wide range of satellite services for aircraft,
the world. including air traffic control, passenger telephone, airline
The station's dish antenna is typically 10 operations and data.
meters in diameter and operates in the sat-

Aircraft Earth Station (AES)

/ /
/ /
/ /
/ /
/ /
I ',----,I ......---. DIPLEXER
I I :\'.\ I '----r----'
I 11,\T:\ I
,1 P,,\ II \I
!-- - - - - -~-- - - - - - -- - - -·~ ---------~--

Avionics aboard the aircraft for communicating via sat- nals from an intermediate frequency up into the L-band.
ellite are known as the Aircraft Earth Station. It sends and They are sent to the High Power Amplifier (HPA) for trans-
receives radio frequency signals to and from the satel- mission to the satellite.
lite in the L-band (1 .5-1 .6 GHz). It provides interfaces to During receive, the signal from the antenna first passes
various systems aboard the aircraft for voice, data, fax, through a Low Noise Amplifier, then is applied to the Ra-
video, etc. dio Frequency Unit. Signals are converted down to a
This equipment conforms to ARINC 741, as well as lower, or intermediate, frequency and sent to the Satellite
standards from lnmarsat, the satellite service provider. Data Unit.
The Low Noise Amplifier boosts the radio frequency
The basic components of an Aircraft Earth Station: signal received from the antenna.

Satellite Data Unit (SOU) Beam Steering Unit (BSU)

As the heart of the airborne equipment, the SOU in- For high gain antennas, the beam steering unit keeps
terfaces with the airplane navigation system. Airplane the elements pointed at the satellite as the airplane posi-
location is required to steer antennas, select satellites tion changes. Position information is received from the
and report position to air traffic services. Satellite Data Unit.
The satellite data unit also processes all message data, The antenna may be steered in two ways. For electro-
protocols and digital coding and decoding. mechanical types, the antenna array is positioned by a
motor. For electronic antennas, different combinations
Radio Frequency Unit (RFU of fixed elements are selected to focus the beam.
For data ready for transmission, the RFU converts sig-

Low and High Gain Satcom Antennas for Aircraft
Low Gain Antenna

Low-gain model has conformal an-

tenna mounted on fuselage. Because
of its simplicity it operates only on
services with slow data rates (600 bits
per second) such as air traffic con-
trol and airline operational messages.
Such data may be a stream of char-
acters (letters and numbers) dis-
played on a screen. Low in cost, the
low gain system operates in the "Aero
L " service.

High Gain Antenna



HIGH POW ER - - --


1e 1gna
The high gain satcom antenna supports Although the satellite is stationary, the
services with higher rates, such as "Swift airplane is moving. The antenna, there-
64," which handles multichannel voice, fore. needs the " beam steering unit," which
data, fax and Internet connectivity. The keeps the beam aimed at the satellite.
transmission rate is 64K bits per second. Steering information is obtained from the
High gain is achieved by an array of airplane's navigation system.
antenna elements formed into a beam
that focuses on the satellite.

Steered Conformal Antenna

High gain satcom antenna, the " Airlink" by Ball,

measures 32-in x 16-in, with a depth of only .29-
in. It is a conformal antenna, sufficiently flex-
ible to curve to the aircraft body. It is attached
by fasteners around the edges of the antenna.
Frequency range is 1530-1559 MHz and 1626.5-
1660.5 MHz, for communicating with lnmarsat
Antenna circuits inside the housing use mi-
crostrip technology, with no active electronic
components. The outer assembly is fiberlass

STA 1850
16-40 1660

-'"" ~ -- [
. . ..
., ....
,• .. . --. .. - ..

t:i- - I
' -
91 0
r- - - - I h
L- - - - L• .l-
Conformal antenna location
for a B-747. Antenna is posi-
tioned so mounting holes
along edges and two holes '
: +f'+
,.. --~ -+Lj
' ....

for the RF cables do not in- r-- - - tr
terfere with structure of the
911 L,_
lt • . -- .. • ' i.
. • __ .L_J

SI 2
r-- - - - - h
L-- . _J

~- '- ... L.-1..-


Steered Antenna
Two steerable satcom antennas
mounted in a rudder cap. They oper-
ate electromechanically, under control
of a beam steering unit. The anten-
nas are aimed toward the satellite, re-
gardless of aircraft position on earth,
and provide high gain performance.


In-flight High Speed Data System
High Gain

High Power Satellite

Amplifier Data Unit High Speed Data Unit

Server Unit


Cabin Wireless
Video Phone
Lan Unit

This system, developed for business jets by Honeywell and provides file storage and other resources such as
and Thales, accesses private or corporate computer net- an ISDN/Ethernet router and hub switch. It complies with
works anywhere in the world from the passenger cabin. ARINC 763.
Using the lnmarsat Swift64 service, the passenger uses In addition to data services, the system provides voice,
his own laptop to access the cabin network pictured fax and live video teleconferencing.
above. The interface between cabin network and sat-
com avionics (at the left) is a High Speed Data Unit (top
center). The Network Server Unit (top right) is a server

Intermediate Gain Satcom Antenna

CMC Electronics
The " intermediate gain" antenna is a more recent sat-
com type. Operating in the Aero I service, it can operate
with voice, fax and data. It is simpler and lower in cost
than a high gain model because of stronger " spot beam"
transmission from lnmarsat-3 satellites.
Voice is digitized and encrypted to keep communications
secure. Quality exceeds that of passenger telephone sys-
tems based on network of ground stations.
lnmarsat Aero Services
Swift64 AeroC
Based on lnmarsat's Global Area Network (GAN) , The aeronautical version of the lnmarsat C low-rate data
Swift64 offers Mobile ISDN and IP-based Mobile Packet system, Aero C allows non-safety-related text or data
Data Service (MPDS) connectivity at a basic rate of 64 messages to be sent and received by general aviation
kbiUs to support high-quality voice, fax and data and military aircraft opera ting almost anywhere in the
communications for air transport, corporate and VIP and world. Aero C operates on a store-and-forward basis;
government users. messages are transmitted packet-by-packet, reas-
sembled and delivered in non-real-time.
Compact, lightweight Ae ro C equipment, with an an-
Aero H tenna similar in size to a VHF blade, can be installed in
The original lnmarsat voice and data service, Aero H corporate and general aviation aircraft and helicopters.
supports multichannel voice, fax and data communications Aero C supports:
at up to 9.6 kbiUs anywhere in the satell ites' global (hemi- Globally available two-way 600 bits/s data
spherical) beams for air transport, corporate and VIP and communications, messaging, polling and position-
government users. reporting for non-safety-related purposes
Interfaces with internationa l X.25 networks
· Integrated Global Positioning System (GPS)
Aero H+ capab ility through a common antenna.
An evolution of Aero H. When an Aero H+ equipped
Aero C aircraft equipment comprises an antenna, a
aircraft is operating within a high-power spotbeam from an
duplexer and a transceiver. The transceiver is connected
lnma rsat 1-3 sa tellite it can receive Aero H levels of service
to a flight deck data terminal or a laptop and , optionally,
at lower cost. Outside the spotbeams the termina l works to a printer.
with the global beam as if it were a standard Aero H sys-
Capable of handling messages up to 32,000 characters
long , Aero C is typically used for weath er and flight plan
Aero I updates, maintenance and fuel requests, in-flight position
Exploiting the spotbeam power of the lnmarsat 1-3 sat- reporting , and business communications.
ellites. Aero I brings multi -channel voice, fax and data at
up to 4.8 kbiUs to corporate aircraft, military transports and Aero C is based on store-and-forward technology.
regional airliners through smaller, cheaper terminals. Messages entered into the aircraft terminal are
subdivided into data packets and transmitted to the
ground ear th station, where they are reassembled into
Aero L the complete message and sent to the ultimate
Low-speed (600 bit/s) real-time data, main ly for air- addressee via the nationa l and international
line ATC, operational and administrative comm unica tions. telecommunications networks. The process is reversed
for messages to the aircraft.
mini-M Aero The packets are error-protected: if errors are detected,
Single-channel voice, fax and 2.4kbiUs data for small retransmission of the affected packages is requested.
corporate aircraft and general aviation. The complete messages are transmitted to destination
only after all error-free packets have been recompiled.

Four lnmarsat satellites are in geostationary orbits,

22,500 miles above the earth . Spread around the
globe, they all follow the line of the equator. Be-
cause one orbit equals one rotation of the earth,
they appear fixed in position . Each satellite has one
backup spare in orbit.
Early satellites produced "global" coverage,
spreading their power over the greatest area. The
present generation , lnmarsat-3, also broadcasts
"spot beams," whi ch concentrate power over a nar-
rower area. In the illustration, the spot beam of each
satellite is shown in blue.
Spot beams illuminate the busiest air traffic re-
gions and simplify equipment on the aircraft.

Ground Station Location

United Kingdom Norway
Singapore Australia
France Canada
USA (3) Japan

Review Questions
Chapter 5 Satcom

5.1 What are three advantages ofsatellite commu- 5.7 What is a "conformal" antenna?
5.8 What is the term "Space Segment"?
5.2 What is the name of the next generation air
traffic control system based on satellites? 5.9 After satellite messages are received at a Ground
Earth Station, how do they get to
5.3 How many lnmarsat satellites provide global their final destination'f
coverage, and where are
they located? 5.10 On what band does the aircraft send and re-
ceive satellite communications?
5.4 Name two types of stations used in satellite
communications. 5.11 What is the purpose of a Beam Steering Unit'?

5.5 Name one advantage and one disadvantage of 5.12 What is the typical location on the airplane for
a low gain satcom antenna. an eJectromechanically steered antenna?

5.6 What is an advantage and disadvantage of a 5.13 Why do communications satellites appear to
high gain satcom antenna? remain fixed in one position'?

Chapter 6
Aircraft Communication Addressing
and Reporting System
Most aircraft communications fall into two cat- tactical infom1ation about when its flights take off, when
egories; ATC and AOC. The first, "Air Traffic Con- they arrive, whether maintenance w ill be needed, fuel
trol," is about safely separating a ircraft by providing re ma ining, di versions, crew hours a nd dozens of other
route and a ltitude clearances, radar tracking, weather items. Communications in this category arc AOC, "A ir-
advisories and other subjects dealing wi th airplanes in line Operational Control." Pi lots call it " company com-
the same airspace. ATC gro und stations are nearly a ll mu nications."
government-owned and operated. As a irplanes grew more numerous, airspace be-
A irlines are a lso a business. Each company needs cam e more congested a nd cruise speeds approached

ACARS in the Cockpit


ACARS is shown I I
here as part of the
multifunction dis- I I
play found in later
aircraft with elec-
tronic instru-
I I · RE TUR~J o 1 3
ments (EFIS). To
1• 5 5
make a position
report, the pi lot
presses a button.

Another type of ACARS control unit.

Most data is automatically collected
but pilot may also key in messages.
This controller is an early type; more
recent models are built into a flight
management system or multifunction
display shown above.

Mach 1, it was clear that a pi lot communicati ng wi th cause it operates on dig ital messages, it is one of the
both ATC and hi s company raised the workload to in- earliest fo rms of"datalink" in commercial aviation. Not
tole rable levels. ln 1978, a system called ACARS was only does it eliminate voice for routine messages, but
introduced to automate most compa ny messages . sends data automatically from sensors aboard the air-
Gro und and satellite networks that support ACARS are craft witho ut ass istance fro m the pi lot.
operated by organizations such as AR INC in N orth
America a nd S ITA in E urope. 0001. ACARS' fi rst job was au tomatically com-
municating to the airl ine company the time each fligh t
Meaning "A ircraft Communication Addressing and pushes back from the gate, takes off, lands and when it
Reporting System," ACARS is used by a irlines of a ll arri ves at the destination gate . Put those functions
sizes, corporate aircraft a nd government agencies. Be- together---Out, Off, On, I n---a nd they form the abbre-

ACARS Front-End
Processing System

ACARS began with a network of ground stations (lower left) that communicate by
VHF radio to aircraft mainly in North America. Full coverage is at altitudes above
20,000 feet, with additional stations at about 300 airports for on-the-ground com-
More recently, ARINC extended ACARS worldwide by a satellite-based system
known as "GLOBALink" (upper right). This service requires satcom equipment
aboard the aircraft.

ACARS Messages
"OUT" "OFF" "ON" "IN"

Preflight Takeoff and En Route Approach and Post-Landing
and Taxi Departure Landing and Taxi

From Aircraft From Aircraft From Aircraft From Aircraft From Aircraft
Crew Information 0001 Off Position Reports ETA Changes 00011n
Fuel Verification Destination ETA ETA Updates 0001 On Gate Coordination
Delay Reports Fuel Remaining Voice Request Final Maintenance
0001Out Special Requests Engine Parameters Status
Maintenance Reports Fuel Verification

To Aircraft To Aircraft To Aircraft

PDC Aero C ATIS Hazard Reports

ATIS ATC Oceanic Weather Advisories
Weight and Balance Clearance
Runway Analysis Weather
Flight Plan Ground Voice
Request (SELCAL)
Dispatch Release
Gate Assignment
Remote Maintenanc
Many different messages are transmitted by AGARS datalink. The service is used by airline and corporate
aircraft in much of the world. Although most traffic is for airline company operations, AGARS also handles
air traffic clearances when government radio services are not available, su ch as oceanic regions.

ACARS Message Format

PREAMBLE r- ~---all"!'~....-------
, -

Up to 220 characters can be This sequence detects errors.

The preample contains the
transmitted in this block. They If the system is operating properly,
address of the aircraft (flight
contain report information it generates cha racters for
or tail number). If address is
(departure time, arrival, etc.) "ACK" (acknowledge) or
intended for another airplane,
which need only a few "NAK" (negative acknowlledge
the message is rejected.
The preample also synchronizes characters. How ever,
the cha racters transmitted. more characters are included
There is an "ackknowledgment for "free talk," sending and
character to indicate the message receiving longer
is being received. messages.
A label identifies the message and
how it will be routed. There are labels
departure , fuel, ETA, diversion and
about two dozen others.
Three building blocks of an AGARS message. Charac- At the receiving end, tones are decoded back into a
ters that make up the message are comprised of digital digital signal.
bits (ones and zeroes). They are, however, not transmit- This system will remain in operation until it is eventu-
ted digitally, but in analog form as two audio tones; 1200 ally replaced by all-digital AGARS signals and transmis-
and 2400 Hz. Transmission is through the aircraft VHF sion through satellites.
transceiver; downlinked or uplinked from a n AGARS
ground station.

ACARS Message on Aircraft Take-Off

IN1234 QB 1 2804 RAL 5322

of airplane) "QB" means IDENTIFIER (Minutes and
"Off Time" seconds past
the hour)

viation OOOT (pronounced "Ooee"). About eight mil-

ACARS is expa nding to other services. It reports
lion such messages are sent every month via ACARS.
e ngine pe rformance to the ground whi le in flight, so
A pilot does not have to receive the large volume problems are recogn ized early, often before they've
of ACARS messages transmitted to other a ircraft. If a caused major damage. By us ing the data to show nor-
message is not intended for the airp la ne it is not se- mal performance, airlines obtain extended warrantees
lected. Each ACARS system aboard the aircraft ac- from engine manufac ture rs . Wea ther information
cepts only its unique address. uplinked to the cockpit via ACARS can be evaluated
while pilots are not in a high workload phase of flig ht.
A message that requires several minutes to send Over 60 applications, shown in the chart, are supported
by human vo ice moves through ACARS in milli sec- in the ACARS syste m.
onds. A position report, for example, is done with the
pu sh of a button ; the data is picked up from the
airplane's navigation sensor. Other messages may be
keyed in by the pilot. There a re two major organizations providing air-
gro und company conununications for the a ir transport
Not o nly does ACARS re duce congest ion in industry. One is ARlNC, which ma inly serves a ircraft
crowded com bands, but avoids the garble and error fl ying over North America. Similar services for Eu-
w hen two airp lanes transmit on the same frequency at rope are prov ided by SITA (Societe rnternationale de
the same time. ACARS avoids collisions with other Telecommunication s Aeronautiques). On the V HF
transmiss.ions and checks each message for accu racy. bands, the SITA ser vice is calledAIRCOM, which op-
erates th.roug h ground stations . Increasingly, ARlNC
Another benefit is that pilots can flig ht-plan in a and SlTA provide a full range of serv ices via sate II ite,
dispatch office but don 't have to wait fo r clearances to
rather than a network of ground stations on VHF and
come back from air traffic control. The information is HF bands.
sent to the cockpit via ACARS.

Text of an Actual ACARS Message

QF = "Wheels Off" A ircraft Tail N umber

ACARS Mode: 2 IAircraft reg: .N1234

Message label: QF Block id : 1 Msg. no: M63A
Flight Id: PA0978
Message Co ,tent:-1 IAD2241 LHR

Message: Off Wa s hing ton
Flight No.
Dul Jes (IAD) at 2241. Destina-
tion: London H eathrow (LHR)

ACARS Bands and Frequencies
VHF (Very High Frequency) HF (High Frequency)
USA, Canada 129.125, 130.025, Shannon, Ireland 8843, 11 384
130.450 MHz Hot Yai , Thailand 5655, 13309
USA, Canada, Australia 131 .550 MHz (Primary) Islip, New York 2887, 5500 , 8846, 17946
USA 131.125 MHz Kahalelani , Hawaii 2878, 4654, 6538,21928
Japan. 131.450 MHz (Primary) Johannesburg, S.Africa 8834, 13321, 21949
Air Canada 131.475 MHz
Europe 131 .525, 136.900 MHz A sampling of frequencies and stations in the High
Europe 131 .725 (Primary) Frequency band used during long-range fl ights
over oceans and remote areas. Each ground sta-
These channels, at the upper end of the VHF band, tion has channels throughout the band in order to
carry AGARS messages to and from ground stations. select one according to changing radio propaga-
Channels shown in red are original AGARS frequen- tion conditions.
cies, which have expanded with increasing air traf-
New forms of transmission are multiplying the
number of messages that can be carried on a single
channel. Known as VDL---VHF datalink- it enables
one channel to carry up to 30 times more data than
the conventional AGARS.

Review Questions
Chapter 6 ACARS
6.5 How is an ACA RS message received only by
6.1 What is the meaning of the abbreviation "AC- the aircraft it's intended for?
6.6 Wh at two bands carry ACARS services?
6.2 What type of communications occur on ACA RS?
6.7 What satellite-based system carries ACARS
6.3 Who operates ground and satellite services for services worldwide?

6.4 What is the mea ning of the ACARS message,

" 0001"?

Chapter 7

Selective Calling

During oceanic flights, airc raft monitor a HF (high

freque ncy) radio for clearances from a ground control-
ler. Because HF reception is often no isy, and many
messages a re intended for other airplanes, a pi lot pre-
fe rs to turn clown the audio He will not mi ss calls
intended for him, however, because of Selcal---selec- CODE :.-- :::::::--1
tive call ing. T he ground controller sends a special code SELECTOR ~lr I
that sounds a chime or il lumina tes a light to warn the SWITCHES ~~
pi lot of an incoming message and to turn the volume
up. Because it's selective, Selca! " awa kens" only the
( ) 11 ~
HF receive r with the appropriate code.

Selcal decoder is an LRU (line replaceable unit) located

remotely in the airplane's electronic bay. The four-letter
Thi s Selcal controller, located on the instrument code assigned to that airplane is programmed manually
panel, monitors two radios simultaneously (VHF or by four thumb wheels (code selector switches).
HF). An incoming tone code lights a green lamp The four-letter code (EG-KL, for example) is drawn from
and sounds an aural warning (chime). The pilot the letters A through S (I, N and O are excluded).
turns up the audio volume on th e radio. Pressing Some aircraft have two decoders, one to receive Selcal
the RESET button arms the system to receive the tones for up to four radios (2 VHF and 2 HF). The same
next call. assigned letters, however, are entered into the decod-
e rs.

How Selcal Code is Generated
A 312.6
B 346.7
C 384.6
E 473.2
G 582.1
- I
881.0 I I I
977.2 I
p 1083.9 I I I I
Q 1202.3
R 1333.5
s 1479.1

A Selcal code consists of four tones taken from the 16 interval the second pair is sent; C and D, or 384.6 and
audio frequencies shown at the left. In this example, the 426.6 Hz. (The technique is similar to touch-tone dialing
code is AB-CD. As seen in the diagram, they are sent in for telephones.) Because the tone signals are audio in
two pairs. A and B are mixed together (312.6 and 346.7 the voice range, they can be detected by a conventional
Hz) and transmitted for one second. After a .2-second VHF or HF communications transceiver.

Selcal Ground Network



When Selcal must operate on VHF, where maximum pany. The link between stations is usually through tele-
range is about 200 miles, it is done through a network of phone lines.
remote ground stations. The airplane, always within Selcal over oceanic routes is done on HF, where range
range of some ground station, transmits and receives from airplane to ground may be several thousand miles.
Selcal messages through an ARINC control station (in The future of Selcal will be satcom; the airplane will
the U.S.). ARINC relays the message to the airline com- communicate with satellites for relay to the ground.

VHF. Selca! also operates w ith VHF radios, used The code is entered into the flight plan so controllers
by a irc raft fl y ing w ithin a country or continent. Not can address it.
only docs Selca I reduce pilot workload, but extends the A lthough there are nearly I 0,000 possible four-
communication distance of VHF. Tf an airli ne com- letter codes, they are in short supp ly. The demand is so
pany in Denver, for example, wan ts to talk to one of its high that more than one a ircraft may be ass igned the
airp lanes in flight over Chicago, this is fa r beyond the same Selca! code. To avoid answering a call inte nded
ra nge of VHF. Instead, the message is sent through a for another airplane, identica l codes are assigned in
telephone line to a network of grou nd stations. A VHF widely separated parts of the world . T here is also an
ground station near the aircraft transmits to the airplane, attemp t to assign the same code to airplanes w ith dif-
and the pilot is s ignalled. He replies on VHF to the fere nt HF channel assignments.
ground station and the message reaches the a irline com- It is important to warn pilots that it's possible to
pany th rough the network. receive a Selca! a lert not intended for them. This can
Coding. Selca] is based audio tones, as shown in be corrected by the pilot by clearly identifying hi s fl ight
the illustration. Each airplane has a code of four letters to the ground station.
set into the Selca! decoding uni t aboa rd the airplane.

Selcal Airborne System





i-----. AUDIO


Block diagram of Selca! system. Signals are received An incoming signal with the correct code illuminates a
from ground stations through the aircraft HF and VHF green panel light in the Selcal Control Panel and sounds
transceiver. They are processed by the Remote Electron- a chime (aural alert).
ics Unit and sent to the Selca! decoder for delivery to the A single system is shown here, but many aircraft
pilot (on a screen or printer). have dual Selcal installations.

Review Questions
Chapter 7 Selcal

7.1 What does the contraction "Selcal" mean? 7.6 What precaution is necessary if a pilot receives
a Selca! intended for a different airplane?
7.2 Give two reasons why Selca! is used.
7.7 How is the problem reduced where two air-
7.3 How many tones are in a Selca] code? craft have the same Selca! code?

7.4 How many Selcal tone pairs are transmitted 7.8 How is the pilot warned of an incoming Selca!
simultaneously? message?

7.5 Cao two aircraft have the same Selca! code?

Chapter 8

Emergency Locator Transmitter

Two U.S . Cong ressme n were miss ing in an Alas- in the vicinity woul d monitor 12 1.5 (found on all VHF
kan snowstorm in 1972 and never heard from again. com radios) and repo1t a beacon signa l to a ground sta-
Searc h and rescue fo rces flew over 3000 hours looking tion . The new law required General Aviation air planes
fo r the downed airplane but fo und nothing. Even if the (Part 9 1) to be equipped with an E LT. For the airlines
congressmen surv ived the crash and called for help (Part 121) ELT's were required fo r extended fl ight over
the re was no assurance that a nyone was li stening or water a nd uninhabited a reas .
within radi o range.
Flaws in the system soon appeared. First, there
Congress responded with a law requiring aircraft was no gua rantee a di stress cal l would be heard by a
to carry a " beacon" to auto matically sense a crash and passing airpl ane or ground fac il ity. Wha t is more, the
send out e mergency signals on 121.5 MHz, the distress numbe r of fa lse alarms rose so high that only a few
frequency. The theory was that other airplanes fly ing pe rcent resulted from actual crashes. Despite an enor-

A beacon, like this Artex C-406-N,

sends three separate ELT signals
to the antenna through one coaxial
cable; a warbling tone on 121.5
and 243 MHz, and an encoded digi-
tal message on 406 MHz. Output
power on 406 is 5 watts, with a
lithium battery rated for 5 years.
Note the precaution about
mounting the ELT with respect to
the direction of flight, which as-
sures proper operation of the
crash sensor (a G-switch).
An ELT for a helicopter has a
different G-switch , which re -
sponds in six different directions.

rnou s waste of searc h and rescue resources, there was
Search and Rescue Satellites
agreement that the system should not be abando ned,
but improved.
C hanges came in the form of tighte r standards
and better design. The ELT industry also gained expe-
rience and learned that failure to activate during a crash
was often due to poor ELT insta llation , corroded inter-
nal parts, defective G-switches, faulty antennas and
cables and dead batteries .
In 1995 all ELT's unde r the original certification
(TSO C9 1) would be re placed by the next-generation
ELT (TSO 9 la). The regulations also tightened main-
tenance requirements; once a year, an ELI must be
in spected for proper installation, battery corros ion, op-
eration of controls and crash sensor, and suffic ient sig-
nal radiated from the antenna.
The U.S. satellite, SARSAT, is operated by NOAA
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis-
tration). It is in polar orbit at an altitude of 528
While the new rules improved ELT hardware, the re miles, circling the earth once every 102 min-
was still the question; " Who's listening fo r distress sig- utes.
nals?" The answer arri ved w ith earth-circling satel- The Russian satellite, COSPAS, circles the
earth every 105 minutes at an altitude of 621
1ites. By li stening from orbit, satellites increase the
chance of intercepting an ELT distress signal. The US satellites' primary mission is observ-
ing weather and the environment, and is also
The satellite system, known as Cospas-Sarsat, equipped for receiving search and rescue sig-
consists of sate llites provided by the United States and nals.
Russia. "Cospas" is a Russian term meaning " Space COSPAS is part of the Russian spacecraft
System for Search of Vessels in Distress." These satel- navigation system, with the search and rescue
lites are primarily for the Russian navigation system, function added.
Payloads on both satellites (for search and
but with added instrume nts fo r search and rescue. They rescue) are provided by France and Canada.
operate on 12 1.5 MHz, the civi l aviation distress fre-
quency, and 243 MHz, the military equivalent. Ground Stations
U.S. satellites are "Sarsat," for "Searc h and Res-
c ue Sa te llite Aided Tracking." T he primary role is
weather survey, with searc h and rescue instrume nts
added on. As shown in the illustration, the satellites are
suppo1ted by a network of ground stations, miss ion con-
trol and rescue coordinatio n cente rs.
Location . 1n the era before sate llites, rescuers
fo und downed aircraft by radio-direction finding. Us-
ing an attac hme nt to a V HF radio and a di rectional an -
tenna, searchers " home in" on the E LT signal. There are ground stations over the world for
the search and rescue system. Known as "Lo-
Satellites use a different technology, the " Dop- cal User Terminals," they receive emergency
ple r shift." As a sate llite rises over the horizon toward transmissions picked up by satellites from
downed aircraft. Almost half the world is cov-
the c rash site, its forward speed "squeezes" the E LT ered for ELT's operating on 121.5 MHz; the en-
radio waves. Instead of receiv ing 121.5 MHz, the sat- tire globe is covered on the 406 MHz frequency.
ellite hears a slig htly hig her frequency. W he n the satel-
1ite moves away from the crash site, 12 1.5 appears to
stre tch o ut---produc ing a lower freq ue ncy. These
changes (Doppler shift) reveal the pos ition of the crash
afte r several satellite passes from different directions. 406 MHz ELT
Although Cospas-Sarsat so lved the monitoring prob- By the year 2000, more than 180 countries voted
lem , it actually increased the numbe r of fa lse alarms to end the 12 1.5/243 MHz generation of eme rgency
by its g lobal coverage . beacons. The cut-off date would be 2009. T he rep lace-

ELT Components

Major components of an ELT. The system broadcasts on three emergency frequen-
cies; 121.5 MHz, the original distress channel; 243 MHz, the military distress fre-
quency and the newer 406 MHz. When a crash activates a G-switch inside the ELT a
varying audio tone is broadcast (up to 50 hours) on 121.5 and 243.
The antennas are chosen according to speed of the aircraft; the rod is for greater
than 350 kt, the whip for slower aircraft.
Although the ELT activates automatically, it can also be turned on manually by the
pilot switch. If the ELT is activated accidentally on the ground, it sounds a buzzer to
alert the ground crew.
For the ultimate in accuracy, the ELT can broadcast latitude and longitude (on 406)
if this data is provided from the airplane's navigation system.
(Shown is the Artex G406-2.)

ment is 406 MHz, with numerous improvements to North and South poles.
reduce false alarms and raise location accuracy. (406
is operating now and can handle 121.5 and 243 MH z). Because Geosars arc stationary, they cannot find
beacons by the Doppler shift. They must receive a dis-
The 406 system is a mixture ofLeosar and Geosar tress message that contains the airplane's position . This
sate IIites. Leosar ("low earth orbit search and rescue") information is provided by a GPS receiver that is part
completely covers the globe and can "store and fo1ward" of the ELT or from an extern al GPS receiver on the
messages. The satel lite does not have to see both crash airplane.
site and ground station at the same time, but stores the
distress message, then rep lays it when a ground station The 406 system is fa r more capabl e than the first-
comes into view. generation ELT, which guided rescuers within about
15 miles of the crash site. They had to narrow the
Leosars, however, do not provide continuou s search with a homing receiver. The 406 brings rescu-
coverage; an airplane in distress must wait for the ers within I to 3 miles of the target using improved
satel lite to come into view. This gap filled by addi - Doppler shift detection . The most precise guidance is
tional satellites known as Geosars ("geosynchronous when the 406 MHz ELT is coupled with a GPS, where
orbit search and rescue" ). Parked 22,500 miles above accuracy becomes 300 feet or less.
the equator in geosynchronous orbit, they appear sta-
tionary and provide full earth coverage, except over The transmitting power of a 406 ELT is 5 watts,

ve rsus one-tenth watt fo r 12 1.5. user of a 406 ELT must register (at no charge) with
Sarsat a uthorities, giving telep hone numbers and other
When an airpl ane crashes, the occupants' c hance
contact info rma tion. Each 406 ELT is issued a serial
of survival rapidly drops with the passage of time . Nev-
numbe r that is broadcast w ith the s ignal.
e rthe less, search and rescue fo rces do not respo nd to
the first alert from a 12 1.5 ELI. Because so few sig- Now when a distress call is received by search and
na ls are from actual crashes, rescuers face unneces- rescue, they make a te lepho ne search. T he pi lot may be
sary hazards. They do n't start the search until the alarm at home or work (unaware the ELT had a fa lse activa-
is ve rified . With the 406 syste m, however, they will tion). Searchers speak wit h an a irport ma nage r who
respond to the fi rst a lert, which saves an average of s ix checks the ramp for the airplane, or ma ke add itional
hours in reaching a crash site. phone cal Is to verify whether the a irpla ne actually made
the trip and is in distress. The reg istratio n program
Registration . Much of the benefit from 406 is
shoul d reduce fa lse alarm s by 70 percent.
fro m an ELT registration system . No longer w ill an
ELT broadcast anonymous ly, but tra nsmits its ide ntifi -
cation as a digital message on the radio signal. Each

406 MHz ELT System

121 .5, 243,



PROGRAMMING 1 - - - - - ----l t 5VDNGL !::;
MODULE 1 - - - - - - ~ DOCS Ell
1 - - - - - - ~ BDCLK BNC I - - ~ ~ ~ - - '
1--------1 BDIN

ARINC 429 - A
,__+-,~ ARINC 429 - B

The Programming Module (lower left) sets up the 406 signal from the airplane navigation system into the ELT.
ELT for its unique code; a 24-bit address or aircraft tail This transmits an accurate location of the downed air-
number. This is required of all 406 ELT's. At top center, craft.
the Horn sounds to warn the pilot of a false activation. At upper right, the single antenna radiates three ELT
The Remote switch controls the ELT from the cockpit. At frequencies through one cable; 121.5, 243 and 406 MHz.
the bottom center, the ARINC 429 connections bring a

ELT for Fleet O eration


The 406 ELT is normally installed aboard

one airplane and programmed with a unique
address. Fleet operators, on the other hand,
want to move an ELT among their various air-
craft. This is possible with a model like the
Artex model shown here. Attached to the top
cover is a " dongle," a hardware key that au-
tomatically programs the ELT for that aircraft.
The dongle and top cover always remain with
the aircraft and the ELT i s removed when
needed elsewhere. Whenever an ELT is re-
turned the airplane, the dongle reprograms it
with the correct identificatio n (a 24-bit code).



Ell controls and connections

<(JT> 121.5 MHz OUTPUT


406.025 MHz OUTPUT


Cospas-Sarsat System

....- ~ .-,o


There are two types of satellites in the COSPAS-SAR- cause the LEO moves rapidly across the sky and views
SAT system (see upper left). One is LEO, for low earth the distress aircraft from many different angles.
orbit. The other is GEO, for geostationary earth orbit. GEO's, on the other hand, are stationary over the equa-
Because LEO's circle over North and South poles, they tor to cover large areas of the earth. The advantage is
provide coverage in these regions. LEO's also are bet- that a GEO picks up a distress call almost immediately.
ter able to pick up signals when the distress aircraft is Thus, the two types---LEO and GEO work well together.
surrounded by trees and other obstructions. This is be-

~ COSPAS -SAR SA T 406 ELT Registration

~ PROOF OF REGISTRATIOM Unlike first-generation ELT's, it is important to register a
EXP. ORTE: 11/ 30/0 3 new 406 MHz ELT. This data is used by authorities to iden-
tify aircraft type, ownership, telephone number, home base
ADCD D25 7ABC 0401 and other information. It enables searchers to discover most
USi.: false alarms before taking off on a dangerous and costly res-
cue mission.

Review Questions
Chapter 8 ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter)
8.1 What three radio frequencies are sent out by
an ELT during a distress call?

8.2 Why must an ELT be mounted in line with the 8.6 What is the most accurate method for identify-
direction of flight? ing the location of an ELT signal, as used in the 406
MHz system?
8.3 Name the satellites that pick up and relay ELT
signals? 8.7 What is the main benefit of registering ELT's,
giving aircraft 10, and ownership?
8.4 Name one method satellites use to locate a
downed aircraft transmitting an ELT signal. 8.8 How accurately can searchers locate a 406 MHz
ELT coupled to a CPS source?
8.5 Where do satellites relay the location of downed
Chapter 9

VHF Omn idirectional Range

Nav igating by radio signals is one of the most

successful and re liable aviation syste ms ever de - VOR and DME Radiate from Same Station
ve loped . Every day many of the 2,000 fli ghts in
the U. S. alone fl y through clouds, darkness, ra in
and fog---reac hing the ir destination in greater
safety than driving a n automobile. Whe n an acci- TACAN ANTENNA
de nt happens, in vestigators almost never find that
a fa ul ty na vigational aid misled a pilot into a haz-
ardous situation.

Not long ago, radionavigation began its great-

est change in 75 years. " Navaids," as they' re called,
consist of thousands of ground stations emitting
guidance signals for at least eight avionics naviga-
ti on systems. In a tra nsiti on now in progress,
ground stations w ill be replaced by signals from
space, broa dcast by o rbitin g sa te llites. Th e
changeover w ill occur over the next 20-30 years, Vortac (VOR + Tacan) ground station. The VOR
antenna atop the shelter transmits the VOR sig-
with both ground-based and satellite navigation ex- nal. The Tacan antenna is a military navigation
isting side by side. The wo rld made a decis ion system which transmits the DME signal (distance
through the Inte rnatio na l Civil Aviation O rganiza- measuring equipment). Tacan means "Tactical Air
tion that future a ir na vigatio n w ill be "GNSS"--- Navigation." Only military aircraft use the azimuth
fo r Globa l Navigati on Sate llite System. To keep (directional information) from the Tacan station.
The "counterpoise" at the base is a grid of metal
a ir travel safe during the changeover, early ground that acts as an electrical ground to improve effi-
stati ons must rema in operatio nal over the long ciency of the signals.
tra ns itional period. Those years w il l a lso enable
airc raft ope rators to get full value out of the ir large
investment in today's avion.ics syste ms.

VOR Covera e

60,000 FT ' - - --t.

45,000 FTF

18,000 FT

14,500 FT - - -

1000 FI- - - - 40NM

The service volume for a High Altitude (H) Vortac. Greatest range, where
good signal reception is assured, is 130 naut miles between 18,000 and
45,000 ft. These are flight levels flown by turbine-powered aircraft dur-
ing the en route phase. The three types of VOR are shown in the chart
bel ow.


VOR is the s hort-range radionavigation system Service Volumes
for much of the world. When introduced in 1946, it
e limi nated interference problems of earlier systems. Ra- T (Terminal VOR)
From 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL) up to
dionavigation from 1920 to 1940 operated on low fre-
and including 12,000 feet AGL, at distances out
quenc ies, where e nergy from lig htning strokes arc re- to 25 NM .
ce ived over I 00 mi les away. Low frequenc ies are a lso
susceptible to other natura l and man-made sources. L (Low Altitude VOR)
Not unt il World War II could designers produce From 1,000 feet AGL up to and incl uding 18,000
an a irborne radio that operated at VHF (very high fre- feet AGL at distances out to 40 NM.
quency) where there is little e lectrica l interference. VOR
frequencies start just above the FM broadcast band a nd H (High Altitude VOR)
From 1,000 feet AGL up to and including 14,500
run from 108 to 117.950 MHz.
feet AGL at distances out to 40 NM. From 14,500
V HF is immune to other problems of lower fre- AGL up to and including 60,000 feet at distances
quencies. The waves travel in straight lines like light, out to 100 NM. From 18,000 feet AGL up to and
which is important for creating accurate courses . A including 45,000 feet AGL at distances to 130
well-designed YOR receiver can be accurate to within NM.
one compass degree.

VOR Signal Has Two Navigation Components:
A "Reference" and "Variable" Phase


Each aircraft must receive two VOR signal components. One is the " reference phase, "
which is broadcast in all directions. This is picked up by all aircraft lying out in any
direction from the station. The reference signal is broadcast 30 times per second.

9... 1 2

The VOR station also transmits a rotating beam that turns full circle. Be-
cause the beam is narrow It is intercepted only when the aircraft is aligned
with the beam, as shown at the right. This " variable phase" signal is com-
pared with the " reference phase" in the receiver.
As shown on the next page, the airborne receiver compares fixed
and variable phases to determine the number of compass degrees, or bear-
ing, from the station.

Short Range and Doglegs VOR Principles

VOR signals cover up to about 130 miles from the A VOR station sends out two separate signals. One
station. To travel from Los Angeles to New York, there- rotates Ii ke the na rrow beam of a lighthouse. Imagine
fo re, a pilot fli es to and from about a doze n VOR sitting on a beach at night, watching the beam go around ;
stations. ln contine ntal U.S. there about 1000 VOR sta- yo u see a brigh t flash onl y when the light points di-
tions on the gro und. Because stations may not lie in a rectly at you. At that mome nt, begin counting to see
strai ght line along the ro ute, the trip might have a how much time it takes for the beam to flash again.
"dogleg." Let 's say the beam takes l O seconds fo r one rotation,
or 360 degrees, and assume you ' re sitting no rth of the
RNAV. The de lay of fly ing a dogleg was of not lighthouse. Now you can convert the number of sec-
much concern when jet fuel was 17 cents a gallon, but onds into where the beam is aimed at any time. By
as wo rld pri ces rose in the l 970's a new type ofYOR counting fi ve seconds from the flash, fo r example, you
nav igation emerged. Called "RNAY," fo r "area naviga- know the beam moved half-way around--- 180 degrees-
tion," it could rece ive a VOR off the stra ight line course --and is aimed south.
and electronically move it on a desired course.

VOR Si nal Structure


DEGREES ; 0 180 270 36 0

0 ',

1/30 SECOND ...




By comparing reference an d variable phases, the VOR A VOR also transmits two additional signals for sta-
receiver determines a difference in degrees. This also tion identification. One is an audio tone keyed in Morse
becomes the magnetic bearing from the station. code, enabling the pilot to identify the station. The tone
In this example, the ref erence phase is at O (or 360) is 1020 Hz.
degrees. The airplane, south of the station, receives a The fourth signal is voice. Many VORs also broad-
v ariable phase signal of 180 degrees. The difference cast voice to announce the ID, and enable the pilot to
(360 - 180) is 180 d egrees, or south. listen to the voice of a flight service station (for weather
The reference signal always goes through its O de- and flight plans.) The pilot, however, never transmits
gree phase at th e instant the variable signal rotates his voice on a VOR frequency because this would in-
through magnetic north. This provides the correct ref- terfere with navigational signals. He transmits on an-
erence for comparing the two signals. other channel, and receives on the VOR frequency.

VOR Broadcasts Two Navigational Signals




The two navigational signals from a VOR-Refer- The VOR signal as it appears in the receiver. Note
ence and Variable Phase-cannot be allowed to mix how the carrier rises and falls in strength (which is
during transmission. To keep them apart, the Reference AM, or amplitude modulation). This is caused by
Phase is placed on a " subcarrier." At a resting rotation of the VOR signal by the ground station,
frequency of 9960 Hz, the subcarrier is shifted up producing maximum signal (blue arrow) in the re-
and down in frequency by the Reference Phase 30 times ceiver when the beam is aimed directly at the air-
per second. The Reference Phase, therefore is transmit- plane.
ted by FM-Frequency Modulation. The same carrier is also undergoing FM modula-
As seen in the illustration, the subcarrier in- tion by the Reference Phase. The red arrow shows
creases in frequency as the Reference Phase goes the highest FM frequency of the subcarrier, which
maximum positive (upward) and decreases the subcar- always occurs when the Variable Phase moves
rier frequency when it goes full negative. through north.
The information about North occurs at the posi- The receiver measures the phase of both signals,
tive peak of the Reference Phase, shown by the makes a comparison, and indicates the difference
red arrow at the left. The subcarrier rises in fre- as a magnetic course from the VOR.
quency to 10,440 Hz. South is shown by the sec- In the example above, the airplane is north of the
ond red arrow, where the subcarrier lowers in fre- VOR. The Variable Phase is at a positive peak, while
the Reference Phase is at its highest frequency
quency to 9480 Hz.
(meaning north). Because the phase difference
between signals is 0, the airplane is directly north
of the VOR.
When describing VOR, it is convenient to vi-
sualize 360 " radials" spreading out from the sta-
tion like spokes of a wheel. In air traffic procedures,
a " radial " always moves outward from the VOR.

The VOR receiver needs one more piece of infor- rection at once. Al l aircraft within receiv ing ra nge of
mation; whe n to start counting. T his is the purpose of the VOR, no matter where they're located, will "see"
the second VOR s ignal (" refere nce phase"). When the that North-identifying beam. Now when they receive
first beam ("variable phase") moves around and po ints the rotating beam some time later, they can ca lculate a
to magneti c north, the second beam flashes in eve,y di- magnetic direction to the station.

VOR Receiver



An airborne VOR receiver. Signals (from 108 - 117 .95 which is broadcast in all directions. Each time the vari-
MHz) enter the VOR antenna and are applied to the re- able phase passes through north, the reference phase
ceiver. The receiver is tuned to a desired channel by is at O degrees. The phase detector compares their
the control-display unit. The FM and AM detectors pro- phase and the difference is the number of degrees, or
cess the two major signals transmitted by the VOR sta- bearing from the VOR station. This information is dis-
tion ; one on FM, the other on AM. The AM signals carry played to the pilot on a VOR pointer or deviation bar on
the " variable phase," the narrow beam which sweeps in other instruments.
a circle. The FM signal carries the " reference phase,"

VOR Navigation

w---- ---- ---- -------- ------- ---- -- ---- ---- ------ ----------------------------- --------- --------- E

In VOR navigation, the pilot selects a desired course, in There was early confusion over how to view the
this example North (0 or 360 degrees). The airplane is needle. Some pilots saw it as the airplane and
south of the VOR station so the To-From flag (at upper steered toward the center circle----which is incor-
left of display) indicates " To". rect. The industry determined that, regardless of
The airplane in the center is on course, so the needle the instrument, the pilot should always "fly toward
is centered. The needles in the other airplanes show the needle" to get back on course.
the direction to fly when the airplane is left or right of When each of the airplanes crosses the East-
course. West line, their To-From flags flip to " From."
These indications are not related to the heading of
the airplane, as in Automatic Direction Finding (ADF).

VOR indicator in a light aircraft. The

course deviation indicator (CDI) gives
left-right steering commands. Note
"To" and " FR," which indicate whether
the aircraft is flying to or from the sta-
tion. For this to be correct, the course
selected (shown here as 334 degrees)
must generally agree with the course
shown on a magnetic compass.
Th e VOR course is selected by the
OBS knob at lower left (Omni Bearing
Selector). The two white rectangles are
flags wh ich indicate if there is loss of
The horizontal indicator, separate
from the VOR system, is a glideslope
needle used for ILS (Instrument Land-
ing System).

(20 Degrees)


All iedSignat
VOR information is displayed to the pilot on an HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator) found
on large and high-performance aircraft. It gives a pictorial view of the airplane in relation
to the VOR ground station. Note that VOR information is shown in green, for example;
the pilot selected the No. 1 VOR receiver, shown at the left. He also adjusted the green
course pointer to 20 degrees on the compass card, which is the desired course to the
VOR station.
The airplane, however, is not yet on course to the station. This is shown by the green
deviation bar split off from the course pointer. By turning the airplane to the right, the
bar should move to the center and show the airplane on course to the station.

Radio Magnetic Indicator (RMI)

The RMI displays VOR and ADF

information, or any combination
of the two (VOR 1 and VOR 2 or
ADF 1 and ADF 2). Displayed
against a compass card, the
VOR needles simplify navigation by
always pointing in the direction
of the station (VOR or ADF).
In this illustration, the pilot
turned the lower right knob
(green arrow) to line up with
"VOR" on the display. Now the
green arrow will point to the sta-
tion. (The orange needle is se-
lected for ADF).
The more advanced Horizon-
tal Situation Indicator at the top
of the page has replaced many
RMl's in aircraft but RMl's are of-
ten found as a backup to the HSI.

Nav Control-Display












A control-display for a VOR receiver (" Nav 1 " ). Note at the lower left, the " LCL-NORM "
switch , for local and remote tuning. The Remote position allows the radio to be tuned
automatica lly by a Flight Management System.

Review Questions
Chapter 9 VOR

9.1 What is the name of a combined VOR and Tacan 9. 7 What happens when the variable phase moves
navigational station ? through magnetic north (0 degrees)?

9.2 What problem of early radionavigation did VOR 9.8 How does the VOR receiver know its bearing
overcome? from the VOR station?

9.3 VOR waves travel _ _ __ 9.9 Besides fixed and variable phase signals, what
other information is broadcast by a VOR station?
9.4 Name the two major components ofa VOR sig-
nal 9.10 Why is it necessary to place the reference phase
signal on an FM subcarrier?
9.5 The reference phase broadcasts in what direc-
tion ? 9.11 What is the purpose of the course deviation
indicator (CDI) on a VOR receiver?
9.6 The variable phase rotates _ _ times per

Chapter 10

Instrument Landing System

The ILS is respons ible for the ability of air Iiners of the touchdown zo ne. That guidance is also needed
and other aircraft to reac h the ir destination more than on bright sum mer days w hen an airpo1i is hidden in
95 percent of time in bad weather. The system improves haze.
safety to such a degree that most airlines will not oper- Anothe r benefit of lLS is that it provides a
ate into a irports without an LLS. ln the business world , "strai ght in" approach. As a irplanes become heavier
many corporations will not base their a irplanes at air- and faster, there is more danger in maneuveri ng c lose
po1ts without an I LS. to the ground at low ai rspeed . A 70-ton a irl iner cannot
The ILS isn't only for bad weather. While descend- nimbly bank and turn t hrough the right angles of an
ing into an airpo rt at night at a brightly lighted c ity, airpo rt traffic pattern. But flying the lLS, the a irplane
pilots see a " black hole" where the runway surface "stabilizes" on the approach 30 or 40 miles from the
should be. But a descent a long an TLS glidcslope c lears airpo1t and flies straight " down the s lot."
all obstacles and brings the airplan e safely within feet

An array of antennas launches the localizer signal near the end of an ILS runway. The
beams are pointed toward an airport runway at the right and reach out to about 50 miles.
ILS S stem


A three-dimensional path leads an airplane to the runway outer marker the airplane begins a descent on the
threshold at upper left. After intercepting the localizer glideslope. At the middle marker the pilot decides whether
(right), the airplane receives left-right guidance. At the there is sufficient visibility to land, or perform a missed

ILS Components ILS Categories

The JLS consists of more than a half-dozen sys- Because avio nics in the a irplane and gro und sta-
tems, both aboard the airplane and o n the gro und. Each tions must be equal to the ILS to be flow n, consider the
ILS fits in a category, depending how low the a irpl ane major di v isions. The categories are based on ce iling
may fly---known as " minimums" --- before seeing the and visibility at the airpo1i when the airplane arrives.
runway and deciding to land. Even a few dozen feet For ILS operations they are known as "Decision
have great impact on airline operations. Lf the ceiling, Height" (DH) and RVR (Runway Visua l Range).
for example, is 150 feet and TLS minimums require a Decision Heig ht. Whe n the a irp lane descends to
descent no lower tha n 200 feet, the airplane may have decision he ight (shown on an instrument approach chart)
to fly to a n a lternate airpo1i, dea l w ith hundreds of un- the pilot must decide whether to conti nue and land, de-
happy passengers, miss connecting flig hts and disrupt c lare a missed ap proach or go to an alternate airport.
schedules over the country. Simila r problems face the To continue the approach, he must be in a position to
overn ight express industry (Fed Ex,A irborne,etc.). B ut la nd (without excessive maneuvering) a nd see the ap-
with sufficient investment in avionics, training, mainte- proach Iights or other visual component on the su rface.
nance and ground facilities, airp la nes are unable to land RVR (Runway Visual Range). V isibility is usu-
at their destination only fo ur or five days a year! (Tn ally estimated by a weather observer and stated in miles.
the US, this usuall y happens whe n a low pressure area But the person may be more than m ile from where the
w ith c louds, fog and rain cover the East Coast. ai rcraft touches down, and visibility changes drasticall y

over short distances. To give the pilot an accurate Distance Measuring Equ ipment (DME) is required for
report, visibility is measured electronically where the lLS proced ures at some airports.
a irplane touches down. It 's done by a transm issom-
eter, wh ich sends a li ght beam between a tran smitter Category II. This TLS is insta lled at most inter-
and receiver. By measuring the loss of li ght (caused national and large metro politan ai rports. It brings deci-
by haze or fog), it provides an RVR in feet. This sion height down to I 00 feet and RVR to 1200 feet. In
infom1s the pilot whether the run way is be low land- add ition to avionics required for Cat. I, the airplane
ing minimums for visibility. Herc are the lLS catego- requi res a second local izer and glideslope receiver and
nes: radar altimeter.
The last TLS category is di vided into IIl a, band c.
Category I. By far the most common, there are Category Illa. Decision height drops to I 00 feet
app roximately 400 Cat. 1TLS airports in the U.S. The and RVR to 700 feet. Additional avion ics include an
minimum s are 200-foot decision height and RVR of autopilot.
2400 feet. Typica l equipment aboard the airplane to
do thi s approach is a localizer receiver, glideslope re- Category lllb. Decision height drops to 50 feet
ceiver, marker beacon receiver and automatic direc- and an RVR of 150 feet. A high ly capable autopilot is
tion finder (ADF) for receiving compass locators. required for thi s land ing, one that can automatically
How the runway is lighted affects minimums. flare (raise the nose of the airplane before touchdown)
Lower v isibility is a ll owed---an RVR of 1800 feet--- and decrab (straighten the airplane on the centerline).
ifthe runway has touchdown zone and centerline lights.

Airport Systems lnt"I

Besides avionics, an ILS requires an ap- (with lower minimums), two systems are added ;
proach lighting system. The pilot must be touchdown zone lights and the lighted center-
able to see the runway environment and make line. Note the " roll bars," which serve as an
a visual touchdown and roll-out. Visual ref- artificial horizon during the last few seconds be-
erences are supplied by approach lights and fore landing.
runway edge lights, a requirement for a Cat- Category Ille, the fully " blind" landing, is
egory I landing. where the pilot sees no lighting on the runway.
For the runway to support Category II ILS

Flight Inspection and Monitoring

Airport Systems Int

A flight inspection aircraft is over the runway checking which sound an alarm if accuracy is lost. In advanced
accuracy of localizer beams formed by the antennas be- ILS systems, a defective localizer transmitter is switched
low. The beams are also monitored by nearby receivers, off the air and a spare turned on.

The system is known as "autoland." to the runway centerline with an indicator that shows
Although a Cat. Jll b landing is done in dense fog, "fly right" or " fly left," unti l the needle is centered.
there is just enough remaining visibility ( 150 feet) to Forty channels in the VHF band are set aside for
roll out on the run way, then taxi to the term inal. localizers. Because they lie from I08. 1 - 111.95 MHz,
Category Ille. This is the fully "blind" landing. they fall within the tuning range of the VOR receiver.
Conditi ons are now "zero-zero" (for cei ling and vis- TLS, however, is only on odd-tenths of the frequency,
ibi lity, meaning no decision height and no RVR). Even for example; 108. l, 108.3, etc. Localizer signals, there-
the weather report looks unusual; it reads "WOXOF," fore, are processed through much of the VOR receiver,
symbols that mean; "ceiling indefinite, sky obscured, then spl it off to their own detectors. When the pilot
vi ibility zero in fog." On this day, it is sa id " Even the selects a localizer frequency, the receiver automatically
ducks are walking." configures for loca lizer processing.
But let's assume the autopi lot lands the airplane The localizer transmits an aud io lD for the pilot to
safely. Now the pilot has another problem; he cannot verify the correct station. There is a Morse code iden-
see to taxi to the terminal. tifier (which always begins with the letter " l").
As this is written, there are no Cat.Ill e airpo1ts in Glideslope. The glideslope provides vertical guid-
the U.S . The fully "blind" landing, however, is not far ance by sending beams at a typical angle of3 degrees
in the future. Enhanced and synthetic vision guide a (to match the glidepath of the approaching aircraft).
pilot without him seeing beyond the wi ndscreen. There are no pilot controls for the gl ideslopc re-
ceiver or audio 10. When a localizer is selected, the
ILS Components correct glideslope frequency is automatically channeled.
An ILS includes airborne and ground systems: There arc 40 gl ideslope frequencies, each paired with
Localizer. From an antenna array on the ground a localizer. Operati ng in the UHF band glides lope fre-
a localizer transmitter projects radio beams aligned with quencies extend from 329.15 MHz to 335 MHz. The
the centerline of the runway. The beams ex tend at least pilot knows the glideslope is operating by movements
18 mil es out and to an altitude of 4500 feet. (S ignals of the horizontal needle on the display or a no-signal
can be received much farther away, but arc not guar- warning from an indicator flag.
anteed for navigation.) In the cockpit, the pil ot is guided Marker beacon. Lying along an extended centerline
of the runway, marker beacons give the pilot visual and
ILS: Two Audio Tones on a Carrier






The localizer antenna focuses the radio carrier into are reversed; the pilots flies away from the needle to
two narrow lobes, shown here as blue and yellow. The get back on course (known as " reverse sensing"). Be-
yellow lobe is modulated with a 150 Hz tone; the blue cause this is confusing to the pilot, most localizer
lobe by a 90 Hz tone. If the airplane flies along the receivers have a back course switch (" BC")" to keep
center of the overlapping (green) area, the pilot sees a the same sensing as on the front course.
centered ILS pointer. Back courses are present at all localizers, but should
An ILS receiver does not measure the difference in never be flown unless there is a published proce-
strength of the two radio lobes. Rather, the receiver dure. Also, there is no glideslope with a back course
compares the difference in strength between the two approach.
audio tones. This is known as " DDM," for difference in Many localizer displays use the blue and yellow
depth of modulation. colors shown in the above illustration. The trend, how-
Many localizer antennas also launch signals off their ever, is not to use these colors on an instrument be-
back end (to the right in this illustration) and form a cause they don't provide useful information. The
" back course." This can be used for limited guidance, needle provides all the guidance.
but in simple localizer receivers, the needle indications

Localizer Indications

The localizer needle indicates " fly With the needle centered, the airplane The needle indicates " fly right" to
left" to intercept the centerline of is on an extended centerline of the get on the localizer course.
the localizer course. When tuned to runway. The same indicator is used The overall width of a localizer
a localizer frequency, the OBS for VOR navigation, but when a local- course is usually 5 degrees. Thus, a
(omnibearing selector) is disabled. izer frequency is selected, the needle needle deflecting full right or fu ll left
Most pilots, however, set it to the become four times more sensitive. indicates the airplane is 2.5 degrees
localizer course as a reminder. This This achieves the higher accuracy re- off the centerline.
example is Runway 36 (the same quired for an ILS approach.
as O or 360 degrees).

Glideslope Guidance



The glideslope is formed by a radio carrier aimed ceiver in the airplane receives equal signal (green
upward into the glidepath. The lobe seen in blue area) it is on the glideslope. Most glideslopes are
is modulated by a 90 Hz tone; the yellow lobe modu- designed for glide angle of 3 degrees.
lated by a 150 Hz tone. When the glideslo pe re-

G Iideslope Indications

Horizontal glideslope needle is be- Centered glideslope needle shows The high position of the horizontal
low center of instrument, command- the airplane is descending on the glideslope indicator is telling the pi-
ing pilo t to " fly down" to intercept correct vertical approach path to the lot to "fly up " to intercept th e
the g lideslope. runway. glidepath. This is a dangerous situ-
ation because the airplane is too
close to the ground.

audible cues on his distance to the airpo1t over the last 4 to station picked up by an ADF (automatic direction finder
7 miles. They are located to mark impmtant phases of the receiver) to guide the airplane, arriving fro m any direc-
approach, such as glides lope intercept, decision height and tion, to the outer marker. Its operation is described in
when to begin a missed approach. the chapter on ADF.
Compass Locator. Some lLS approaches have a
compass locator at the outer marker. This is a low power

Glideslope Station

A glideslope antenna array, found alongside

runways with an ILS, radiates signals that
angle upward. When the airplane is about 5
miles away and 1000 feet above ground, the
pilot intercepts the glideslope beam and flies
it down toward the runway. Glideslope fre-
quencies, which lie between 328 and 336 MHz
are not selected by the pilot; they are auto-
matically tuned when he selects the local-
izer frequency for that ILS approach . The
glideslope receiver is " channeled " by the
localizer receiver.
Airport Sys tems lnt'I

Glideslope Receiver

329.15 - 335 MHz



Up-down information is sent as two audio tones---90 ger and moves the needle above the center position----
and 150 Hz---which are recovered from the radio carrier telling the pilot to "fly down."
by the audio detector. Two filters separate the signals. An important part of the system is the warning flag. If
The difference between the signals is presented to a malfunction causes loss of signal, the needle returns
the up-down indicator. If the airplane is on the glideslope, to the center position. This could be dangerous because
equal amounts of 90 and 150 Hz are applied to the indica- the pilot might believe he is precisely on the glideslope.
tor, but out of phase (opposite polarity). The two tones This is avoided by the warning flag. It receives the sum
cancel each other and the needle remains centered. This of the two signals; if they are not sufficiently strong for
is correct for an airplane on the glideslope. If the air- navigation, the flag appears. The warning usually shows
plane rises higher, however, the 90 Hz signal grows stron- the letters " GS" or a barber pole symbol (red stripes).

Marker Beacon Receiver

400 HZ TONE,

1300 HZ TONE,



The marker beacon receiver is fixed-tuned to 75 MHz, and middle (amber light). The Inner marker is for Cat-
the carrier frequency for all marker ground stations. The egory II systems, which are at few airports.
pilot identifies the marker by viewing the 3-light indica- On older aircraft, the white inner marker indicator may
tor (blue, amber and white) and listening for an identify- show the letter " A" instead of " I." "A " is for " airways,"
ing tone. once used for cross-country navigation , but no longer
The audio rises in pitch and sounds faster as the air- needed because of numerous VOR stations. Its position
plane passes each marker and is closer to the runway. is now occupied by the inner marker.
Most ILS's have only two markers; Outer (blue light)

Marker Beacon Ground Stations



0 1800 3500

The three ground stations--- inner, middle and outer mark- arriving at the middle marker, this is usually the decision
ers---broadcast on 75 MHz, but with different tone codes. height for a Category I landing.
Distances of the stations from the runway vary according Another function of the outer marker is to prevent the
to the airport location, but typical distances are shown in pilot from flying down a false glideslope. All glideslopes
the diagram. produce false signals above and below the correct one.
Markers broadcast very low power (about two watts) The pilot knows he is on the correct one by checking on
to keep their radiation close in and to limit their radiation the approach chart for correct altitude when marker tone
to a small area. During an ILS approach, the airplane and light are received.
intercepts the glideslope signal at the outer marker. When

Review Questions
Chapter 10 ILS
10.9 When a localizer frequency is selected on the
10.1 Name three markers along an ILS. VOR receiver, the indicator needle becomes
_ _ _times more sensitive than for VOR naviga-
10.2 How is RVR (Runway Visual Range) measured tion.
on an ILS runway?
10.10. The frequencies of the two audio tones that
10.3 Name the categories of ILS. provide up-down guidance on
a glideslope are and _ __
10.4 What component of an lLS provides an
extended centerline to the runway? 10. 11 The compass locator of an ILS is received on
the _ _ _ _ _
10.5 Name the ILS component that provides
vertical guidance to a runway. 10.12 How are glideslope receiver frequencies
10.6 How many channels are allocated to localizers?
10.13 What is the frequency for au marker
10.7 The localizer frequency is selected on the receivers?

10.8 The frequencies of the two audio tones that

provide left-right guidance oa localizer are _ __
and _ _

Chapter 11

Microwave Landing System

Space Shuttle: Earl MLS User

For over a half-century, !LS proved the most

dependable system for landing airplanes in bad weather.
But by 1960 there were signs that lLS could not keep
up with a growing aviation industry.
Few channels. ILS has only 40 freque ncies in
the V HF band, with almost no chance for expansion.
There are simply not enough frequencies to satisfy
growth at large metropolitan and international airports.
Limited Capacity. An ILS serves one runway
with a single course. When weather is bad, en route
traffic headed for the lLS is strung out hundreds of
miles, forcing each airp lane to wai t its turn for the
I nterferencc. The rise of powerful FM broadcast One of the first users of MLS was the Space Shuttle or-
stations during the I980's further threatened lLS. The biter. Accuracy is important because approach and land-
ing are "deadstick"---there is no engine power for the
FM band ends at 108 MHz, just under the beginning of
300,000-pound "glider" to try a second time.
the ILS band. One early complaint came from an Air If necessary, the MLS system can perform an "auto-
Force pi lot flying an !LS and monitori ng the aud io ID; land," bringing the orbiter to touchdown and roll out on
" ! hear music" he reported to the controller. An FM the runway. The crew may also fly manually with refer-
radio program was breaking into hi s !LS receiver. As ence to instruments, guided by MLS signals. The ap-
proach begins at 18,000 feet and 10 miles from touch-
more FM stations went on the air, it forced major de-
sign changes in lLS receivers to harden them against The orbiter carries three independent MLS receivers
intcrfercnce. whose output is continuously compared and averaged.
Terra in Problems. Instal ling an ILS at an airport Distance to the runway is provided by precision-DME
is not simple. For ground antennas to function, they near the touchdown point.
MLS allows the orbiter to land in either direction on
need a wide area clear of obstructions. lLS signals re-
the runway.
fl ect and cause "multipath" error. (It's been said the
cost of moving earth for JLS construction can cost more
than the !LS equipment itself. ) Some ai rpo11s in moun-

MLS Azimuth Beam Sweeps Wide Area




A narrow scanning beam from the

MLS station sweeps back and forth
beyond either side of the runway. An
arriving aircraft picks up the sweeps
---"To" and a "Fro"--- and determines
the time difference between them.
From this information, the centerline
of the runway is computed.
The approach to the runway does
not have to be straight in. If the MLS
receiver has flight management capa-
MLS GROUND - - bility, a curved path may be computed
STATION lr r .l and flown according to MLS guidance.
(AZIMUTH ) U- - ·-

tai nous regions can never have an fL S, wh ich limits Transmitting MLS Azimuth Signal
emergency medica l ai rcratt, flights into ski resorts a nd
other services. lLS cannot create the steep descent
angles needed by a helicopter landing inside a city.
Military Operations. During the I 950's mil itary
services soug ht a new instrument approach system to
fill their specia l needs. For tactical reasons, they relo-
cate to new areas, clear the gro und for a run way and
qui ckly begin a i.r operations. Air traffic must operate
in a nd out of these remote fields under all weather and
li ghting conditions. Tt called fo r a new landing syste m
that wo uld fit in few portable cases, be flown in, set
up, ready to land airplanes in about l 5 minutes---a nd
do it in a ll weather.
!LS fe ll fa r short of the goal. [ts half-century-old
teclu1ology required acres of ope n land a nd much s ig-
nal tweak ing to get the courses con-ect. TLS was also
unsuitable fo r landing airpla nes on aircraft carriers. w 11cox
Respond ing to military requirements, the avionics in- One of two major components of MLS is a ground
dust1y ca me up with MLS, the Microwave L anding station that transmits the "azimuth" signal. This is
System. similar to the localizer of an ILS, but MLS sweeps a
Shorter Waves. T he first benefit of MLS arises wide area beyond left and right sides of the runway.
This provides many inbound courses to the runway.
from its wavelength. TLS frequenc ies have fu ll wave-
The station is about 400 feet beyond the far (or
le ngths of about 8 feet. Much hi gher in the microwave stop) end of the runway, as seen by an arriving air-
region , signals a re o nl y 2.5 inches long (full wave- craft. The airplane on the runway is flight inspecting
le ngth). Not only are microwave antennas smalle r, to check accuracy of the MLS signal.
they are easier to fo rm into a naITow beam and steered The white tower at the left is a field monitor. From
its position between the station and runway, the moni-
tor continuously samples the MLS signal and warns
As shown in the illustrations, th e operating prin- of a malfunction.

MLS Elevation Beam Scans Vertical!



Scanning up and down, the MLS elevation beam is s1m1- ter, on the other hand, may choose a steeper glidepath in
lar to an ILS glideslope. MLS, however, sweeps a greater order to land on a rooftop in a city.
area, creating many selectable glidepath angles. The The MLS elevation station is located alongside the run-
arriving aircraft seen here chose a 3-degree glideslope, a way, near where aircraft touch down (about 400 feet from
typical approach angle for fixed-wing aircraft. A helicop- the approach end}.

c iple is s imple. The MLS station beams a signal that

swings back and fo rth. A n airpla ne receives the beam
as the signal travels in the "To" di rection, then agai n
whe n the beam returns in the " Fro" direction. By mea-
suring the time in between, the receiver calculates where ·- ~1- ·
the airpla ne is located with respect to the centerli ne of
the run way. This is the "azimuth" function of MLS
and is equi vale nt to the loca li zer of a n ILS.
The same technique obtains the g lideslope. Herc,
the MLS beams a s ignal up and down the approac h
path, and the receiver calcul ates a ve1tical g lideslope.
Curved Approaches. Unl ike ILS, the MLS sig-
nal provides three-dimensional nav igatio n and new
types of approaches. Those dimensions are e levation
(glideslope), azimuth (localizer) and range, or distance,
The MLS elevation antenna is near the touchdown zone
from the runway w ith precision DME. These dime n- of the runway. Also located here is P-DME, precision
sions are available over a wide volume, enabling the distance measuring equipment that accompanies an MLS
aircra ft to arri ve fro m many directions. It also pro- installation. P-DME provides range to touch down and
vides all the data required for an on board computer to is ten times more accurate than conventional DME.
create a curved or segmented (stepped) approach, which Another advantage of MLS is a pilot-selectable glides-
lope. A pilot may choose the glidepath to match his
increases traffic capacity at an airport. airplane performance.
More Channels. In the microwave region, 200 The pilot is protected against selecting a glidepath
channels were set aside by internatio nal agreeme nt fo r that could lead to a collision with a mountain. Part of the
MLS---w hich is fi ve times as many as the 40 assigned transmitted signal contains a d igital message which
to JLS. Re li ef from growing frequency congestio n prevents the receiver from following a dangerous path.
seemed at ha nd. Mic rowaves, too, are removed fro m
interfe re nce of megawatt FM broadcast stations.
MLS Time Reference

R "TO" "FRO"

MLS signals arriving at the airplane produce two peaks as the beam
sweeps back and forth over the receiver antenna. The centerline of the
runway is determined by computing the elapsed time between the pulses.
This method is used for both azimuth (AZ, or runway direction) and EL
(elevation or glidepath).
The receiver knows whether it's receiving AZ or EL because each
pulse is preceded by a short identification known as a "preamble."
The azimuth signal sweeps at the rate of 13.5 scans per second. The
elevation signal scans 40.5 times per second.
Why the difference? A loaded Boeing-747 weighs 400 tons. If it lands
six feet left or right of the runway centerline, it's probably not serious.
But if the airplane flares 10 feet too high, the airplane may stop flying
and drops to the runway for a hard landing. To avoid that, MLS updates
the elevation (glidepath) signal three times faster than the azimuth for
greater accuracy.
Preparing the Site. Microwave signal s are less rendez-vous troops in the field---that is, troops fi nding
affected by te rrain and nearby bu ildings. MLS ground each othe r in unfamiliar territory. The researchers en-
stations do not need a la rge loca li zer array or tower for visioned a device to pick up satell ite signa ls and pro-
glides lope ante nnas . In one demo nstratio n, a manu fac- vide g uidance to down to 30 meters or better.
tu rer loaded an MLS syste m a board an airpla ne and An important requirement was the receive r. It had
fl ew it to a n airport several thousand mi les away. O n to be lightweight, inexpensive and accurate. ln a sys-
arriva l, the station was e rected and instrument landing te m ca lled Navstar (Navigation with Timing and Rang-
de monstrations fo llowed almost immediately. ing), they achi eved those goals only today it's called
World Standard. That demonstration happened GPS , the G lobal Positionjng System.
when the aviation wo rld was dec iding which of several MLS Survives. As GPS proved its value, avia-
MLS systems to approve as the international sta ndard. tion authorities dropped plans to replace l LS with MLS.
The win ner was TRSB, fo r "time referenced scanning Airline operators fly ing into congested airports, how-
beam, " using the To and Fro method described earlier. ever, couldn 't wa it for a changeover to GPS, which
MLS was hailed as the replacement for lLS. Op- could take ten years. As a result, MLS has e njoyed a
timism ran high a nd, in 1978, the International C ivil limited revival, with installations in Europe, w here
Aviation O rganization adopted M LS as the new world high-volume traffic operates into international airports.
standard. [LS would be phased out after a transition There are MLS systems in the United Kingdom, Hol-
period. land, Gennany and France . Other countries in or near
Enthusiasm for MLS was so great that states E urope are also planning to purchase MLS. On the
like M ichigan and Alaska did not wait for th e govern- military side, MLS continues to prove its wo,t h as a
ment to insta ll MLS at local airports and bought their tactical landing aid.
own. A town in Colorado p urchased an MLS as the Maltimode Receiver. Because airlines outs ide
on ly practical syste m to fl y in skiers during bad Europe must be equipped to land at any inte rnational
weather. MLS wo uld be the answer to precision ap- airport, a new type of av ionics appeared. Tt's the MMR,
proaches almost anywhere. At the same time, a new for "Multirnode Receiver." l t's a single radio that op-
syste m appea red that changed the future of avionics. erates on ILS, MLS and GLS (for G PS Landing Sys-
Satnav. Whi le the world awaited fina l approva l of tem). Once the radio is tuned to one of these services,
MLS, the US Department of Defense was examining the pilot sees the same g uida nce on the instrument
a navigation system that had nothing to do with air- panel.
p lanes . The Dep artment was seek ing a method to

Review Questions
Chapter 11 MLS
11.1 What were reasons for approving the Micro- the centerline of a runway?
wave Landing System?
11.5 Why are there so few MLS installations at air-
l 1.2 MLS creates inbound courses to runways by a ports?
scanning beam which moves . This is
called the signal. 11.6 What type of receiver can use I LS, MLS and
GPS signals?
11.3 Glidepaths are creating by a scanning beam
which moves _ __
This is called the signal.

11.4 How does an MLS scannin g beam determine

Chapter 12

Automatic Direction Finder

The Automatic Direction Finder is one of the few

a ir nav igation syste ms that still operates in the low end ADF on Fixed Compass Card
of the radio freq uency spectrum . The gro und station,
known as an NOB (non-directional radiobeacon) trans-
mits fro m 190 to 1750 kHz, whi ch spans the Low and
Medium Frequency Bands. Despite ma ny shortcomings,
ADF is still an important component in instrument op-
erations and will not soon be taken off the a ir.

AD F was a great step fo rwa rd w hen Bill Lear

(known fo r the LearJet) ma nu factured the fi rst a uto-
matic di rection fi nders during World Warn . Before that
time, a pilot or navigator turned an antenna loop by
hand to find a bearing between the a irp lane and ground
station. Jt's the same effect you hear on a portabl e AM
radio; if the radi o is rotated, the re is a point where the
station fades. You a lso notice that during one full
The simplest display is a fixed
rotation, there are two directions where the signal fades-
compass card and ADF pointer.
--whic h are op posite each other. The reason is, a n To fly to the station, the pilot
ante nna loo p can onl y indicate a line of position; it turns right and brings the pointer
cannot te ll on w hic h side of the station the air pla ne is straight up. The fixed compass
located. T hi s is known as an "ambigui ty" and must be card is of limited value, only tell-
ing the pilot the relative (not ac-
e liminated in orde r to fl y toward the station.
tual) bearing to the station .
Early navigators solved ambigui ty by draw ing lines
of position from two diffe rent stations a nd fixi ng their
position where the lines intersect. These systems, known

Radio Magnetic Indicator

A major improvement is the RMI, for

Radio Magnetic Indicator. The com-
pass card is coupled to a heading
reference (such as a horizontal
gyro), so the top of the card is al-
ways the actual heading of the air-
The RMI has two pointers, en-
abling the pilot to select any combi-
nation of VOR and ADF stations. In
this illustration, selected are: yellow
pointer for ADF, green pointer for

as MDF (manual direction finder) or RDF (radio direc-
tion finder) were crude and ti me-consum ing fo r obtain- ADF POINTER BAND SELECTOR
ing pos ition fixes.

Lear's desig n made di rection-finding automatic

by recognizing that a radio wave consists of two com-
ponents; a n electric and magnetic wave. Rad io waves,
in fact, are known as "electromagn etic" ene rgy. Be-
fore Lear, di rection finders worked only on the mag- UNING
netic po1iion o f the wave, which is picked up by a loop-
shaped a ntenna. l fthe loop is held w ith its w ide, or COMPASS
open, side toward the station, the waves hit left and CARD
right sides equa lly. Thi s generates li ttle signa l in the
antenna because equal voltages occur on both the sides
of the loop. There is no vo ltage difference, which is Early analog ADF receivers are still aboard many aircraft.
The major items on the panel
required to drive signal c urre nt down to the receiver.
ADF Pointer: When a station is tuned, the indicator
W he n the loop faces this way, its low-signal condition points directly to the station, regardless of aircraft head-
is known as a " nu ll." ing or flight path.
Compass Card: In this simple radio, the compass card
Next, turn the loop so o ne edge faces the station. does not move unless turned by the pilot.
Band Selector: Most aviation beacons are in the fi rst
Now the signal fi rst strikes the forwa rd part of the loop,
band (190 - 430 kHz), and some fall in the second band
then hits the back part. This ca uses a voltage differ- (420 • 850 kHz). Most of the second band is for standard
ence in the loop and c urrent flows to the receiver. Th is AM broadcast , which also occupies most of the third band
cond ition (high signal strength) is called the " peak." (840 • 1750 kHz).
The ADF receiver navigates on both aviation stations
(Non-Dlrectional Radio Beacons) and AM broadcast sta-
The reason for the vo ltage d ifference is that a ra- tions.
dio wave is rapidly c hanging, or alternating. In the Mode Selector. When the pointer is on REC (receive),
distance between front and back parts of the loop, the the radio uses only the ADF sense antenna, and the radio
wave moves through a d iffe rent p hase of its cycle, re- acts as a conventional AM receiver. When placed on ADF,
su lti ng in unequal vo ltages in the loop. the receiver uses both sense and ADF loop antennas and
o perates as an automatic direction finder.
Signal Strength. As the pilot selects a station with the
Sense Tune knob, the meter helps find the strongest sign al.
The a bility of a di rection-finding receiver to know Test Button. To determine if the ADF pointer is not
jammed or inoperative, the button is pressed . The test
wh ic h side of the stat ion it's on uses the electric por-
causes the pointer to swing at least 90 degrees and re-
tion of the wave. To pick it up, a second anten na, called turn when t he button is released.
the "sense" ante nna is added to the receiver. Unlike a
loop, it picks the electri c portion of the signal from all

ADF System





The Loop Antenna is highly directional, but metal areas The sense system eliminates the incorrect direction.
on the airplane distort its pattern . This is corrected by Bearing-to-station information developed by the re-
adjusting the Quadrantal Error Corrector. ceiver is fed to an EFIS symbol generator. This creates
The Goniometer captures the incoming signal and pro- the symbol of an ADF pointer on the electronic display.
duces angle information which is fed to the ADF Receiver. Bearing information may also be applied to a Remote
Also feeding the receiver is a Sense antenna. It is not Magneti c Indicator (RMI), an older, electromechanical in-
directional, but mixes with the Loop Signal to remove strument.
the "ambiguity." Otherwise, the loop would indicate only Audio from the beacon station (voi ce, Morse Identi-
a line of position that could run to or from the station. fier) is sent to the aircraft's audio panel.

directions. By combining loop and sense signals in the the speed of jct aircraft. The sense antenna on an air-
receiver, the correct direction of the loop signal is liner is often part of a plastic fa iring near the wi ng
selected and the indicator points toward the station. root. T he fairing is covered w ith a thin coat of meta l to
The recei ve r uses the nu ll portion of the loop sig- form the sense ante nna.
nal, not the peak, because it produces a sha rper, mo re
accurate d irectional indicatio n. NDB Station
Lear's first A DF's automatically turned the loop There are several classes of ground station for non-
to home in on a station, but requ ired motors and me- directional rad io beacons (N DB), mainly depend ing on
c hanical compo nents. Today, the a ntenna is made of broadcast power The lowest wattage NDB is part of
" crossed loops," two co ils on ferrite cores placed at the Instrument Landing System (lLS) where it is known
right angles to each oth er. T hey feed their signals to a as a "compass locator." lt guides the pilot to the outer
goniomete1: a dev ice which compares them and pro- ma rker or fi na l approac h fi x at about 30 mil es from
duces bea ring info rmation. The loops·now remain sta- the airport. For cross-countty flight, N DB stations gen-
tionary and have no moving pa rts. Instead of a large erate I 00-400 watts and reach out 50- 100 miles. When
circle of wire inside a dome, today's sma ll loop ante n- an NDB is located near a coast, power may rise over
nas barely protrude from the surface of the airplane. I 000 watts to prov ide long-range guidance over water
The sense anten na began as a long wire strung for several hundred miles. One N DB on Bimini ls land
above the fuselage, a system that would ha rdly work at near Florida, fo r example, covers most of the Caribbean.

ADF Control-Display: Airline






The ADF display has two sides; for active and The " Tone" switch near the center is the same
stored frequencies. The indicator light (above as the "BFO" {beat frequency oscillator) on
left) illuminates to show which side is active. other ADF displays and serves the same pur-
A transfer switch provides an instant pose; to make the ID audible on stations that
changeover. don't transmit audio tones.

ADF Receiver: INDICATOR --rcI: ~@

Airline LRU
TEST ~ 0
The remotely located ADF re- SWITCH
ceiver has a test function that FOR
checks for correct movement INDICATOR
of an ADF indicator.

NDB stations transmit the ir ide ntification in Morse ADF Limitations
code (two or three letters) by modulating the radio car- Electrical Jnterference. Operating on low and me-
ri er with a n aud io tone. Some high-p ower NDBs carry dium frequencies subjects the A DF receive r to natural
continuous aviation weathe r re ports by voice. There and man-made interference. lt is also susceptible to
may be N DBs in remote areas w ith no audible tone fo r noise from rotating machinery aboard the a ircraft, such
identifica ti on. Instead, they key the canier on and off as a lternators, generato rs and magnetos. Several tech-
to fo rm Morse code. ADF receivers have a c ircuit (BFO, niques are needed to suppress it, such as shielded cables,
fo r beat frequency oscillator) to generate audio fo r these filters, bypass capacitors and gro unding, as described
stations. in the chapte r on troub leshooting.
N atura l sources of interference include lightning,
Broadcast Stations which can occur hundreds of mi les away. If the air-
B ecause an ADF receiver can tune the standa rd c ra ft moves through prec ipitation, the re is a bui ld-up
AM broadcast band (530 - 1700 kHz) it can also home a nd discharge of energy that produces buzzing in the
in on those station s. The s ig nals may not serve as air- receiver.
ways in instrument operati ons and not be de pended on Some pilots say an ADF needle po ints in the d irec-
for navigation. AM stations are diffic ult to identify tion of li ghtning, and this is usefu l fo r avoiding thun-
because they announce the ir call le tters at w ide inter- derstorms. The Stormscope, in fact, is an instr umen t
va ls. Also, many AM stations shut down at sunset. that ope rates o n that principle. Using a conventional

Digital ADF


A panel-mounted digital ADF receiver. With the digital
display, tuning is fast and precise. Note the BFO (Beat
Frequency Oscillator). This is used for two reasons. Most
NDB (non-directional beacon) ground stations broadcast
an audio identifier for the pilot to verify he has tuned the
correct station. This is known as "MCW," for modulated
continuous wave. Some stations in remote areas, have
no audio, and apply the identifier by keying the radio car-
rier (the operating frequency). To convert this to audio,
the pilot switches on the BFO, which "beats" against the
incoming carrier. This produces an audible tone, caused
when the BFO and incoming frequency " beat" against
each other, producing a difference frequency which is the
audio tone. The pilot hears this as Morse Code.
Another use for the BFO is to locate very weak NDB
stations. The BFO produces an audible tone that makes
the carrier easier to find. This is most useful for older
analog ADF receivers which are more difficult to tune than
digital receivers.

A DF, however, is dangerous because the needle and tion. But on the a irplane, loops a re affected by en-
its dri ve cannot swing rapidl y and change direction, g ines, w ings, fu selage and other masses of metal that
making it a poor indication of storms. lie unequally around the loop. They di stor t the receiv-
Night Effect. Lower bands " skip" great distances ing patte rn by "quadrantal error." To reduce that ef-
at night through the ionosphere a nd bring in distant sta- fect, ADF receive rs have a quadrantal error corrector,
tions . This causes the A DF needl e to wa nder, and ac- a device whi ch usua ll y mounts atop the loop antenna.
c uracy is poor if signa Is are wea k. The loop signal fi rst passes through the qu adra nta l er-
Skipping is mostly a problem at night. Radio waves ror corrector before proceeding down the tra nsmission
are bent at a sha llow ang le during the day, whe n the line to the rece iver.
ionosphere reaches down to a low a ltitude. The re- Loop Swing. A ma intenance procedure to reduce
flected wave in daytime never returns to earth and is quadrantal e rror is the "loop swing." The ADF is tu ned
lost to space . With the setting sun, the ionosphere thins to a station and bearings recorded as the a irplane is
out (a nd appears to rise), causing radio waves to re- rotated through a number o f compass degrees, using a
flect back to earth---a nd cause interfe rence . Thus the magnetic compass as a reference. A cha1i is made show-
te rm "night effect." ing each magnetic heading, the bearing shown on the
Coastal Effect. Muc h of the signa l from an NOB ADF and the error between the m. D epe nding on the
station travels by ground wave, hugging the surface of type and s ize of aircra ft, this is done on the ground or
the earth. Whe n the signa l crosses between water and while in fli ght. When the data is completed, the inaccu-
land, however, it is slightly bent, w hich decreases ADF racies are compensated by the quadrantal error correc-
acc uracy. "Coastal effect" is most pronounced when tor, fo llowing the manufacture r's instructions.
the airplane is tracking at a sma ll angle w ith respect to
the coast (as opposed to moving directl y from water to
Attitude Error. The bearing to an NDB station is
measured w ith respect to the nose o f the airplane. To
keep the bearin g accurate, the AD F antenna is installed
a long a fo re and aft line of the a irpla ne. This prov ides
good accuracy when the airpla ne flies stra ight and level.
But during a turn, when w ings are ba nked, the loop
antenna is no longer a lig ne d w ith the directio n flight
and accuracy su ffers . This is not pro bl em so long as
the pilot is aware, and doesn 't calculate his bearing to
the stati on while i_n a tum.
Quadrantal Error. A loop antenna in free space
wo rks equally well on signa ls a rri ving from any direc-

ADF is presented on various instruments.

Shown here is the navigation display of an air- ADF 1
line-type electronic flight instrument (EFIS) sys- ADF2
tem. The pilot selected two pointers, one for
each of the ADF receivers. (VOR information
may also be selected for these pointers.)
The two "20" marks along the vertical line
show the scale of the display; they indicate 20
miles above and below the airplane symbol (a
triangle at the center).
In some aircraft, the ADF is shown on an
electromechanical RMI (Radio Magnetic Indi-
cator). The RMI has a 360-degree compass card
and two pointers.

Review Questions
Chapter 12 ADF

12.1 On what bands does ADF operate? 12. 7 What is " quadrantal error."

12.2 An ADF with a fixed compass card can only 12.8 How can the sen se antenna be selected
indicate bearing to an NDB (non-direc- by the pilot?
tional beacon) station.
12.9 How is direction-finding selected?
12.3 When the edge of an ADF loop points toward
the station, strongest signal is received. Tbjs is known 12.1 O What is tbe function of the switch marked
as a " BFO" or " Tone"?.

12.4. When the flat side of the loop faces the station, 12.11 What methods reduce interference to ADF
the received signal is weakest. This is known as a reception?

12.12 What type of interference may occur from

12.5 Which is used by the ADF receiver for deter- distant stations?
mining direction, the peak or null? Why?
12.13 What device in an ADF receiver reduces the
12.6 What is the purpose of a sense antenna? effect of metal masses on the airplane?

Chapter 13

Distance Measuring Equipment

Navaids such as VOR, NOB and localizer guide

an aircraft along a course. But they do not help a pilot DME Channeling
fix hi position because they don't show distance to a
station. That in fo rmation is prov ided by DME, Dis-
tance Measuring Eq uipment. DME lowers pilot DISTANCE FREQUENCY
workload, and air regulations require DME for air-
craft fl ying at or above 24,000 feet (Flight Level 240).

The principle of DME is that an airplane ends

.. ,,.

... -
UM Ct ll l MI

out an interrogating pulse to a ground station and the

station replies. The DME aboard the airplane mea-
sures elapsed time to compute distance to the station.
Time is multiplied by speed of the signal, which is close The pilot never sees the DME frequency. When the VOR
to the speed of light. A DME signal takes just over 6 (1 13.50 MHz in this example) located with the DME is se-
microseconds to travel one nautical mile. lected, the DME receiver is channeled to its correct fre-
DME is usually pa11 of a milita1y system known quency. Note the distance indication shown to within
one-tenth mile.
as TAC AN (tacti cal air navigation). TACAN provides
course guidance (like a VOR) and DM E distance for G round Speed and TTS. Information developed
military aircraft. By agreement between military and by an airborne DME isn't only distance-to-station. By
civil authorities, TACAN stations are located on the calculating how rapidly distance is changing, it also
same site (and in the same structure) as a VOR stati on. displays aircraft ground speed (GS) . By knowing
This benefits civil aircraft; they follow courses from ground speed and distance, the DM E also reads outTTS,
the VOR station, while using the TACAN's DM E for or lime to stati on.
distance. OM E ground speed and time-to-station are accu-
When a VOR houses a TACAN, the faci lity is rate only when flying directly to or from the station.
known as a Vortac. Anothe r combination---VOR- The airplane. however, may fly in any direction and
DM E---provides only course and distance fun ctions see the correct di tance-to-station. In one instru ment
and not the complete TACAN facility. A DME may also approach, the "DME arc," the pilot fli es a circle and
be teamed with a local izer for an instrument approach. maintains a fi xed DME distance from the station. This
Obtainin DME Distance



The airplane DME sends pairs of interrogating pulses to one-way distance to the station.
the DME ground station. After a delay, the ground station Most DME ground facilities are housed in VOR sta-
replies by retransmitting the pulses back to the airplane. tions, and are part of the military TACAN system.
The round trip time is divided in half and computed as

guides the airp lane to a safe position from which to error. He uses DME distances shown on the approach
beg in the inbound course to the airp01t. chart, which has been verified by flight inspection air-
Slant Range. DME is very acc urate, but has an craft.
error known as "slant range." Because signals follow Scan ning and Agile DME. l n recent years. it 's
a slanting path from the airp lane to the ground, alti- become possib le to process more than one DM E sta-
tude is inc luded in the distance measurement. It is not tion at a time. Known as ''scanning" DME, the a irborne
a factor when the airplane is many m il es from the sta- system looks for up to five DME statio ns within a 300-
ti on; at 35 miles at an altitude of 4000 feet, the error is mi le range . W hen it locks on to three good signa ls, it
on ly several doze n feet. When overflying the station, continuo usly fi xes the position of the ai rplane by trian-
the DME reads the altitude of the airplane. gulation. Each station is a utomatically identified by a
There are l LS approac hes which require DME 3-letter Morse code lD. The p ilot does not have to lis-
to provide distance fi xes to the air port. ln this appl ica- ten to the code; the dots a nd dashes are electronically
tion, the pilot need not be concerned about slant range detected and identified.

Random Spacing ("Jitter") Identifies Each DME Signal


I- ~ l~ - 1
The DME interrogator aboard the aircraft sends out the airborne DME to select its replies from those of
pulse pairs with random spacing ("jitter"). The ground other aircraft using the same DME station.
station replies with the identical spacing. This enables

DME Readout on EFIS Display


DME distance appears on the EFIS screen, near the com-
pass rose (horizontal situation indicator). "NAV 1" shows
it's reading data from the No. 1 VOR receiver.

Scanning DM E is an important navaid in airline tion. Because all aircra~ receive all replies, each needs
operations, especia lly in Europe where there is a short- to sort out and identify its own reply. As described in
age of navigational aids, too few frequencies and con- the illustration, each aircraft vari es the spacing of its
gested air traffic. European authorities made a special interrogations in a random pattern known as "jitter."
effort to distribute DME ground station s over a pat- When replies arrive, each airplane looks for its unique
tern that favors scanning DME. So long as the aircraft j ittcr pattern and locks on to it.
processes three DM E's simultaneously, it can navigate Another problem is overload ing the system. Thi s
with high accuracy and require no other nava ids. happens when more than about I 00 airplanes interro-
gate one ground station. To protect itse lf, the station
DME Channeling. A pilot does not directly tune a reduces its receiver sensitivity and wi ll not reply to air-
DME frequency; this is controlled by the VOR receiver. planes at the outer edge of its range.
When the pilot chooses a VOR or localizer frequency, To prevent electrical interference from sending fa lse
the radio automatically channels the correct DM E fre- pulses to a DM E, all signals are sent in pul se pairs,
quency. (This is similar to the pairing of localizer and measured prec isely in microseconds. Jt would be very
glideslope frequencies.) unusual for lightning strokes or other di sturbances to
Some DME control-displays do not tune YORI emulate the pul se pair ofa DME signal.
LOC stations---only DM E. However, the pilot still se-
lects a VOR/LOC channel to obtain the DME station
paired with the VOR frequency.
DME Jitter and Overload. The DME system has
several enhancements to make it work in high traffic
environments. In the area of a major airport, dozens of
aircraft may be interrogating a single DME grou nd sta-



Airborne DME
Pulse Generator
A fter pu lses arc produced in the pu lse generato r, spaci ng between pu lse pairs
is vari ed in rando m fa shi on. This imprints the sig nal with its own identi ty, in a
process known as "j itter." Each aircraft w ill have its own j itter pattern.
Tra nsmitter
Pulses modul ate the transmi tter, the n are emitted by the antenna as rad io
signals. They are DME interrogations on a channel between 978- 12 13 M Hz .
After interrogations are received fro m the g round station, they return to the
antenna as replies. Note that both transmitter and receiver are connected to the ANTENNA
same antenna . O utgo ing and incoming pulses don't confl ict because they are sent
and rece ived on d ifferent freq uencies (63 MHz apart).
Repli es from the g ro und station fo r every airp lane in the area are rece ived at
the antenna. The decoder in the ai rplane recognizes its own sig nal after searching
for, and locking on to, its uniq ue j itter pattern. I

DME Indicator
After measuring the transit time for a reply from the ground station, the DM E t
computes distance and time to statio n. G round s peed is determi ned by the rate of
change of the distance sig nal.

DME Ground Station

The ground station receives, decodes and replies to interrogations fro m the
SO Microsecond Ti me Delay. When the ai rplane is c lose to the DM E stati on,
outgoing pulses may not allow enough time for replies to arrive from the ground
station. To avoi d interference, the ground station de lays transmitting the reply by
50 microseconds.
Squitter l f the ground station rece ives no interrogatio ns fro m a ny a ircraft, it
"squitters" ---that is, free ly broad casts pulses. This "awakens" any airc raft w ithin
range; and their DM E's go from "automatic s tandby" to an interrogati ng mode.
Audio ID. Every 30 seconds, the ground stati on sends a Mo rse code identifier
on l 020 Hz. The pilot can ide nti fy the DM E, or tones are decoded electronically by
scanning DM E's.

DME Channels: X and Y
VOR Airborne DME Type Pulse Ground Ground Reply
Freq Freq Spacing Reply Freq Pulse Spacing
117.20 MHz 1143 MHz X channel 12 microsecond 1206 MHz 12 mi crosecond

117.25 MHz 1143 MH z Y channel 36 microseconds 1080 MHz 30 microseconds

When DME began, there were only 100 VOR frequencies carriers so interrogations and replies do not interfere with
spaced .1 MHz apart; for example, 117.20, 117.30, etc. each other. For this to work, their frequencies must be
The original DME stations paired with these VOR's are widely separated (so the transmitter does not overload
named " X" channels. As shown above, the VOR on 117.2 the receiver). This is done by separating the radio carri-
is paired with a DME frequency of 1143 MHz. ers by 63 MHz.
As air traffic increased, the number of VOR's was
doubled by " splitting" the channels; 117.20, 117.25, Consider the X channel example above:
117.30, etc. This doubled the VOR channels from 100 to
200. The added frequencies created the new DME "Y" Reply frequency (ground station): 1206 MHz
channels. There are two differences between X and Y Interrogation (from airplane) 1143
channels: Difference 63 MHz

Pulse Spacing Next, the Y channel:

Note in the table above, 117 .20 (an X channel) sends out Interrogation 1143 MHz
interrogations on 1143 MHz, with a pulse pair spacing of Reply 1080
12 microseconds. Difference 63 MHz
The interrogations for the Y channel, paired with
117.25, has a pulse spacing of 36 microseconds, three Regardless of whether the airplane is on an X or Y chan-
time longer. nel, the interrogation always goes out on 1143, MHz. How-
Next, notice the different pulse spacing for the reply ever, for an X channel, the reply comes back 63 MHz higher
from the ground station; for the X channel it is 12 micro- than the interrogation. For the Y channel, the reply is 63
seconds, and 36 microsecond for the Y channels. MHz below the interrogation.
By these techniques of changing the space between
Reply Frequencies pulse pairs and a different position for the reply frequency,
The DME system requires two separate radio frequency the system doubles the amount of DME stations and
allows tight spacing of the channels.

One DME for Two VOR Receivers

A single DME display can con-

nect to two VOR receivers. The
pilot selects either "N (nav)1 "
or " N2." Note that " 1" appears
near the top, above "NM," to
"N1 " SELECTS VOR 1 "N2" SELECTS VOR 2 indicate VOR 1 is the source
of the DME.

Review Questions
Chapter 13 DME

13.l An airborne DME sends out a pulse known as 13. 7 All aircraft interrogating the same DME
an ground station are on the same frequency. How
does an aircraft identify its replies from all others?
13.2 DME is a component of a military system
known as _ _ __ 13.8 How is a DME station tuned in?

13.3 A DME station is located as part of a _ __ 13.9. What happens when more than about 100
ground station. Together they are known as a ait·craft interrogate the same DME ground station?

13.10 Why does the DME ground station delay its

13.4 In addition to distance-to-station, an airborne reply by 50 microseconds?
DME computes and _ _ _
13.11 Does the DME station transmit an JD?
13.5 A distance error in DME is called _ _ __

Chapter 14


A transponder ("transmitter-responder") receives Control-Display Unit

a signal from a ground station (a n " intcn-ogation" ) and
automatica lly transmits a reply. Transponders were de- RIGHT
veloped for the military at a time when radar could
locate airpla nes but couldn 't tell the friendlies from the
enemy. The reply of a transponder provides that infor-
mation; the a irplane's ID, altitude and other data. ACTIVE
Whe n fi rst introduced, transponders were called
"JFF," for Identification, Friend Or Foe. The te rm is TRANSPONDER
still used, but mostly by the mi litary. In civil aviation, CODE (ID)
it is in a system called SSR, fo r "Secondary Surveil- ALTITUDE
lance Radar." lt is secondary because primary radar
simply sends a s ig nal from the ground that refl ects
from the metal surface of the airplane and receives an
echo ca lled a "skin return ."
In the a irline world the transponde r is labeled
"ATC," referring to Air Traffic Control.
Squawk. When a pilot is instructed by ATC to
set hi transponde r to a code (say, 1234), the controller
"Squawk 1234." Transponder control head . The transponder is
" squawking" an identification code of "1 045, " which
The pilot selects the code on the control pane l that
is the Mode A function. Al so transmitted is altitude,
causes his airplane's ID to appear on the radarscope. the Mode C function. The ident button is pressed only
Sometimes a controller may need to verify the ID, in when requested by the controller. The standby (STBY)
which case he asks the pi lot to " [dent." The pilot re- posit ion keeps the transponder hot, but prevents re-
sponds by pressing an ID button on the transponder, plies. This reduces clutter on the radar screen while
which cau ses his target on the ground radar to " bloom," the airplane taxis on the ground at an airport. As the
airplane lifts off, the pilot turns the knob to Mode C
creating a circle of light that c learly indicates the loca- (which activates ID and altitude replies).
tion of the a irplane. Note "ATC" at the upper right. This term is used for
The word "squawk" goes back to World War 11 the transponder in large and airline aircraft.
w hen the British, to keep the ir new transponder secret,
Transponder Interrogator


The aircraft tran sponder sends to, and receives from, the top section
of a surveillance radar known as a "beacon interrogator."
The larger antenna below it is the older primary radar, which sends
out a pulse and picks up the signal reflected from the skin of the
aircraft. Because skin returns are weak, difficult to see and carry no
information other than the range and bearing of the aircraft, they are
used only as a back-up.
The beacon interrogator on top, on the other hand, picks up a signal
that's strengthened thousands of times by the aircraft transponder.
Besides a bright display, the image on the radar screen carries data
such as aircraft ID, transponder code and ground speed.
The surveillance radar shown a bove is an ASR---airport surveillance
radar---that covers up to about 60 miles from the airport. To the pilot,
this is "approach control" or "Tracon" (terminal radar approach con-
During cross-country flight, airplanes receive longer range cover-
age from "en route" radars of larger size and power.

called it " Pa rrot." Jt survives to this day in the mil i- planes collided with the loss of 128 lives. The di saster
ta ry; when a (British) controller wa nts a pilot to tum began an overhaul of the ATC syste m (and created the
off his transponder, he says, " Strangle your parrot! " FAA). With an ability to put strong targets and flight
T he word " parrot" also explains why controll ers data on the radar screen, transponders became a key
today ask the pilot to "Squawk" a transponder code. component in the air traffic system.

G rand Canyon . Transponders came into wide- Two Systems: ATCRBS and Mode S
spread use after a m id-a ir co llision between two air-
ATCRBS. T he transponder improved air traffic
liners over the G ra nd Canyo n in 1956. A DC-7 and a control for a half-century, operating unde r the name,
Constellation requested pe rmission from AT C to fly off ATCRBS , for A ir Traffic Contro l Radiobeacon Sys-
course so passengers could enjoy the view. Flying tem ." But it began showing its age as the aircraft popu-
outside controlled airspace (on a sunny day) the air-

Panel- Mount Transponder (Mode S)


A Mode S transponder for General Aviation, the Bendix/ FUNCTION SELECTOR. This turns the transponder on,
King KT-73. Its controls and displays include: displays the flight ID code and tests all lighted seg-
ments of the display. The Ground position disables most
IDENT BUTION. The pilot presses the button when air transponder functions because they are not needed on
traffi c control requests "ldent." The reply light (R) illumi- the ground. A large number of airplanes on the airport
nates for several seconds while the reply transmits. surface would clutter radar displays. The pilot switches,
The same Reply Light also blinks when the transpon- shortly after take-off to Alt (altitude) to resume normal
der answers interrogations from the ground. transponder operation. The Alt position re ports ID and
FLIGHT LEVEL. The altitude of the airplane, as reported The "VFR " button at the bottom right automatically
by the transponder in hundreds of feet. Thus, "072" on sets the transponder to 1200. This code is selected when
the display is 7200 feet (add two zeroes). the airplane is not on an instrument flight plan and is
flying under visual flight rules (VFR).
ID CODE. The squawk code assigned by ATC under the
older transponder system (ATCRBS). It is dialed in by
four knobs along the bottom of the panel.

lation grew and more airplanes operated out of fewe r interfere with each other. To the controller, the targets
airports . appear confused or "garb led."
There arc severa l limitations on ATCRBS. F irst, Anothe r limit for the ATC RBS transponder is in
it wastes space in the rad io spectrum. When the radar the coll ision avo idance system (TCAS). As described
ante nna on t he ground sweeps around, it interrogates in the chapter on TCAS, two a ircraft approaching
al l ai rp lanes within rangc---and all airp lanes reply. The each other must fly an escape maneuver that keeps them
controller cannot obtain a rep ly only from the airplane apart; for example, to avoid a collision, one flies up,
it needs to contact. the other flies down. T hat maneuver must be coordi-
Also, when radar sends a beam, it sweeps across nated by the transponder, but ATCRBS cannot provide
the airplane, making 20 or more inte1Togations in one this fu nction.
pass. On ly one interrogation and rep ly are required; Mode S. The answer to these problems came as
extra rep lies li mit the capacity of the system. a completely new transponder known as Mode S (S for
A nothe r sho ,tcoming is "synchronous garble," Select). It means "selective addressing," w hich e n-
which is two replies happen ing at the same time. Let's ables a controller to request a specifi c ai rplane to re-
say two ai rp lanes are on the same line north of the ra- ply, not the who le fl eet. This greatl y reduces the num-
dar site; one at 20 m iles, the other at 30 m iles . Because ber of u nnecessary signals fi lling the a ir.
they are both struck by the same radar interrogation, A requirement of Mode S is that it does not rap-
they reply nearly at the same time. The two replies idly obsolete the ATCRB S tra nsponder. T he two must
move a long the same line back to the radar ante nna and be able to ex ist side by s ide during a long tra nsition
Trans onder




1090 MHZ



' t




The transponder is a transmitter-receiver with these ma- MODULATOR

jor building blocks: Pulses that form the reply are amplified in the modulator
and applied to the TRANSMITTER for transmission on
Interrogations from the ground station are picked up by SIDE LOBE SUPPRESSION
the antenna on a frequency of 1030 MHz. The pulses are The radar signal from the ground contains a main lobe
applied to the decoder. and several side lobes. If the transponder replies to a
DECODER side lobe, the radar operator will see the airplane at the
Measuring incoming pulses, the decoder identifies the wrong position. The side lobe suppression circuit pre-
type of interrogation. If they are recognized they are vents the transponder from replying if it senses recep-
passed on to the encoder. tion of a side lobe.
The encoder creates the pulse train which contains the There is a chance that other transmitters aboard the air-
reply. plane might interfere with the transponder. This usually
ENCODING ALTIMETER caused by the DME, which operates close in frequency.
After converting barometric pressure (based on 29.92 To avoid interaction, the transponder receiver is sup-
inches of mercury) to electrical signals, the encoding pressed when the DME transmits. The DME receiver is
altimeter sends altitude information to the encoder for also suppressed when the transponder is transmitting.
the Mode C reply.
The pilot dials in the 4-digit transponder code, which is
sent to the encoder.

Transponder Control-Display (Airline)

A Mode S transponder installed in the B-777 and numer- Ac
ous other large aircraft. Because it works so closely
with TCAS (anti-collision system}, several TCAS controls Line Replaceable Unit (LRU)
appear with the transponder knobs. For example, in the
circle marked "1," is the mileage range for TCAS surveil-
lance. In "2" are types of collision warnings selected for

period. The Mode S system, therefore, is " backwardly

compatibl e" in that ATCRBS and Mode S transpon-
ders work within all air traffic control systems. Sur-
veillance radars for both types are now in service.
The FAA had issued an end date for the man ufac-
tme of ATCRBS transponders, ex pecting Mode S to ACSS
gradually take over as old transponders wore o ut. The LRU controlled by the transponder panel unit. Trouble-
shooting is helped by fault indicator lights that monitor
Announcing the end of ATCRBS, howeve r, raised the transponder, antennas and control panel.
protests from the General Av iation community. The When software upgrades occur, they are loaded
Mode S transponder was more expensive and didn 't offer through the data loader port.
any advantages to owners of light aircraft. The only
buyers of Mode S were airlines because it was a re- Aircraft Address. For ATC to single out one air-
qui rement for the anti-collision system (described in the plane each Mode S aircraft has its own "Aircraft Ad-
chapter on TCAS). dress ." lt's 24 bits long and obtained through the avia-
But a new development c hanged opposition to tion authori ty of each country. The add ress is pro-
Mode S. Sales of the new transponder surged in Gen- grammed into the transponder during installation, along
eral Av iation after the year 2000 because valuabl e new with the aircraft's maximum speed.
pi lot services were added to Mode S. The FAA intro- A caution about addresses was iss ued by
duced the Traffic Information Serv ice (TIS) which Eurocontrol , the air traffic agency fo r Europe. lt re-
uplinks, throug h the Mode S transponder, images of po11ed instances of errors by technicians in entering the
air traffic throug hout the U.S. It prov ides an option for address during installation, or when changing the coun-
light aircraft to have an anti-collision system at rela- try of registration . Eurocontrol says that such en-ors
ti vely low cost. can disable an Airborne Co llision Avoidance System
(ACAS), which is the same as TCAS in the U.S.
Mode A Interrogation

___.. "What is your identity?"- -~ ~

1-------- -8 microseconds - -

P1 P2 P3

Surveillance radar on the ground sends out an interro- avoidable loops of radio energy that lie on either side of
gating pulse to learn the aircraft ID (the code selected by the main beam of the radar antenna. The problem is that
the pilot on the transponder). The upgoing radar signal an aircraft transponder may reply to a sidelobe, which
consists of three pulses, as shown above; P1 , P2 and P3. places the airplane in the wrong location on the radar
Consider P1 and P3, which tell the airplane this is a screen. Pulse P2 eliminates the problem. If P2 remains
Mode A interrogation. It's done by the 8 microsecond below P1 in strength, it means the transponder is receiv-
time period between the two pulses. On measuring this ing the main beam of the radar. This triggers a reply.
interval, the transponder recognizes it as a Mode A inter- However, if P2 is higher than P1 , it means a sidelobe is
rogation and sends a reply containing the aircraft ID. being received; now the transponder will not reply. When
P2 overcomes a problem with the radar (and any other) the airplane is correctly illuminated by the main beam,
d irectional antenna known as "sidelobes." These are un- P1 remains higher than P2 and the transponder replies.

Mode C lnterro ation


"What is your altitude?"

f. ----- ------ -- -- 21 microseconds --- -- - -"'i

P1 P2 P3

Next, the surveillance radar sends out a set of pulses to P2 is the same as already described for Mode C.
learn the aircraft's altitude (Mode C). The aircraft tran- As the ATC radar antenna makes one full rotation, it
sponder recognizes it by the spacing between P1 and P3, transmits a Mode A interrogation, followed by a Mode C
which is now 21 microseconds long (more than 21 /2 times inte rrogation on the next rotation.
longer than for a Mode A interrogation). The purpose of

Altitude Reporting; ModeC

04 04
84 84
82 82
81 81
A4 A4

-- C1 C1
C4 C4
A2 A2
C2 C2

The transponder reports an airplane's altitude when and recalibrated every two years when the transponder
replying to a Mode C ground interrogation. It begins by is recertified by a technician.
measuring air pressure surrounding the airplane, often There are several reasons for reporting altitude based
done with an aneroid sensor, a capsule which is me- on a standard pressure. One is that pilot error could trans-
chanically squeezed by pressure. This movement is con- mit the wrong altitude to air traffic control. It could also
verted to an electrical signal representing altitude and is send incorrect information to TCAS {anti-collision) sys-
connected to the transponder. tems aboard nearby aircraft, which also interrogate the
There are two possible locations for an aneroid sen- transponder for altitude.
sor. When built into the altimeter, the instrument is called If all transponders report altitude based on a pres-
an " encoding altimeter." When mounted separately, it is sure of 29.92, the altitude sent to ground radar will con-
known as a "blind encoder" {because it has no dial and is tain the error caused by changes in the air mass. This is
hidden from view). corrected by the air traffic facility when it receives the
Altimeters have a knob for setting local air pressure Mode C reply; it corrects to 29.92 against local air pres-
because weather is always changing---as high and low sure at sea level.
pressure systems move across the country. During a As seen in the illustration above, the encoder sends
flight the pilot resets the altimeter to maintain an accu- information via code lines to the transponder. The let-
rate reading above sea level. ters represent pulse positions on the transponder reply
An important feature of transponder operation is that signal, which form binary words that encode altitude every
the aneroid sensor is never adjusted by the pilot. It is 100 feet. Known as the " Gray" or " Gilham" code, it can
permanently fixed to 29.92 inches of mercury, standard transmit altitudes from -1000 feet to 126,700 feet.
sea level pressure, and is known as " pressure altitude." During most of aviation's history, altitude has been
In the metric system it is 1013 millibars. A pilot may make based on instruments driven by air pressure. In the fu-
many adjustments to correct his altimeter reading in dif- ture, this function will be increasingly provided by GPS
ferent pressure areas, but this does not change the pres- or other satnav system. GPS can already fix the vertical
sure sensor. The sensor is preset at the factory for 29.92 position of an airplane to within a few centimeters, with
no reference to air pressure.



_J_J r1lr1 r1u\J

x ri
'------' .___,__,,___,
' I I
F C1 A1 C2 A2 C4 A4 81 01 82 02 84 04 F SPECIAL

- - - - - - - - - - 20.3 MICROSECOND FRAME LENGTH - - - - - -- 2

The transponder sends its ID by selecting various pulse aircraft ID, altitude and ground speed. Occasionally, how-
positions (time slots) spread over a " frame." Shown above ever, the controller wants to verify that he is looking at
are positions selected for an ID of " 1642". Although the the correct target and asks the pilot to " ldent." When the
coding uses digital signals (on-off pulses), it was devel- pilot presses the ldent button, it sends the Special Pur-
oped over 50 years ago and has only 4096 codes. This pose Identification Pulse. The target on th e radar
will eventually be replaced by the Mode S transponder, " blooms" in a circle of light, positively identifying the
with far more sophisticated coding and greater capacity. aircraft from all other targets. At the same time, the pilot
At the far right is the Special Purpose Identification sees the reply light on his transponder remain on for about
Pulse. In normal air traffic operations, the controller eas- 15 seconds.
ily identifies each aircraft by examining its " data block," The ldent button should never be pressed unless re-
an area on the radar screen next to the target showing quested by the controller.


;,f 9
~\... ' -=-

-- - - - -- -


"i" 'T" T , -' 5 8 7 -~



Transponder ID selected by the pilot is 1200, the code for

VFR (vi sual flight rules) in the U.S. It is 7000 in Europe.
When flying under IFR (instrument flight rules) the code
is assign ed by air traffic control. The transponder sh own
is the Garmi n GTX-327.

When selecting a transponder code, avoid dialing through

the following, which are reserved for special use:

7500 Hijack
7600 Loss of communications
7700 Emergency
7777 Military interceptor operations (never use)
0000 Military (usually cannot be entered on
civil transpond ers)

Mode S: Interrogations and Replies

1. Mode S - ATCRBS
All Call
In a mix of traffic carry- :cI
transponders, the radar ADDRESS ID, ALTITUDE
sends out an "all call" in-
terrogation. All transpon-
ders reply with ID and al-
,u ~ /
titude. Each Mode S tran- ATCRBS
sponder replies with its
own 24-bit address. As
each aircraft enters the
radar coverage area, it re-
sponds to the "all call " in-

2. Mode S Discrete
All Call

All Mode S transponders
reply with their 24-bit ad-
dress. ATC RBS aircraft do
not reply.
When the radar gets a
Mode S address, it locks
out the transponder from
,u ~
replying to further all call ATCRBS
interrogations. Until the NO REPLY MODES
airplane leaves the area, ADDRESS
it replies only when radar
interrogates it selectively.
The airplane, however, is
still tracked on the radar-
scope but with many
fewer interrogations.

3.Mode S Selective
If a controller needs to
communicate with only ::cI
one aircraft, it transmits MODES ATCRBS
the Mode S address. Only ADDRESS NO REPLY
that airplane replies.
This greatly increases
capacity of the air traffic
system. It also eliminates ATCRBS ~ MODES
" syn c hronous garble" -·· NO REPLY
where two airplanes re- ( NO REPLY
ply to the same interroga-
tion. This can happen
when airplanes are on the
same line to the radar an- ···~
tenna or are closely

Review Questions
Chapter 14 Transponder

14.1 A transponder receives an _ _ _ _ _ from 14. 6 The first secondary surveillance system is
a ground station and transmits a _ _ _ _ known as . The improved
system is called _ __ _ _
14.2 The transponder operates in a system known
as "SSR". What do the letters mean ? 14.7 What is the main benefit of Mode S?
14.3 How is an airline transponder labelled? 14.8 What transponder information is carried by
Mode A'? Mode C?
14.4 How many digits are in a transponder lD code'?
14.9 When a radar interrogator wants every air-
14.5. What are two advantages of transponder sig-
craft in range to reply (ATCRBS and Mode S), it
nals over primary radar, or "skin" return"? transmits _ __ __

Chapter 15

Radar Altimeter

The radar altimeter is required for aircraft operat- . • •• I

ing during the very low ceilings and visibilities of Cat-
egory II and Ill instrument approaches . The conven- Bl
,--, ,_,,-, ,--, ,_,,, ,_,,,
ti onal barometric altimeter can only read altitude above 7CRRA
sea level and needs freque nt readjustment as weather
brings changes in pressure. Under the best of condi-
tions, a con venti onal altimeter is usua lly accurate to 60
or 70 feet. That's not adequate when landing an air-
,• ~·"-
SET '. (
\ \ ~
plane in near-zero visibility, where errors of more than '· l
.. ' -
about six feet may cause a hard landing or worse. Terra -'
Radar altimeters, on the other hand, give altitude with Panel-mounted radar altimeter indicator. The transmit-
errors as small as two feet. Although the fully ''blind " ter-receiver is located remotely. The LED display is indi-
cating ALT AGL (altitude above ground level) of 50 feet.
landing is not regularl y fl own, most widebody trans-
The pilot preselected decision height (DH) to 200 feet, a
ports arc equipped for "autoland"---which can fly the typical ceiling minimum for a Category I instrument land-
a irp lane through descent, decrab (nose stra ight), fl are, ing. When the airplane descends below DH, the pilot hears
touchdown and rol lout. The radar altimeter is essential an audible warning (1 kHz tone).
for such operati ons so close to the ground. "GEAR" also illuminates and sounds the tone when
the airplane descends below 100 feet and the landing
A radar altimeter makes it possible by measur- gear is not down and locked.
ing absolute altitude. Instead of deriving altitude from Alerts can also give warnings every 100 feet, starting
at 800 feet, to help the pilot find the ground.
a ir pressure, it transmits a radio wave, listens for the When the TEST button is depressed, the display should
echo fro m the ground, then computes altitude. The re- read a 40-foot altitude and sound an audible alert.
sult is a reading in feet "AGL", above gro und leve l.
The computati on is done by knowing the speed of the
radio wave (speed of light) and amount of time that

Radar Altimeter Antennas

Two independent radar altimeters are installed for some in-

strument operations requiring separate antenna installations.


Front and back of a radar altim-

00 N O T PA IN T
eter antenna. Note arrow show-
I 0 0 ing direction of flight. The an-
tenna should not be painted be-
cause of possible detuning of the

elapses for the wave to tra ve l from airplane to ground Now the rece iver has the information it needs: two
and bac k. This is similar to radar, whic h sends out a freque ncies that mark the beginning and end of the
pulse and measures th e returnin g echo, but most radar s igna l's round trip. Because the rece iver knows how
a ltimete rs do not use pulses . They operate on the prin- long it takes for the transmitter to shift frequency, it
c iple of FMCW; for " frequency modulation continu- uses thi s val ue (time) in a calculatio n: trave l speed of
ous wave". the s ig nal multipli ed by time equals distance. The rate
of travel is constant; radio waves move li ke light (6. 18
The radar a ltimeter is sometimes called by its older
microseconds per m ile). Because the signal travels down
name, "radio a ltimeter." O n the instrument panel is it
and up, the answer is divided in half before it is dis-
often abbrev iated as "RAD ALT."
played to the pil ot as a ltitude.
T he main components are a transmitte r and receiver
Radar a ltimeters are used on ly at low altitude, usu-
operating on a center freque ncy of4300 MHz. The trans- ally from-20 feet to 2500 feet. They are intended mostly
mitte r sends out low power of about 350 milliwatts. for "altitude awareness" when the airplane is low to the
The receive r a nd transmitter each has its own antenna .
ground in low visibil ity, and as part of the automatic
As shown in the illustration, the cycle begins with flight control system. When the airplane c ruises at alti-
a transmitted wave Alth ough it is basically on 4300 tude well above obstac les, or during a land ing in good
MHz, it continuously shifts in freq uency (thus the name, visibility, the regular barometric altimeter is suffic iently
frequency modulation). Let's say when the wave hits accurate.
the ground, it is slightly higher than the resting fre- T he key functions of the rada r altimete r are:
quency of 4300 MHz. When the echo reflects back to
the airpl ane the ro und trip takes a certa in amount of Decision Height (DH). During an instrument ap-
time. Whe n the echo reaches the a irplane, the passage proach, a pilot makes a decision to: continue to land,
of time has a ll owed the transmitter to shift to an even abo rt the approach, go around and try again, or ny to
higher frequency. better weather at an a lternate airport. The radar altim-

Radar Altimeter: 0 eration
1. The radar altimeter produces a
radio frequency carrier with a rest-
i ng frequency of 4300 MHz. A s it
transmits, the frequency shifts 50
times per second off the resting fre-
quency. The carrier increases to 4300 MHZ

about 4350 MHz and down to 4250 A B
MHz. This is shown at points AN.--
T_E_N_N_A- - - - ,
A (Low Freq) and B (High Freq) .
From this process, the system de- RADIO
rives its name ; FMCW, for Fre- ALTIMETER
quency Modulation Conti nuous

2. The airplane is shown over a point on the

ground. At this instant, the radar altimeter is
transmitting the carrier at its lowest frequency
(A). The signal travels to the ground and is
reflected back to the airplane at the same fre-
quency (A).
The returning signal reaches the airplane af-
ter an interval of time, the number of micro-
seconds it takes for the round trip.


3. Because time has passed, the radar altimeter is now trip and the speed of the signal (speed of light). They are
transmitting on a higher frequency (8). The system has computed as altitude above ground in feet.
two frequencies to process; A , the reflection from the The shift in the carrier during frequency modulation is
ground, and B, the higher frequency. Three quantities 50 times per second (50 Hz), enabling the radar altimeter
are now known: the amount the carrier frequency is to rapidly update. This is critical when an aircraft is de-
changing, elapsed time for the signal to make the round scending through the last few hundred feet above ground.

eter is required fo r performing a Category 11 or lll in-
strument approac h, w here decision height is 50 feet or

Altitude Trips. Tn this functi on, the radar altim-

ete r sounds a wa rning as the airplane descends through
preselected al titudes. It gives the pilot a clear indicati on
of whe n Decision He ight w ill occur.

Gear Warning. Jf the radar a ltimeter senses the

airc raft is close to touc hdown, and wheels are not down
and locked, it sounds a warnin g.
Other Applications. Radar altimeters work with
other avionics systems aboard the airplane. A ground
prox imity warning system needs several inputs, inc lud-
ing the radar a ltimeter, for determining whether to warn A round analog display indicating 160 feet
the pilot of a ground collision. Tt also operates the ''ris- above ground level.
ing runway," a symbol that appears at the botto m of the
attitude director di splay fo r a Category II or lllA in- A lthough not a requireme nt for helicopter fligh t,
strument la nding. It he lps the pilot keep the airplane radar altimeters are useful to pilots making a vertical
aligned with the runway during touchdown and ro ll-out. descent in darkness. The pilot sets Dec ision Height at
Other outputs of the radar a ltimeter go to the autothrottle, a round I 00 feet and, upon reaching that a ltitude,
flight control system and fli ght data recorde r. switches on a fl oodlight to see the landing spot be low.

Review Questions
Chapter 15 Radar Altimeter
15.1 What is the main application of the radar al- 15.6 What categories of approach require a radar
timeter? altimeter?

15.2 The radar altimeter measures _ __ _ _ 15.7 The carrier of a radar altimeter is frequency
altitude. modulated, meaning it moves and _ __
in frequency.
15.3 The altitude indicated by a radar altimeter is
AGL. What do the letters mean? 15.8 One factor in measuring radio altitude is the
difference in frequency between the _ __ _
15.4 What are three major components of a radar and wave.
15.9 When are radar altimeters useful in helicopter
15.5 What is the resting carrier frequency of a ra- operations?
dar altimeter?

/ ,

... '
' ' '
' t

• '

Rockw ell
A typical GPS satellite weighs nearly 1800 pounds and is
Satnav---sate llite nav igation---w ill re place nearly powered by a combination of solar panels (in sunlight)
cve1y other form ofradi onavigation. It meets or exceeds and rechargeable batteries (in the dark). Because pre·
the accuracy, reliability and globa l cove rage of land- cise time is essential, each satellite carries four atomic
based systems. Satnav is also supported by world avia- clocks that keep time accurate to one second in 80,000
years. The overall width of the satellite, including solar
tion agencies to e liminate the high cost of servicing thou- panels, is about 19 feet.
sands o fVOR , ILS, N DB and othe r ground stations. The satellite continuously broadcasts the GPS signal
through 12 rod-like (helical) antennas, shown in the il-
The bene fits of satnav w ill multi ply as GPS, a lustration as pointing "To Earth."
U.S. syste m, is jo ined in coming years by Europe's Ga-
The captain looked at hi m and replied, " You 're
lileo. To avoid obso leting the huge avionics investment
probably ri ght." He had noticed the man ho lding a
in o ld a ircraft, however, today 's land-based stations w il l
portable GPS. The airliner was navigating by the most
continue to operate well into the 21 st Century.
advanced system kn own; the ring laser gyro. (Three
Satnav. In the I 980's, the captai n of a trans-atlantic of them, in fact, fo r red undancy.) T he laser gyro is
fli g ht be tween Swede n and New York walked back to guara nteed not to exceed an error of l mile per hour-
the passe nger cabin. He was approached by a man w ho --meaning that afte r a 4-hour fli g ht across an ocean,
sa id, "Capta in, l believe we arc IO miles o ff course." the a irplane would be no more than 4 mi les off e ither
side of its assigned track. T hat passenger's pocket
GPS Constellation: "Space Segment"

Number of satellites in orbit. ......... 24

(21 active and 3 spares)
Height above earth ........... 11 ,000 n miles
Orbital planes .... ............. ..... ............. 6
Time to complete one orbit.......12 hours
(circles the earth twice a day)

There are six paths, or "planes," with up to

five satellites each. To an observer on earth,
they appear to rise at the horizon, cross the
equator, then descend below the opposite ho-
rizon. Over most of the earth, at least five or
more satellites are available for navigation at
any time.

GPS not onl y knew the aircraft position within less Launch Vehicle
tha n l 00 mete rs, but he ld that accuracy throughout the
trip (updating once pe r second).
Radionavigation for nearl y l 00 yea rs sent out
signals to be detected by an a irbo rne receiver. But by
the l 960's the microcompute r introduced dig ita l signal
process ing . Instead of transmitting simple tones or tim-
ing pulses, a sate llite could encode large amounts of
data and broadcast it over the earth 's surface. This
data could the n control the accuracy and performance
of even the most inexpensive G PS rece iver.
This places the costli est componcnts--- li ke preci-
sion timing generators---aboard the satellites, not in the
receiver. Each GPS satellite carries at least two atomi c
c locks, which measure time by the motion of atomic
parti cles of the ele ments rubidium or cesium. When the
Galileo sate llites appear, they will add yet another tech-
nology; the " maser," a cousin to the laser. ln the ma-
ser, rad io waves a re dri ven to a high state of ene rgy,
then allowed to fall to a lower level. During the fa llback,
they produce oscillations whic h are extremely accurate
timing references. GPS satellite is launched by Delta II rocket at Cape
Kennedy. Although satellites are usually rated for
The GPS c lock aboard the a irp lane, one the other a life of 7.5 years, many have operated 11 years.
hand, is a simple quartz type, like the one in w ri st-

watches. Its accuracy is controlled by precision data clock time. The difference between them is the amount
streaming down from the satellite. of time the signa l travelled. The rece iver doesn't re-
quire an expensive atomic clock because its time is kept
Clocks are the key to fixing the position of the accurate by reference to the sate! Iite clock.
a irplane. They measure the time for a s ignal to leave
the satellite and arri ve at the airborne receive r. By The ability to correla te signals between satel-
mu ltipl ying tra vel time by speed of the signal (which is lite and receiver provides another benefit. Satel li tes
the speed of light), the answe r is the number of miles to carry a limited payload and generate radio carriers of
the satellite. By solving that fo r several satellites, the very low power. So low, in fact, that when the signal
receiver fixes the position of the a irplane. arrives at the receiver it is below the " noise" (natural
a nd man-made). In most radio communications, it is
As shown in the illustrations, a satellite trans- nearly impossible to pick out a signal w hen it is below
mits its position and health, plus the position and health the noise level. The GPS receive r, however, has stored
of eve,~v other satellite in the GPS constellation. Data in its database an exact pattern of the s ignal and can
is received continuously and stored in the receiver da- narrow its response to that coding. By acting so selec-
tabase. Thi s enables the receiver to select a satellite tively, the receiver rejects much of the no ise.
and perform a "correlation". The receiver tries to lo-
cate a nd match the signal pattern transmitted by the Early GPS receivers acq uired only one satellite at
satellite w ith patterns stored in its database. Once a a time, which is too slow for aviation. Today's GPS
match is di scovered, the receive r can measure the travel receivers are often " 12-channel parallel," meaning they
time of the signal. T he receiver knows when the signal can process up to I 2 satellites simultaneously. If a
left the sate llite because the sate llite transmitted a " navi- GPS receiver is taken thousands of miles from its home
gation" message which tells when the signal was broad- base with the power turned off, it "finds itself" a minute
cast and the satellite's location in orbit. T he receiver or two afte r being turned on. With a 12-channel paral-
then compares the time with its own internal ("local" ) le l system, the receiver performs a rapid "sky search".

GPS Fre uencies


1227.60 MHz 1575.42 MHz


LS L2 L1
1176.45 MHz 1227.60 MHz 1575.42 MHz

In early GPS generations, civil aviation used L 1 and shared it with the military. L2 was
exclusively for the military who used it with L1 to achieve high accuracy. In the coming
generation, civil users get a second frequency {LS) for increased accuracy. Error will
drop to 3 to 10 meters. A major advantage of two frequencies is the ability of the
receiver to measure and correct propagation error caused by differences in signal speed
through the unstable ionosphere.

Satnav Terms and Service SA: Selective Availability. Because GPS began
Some major terms and acronyms to describe sat- as a system for the U.S. Dept. of Defense, the highest
nav systems: accuracy was reserved for the military. T he signa l avail-
able to civil users was degraded by "SA," which lim-
GNSS: Global Navigation Satellite System. The ited receive rs to about 100-meter accuracy.
international term to describe navigation based on sat-
ellites. When GNSS describes a prec ision instrument In the year 2000, Selective Availability was turned
approach, it is ca lled GLS (the LS meaning Landing off and acc uracy improved by about five times.
SPS: Standard Positioning Service. T his ser-
vice is intended for civil use rs and is located on L 1,
one of two existing GPS channels. More channels wi ll
be added in the future.
Panel-Mount GPS Receiver



A GPS receiver used in IFR (instrument flight rules), like this Bendix-King KLN-
94, must update its navigation database regularly. This can be done in two ways.
A database card is inserted into the slot, or the dataloader jack connected to a
PC. Updates may be obtained over the Internet.

Airplane Measures Time to Compute Distance to Satellite

1. The signal from the satellite is trans-

mitted as a pulse code. Each satellite
sends a unique identification, as rep-
resented by red , green and blue
2. The receiver in the airplane already
knows the code patterns sent by ev-
ery satellite. It searches until it lo-
cates a satellite signal that matches
a stored pattern.
The satellite message also tells the
receiver the time the signal was trans-
mitted. By comparing this time with
the time of arrival at the receiver, a
time difference is calculated. This is
multiplied by the speed of light and
the answer is distance.

Finding Position

When only one signal is received , the

airplane may be located anywhere on
the surface of a sphere (or "bubble"),
with the satellite (SV1) at its center. Af-
ter receiving a second satellite (SV2)
the spheres intersect and narrow the
position. With SV3, the position is f~r-
ther refined. It takes a fourth satellite
to obtain latitude, longitude and alti-
tude, which is a 3-dimensional fix.
Receiving a fourth satellite is re-
quired for correcting the clock in the
GPS receiver. That enables a low-cost
clock to keep sufficiently accurate
time for the distance-solving problem.

CIA Code: Coarse/Acquisition Code. T his is The atomic c locks aboard satellites are extremely
the code trans mitted on the c ivil c hannel, L 1. 1t is precise, however, they do d rift in ti 1~1 e .. The error is
''coarse" beca use it has the least accu racy. measured b y ground stations, but thi s 1s not used _to
PPS: Precise Positioning Service. Provides the correct satellite time. Atomic c locks are not easily
grea test accuracy for 111 ilitary users and op_e rat~s _on the reset w hil e in o rbit. It is more practical to deve lop a
two existing GPS c hannels, Ll (s hared w ith civ il) and time co rrection factor based on the error and se nd it to
L 2 (mili tary only). Jt uses the " P Code," whic h is en- the G PS receiver. The receiver stores the correcti on fac-
crypted a nd ava il ab le on ly to qua lified users. tors for a ll satellites in orbit and applies them whi le
d eveloping a position fix. For maxim um timing accu-
Propagation Corrections. The advan~age of racy, at least fo ur satellites should be received.
two channels, Ll a nd L2, is reducing propagation er-
ror. As sate llite signa ls m ove toward ea rth, they pass Position-fixing . Determining aircraft position is
th ro ug h the ionosphe re, which lies from about 60 miles s imila r to "tri angulation." T he receiver draws l ines ?f
to 200 miles above earth. A lthough radi o signals move pos ition from several satellites, and loc~tes ~he a1!··
at c lose to the speed of lig ht, hi ghe r frequencies move plane w he re they in tersect. One way to visuali ze th is
faster through the ionosp here, which introduces error. is to imagi ne each satelli te surrounded by a large bub~le.
By m easuring different G PS frequ enc ies, LI and L 2, When th e airplane m eas ures distance from a satellite,
the receiver computes the " propaga ti o n" error and re- the receive r places the ai rplane somewhere on the sur-
moves it. face of the bubble. For exam ple , if the range is 15,000
miles, the a irplane may be anywhere on the bubble and
The military removes t he e rror beca use it is able still be at 15,000 mil es.
to rece ive both LI and L2. However, future satellites
w ill add a civil cod e to L2, e nab ling an y c ivi l receiver Next, assume the receiver measures 18,000 mi les
to solve the error. L ater, c ivil avia ti on wi ll receive a to another satellite, placing the airpla ne on the surface
third c ivi l freq uency, LS. of the bubble s urrounding that satelli te. As more satel-
lites a re measured, intersections among the bub bles
PRN Code orow sm a lle r until the receive r has a position accurate
Each satellite transmits a unique identity know n ;o several feet. It is not u nusual to receive e ight or more
as a "pseudorando m " code. T he term "pseudo" usua lly satellites at once.
means ''false" bu t in GPS it means " un corrected". 1t is
called " random " because the GPS s ig nal resembles ran-
dom noise.
11 2
The Satellite Signal

The signal broadcast by a GPS satellite contains " frames" The first frame is devoted to clock time, used by the
of information. They not only describe the position and aircraft receiver for measuring travel time of the signal
health of the satellite, but data for every other satellite in (and thus distance).
the system.

11 3
GPS Segments


The three major components of the GP$ or more ground stations around the world.
system: They track satellites for performance and
Space Segment: The satellites, also health. Orbit information and clock cor-
known as "SV" (satellite vehicle), circle rections are uplinked to the satellites sev-
the earth every 12 hours at an altitude of eral times a day. This data is broadcast
11 ,000 miles. At any point on earth, up to on the navigational signal to users.
ten satellites are in view. User Segment: Consists of airplanes,
Control Segment: A master control sta- ships, other vehicles and portable GPS.
tion in Colorado Springs connects to five

For an a irpla ne fl y ing over the eart h, three sate l- turned off in 2000, it was inadequate for Category I.
lites prov ide a 2-dimensiona l fi x; w hic h is latitude and
longitude. Receiving fou r satellites provides a 3-dirnen- The solution in the U.S. is WAAS, or Wide Area
siona l fix ; longitude, latitude a nd altitude. Augmentation System. A ne twork of 25 gro und refer-
ence stations a re placed around the country. The loca-
WAAS: W ide Area Augmentation System tion of each station is surveyed w ith g reat accuracy. A
As G PS spread through aviation, it proved highly G PS receiver at the station picks up the sate llite signa l
successfu l for cross-coun try tra vel between c ities . B ut a nd compares it with the known geogra phic position.
its fu ll va lue wou ld never be rea lized unless it re placed The diffe re nce is the error (mostly due to propagation
the instrument landing system (£LS), the key to on-sched- effects in the ionosphere). The g round stations re lay
ule operations in a lm ost any wea ther. GP S wou ld have that error to a geostationary sate II ite, which rebroad-
to equa l the performance of a Category l ILS (200- ft casts it as a GPS s ignal. Airplanes in the general area
ceiling and 1/2-mi le visibility). A lthough GPS accu- of the ground station, therefore, can use the error to
racy increased when Selective Ava il ab ility (SA) was correct their G PS position. It is estimated that WAAS

Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS)


STATION -,..-r-".._,

WAAS is a form of differential GPS designed to bring the error is sent cross-country through a network to one of
equivalent of an Instrument Landing System (Category I two Wide Area Master Stations (on east and west coasts).
ILS) to almost any airport. The sequence of events: A correction is developed.
1. GPS satellite transmits a navigation signal. 5. Geostationary Satellite. The correction is sent to a
2. The aircraft receives the signal, which has accumu- geostationary satellite which appears fixed overhead. The
lated errors, mainly because of delays through the iono- satellite then broadcasts corrections (from every loca-
sphere. tion in the country) to the airplane. This removes the
3. Wide Area Reference Station. About 25 such ground "differential" error and raises accuracy sufficiently for
stations cover continental U.S., spaced several hundred precision landings (vertical and horizontal guidance).
miles apart. They pick up the same signal as the air- The geostationary satellite transmits the error in a GPS-
plane. A ground station, however, knows the error be- like format, which can be received as if it were another
cause its location was precisely surveyed. The surveyed GPS satellite. Thus, WAAS for an airplane needs no sepa-
location is compared with the position given by the GPS rate receiver.
receiver at the ground station---and the error is deter- Several countries have WAAS systems, but call them
mined. different names. All systems, however, are compatible
4 , Ground Earth Station-Wide Area Master Station. The and can be used by any satnav receiver.

could add precision instrument approaches to over 5000 WAAS to approach any run way at the airport (once
a irports in the U.S. the approach has been designed and certified by a gov-
ernment agency).
Only o ne WAAS g round station is needed to
cover ma ny airports within its coverage area. C onti- GPS approaches use terminology that is different
nental U. S. can be serv iced by only 25 station s. They fro m that of fLS components, such as localizer and
prov ide accuracy down to about 1 meter, which satis- glideslope:
fi es the most critical requireme nt of Category I, ve rti-
LNAV/VNAV. This refers to " lateral and vertical
cal guidance fo r the glideslope.
navigation". "Lateral" is eq uivalent to the loca lizer;
Another benefit involves the aircraft receiver. Be- "vertica l" is the g lideslope component. LNAV/V NAV
cause the WAAS correction arri ves as a G PS signal, a prov ides GPS guidance down to a 350-ft ceil ing and
separate receive r is no t required. Also, no ground sta- 1.5 m il e visibility, whic h is not as good as a Cat r TLS,
tion is requ ired at each airport and an airplane can use but offers thousands of airports their first precision ( or
any) instrume nt approach.
LPV: Localizer Performance A pp roach with landi ng and roll-out. But civil air regulations in most
Vertical Guida nce. This improvement reduce the cou ntries do not permit it in actual instrument condi-
weather minimums to 250-ft cei ling and 1.5-mi le vis- tions, where the pilot sees nothing beyond the wind-
ibility. It's still not as good as an rLS Category I ap- shield .
proach but close to it.
Thi s is the "zero-zero" landing---no ceil ing and no
SBAS: S pace Based Augmentation System. The visibility (or Runway Visual Range). It is known as
WAAS system is used in the U.S., but is also part ofan "Category llle." Even Category If requires special
equipment aboard the airplane and tighter specifica-
international system known as ·'SBAS,' for space -based tions for the !LS transmitter on the ground. As a result
augmentation system. It is so-call ed because it uses there are few Category Ill operations anywhere in the
geostationary satellites for relayi ng correction signals. world. Another obstacle is that autoland systems can
Other countries use different names: put the ai rplane on the runway. but there is no guidance
EGNOS: European Geostationary Navigation for taxiing to the terminal when dense fog blocks any
Overlay Serv ice. view outside. (This should be solved with emerging "syn-
thetic" and "en hanced" vision systems, which sec the
MSAS: Mu ltifunction Transport Satellite run way with infrared light, or construct an image from
System (Japan). a mapping database.)
LAAS. A system known as LAAS, for Loca l Arca
LAAS: Local Area Augmentation System Augmentation System, raises the accuracy of the GPS
The first "blind'' landing was demonstrated by landi ng system above Category l. It is similar to the
Jimmy Doolittle in 1927. It is surprising that well into
the 2 1st Century, the complete bl ind landing was still
not achieved. It is tme that widebody ai rliner are often Block IIR: Second Frequency
equipped for "auto land," which provides a hands-off
for Civil Aviation

Set up for a GLS Approach

Every GLS approach has a unique 5-digit channel num-

ber, in this example, "30915." Above it is "GLSA'' to iden-
tify it as a GLS approach. The display is a page in a Flight
Management System typical of a large transport. Once
the GLS channel is selected, the pilot (or flight control GPS continuously improves with each generation. Shown
system) is guided through courses and altitudes to make here is a Block IIR satellite (built by Lockheed Martin).
the approach to the airport. This example is the approach The major enhancement is a second GPS signal for civil
to Runway 32L (left) at Grant County International Airport aircraft to improve accuracy. Earlier satellites provided
in Washington State. only one civil signal , which picks up errors when it
changes speed through the ionosphere. With two signals,
their speeds are compared and used to reduce the error.
The new satellites also provide the military with an
" M code," which operates at higher power to improve
resistance to jamming.

w ide area system ( WAAS) desc ribed above, except that
LAAS for High Accuracy
the ground mo nitoring station fo r correcting error is
located on the a irport. Because G PS error is sensed
w ithin hundreds of feet (not miles) from run ways, the
correcti on provides high accuracy in the airborne re-
ceiver. As shown in the illustration, correction s are not
re layed via a n orbiting sate IIite, but thro ugh a VHF sta-
tion w hose signa l is pi cked up by the a irplan e. Now
the acc uracy of nav igation is down to I meter, and
satisfies the de mands of vertical descent. It can a lso
prov ide a moving ma p of run way and tax iways for the
pi lot to fi nd his way to the terminal in the densest fog.
T he internationa l term fo r the LAAS system is
G BAS, fo r "ground-based augmentation syste m". It re-
fers to the VHF gro und stati ons that transmit the cor-
rection signa l.
Multimodc Receivers. T he aviatio n world is in
a lo ng-term c hangeover from lLS lo GL S, and both
syste ms w ill ex ist side by side fo r ma ny years . Fo r this
reason, many new long-range a ircraft are equipped with
MMR---multimode receivers--- that ope rate on all sys-
te ms, including Microwave La nd ing System (MLS),
YOR, !LS and GLS . No matter w hat system is in op-
eration al an ai rport, the pil ot sees the same steerin g
comm ands on his instruments and di spl ays .

RAIM : Receiver Autonomous

Integrity Monitoring
During the transition to satnav, GPS w ill not be
cert ified for ins trument approaches unless there is a
back-up system on the airplane in the event o f fa ilure.
The backup may be anothe r fo rm of navigation, suc h
as I LS (instrume nt landing system). The pil ot must not
on ly monitor the GPS, but the other source, as well. A Local Area Augmentation System (LAAS) installed
T his is ha rd ly practical and places a heavy workload at an airport. The GPS ground station receives the
on the pilot. same satellites as the airplane. The station location,
however, was surveyed and its precise position
To avoid this problem, the RA IM system was de- known . If it detects differences between its known
veloped, which enables the G PS rece iver to check it- geographic location and GPS position, a correction
is transmitted to the airplane.
se lf. Mea ning "Receiver A utonomous Integri ty Moni-
The technique is called "Differential GPS" (DGPS)
toring," RAlM checks whether the re are enough sate l- because it detects error as a "difference" signal. In-
lites fo r the approac h, whethe r they are hea lth y and if ternationally, it's called "GBAS," for ground-based
the ir geometry is adequate. The last factor, geometry, augmentation system.
is the layo ut of satellites durin g reception; the ir sig-
ahead" and determ ine if RATM wil l be acceptab le be-
na ls must arrive from w ide ly differe nt a ngles for the
fo re the a irp lane commences the instrument approach.
G PS receiver to deve lop an acc urate posit io n.
If it's inadeq uate a warning appears; "No GPS RA IM."
lt us uall y takes fo ur sate llites to determine longi-
tude, latitude, a ltitude and a correction !o r the receiver
c lock. RA IM is acco mplished by receiving at least fi ve
sate llites, w hich should be possible anywhe re in the
wo rl d. The receiver searches fo r the best satell ite
combination a nd, w hen satellites drop below the hori-
zo n, new ones are acquired as they rise into v iew.
Five satellites assure that integrity is s uffic ient to fly
the instru ment approach. The G PS receiver w ill " look

11 7
Galileo Constellation

The European system, Galileo, inserts

30 satellites into orbit, with three
standing by as spares. Unlike GPS,
which has six orbits, Galileo has three
(shown in the illustration).
The constellation, at an altitude of
14,600 miles (23,616 km), is slightly
higher than GPS (12,500 miles).
Two ground stations in Europe
gather data from 20 sensor stations
around the world and uplink data to
synchronize clocks and maintain or-
The source of Galileo's timing accu-
racy are two clocks carried aboard
each satellite. One is a rubidium
atomic clock (as in GPS), the other is
a newer type,"passive hydrogen ma-
Galileo is interoperable with GPS;
a receiver aboard the airplane pro-
cesses both signals.

Galileo Satellite
Solar panels, which generate 1500 watts
of primary power, rotate with the satel-
lite around an earth-pointing axis. The
panels are kept facing the sun, while
navigation antennas point toward earth.
Each satellite weighs 1400 pounds (650
A goal of Galileo is to achieve navi-
gational accuracy to within 5 meters
without augmentation systems on the
ground (see WAAS and LAAS).

Review Questions
Chapter 16 GPS/Satnav

16.I How many satellites are there in a GPS con- by the letter _ _
16.10 How many satellites are required for a three-
16.2 Row many CPS satellites are active? How dimensional fix (latitude, longitude and altitude)?
many are spares? 16.11 How many satellite frequencies are required
16.3 What is the European equivalent of GPS? to perform propagation corrections?

16.4 Why don' t CPS receivers in airplanes 16.12 What part of the satellite signal carries the
require expensive atomic clocks (like those in satellite's precise position in orbit?
satellites) to measure time with high accuracy?
16.13 Name the three segments of the GPS system.
16.5 How does a GPS receiver identify a satellite?
16.14 The Wide Arca Augmentation System
(WAAS) uses ground stations and satellites to
16.6 What is the term for a satellite's identity?
16.7 How does a CPS receiver measure the time for 16.15 What is the advantage ofLAAS (Local Area
the signal to travel from satellite to receiver? Augmentation System) over WAAS?
16.8 How is distance determined between the CPS 16.16 What is the purpose of RAIM (Receiver Au-
receiver and the satellite? tonomous Integrity Monitoring)'?
16.9 CPS frequencies, or channels, are designated

Chapter 17

Electronic Flight Instrument System

A long w ith digital e lectro nics a nd G PS na viga- EFIS is ofte n cal led the "glass cockpit" because
tion, the Electro nic Flight Instrument System changed T V screens replace mechanical and e lectromechani-
the face o f the flig ht deck. The term EflS orig ina lly cal instruments. Dozens of old "steam ga uges" are now
described an a irline system (that first ro lled out w ith re placed by an EF IS d isplay tha t is rap idly changi ng
the Boe ing 767 in 198 1) but today it identifi es elec- fro m about a ha lf-dozen separate screens to "wall-to-
tro nic instrume nts fo r a ircraft of a ll s izes . wall " glass.

Replacing Old Instruments

Aerospace Display Systems

Electronic instruments are also designed as direct ability of these solid-state devices is much greater than
replacements for old electromechanical equivalents. that of mechanical types.
In these two examples, the instruments are LCD The instrument on the left is a torque indicator used
that provide both analog and digital read-outs. Reli- in military helicopters. The one on the right is a verti-
cal torque indicator for commercial helicopters

Electronic in sh·uments bring many benefits. They Instead of spreading information over different in-
e liminate hundreds of gears, bearings, pointers, rotat- strume nts on the panel, EFlS overlays them into a
ing drums a nd other frag il e mechanica l components. sing le, easy-to-understand image, fo r example; a map
A ny instrument is easily duplicated on the screen by display can a lso show thun derstorms, high terrai n and
programming its image. nearby aircraft.
An EFTS di splay may be dec luttered to show only
EFIS Pictorial Display information required for that phase of the flig ht. l f
there's an "exceedance," mea ning a system is develop-
ing a fa ult, it automaticall y appears to warn the pilot.
Because there is a lmost no limit to w hat can be
s hown as an image on a screen, EFIS brought in new
generations of symbols that are pilot-friendly. The first
systems simpl y created pictures of instrume nts they
rep laced, but it became apparent the re were better im-
ages. For example, pilots fly an ILS (instrument land-
ing system) by keeping two needles centered ; one for

An example of how EFIS presents an easy-to-

read pictorial view. This environmental con-
trol system was once a collection of knobs and
gauges on an overhead panel. Now it's in the
instrument panel. At a glance, the pilot sees
how bleed air flows from the engines (lower
left and right) and is distributed for control-
ling temperature in the cockpit and passenger
cabin, including position of valves.
Also shown is bleed air from the APU (aux-
iliary power unit) and from an external source
ijust below center of screen).
This presentation is more useful for trouble-
shooting the system in flight than consulting
a paper manual.

Honeywell. Primus Epic

the loca lizer to rema in on the runway centerline, the had narrow viewing angles and low reso lut ion. Dri ven
other a glidcslope for vertical guida nce. ln a series of by the large market in portable PC's, the tech no logy
experiments by NASA, the " highway in the sky" was advanced rapid ly and a ll new EFIS systems are flat
developed. The pilot a ims the airpla ne at a rectang le pane l.
(o r hoop) on the screen and flie s through it. Additional
There is much retrofitting of old aircraft to re-
hoops appea r in the dis tance; if the pilot keeps fly ing
place their electromechan ical instrume nts w ith EFl S.
through them ( li ke threading a needle), the a irplane
It's happened in most major transport aircraft in "de-
rema ins on the loca lize r, gl ideslope or othe r 3-dirnen-
sional path. rivative" models , usuall y shown by a " dash number;"
fo r exam ple; the Boeing 737- 100 first rolled out in
The origi na l technology for EFIS was the hea vy 1967 with conve nti onal instruments . It is now up to
g lass cathode ray tube. F lat pane l L CD 's of the I 970's 737-900, w ith recent gene rations equipped with EFIS.
were not ready fo r aviation ; they were monochrome,

Transition from Electromechanical to EFIS

This EFIS screen is a "Primary Flight
Display" and combines many early
instruments into a single screen. The
top half was once the artificial hori-
zon. One of the first improvements
was the addition of "command" bars-
·-the V-shape near the middle of the
screen. Driven by the flight control
system (autopilot), the bars helped
guide the pilot fly manually or en-
abled him to observe commands of
the autopilot. At this stage, the in-
strument was called an "ADI, " for at-
titude director indicator.
When EFIS appeared, all the same
functions were pictured on a video
screen. This called for a new name,
EADI, for electronic attitude director
indicator. At the same time, several
other instruments were added to the
image; air speed indicator, altimeter,
vertical speed indicator and others.

The lower half of the screen was once

the horizontal situation indicator
(HSI). When the electromechanical
instrument is shown on an EFIS
screen it is known as an EHSI, the
" E" is for electronic.

When the two major flight instru-

ments---ADI and HSl---are placed one
above the other and connected to the
autopilot, they are known as a " flight

The trend in EFIS, however, is to com-

bine those instruments onto one
screen, as shown here, and call it a
"Primary Flight Display."

The system in the illustration is the

Honeywell Primus EPIC, a flat panel
measuring 8-in by 10-in.

Three-Screen EFIS

The future of instrument panels is shown

in this "Smartdeck" by L3 Communica- Primary Flight Display
tions. It is " wall-to-wall" glass, with three Attitude Engine Power
10.5-inch panels that display information Heading Selected Heading
once required by three separate instru- Altitude Selected Course
ments. Airspeed Autopilot/Flight Directo
Panels like these are usually inter- Vertical Speed Navigation
changeable, with their function determined LateralNertical Path Timer
by how their software is programmed. This
permits "reversionary modes," meani ng
that any display on one panel can be
switched over to another. Multifunction Display
The panels are arranged as Primary Radio Management Charts
Flight Displays for captain (left) and first Aircraft Systems Runway Diagrams
officer (right). In the center is the multi- Engine Instruments Wind Direction/Speed
function display. Because the multifunc- Checklists Ground Track
tion display typically displays engine in- Moving Map Caution/Warning
struments and warnings it is also called Flight Plan Geographic Overlays
EICAS, for engine instrument and crew Terrain Lightning/Weather
advisory system. Datalink (Traffic/Weather) Traffic Information
The Primary Flight Display is mainly
for controlling the attitude of the airplane
and for navigating.

EFIS Architecture




1 2






An EFIS system requires inputs from various sources, temperature, pressure, altitude, airspeed and others. It
as shown in this system known as " MAGIC," for Meggitt also eliminates "spinning iron" gyro's for aircraft attitude
Avionics new Generation Integrated Cockpit." and heading. It's done with solid-state devices contain-
Because the electronics are digital, any analog sig- ing almost no moving parts.
nals from outside must go through the Data Acquisition Note how the instrument panel is divided into to nearly
Unit {DAU). Signals from engine sensors and fuel probes, identical halves; for captain and first officer {co-pilot).
for example, are converted to digita l format. The DAU This provides the safety of redundant systems, which are
can also store data for engine trend monitoring, which powered from different sources. In a typical EFIS a dis-
ca n detect faults before they ca use a failure. play on one side of the panel can be switched and viewed
The Air Data Attitude Heading Reference System o n the other side.
{ADAHRS) replaces conventional sensors for measuring

Multifunction Display: MFD
One MFD, like this Apollo MX-20 displays a wide variety
of navigation, weather and traffic information.

The 360-degree compass rose is a horizontal situ-

ation indicator. The red, yellow and green areas
are terrain warnings.

This screen shows weather radar images and

works with several makes of radar sets.

Weather shown here is not from aircraft radar, but

signals from NEXRAD, a nation-wide system of gov-
ernment ground radars. The pilot may select
weather images from any area of the country.

Horizontal Situation Indicator with waypoints along

the route. Also shown is nearby traffic; targets
appear as small blue arrowheads.

Navigational charts for enroute and approach phases

of flight. When the airplane lands, the chart changes
to a taxi diagram.
EFIS on the B-747-400 ~
TRANSFER PANEL Enables the Captain to select SELECT PANEL
Switches displays among different modes in the Navigation Controls the two EICAS
various screens. Useful Display; a full compass rose for (Engine Indication and Crew
in the event of a display approach, a full rose and expanded Alerting System) screens in the
failure. VOR display, a map and an expanded center position. Pilot may select
plan view. engine performance, electrical,
maintenance and fuel system \


The co-pilot has most of the
The Captain may switch various sources between same control panels on the right
left, right and center screens. This includes the side of the instrument panel,
Flight Management Computer, Flight Director as shown by similar colors.
and air data.


Information from airplane systems is applied to an EICAS screens. The interface also sends some of
interface unit. The data is digitized and symbols that data to the flight data recorder and the central
generated for displaying images on the EFIS and maintenance computer for storage.

Airbus A-320 Flight Deck

A feature of the A-320 is the absence of control yokes for captain and
The A-320 began flying in 1988 as a twin first officer. Yokes are replaced by two sidestick controllers, as found in
medium-range transport. Because EFIS fighter aircraft. This gives a wide, unobstructed view of the instrument
panels are interchangeable , fewer panel.
spares are required for maintenance. It is also "fly-by-wire," where the sidesticks drive computers that, in
turn, control actuators for rudder, ailerons, elevator and spoilers. Safety
is assured by operating each sidestick through five computers, each
with different software, microprocessors and manufacturers.
The advantages of fly-by-wire: large mechanical linkages and cables
are eliminated, less weight, built-in test and flight envelope protection
(which prevents excessive control inputs). It also provides " gust load
alleviation," which senses turbulence, then operates aileron and spoiler
to relieve strain on the wingtips. This enables a lighter, longer wing for
better fuel economy.




The instrument panel of the A-3 20 has six main lem of returning a unit to the shop and finding nothing
CRTdisplays, all physically interchangeable. This elimi- wrong (a major cost item for the airlines).
nates 75% of conventional instruments. The engine thrust levers are controlled by FADEC (Full
The two screens in the center (ECAM) monitor engines, Authority Digital Engine Control). It adjusts fuel and
flap and other settings, and system malfunctions. power setting for best efficiency. Weighing less than the
The two multipurpose displays at the bottom have built- conventional (hydro-mechanical) system, FADEC also
in test equipment (BITE) that show malfunctions, diag- provides engine protection (from exceeda nces) and
nostic data and failed components. It reduces the prob- health monitoring.

Review Questions
Chapter 17 EFIS
17.l What are two benefits EFIS? 17.6 The control yokes on recent Airbus aircraft
are replaced by sidestick controllers. Why'?
17.2 The EFIS screen directly in front of the pi-
lot, which shows attitude instruments, is 17.7 First-generation EFIS was based on cathode
called a _ _ __ ray tubes. What replaced them?
17.8 Why are fewer spares required to maintain an
17.3 The EFLS screen usually in the center of the
EFIS system'?
instrument panel is the _ _ _ __
17 .9 What can a pilot do if images fail to appear on
17 .4 The center screen of a typical airline displays
his EF1S screen?
EICAS, which means _ _ __
17.10 Why is it easier to troubleshoot a problem in
17.5 An EFJS system can display BITE, which
stands for _ _ _ _ __ flight with an EFJS-equipped airplane?

Recordin g info nnation in flight is among the most an air di saster. As seen above, they are not black but a
va luable methods of determining the cause of airplane bright " i11ternational orange" used on emergency equip-
accidents. There are several types of recorders, some me nt for high visibility.
required by law, others in stalled because they reduce
the cost of maintenance. Jn the newest airliners hun- An improvement in fli ght recorders is the transi-
dreds of points are measured on engi ne, a irframe, hy- tion from recording on tape to storing data on so lid-
draulic, pne umatic a nd other systems. When down- state memories. Not only does it improve re li ab il ity,
loaded later on the ground, the data often warns of but stores far more data. Early recorde rs required high
trouble well in advance of a full-blown inflight prob- maintenance, a nd tapes often fouled in the mec hanism,
losing va luable accident informa tion.
lem. Another trend, now possible w ith worldwide satel-
1ite communications, is to transmit flight data as it is
CVR Basics
collected, and downlinking it to a ma intenance facility
A typica l CVR is required ( by U.S . law) to reco rd
even before the airp lane lands .
for at least 30 min utes, then start again, whi le eras ing
Two devices required in a irliners and other high- the previous 30 minutes. rn othe r cou ntries the require-
perfo rmance aircraft are the CVR (cockpit voice re- ment is 120 minutes. After the a irplane lands safely,
corder) and FDR (flight data recorde r). These are the the pilot may bulk-erase the tape. Erasing is not pos-
"black boxes" menti oned by news reporters fo ll owi11g sible in fli ght because the erase c ircuit is disabled un-

less the system senses the airplane is on the g round.
Th is is usually done by a weight-on-wheels, or "squat
The new CV R's a re easier to down load than early
models. Instant playback is possible with a portable
device. Any place on the recording is quickly located
by forward, reverse and stop commands.
The power source can be either 1 I 5 volts 400 Hz
or 28 VDC. With so few moving parts, the solid-state
CVR requires no period ic maintenance or scheduled
overhau l.
Inertial Switch . If a CVR continues to receive Fairchild

aircraft power after a crash, the recorded audio is wiped Manufacturers of flight data recorders must comply
with standards for survivability in a crash. A recorder
clean and lost. This is prevented by an inerti al switch. should withstand a temperature of 1100 degrees C for
lt responds to high G forces of a c rash by intem1pting 30 minutes, as shown in this test. In another test, a
power to the voice recorder. 500-pound weight is dropped on the recorder from 10
Audio Chann els. The CVR provides four audio
c hannels into the recorde r:
Captain : Any microphone used by the captain, audio from the cockpit a rea mike is impossible to hear
such as the norma l boom mike, as well as the mike in because it 's drowned out by nearby loudspeaker au-
an oxygen mask or hand mike. This assures a record- dio. Not onl y does this eliminate important conversa-
ing of rad io commun ications. tion between pilots, but sounds which can point to prob-
lems---sounds such as changes in engine speed, switch
Co-Pilot (First Officer) The same as for the cap- clicks and flap motors. A technician must follow the
tain. manufacturer's installation instructions careful ly for
good cockpit area pickup. ln airli ne installation, the
Pu blic Address (PA) This channel picks up an-
airframe manufactu rer will have determined all loca-
nouncements by the crew to passengers in the cabin.
tions. ln General Aviation, whe re there is a choice for
Cockpit Area Mike. Thi s is designed to pick up locating the area microphone, typical techniques include
c rew member voices a nd other sounds in the cockpit. us ing a directiona l microphone fac ing the crew a nd
There have been problems with cockpit area mikes. one that is noise-cancel ling.
After a crash, safety investigato rs often complain that

Line replaceable unit (LRU) for a cockpit voice recorder shown lo-
cated in the aft fuselage of a Learjet. It is usually on th e pressur-
ized, or cabi n, side.


Cockpit area microphone picks up conversation between pilots and other

sounds that provide clues for accident investigators. This mike is lo-
cated atop the glareshield on a small corporate jet. In airliners, the mike
is usually above, on the overhead panel.

Underwater Locating Device

Both cockpit voice and flight data recorders are
required to be fitted with a ULD, or underwater locat-
ing device. They are also known as U LB, fo r underwa- INDICATOR
ter locator beacon. Each recorder usually has one, but
when both CVR and FDR are located next to each other
and a re not likely to become separated during a crash, a
sing le ULD may, in some cases, be used.
Most ULD 's are "pingers," sending out an ultra-
son ic tone on 37.5 kH z, which is too high for human 's
to hear. (The high frequency is more effective fo r hom-
ing on with a li stening dev ice.)
The ULD is trigge red when moistened by water Controller for a cockpit voice recorder (early type).
(sa lt or fresh). It must start pinging no mo re than four The cockpit area microphone picks up sound of pilot con-
hours after the airp lane goes underwater, then continue versation , airplane, engine mechanical noises and warn-
to broadcast for at least 30 days. Jt is rated to perfonn ing tones.
To check the system, the test switch is held down
at depths up to 20,000 feet. (The average depth of the for five seconds; if OK, a green light illuminates. If it
world 's major oceans is 13,000 feet.) doesn't light in six seconds, the CVR must be removed
for service
Flight Data Recorders (FDR) The erase switch works only when the airplane is on
T he second "black box" needed by crash investi- the ground (either a cabin door must open, a squat switch
energized or other interlock). Erasing is indicated by an
gators is the Flight Data Recorder. Early FDRs used a
audio tone.
sharp-pointed sty lus to scratch lines into a band of thin The headset jack enables pilot or technician to plug
steel. Altho ugh the steel "memory" resisted heat and in and hear if audio is distorted; he speaks into the cock-
flames, it had low capacity fo r sto1ing information. Like pit area mike and listens to the playback quality on head-
the cockpit voice recorder, the FDR is always a bright phones.
Under p ressure fro m accident investigators for
more parameters ( measuring points), the FAA required

Cockpit Voice Recorder: Interconnect



INERTIAL SWITCH . . . 28 voe

1 ~




Line Replaceable Unit, at left, is mounted in the protected by an external " squat," or weight-on-
aft fuselage in a crash-hardened housing. It wheels switch.
records four audio channels ; captain's mike, co- The inertial switch reacts to forces of a crash
pilot's mike, cockpit area mike and public ad- and shuts off power to prevent the tape from run-
dress. Test and erase functions are done at the ning and erasing the last 30 minutes.
controller on the instrument panel (right). Although the CVR tape is rated for 30 minutes
Erasing the tape can only happen after the of recording in the U.S., other countries require
airplane is safely on the ground. This function is 120 minutes.

When testing the underwater locator beacon (the " pinger")

the tone is ultrasonic and cannot be heard by the ear. The
tester receives the tone and converts it down to the range of Early cockpit voice recorders use a tape and mechani-
human hearing. To start the pinger operating, one end is cal drive. Next-generation recorders eliminate tape with
moistened to simulate an underwater condition. more reliable solid-state memory. New recorders meet
tougher requirements for heat and G-forces and need
less maintenance.

Cable Assemblies
large aircraft be equipped with d igital flight data re-
corders of greater capacity and reliability. Depending
on date of manufacture a ll s uch airplanes had to retro-
fit anywhere from 22 up to 57 parameters. A ircraft
manufactured after 2002 require 88 parameters.
FDR's grew even more important with the arrival
of e lectronic instrume nts. In airplanes with mechanical
gauges, accident investigators could look at a n a irspeed
need le pinned in place by the crash and obtain valuable
information (such as airspeed w hen the airpla ne struck
the ground). They cou ld tell if warning lights were on
or off at the time of impact by looking at condition of
filaments in the bulbs. But as this information went
from instruments, switches and lamps to e lectronic dis-
plays, it d isappeared when the screen went dark. T hus
the urgency of storing data on a flight recorder.

Many in the aviation industry want to add to the

present ge neration of flight data recorders. One idea is
to equip large aircraft w ith two recording systems; for-
ward and aft, to assure s uffi cient data. There is also a
move to equip the cockpit with a video camera. Video
images stored in the FDR could yie ld valuable infor- Cable assembly for a cockpit voice re-
mation about what happened just before the crash. corder. It has 6 pairs of twisted and
shielded cable, plus 14 other conductors.
The d ig ital FDR (DFDR) takes analog sig na ls They're protected against chafing by an
outer jacket. This harness, which con-
(head ing, a ltitude, airspeed, etc.)--which us ually va1y forms to ARING 557, can be obtained pre-
in a smooth, continuous fashion and converts them to wired from such companies as ECS.
digital format for storage in a solid-state memory. Some
sig nals are "synchro," meaning signals from electro-
mechanical instruments. Yet another type of input is
from the aircraft databus, such as ARINC 429, whi ch
is a stream of data from many aircraft syste ms.
age) before failu re and data is easil y recovered with a
Unlike the o ld, mechanical recorder, there is no portable unit. A ty pical flight data recorder stores 25
scheduled overhaul and little maintenance fo r digita l hours of information before sta1ting over again.
models. Reliabi lity exte nds to 20,000 hours (on aver-

Flight Data Recorder: Solid-State



Solid-State Flight Data Recorder (SSFDR) by Lockheed

eliminates tape storage with a survivable solid-state
memory. It is interchangeable with earlier-generation re-
corders without wiring changes. UNDERWATER
The system uses direct recording, which eliminates LOCATING
data compression. This permits the memory (non-vola- DEVICE
tile flash)to be downloaded without a delay of 8-10 hours.
The unit doesn 't have to be removed from the airplane to
retrieve stored data and is done with a PC. Unlike early
recorders this one has much greater MTBF (mean time
between failures) of 20,000 hours and requires no sched-
uled overhaul.

Another recorder type (at right) is the digital flight data

recorder (DFDR). It is designed to meet an FAA require-
ment for an expandable flight data acquisition and re-
cording system (EFDARS).
All recorders have an underwater locating device (ULD),
seen on this model. It is triggered after a crash in salt or
fresh water and emits an ultrasonic tone. It is also called
a ULB (underwater locator beacon) or underwater acous-
tic beacon.

Information Stored by Digital Flight Data Recorder (36 Parameters)
1. Begin recording prior to takeoff:
a. Record time of flight control check (hold flight con- 5. During stabilized {wings level) descent, record :
trols at full travel for 2 to 5 seconds, each position). a. Altitude and time at which descent initiated.
b. Takeoff flap Setting. b. Airspeed.
c. Takeoff thrust setting. c. Pitch attitude.
d. Brake release time. d. Displayed angle of attack.
e. Rotation Speed (VR) and time of rotation. e. Heading (note true or magnetic).
f. Aircraft attitude after rotation. f. Altitude and time at which leveled off.

2. During stabilized climb (wings level) after take- 6. During approach at level flight {wings level)
off record: deploy flaps throughout the flap operating range
a. Altitude and time at which climb stabilized.
in all available settings (or at 5° increments) and hold for
b. Airspeed.
5 seconds at each setting. Record:
c. Vertical speed.
a. Altitude and time at beginning of flap deployment se-
d. Pitch attitude.
e. Displayed angle of attack.
b. Flap setting and time when each setting is reached .
f. Heading (note true or magnetic).
c. Altitude and time at end of flap deployment sequence.

3. During level flight (wings level) at maximum 7. During final approach, record:
operating limit speed (VMO./MMO) or at VMAX a. Altitude and time at beginning of final.
record : b. Radio altitude and time at which recorded (three points).
a. Altitude and time at start of level flight. c. Localizer deviation and time at which recorded (three
b. Airspeed. times).
c. Ground speed and time at which recorded (three times). d. Glide slope deviation and time at which recorded .
d. Outside or total air temperature. e. Time of outer marker passage.
e. Automatic Flight Control System (A FCS) Mode and en- f. Time of landing gear deployment.
gagement status including autothrottle. g. Final flap setting.
f. Pitch attitude. h. Time of inner marker passage.
g. Displayed angle of attack.
h. Heading (note true or magnetic). 8. During landing and rollout, record:
i. Drift angle and time at which recorded (three times). a. Time when thrust reversers deployment sequence was
j. All displayed engine performance parameters for each initiated.
engine. b. Ground spoiler or speed brake setting and time ground
k. Altitude and time at end of level flight. spoiler deployed.

4. During a banked turn (90° to 180° heading 9. During all fl ight phases, record:
change) record: a. Time of any three radio tra nsmissions from each
a. Altitude, heading and time at beginning of turn. flightcrew position.
b. Stabilized roll attitude (bank angle). b. Any warn ing or caution lights that illuminated and the
c. Altitude, heading and time at end of turn. time at which they illuminated.

Review Questions
Chapter 18 CVR and FDR

J.8.1 A CVR is required to record for _ __ 18.6 How long must an Underwater Locating De-
minutes before erasing and recording again. vice send signals after an aircraft ditches in the
18.2 What is the purpose of an inertial switch? water?

18.3 Name the four audio channels into a CVR. 18.7 FDR's for aircraft manufactured after 2002
must record up to _ _ parameters.
18.4 What is the purpose of the cockpit area mike?
18.8 The solid-state FDR replaces tape storage with
18.5 The erase switch on a CVR works only

The thunderstorm cell shown above is producing
a"microburst," a poweliul downdraft and outflow
The ea1ih is a weathe r factor y generating man y
from its central core. Once the cause of many air-
hazards to fli ght; thunderstorms, lightning, fog, turbu- line accidents, it is no longer a major problem.
lence, haze, hail , rain, blowing snow a nd windshear. Windshear devices that give warning are aboard
Nevertheless, airliners complete the ir scheduled fli ghts all commercial airliners.
98.7 percent of the time. Muc h of thi s s uccess is owed
to a network of weather-reporting stations on the g round atcd inside storm c louds . It's proven especia lly dead ly
w hich de li ver time ly info rmation to the pilot. Ju st as w he n the a irp lane is arriving or de parting the airpo rt
important is weather-detecting equipment aboard the air- and is low to the gro und, where it is known as "w ind
pla ne to sense dangerous conditions ahead and he lp the shear."
pil ot pla n an escape route.
Clear Air Turbulence
O ne of the g reatest wea the r threats to a ircraft is Another hazard is CAT, for clear a ir turbule nce.
the thundersto rm. Few aircraft have the perfom1ance It occurs at high a ltitu des of the jet stream between
or stru ctural strength to w ithsta nd turbul ence gene r- fas t-moving cur ren ts of a ir. Because the air masses
Color-Coding the Radar Display
\RAIN PER HOUR: .04-.17 IN.

Radar image. Bendix-King

The radar image uses five colors to indicate severity of weather; black, green, yellow, red and magenta (a purple-red).
The colors are based on the rate of rainfall in inches per hour. Rainfall is also a guide to turbulence in clouds. A pilot
may enter the green region, he tries to avoid the yellow, and carefully flies around red and magenta.

Weather on Multifunction Display


More aircraft are now out-

fitted with multifunction
displays which overlay
several sources on a ba-
sic moving map. This in-
cludes weather (rain or
other precipitation) and
lightning strikes. The in-
formation may be pi cked
up by satellite or from an
onboard radar or Storm-
Besides weather, the
displays show traffic and
terrain hazards.

Avidyne Flight Max

move in different directi ons, an airpl ane hits heavy tur- form an outline of thunderstorm cell s. The fi rst radars
bulence when it enters the boundary between them. The were monochrome, showing rain intensity in shades of
damage is usually not to the airplane but to passen- gray. Present-day radars give a much clearer presenta-
gers. They arc tossed about and injured in the cabin tion in color.
(thus the request to keep the seat belt buckled.)
Weather radar has been much improved in recent
Thunderstorms years. Lt is less prone to an early problem, known as
Because thunderstorms arc accompan ied by light- "attenuation," where an area of moderate rain blocks
ning, the earliest attempt at detecti on was the ADE or echoes fro m a more turbulent cell behind it. Newer ra-
automat ic direction fin der, already aboard many air- dars are less responsive to "ground clutter," where ra-
craft. Lightning is an electrical d iseharge that gener- dio ene rgy strikes the ground an d interferes with the
ates not only flashes of visible light but radio frequen- image. Modem radars can present a vertical, or pro-
cies in the low- and medium-frequency bands. The ADF ti le, view of the storm , showi ng the height of the clouds,
receiver, therefore, responds to thi s energy. With each whi ch is a good clue to storm inte nsity.
lightning discharge, the ADF needle dips away from The most signi ti cant development for weather ra-
its rest positi on. According to the fo lklore of aviati on dar in recent years is turbulence detection. The fi rst
(which many pil ots believe) an ADF needle points to- radars could onl y sense ra in as it fell in the vertical
ward the storm . Thi s is dangerous because the needle direction. By the l 980's, however, designers could
and its mechanism do try to point to the storm, but swing build radar sets which also measure the horizontal
too slowly. As the lightning di scharges in different di- movement of rain . Although very heavy rain is usually
rections, the needle lags behind, becoming con fused a good indicator of turbulence, ra in that moves hori-
and erratic. But as we' II cc, lightni ng can prov ide valu- zontally is a sure sign of powcrf~u1, dangerous wi nds.
able info rmation about storm locati on.
The new radars detect th is wi th a turbulence de-
Types of Detection tection system based on the doppler shift. If a radar
Weather Radar. The leading airborne weather- pul se hits a rain drop moving horizonta ll y away fro m
detecting device, first put aboa rd a DC-4 airliner in the airplane, the returning pulse is sl ightly red uced in
1946, is weather radar. Adapted from military models frequency (the doppler shi ft). When the rain drop moves
of World War Il, it proved so effective it became re- toward the airplane, the echo frequency rises in fre-
quired equipment aboard all commercial flights. The quency. (I t's the sa me doppler shift that causes a train
radar system operates on the principle of refl ectivity; whistle sound to higher in pitch as it approaches; the
a pulse emitted from the radar antenna strikes water waves are squeezed together and you hear a rising tone.
droplets in a cloud and rcnects back as an echo. By A~er the train passes, the waves stretch out, causing a
plotting the strength and direction of the echoes, areas lower frequency.)
of heavy rain arc "painted" on a graphic display, and

Sensors for Multifunction Displa

~ WxRadar
Datalink ~ Sen'°'

Traffic Sensor

-«- Stormscope
Sensor Many sensor and data inputs are re-
[J quired to drive t he MFD. The system
has standard i ndustry int erfaces
EGPWS (such as ARINC 429 and IEEE RS-
Sensor 232), as well as interfaces to accept

f signals from other manufacturers'
products for radar, lightning, terrain
and traffic information.


Weather Radar Transmitter-Receiver







A single antenna located in the nose transmits radar receiver to the antenna for receiving returning echoes.
pulses and receives echoes from rain and other precipi-
tation. Microprocessor
This microcomputer converts switch positions se-
Elevation Motor lected by the pilot into digital words and applies them to
Raises and lowers the antenna vertically to keep it sta- one or more databuses. It also computes the azimuth
bilized on the same area of the sky, even as the airplane and elevation of the antenna to keep it stabilized.
nose moves up or down.
The elevation motor also enables the pilot to "tilt" the Transmitter
antenna to keep it just above the horizon and avoid re- The transmitter sends out pulses of radio energy, usu-
ceiving echoes from the ground. The radar, however, may ally on 9.333.8 MHz. The receiver then listens for echoes
operate in a " mapping" mode, which provides an image between pulses.
of the ground, if desired. (One example; when approach-
ing a coastline.) Receiver
The latest application for elevation is "vertical profile The strength of echoes varies according to the rainfall
radar." The motor sweeps the antenna vertically to show rate and they are divided into colors for the display;
the height of the clouds, an indication of the storm's black, green, yellow and red.
strength. The typical tilt range in a weather radar is plus The most recent is the color magenta, for turbulence.
and minus 15 degrees. In this mode, the receiver measures horizontal move-
ment of rain, which is a measure of turbulence. Under
Azimuth Motor the Doppler effect, the returning echo rises or falls in fre-
This sweeps the antenna from side to side in a scan- quency, depending on the direction of the rain drop.
ning motion. When the radar is set to the turbulence mode, the num-
ber of pulses transmitted per second increases from sev-
Inertial Reference eral hundred per second to over 1000 per second. This is
The inertial reference senses aircraft pitch and roll because stronger echoes are required to measure the
and provides information required by elevation and azi- very small frequency change. Also, the turbulence mode
muth motors to stabilize the antenna. The inertial source has a range of less than 50 miles. This limit occurs
may be laser gyros or electromechanical gyros which because a high pulse rate allows little time for the echo
also operate the airplane's flight attitude instruments. to return to the airplane before the next pulse is trans-
In order for one antenna to serve both transmitter and Symbol Generator
receiver, a " duplexer" is used. It directs radio energy This section converts weather information from a digi-
from the transmitter to the antenna, and connects the tal form into graphics that can be displayed for the pilot.

Early radar did not have circuits which could they produce the sound of thunder---plus a wide spec-
measure doppler shift. They were too unstable to mea- trum of radio energy that travels hundreds of miles. You
sure small frequency changes. Today's radars use solid- hear it as static on an AM radio during a storm. That
state devices that generate precise frequencies and have energy is also an indicator of where turbulence is lo-
the stability to measure frequency shifts in the return- cated.
ing echo. As seen in the illustration, turbulence is shown
Storrnscope appeared in the I 970's as the first
on the radar screen by the color magenta.
practical lightning detection system fo r aircraft. It be-
Single Engi ne Radar. Mounting radar in a light came successful in single-engine airplanes because it
aircraft has been a problem because the antenna inter- doesn 't need a radar antenna on the nose; just a smalI
feres with the propellor and engine. To avoid this area, receiving antenna on the belly of the aiqJlane.
the radar antenna is slung under a wing or built into
The Stormscope is tuned to a region where ra-
the wing's lead ing edge. Small antenna size, however,
dio energy of lightning is concentrated; the very low
limits operating range of these single-engine installa-
frequency of 50 kHz. The display is electronic whi ch
means there are no mechanically moving pa1ts to lag
Lightning Detection behind, as in the case ofanADF needle.
Weather research shows that thunderstorms cre- The display also maps the storm. When a light-
ate lightning in strong up and down drafts. Particles of ning stroke is sensed, a dot is placed on the screen that
dust, ice crystals and water rub against each other and shows the direction and distance of the stroke. The dot
build static electricity. When voltage rises sufficiently, is held on the screen and joined by the next dot. Stor-
an electrical discharge jumps between clouds (most of ing these signals, therefore, builds a graphic image of
the time), while some charges move from cloud to earth. thunderstorm cells and places them in the proper posi-
As heavy electrical currents heat and expand the air, tion relative to the nose of the airplane.

Weather Radar Control Panel


!TEST! @ o

10 ~~~~-RI GHT MOOE~~~~- 10

© I TFR! !WX/T! ~ I MAP! !IDNT!

Both the captain and first officer operate the weather radar from the same control panel in this
ARINC-type unit. Nearly all controls are duplicated; the captain's side is the white area, the co-
pilot's is shown with a blue background. They are grouped as ""Left Mode" and " Right Mode"
to indicate that the controls affect left and right sides of the instrument panel.
The panel, however, controls just one radar set and antenna. If captain and co-pilot choose
different modes or ranges, they will see these selections on their displays. This is done by
"time sharing" the radar scan. When the antenna swings from left to right, it obeys the captain's
settings. When it scans from right to left, it reconfigures and responds to the co-pilot's switch
settings. Thus, the two pilots may be viewing different weather situations on their displays---all
from the same radar at nearly the same time.

Radar Antenna



Mounted in the nose of the aircraft, the weather radar antenna sends and re-
ceives up to about 300 miles. Scanning motion (side to side) covers an arc of
about 120 degrees ahead of the aircraft. The tilt motor keeps the antenna pointed
high enough to avoid receiving returns from the earth's surface and cluttering
the display. If the antenna is tilted down for the mapping mode, the pilot sees
large geographical features such as lakes and coastlines.
Early antennas followed the "dish" design (parabolic reflector) , but later air-
craft use the "flat plate" design shown above.

A little-understood function of the Storm scope is determ ine the distance to any stroke by measuring its
how it determines the distance to the storm. It's done by stren gt h at the time of arrival.
Lightning detectors of this type are based on ''sfer-
measuring the strength of the incoming signal and con-
ics," derived from the world "atmospherics." They are
verting it to miles. This sounds plau sible unti I the ques-
tion arises; how does the Stormscope know if the storm not as accurate in range as wea the r radar and may
show "rad ial spread," where dots appear closer tha n
is small and c lose by, or large and far away? Each
they actually are, especially during strong thunderstorm
condition would seem to produce the same stre ngth.
ac tivity. Because the error makes a dot appear closer
Stormscope determines the difference because large (and thus give an earlier warning) it is not considered a
storms don 't produce more e nergy per stroke, but more major flaw in the instru ment.
strokes per second . The reason is, lightning is created
when voltage between two a ir masses reaches a break- Datalink
down , or flashover, point. Let 's assume a small cell dis- A recent addition to weat her detection not only
c harges at 100 milli on volts and contains e lectrica l solves the single-engine radar proble m but exte nds new
energy of 500 megaj oules. Afte r the c loud charges aga in serv ices to aircraft of all s izes. It is datalink; sendi ng
to 100 milli on volts, another stroke occurs. Nex t, con- weather images from National Weather Serv ice radar
sider a larger cell at the same di stance. [t a lso flashes sites to aircraft. The li nk is done v ia satellite and re-
over at 100 mi llion volts and 500 megaj oules of en- quires only a receiver and display.
ergy. The diffe re nce, however, is th at a large cell has a
greater source of energy (more area) and generates the T he images are the same ones seen on TV weather
next stroke in less time . Thus, a ll single strokes (from broadcasts. The system is Nex.rad (Next Generation Ra-
large and small cells) generate abo ut the same amount dar), a network of high-power ground radar stations.
radio energy. Using this refere nce, the Stormscope can Because of the ir megawatt power and large a ntenna
(continued page 144)
The radome, which appears as a nose cone, protects the
radar antenna from high speed impacts of rain, freezing
moisture, hail and abrasive dust. Radomes must not only
be structurally strong, but avoid reducing radar power by
more than about 10 per cent. As the radome ages, it de-
velops cracks and damage which eventually reduce the
range and accuracy of the radar image. Frequent inspec-
tion and maintenance prevent this.

Radomes erode, especially in high-performance aircraft.
The test shown above illustrates a radome constructed
of q uartz, which has proven light and strong compared
to other materials.

Radome Boot

(Norton, and below)

A pre-formed boot made of polyurethane may be ap-
plied over the radome for added protection. It reduces
the effects of rain, snow, sleet, insects, sand and ultra-
violet light

Quartz radome used on the Airbus A-320.

Radar antenna for a single-engine airplane cannot mount
in the nose because of the propellor. Instead, it is located
under the wing, as shown above, or built into the leading
edge of wing.
Wind shear

Wind shear---a sudden change in wind direction or speed---is most hazardous when
the aircraft is close to the ground, as during an approach. Windshear mostly affects
pure jet aircraft because of slow turbine "spool-up" time; a delay of about 4 to 7
seconds after the pilot calls for full power.
The discovery of the "microburst" (pictured above) shows what happens. A small
thunderstorm cell across the approach path is sending down a column of air from its
core. As the wind strikes the ground it spreads in all directions. The airplane at the
left is stabilized on the glideslope. When it reaches point "5" it enters a headwind at
the edge of the microburst. This lifts the airplane above the glideslope, causing the
pilot to reduce power or lower the nose to get back on. Next, the airplane reaches the
strong downdraft from the center of the microburst and the airplane sinks further.
The final phase is entering the tailwind portion of the microburst (" 2" ), causing fur-
ther sinking and loss of performance. The complete windshear encounter may take
less than a minute, hardly enough time to recover---and the airplane crashes short of
the runway.
Because so many landing accidents were caused by windshear, protection sys-
tems are now required aboard airline aircraft. They not only give advance warning,
but help the pilot fly the correct attitude for maximum climb out of the windshear

Lightning Detection
The Stormscope shows each lightning stroke as a green
dot. The three large dot clusters are groups of thunder-
storm cells. The display is 360 degrees, with the air-
plane in the center, thus showing activity behind the air-
plane. If the pilot wants to avoid storms ahead, he'll know
not to make a 180-degree turn and fly into more storms.
If the Stormscope is connected to a magnetic head-
ing source, it keeps the dots correctly oriented to the
nose of the airplane. Without this connection, the pilot
must manually clear the display after the airplane turns
and await the buildup of more dots.
When there is little storm activity along the route, the
pilot may choose the 200-mile range to see the " big pic-
ture." If dots start to appear, he shortens the range for
greater accuracy; down to 100, 50 and 25 miles.
Because Stormscopes are sensitive to electrical dis-
charges, the installation must be done carefully to avoid
false dots due to strobe lights, magnetos and other elec-
trical equipment.
L3 Communications

Windshear Computer
r- - - - - - - - ------,
1 ,!-g ~L (VERT
t--L--- ~ - ·.,:1:-






I_ ____________ _ _ _ _JI

The system detects windshear before th e pilot sees it Two alerts are developed: " Caution ," which indicates
on his instruments or senses any danger. the airplane is encountering a headwind and updraft. This
The basic principle is to measure a ir speed, ground is considered an increase in airplane performance. The
speed an d inertial forces. If they start to d iffer at an second alert is " Warning," for a tailwind and downdraft
excessive rate, it's caused by wind shear. Fo r example, (or a d ecrease in pe rformance). Now the voice say s
t he pitot tube, which measures airspeed, is compared with "Windshear."
an inertial sensor aboard the airplane whic h measures Gu iding the pilot out of the windshear condition fol-
changes in acceleration of the airplane . lows the warning. Without guidance, the pilot may sim-
As seen in the diagram above, variou s sensors pro- ply add f ull power and raise the nose, which co uld stall
vide other information such as angle of attack (alpha) the airplane. To avoid th is, the wind shear computer i ndi-
and t emperature. Outside air temperature is also moni- cates the ideal flight path on the instruments (done by
tored because windshear is often accompanied by rapid pitch cues on th e attitude indicator).
temperature change.

dishes, they produce images of high qua lity. W hen se- 140 mi les away.
ve re weather is in a n area, a Nex rad site repeatedly A feature un ique of the Nexrad system is that a
sweeps the sky fo r fi ve minutes, mapping precipitat ion pi lot may " look ahead" and see current weather any
horizontally (for a con ventional radar image) and sam- where in the country.
p ling J 4 diffe rent e levations (fo r a profi le view), up to

Images and text are trans-
mitted by datalink direct to
the airplane from a geosyn-
chronous satellite.The
datalink service shown is
by XM Satellite Radio.

Lightning strikes
measured from the
ground by the Na-
tional Lightning De-
tection Network are
updated every five
minutes and sent to
the aircraft by

Winds aloft are shown

every 3000 feet up to
42 ,000 feet . Speed
and dire ction are

METARS (aviation
weather reports) are
The most hazardous weather to aircraft is tur- transmitted from the
bulence in thunderstorm clouds. Turbulence National Weather Ser-
also generates lightning (due to friction be- vice every 15 minutes.
tween particles), which may reach 100 mil-
lion volts and 200,000 amperes. Detecting
lightning is a good indication of turbulence.
This information,is available from ground sta-
tions or with a lightning detector aboard the
aircraft. Radar, on the other hand, reads rain-
fall rate, also a good indicator of turbulence. TAFS (aviation fore-
The newest radars also measure turbulence casts) are also avail-
-- I--------
by the horizontal motion of raindrops. ..._..........
-- ;..,,,,=~---- able from the Na-
On average, an airliner is struck once a


tional Weather Ser-

year by l ightning, but with minor damage. vice.
Only one or two air crashes have ever been
suspected of resulting from a lightning strike.
Turbulence is the danger.

Review Questions
Chapter 19 Weather Detection

l 9.1 What is the greatest threat of a thunderstorm 19.9 What is a typical frequency for an airborne
to an ai rcraft'? weather radar?
19.2 On a weather radar display, what color indi- l 9.10 Lightning detection systems are usually tuned
cates maximum hazard to an aircraft? to a frequency of _ __
19.3 Weather radar detects storms by transmitting 19.11 What is the most recent method for deliver-
_ _ _ _ of radio energy and measuring their ech- ing weather images to the cockpit?
oes from water droplets.
19. l 2 What is the purpose of a radome?
19.4 Detecting turbulence in a storm is done by
measuring echoes from the movement 19.13. Radomes must reduce radar power by no
of water droplets. more than about _ __ _

19.5 What is the normal use of the tilt control? 19.14 W.i nd shear is a sudden change in wind
____ and is most dangerous near the_ _ __
19.6 What raises and lowers the radar antenna in a
vertical direction for tilt control'? 19.15 A dangerous form of windshear, which oc-
curs over a small area, is known as a _ __ _
l9.7What causes the radar antenna to scan left and
right (horizontal motion)? 19.16 Windshear detection systems warn the pilot
and also provide _ _ _ _ __
19.8 How is the radar antenna stabilized as the
airplane maneuvers through pitch and roll?


Keeping aircraft safe ly separated had been the During the I960's, the transponder was spread-
task of ai r traffic control s ince the \ 930's when pi lots ing through av iatio n and researche rs decided to aban-
radio'ed pos ition reports by voice. Thi s was followed don earlier technology and adopt the transponder as a
primary survei Ila nee based on radar "skin returns," then building block in a new anti-collision system. After
secondary surveillance using transponder inte rrogation trying several va riations, TCAS (Tra ffic Alert and
and reply. But as airplanes began cruis ing near Mac h Co llisio n Avo idance System) . was chosen as a wor ld
J and air traffic multiplied, so did the threat of the standard and it 's now in w idespread use everywhere,
" mid-air." with sca led-down vers ions for bus iness and li ght air-
craft. Tn Europe the system is known as ACAS, for
The search for a workable anti-collision system Airborne Collision Avo idance System, but al l systems
persisted fo r 50 years. Earl y experimenta l systems re- follow the standard adopted the International Civ il Avia-
quired costly atomic clocks, complex antennas and tech- tion Organization (TCAO).
niques borrowed from e lectronic warfare. Progress was
slow until, in 1956, two a irliners collided over the Grand While the transponder is a major component, the
Canyon on a sunny day. C losing at about 900 miles foundation is the TCAS processor. Lt performs one of
per hour, the pilots would have to see the other a ir- the most inte nsi ve and rapid computations aboard the
plane at fo ur miles, decide on the correct response, then a irc raft, executing software fo r coll is ion logic. It must
maneuver off the co llision course. A II this wou ld have acquire, track and evaluate dozens of a ircraft up to
to happe n in 15 seconds. As a resul t of the acc ident, the about 40 mi les away---then issue commands on how to
U.S . Congress brought pressure on the FAA to develop avoid a colli sion---a ll within seconds.
an anti-colli sion system, and for airlines to install it at The road to TCAS was not entirely smooth. As
a n early date.
TCAS Symbols on a Radar Display

If an airplane has an EFIS or radar display, it can show announcements. If a threat advisory (TA) appears on the
TCAS information. The weather radar control panel is at display, the voice says, "Traffic, Traffic." If it turns into a
the top, with a button at top left for activating the TCAS resolution advisory (RA), the voice gives a command to
display. climb or descend.
Besides TCAS symbols on the display, there are voice

the fi rst ystems were fitted to aircraft, pi lots complained TCAS advised him to climb. All 69 people perished in
about fa lse alarms (and shut them off). Lt mostly hap- the collision. Both aircraft had fully functioni ng TCAS.
pened near crowded terminals and at low altitude. The
technical comm ittee responsible fo r TCAS responded Basic Operation
with soft ware upgrades ("Changes") that address each Once every second, the transponder of a TCAS
complaint. The performance of TCJ\S is now so efTec- airplane automatically transmits an interrogation. This
tive, the FAJ\ ruled that if a pi lot receives a clearance is simi lar to the interrogations sent out by air traffi c
from a controller that conflicts with TCAS , the pi lot surve illance radar and the frequencies arc the sa me.
must obey the TCAS. In 2002 a pi lot ignored that
If another airplane is within range, its transpon-
procedure and caused a mid-air collision 35,000 feet
der replies to the interrogation. The first airplane mea-
over Europe between an airli ner and a cargo plane. Ai r
sures the time between interrogation and reply to de-
traffic control had instructed the pilot to de cend, while
termine the distance (range) to the othe r aircraft. Also
received is the a ltitude of the other aircraft, whic h is on a colli sion course. This is similar to what happe ns
encoded in the transpo nder reply (mode C). If the other if a pilot looks out and sees ano ther a irplane that ap-
aircraft has a Mode S transponder, its address is a lso pears stationary in the sky. lt mea ns the two airplanes
sent. Directional ante nnas aboard the interrogating a ir- are converging. TCAS detects such threats long be-
plane determine the bearing (direction) to the threat fore they are visible to the pi lot.
Because TCAS exchanges data between a irplanes, Airplanes differ g reatly in speed and performance
it does not require ground stations. Thus, it can oper- and TCAS must work with them all. This is done through
ate where there is no radar coverage, suc h as ocea nic a concept known as "tau" (the Greek letter) to adjust
flight and over remote areas. warnings to the actua l sit uation. By measuring dis-
tance and closing rate to the target, TCAS mi ght issue
Once the TCAS processor acquires information
the first warning 40 seconds before a potential colli-
about the other aircraft, it looks at the potentia l for a
sion and a second one 25 seconds before. TCAS ad-
colli sion. A major factor is "range rate," whic h tells
justs warning times according to a ircraft speeds.
the rate at which distance is changing between the two
aircraft. lft hat change is constant, the two aircraft are

Vertlcal Speed Indicator Adapted for TCAS

Aircraft without electronic flight instruments lution advisory. This is a command for the pilot
(EFIS) may add a TCAS display by replacing the to make a rapid descent, as shown by the green
conventional VSI (vertical speed indicator) shown area at lower right. The pilot is complying by fly-
at the left. ing toward that area, as shown by the vertical
The new instrument (right) still functions as a speed needle. The airplane is descending verti-
vertical speed indicator but adds TCAS symbols. cally about 3000 feet per minute.
In this example, the airplane (green symbol) is Note the large circle of red around the instru-
encountering a threat (red square) 6.5 miles ment. It is warning the pilot not to climb or de-
ahead at 1 o'clock. The "+04" means the threat scend in this region, but to go for the green.
is 400 feet higher and remaining at that altitude In this example, TCAS logic instructed the pi-
Because two airliners typically close at about lot to descend. Because TCAS in both aircraft
1000 nm/hour, they could be less than 30 sec- are communicating by datalink, the other aircraft
onds from a collision. is commanded to climb. This is a " cooperative
The TCAS system is issuing an "RA," or reso- maneuver, " and produces maximum separation
between aircraft.

TCAS System

T0 p r I TOP

+ +
I -
/ ·------·

< )

Major functions of a TCAS II system. It requires a The computer processes large amounts of infor-
Mode S transponder to enable two closing aircraft mation; transponder replies of other aircraft, tar-
to communicate and determine which direction to get tracking , threat assessment, visual and aural
fly (up or down) to avoid a collision. The transpon- advisories, escape maneuvers and coordinat-
der often uses a top and bottom antenna on the ing maneuvers between closing aircraft.
ai rcraft to assure full coverage above and below.

Traffic and Resolution Advisories sory) and RA (resolution advisory).

If a coll is ion is possible, TCAS de livers two kinds T CAS l is a sca led-down system that issues only
of wa rn ings: TA's (threat advisories). Otherwise, everything is much
•Threat Advisory (TA ). This is the less serious of the same as TCAS II ; the symbols, warn ings and dis-
the two. It means another aircraft might be 45 seconds plays. Lower in cost, TCAS I is designed for corpo-
from the c losest po int of app roach (CPA ). The pilot rate, business and light a ircraft.
sees the TA on a display (shown in the ill ustration) a nd The added complexity ofTCAS 11 is in the colli-
becomes aware of the threat.
sion logic fo r developing the evasive commands, a more
•Resolutio n Advisory (RA) With this wa rnin g the e la borate antenna system, the need fo r a Mode S tran-
confl ict is rapidly growing more serious. T he threat a ir- sponder and a method of a ir-to-air communication
craft could now be 30 seconds from c losest point of known as "datali nk."
approac h. TCAS issues a Resolution Advisory, whic h
Coordi nating C limb and Descend
comma nds the pilot to clim b, descend , remai n level or
observe a vert ica l restriction, as shown. When TCAS issues a Resol ution Adv isory (RA) it
instructs the pil ot how to avo id a coll is ion by fl y ing up
TCAS I and TCAS II or down. Obviously, if both a ircraft fly toward each
There are two versions of TCAS, for large and other and perform the same escape maneuver (both fly
sma ll a irc raft. T he full system, TCAS fl, is required up, fo r example) they would collide . This is prevented
aboard ai rl iners and la rge transports with 3 1 or more by "coordination interrogations" transmitted by each
seats. In T CAS Ir, the fu ll co llision logic is provided to aircraft once per second. These are regular tra nspon-
generate the two types of warn ings; TA (threat advi- der sig na ls on 1030 and I090 M Hz, but now used as a
data li nk to exchange informat ion between aircraft.
The control panel at lower right selects TCAS and tran- assure complete signal coverage around the airplane.
sponder functions. Two antennas are used for the tran- Two directional antennas (left) also determine the bear-
sponder---placed at top and bottom of the fuselage---to ing of a threat aircraft above and below the airplane.

Let's say the TCAS of one aircraft decides on a can hear it and reply. This is the "whi sper"---which
"fly up" ma neuver. This is considered an intention a nd, limits the replies to the closest airplanes. TCAS pro-
in this example, is an " upward sense" (cli mb). The cesses these replies, which are a small portion of the
intention is transmitted to the other aircraft. This causes tota l number of targets.
the TCAS of the second aircraft to select a "down-
ward sense" (descend). Thus, when one aircraft receives Next, the tran sponder increases power s lightly to
the other's intention, it selects the oppos ite sense---so trigger rep li es from aircraft sli ghtly farthe r away. At
one flies up, the other flies down. the sa me time, however, the transponder a lso sends a
"suppression" pul se which silences the fi rst set of tran-
There is a possibility that both aircraft will see sponders and prevents their replies. In rapid steps, the
each other as a threat at the same instant and both se- interrogati ons inc rease in power, until they're "sho ut-
lect the same sense. lf thi s happens T CAS logic goes to ing" at 250 watts. These high-level s ignals now reac h
another source to break the conflict; the transponder aircraft at the outer edge of coverage. [t's important to
add ress. (A ll Mode S transponde rs ha ve a pe rmane nt note that each time the power ram ps up it is followed
address .) The aircraft w ith the higher address will re- by a suppression pul se that silences all tra nsponde rs
verse its sense. that replied earlier.

Whisper-Shout A complete whispe r-shout cycle repeats once per

During the design ofTCAS the re was concern the second, effect ively plac ing repli es into small groups
system would overload because of too many replies, that are processed in seque nce. Thi s reduces clutter
especially as airplanes converged on a busy airport. a nd overl oad .
This was solved by the "whispe r-shout" technique. As
Directional Interrogation
the airplane cruises, it transmits an interrogation at low
Besides whisper-shout, another tec hnique reduces
transponde r power, say 2 watts. Only the c losest air-
the number of replies received each second. The inter-
craft and those with the highest transponder sensiti vity

rogations arc transmitted through a directional ante n11a ncously multiplies the chances for aircraft to create
which electronically rotates 90 degrees at a time. This new collision courses with second and third a irplanes
covers a full circ le in four quadrants and limits replies as they avoid the first one. Before these problems were
to the active quadrant. so lved, TCAS III was abandoned as new systems be-
gan to examine the coll ision threat.
Non-TCAS Air·planes
The system can a lso recognize aircraft that are not A new global a ir traffic system is emerging wi th
ca rrying TCAS or Mode S transponders. Such aircraft co llision avoidance based on G PS and sate llites. It is
typically have the earl ier ATCRBS transponder. A ADS-B---automatic dependent surveil lance-broadcast.
TCAS-equipped aircraft, however, interrogates these As aircraft crui se they "squitter" (automaticall y trans-
aircraft and computes information requi red to di splay mit) their position based on GPS. That information is
a threat advisory (TA). There can be no cooperative picked up by nearby aircraft for co ll ision avoidance and
maneuvering because thi s requires Mode S transpon- also relayed via satell ite to air tra ffic con trol for man-
ders on both aircraft, as well as a TCAS system. aging traffic.

TCAS IU Yet another system began during 2004. Known

TCAS 11 commands the pilot only in th e vertical as TIS, Traffic Info rmation Service, it broadcasts the
direction, wh ich is suffic ient to avoid a collision. The targets shown on all survei llance radars on the ground.
industry had started work on TCAS Ill , to add com- The images are downlinked via satell ite to aircraft,
mands in the horizontal direction (fly left, fly right) but which display traffic, as done with TCAS.
it never was completed . The problems of issuing both TCAS, however, will be operationa l for many
vertical and horizontal maneuvers proved extremely generations. ft is stil l unequalled as the tactical coll i-
difficult. Maneuvering in two dimensions s imulta- sion avoidance system anywhere on earth.

TCAS Voice Warnings

1. Traffic Advisory (TA): "TRAFFIC, TRAFFIC"

2. Resolution Advisories (RA):

The pilot keeps the VSI needle out of the lighted segments.
Climb at the rate shown on the RA indicator; nominally 1500 fpm .
As above, except that it fu rther indicates that own flight path will cross through that of the threat.
Descend at the rate shown on the RA indicator; nominally 1500 fpm.
As above except that it further indicates that own flight path will cross through that of the threat.
Reduce vertical speed to that s hown on the RA indicator.
Reduce vertical speed to that s hown on the RA indicator.
Follows a "Climb" advisory. The vertical speed of the climb should be increased to that shown on the RA indicator; nominally
2500 fpm .
Follows a "Descend" advisory. The vertical speed of the descent should be increased to that shown on the RA indicator,
nominally 2500 fpm.
Follows a "Descend " advisory when it has been determ ined that a reversal of vertical speed is needed to
provide adequate separation.
Follows a "C li mb" advisory when it ha s been determined that a reversa l of vertica l speed is needed to
provide adeq uate separation .

Review Questions
Chapter 20 TCAS (Traffic Alert and
Collision Avoidance System)

20.1 A TCAS aircraft transmits an interrogation 20.7 What is the concept of "Tau ".
once per _ _ _
20.8 Name the two kinds of warnings issued by
20.2 How does an intrud er aircraft with an TCAS.
ATCRBS (early type) transponder reply to
20.9 Does a Threat Advisory (TA) command the
TCAS interrogations?
pilot to maneuver out of the way?
20.3 How does an intruder aircraft with a Mode S
20.10 What does an Resolution Authority (RA) do'?
transponder reply to TCAS interrogation s?
20.11 If two TCAS aircraft are closing, what pre-
20.4 How does TCAS determine the direction of a
vents them from climbing, and tlying into each other?
20.12 What is the technique of "whisper-shout"?
20.5 How does TCAS determine the distance of a
threat? 20.13 How does the directional antenna reduce the
number of replies for each interrogation?
20.6 How does TCAS determine whether the other
aircraft is a threat?

Chapter 21

Planning the Installation

Insta llations va ry, from w iring a headset j ack to violating the T C. They may be repl aced w ith equiva-
rebuilding an instrume nt panel. No matter how exten- lent units, but not sh ifted arou nd . T his does not pre-
sive, it must fo llow rules of "a irwo rthiness"---guid- vent add ing new eq uip ment to the panel, or mino r
ance by a c ivil aviation a uthority such the FAA in the re location of radios in a center stack, for example. These
US or a CAA in other countr ies. alte rati ons w ill be noted on fo rms subm itted fo r ap-
Observe the TC. For maj or re building of an proval to the governmen t agency.
instrument panel, the re is an overridin g rule about w here The pilot/owner handbook or flight manua l typi-
you can place equi pme nt. Cert({,ed a irpl anes---those cally lists the equip ment installed under the Type Cer-
bu ilt in a factory and sold ready to tly---must obta in a ti ficate.
TC, or Type Cert ificate . T he TC shows a ll equip- STC. When adding systems to a fac tory-b ui lt a ir-
ment delivered with the airp lan e. Such equipment may p lane, using equip ment critical to tli ght, this is usu-
not be moved to other locations on the panel w ithout a lly done under an STC, or Supplemental Type Cer-
tificate. Th e ma nufacturer of the new system proved
its a irworthiness to obta in the ST C. Exampl es include
FUEL autopilots, displays a nd fuel management systems . For
QUANTITY such insta llati on, you will work fro m drawings pre-
(FLOAT) pared by the STC-holdcr showing prec isely where and
how components mount.
STC's can be compared to a patent; they are owned
exclusive ly by the des igner and protected by law. Of-
ten, the STC is offered for sa le to avion ics shop s, along
w ith the system and an installation k it. ln cases w here
a manufacturer is selling a maj or syste m, such as an
autopilot, he often allows the buye r to use the STC at
no ext ra cost.
For large a ircraft, expect more support fro m the
avionics ma nufacturer. Tf a flee t of 30 a ir transpo11s
w ill be upgraded with a collis ion avoida nce system,
c hances are a fie ld representative from the ma nufac-
Instrument panel of the original Piper Cub, which received
its Type Certificate in 1931. Today, the same instruments
ture r w ill assist in early installations .
are still required for "day VFR" flying. More airplanes, Non-certified airplanes. T he re is a wide range of
however, show the same information on an electronic dis- a ircraft operating in the "Experimental" category, which
play, as seen on the next page. inc ludes kit-b uil t, built- from-p lans, antiques, warbirds
One EFIS Screen Replaces Ten "Steam Gauges"
The future of instrument panels is EFIS (Electronic Flight
Instrument System). In this comparison, the Piper Cub
tachometer is only slightly smaller than the EFIS screen
below, which displays ten or more instruments.
Nevertheless, the technician will see " steam gauge" in-
struments for generations to come. It will take that long
for over 100,000 airplanes in the U.S. alone to fully change
over to the new technology.
The Dynon system below is the first of the simple, low-
cost EFIS screens. As this and other systems gain certifi-
cation for production aircraft, they will gradually be installed
Tachometer from a 1931 as an upgrade to existing instrument panels. By 2005 nearly
Piper Cub is a 3-inch in- all airframe manufacturers announced they will install EFIS
strument that shows one in their new airplanes.
function: RPM . The airlines have been flying with EFIS since 1982, be-
ginning with the Boeing 757 and 767. They use cathode
ray (TV) tubes, while new EFIS has flat-panel LCD dis-



l--""11-= ALTITUDE


This Dynon 4-inch EFIS screen is only slightly larger

than the Piper Cub tachometer above.

a nd space vehic les . If they a re registered as experi- Type of Flying

me nta l, the avionics insta llation does not have to fo l- An a irplane is typically outfitted according to type
low the same ru les of certified aircraft. Instrument o ffl ying, w hic h info rma lly di vides as fo llows:
and radio placement may be designed by the builder. Day VFR. T he a irplane flies during daylight hours
Ma ny kit-bui lt a ircraft are capable of speeds greater and under VFR (visu a l fli ght rules). Besides required
than production a ircraft, fl y at higher a ltitudes and with instruments (see table ) the pilot may want nothi ng more
s uch advanced systems as integrated displays, pressur- than a ha ndie-ta lkie fo r communication and a portable
ization and turboprop powerplants. For safety's sake, G PS for naviga tion. T his is often a solutio n when the
these insta llations should also fo llow recommendations airplane has no e lectrical system (battery a nd gene ra-
fo r a irworthiness that apply to certified a irpla nes. Ex- tor).
perime nters are encouraged (the Wright brothers began NightVFR. Even on c lear, moonlit nights, flight
as bicycle mec hanics), but home-built a irc raft are in- after sundown should have avionics redundancy; a sec-
spected and an FAA representative may not accept some- ond com a nd second means of navigation. Flying V FR
thing whic h app ears unsafe. after da rk is not only ruled out in every country out-

side the U.S., but the accident rate is ten times higher ance advisory system, weather detection and a sate Ilite
on dark, moonless nights. The pilot should be able to datalink that delivers the images of Nexrad, the ground
call for help ifhe inadvertently flies into a cloud at night weather radar network. Although not a requirement for
or is lost with 110 backup navigation. private pilots, an autopi lot is essential to safe single-
Light IFR. Many pilots obtain a rating to fl y un- pilot IFR operations.
der TFR (instrument flight rules), but rarely use it. But Aircraft, flying under any conditio11---day, nigh t
it is a great timesavcr when the obstacle is a low c loud or 011 instrume11ts---benefit from some type of co ll ision
layer only in the vicinity of the airport. The fFR rating avo idance. The chance of a mid-air is the opposite o f
is used only to fly fo r the few minutes it takes to climb what is generally beli eved. Virtually no coll isions oc-
above, or descend through, thin layers. cur inside clouds or at night. Most happen on a bright
Low IFR. Thi s is for the serious pi lot who needs VFR clay in the vicinity of an airport when airplanes
to get through widespread areas of low visibility, then converge for landing. As the chapter on collision avoid-
shoot an instrument landing to a run way under a low ance describes, there are anti-coll is ion systems to fit
cei ling. This aircraft needs reliable, redundant avion- any size airplane.
ics. Safety will greatly improve with a terrain avoid-

Instruments and Radios

Applies to powered civil a ircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate
operating under FAA Part 91 (ma inly private and corporate aircraft).
For more specific requirements, and air transp011 requirements, check
Federal Air Regulations.
Day VFR Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)
I. Ai rspeed
1. All instruments for day and night VFR
2. Altimeter
2. Two-way radio and navigation equipment
3. Magnetic direction indicator (compass)
appropriate to the ground fac il ities used.
4. Tachometer for each engine
3. Gyroscope rate of turn indicator (except where
5. Oil pressure gauge for each engine using
aircraft has a third attitude instrument.
pressure system.
4. Slip-skid indicator
6. Temperature gauge for each liquid-cooled
5. Sensitive altimeter with setting for barometric
7. Oil temperature gauge for each air-cooled
engine. 6. Clock with hours, minutes, seconds with sweep-
second pointer or digital display.
8. Manifold pressure gauge fo r each altitude
7. Artificial horizon (gyroscop ic pitch and bank)
engine (usually applies to aircraft with cont-
8. Directional gyro
rollable pitch propellers).
9. Flight at or above 24,000 ft MSL. lfVOR navi-
9. fuel gauge showing quantity in each tank.
gation is used, DME is required.
I 0. Landing gear position indicator (
11 . Anti-collision light Other Requirements
12. Emergency locator transmi tter (ELT) I. Altitude alerting system for turbojets
13. Transponder, with Mode A and C (when op- 2. Large and turbine-powered multi engine air
erating in high-traffic areas and within 30 miles planes: fl ying over water (more than 30 min
of large airports. utes' flying time or I 00 nautical miles from
Night VFR shore).
Two transmitters
I. All instruments for day VFR.
2. Positi on li ghts Two microphones
3. Anti-collision light Two headsets or one headset and one speaker
Two independent receivers
4. Landing light (if operating for hire)
Two independent electronic navigation unjts
5. Adequate source of electri cal energy
(appropriate to the air space flown)
for e lectri ca l and radio equipment.
HF communications, if necessary to the flight.
6. Spare set of fu ses or three spare fuses of each
kind required, availab le to pilot in flight.

Basic T Instrument Layout

Most light aircraft---Cessna, Piper and Mooney, for example, add the two lower
instruments to the basic T; the turn coordinator and vertical speed indicator.
This equips the airplane for basic instrument flying. Some technicians call
this the "six pack."

Large Ai re raft
Turbine-powered airplanes are often outfitted with a "suite" of
avionics from one manufacturer, as in this EFIS system.




An early EFIS system, introduced in the mid-1990's, is contains radionavigation information . Second tube from
still flying aboard many business aircraft and regional the left is the Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator,
airlines. It has four cathode ray tubes in the instrument which displays compass, waypoint, weather radar and
panel, with two more tubes down in the pedestal. Pilot other information The two tubes below, in the pedestal,
and co-pilot sides are nearly identical. The tube at the are for flight management---mostly to store and fly routes,
left, the Electronic Attitude Director Indicator, is mainly waypoints and airports-loaded on the ground before take-
for flying the airplane manually or on autopilot. It also off. Shown here is a Collins Pro Line for the Falcon 50 .

Flat Panel, Integrated EFIS


By the year 2000, the future of instrument panels was lower left are for backup---airspeed, attitude and altitude-
clear. Flat panels (LC D's) would replace cathode ray tubes ··but they are electronic, not electromechanical, displays.
(CRT's). Instruments would become " integrated," that Over on the far right are engine instruments. The trend,
is, separate gauges merge into the electronic display. however, is to merge these onto the main electronic dis-
The main part of the display shown here are two 10.4- plays.
inch (diagonal) flat panel LCD's The one at top left is the This airplane, the Cirrus SR-22, eliminates the vacuum
PFD, or " Primary Flight Display." Although it can depict system usually required in production airplanes. Regu-
almost any information, it is often used as shown; the lations require that flight-critical instruments have differ-
top half for flying attitude, the lower half with compass ent power sources; usually accomplished with an elec-
and waypoint information. tric-driven turn coordinator and a vacuum-driven artifi-
The display on the right is the MFD, or " Multifunction cial horizon. The all-electric Cirrus satisfies the rules by
Display," which shows moving map, traffic, weather and having two batteries and two alternators.
other data. The three small round instruments on the The EFIS system is the FlightMax lntegra by Avidyne.

Typical Avionics Equippage
The instrument and radio chart shown earlier covers
only equipment required by law. Aircraft owners often
add systems to reduce workload or improve safety.


Manuals and Diagrams
The key to a n in stallatio n is the manufacture r's
manua l o n the specifi c mode l. Bes ides show ing w here
KCSSSA Bendix/King
each w ire connects, pictoria l drawings c lari fy diffic ult Compass System with HSI
areas a nd g ive dime nsions, power consumpti on and
mounting hard wa re. The re are sche matic di agram s fo r
troubl eshooting.
A manufacture r's manua l is also accepted by a
government inspector (FAA, CAA) as "approved data."
At some fu ture time yo u may be questioned o n w hat
yo u used fo r insta llati on guida nce---and yo u can point
to the ma nua l.
T he re is no s pecia l fo rmat for manua ls in General
Aviation. In the a irlines, however, manuals are writ-
ten according to an ATA (A ir Transport Assoc iation)
" c hapter." These documents include the "Component
Maintenance M anua l" and " lllustrated Paii s Cata log."
The section in the manual used muc h of the time is
the " pin-out diagram," which shows how w ires run
a mong va ri o us connectors a nd units durin g an ins ta ll a-
tion. Tt's also used fo r tro ubl eshooting late r on.

Obtaining Manuals Typical manufacturer's manual for General Aviation, in

The re are several sources fo r insta llation manu- this illustration a Bendix-King compass system with a
horizontal situation indicator. Always check the model
als . lf a ma intenance s hop is a dealer fo r a n av ionics number on the unit and compare it with the manual. For
manufacturer, it's usua lly required to have a library of example, the model name "KCS 55A" may not be the
same as "KC 55," although the illustration may appear
the same.
Installation Drawing

" " 1ui IPOR 1:n<lflOOJI

a I $11.,,..-.. .. 1,1,f

. - - - m
.. ..,

Pictorial illustrations in a manual, like this one for a Bendix-King transponder tray, are essential
for mounting hardware. The drawing shows where to assemble connectors and gives details on
fastening the tray to the instrument panel.

manuals for the equipm ent it installs. These books a re Schematic (Circuit) Diagrams
purchased directly from the manufacturer. Manuals conta in schematics for troubleshooting
Manuals are also available to membe rs of " Re- down to the circuit board level a nd are not often re-
source One." This is an on-line service of the Aircraft quired for insta ll ation work. An installer follows pin-
E lectronics Associatio n ( out or interface diagrams like the examp les shown on
Manuals are sometimes available from resellers these pages. The schematic shows every resistor, ca-
who list the m in av iation publications. pacitor, chip and other small component so ldered to
In some instances, manufacturers make their manu- printed circuits inside the radio enclosure. The sche-
a ls avai lable on line at no charge. matic is more useful for troubleshooting on the shop
bench with specia lized test equipment.

The Manual Locates Connectors and Pin Numbers

• • jll
u f · >: • · }
a r ..
- ..
P102 1• :-e .
':) ..o- , . - -
. -•, .., O!:. •o- , · - - - ·'
a - ~ - ..... ,. o.:,.o· ~ .. . P103

, .o .,... -
.~., ~o... - - - -

,. - - - ~ - - - - .
,. -
- •· 1--:- -
.... Pl~ "':-
--<I( ~ ..... _ __
- · .,. oo,,,,. •,

-- - -- -
.. - · . -~ , ·j •, ( ~ -
......... -
... 0~ 0 - l, J1• ..i~ 1 " .t. lJl i* •d ,
.. o~ ·· ,•c. ,.o
- ~ u ..... - -

COM NAV o .. ,. ...
JC •

The installation manual

gives the location of
l - -
. C> ..

connectors; see REAR

VIEW at th e right. It
P101 ~· ,v.,,... ... --00-fU
shows three major con-
nectors: P101 (green) ;
P102 (blue) and P103

(The example shown here

is a Narco Mark 12E Navcom
transceiver. ) CD ~J
g r., •, t • ._ .,

t - -- - - ' ~ ' r ... . .. \ \. A 4

CI· C1 ' J

. ;,•

Pin Assi nments

140 P102
160 P103
0 5
0 7
PlOZ P103
22 0 (0",1 u, o, •
~ ~·

23 0
011 00 ~ • 0 •

- . - P101 - -~
250 A conn ector, like the one shown at the far left, may
013 branch out to different destinations.

2 . N A V 1 3 .75 V 14, BC D F REQ 1 MH Z
3. SPA R E 15 . SPAR E
4 . S PA R E
(Left) Pin assignment diagram is useful when wiring a
16 . S PARE
5. SPAR E 17 . B C D FR EQ 8 MHZ connector, even th ough th e same infor mation appears
6 . SPAR E 18 . SPA RE on the main schematic
7 . SPARE 19 . BCD FR EQ 0 .2 MHZ
8 . SPAR E 20. B CD FR EQ 0 .4 M H Z
9 . + DOW N 21. BCD FR E Q 0.8 M H Z

10. + UP
22 .
23 .
0.05 MHZ

12. + G S FLAG 24 . SPA R E

25 . BC D F RE Q C O MM ON

Reading the Wiring Diagram Some connectors are part of the radio, while others are
The part s on a wiring diagrarn---conncctors, cables, at the ends of wiring ha rnesses.
terminals, etc.---are not laid out like they appear in the Sometimes it's diffic ult to match a connector with
actual radios. Compo nents may be shown next to each its symbol on the d iagram. The connector may be iden-
other on a diagram, but lie at opposite ends of the radio tified only by, say, " P302." Look in the manua l fo r
enclosure. lfthe designer drew w ires as they actually othe r illustrations, such as photos or drawings, that show
run, the diagram wo uld be impossible follow. Wires w here P302 is fo und on the radio. lt's helpfu l to iden-
would c riss-cross everywhe re and the d iagram diffi- tify the location o f every connector before beginning a
cult to trace. In the diagram, wires are arranged to run wiring j ob.
in stra ight lin es.
Some schematics look comp lex, but there are ways Schematic symbols
to ma ke them simple. Don't begin the job by identify- Symbo ls in schematics are not standa rd and vary
ing the wires, but first look at where they originate and from one manual to the next, but they're not difficult to
end . By fa r, most wires begin and end at connectors. learn. (Examples are shown in the illustration.)
Most important is to identity the type of wiri ng No. 22 wi re except where noted."
requ ired; twisted pair, shielded pa ir, coaxia l cable, for Grounds
example. The manual gives wire size and type required One item to be carefu l about is what the schematic
by each connection . Be sure to read the fine prinL at says about grou nding. Cables that have a shie ld need
the bottom of the schemati c because that's often where to be grounded (to provide a retu rn path for one side of
the information appears. l t may say, for examp le; " Use the circuit). But check the schematic carefully for where
to make the ground. In some cases, it says in a tiny foot

Schematic Symbols for Wiring

0 0
Single conductor, or wire
A pair of wires inside
a shield.

0 This wire is passing through

an air-tight fitting . It's required
Two conductors crossing. when cables cross between
A pair of wires inside
They are not making
a shield. One end of pressurized and non-pressurized
electrical contact.
the shield is grounded. areas of the airplane.

This pair has a shield which
is grounded to the airframe.
Wire size may be marked on the wire,
as in this example ; No. 22

0 American Wire Gauge. More frequently, the

schematic will say something like, "Use all 22
AWG unless otherwise noted."

Multiconductor cable
with a shield.


Two addition<!I ways of showing <Q............... Q Twisted pair

two conductors crossing without
A coa xial cable, which consists
making electrical contact
of a cenler cond11clor and 011ler

~ MicAudio
, Ground

Microphone Jack

The letters at the end of the

wire mean "No Connection." SA
The dot indicates an electrical - -- ~-'--- -
connection between the wires
Circuit breaker (5 amps)


note; "Connect to the nearest airframe gro und. " Location Restriction
Sometimes it is stated as: "Connect to A/C (air- The manua l warns about certain moun ting limita-
craft) g round," which is also the neares t ai rframe tions. FA A rules say that knobs, switches and contro ls
ground. operated by the pi lot must be c learly labelled for func-
Many c irc uits, however, require groundin g at only tion and lie within easy reach for operation. The instal-
at one end of the cab le. Study the diagram and foo t- latio n manual may add a specific caution, like the one
notes to be s ure. Grounding incorrectly causes inter- on viewing angle show n below.
ference and poor performance.

Viewing Angle


The manual provides special details about the
installation, as in the case of this Bendix-King
KX-125 navcom transceiver. For the pilot to
see a bright display, he must sit within plus or
minus 40 degrees of the centerline of the display.
Brightness falls off beyond that width. The
installer should take this into account when
PILOT locating the radio in the panel. Note, also, at the
top right is the maximum vertical viewing angle .

Typical Navcom Connections



I. Power Supply 6. Nav Audio

The positi ve (+) side o f the 14- or 28-volt DC source T hi s is audio from the VOR rece ive r, hea rd by the
from the airp lane electrical system. A lso called "A+" it pilot to ide ntify the statio n by a Morse Code or vo ice iden-
co mes fro m a fu se or c ircuit breaker designated " navcom." tifier. VOR audio may also carry the vo ice ofa Flight Ser-
vice Station. Most a ircraft feed nav audi o to an aud io pane l
2. Ground for listening on headph ones or cabin s peaker.
T he re arc several types of g rounds in an airplane.
Here, the g round is a path for DC power to return to the 7. Speaker Output
negati ve side of the aircraft e lectrical system. ln alumi- Some navcoms have a bu il t-in amp lifi er for driving a
num airpl anes, it is so me times the metal structure (which cab in louds pea ker. Otherwise, a n a ud io pane l m ust be
is connected to the negati ve side of the battery). Some meta l added.
parts are ins ulated from g round by shoc k mo unts made with
rubber. To reach g round, moun ts ca n be bypassed w ith 8. Aux (Auxiliary) Audio
sho rt lengths of metal braid. If th e radio has a bu ilt-i n speaker ampl ifi er, it can
T here will be many g round s required behind th e in- take low level audi o from other radi os a nd boost it to speaker
strument pane l and techni c ians often prefer to run a sepa- leve l. It 's u sua lly done in a irc ra ft without aud io pane ls.
ra te gro un d w ire fro m each radi o, ins trume nt, etc., to a
terminal block behind the pane l. A heavy commo n g round 9. Instrum ent Lighting
is then run fro m the bloc k to the negative side of the air- Also known as the "dimmer" line, it runs to an in-
craft battery. strument lig htin g contro ller. It e nables the pil ot, with o ne
Th e s tructure of a compos ite airp lan e prevents th e kno b, to dim radi o lights along with othe r lights on the
a irfra me's use as a common ground beca use it w ill not con- instrum ent pane l.
duct e lectri c ity. Ground s are provide d by ru nning a " bus
bar," a heavy copper st rip or w ire from the negative side o f 10. Switched Power
the battery to the device be ing g rounded. Use this line when you need to turn o n accessories
When you arc req uired to ground the shi eld o f a wire fro m the power sw itch o n the radio. Th e VOR ind icator, a
ca rrying audi o, cons ult the manua l. In nearly all ca ses, separate in stru ment, is one example.
a udi o lead s (fo r mi c roph o nes, for exa m p le ) mu st be
grounded onl y at one end. 11. Keep Alive
This line bypasses the power switch an d goes d irectly
3. Microphone key line. to a ircraft battery power. When the radio is tu rned off, the
This lead run s to the press-to-ta lk button o n the mi - keep a live line contin ues powering rece iver memory that
cropho ne. lt connects to the micropho ne j ack , spec ifica lly sto res freq ue nc ies a nd other data .
to the termina l th at connec ts to the tip of th e mike plug.
12. DME ( Distance Measuring Equipment)
4. Microphone audio T he DM E is a separate rad io, but is tuned by th e VOR
T hi s ca rri es a udi o (vo ice) fro m the mi cropho ne jack rece iver. When the pilot selects a VOR, th e DME is auto-
to the rad io. On the mike j ack, thi s is the center termina l. matically "channeled" to the correct fre quency.

5. Com Audio 13. VO R/ LOC Composite

Th e voice sig na l from t he rece iver. Fed to a head- T hese arc the navigation signals (YOR and localizer)
pho ne j ack for Iistening, it is ca lled "headpho ne" or " low processed by the rece iver. They are sent through thi s li ne
leve l" audi o. In most a ircra ft. however, th e vo ice is fe d lo to an ind icator for display to the pil ot.
an audi o pane l so it can be amp Ii fied for a cabin speaker or
used w ith a n intercom.

Review Questions
Chapter 21 Planning the Installation

21.1 Any major rebuilding of an instrument panel 21.7 Before wiring, determine the size and type of
must conform to the airplane's _ _ __ each wire by referring to the _ __ _____
21.2 When installing new equipment critical to 21.8Wire sizes are often described as "AWG". What
flight, the work must conform to a _ _ _ _ __ does it mean?
21.3 In planning a major avionics installation, it is 21.9 Ts a ground wire always connected to the metal
important know under what conditions the airplane airframe?
will be flown. What are three general categories?
21. 10 When selecting a location on the instrument
21.4 What instruments are in the " Basic T" lay- panel, what is the consideration for viewing angle?
21.11 What is the purpose of " nav audio?"
21.5 Name two additional flight instruments for in-
strument flying? 21.12 What is a "keep alive" line?

21.6 Before beginning a wiring job, it's helpful to

locate and identify every _ __ _

Chapter 22

Electrical Systems

AC and DC Power
Avionics and instruments require a variety of volt- syste m---on others it's 13.75 volts. But the syste m is
ages and frequenc ies but they all begin with " primary" usually called " 12 volts." When the alternator is re-
power. Most aircraft require low-voltage DC (direct charging the battery voltage rises to over 13. On sche-
current), which starts at the battery. A maj or difference matic dia&11·ams, you may see" 13. 75 volts" because the
is how primary power is distributed throug hout the circuit designer wants you to use that voltage while
airplane. Tn light tw ins and smaller aircraft, power is operating the radio on a test bench. By adjusting to
di stributed as 12- or 28-volt DC . Most radios wo rk di-
rectly from that source. But in large turbine a irc raft,
DC is for sta1ting engines and powering some devices.
Most electrical power in these airplanes is taken di- 12-volt Battery: Percent Charge
rectly from engine-driven generators which produce 115
• 12.70 volts 100%
volts AC. That hi gh voltage is not on ly distributed
throughout the airplane, but is stepp ed down for re- • 12.50 volts 90%
charging batteries. As we'll see, 115 VAC is an effi- • 12.42 volts 80%
cient method to power a large a irplane with hundreds • 12.32 volts 70%
of fee t of w ire.
A more recent system generates primary powe r
• 12.20 volts 60%
• 12.06 volts 50%
at 270 volts DC. Designed fo r military ai rcraft, it looks
ahead to th e "all -electric" a irplane, w here e lectric mo- • 11.90 volts 40%
tors replace today's heavy hydrauli c and pneumatic ac- • 11.75 volts 30%
tuators for gear, flaps, fli ght controls and other mechani- • 11.58 volts 20%
ca l devices. The high voltage---270---carries electrical • 11.31 volts 10%
power with less loss from heating in the wi ring .
• 10.50 vo lts 0%
12 VDC. Adapted from the a utomobile indus-
try, this system consists ma inly of an alternator and
Voltages measured at the terminals of a storage battery
storage battery. It's called a 12-volt system, but has drop with the state of charge. To measure the capacity of
other names, as well . On some diag rams it 's a 14-volt the battery, however, use a tester that puts a load on the
DC System

... ...




u s

The electrical system for a single-engine airplane. Start- a circuit breaker. The " T" at the top of each breaker sym-
ing at the upper left, there is a storage battery with its bol shows it can be reset by the pilot. In older aircraft
negative terminal grounded to the metal airframe and en- there are fuses.
gine block. To energize the electrical system, the pilot Note at the bottom of each bus a " spare " position . A
turns on the master switch which operates the master breaker is installed here when adding future equipment.
relay. The relay keeps heavy starting currents from mov- The avionics bus originally protected electronic equip-
ing through the master switch---and delivers those cur- ment from sudden " spikes" (short bursts of high volt-
rents to the starter relay. The red arrows show the distri- age) while starting the engine and turning on other elec-
bution of current through the system. trical devices. Modern radios, however, are hardened
When the engine is running, the alternator generates against such voltages. The main reason for the avionics
voltage for recharging the battery and to power the two bus today is a convenience for the pilot: he may turn on
buses; main and avionics. all avionics with one switch. Because all avionics are
The main bus---a heavy copper bar--- powers various lost if that one switch fails, a second switch is often in-
electrical devices such as lighting and pumps. Each has stalled as a backup to restore power.

13. 75 volts, the test points measured on the radio should C heck Power Supply Voltage. When selecting
agree with those on the schematic. equipment for installation, dete rmine the requi red su p-
28 VDC. As aircraft grew larger, 28 VDC sys- ply voltage. Old eq uipme nt usually works on only one
tems we re deve loped. The reason is longer w iring runs voltage and the m a nufacturer offered two diffe rent
and more e lectrica l systems. B ecause wire has resis- models, one for 12 ( or 14) V DC and ano ther fo r 24 ( or
tance, it wastes part of the curre nt as heat . By rais ing 28) V DC. The tre nd today is to offer models w ith
primary voltage to 24, less current fl ow is required selectable 14 a nd 28 supplies bu il t in. l n some equip-
(for the same power). It's the same reason cross-coun- me nt, the man ufacturer simply states the radio works
try trans mission lines operate at nearl y I million volts on any voltage betwee n IO a nd 30 V DC.
to carry e lectric ity hundreds of miles with little heating Low voltage caution . W hen do ing avio nics work
loss. ln an airplane, hig her primary voltage mea ns less on an a irplane in a hanger, it is conven ient to turn on
weight and less copper. It also a llows more w ires to the maste r s witch to test the installatio n. Do it fo r only
bundle together without causing excessive heat. brief periods (if at all ) to avoid discharging the battery.
By the I960 's li ght a irc raft a lso switched over to As shown by the cha1i, a fu lly charged batte ry puts ou t
24-vo lt systems for the same reasons. 12.7 volts; a battery with only IO percent cha rge pro-
Don't Shock the Airplane. When powering an duces 11.3 1 volts (a nd there may be other losses in the
airplane on the ground during maintenance, be sure the system, s uch as corroded connections to bring down
gro und power unit will de liver the correct voltage, fre- the vo ltage fu1i hcr ).
que ncy a nd amperage. The plug and socket s hapes Another proble m is that some radios automati-
make it difficult to make a mistake, but there are enough cally switch off to protect them selves during low vol t-
instances of"srnoking the e lectronics" on an a irplane age. It may lead you to be lieve the radio is bad, when
to observe this precaution. the fa ult is low primary power. This can waste a lot
l 15 volt Systems. With the arrival of large a ir- time during tro ubleshooting. T he cure is to plug a
craft, a irframe manufacturers began installing 11 5-volt ground p ower unit into the a irplane and be sure voltage
AC e lectri cal systems. T his introduced two powe r- is adequate .
saving techniques . Firs t, voltage went higher---from Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). Located in a wheel
24 to 11 5---raising the effic iency of'power distribution well or near the tail, the APU can power the a irplane
throu ghout the a ircraft. Note, too, that powe r is now w hile on the g round. It is d riven by a sm a ll turb ine
" AC"---alternating current---instead of 12- or 24-vo lt eng ine which turns a generator similar to those moun ted
DC, direct current. The adva ntage of AC is a n ability on the e ng ines. In many ai rcraft, the APU may be started
to easily s tep it up or down to any voltage and conve1i a nd operated in fl ight to s upply e me rgency bac kup
(o r rectify) it to DC. power.
115 VAC @ 400 Hz. You may recogni ze " 11 5
VAC" beca use it's the voltage in ma ny countries for
ordina ry house current. This voltage, however, is de- Tranformer-Rectifier Unit
li ve red at 50 or 60 Hz (cycles per second). ln an air-
craft the voltage is I 15 VAC, but frequency is 400 H z. AMPS VOLTS APPLICATION
The higher frequency reduces the size and we ight of DC
transforme rs w hich c hange the voltage fo r various air-
20 28 USAF F-15E
craft e lectrica l and e lectronic equipment.
50 12 747-400, 777
Any powe r-generat ing system aboard an a irpl ane,
65 28 727,737
large or sma ll, is he ld to a constant voltage by a regu- 75 28 747, L1 01 1
la ting syste m. Thi s is important since generators are 75 28 MD-1 0, MD-1 1
drive n by a n a ircraft eng ine that is c hang ing RPM dur- 120 28 757, 767, 777
ing c limb, cruise and descent. 125 28 S-92, KC-135
Because a 11 5 VAC syste m ope rates at 400 Hz, it 150 28 USAF F-15 Fighter·equency regulation to ho ld the 400 Hz steady 150 28 USN F/A-18 Fighter
as the e ng ine changes speed . 150 28 Global Express® , KC-10
Constant Speed Drive. A system to solve the 200 28 UH-60/SH-60 Heli, KC- 135
problem is the CS D, or constant speed drive. It con- 250 28 Gulfstream G-V, VC-10
tains an o il-driven hydraulic uni t and a (mechani cal)
differential. A governor senses when generator speed is Transformer-Rectifier Units are in a variety of aircraft to
too hig h or low, and adjusts hydraulic pressure accord- reduce the output of engine-driven generators (115 volts
ing ly to keep RPM consta nt to the ge nerator. When the AC) to low voltage DC (12 or 28).
constant speed drive is constructed in one case w ith the
generator, the syste m is known as an TDG, for " inte-
gra ted drive ge ne rator."
Airline Electrical System


115AC 115AC 115AC






28 voe 28 voe
28 voe



Simplified diagram of the electrical system for a large air Note at the right side of diagram an " Essential
transport twinjet. It is designed to give the pilot many Power Selector Switch." This gives the pilot a choice of
options for restoring power in the event of engine failure sources:
or other interruption to electrical power. The main fea- EXT: External refers to power obtained on the
tures of the system: ramp from a Ground Power Unit.
Power is produced by two engine-driven genera- BUS 1 (Engine generator)
tors at 115 VAC, 400 Hz. This is applied to Bus 1 and Bus BUS 2 (Engine generator)
2. Normally, the buses are tied together. APU: Auxiliary Power Unit. (Some aircraft can-
A third generator is the Auxiliary Power Unit not operate the APU in flight. )
(APU), operated by a small gas turbine engine located in STANDBY: Power is drawn from a standby in-
a wheel well or tail area. The APU provides power to the verter which is driven by battery voltage. The inverter pro-
instrument panel, lighting and other devices while the duces 115 VAC which powers essential equipment. This
airplane is on the ground and main engines are off. is selected if both engines fail .
The " essential" bus can power equipment es- Total engine failure in multiengine aircraft is not
sential to flight (that is, enable the pilot to make a safe common, but can happen. Recent examples in airliners
landing after power failures) . The pilot can directly con- include fuel exhaustion due to damaged fuel lines and
nect to the aircraft batteries which supply 28 VDC to a running out of fuel because of long holding patterns.
standby inverter (not shown). The inverter changes 28- One Boeing 747 had all four engines fail when the air-
volt battery power to 115 VAC. plane penetrated the ash cloud of an erupting volcano.

RATS. Meaning " Ram AirTurbine System ," this " membrane" type, with no cracks fo r liquid to enter.
is a small prope ller that drops out of the be lly ( in flig ht) But tens of thousands of airplanes will have old-fash-
when all other power sources fail. lt ge nerates just ioned unsealed switches fo r a long time.
enough power to keep the pi lot from los ing control of The loss of a switch is serious, even in aircraft
the aircraft, plus a few more amps. How can a modern with much redundancy. When pilots operate at a high
ai r transpo1t w ith three or more engine-driven ge nera- workload (suc h as approaching a busy a irpo1t during
tors and storage batteries ever run o ut of power? By low vis ibi lity) it's no time to deal w ith a switch mal-
losing all engines. This happened when a fuel leak on a function. Much of the proble m is eliminated by us ing
large twinjet sprayed fuel overboard wh ile the a ir- airc raft-rated (Mil-spec) switches, w hich are more rug-
pla ne was over the mid-Atlanti c. T he a irplane had ged and reliable than switches fo r other ind ustries.
eno ugh altitude to g lide over a half-ho ur and make a
dead-stick la nding at an a irport, w ith no injury to crew Caution on mounting position. If you look at a
or passengers. T he "RATS" supplied just enough power switch it m ay be d iffic ult to te ll which is the "on"
to control and communi cate. pos itio n. The terminals o n the back are symmetrical,
and may look the same e ither way. Some switches have
Switches a s mall nameplate with "on" that s lips over the handle
w hen the sw itc h is bo lted to the pane l. Fai ling to ob-
Switches g ive long and dependable service, but they
serve the correct "on-off" position w hi le mounti ng a
conta in mechanical contacts and springs w hich wear
during each operation. E lectrical arc ' ing erodes the con- sw itc h can have serious consequences. l n o ne actua l
tacts and ai rborne g rease enters the hous ing. Mechan- incident, a tec hnic ian installed a new mag neto switch
and reversed its position. With the handle " up," the
ics report that switches on the pedestal between captain
and co-pi lot are especially vulnerable. The pedestal is magneto was off. In the down position, it was "on."
used as a convenie nt tray for coffee and soft drinks. This is opposite to the sta ndard " up is on, down is off."
One popular cola is said to be the m ost corrosive liquid Whe n ano ther m echan ic fuel ed the airplane he pulled
a pilot can spill into the switches. the prop through by hand wi th the magneto switch "off."
New avionics equipment often have buttons of the The eng ine fi red---the switch was actually "on" --- and
s pun the prop arou nd with great fo rce. Fortunately, the
blade did not stri ke the mechanic but d isaster was onl y
inches away.
Nominal Type of Derating C heck a switch before installatio n w ith an ohm-
System Load Factor meter. Select the "Rx l " scale, p lace the probes across
Voltage the te1n1ina ls and you 'll read zero resistance for con-
28 VDC Lamp 8 tacts that are closed, infinite resistance when open. And
28 VDC Inducti ve (relay. so lenoid) 4 w hen working around airplanes treat every prop as if it
28 VDC Resistive (heater) 2 is a li ve.
28 VDC Motor _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 3 When checkin g a switch that's been in service look
12 VDC Lamp 5 for an y s idewise movement of the handle . Even thoug h
12 Y DC Inducti ve (relay, so lenoid) 2 the sw itch can turn the p ower on and off, rep lace it.
12 VDC Resistive (heater) I Wobbling is a sure sign of early fa ilure .
12 VDC Motor 2 Select the Switch Rating. Different loads have
different effects on switches. Turning o n a lamp sends
high current into the filament because it has low resis-
1. How to find required "Nominal" switch rating
A. Obtain from the equipment manual the cur-
tance when cold. T his also sends a large inrush of cur-
rent rating of the lamp, motor or other load the switch rent through the switch, w hich may be 15 times greater
will control than when the lamp is o perating. Sw itch contacts must
B. Select {above) " Nominal System Voltage" withsta nd that by " derating" ---se lecting a hi g her cur-
(28 or 12).
rent rating. Otherwise, contacts may weld together o r
C. Select "Type of Load "
D. Multiply switch rating by the "Derating Fac-
corrode as heavy current flashes over.
tor. " The answer is the switch "Nominal" rating in am- When a switch controls a device with a coil of
peres w ire, su ch as a relay, it also needs derating because of
" inductive k ickback." As the coil is energized, it sto res
2. Next find the " Continuous" current that switch can e nergy as a m agnetic fie ld. When th e switch is opened
A. Divide the "Nominal" rating (obtained above),
the fie ld collapses and "cu ts across" the coi I, ind uc ing
by the "Derating Factor" (using the same voltage and hig h vo ltage across the switch. The contacts burn and
type of load. p it, w hi ch is avo ided by derating the switch.

Avionics Master. This switc h originated as a dios working in the event of failure of the master switch
method for protecting early models of solid-state ra- the master relay or fro m other interruptions to the pri~
dios. Tt e nabled the p ilot to keep all avionics off while mary power. Some tech nicians insta ll an " essential"
cranking the engine to prevent damagi ng voltage spikes bus, w hi ch is a w ire directly from the battery.
from reaching the radios. lt also protected radios against Multieng ine aircraft have dual electrical systems to pre-
low voltage as the starter drew heavy current from the vent the sing le-point fai lure.
battery. These proble ms were common to the f irst gen-
eration of transistori zed equipment; avionics today have CIRCUIT BREAKERS
bu ilt-in devices to protect against surge and low volt-
The purpose of a circuit breaker is to protect wir-
age protection.
ing, not the equipment. Most recent avionics already
But the avionics master is still widely used because have overvoltage protection. The hazard is that a w ire
it is a convenience fo r the pi lot. Instead of flippin g a carryi ng excessive current may heat and cause smoke
half-dozen switches or more, he throws one switch to or fire. By placing the breaker close to the power source,
turn on a ll avionics. more of the wiring is protected.
This convenience, however, comes at a pri ce. It's
the single-point failure. If the avionics master switch
The size of a circu it breaker---its rating in am-
fa il s, it disables all rad ios in the airplane. A solution
peres (am ps)---is selected so it opens before current
in light aircraft is to wire a second switc h across (in
exceeds the capacity of the w ire. T he chart shows the
parallel w ith ) the avion ics master. Using the back-up
size breaker or fuse for different levels of current in DC
switch restores the lost power.
There a re more advanced methods fo r keep ing ra-

Switch Types
1. Toggle Switch
This switch has a "bat" handle (resembles a baseball gear; when the wheels are down and locked they
bat). Sometimes several are ganged together with their operate microswitches that illuminate lights on the
handles linked. It assures that all switches are thrown at instrument panel.
once in same direction.
7. Pressure switch.
2. Pushbutton switch. These are often used to warn when pressure in a
Used when a circuit is operated for a short time, hydraulic or pneumatic system is too high or low.
such as the push-to-talk switch on a microphone. It has It's usually done through a flexible disk (diaphragm)
a spring-loaded button. Depending on the circuit, the wh ich moves with pressure. It operates switch con-
switch may be push-to-make (contacts close) or push- tacts and indicator lamps.
to-break (contacts open).
8. Thermal Switch
3 Rocker switch Used to warn of overheating in a component (a gen-
The pilot pushes the top half of the rocker switch to ener- erator, for example) and to sense and indicate an en-
gize the circuit, the bottom half to break the circuit. gine fire. It works on a bi-metal thermostat that curves
with heat and makes an electrical contact.
5. Rotary switch
Enables several circuits to be selected with one knob. It 9. Proximity Switch
also is more resistant to being knocked off its position Are doors and hatches on the airplane closed and
(which can happen in rocker and toggle switches). locked before take-off? This is done with proximity
switches. One half is a housing containing two strips
6. Microswitches of metal mounted parallel with each other. This may
The name is from the few thousandths of an inch be- be fixed to the door frame. On the door is a perma-
tween contacts on the make and break . They have snap nent magnet. When the door is secured, the magnet
action. These switches are operated by the pilot, or lo- pulls the metal strips together to operate a warning
cated at different points on the airplane to sense a me- light in the cockpit.
chan ical position. An example is a retractable landing

Description Off Illuminated

Hidden Legend

Hidden Legend
Lighted Background

Lighted Background AAI

Lighted Letters
Variety of choices for illuminated pushbutton switches. Note in
the lower two examples, the label ("legend"} is visible even
when the switch is turned off.

Recessed button type . When a n overload occurs e lectrical motor and ope ned the c irc uit. This prevented
it will , as commonly said, " Pop the breake r." This is the whee ls from dropp ing and locki ng. A Ithough the
because heat in the breaker ope ns a pa ir of contacts . overload had c leared, the breake r was mounted on the
T he button on the breaker pops out and the circuit re- ca e of the motor, which is a large mass. It acted as a
mains open unti l the pilot pushes it in. However, if this heat sink and continued to hold the breake r open. As a
is done quickly, the breaker may not rema in engaged result, the pilot made a w heels-up landing that dam-
because it is stil l cooling dow n. Wait a mome nt and aged the prop, eng ine and bell y. l f he had known the
try agai n. la nding ge ar motor would cool a nd reset the brcaker-
A p ilot or technic ian w ill al ways attempt to reset --probably w ith in 20 minutes---the accident wouldn 't
the breaker to see i r the problem is gone . A fter three have happened. A better design is to run the gear motor
attempts to reset the breake r w ith no success, you can electrical power throu gh a breake r under control of the
assume the s hort-c irc uit d idn 't go away. pilot.
Resettable breaker ("Pu sh-Pull") This breake r Pulling breakers and nuisance alarms. Ex perts
sty le has a knob so the pilot can pull it and break the in hu ma n factors know about " nuisance" a larms. lf a
c ircuit, as if it's a power switch. This beco mes a diag- wa rn ing keeps sounding w he n there is no prob lem, p i-
nostic tool fo r the pi lot who ex periences an e lectrica l lots w ill turn off the syste m. They do this, even though
problem in fl ight. He can "pull brcakers"---one by one- the syste m has no off switch. T hey simply " pull the
-- in an effo rt to make the problem go away. lf it does, breaker." T his happened in the ea rly days of "gro und
he can leave the breaker open to disable the defecti ve prox" (grou nd proximity warning system), w hic h had
equipment. many fa lse alarm s. Instead of b laming the pilots, the
If the breaker is " trip-free," it means it cannot be manufacture rs went bac k to the ir dra wing boards and
reset if the overload still ex ists when the button is pushed redesigned the system.
111 . Breaker locks. There is a device that ca n be put
Automatic reset breaker. Some c irc uit breakers under the button of a c ircuit breaker to prevent it from
arc designed to brea k the circuit, then automatically reset being pushed in. It's a tempora ry measure used by tech-
later, when the internal element has cooled. These break- nicians duri ng ma intenance to be sure a defective piece
e rs are not reco111111e11ded fo r aviation. A lthough the of equipme nt w ill not have powe r applied accidcntly.
probl em may have cleared , there may be e nough heat Maintaining breakers. A good practice is to pull
rema ining in surrounding metal objects to keep the the knob of a c ircui t breake r in an out several times if
breaker ope n for a long period time. This happened to it appears unre liable. Do th is whil e the equipment is
one pilot w ith a proble m in a la nding gear motor. An off and no current is flowing. Opera ting the breake r
au toma tic c ircuit breaker sensed excessive heat in the c leans the contacts and reduces e lectrical res istance.

Lighted Pushbutton Switch

Improved lighted pushbutton
switc hes, like this Korry model , ' MOUNTING SLEEVE

eliminate a major source of main-

tenance ; replacing lamps with
burned-out filaments. Lighting is
supplied by bright LED ' s (light
emitting diodes) that can last the
life of the airplane. They also run
cooler than conventional lamps.
A pull-off cap (lower left) pro- MOUNTING SCREW
vides access to the switch, which
can be removed by a mounting
screw and cam. The switch itself may be four independent microswitches, an arrangement which elimi-
nates switch "chatter" during shock and vibration.
The external connector module (upper right) carries wiring to the switch through crimped connector
terminals. A " poke home" push engages the switch into the connector module.
These switches are made for 5 or 28 volts commonly found in instrument panel lighting. Electronics
for dimming the light are built into the switch.

Switch Guards





A pilot may push the wrong switch while flying in turbulence. Barriers between
rows of switches reduce that problem. In the bottom drawing, switches are cov-
ered by a guard which must be lifted.

The convenience o f c ircuit breakers has reduced
the number o f fuses---which burn out a fter one over-
load. For this reason, fuses should be accessible to the
pilot fo r c hang ing in flight.
Heavy duty fuses are fo und where large amounts
of electrical power concentrates at distribution centers
o n the a irc raft. Jn some installatio ns, a built-in la mp
illuminates w hen the fuse " blows."
Another form offuse is the current limite r, al so
used in high wattage locati ons . lt can pass a large over-
load w ithout breaking the c ircuit, a ided by a ceramic
ho us ing which can take the heat.

Circuit breakers during construction of a panel Note that each

breaker is temporarily labelled with a felt-tip pen. This helps iden-
tify the wiring and final testing. After the panel is painted, machine-
made labels are applied.

Recessed Button Breaker

Circuit breaker panel using "recessed button" type breakers. Having no

buttons protruding from the panel, they cannot be pulled out by the pilot
to disable a circuit.
When a breaker "pops," the button comes out and remains out so long
as there is an overload. It cannot be reset (pushed in) until the problem is
Occasionally a breaker cannot be reset, even though the overload is
no longer present. If this happens, wait a minute or two for the thermal
element in the breaker to cool and reset.
If a breaker pops and you reset it, the circuit may continue to operate
for a while, then pop the breaker again. When that happens, it is good
practice to reset the breaker only three times. After that, the source of the
overload needs investigation.

Review Questions
Chapter 22 Electrical Systems

22.1 The primary electrical source in most airplanes 22.6 What is the main purpose of an APU (auxil-
is low voltage DC (direct current). What are the two iary power unit) in a large aircraft?
most common voltages?
22.7What is the meaning of RATS, and how does it
22.2 In a light aircraft, connection to the battery is work?
completed by the _ __ __
22.8 Why must switches have the ability to handle
22.3 A heavy copper bar that distributes power to more current than required during normal opera-
most electrical systems aboard the airplane is called tion?
the _ _______
22.9 What is the primary purpose of a fuse or cir-
22.4 A heavy copper bar that distributes power only cuit breaker?
to radios and related equipment is called the

22.5 Large aircraft distribute power in the form of

alternating current (AC) at volts. The fre-
quency is _ _ __

Chapter 23

Mounting Avionics

Most vehicles operate in two dimensions (left and jet suddenly named out. Any modern airliner can con-
right, forward and back). Airpla nes move six ways; tinue to fly with one eng ine out, but a half-hour later,
around their own axes; pitch, ro ll and yaw (3)---and the left engi ne died. The pilots were unaware that a
they move forward, climb and descend. Combine these large quantity o f fi.1el was venting overboard. They had
motions with gravity and acceleration, and it's easy to enough alti tude to land at an airport, suffering no more
see why an airplane is not airwo rthy unless its compo- damage than eight blown tires.
nents are secured in a strong structure. Investigators soon fo und the problem. Five days
Airplanes are also short on space. Equi pment is earlier, a bracket was installed to support a hydraulic
squeezed into crowded areas behind instrument pan- line. Although the bracket looked OK, it was slightly
els, inside a nose or in a small equipment bay. Mount-
ing equipment in compact spaces can generate suffi -
cient heat to cause early fa ilure.
Another hazard is that avionics share space with
cables, control co lumns, chains, gears, levers, motors,
pedals, ducts and pilots' feet. One pilot rolled down a
run way for take-ofT and, at flying speed, pulled the
control yoke to raise the nose. The yoke would not
move. There wa enough run way left , fortunately, to
re-land the airplane. Looking behind the panel we found
an antenna cable wound around the control column, se-
curely locking it in place. Frequent incidents like these
p rove the critical nature of mounting and wiring avion-
ics and instruments.
Installation probl ems are not limited to tight air-
craft. ln one close call, three hundred airline passen-
gers nearly met di saster becau e o f a minor mounting In this construction of a new instrument panel, radio trays
bracket. While in cruise, the right eng ine of a big twin are being riveted to brackets. The brackets were fastened
earlier to the panel.

different in size from the correct one. This reduced Selecting Metal
clearance between hydra ulic and fuel lines, causing con- Offer ing a good combinat io n of li ghtness,
tact between them. After five days of flyi ng, vibrati on strength, electri cal conductivity and workability, sheet
and rubbing cut the fuel Iine, which spilled a large quan- aluminum is the common cho ice for panels. Aluminum
tity out the trailing edge of the wing. angle and flat bar are selected fo r fab ri cating struc-
These cautionary ta les show how minor di screp- tures such as brackets and supports.
anc ies lead to maj or problems. In an avionics in stalla- Look for the labe l "Ale lad," which refe rs to a thi n
tion or retrofit, it is not unusua l to mount a few hun- coating (on both sides) of 99 percent pure a lumi num .
dred brackets, clamps, cable ties, supporting structures The coating has high resistance to corrosio n. Oxida-
and other hardware. tion on aluminum does not have a distinctive color (like
rust on iron) and may be difficult to see.
New or Old Installation? Consider various aluminum stock:
There are various levels of installation. A pilot may 2024. This alloy is often se lected for sub-panels
want to replace one old raclio---or need an upgrade where that hold instru ments, fo r examp le. It is not heavy
the panel is extensive ly refurbi shed. There is also the enough for the overa ll instru ment panel. 2024 has good
"tear it a lI out and start over again" j ob. resistance to metal fatigue and bends without cracking.
lf the airpl ane is a light aircraft, the radio shop 2024 aluminum can be polis hed to an a lmost
often des igns the installation. When th e work affects clu·ome-1 ike finish.
structures and control systems, large shops depend on 3003. This grade ofaluminum is alloyed with man-
the skills of their A&P (a irframe and powerplant) me- ganese for strength . The material is still easi ly work-
chanics to fabri cate brackets, she lves and other sup- able and resists cracks whi le bending. lt is also corro-
ports fo r the new radios . sion-resistant (witho ut A lelad)
Before tackling an installation, the technician runs 3003 is excelle nt for forming brackets, ho us ings
a we ight-and-balance ca lculati on to see if remov ing and structures that require a lot of bending and form-
and/or adding new equipment exceeds the a ircraft 's ing, especially where the higher strength of2024 is not
CG (center of gravity) or adds excessive weight. required.
Airplanes in fli ght a lso develop dynamic loads 6061. This popular alloy is stro ng, corros ion-
while maneuvering, especially in turbulence. lf there is resista nt, workable and relatively low in cost. It is avail-
any question whether add itional suppot1 is required, the able in Alclad for added protection.
j ob should be reviewed by a DER (Des ignated Engi- 606 1 is useful in bu ilding structures which sup-
neering Representative) with a specialty in structures. port the we ight of a stack of rad ios or instru ments .
He can design a system that meets acceptable installa- Thickness. Aluminum comes in many thicknesses,
tion practices. A D ER is required when cutting through measured in thousandths of an inch, for di fferen t appli-
a structural member (such a rib or bulkhead). Large cations:
shops often have a DER on staff, while sma ller facili- .040. This s ize is good for forming lightweight
ties may hire an independent DER on a per-j ob basis. brackets for supporting cooling fans, switches and other
STC's . Avionics equipment that is fli ght-criti- lightweight equi pment such as cover pl ates and g love
cal is STC'd, meaning the manufacturer applied for a box doors.
supplemental type certificate. The in stall ati on has been .063 makes sturdier brackets for supporti ng heavy
worked out in great deta il and a ki t of components may equipment (a radio stack, for example), panels for head-
be supplied . Wherever an STC appli es, the install er phone and mike jacks and equipment shelves.
fo llows the document carefull y for structural and wir- .080 This heavy materi al is suitable fo r the over-
ing details. a ll , or mai n, in strument panel. In t his thickness, how-
Hostile Areas. Beyond the cockpit and passenger ever, yo u can make bends only over a large radius.
cab in, there is an unfriendly environment for e lectronic
eq ui pment. Engines generate heat and vibrati on, the
airpl ane fli es through large temperature and humidity
changes and low areas on the airfra me accumulate oil,
hydraulic fluid and water. Many radios and instruments
are fortified against these hazards with a TSO (techni-
ca l standard order), which cet1ifies they are built to meet
environmental conditions encountered in aircraft.
The manufacturer's maintenance manua l is the
most valuable source of installation info rmation. Not
on ly does the company have the engineering resources
to design the install ation, its manual is recognized as
"approved data."
Cutting Holes
Aluminum is not difficult to punch, cut and file.
There arc several options, from working it in the shop
to sending it out to a spec ialty house.
Manual cutting. Jt is possible to cut instrument
and other holes with a jig saw and metal-cutting blade.
A set of round, half-round and flat fi les arc for fi ni sh-
ing touches and smoothing burred edges.
So long as holes are round or rectangu lar, cutting
them may be time-consuming, but not impossible. The
problem ari ses in odd shapes, such an ARINC-typc in-
strument that has bevels on all fou r sides. This can
take much effort to shape by hand-fi ling.
Router. Some shops use a router to cut panel holes.
The sheet aluminum is placed on a routing table and,
with the aid of a template, holes cut with a router bit A hand reamer cuts holes in panel for switches, con-
designed for al uminum . trols and other small items. First, a pilot hole is made
Punches. Metal punches are made to the exact with an electric drill.
size and shape for cutting panels. A pilot hole is dri lled
in the panel and a bolt inserted to hold a cutting die.
Tightening with a wrench drives the halves of the die
together for a neat hole. 1n large shops, a hydraulic driver
operates the punch, greatly shortening the time to make

the hole.
If an av ionics manufacturer produces a radio with
an odd shape, he may also offer for sale the punch to
make that hole.

Laser C utting. In the newest technique, holes are
made by laser beam. Because the machi nes are costly,
such work is often sent out to a specialty shop. The
hol es arc extremely accurate and clean.
To work with an outside house, you design the panel
on a PC, using software such as Autocad. The file may
be sent to the laser company by e-mail.
A hole punch cuts neat round or square holes in panel. A
square one is at the left, the other is a round one. Punches
are also made for cutting odd-shaped holes required by
some instruments.

The hole punch cuts into the panel as its nut and bolt are
tightened w ith a wrench.

"Structures" refers to av ioni cs enc losures and
mountings, inc luding cabinets, cases, rac ks and sup-
ports. T he re a re few standa rd sizes fo r Gene ral Avia-
tion equipment, but fo r a irline and milita ry serv ice,
manufacturers are held to strict dim ens io ns. The in-
sta llation of equipment in any a iq) lanc must comply with
a irwo rthiness standard s for we ight, powe r, secure
mounting, la belling and others.
General Aviation
A lthoug h GA has no standard sizes, certain cus-
toms are follo wed by most avioni cs manufacturers. Tn
light a irc raft, where radi os arc usua lly mo unted in a
cente r "stac k," the width is typically 6.25 inc hes. To
avo id the mi smatch o f radios of differe nt widths in the
same stac k, most radios observe that dimension. Thus, While wiring a radio stack on the workbench , tape the
in a simple stack there might be an audio pa nel at the sides of the trays together. This keeps the trays stable
while you wire the harnesses at the rear. Remove the
top, one or two navcoms next and a transponder at the tape just before installing the stack in the airplane.
bottom. The ir he ights and depths are different, but they After the stack is installed in the airplane, the for-
a ll fit in the stac k. ward section (at the right) bolts to brackets on the in-
strument panel. Brackets should also fasten to the back
of the stack (left) to keep trays locked together.



..... 0 0 0 0 · '\
~ 1

Radios in the center stack of a light aircraft
are usually 6.25 inches wide.
T he future fo r General Avia tion is the electro nic POWER ~
instrume nta ti on system (EFlS). T he a irlin es have
transitioned to the "glass cockpit" and the trend is well-
established in Ge neral Aviation. Conventional 6.25-inch A radio stack, like this one for a light aircraft, is
w ide radios will be here fo r several more ge nerations, pre-wired on the workbench before installing in the
but nearl y a ll new producti on and expe rimenta l a ircraft airplane. Three avionics trays are shown; two nav-
began outfitting w ith EF IS by 2004. coms on top, with a transponder on the bottom.
Wiring is done to connectors mounted on the back
of the trays. The radios are slid into place later,
and make contact with the rear tray connectors.

EFTS systems a re often supplied by the manufac-
turer with pre-c ut and pre-w ired cables, w ith all con-
nectors attac hed at the factory. Because so ma ny sys-
tems a ppear on one screen, fewer ho les are cut in the
instrument pane l.
Will thi s mean less insta ll ation work fo r the tech-
nic ian? Probably not. From the end of World Wa r II,
there's been a n ever-increasing stream of new avionics
systems, government requirements and a irborne te le-
communications serv ices (fax, telephone, Inte rnet, etc).

Corporate and Business Aircraft

Large r commercial a irc raft---the turboprops and
jets flown by corporatio ns--- also do not fo llow com- The old "radio stack" will disappear as new
mon avio nics standa rds. These system s are usua lly re - and upgraded airplanes, of even the small-
est size, are outfitted with EFIS (Electronic
mote-mounted, w ith contro l-display units in the instru- Flight Instrument System). This Blue Moun-
me nt pane l, and remote radi os mounted in the nose, be ll y tain system combines flight instruments,
or near the ta il. moving map and terrain warning on one

Avionics Bay of
a Corporate Jet

Most LRU's (line replaceable units) are in

the lower fuselage. Examples shown in-
clude: transponder (XPDR). DME, NAV
(VOR receiver) and Com (VHF). Each ra-
dio is duplicated for safety. The large dark
area in the center ("INS") is the rack for an
inertial navigation system (which has been
removed for repair).
The "Warning " placard near the center
(in red) cautions against excessive weight.
The text says: "Maximum load of radio
area not to exceed 750 pounds. " This
avoids exceeding the airplane's weight and
balance limits.
The handset at the upper left enables
the technician to talk over the aircraft in-
tercom system.

Airline (ARINC) Stru ctures.
The airlines solved their structures problems back structures are ARJNC 404 and ARI NC 600 . The first,
in 1929 when they formed A RINC (Aeronautical Ra- 404, contains sizes known as ATR. Although some
dio Jnc.). The organization developed standards (called people interpret ATR as "Air Transport Radio," ARINC
"Characteristics") for mounting and interconnecting says it means "Austin Trumbull Radio," a fte r the de-
each piece of avionics. The specifications, however, veloper.
app ly only to the radio's "form, fit and function." This ARfNC 600 came into existence w ith digital avi-
mea ns an airline can buy a DME from one manufac- onics. Thus, A RINC 404 represents an earlier, analog
ture r, then l O years later buy an improved DME from era, while 600 is the digita l successor. However, it is
another manufacturer and plug it into the same tray or common for airliners to have a mi xture of both 404 and
rack. T here's no rewiring or modification Both old 600 structu res and avionics.
and new radios have th e same fo rm, fit and fun cti on---
even thoug h the inside of the new radio may have a
differe nt design and internal components.
Two important Characteristics for a irline radio

MCU Case Sizes (ARINC 600)

12.76 IN Tn ) )


7.641N 2 4 8 12

- --
WIDTH 2.25 IN 4.88 IN 10.09 IN 15.29 IN

When airliners began converting to digital avionics, new =

1 MCU 1/8 ATR
case sizes were developed for LRU 's (line replaceable =
2 MCU 1/4 ATR
units). Called MCU, for Modular Concept Unit, it was stan- =
3 MCU 3/8 ATR
dardized by ARINC 600. The connectors offer many more =
4 MCU 1/2 ATR
circuits over ARINC 404. Because "digital airliners" still =
6 MCU 3/4 ATR
carry analog equipment, they have a mixture of ARINC =
404 and 600 cases. 12 MCU=1-1 /2 ATR
MCU cases are the same length and height, differing
only in width. The table at the right gives a comparison
between the two systems:

• 1

Earlier ARINC 404 ' - - - - - + '_j

case used for ana-
log avionics. _j WIDTH I._ .,..___~ LENGTH ~~

.... .--------,-,.


INCHES mm INCHES ...... mm
I Dwarf 2.25 57. 15 12.52 3 18.0
3.38 85.8

1/4 Short 2.25 57.15 12.52 3 18.0 7.62 193.5

1/4 Long 2.25 57. 15 19.52 495.8 7.62 193 .5

3/8 Short 3.56 90.41 12.52 3 18.0 7.62 193.5

3/8 Long 3.56 90.41 19.52 495.8 7.62 193.5

1/2 Short 4.88 123.95 12.52 3 18.0 7.62 193.5

1/2 Long 4.88 123.95 19.52 495.8 7.62 193.5

3/4 Short 7.50 190.50 12.52 3 18.0 7.62 193.5

3/4 Long 7.50 190.50 19.52 495.8 7.62 193.5

1 Short 10. 12 257.05 12.52 3 18.0 7.62 193.5

1 Long 10. 12 257.05 19.52 495.8 7.62 193.5

1 l/2 15.38 390.65 19.52 318.0 7.62 193.5 J

Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)



Microcircuits bring great benefits to avionics, but they Before transporting an ESD-sensitive radio back to
create a new problem; "ESD," for electrostatic discharge. the shop (or manufacturer) obtain a conductive cover
Components are so tiny, they are susceptible to static and place it over the connector (as shown in the illus-
electricity built up on a technician's body, especially in tration).
dry parts of the country or during the low humidity of Before you remove a circuit card from an LRU, use a
winter. The electrical charge builds to several thousand wrist strap that connects you to ground (the airframe).
volts but the technician is unaware because the current Place the card in a conductive bag made for the pur-
is so low. The charges, however, can puncture thin lay- pose.
ers of semiconductor material on circuit cards inside. The ESD problem could worsen as more components
When installing or removing an LRU (line replaceable are squeezed into smaller spaces. There is also a trend
unit) check if it has an ESD warning label, as shown in to build larger circuit cards to accommodate integrated
the illustration. Here are some precautions: modular avionics on new aircraft. (A single module
If you're handling an LRU with its connector removed, can cost the equivalent of four years of a technician's
don't touch the bare pins. Also, first touch the metal annual salary!) These simple grounding techniques,
case (ground)---to drain off charges that accumulate on however, prevent damage.
your body.

The greatest threat to the /(le <~l
avionics is overheating.
The heating problem grows worse as more sys-
tems arc installed in limited space and the number of
circuit components per square inch rises. Few people
realized the fu ll impact of temperature until military ECS
investigators in the l 960's proved that overheating was Cooling fan is built into ARINC tray for
the number one cause of avionics fai lure. some airline avionics. A filter removes
There arc several solutions to cool ing. ff the air- particles to extend equipment life and
raise MTBF (mean time between failure).
craft is air transport or military, cool ing systems are
carefully designed at the airframe manufacturer. As pay for adequate coo ling.
shown by the illustration, cooling for B-737 avionics Warranty Warnings. A turning point in cooling
is bu il t in as part of the airplane. happened when radios started using digital electronics.
Some manufacturers wi ll not honor the warranty if the
radio shows signs of overheating (meaning it was in-

Holes in bottom of ARINC-type tray

admit air to cool avionics.

Tn General Aviation, there is no standardi zation

because light aircraft vary widely in how they' re outfit-
Behind the instrument panel of a light aircraft, showing cool-
ted. There is little official guidance so the solution is ing fan and ducts. The fan is attached to the side of the radio
left to the insta ller. stack at the left. Several air ducts are seen emerging from
Some single-engine airplanes come from the fac- the fan . They connect to ports on the radio trays, where they
tory with small air scoops on the fuselage where they deliver cool air.
catch the air blast from the propellor. It's the technician's
responsibi lity to hook the air ducts from the scoops to stalled without cooling). In earlier radios, warranty
the avionics. Some technicians be!icve the scoops also repai r might be replacing a ten-cent resistor. The new
deliver water to the radio when fly ing in rain. This has rad ios, however, are loaded with integrated chips that
never been proven and, after tlying an airplane with arc expensive to replace. In some instances, a whole
scoops for many years, personal experience shows no circuit board is required, an expense the manufacturer
bad effects on the radios. ft is more prudent, however, wants to avoid.
to cool every avionics insta llation with forced air Newer radios make the job of cooling much easier.
from one or more fans. Check to see if any piece of They are often designed with nozzles for fasten ing air
avionics has already been fitted with an internal fan ducts leading to fans located some distance away. As
and what the manufacturer says about ducting the air shown, one fan may be rated to coo l several radios.
flow. When the short life of overheated avionics is ex-
plained to a pilot or owner, he invariably will want to
Cooling for Airline Avionics





Air transport aircraft have dedicated systems for plied to some avionics racks through small blue
cooling avion ics, as shown in thi s simplified dia- ducts.
gram {based on a B-737). To assure reliabil ity, both A large duct runs up to the flight deck and cools
sides of the system---intake and exhaust---have two the instrument panel {mainly EFIS displays).
fans each. If one fan fails, an alarm w arn s the Other equipment is cooled by air drawn through
pilot to switch to the alternate. the avionics rack by an exhaust fan , and vented
In the illustration, blue duct s supply cool air, overboard or into the cargo compartment {see
red ducts carry hot exhaust air from the equip- "B").
ment. The operation begins at "A - Air Intake Fan." Hot air is ve nted overboard only when the air-
The arrow points to a fan that draws air from the plane is on the ground or at low altitude. At higher
avionics equipment compartment. Cool air is sup- {colder) altitudes, that air is se nt to warm the for-
ward cargo compartment.
Fans. Choose a coo ling fa n desig ned fo r avion- a navco m or G PS.
ics. To be sure, look at the catalog description; it should Some fans come in kits, including mounti ng brack-
say PMA and TSO (Parts Ma nufacturers Authoriza- ets and hoses. T he ma nufacture r may also have a fan
tion and Technical Standard Order---both FAA certifi- designed fo r a specifi c-model rad io.
cations.) T hey have brush less DC motors (which elimi- T he fa n is usually mo unted near the rear of the
nate sparking and interfe rence ) and a re 14- or 28-voll radio stac k a nd, in the si mplest arrangement, hoses a re
DC. brought near a nd aimed at the rear of the radio. Avio n-
Fans a re typically made with I to 5 outlets (o r ics of mo re recent design have a fitti ng for directly
ports) whic h connect to radi os th rough 5/8- inch hoses. attaching the hose. In some installations, the hose at-
l f a fan has more potts than you need , unused ones are taches lo a p lenum, w hich is a metal chamber that runs
capped (which increases a ir flow to the other ports). alongs ide the rad io stack, wi th holes that direct a ir to
Ample air is de livered, regard less of how many ports the radios.
a re connected. One port can typ ica lly put out a bout 26 An avionics fa n may be expected to have long life,
CFM (cubic feet per minute) to cool one radio, suc h as w ith ratings of nearl y 80,000 hours of continuous op-
Locking Radios in Racks home. He operates a lever that causes the connectors
It not unusual for a pilot to taxi up to the radio to mate. This development followed a great increase in
the number of terminals within a ingle connector, which
shop and say; "My navcom doesn't work---no trans-
increases chances of mi s-mating pins and sockets by
mit, no receive." Before the technician reaches for any
tools, he takes the palm of his hand and presses it against forcing the radio into the tray.
the face of the radio. The radio starts playing! The pilot
is amazed. A large number of failures arc si mply due to In the Instrument Panel
vibration ca using a radio to slide out of its connectors. Avionics that mount in a panel arc usually retained
Just a fraction of an inch does it. The remedy is to with a latch operated by a tool in serted into a hole in
check the security of all radios when the airplane is the front of the radio. Commonly used tools are an Allen
brought to the shop. wrench, size 5/64 or 3/32.
Large aircraft have more effective locki ng devices, When the rad io is installed, the latch is first posi-
but even here there arc problems if a radio is forced tioned correctly by turning the screw all the way coun-
into its mounting tray. Designers in recent years have terclockwise. Look at the underside of the radio and
produced sturdier trays which resist bending and de- there should be a notch (or cut-out) which receives the
forming. The latest approach is known as "zero inser- latch. After the radio is slid into the rack, the latch
tion force," where the technician doesn 't push the radio should be aligned with the cut-out. Turn the wrench
just enough to feel the latch engaging
Next, be sure the connectors at the back of the
Panel-Mounted Radios
Although panel-mount radios are associated
with small aircraft, they're also found in com-

mercial aircraft (commuter and regional air-
lines). The panel mount uses the instrument
panel as the support structure. A rectangu-
lar hole is cut in the panel and vertical brack-
ets riveted to the sides of the opening. The
tray (which receives the radio) is bolted to

the brackets. After the tray is mounted, the
radio is slid in and locked by turning a front
panel screw, as shown.
After radios are mounted , they may be
too heavy to be supported by the instrument
INSTRUMENT PANEL panel. In this event, the installer adds brack-
ets from the back of the radio trays to the


Releasing the Radio

Typical radio stack in a light aircraft. In this
example, there are two navcoms at the top,
with a transponder on the bottom. They slide
into trays which are fastened behind the in-
strument panel. The usual method for in-
serting or removing these radios is insert-
ing a tool (Allen wrench, Tone, screwdriver
or other) at the lock release points.

rad io and on the tray are ready to en gage.
While you turn the w rench clockwise, p lace a hand
on the radio fro nt pa ne l and gentl y push to help th e
Panel-Mount Details
radio into the connectors. ln other words, do n't just
depend on the latch to draw the radio in.
Be gentle w ith the fina l tighten ing. With the radio
completely in the rac k, tighten the screw onl y to snug
up the radio to the bac k of the tray. Tighten too much
and the latchi ng mechanism can be da maged.
If you 're insta lling a stack of radios ve rticall y,
sometimes one opening is too narrow a nd blocks a last
radio. You can usua lly solve th is by loosening a ll the
radi os in the stack and sliding the m back in a different
Instead of Al len w renches, some radios use an or-
dinary slotted screw. Often they require only a quarte r-
turn to e ngage or release. lfthe radio w il l not release,
hold the front pane l at the sides and try to work it out A panel-mounted radio is removed from the instrument panel
w ith a slig ht sidewise motion. by inserting a tool into an opening on the front. It may be a
screwdriver, hex wrench or other tool.
Some radios require a very long screwdriver w ith
a 1/8-inch flat tip to ope ra te the locking mechanism.
Others require a spec ial tool inserted through the front
to activate a re lease device.
Regard less of the system for locking the radio to
its tray, the ru le is: don 't fo rce it. If somethi ng is stuck
(a frequent problem w ith old rad ios) try to coax, rock,
wiggle or gently pry until you fi nd a path ofl cast resis-
tance o ut of the rack.

Pencil points to locking mechanism at underside of radio.

As it turns, it engages a slot in the tray and pulls the radio
RF CONNECTOR in. To avoid damage, never force the radio into the tray.


Radio is shown sliding into mounting tray. Holes

in the tray are for fastening the tray to the instru-
Preparing the tray for mounting. Hardware on the sides ment panel.
of the tray holds it to brackets in the instrument panel.
The RF connector, whi ch goes to an antenna, is fastened
at the back. The interface connector will also mount on
the rear of the tray, next to the RF connector. Holes along
the sides of the tray lighten the structure.
Remote-Mounted Radios (Corporate)
In remote-mounted avionics, only a control·
display unit (CDU) is in the instrument panel ;
the rest is in a remote location. For small busi-
ness aircraft, the location is often in the nose;

, ~

. l!!I . .l!!I · -. . • : . . • .- . . ,.- • .

larger jets have a compartment in the fuselage.
The reason for remote mounting originally
was that radios were too large to fit behind the
panel. With microminiaturization, however, avi-
onics are now often less than half their original
The example in the illustration is a Chelton
.. - - .. .. ... - - .. radio management system. The small control-
display manages the large remote boxes
COM NAV ADF DME TRANSPONDER (LRU 's, or line replaceable units).


Mounting Tray

The remote radio is supported in SHELF

a tray located away from the flight
deck. (Shown in th is example is
a Collins glideslope receiver.) At
the bottom, the tray is fastened
to the airframe by screws. That
structure can be a shelf fabricated
by the technician or one that al-
ready exists in the airplane.
After the tray is in place, the ra-
dio slides in and engages the rear
lock. The front lock is tightened
to complete the installation. REAR
Connectors on the front of the LOCK
radio go to the control head in the
instrument panel, a power source
and the glideslope antenna.


Airline Mounting




NO. 3 NO. 1 NO. 2

NO . 1
NO. 2

Typical mounting for remote ZONE ZONE EFIS EFIS

avionics in an airline instal- CONTROL CONTROL NO. 1 NO. 2
lation (a Boeing-737). Lo- NO. 1 NO. 2
cated below and behind the
flight deck is the "E/E bay," a
compartment for electronics
and electrical systems. The
LRU's are slid into racks and MC). 1 IIO. 2
locked in trays. The rack .. LTI"ETER ALTINETER NO. 2 PROX
NO. 1 HO. 2
shown here contains nav,
com, display, transponder, ra-
dio altimeter, ADF and other
Locking Systems (Airline)



Three different hold-down systems are shown. Above is

a cam-lock lever arrangement in the locked position. Pull-
ing down the handle releases the LRU from the tray.

A knob and extractor tool release the LRU. To prevent

damage from overtightening by the technician, the thumb-
screw slips after proper torque is reached.


In this hold-down system, tightening the knob engages a Shown here is the unlocked position. The " Wideband"
hook. The system is shown in the locked position and " Red Band" fittings help the technician align the lock-
ing system before tightening.
lndexin Pins Prevent Error



Different avionic LRU 's (line replaceable units) are often housed in cabinets of the
same size---which could cause installation error. To prevent it, a connector has an
indexing pin at an angle that matches only one LRU . Unless all pins line up with
connector holes, the radio cannot be pushed in. To prevent damage, however, avoid
forcing a radio into the rack.

US Technica l arry
ARINC trays are designed with variations to accom- Several ARINC trays are often mounted to-
modate different cooling, connector and radio sizes. gether to form a " rack" (sometimes called
The black knobs, wh ich lock in the equipment, have an " equipment cabinet" ).
a mechanism which cannot be overtightened and
damage the connectors.

Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA)

Boeing 777



Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) replace separate LRU 's (line

replaceable units), with LRM' S, "line replaceable modules." Un-
like earlier systems, LRM's do not have one function per unit,
such as receiver, transmitter, etc. They are more like computer
resources that share and process information over a high speed
databus. This provides smaller size and weight, and greater
For the technician, troubleshooting is simplified by a built-in
central maintenance computer that identifies problems and indi-
cates which module to replace.

Example of a cabinet for Inte-

grated Modular Avionics. Red
handle is used to unlock and
remove the Line Replaceable
Module (LRM)

Instrument Mounting

: - - - - (LARGE SCREW)



Instruments like this 3-inch rectangular are often held by a mounting clamp
behind the panel. The clamp is slid over the case and two sets of screws are
adjusted. Two screws have large heads labelled " Clamp Adjustment" . They
tighten the clamp around the case. The other pair, labelled " Clamp Mounting,"
hold the clamp to the back of the instrument panel.
Round instruments are installed in similar fashion with a round clamp. How-
ever, there are only two screws; one to tighten the clamp on the instrument, the
other to hold the clamp to the panel.
Some instruments have tapped holes on their cases and need no clamps.
Check the manufacturer's literature on using the correct screws. If too long,
they can penetrate the case and damage the instrument,
Instrument screws are often made of brass, especially when mounting a
magnetic compass. As a non-magnetic metal, brass will not cause deviation in
the compass.

Some instrume nt cases are fitted

with mounting studs , as in this
Dynon EFIS display. Four holes are
drilled in the instrument panel ac-
cording to the template (below) sup-
plied by the manufacturer. The large
hole receives the instrument case.


Round Instruments: 2- and 3-inch


Many flight instruments in General

Aviation mount in round holes. The
two main sizes are 2- and 3-inch
diameters (actually 2-1 /4 and 3-1/8-
An example of each is shown in
this Mooney panel; a 2-inch chro-
nometer and a 3-inch airspeed in-
The instruments are held to the
panel by four screws, as seen
around the instrument face. The
screws are held behind the panel by
threaded fasteners (" grasshopper
nuts" ). Because the fasteners are
easily lost during installation, there
are mounting kits like the one
shown below to simplify the job.

Instrument Mounting Kit



" Nut rings" make the installation job easier. They come
in standard 2- and 3-inch sizes. There are two versions
of the 3-inch; note the one in the center, "ALTNSI " which L - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
has a cut-out at the lower right. This allows space for the A nut plate is installed by sliding it onto the back of
altimeter knob after the instrument is installed. ALT is the instrument. To make it match holes in the panel with
for altimeter, which has a knob adjusted by the pilot (for holes in the nut plate, the installer inserts an alignment
barometer setting). VSI (vertical speed indicator) has a tool through one hole, as shown. It's removed when all
small screw adjustment for zero'ing the needle. holes line up, and mounting screws can be inserted.

l C
45y ~~

Figure 2
B --

( 8 pl) Rs
(4 pl)

Figure 3


I II ± .010 I ± .010 I REF I ± .010 II ± .010 I REF. I I
I 1!{i I 3
l~~~I I
1.457 2.775 0.125 IGJI
37 80.84 10.87 67.81 69.97 3.17 2

I 1!~ l ~ ~~~G;JI
0.125 GJ
I MM II 37 100.96 10.87 82.19 I 84.35 I 3.17 2
I 2 ATI II 2.1 75 2.175 0.407 2.5 II 2.585 I .063, .695 1 &3
I MM I 55.24 55.24 10.33 63.5 II 65.65 lb .6.17.65311 1 &3
2 X4All 2 .175 3.975 0.407 3.773 3.858 II 0.063 I 2
MM 55.24 100.96 10.33 95.83 97.99 II 1.6 I 2
3 All 3.175 3.175 0.428 3.885 3.97 11.063 ..725 I 1 &3
MM 80.64 80.64 10.87 98.67 100.83 1.6, 18.415 1 &3
3 X4All 3.175 3.975 0.428 4.451 4.536 0.063 2
MM 80.64 100.96 I 10.87 11 3.05 115.21 1.6 2
I 4All 3.975 3.975 II 0.429 5.015 5.1 OJJ63 1 &3
I MM 100.96 100 .96 II 10.89 127.38 129.54 1.6 1 &3
14 X5All 3.975 4.975 II 0.429 5.722 5.737 0.068 2
I MM 100.96 126.36 II 10.89 145.33 145.71 1.6 2
I 5 All 4.975 4.975 II 0.478 6.36 6.445 0.063 2
I MM 126.36 126.36 12.14 161 .54 163.7 1.6 I 1
l5X6All 4.975 5.975 0.478 7.067 7.152 0.063 II 2
I MM 126.36 151 .76 12.14 179.5 II 181 .66 1.60 II 2
I 6 ATI 5.975 5.975 0.513 7.725 I 7.81 0.063 II
I MM 151 .76 151.76 13.03 196.21 I 198.37 1.6 II
Review Questions
Chapter 23 Mounting Avionics

23. 1 Who should be consulted if an avionics instal- 23. 7 What is a major advantage of ARlNC cases
lation will affect structures in the airplane? in large aircraft?
23.2 What designation assures that a piece of equip- 23.8 What are the two basic types of ARI NC cases'?
ment has high resistance to heat, humidity and other
environmental conditions of flight? 23.9 What are two precautions when handUng avi-
onics that are sensitive to electrostatic discharge
23.3 "Approved data" for an installation may be (static electricity)?
found in the _ _ __ _ _
23.10 What is the greatest threat to the life of avi-
23.4 When selecting aluminum for making struc- onics?
tures, what label indicates resistance to corrosion?
23.11 What techniques are used in large and small
23.5 What are efficient methods for cutting odd- aircraft to prevent overheating?
shaped instrument holes in an aluminum panel?
23.12 When mounting a magnetic compass, always
23.6 When mounting new equipment in an instru- use screws to avoid in the
ment panel or in the avionics bay of a large aircraft, compass.
do not exceed the and limi-
tations of the airplane.

Chapter 24


--a n outer shell, tenninals (pins or sockets)

and insulating material. Neverthe less, con-
nectors are a major cause of equipment fa il-
ure. Pins a re w ired incor rectly, bare w ires
touch and sho1i-circui t or connector pins
arc accidently bent. A ll can be avoided by
careful wi ring tech niq ue.
Working wi th connectors often takes up more of Technicians have different approaches to avo id-
an installation technician 's time than any other task. A ing e rrors in w iring. Some fo ll ow the old carpenter's
light a ircraft has connectors in the dozens, while large r warning; "Measw-e twice, cut once." l n w iring, it means
a irplanes count the m in the hundreds. Witho ut connec- double-check ing for the correct pin, marking each pin
tors, av ioni cs can't be removed fo r maintenance or on the diagram as it's done and making a fi na l check
modi ftcati ons. after a ll w iring to the connector is com plete . Finding
There is a tre nd in avionics to reduce the amount trouble after the insta llation is done takes far more
of connectors and wiring . They add weight, take up time than c hecking for error as you bui ld up the w iring
space and cause troubl e when improperly installed. It ha rn ess.
is now possibl e to blend signals of many systems on a Reading pin connections. Some errors are due
s ingle pair of w ires or fiber optic cable and send the m to the way pins are identified. Because of their high
around the airplane. Applications increase with each numbe r a nd small s ize, markings on connectors arc
gene ration of new aircraft but we wil l have to live w ith not only tiny, but often the same color as the back-
connectors fo r another 30 or 40 years. gro und. You may have to hold the connector up to a
Connectors look like simple mechanical devices-- bri ght Iig ht to make the number legible.
(co11ti1111ed p. 202)

Typical Connectors

Circular connector with bayonet coupling.

Rack and panel miniature
rectangular connector.

Circular connector with

threaded coupling. Front
release contacts. Circular connector,
threaded coupling.

RF {Radio Frequency) Connectors

BNC (bayonet) plug BNC plug with right angle

Series N plug
Series TNC plug, pin contact

Series SMA plug, pin contact

Series TNC plug, right angle

How to Identify Connector Contacts

10 markers
1. The end of a circular connector, where contacts 2. The same connector is shown; with red numbers
will be inserted. Some connectors identify every con- added to clarify the numbering system. Note that " 10"
tact, but limited space may allow only starting and is surrounded by two markers. They speed up your
ending numbers like "1" and "1 4," shown above. Start counting. You can jump to the first marker and know
at " 1" and follow the guide line around to " 14," as it's 10. When looking at the back of a connector (where
shown by the arrows (which are not on the connec- the terminals are inserted or wired) counting is usu-
tor). ally done in a counterclockwise direction.

Contacts are Selected to Fit the Application

A circular connector, like this RMS bayonet

receptacle, can be obtained with a variety of
contacts (pins and sockets) to fit the appli-
Shown below is an excerpt from an RMS
specification sheet. By knowing maximum
current rating and wire size, you can order
the contact size for insertion into the con-
nector. The contacts in this model are rear
insertion and front release.

For use with Series R0715, R0716, R0717, R0718 and R0719
Wire Current MS Part No.
Contact Size Rating
Size AWG Amps. Pin socket
24 3.0
No. 20 22 5.0 M39029/31-241 M39029/32-260
20 7.5
No. 16 18 16 M39029/31-229 M39029/32-248
16 22
No.12 14 32 M39029/31-235 M39029/32-254
12 41

Several examples of how letters a nd numbers iden-
tify pins are shown in the illustrations. Some use num-
bers, such as l throu gh 15 or I through 34. Othe rs use Identifying Mil-Spec
letters A through Z. Tf the total number of connections
goes beyond Z, the next pin may be "a" or "aa" (lower Connector Part Numbers
case lette rs).
Many connectors in avionics comply with a Military Speci-
C(lufio11: Some connectors omit letters suc h as G,
fication. Using the "MS" number, you can decode the
I, 0 and Q. Therefore, do n't si mply count the pins to connector's specifications. Consider the example (by
get to a desired one unless you arc sure the numbe rs or Glenair):
lette rs are consecuti ve.
Sold ering Connectors. The classic method fo r
attaching a w ire to a connector te rminal is w ith a so l- MS3402DS28-21 PY
de ring iron. It is a more difficult skill than it appears. MS= Military Standard
A so ldering iron in tight spaces with small objects eas- 3402 = Box Mount Receptacle (Designation)
ily causes heat damage . Also, many beginne rs be lieve O= High Shock (Environmental)
that solde r is "pasted" onto a w ire by da bbing it w ith Shell Material
28 = Shell Size
the iron. This results in a "cold solde rjo int" whi ch soon 21 = Contact Arrangement
crumbles. Good so ldering technique requires tha t the P= Pin type (Male)
iron heats both wire a nd terminal so solder turns liquid or "S" (Socket, or female)
a nd n ows freely between them. T he technique has Polarization keying
proven troublesome enough fo r airlines and military or- The first four numbers after "MS" (3402 in the example
gani zatio ns to run "solde ring schools," taught by a above) indicate physical type. Other types include:
skilled operator ( often fro m a manufactmer of solder- 3400 Wall mounted receptacle
ing too ls). 3401 In line receptacle
Now the good news; so ldering w ires to connec- 3402 Box mount receptacle
to rs has been large ly replaced by a faste r, more conve- 3404 Jam nut receptacle
3406 Straight plug
nient and effecti ve j oining method. 3408 909 plug
3409 45Q plug
Crimping. This is the process of squeezing a 3412 Box mount receptacle with rear threads
meta l contact aro und a w ire w ith a specia l tool. As
The single character which follows indicates the
shown in the il lustrations, the w ired contact is then in- connector service class:
serted into the connector unti I it snaps into place. Yo u
must have the crimp ing tool des igned for that size and D High Shock
K Firewall
type of termina l. A good crimping tool has a mecha-
L High Temperature
nism which applies the correct fo rce to c rimp the ter- W General Purpose
mina l no matte r how ha rd you squeeze the hand les.
The next character, S in our example, indicates the shell
B ack shell. Some connectors have a back cover, material ; in this case, stainless steel.
or shell, w hich protects the w ire where it enters the con-
The next two characters, 28, identify the shell size.
nector. The bac k she ll may a lso have a clamp that goes
arou nd the w ire bundle to re lieve stra in on the p ins. The following pair of numbers, 21, identifies the contact
Stra in re li ef fo r a l I wires entering a connector is impor- arrangement. If this pair of characters is followed by an
ta nt. lf thcre is stress from a wire pulling on its termi- "S" , it indicates female style (socket) contacts. If they are
nal, the connection may not last long. followed by a " P", it indicates male contacts (Pin).

The final character, Y, indicates the choice of polarization

Connector Trends keying.
Av iation borrows heavily fro m connectors for the
compute r industry (similar to those on the bac k of a
PC). They accommodate large num bers of w ires, and
provide reliable, fast methods of attaching connections .
(Continued p. 206)

Typical Coaxial {RF) Connectors

Exploded view of plug assembly
BNC Widely used in avionics, especially for military
This is among the most common RF connectors for avi- applications. It's a high performance connector
onics. A bayonet coupling makes it easy to make or break for subminiature coaxial cable.
the connection with a push and half-twist. BNC's are typi-
cally rated for 50-ohm coaxial cable.

This is similar to BNC but replaces the bayonet with a
threaded coupling. The TNC is a higher-performance con-
nector, especially under high vibration.
Both BNC and TNC connectors come in a variety of
mounting styles, including bulkhead, straight and right
angle. N SERIES
A screw-on connector, the N type is available for crimp
connection to coaxial cable.

Connector Illustrations: Anixter

ARINC Connectors {Airline) 000

ARINC, the airline avionics organization, sets the stan-
dards for connectors aboard nearly every airline in the

0 0 00 0 0 0
world. The two most common series are ARINC 404 and
ARINC 600.


0 0

[ 0 J (


0 0 0 0 0 0
SINGLE DUAL ARINC 600 appeared with the new generation of
"digital" airliners during the 1980's, including the
ARINC 404 is aboard airliners that began production Boeing-757, -767 and Airbus A-320. Because of the
during the 1960's. This includes first models of the Boeing- advanced systems, ARINC 600 provides more
727, -737, -747 and Airbus-300. Instruments and radios contacts in a small area
operate on conventional (analog) principles, which require When old airline aircraft are upgraded with digital
fewer pins than today's avionics. These connectors are avionics (such as the Boeing 747-400) the flight deck
set up for various equipment by different inserts (which becomes a " glass cockpit," meaning EFIS, the
hold the contacts). The ARINC 404 connector is still electronic flight instrument system. Digital equipment
needed on most recent airliners. requires ARINC 600 connectors.

Coaxial Connector: Attaching to Cable

Coaxial cable is trimmed to the desired length. Cut the end
of the cable squarely or it won't fit easily into the connector.


There are several methods for

wiring a coaxial connector to a 2.
cable, including crimping and
soldering. The method shown
here uses a cable nut to squeeze
together the connector parts. Re- Slide the hardware (cable nu~ bushing
gardless of method , follow the and shield clamp) over the cable
manufacturer's cutting dimen-
sions carefully when trimming
During the final step, 5, the (DIELECTRIC) CONDUCTOR
cable nut is threaded into the
connector body. This tightens
the shield clamp over the shield
for good electrical contact, and
connector parts are tightly held 3.

The solder hole is heated and
solder added to connect the cen-
ter conductor to the pin. Avoid The cab• jack'\ shold arnHasulation ..~..
overheating to avoid damage to are trimmed back.
the wire insulation.
Follow cutting dimensions
provided by the manufacturer



Push the shield back over the cable jacket


The contact assembly is pushed under the shield.

Apply solder to the hole and heat just enough for
solder to fuse with the wire and contact

Crimping: Attaching Wires to Connector Contacts



Pin and socket contacts that will be inserted into the

connector. The wire is crimped into tabs on the contact.
Another set of tabs clamps the insulation to relieve strain.
These terminals are used in a " Molex" connector.

Connector contact (in red circle) is crimpled to the end of

a wire with a crimping tool (type DMC AFB).




(1/64 TO 1/32-INCH)

In this type of contact, there is an inspection hole. Bare

wire must be visible through the hole. There must also
be a small space between the contact and the insulation.

Crimp tools are fitted with dies for This crimp tool has wide application among miniature
making different crimp patterns. The and sub-miniature connector types. It delivers a stan-
most common for avionics work is the dard 8-impression crimp. When the handles are squeezed,
" Eight Indent" shown at the top. a ratchet controls maximum pressure. A selector knob
sets the correct wire depth. The " go-no go" gauge checks
the tool 's accuracy. The " positioner" holds the contact
in the correct position. The model shown is the DMC
AFM, also known as " Little Blue."

D subminiature. The " D" refers to the shape o f Amphenol 57. This series o f connectors fou nd in
the connector, which is wider on one side to prevent the aircraft resembles the D subminiature type. It 's used
plug from be ing inserted incorrectly. The connector is for radio mounting trays, remote-mounted avionics (out-
often used in c ircuits under about 5 amps, suc h as side the instrument panel) and fo r in-line cable-to-cable
power, audio, di gital signa ls and ground. connections. The pins are availa ble in 14- 24- 36- and
The D subm in iature is made in several sizes, with 50-pi n connector sizes.
15- and 25-pin mode ls common in avionics. To complete the connecto r, a meta l hood is slid
Avo id us ing D subrni niature connectors sold in over the wire bund le and screwed to the back ..
local stores, the ones intended for a PC. They may Amphenol t 26. Anoth er commo n number in avi-
work we ll in the qu iet environment of a home, but prove onics, this connector is hexagonal. lt is often used fo r
unre liable in aviation service. J\ good connector w ill autopilots and other appl ications. Small size, easy as-
a lso have a sturdy system fo r remo ving strain on the sembly and re liability make it a good cho ice for air-
cable. c raft. The connector comes in va ry ing numbers of pins;
Molex Co nnector A plasti c block that acce pts 4 , 5, 7, or 9 go ld-flashed p ins. (A thin layer of gold on
crimp-type pins, the Molex connector is often found on a pin resists corros ion .)
the rear of mounting trays for avionics equipment. When
the radio is slid into the tray, the pins mate with the
tray-side connector.


Crimping tool for Molex connectors. Wires to most connectors are crimped on, but some re-
quire soldering. The back of this connector has "solder
Wire is la id into the M olex pin a nd the pin crimped cups" for holding solder and wire. After the connection
in the tool shown a bove. is made, shrink-tubing is slid over bare wires to prevent

Releasing Connector Pins

~ ~ '=""'='===~=:z:;~~L.....-l_~I-..Jt-- Y
A variety of tools is available for installing and removing connector
pins, either front or rear release. Although these tools may be of-
fered in plastic, metal is preferred for durabillty. DMC
To release pins (1) from a connector, the removal tool is
inserted over the pin (2). When the tool seats, it spreads a
spring which retains the pin. Now when the tool is pressed
further, the pin is pushed (3) out. Shown here is a "front
release" connector. Other connectors may be " rear re-
lease," but the principle is similar

Heat Gun for Shrink Tubing

A heat gun (also called a " hot

air" gun) is essential for heat-
shrink tubing and so lder-
Effectiveness is greatly in-
creased by adding nozzle s ,
shown at right. They curve and
concentrate hot air on the work,
which creates equal and faster
heating. Nozzles come in dif-
ferent sizes for work of various
diameter. The nozzle at the top,
A heat gun like this Steinel 1802 has selectable tem-
however, should handle most
perature from 120 F to 1100 F (50 C to 650 C). It con-
avionics jobs. It has a 1-1/2-inch sumes 1500 watts at 120 VAC.

Safety Wiring Connectors

Strain relief for cable is provided by

clamp at back of connector. Screws
are secured by safety wire applied
by tool. (Illustrations: DMC)

1. Pre-twisted safety wire is 2. The other end of the wire 3. As the tool is squeezed 4. Completed job. It takes
inserted into fasteners. A is inserted into the tool it crimps a ferrule on the a fraction of the time re-
ferrule has been crimped to nose, which s tores fe r- wire and applies correct quired by manual safety
one end (upper right). rules. tension . The wire is wiring and eliminates
trimmed flush with ferrule. sharp ends.

Besides safety wiring connectors, as shown above, it is recommended in other

areas. If the covers of junction boxes, panels, shields or switch housings
cannot be accessed in flight, and they are not fastened by self-locki ng hard-
ware, they should be safety wired.

Review Questions
Chapter 24 Connectors

24.1 What is a major cause of failure when newly- 24.5 Shrink-tubing is installed with a _ __
installed equipment is first powered up?
24.2 What is one of the most common RF (radio 24.6 What is the purpose of a safety wire (also known
frequency) connector types? as a "lock wire")?
24.3 Soldering wires to connectors has mostly been
replaced by _ __ _ _
24.4 Pins are released from a connector with a

Chapter 25

Wiring the Airplane

During the l 990's , fo llow ing major accidents, in- tamination by fluids and chemicals and improper use
vestigators raised questions about wiring in aging a ir- of clamps.
craft. The result was a gove rnment-industry task force These faults a re time bombs---ticking away unti l
that examined 120 jet transports flying in regula r ser- they might explode into a disaster. In one B-747 acci-
vice. The results were surprising . Thousands of cracks dent, investigators detennined that sparks from a high-
were fo und in wiring insulation in just one airplane. Metal voltage cable arc'ed over to a low-vo ltage w ire and
sha vings were seen in w ire bundles, wires were tied to travelled to a fuel tank. So widespread were such
fue l lines or attached to hot air ducts. They found con- problems that any aircraft over 10 years o ld was said
to have a n aging w ire problem.

In the SWAMP
Routing wi res is so important that certain places
on an a ircraft a re known as SWAMP areas, meaning
"Severe Weather and Moi sture Prone". These inc lude
e ngine compartments, leading and trailing edges of the
wing, landing gear and wheel wel ls.
Researchers frequently observed poor instal lation
techniques. Cables were bent too sharply, wi re bundles
not properl y supported, high and low power cables
run in the same bund le and improperly-installed con-
nectors. They discovered that certain wire types were
prone to crack ing and carbonizing, w hich spreads the
danger to other cables.
1n some cases, when mechanics performed main-
tenance on an airplane, they unknowingly damaged wire
by stepping on it. They a lso grabbed w ire bu nd les to
use as hand-ho lds---w hich cracks the insulation .
The investiga tion learned a lot about aircraft wir-
ing, improved insulati on and a greater awareness of
installation techniques. Many of their recommendations
appear throughout this chapter.
e sc e
Wiring made for aircraft is tough and heat-resistant. To avoid
long-term problems, avoid anything less than aviation-grade.

High Risk Areas for Wiring








Aircraft wiring must operate in a hostile environment. Pas- Galleys and Lavatories
sengers on the ground in Phoenix, Arizona, in summer The drains below these areas must be kept clear and
are comfortable in the cabin, but a few feet away, wiring flowing. Otherwise, wiring is damaged by water, coffee,
may be heated to over 100 degrees F. Minutes after take- food, soft drinks and lavatory fluid.
off, temperatures drop below O degrees F. Vibration is
continuous and humidity swings over a wide range, of- Doors and Windows
ten causing moisture to condense in hidden places. Cer- Look for signs of water damage on wiring in these
tain areas, pictured above, have proven particularly dam- areas: below a cockpit side window that slides open,
aging to wiring which has not been carefully installed under doors used for passengers, cargo and service en-
and inspected. try.

Wings: leading and trailing edges. Ducts

The problem is flaps, slats and ailerons. Because they If hot air escapes from a broken duct, it may not burn
extend during takeoff and landing, they expose the in- the wire but weakens the insulation until cracking causes
side of the wing to the environment. problems.

Engines Bilges
Heat, vibration and chemicals are hazards in areas Liquids--water, fuel, oil, hydraulic fluids--- flow to the
which house the engine; such as nacelles and pylons. lowest point, which is the bilge, or low point in the belly.
This also applies to the engine in the tail---the Auxiliary
Power Unit (APU).
Landing Gear Many of these areas are known in the aviation trade as
Rocks, mud, water and ice are thrown against wheel SWAMP, " Severe Wind and Moisture Problems."
well and landing gear, where numerous harnesses run.
Failures in wiring may be sudden and catastroph ic. to deal wi th---the interm ittent connection. A pilot
Whe n a radio is turned on for the first time, a wiring squawks the problem to the maintenance department,
error may cause a short-circui t. Trouble appears in an but when the technician checks the airplane, he finds
instant and, hopefully, a circuit breaker prevents fu r- nothing wrong.
lher damage. But most wiring problems don't happen lt's important to note that nearly all problems
that way. More often, a slowly building conditi on that appear in new wiring can be avoided without spend-
reaches a critical stage years later and causes a fai lure. ing much extra installation time or materi al.
Unfortunately, they create the most diffic ult symptom

A. . Petsche Co.
Poor wiring is often called a "rat's nest" but that's not the case in this example. The
technician is carefully labelling every wire. Note that all wiring is formed into neat

PVC wire was banned by the military, then in com-
mercial aircraft. Besides supporting flame, PVC
spreads toxic fumes. Aviation wire is now related
to Teflon (left). In photo at right, wire bundles are
carefully supported by clamps and cable ties.

Selecting Wire ability and resistance to corros ion.
A ircraft makers have used alu min um wire to save
A lthough w ire is a fraction of the cost of an avion-
weight (and cost). That effort failed when they discov-
ics insta llation, it is critical to safety of fli ght. Sk imp-
e red that a luminum corrodes at the connecting te rm i-
ing on wire quality makes little sense considering the
nals. Increasing electrical res istance here generates heat
amount of damage it can cause.
and a tire hazard. (For the same reaso n, al uminum
When asked to quote on an exten sive avionics up-
wire was ba1rned in house wiring many years ago.) To-
grade, some shops wi ll not re-use existing wiring in the
day, the tec hnic ian may find aluminum st ill used be-
airplane. They've learned from experience that old w ir-
tween the starte r and battery in some light a ircraft, but
ing harbors many potential defects and makes it diffi-
many have been converted to copper.
cult for a shop to guarantee its work. When this is ex-
A jumbo, li ke the Boeing 747, has nearly 150 miles
plai ned to the a irplane ow ner, he often accepts the de-
of wiring which weighs a ton and a ha lf With ri sing
cision to re-w ire. In fact, it may cost more, in the long
fue l prices, wire is a target fo r reduc ing weight. Mili-
run, to maintain old wiring, especially if o lder w ire types
tary aircraft are even more sensitive because weight re-
were install ed.
duces pe rfo rmance and payload.
Wire quality has made much progress. Copper is
Ove r 50 years, w ire producers responded by re-
the conductor of c hoice because it combines good con-
ducing the weight of wire by 25 percent. It's been done
ductivity at a reasonable price. In aviation, conductors
with wires of higher temperature rating, which a llows
a re usuall y stranded because multiple wires absorb v i-
co pper to be reduced in diameter. There are now better
bration better than solid wire. Copper is typi cally
materials for insulation that can be applied in smaller
plated (o r " tinned") with silve r or tin for good solder- thickness.

Hi h-Grade Aircraft Wire

Wire for aviation often has "Tefzel" in-
sulation (in the Teflon family), with cop-
per conductors plated with tin. A typi-
cal rating is operation up to 150-degrees
C. Fire-resistant wire may have nickel-
plated copper to withstand higher tem-
perature---up to 260 degrees C and
multi-wall insulation. Made to Mil Specs,
aviation wire is typically rated to 600
volts. These wires are the choice of
major airframe builders for installation
in new aircraft and used throughout
General Aviation for upgrading avionics. -~
Below is an excerpt from a _-""'_
Wiremasters spec sheet describing -
characteristics of a 2-conductor
shielded cable.
Tin Plated Copper Tefzel Shielded Cable
Conductors: 2
Gauge: AWG 22 .
Shielding: Round Tin coated Copper 85% Min Coverage
Jacket: Tefzel
Conductor Color Code: White, White/Blue
Voltage Rating: 600 Volts
Temperature Rating: -55 to +150 Degrees C
Weight: 12.40 lbs/Mft
Conductor OD: 0.030" Nominal.
Outside Diameter Over Finished Cable: 0.1 24 inch
Insulation: ETFE (Ethylene Terafluoroethylene)
Mil Spec: MIL-DTL-27500-22TG2T14

Recommended Wire
Before looking at wire types, consider what
not to use. Wire Sizes
Avoid PVC. This is the common plastic-covered American Wire Gauge (AWG)
hookup wire sold in local radio and auto stores. FAA
tests s how that PVC insulation burns nearly twice as
fast as the legal limit of 3 inches per second. It burns AWG 00

with large amou nts of smoke and produces hydrochlo- AWG 20
ric acid when exposed to moi sture.
Mec hanics have reported that simply moving wire
bundles with PVC in o ld aircraft caused wires to break As the AWG number goes up,
and short. the wire becomes narrower and
resistance (in Ohms) increases.
Avoid Po/y-X. Both civil and military users have
had problems in cracking and abrasion.
Do not use Kapton wire. It's caused problems in AWG Wire Ohms per Diameter,
c iv il and military aircraft. Size 1000 ft Inches
00 .078 .3648
Tefzel: Aircraft Wire 0 .0983 .3249
At the time of this writing, Tefzel is a recommended 1 .1239 .2893
wire for aircraft installation lt is extremely res istant to 2 .1563 .2576
abrasion and does not s upport flame or fire. Tt won't 3 .1970 .229 4
generate large amounts of smoke if overheated. It re- 4 .2485 .2043
sists the attack of moisture, chemicals and cleaning 5 .3 133 .1819
compounds. Tefzel is in the Teflon fami ly and is also 6 .3951 .1620
known as ETFE (Ethylene Tcrafluoroethy lene). It's 7 .4982 .1443
available from aviation distributors and wire manufac- 8 .6281 .1285
turers. 9 .7925 .1144
10 .9987 .1019
Wire Size 11 1.261 .0907
Most wire s izes are shown in the cha11 at the ri ght, 12 1.588 .0808
and run from AWG 00 (over one-third inch thick) to 13 2.001 .0720
AWG 38, which is like a strand of hair. For avionics 14 2.524 .0641
work, sizes mainly fall within the range of AWG 14 to 15 3.181 .0571
22. For example, No. 22 gauge wire is often used in 16 4 .018 .0508
audio, mike keying, headphone and instrument light- 17 5.054 .0453
ing. Higher current devices s uch as landing and navi- 18 6.386 .0403
gation lights and pitot heat (in light aircraft) may re- 19 8.046 .0359
quire No. 14 gauge wire. An alternator, which gener- 20 10.13 .0320
ates large currents (60 amps or more) may require 8 21 12.77 .0285
ga uge, while a starter motor, which draws the most 22 16.20 .0253
current, may call for a No. 2 conductor. 23 20.30 . 0226
The most important rule is to follow the equip- 24 25.67 .02 01
me nt ma nufacturer 's guidance. The maintenance 25 32.37 .0 179
manual states the correct w ire size and type (shielded, 26 41.02 .0159
tw isted, etc.) for each connection. That information is 27 51.44 .0 142
o n the wiring diagra m, but often in tiny lette rs that may 28 65.31 .0126
be ha rd to read, as in this example: 29 81.21 .0113
\ l l W!H.f-.AkL !~ "W(i \ 1t ,1Ml'M I ' l [,~01111 In.\ 1Sl ",0[1 1)
30 103 .7 .0 100
31 130.9 .0089
Note the word " minimum ," which implies you can 32 162.0 .0080
use a larger size . That may not harm electri cal perfor- 33 205.7 .00 7 1
mance, but large wire presents other problems. First, a 34 26 1.3 .0063
bigger conductor may not fit into the connector or ter- 35 330.7 .0056
minal. It a lso takes up more room in a c lamp. Tn large 36 414.8 .0 050
aircraft, it adds weight and size and most ailframe build- 37 5 12.1 .0045
e rs are active ly against this. 38 648.2 .0040
Wire diameter is measured without insulati on.
Wire and Cable Types
Single conductor has center
wire and insulating jacket.

Twisted pair is less susceptible to picking up,

or radiating, interference. Twisted pair cables
are often shielded for further protection.

Outer Inner The most common coaxial cable has one cen-
ter conductor surrounded by a dielectric (insu-
Conductor Conductor lation) and an outer jacket. Until not long ago,
(Braid) D. I
! '8/c/t·ic/ the jacket was made of PVC, a material now
banned for new installations but still found in
airplanes. The old cable, " RG-58" is replaced
by higher-temperature cables (such as RG-400)
which are also more resistant to abrasion. Co-
axial cables are mostly used to connect trans-
mitters and receivers to antennas. The most
common rating in aircraft is "50 ohms imped-

JaCK l Conductor "Twinax" cable has a pair of insulated con-

\ (Braid) Dielectric ductors inside a common shield. The in-
ner conductors may or may not be twisted,
J I depending on the application. Twinax is
used where the cable must have excellent
immunity to electrical noise---high-speed
data transmission, for example, a type of
signal that's growing rapidly in aircraft.

Outer O uter Conductor
Conductor Inner Conductor
(Braid) Conductor
J· (Braid) Dielectric
/ (Braid)
Conductor Dielectri c Inner
Condu ctor
Triaxial cable, with two outer conductors sepa- (Braid)
rated by insulation. The outer conductor (braid)
serves as a signal ground, while the other is an Dual coaxial cable contains two separate coaxial cables
earth ground. This arrangement provides very covered by a common outer jacket.
high immunity to electrical noise.
Coax Illustrations: Anixter
In large aircraft, wire sizes are part of the airplane 's Wire Stripping
Type Ce1tificate and must be observed for legal re~-
Removing insulation from wire tak~s ski ll--~as
sons. When a manufacturer builds a new piece of avi-
shown by the fact that FAA permits a w1r~ to be in-
onics for an old aircraft, he may obtain an STC (supple-
stalled with darnaoed strands. (The illustration gives
mental type certificate). [n that document, wire sizes b . .
the detai ls.) That damage usually happens dun ng wire
are described in detail.
stripping, when the wire is nicked (or scratched).
In the absence of manufacturer information, the
Strippers. A cheap wire stripper causes trouble
FAA provides guidance on choosing an exact wire size.
and wastes time. Tt may have adjustab le jaws but no
It is described in detail in Advisory Circular 43.13-
method fo r setting to the wire size. Low-cost strippers
1B-2B. If you need to look further into the design of an
do not retain sharp cutting edges, which increases the
aircraft wiring system, this is the primary reference.
risk of damage. .
Consider these factors fo r installing cables, har-
A well-designed stripper has V-notches for drffer-
nesses, bundles and other wiring methods:
ent wi re sizes. This prevents cutting past the insulation
Stranded vs Solid
and into the wire.
The semi-automatic wire stripper is effective in
Solid wire is usually to be avoided in aircraft. As
both holding the wire, then stri pping it at a squeeze of
mentioned earlier, stranded wire is fl exible and less af-
the handle. Be sure the wire is inserted into the correct
fected by vibration . If stranded wire is called for, don 't
"V" notch.
attach it directly under a screwhead, or the strands
Some experienced technicians don 't like any kind
might break. First connect a ring tenninal to the end of
the stranded wire. of automatic stripper and prefer the simplest type. Over
the years they've developed a sensitive fe~I by h~nd
Single and Bundled wires. and know just how deeply to cut 111to the 111sulat1011,
before pulling it off the wi re. But today's wire has
If wires are strapped together in a harness (or
o insulation and is more difficult to cut. A well-
bundle) they are unable to dissipate heat as readily as
made precision stripper takes away the guesswork.
in free air. This affects the amount of current all owed
Coaxial cable is delicate because j ust below the
to flow in the wire; a bundled wire is rated to carry less
insulating jacket is a braid of fine wire (the shield)
current. It's most important when wires carry high cur-
rents of several amperes or more. that is easily damaged. The shield must be in tact be-
cause an incomplete shield changes electrical proper-
Length ties of the cable.
The length of a wiring run affects current-carry- Cutting coaxial cable requires a special tech nique.
ing capacity If the run is long, wire size might hav~ to You can buy an automatic stripper or use a razor blade
be larger (smaller AWG nwnber) to prevent excessive to carefu ll y score and remove the jacket.
heating and voltage drops. (See table.) The two hazards in any wire stripping are strands
that are cut completely cut through or nicked (cut part
way through). Nicked wires usually break after bend-
ing several times or are subject to vibration . When a
connection is made, loose strands of wire may touch
and short out nearby circuits.

A wire stripper, like this manual type, should have

notches to match different wire sizes. A high-quality
stripper remains sharp and has a return spring. At the
right is a semi-automatic stripper. It grips the wire as
blades cut and remove the insulation.

2 16
What To Do About Nicked or Broken Wi res



s =oo!t ____ \
BROKEN - =- --
- ,.__ __,



Acceptable W ire Damage

If you accidently nick or break a strand of wire, you may there can be two nicked strands in wires from AWG 24 to
be a ble to install it anyway by following FAA guidelines 14, so long as all other strands are in tact. Broken wires
shown above. Determine the number of strands in the are allowed in larger wires at the right, which can contain
wire (a figure usually available from the supplier, or sim- 133 strands.
ply count them). As shown in the first example, at the left,

Precut Cables
For some av ionics systems, prew ircd
cables may be supplied by the manufacturer
o r o bta ined from a company w hich special-
izes in fabricating cable ha rnesses. Some
come with connectors, o thers require the
technic ian to insta ll the connectors.
Factory precut o r prew ired cables
sho uld never be shortened or lengthened
unless the manufacturer indicates otherwise.
Some cables are supplied in several lengths- Precut cables for advanced avionics systems are Ecs
-- IO feet, 20 feet, etc. If the cable is too long, the ex- often available from suppliers.
cess is coiled up and secured. (Avoid coil ing too tig htly, Some ca bles are extrem ely sens itive to length.
as shown in the illustration.) Coaxia l cables that go to antennas for TCAS and ra-
Cable sets are often made for installatio n on a fleet dar a ltimeters, for example, a lso act as timing devices.
of ide nt ica l aircraft, rn this case, cab les are alread y c ut ff they're altered, the pilot will see targets in the wrong
to proper length . place or incorrect altitude above ground.

Splicing Wires
A large part of a technicia n's job is joi ning wires resistance from an impe rfect s plice. It lowers voltage
to connecto rs and other terminal devices. Once the con- of the w hole e lectTical system o r heats up and causes a
nector is wired, there a re requ ire ments about s pl ic ing fire hazard .
the cable to other w ires. Databus (Multiplex) cables. Increasingly, av i-
Coaxial cable. The efficiency of this cable depends o nics system s communicate w ith each other with digi-
o n precise spac ing between its outer s hie ld and inner ta l sig nals sent throug h a twisted, shie lded pair. A poor
conductor. It is di fficult to splice w ithout affecting those splice c hanges e lectrical properties an d di storts the
dimensions. shape of the signa ls.
Power wires. Heavy copper cables from the bat-
te ry, a lte rnator or starte r cannot to lerate even a sm a ll

Location of Splices





Avoid splicing a wire more than once in a segment, which An exception to "one-splice-per-segment" is shown
runs between any two terminal points, such as a con- above. If a wire is too large for the connector, splice it to
nector, terminal block or disconnect point. (There are a smaller wire. The small wire from the connector, known
certain exceptions.) Note that a splice should not be less as a "pigtail," can be crimped to a connector contact.
than 12 inches from the terminal points at either end.



Another exception is when multiple wires need to go to Each of the wires from this connector has a splice. Do
one pin on a connector. They can be spliced to a single not locate splices adjacent to each other. Stagger them
wire at the connector. to prevent overlapping, which causes bulges in the wire
bundle that might not fit into tight spaces. Bulges also
make future maintenance more difficult.


Knife splice is used for quick disconnect.

1. Two ends of the splice are shown apart.
2. The ends are angled together.
3. Push down and the splice is locked.

Ring Terminals
ZE 12 LO
( ) 22-16 #4 Red
22-16 #6 Red
= .)
22-16 #8 Red
'"--..;: 22-16 #10 Red
, ) 22-16 1/4 Red
I 22-16 5/16 Red

I 22-16 3/8 Red


16-14 #4 Blue
l•J - 16-14 #5 Blue
16-14 #8 Blue
(. - 16-14 #10 Blue
16-14 1/4 Blue
16-14 5/16 Blue
16-14 3/8 Blue
Ring terminals are color-coded according to the
12-10 #6 Yellow
range of wire sizes they accept. For example,
red takes any wire from AWG 22