Historically, instrumentation was functionally defined by fixed hardware, interfaces, and firmware. Each instrument, although functionally rich, was designed to perform a fixed set of functions and tasks in a division of a given industry.
The PC dramatically changed this operating paradigm. Standalone instrumentation hardware was replaced by generic hardware: PC based instrumentation boards, backplanes, buses, and interfaces; standalone instruments that talk with PCs. Functionally, a PC based instrumentation package could perform many more tasks limited only by the instruments, the interfaces, and the software. The software defined what the package could do. The software became the instrument, hence the birth of virtual instrumentation. A PC based virtual instrumentation package is no longer limited by divisions within an industry, or even by a particular industry.
For example, a specific PC based virtual instrumentation package could be programmed to test all of the systems of all of the models of all of the aircraft of all of the manufacturers of fixed and rotary winged commercial and military aircraft. This same package with different interfaces and software could be used in other industries like automobiles, electronics, ships…
SMG is seeking the following types of support for the SMG virtual instrumentation technology:
- An expressed interest in following the progress of the technology
- An endorsement of the technology
- An inclusion in a portfolio of possible venture investments
- Some level of financial investment in the development of the technology
- Procurement of the technology or some derivative of the technology for a specific application
- A demonstration project
- Angel financing to build a multi-billion$ (annual sales) Virtual Instrumentation Company driven by a billion$ (annual sales) Avionics ATE Division
Each of these support options will help to protect and control the development of the technology.
SMG has plans to leverage this support to build a multi-billion$ Virtual Instrumentation Company driven by a billion$ Avionics ATE Division.
Green EEU technologies and applications would be an important and timely component of the company’s mission, and project and product offerings.
The SMG CSMTS ATE technology widely implemented could save the commercial airline industry 5-10+ billion$ annually with a 3-5% fuel savings, and equivalent upper atmosphere pollution reduction.
This product, development and production costs included, has a payback period of 1-2 years.
The reduced insurance and accident costs due to an improved pro-active maintenance schedule and accident analysis program using this equipment have not yet been included in the costs and the benefits, and the payback period estimate.
Increased fuel costs have also not been included in this estimate.
SMG is prepared to discuss a creative, exciting, and dynamic marketing and implementation plan with seriously interested parties.
The first product to be described is for rotary winged aircraft. The product is based on the SMG Sikorsky S76 Helicopter ATE developed, built, tested, and implemented for Allied Signal Aerospace. ASA is currently owned by Honeywell Aerospace & Defense.
BILLION$ AVIONICS ATE DIVISION
Virtual instrumentation has significantly improved instrumentation in test and measurement, automation, and control by driving down costs and saving time without compromising performance. SMG system costs and development times can be as little as 25% of the costs and development times of traditional systems with increased functionality and performance.
Virtual instrumentation represents a fundamental shift from traditional hardware-centered, dedicated instrumentation systems to software-centered, generic, portable, modular PC-based instrumentation systems which capitalize on the computational, display, productivity, and connectivity capabilities of today’s personal computers.
SM develops, builds, and supports application specific instrumentation systems for clients using the following components:
- PC based hardware and software
- Industry standard IO interfaces
- Reusable plug-in modular and stand-alone instruments
- UUT specific ITA’s
- Signal conditioning accessories
- Reusable software: instrument drivers, tools, utilities, test procedures, ISCP’s
- Math, data analysis, and visualization tools
- Field testing during construction and programming
- Unique, innovative, and proprietary QC QA procedures
- Detailed, professional industry standard documentation
Based on detailed information about the internal costs of the S76 ATE project obtained from the principal client contact and project manager, and remaining known project costs, SMG estimates the current cost to design, build, test, document, QC – QA an updated version of this ATE to be 1.0-1.5 million$.
This ATE did not merely test the S76 heading hold and actuator amps; it was also a general purpose avionics test bench.
One of the programs developed for this system was an ISCP. The operator was able to set up all the instruments of the test bench for a particular set of tests and then capture that setup in a file named and described by him. The setup could often take 5-30+ minutes and was not always initially correct. Using the ISCP and without any programming experience, he could create a library of verified setups that he named and organized according to his own requirements. At a later time, he could play back any of the setups and use the ATE for the required test procedures and for capturing and analyzing the results.
A summary of the noteworthy characteristics, costs and benefits of this product follow:
- Designed, built, programmed, and tested in close collaboration with the client
- Low cost rack-mount PC based instrumentation using the latest chassis, bus, & modular instruments technology
- PC controlled standalone instrumentation via GPIB and a VXI crate
- GUI: high quality, exceptional performance
- Field tested during development
- For a specific UUT: modular instruments and ITA define the hardware configuration; actual test procedures are fully configurable in software
- Manual testing ~ 25-30 man-hours; using the SMG ATE for the test procedures ~20-25 minutes
- Unique, innovative, proprietary SMG QC – QA procedures for ATE introduced, developed, and approved by Quality experts
- Reusable software: instrument drivers; tools; utilities; test executive and procedures; ISCP libraries
- Reusable hardware: modular test bench for other automated or manual testing. Whatever the instrumentation specs permit manually can be automated, repeated, and extended
- Ability to do tests which are not possible to perform manually
- Reduced inventory of spares maintained by aircraft operators
- Reduced helicopter downtimes
- Lower maintenance costs
- Improved take-off and landing performance
- Enhanced flight efficiency, reliability, safety
- More precise accident analysis, particularly related to mechanical components and systems failures – procedures to reduce the number of malfunction accidents
- More precise, efficient, pro-active maintenance procedures
The largest markets for this product are the military, including the coast guard, the off-shore industries, and the charter & tour operators.
The next product to be described is the SMG CSMTS for Boeing Commercial Aircraft.
The CSMTS design has been completed.
The SMG CSMTS currently exists as a Microsoft Project including schematics, time, materials, tasks, schedules, and budgets.
The SMG CSMTS is based on a complete re-design of a Boeing spec for a system first built more than fifteen years ago.
The SMG design has substantially enhanced functionality and reliability over the earlier generation Boeing system. It uses the latest computer hardware, instrumentation hardware, and software development tools for this type of application.
The estimated total project cost of one SMG CSMTS including design, building, testing, documentation, and QC – QA is 1.5-2.0 million$. SMG would like to build two of these units, one for narrow body and one for wide body aircraft, at an estimated cost of 3-4 million$.
Some of the directly measurable benefits of the SMG CSMTS ATE technology based on client-project experience are:
- Reduced airplane downtimes – a conservative estimated time savings of 60-70% of the manual trim procedures: with trim adjustments the estimated manual time is 60-80 hours; without trim adjustments the estimated manual time is 8-10 hours; at least 5 people are required for the manual procedures
- Ability to do tests not possible manually
- New dynamic trimming information not available with manual procedures including dynamic correlations and time motion profiles
- Reusable hardware: generic instruments; modular test bench for manual or other ATE testing
- Reusable software: instrument drivers, tools, utilities, test executive and procedures, ISCP libraries
These estimates are to be further refined and field tested using completed SMG CSMTS ATE systems.
- Gate-to-gate fuel savings estimates ~3-5%
- Gate-to-gate pollution reduction estimates ~3-5%
- Gate-to-gate pollution reduction credits estimates ~3-5%
- Greater payloads
- Less noise
- Lower engine maintenance costs
- Improved take-off and landing performance
- Enhanced flight efficiency, reliability, safety, and comfort
- More precise accident analysis, particularly related to mechanical components, and systems failures
- Procedures to be developed to reduce the number of malfunction accidents
- More precise, efficient, and pro-active maintenance procedures
- Reduced insurance rates
- Common database of trim experience, safety, and flight optimization procedures
- Industry wide standards with common performance metrics
These benefits will enable the airline operators to enjoy a more efficient and safe operation of their fleets.
The fuel savings alone guarantee the success of this product. Added to the additional benefits of improved passenger safety and comfort, possible reductions in insurance rates, and air pollution reductions of the same relative magnitude as fuel savings, the benefits greatly exceed the costs.
The main markets for this product are the commercial airlines and airports worldwide. SMG is looking for clients for prototypes of this product. SMG is looking for the angel venture capital to build a company to capitalize on the markets outlined here.
There are more than 150 commercial airlines worldwide. One of the top 10 (United Airlines) has an annual fuel budget of 1.8 billion$ and a fleet of 217 aircraft. The potential annual fuel savings generated by the SMG CSMTS is 45-81 million$ for this airline. If four more of the largest airlines are included in this estimate, the potential annual fuel savings increases to 180-324 million$ per year. Using Boeing estimates of the current world fleet of jet aircraft – 15,877, the annual fuel savings estimate climbs to 3.3-5.9 billion$. Using Boeing estimates of the world fleet of jet aircraft by 2019 – 31,755, the annual fuel savings estimate doubles to 6.6-11.8 billion$. Fuel price increases have not been included.
SMG has contacted some of the major airlines including British Airways, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Air Canada. SMG has learned that current trim procedures are manual, mechanical, and not total systems based. This surprising discovery is supported with a high degree of probability for the whole Boeing fleet of aircraft by a review of the 777 manuals that detail only manual trim procedures.
An important component of the SMG marketing strategy will be an analysis of the databases of commercial airline crashes. This analysis will provide the airline industry with procedures to reduce the number of accidents caused by malfunctions.
There are more than 8,500 airports in the world. With improved safety as a major benefit, a large number of these airports will become customers for the SMG CSMTS, with more than one set of ATE fixtures and software for the makes and models of aircraft that use the airport. There will be more than one version of the SMG CSMTS defined by the actual tests and trim procedures to be performed in between flights, overnight and during scheduled MRO service. The number and type of SMG CSMTS ATE’s at any airport will be determined statistically by the maximum number of airplanes unloading – loading at any given time that require CSMTS services – an important systems engineering design parameter.
Another significant market is business jets, where a critical operating parameter is range that is increased proportionately with fuel efficiency.
Independent aircraft repair and overhaul operations, as well as courier companies, are markets whose size is yet to be determined.