Airway Transportation System Specialist (ATSS) Performance Improvement On Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Flight Inspection Process

 

Airway Transportation System Specialist (ATSS) Performance Improvement

On Instrument Landing Systems (ILS)

Donna Betz

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

 

The FAA is having difficulties with Airway Transportation System Specialists (ATSS) proficiency due to reliability of the equipment and reduced maintenance activity on ILS systems. It has been highlighted by the National Airspace System Technical Evaluation Program (NASTEP) and the Vice President of Technical Operations that ATSS proficiency needs to be addressed. One solution to the proficiency issue is web based training as just-in-time training for different aspects of the ATSS’s job. 

Course Content

Course Introduction

Airway Transportation System Specialist (ATSS) Performance Improvement

On Instrument Landing Systems (ILS)

Donna Betz

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

 

The FAA is having difficulties with Airway Transportation System Specialists (ATSS) proficiency due to reliability of the equipment and reduced maintenance activity on ILS systems. It has been highlighted by the National Airspace System Technical Evaluation Program (NASTEP) and the Vice President of Technical Operations that ATSS proficiency needs to be addressed. One solution to the proficiency issue is web based training as just-in-time training for different aspects of the ATSS’s job. 

Course Objectives

•Given information on pre-flight inspection requirements the ATSS will be able to answer questions regarding the performance of pre-flight inspection maintenance checks, associated coordination and correct logging of events.

•Given information on flight inspection requirements the ATSS will be able to answer questions regarding the performance of flight inspection adjustments requested by flight inspectors, associated coordination and correct logging of events. 

•Given information on post-flight inspection requirements the ATSS will be able to answer questions regarding the performance post-flight inspection maintenance checks, associated coordination and correct logging of events.

•Successful completion of 80% of the questions is required.

Course Modules

There will be four modules in this course.

•Introduction

•Pre-Flight Inspection

•Flight Inspection

•Post-Flight Inspection

You will have the a pre-test of the entire course at the end of the introduction module. This will give you an idea of the areas you need to brush up on.  A passing score of 80% is required to fullfil the course requirements.

Introduction to the Flight Inspection Process

Why was this course developed?

The FAA is having difficulties with Airway Transportation System Specialists (ATSS) proficiency due to reliability of the equipment and reduced maintenance activity on ILS systems. It has been highlighted by the National Airspace System Technical Evaluation Program (NASTEP) and the Vice President of Technical Operations that ATSS proficiency needs to be addressed. One solution to the proficiency issue is web based training as just-in-time training for different aspects of the ATSS’s job. 

ATSS Proficiency

Flight checks of equipment are performed on a regular schedule in which every time they are evaluated it is required that the ATSS make adjustments to the system. This is a flight check with monitors and occurs every eighteen months on each system. One ATSS may be responsible for one to several systems. However, for those that have only one system, they are only performing a flight check with monitors every 18 months. It would be a sensible idea to institute some just-in-time training to keep the ATSS proficient on all of the requirements of pre-flight inspection, flight inspection and post flight inspection for the equipment as well as for coordination and logging of events. 

Flight Inspection (FI)

ILS facilities have performance characteristics that can only be measured or validated by airborne measurements. The FAA maintains a fleet of flight inspection aircraft, specially equipped with high quality avionics equipment and position-determining systems, to make these measurements. Most flight inspection activities occur on a periodic basis throughout the lifetime of a facility. The FAA also performs commissioning and special flight inspections (FAA, General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities, 2016).

Flight inspection is performed on a periodic basis, the period of inspection based on system-wide discrepancy rates. The facility monitor is checked during every periodic inspection (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015).

The purpose of the Flight Inspection program is to measure the ILS signal in space, provide correlated ground and airborne data at commissioning and on a periodic basis, and to determine system performance based on a traceable measurement standard. Flight inspection data is useful in determining facility deterioration and the necessity for facility upgrading to improve performance (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015).

ILS Flight Inspection Profiles Video

ILS Flight Inspection Profiles Video

(Flight Inspection Services, 2014)

Coordination and Logging

During navigation facility flight inspections, if adjustments necessitating an outage are required, maintenance personnel must coordinate with the appropriate Control Center, which will coordinate NOTAM initiation  (FAA, General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities, 2016).

Logging of events must be accomplished in accordance with the General Maintenance Handbook. If Hazardously Misleading Information (HMI) will be radiated during any portion of the flight inspection activities, to include pre and post checks, ensure the proper logging and coordination are performed.

Resources

•8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM). 

•FAA. (2015, April 1). JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities. 

•FAA. (2016, April 11). General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities. 

 

Flight Inspection Process Pre-Test

In the next section you will answer 10 questions that cover Pre-Flight Inspection, Flight Inspection and Post Flight Inspection. The test will cover preparation, coordination, maintenance tasks, and logging.

A score of 80% is required to pass the course. This will identify areas where you need to review.

Flight Inspection Process Pre-Test

True or False

  • The purpose of a reference flight inspection is to adjust the monitors.

Choose the correct answer(s). Where are the flight inspection checklists located?

  • 6000.15
  • 6750.49
  • 8200.1
  • Facility Reference Data

Choose the correct answer(s). Which of the following maintenance tasks may generate Hazardously Misleading Information (HMI)?

  • Check antenna system phasing
  • Perform normal ground check
  • Measure modulation
  • Measure power levels

True or False

  • The monitor can be adjusted following flight inspection as long as ground parameters corresponding to flown limits are well documented.

Choose the correct answer(s). Personnel must document the following:

  • Flight Inspection as a maintenance activity
  • Any discrepancies found during flight inspection
  • The weather conditions at the time of flight inspection
  • Removal of the facility from service by flight inspection

True or False

  • If measurements do not agree, the measurements of flight inspection must govern.

Choose the correct answer(s). When are new reference values established?

  • Following every flight inspection
  • Only at commissioning
  • When equipment parameters were changed beyond established reference values
  • When monitors are adjusted

Choose the correct answer(s). Post flight inspection maintenance tasks shall be accomplished within:

  • 5 days
  • 2 hours
  • 8 hours
  • 2 days

True or false

  • Flight inspection worksheets shall be retained until the next flight inspection.

True or False

  • The monitors should be optimized during flight inspection.

Pre-Flight Inspection

Pre Flight Inspection Preparation

Monitors flight inspections, subsequent to reference flight inspections, shall verify the reference values (radiated signal parameters) that were established during the reference flight inspection. These reference values, such as sideband power and system phasing, shall not be changed routinely in preparation for, or during, any subsequent flight inspection. All adjustments during a flight inspection shall be made to the radiated signal parameters without regard to the monitor indications (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015). 

Ensure all of your test equipment has current calibration stickers and is operating properly. Make sure your radio used for communicating with flight check is operable. Ensure you have all of the facility documentation available. In particular, FAA Forms 6750-3 and 6750-4, localizer and glide slope flight inspection data worksheets, should be on hand. A calculator is necessary for efficient adjustments of sideband power. The airborne tolerances section of the maintenance order and any previously established flight inspection reference limits as documented on FAA forms should also be readily available (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015).

Single-Frequency Localizer Checklist

Checklists are available in the ILS Maintenance order 6750.49 (2015) that are intended to expedite communications and make flight time more effective. An example of a single-frequency localizer checklist is below. Have the checklist available. 

Coordination

During facility pre flight inspection activities, if adjustments necessitating an outage are required, maintenance personnel must coordinate with the appropriate Control Center, which will coordinate NOTAM initiation (FAA, General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities, 2016). 

Maintenance Tasks

The maintenance tasks that are required to be done prior to flight inspection must be accomplished well in advance of the arrival of the flight check aircraft. These checks can be done as far in advance as 5 days so plan accordingly (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015).  Perform the applicable tasks in accordance with the maintenance handbook. The required tasks and references are on the following page.

 (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015)

Logging

Maintenance personnel must document pre-flight inspection maintenance activities using the proper logging methods outlined in Order 6000.15 and applicable SOPs (FAA, General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities, 2016). 

True or False

  • An outage to perform pre-flight inspection maintenance activities is not required.

Choose the correct answer(s). How far in advance can pre-flight inspection maintenance be accomplished?

  • 24 hours
  • 8 hours
  • 2 days
  • 5 days

True or False

  • All adjustments during a flight inspection shall be made to the radiated signal.

Choose the correct answer(s). The following items should be on hand during a flight inspection.

  • Previous flight inspection references
  • Calibrated test equipment
  • Order 8200.1
  • Calculator

True or False

  • The purpose of a reference flight inspection is to adjust the monitors.

Flight Inspection

Flight Inspection Preparation

All preparations for FI should have been made during your pre-flight inspection activities. The day of flight inspection, plan to be at the facility well in advance so that you are ready for the flight check when the flight inspection crew arrives.

Since it is undesirable to require a flight inspection should either the radiating or monitoring half of the system fail, it is necessary that the limits of the radiated, rather than monitored, signal be documented. This means that the monitor does not need to be optimized, adjusted, or centered during the flight inspection due to changes resulting from the flight inspection. It may be adjusted for these conditions after the flight inspection, as long as the ground parameters corresponding to the flown limits are well documented and used to set the monitor (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015).

Flight Inspection Tasks

Maintenance personnel at the facility during flight inspection must correct any observed discrepancy immediately, when possible. It is not necessary for maintenance personnel to adjust parameters found in tolerance. Avoid over-optimizing parameters or establishing revised references based on parameters found acceptable by flight inspection but not necessarily at their optimum values. This will prevent unwarranted "following" of facility parameters (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015). 

When making corrective adjustments to radiated parameters, use every resource available to predict and produce the precise change requested or needed. Avoid “tweaking” the amount of adjustment (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015). Use the following formulas:

There are several locally developed spreadsheets to assist in these calculations.

Using the FI checklists, anticipate and be ready for the next adjustment. Many times, FI has a very short window to accomplish their runs. No adjustment should take more than 60 seconds. Always notify FI personnel as soon as your have completed the adjustment and get their acknowledgement. Measure and record all readings on the FI worksheet during the runs. Ensure all required data has been obtained before the flight inspection crew departs (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015).

Be sure to review the adjustments that may be required by flight inspection in the maintenance order.

Discrepancies corrected during flight inspection will be included in the flight inspection report. When it is impossible to correct a discrepancy while the flight inspection is in progress, maintenance personnel must inform flight inspection personnel and take action to correct the discrepancy as soon as possible. Immediately following correction, maintenance personnel must request another flight inspection if appropriate. Flight inspection personnel must document the discrepancies noted during the flight inspection in the associated flight inspection report (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015). 

Occasionally it is necessary to make equipment adjustments that may appear to be abnormal on the basis of previous operational adjustments, or that may exceed tolerances. The need for such adjustments may be due to maladjustment elsewhere in the ground equipment, a change in terrain or multi-path environments, defective airborne equipment, radio frequency interference, or other factors (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015).

ATSSs must observe equipment performance during the flight inspection and be aware when parameters exceed tolerances or abnormal adjustments are required to satisfy flight inspection. 

If measurements made with approved test equipment do not agree with the measurements reported by flight inspection personnel, you should advise flight inspection personnel and request them to repeat their measurements. If you cannot attain agreeable measurements, unless stated otherwise in the handbook, the flight inspection measurements must govern, and maintenance personnel must report the discrepancy to the Manager (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015). 

When it is necessary to exceed equipment tolerances to meet flight inspection requirements, maintenance personnel must notify their manager immediately. The manager must determine whether the variance is sufficiently severe to require immediate investigation or whether you can defer investigating (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015). 

If you cannot make this determination prior to departure of the flight inspection aircraft, the system, subsystem, or equipment may remain in service, provided the following:

(a) The performance is stable to the extent that operation is reliable.

(b) Flight inspection personnel concur in the continued operation.

(c) The maximum rating or manufacturers specification; e.g., power output, temperature, etc. of equipment is not exceeded.

(8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015)

Logging

Maintenance personnel must document flight inspections if on-site personnel are involved or notified of a discrepancy.

a. Document flight inspections as a maintenance activity.

b. Documentation must include any discrepancies noted.

c. Flight inspection activities that require the removal of a facility/service from operation require additional documentation of the interruption as required.

d. Other activities performed during a flight inspection event may also require documentation. These may include site visit, periodic maintenance, corrective maintenance, and certification (FAA, General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities, 2016). 

True or False

  • Parameters should be optimized during flight inspection.

Choose the correct answer(s). Your manager must be contacted immediately for the following reasons:

  • Flight inspection measurements do not agree with approved test equipment measurements.
  • Flight inspection has been cancelled.
  • Flight inspection requires adjustment of equipment that exceeds tolerances.

True or False

  • If measurements made with approved test equipment do not agree with measurements reported by flight inspection you should advise them to repeat their measurements.

True or False

  • Maintenance personnel should correct deficiencies immediately when possible. This includes parameters found in tolerance but not at optimum values.

Choose the correct answer(s). During flight inspection maintenance personnel should:

  • Use flight inspection checklists to anticipate the next adjustment.
  • Notify flight inspection when you have completed an adjustment.
  • Measure and record all readings between the runs.
  • Ensure required data has been obtained before the flight inspection crew departs.

Post-Flight Inspection

Post Flight Inspection Preparation

After flight inspection personnel depart, the monitor shall be adjusted for proper action when the radiated signal exceeds the established reference values previously verified during the monitors flight inspection. If flight inspection personnel find a facility nearly out of tolerance, at the ATSS judgment, new tighter reference values may be established. When either of these occurs, a thorough investigation shall be made to determine why the reference values required changing (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015).

Post-Flight Inspection Activities

During or upon completion of the flight inspection, maintenance personnel must accomplish the following actions:

(1) Record meter readings or other data affected by adjustment, correction, or equipment change.

(2) Make available to flight inspection personnel all pertinent equipment parameters needed to complete the flight inspection report, such as transmitter power, or receiver sensitivity.

(3) Discuss with flight inspection personnel any problems encountered during the flight inspection.

(4) Notify the appropriate Control Center of unexpected results in the status of the facility or its procedural uses (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015). 

Order 8200.1 (2015) provides that during periodic and certain special flight inspections, flight inspectors will not request adjustment to a facility that is operating within prescribed tolerances. However, operation within prescribed flight inspection tolerances does not imply that the facility parameters are at the center of their allowable range. It is very important that maintenance personnel avoid re-centering the system monitor(s) or establishing revised references based on normal parameters found acceptable by flight inspection but not necessarily at their optimum values (8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM), 2015). 

If equipment parameters were changed beyond the established reference values, new reference values for the affected parameters shall be established. If no parameters were changed, updating reference values or ground checks are not required.

The equipment shall not be returned to service before measuring and recording all parameters and all readings should be made as soon as possible and no more than 8 hours following the flight inspection.

The flight inspection worksheet shall be retained until the facility is decommissioned (FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015).

Post-Flight Inspection Maintenance Tasks

The following are the required post-flight inspection maintenance tasks. 

(FAA, JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities, 2015)

Logging and Coordination

Maintenance personnel must document flight inspections as a maintenance activity in accordance with the maintenance order and the General Maintenance Handbook. The facility must be certified prior to returning to service following a flight inspection with monitors. The return to service shall be coordinated with the servicing OCC. (FAA, General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities, 2016). 

True or False

  • Monitors should be adjusted during post flight inspection activities when equipment adjustments were made during flight inspection.

True or False

  • If reference values change, a thorough investigation to determine the cause should be conducted.

Choose the correct answer(s). The following maintenance tasks shall be performed following a flight inspection where references have changed.

  • Reference Ground Check
  • Update Monitor references
  • Adjust Power Levels
  • Establish new Technical Performance Records

True or False

  • The facility does not have to be certified following a flight inspection.

Choose the correct answer(s). Post flight inspection maintenance tasks shall be accomplished within:

  • 5 days
  • 2 hours
  • 8 hours
  • 2 days

Course Completion

References

8200.1D - US Standard Flight Inspection Manual (USSFIM). (2015, April 15). Retrieved from MyFAA - Tools and Resources: https://employees.faa.gov/tools_resources/orders_notices/index.cfm/go/document.information/documentID/1027073

Driscoll, M. (2002). Web-Based Training: Creating e-Learning experinces. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

FAA. (2015, April 1). JO 6750.49A Maintenance of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Facilities. Retrieved from employees.faa.gov: https://employees.faa.gov/tools_resources/orders_notices/index.cfm/go/document.information/documentID/4859

FAA. (2016, April 11). General Maintenance Handbook for NAS Facilities. Retrieved from employees.faa.gov: https://employees.faa.gov/org/linebusiness/ato/operations/technical_operations/ajw1/nas_support/nas_policy/6000.15/order_chg1.pdf

Flight Inspection Services, F. (2014, June 27). ILS Flight Inspection Profiles. Retrieved from www.youtube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dozGlXeX0xA

Course Completion

  • You received a score of 80% or better on all modules.
  • You did not receive a score of 80% or better on all modules.