The FAA Operational Loads Monitoring Program - Achievements And Problems
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION RENTON WA AIRCRAFT CERTIFICATION SERVICE
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The FAA Operational Loads Monitoring Program is now a mature program with results in many areas. This is an opportunity to review the results of this research program, and discuss some of the interesting problems encountered on the way. From the early 1960s until 1982, NASA supported operational loads data collection from Transports and General Aviation aircraft. Then, the Aloha B-737 accident in 1988 was used as a catalyst to reactivate these programs, using more modern systems to improve accuracy and reduce work load. The response from U.S. Industry to an FAA proposal to use Aging Aircraft research funds to start an FAA program ranged from positive to highly negative. This caused problems within the FAA, due to concerns about spending research funds without the full support of industry Furthermore, U.S. airline response was positive from engineering, but negative from the pilots, due to concerns about privacy and possible FAA action. Even with this difficult situation, the FAA continued to look for support and evaluate the technical issues, such as how to record and process large quantities of data without significantly impacting the airlines operation. The basic concern being addressed by the FAA is that manufacturers design airplanes using structural design criteria established by the Regulatory Authorities, and fatiguedamage tolerance loads based on assumed utilization. After an airplane is in operation, the only feedback to the Regulatory Authority and manufacturer is the number of hours flown, and the number of landings made. With only this information and, of course, the service difficulty reports, it is not sufficient to validate the design criteria or the repeated loads spectrum.
- Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods