Crane high-tech gear units, wireless tire gauges on show

Dubai Air Show » 2009
November 12, 2009, 7:43 PM

Crane Aerospace & Electronics (Stand C310) has opened an office in Dubai to serve its Middle Eastern and African customers, and is here at the Dubai Airshow highlighting several new modernization and upgrade products, including its enhanced landing gear control and interface unit (LGCIU) for the Airbus A320 series.

The LGCIU is planned as a standard fit on new-build aircraft and will be available for interchangeable retrofit on earlier models in the first quarter of 2010, following certification that is expected soon. Developed with Airbus, the unit senses the position of landing gear, landing gear and cargo doors and flap-disconnect, and transmits the data to flight warning, central maintenance and other systems. According to the company, it is lighter, more accurate and up to 10 times more reliable than the previous LGCIU, with substantially lower operating costs.

Crane also is demonstrating its wireless SmartStem tire-pressure indicator, which will sense and communicate pressure, temperature and other stored information to an on-board control unit or a handheld reader for analysis. The system is incorporated in the company’s tire- and brake-monitoring system (TBMS) on Boeing 777s built since May 2007 and is being developed for the Boeing 787’s brake control and monitoring system (BCMS).

Last year, Cessna chose the unit for aftermarket installations on most if its Citations; it has been STC’d for the Sovereign and Citation X. And at last month’s U.S. National Business Aviation Association Convention, Crane announced a letter of intent with Duncan Aviation for the latter to support acquisition of supplemental type certificates covering other business jets. The company hopes to have SmartStem approved for about six other Citation models and could announce its application on a different business jet types in the next several months.

Crane also is displaying titanium proximity sensors for the A320 and Boeing 737, brake control systems for 737 carbon brakes, a new lithium-ion battery and charger, and the 777 brake monitoring system.

A spokesman told AIN that the company’s 787 BCMS is cleared for first flight and it is working with GE Aviation and Boeing to support the certification process, but it declined to say whether work to revise the software has been completed. The BCMS provides anti-skid protection and automatic brake-pressure application with pilot-selectable rates of deceleration, which is standard on all current Boeing jetliners.

Earlier this year, Boeing decided to modify the 787’s landing gear, to allow quick turnarounds after a “high-energy” landing. They concluded it is necessary to reduce high temperatures that build up in parts of the undercarriage, particularly the brakes. The solution appears to be repositioning the remote data-concentrator (RDC) units that send information to the 787’s common core system to reduce their exposure to heat. Meanwhile, Boeing said cooling fans may be used to lower landing-gear temperatures before departures.

Boeing and RDC-supplier GE Aviation have devised an improvement that required a change to the Crane-developed BCMS software. The new setup is expected to be introduced on production airframes in about a year as 787 manufacture increases.
Crane offered no further update on the status of the software or when the system will be introduced. According to Boeing, it will certify a revised system after the 787 enters service and it will be standard on production airplanes after that and available for retrofit.

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