U.S.

February 13, 2014

AF to replace aviator locator beacons

Staff Sgt. David Salanitri
Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location - P

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force will replace thousands of unreliable aircraft personnel locator beacons across the fleet, a service official said Jan. 16, here.

Locator beacons are an automated method used to locate an aviator should he or she eject or egress in peacetime flights, said Col. Aaron Clark, the Global Power Programs Directorate deputy director for Air Force acquisitions.

During the past three years, a steady trend of increasing failures in the URT-44 personnel locator beacon occurred during ejections. The beacons were purchased between January 2009 and August 2010, in order to communicate with a new satellite operating frequency.

According to Clark, when the beacon turns on, it sends a signal to a satellite. That signal is then used by rescue crews to locate the downed aviator.  Since the beacon broadcasts a signal, it is normally not used during wartime operations.

In 2011, a small number of ejections took place with service aircraft, Clark said. When beacon failures happened during those ejections, the cause was mainly attributed to human error and a manufacturer defect.

“We issued additional maintenance instructions to inspect and repair a couple possible problems to make sure the system was installed and prepared to operate properly,” Clark said.

In 2012, more ejections occurred, with the failure rate rising higher.

Problems included antenna issues, battery reliability and other electrical component problems, he said.

“The beacon is not as reliable as we need it to be,” he said.  “Right now, we are seeing an observed reliability of about 55 percent.”

A series of beacon tests were performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio last year. The test, called a highly accelerated lifecycle test, runs the entire URT-44 system through the most extreme scenarios and environments it could see during an ejection sequence.

The results of this test confirmed the beacon needs to be replaced fleetwide.

“They had a 100 percent failure rate,” Clark said. “That showed us the system is not what we want to have in our aircraft.”

The plan to replace the beacon has two phases, he said.

Phase one has begun and will replace 3,900 beacons on all aircraft with ejection seats by 2015, costing the Air Force approximately $15 million, of which $6 million is in place. The Air Force is currently working to identify funding sources for the remaining $9 million, Clark said. The second phase will complete a fleetwide replacement and cost approximately $40 million.

Though the beacon is one way personnel recovery teams find aircrew members, it is by no means the only way.

“As far as locating the isolated personnel, there’s a wide gamut of techniques out there that range from electronic to visual means,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Hogan, the 23rd Wing director of staff and an A-10C Thunderbolt II combat search and rescue pilot. “We have a device called a ‘quick draw,’ which, with certain survival radios, we can actually send text messages (to an isolated crew member).”

Some aircraft are equipped with direction finding capabilities that tune to the isolated person’s frequency, further pinpointing the Airman’s exact location.

Additionally, aviators have satellite communication radios on hand, which send their coordinates directly to the combined air and space operations center, but sometimes the most effective method for locating a downed aircrew isn’t technology-based at all, Hogan explained.

Since no single piece of equipment alone will be an aviator’s saving grace, survival kits are packed with redundancies and multi-use tools for worst-case scenarios. For instance, a kit may be equipped with more than one radio with similar capabilities or multiple flares.

While all of these mechanisms and tools are important, they don’t trump the most important, according to one aircrew member — the wingman.

“I know there are lots of alternate means that could be used to find where I was,” said Maj. Robert Volesky, who served as a flight test engineer on 31 different types of aircraft.

Though the beacon is not working properly, he said it would not keep him from doing his job.

“I’d have no problem flying right now,” Volesky said. “Our search and rescue teams are true professionals. I know if something were to happen, they could find me anywhere.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant)

AFSOUTH Liaison Officers: Embarking on a journey toward a promising future

Colonel Alex Voigt has only been serving as the Air Forces Southern Chilean Liaison Officer at Davis-Monthan for a couple of months, but with a history of Chilean LNOs reaching the rank of general and one even going on to serve...
 
 

D-M commander mixes it up with ‘The Morning Blend’

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey) U.S. Air Force Col. James P. Meger, 355th Fighter Wing commander, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., talks with TV hosts, Tina Jennings and Maria Parmigiani, during a live recording of “The Morning Blend” at KGUN9 Studio, Tucson, Nov. 24. Meger went on the show to...
 
 

Let’s talk turkey: Prepare the perfect bird this holiday season

Whether having a big group over to share the Thanksgiving festivities or it’s just you and the Family, the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving table is the turkey. Guests will graze around the appetizer table careful not to fill their bellies in anticipation of the plump, juicy turkey and all the fixin’s. Most people aren’t world-renowned...
 

 
DoD

New allotment rule protects troops from lending scams

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed a policy change in new paycheck allotments to prevent unscrupulous commercial lenders from taking advantage of troops and their families, Pentagon officials said Nov. 21. According to a Defense Department news release, effective Jan. 1, 2015, the change in DOD’s financial management regulation will prohibit service...
 
 

Officials highlight health, wellness resources for Military Families

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 – As efforts continue to strengthen service members and their families, Pentagon officials held a Bloggers Roundtable to highlight the myriad resources available to tackle the unique military and transitional challenges those who serve may face. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Freitas Williams, Marine Corps...
 
 

Thanksgiving and our Native Americans

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On the fourth Thursday of every November, we as Americans celebrate the national holiday Thanksgiving. This day focuses on honoring the early settlers, and their harvest feast, which we know to be the “First Thanksgiving.” However, long before settlers came to the United States’ East Coast, the area was inhabited by...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin