Sagem, champion of maintenance data
The Sagem WEFA* system was certified by Boeing for the 737 in 2014, and since last February is approved for the Airbus A320 family. This acronym represents a circuit board that can connect automatically to a telephone network to transmit the data. "This card is designed to be connected to the ACMS, the maintenance support system that records all the flight data generated by the aircraft's electronics equipment," explains Philippe Arnaud, SVP Sales & Marketing at Sagem. "At the moment these data are recovered manually. A maintenance operator has to board the aircraft, extract the memory card, download the data on a computer and then load it into the ACMS: a tedious and time-consuming process that is prone to error. This new system does away with this, transmitting the data automatically as soon as the engines shut down."
Another advantage of this device is that it is easy to install. The memory card is simply replaced by the WEFA card, with a simple computer update of the ACMS making the system operational.
Simple and efficient
The WEFA card also meets stringent security criteria. The data is encrypted before transmission, so that only the airline can access the information. The card is also compatible with all telephone networks, from 2G to 4G. "On the latest models of aircraft, the quantity of data recorded for each flight has risen from a few kilobytes to several megabytes, and it can take several minutes to transmit it to the ground," explains Philippe Arnaud. "Our system can also allow for the quality of the communications link before it connects to the network, and decide whether or not to send the data." If the data are not sent, they are then stored and downloaded next time the aircraft lands.
A commercial success
With WEFA, Sagem has increased its technological expertise, now covering the whole of the maintenance data chain. For the past 25 years, Sagem has been producing ACMS for Boeing and Airbus, equipping a large number of aircraft in service around the world. Over the years, the company has developed new skills and offered new services to airlines: filtering and formatting data, checking consistency and accuracy and more recently, providing advice on maintenance, analyzing events or optimizing flight paths, with its Cassiopée software suite. "Our WEFA card has great potential: with its "plug and play" architecture, it is suitable for fitting on both new and old aircraft," notes Philippe Arnaud. The system has been on the market for two years and is already a success, with several important contracts signed, notably with IndiGo and Lufthansa. "We are currently producing about twenty cards a month, but we expect to double or triple production between now and the end of the year to meet demand," says Philippe Arnaud.
The next step for Sagem: speed up data transmission, sending in real time to the ground during the flight, with the development of high-speed satellite links. "We are working on this with Morpho (Safran) to ensure a highly secure serve for our clients, as soon as this type of solution is launched", ends Philippe Arnaud.
* WEFA: Wireless Extension For ACMS (Aircraft Condition Monitoring System)