The attitude indicator (AI), also known as the artificial horizon, is an important flight instrument found in every aircraft. The AI helps the pilot maintain awareness of the aircraft’s position relative to the Earth’s horizon. It is particularly useful in times of inclement weather or other instrument meteorological conditions - conditions which require pilots to fly primarily or completely by the use of their instruments because of lack of visibility.

Inside the instrument is a spinning gyroscope, or gyro, that remains in the horizontal plane through precession with a pendulum mounted on the underside of the gyro. The center of gravity of the gyro and pendulum sits below the suspension points ensuring it stays upright and is able to stay in the horizontal plane. To better orient itself in regard to the direction of gravity, the attitude indicator has tiny pendulums on the rotor causing it to cover small air holes leading air to either be allowed or prevented to leave from the hole depending on the direction of gravity.  Despite this, the instrument can develop inaccuracies in pitch and bank over extended periods of acceleration, deceleration, or turns. This is because the instrument is not able to account for the curvature of the earth.

AI are prone to two different errors - acceleration and turning error. Both of these occur for the same reason: pendulosity to a false vertical. When an aircraft turns and accelerates, the gyro moves to the right. This will appear on the instrument as a climbing right turn. During deceleration, it has the opposite effect, appearing as a leftward descension. Higher performance aircraft will see this effect more severely because of their far greater power and acceleration capabilities.

The attitude indicator plays a vital role in any aircraft, and Complete Sourcing Solutions can help you find the right one for your aircraft. At Complete Sourcing Solutions, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can provide all the unique parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-503-374-0340.

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Even the tiniest malfunction or failure in an aircraft’s window structure can be dangerous for the passengers and crew of the aircraft. Therefore, aircraft windows are just as tightly regulated as the rest of the airframe. The Federal Aviation Administration’s Advisory Circular 25.775-1 states that aircraft windows must undergo the same level of strength and resilience testing as other parts of the fuselage, like the wings and engines.

Windows are tested exhaustively against every possible threat they can face. Bird-strikes, for example, are a common concern during takeoff and landing, when the aircraft is operating at the same altitudes that birds fly at. The famous Miracle on the Hudson, US Airways Flight 1549, occurred when a flock of geese struck the aircraft and damaged its engines, for instance. Therefore, aircraft windows are tested thoroughly against the possibility of a bird-strike, with simulated tests conducted on the ground long before the design is ever certified for operations.

Windows must also be tested against chemicals, to ensure that their strength and integrity will not be compromised by exposure. De-icing fluid, hydraulic fluid, jet fuel, gas fumes, and more are all fluids that need to be tested against to guarantee that the window can resist them. Their frames must also be resistant to erosion and rust.

Most aircraft windows in the passenger cabin are made with a double layer. This is to ensure that if something compromises the outer window during the flight, the inner layer can withstand the pressure and environment outside. Windshields are fastened in place with bolts or with a clamping system, with the fastener used dependent on the manufacturer.

The average aircraft window has a lifespan of roughly ten years. Sometimes, a window will be changed due to cracks, deformation, or other forms of damage, with the pilots of the aircraft having a great deal of say whether the deck windshields should be changed or not. After all, they’re the ones sitting behind it!

At Complete Sourcing Solutions, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the aircraft window parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the aircraft parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-503-374-0340.

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Microcontrollers are electronic devices that are part of the microcomputer family. Fabricated with VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) technology, microcontrollers are available in 4 bit, 8 bit, and all the way up to 64 and 128 bit options. Microcontrollers can be found in almost every electronic application imaginable, ranging from home applications to traffic lights, from office tools to children’s toys.

A microcontroller is comprised of several parts. They are as follows:

  • The CPU: The CPU (Central processing unit) operates in a word length ranging from 4-bit to 64-bit or higher. The CPU fetches, decodes, and executes instructions that it receives from other parts of the computer.
  • Memory: Microcontrollers feature storage space for several different types of memory depending on the needs and usage of the microcontroller. Typical types of memory used in microcontrollers include RAM (Random Access Memory), ROM (Read Only Memory), EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory) and EEPROM (Editable Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory). Memory also allocates a certain amount of flash memory to store program source code.
  • Timers and counters: Constituent parts of a microcontroller used in operations where modulation, clock functions, and frequency generation are important.
  • Analog to digital converters (ADCs): Converters are used when converting the output of an analog signal into a digital format. A common application of this technology is in sound equipment, specifically in microphones and other pieces of equipment that pick up and measure audio signals.
  • Digital to analog converters (DACs): The inverse of an ADC, a digital-to-analog converter turns digital signals into analog ones, which can be used to control analog equipment motors, speakers, and thermostats.

The greatest strength of microcontrollers is that they mount all their integral parts on a single chip. This design makes microcontrollers more compact, easy to install and maintain, and makes them cheaper as well. However, microcontrollers also have a relatively complex architecture, and they are not suitable for interfacing directly with high power devices.

At Complete Sourcing Solutions, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the microcontroller systems and parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-503-374-0340.

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Aircraft longevity is crucial to the aerospace industry. Even though maintenance may seem daunting, pilots should be paying close attention to flight hours and overall operations to keep the plane running for the unforeseeable future. In this article, we will be covering important steps of maintenance.

The annual inspection is the most obvious but also most important to plane health. An authorized mechanic once a year will perform essentially an overhaul on an aircraft. They will conduct a detailed inspection from the seats, to the interior panels and trim, to the engine will be inspected and checked for signs of damage, fixed, and reassembled. Once put back together, the plan will be taken for a test flight and correctly certified to operate for at least another year.

Oil changes are just as important on planes as they are on cars. Each different type of aircraft has a specific oil and time frame. Light aircraft such as Cessna Aircraft, Piper, or Cirrus need their oil changed every 50 hours of operation, on ground or in the air. Maintenance is key, especially oil maintenance, for an aircraft when you consider that it performs at its highest capacities of temperature and pressure every time it flies.

Airplanes that are specifically used at a flight school or commercial establishment have to undergo the hundred-hour-inspection. This inspection runs the same procedures as the annual inspection. The only difference is who authorizes of the paperwork. In an annual inspection a certified individual holding an Inspection Authorization must sign off, whereas any mechanic can perform the hundred-hour inspection.

For an aircraft or any part that encounters an immediate issue that requires attention, an Airworthiness Directive, or AD, is issued. An AD has a specific time frame or operating hours attached to it where the maintenance needs to be completed by that time. If the maintenance is not completed by this deadline, the aircraft will be grounded until the AD is followed, per the FAA. If a problem is not deemed an emergency, the manufacturer will issue a Service Bulletin, or SB. The nomenclature of an SB is the same as an AD; however, the main difference is the FAA enforces the AD. A SB is more of a suggestion by the manufacturer so there are no legal repercussions if a customer does not comply. The SB usually is a precursor to the AD.

Since it is a very rigorous inspection and maintenance processes there are different inspection levels labeled A, B, C, D checks. The A check is the quickest inspection. The inspection usually takes 1 day, taking that aircraft out of service for a day. It occurs every 500 hours, 250 flights, or the agreed schedule that the FAA has approved.

The B check is required every 6 months. It can take anywhere from one to three days. Some airlines use a progressive inspection program, which allows them to add items from B checks into the A check inspection to save time out of operations.

The C check is essentially the same as an annual check and covers the same bases but occurs every 2 years since the A and B checks are more frequent. They take a week to complete and is more thorough than the previous checks. It often allows the airline to upgrade their interior with new entertainment and seating systems.

The D check is also known as the heavy check and is the most extensive out of all 4 checks. This occurs once every 10 years and will remove the aircraft from service for months. An aircraft can only take a few heavy checks in its lifetime, before being scrapped for parts. This is a full investigation of the whole aircraft, down to the paint.

At Complete Sourcing Solutions, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find all the unique parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-503-374-0340.

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Aircraft communication systems, navigation components, and data devices all rely on the functioning capabilities of antennae. Without the existence of antennas, aircraft would have a much harder time functioning. Modern aircraft such as the Boeing 787 are constructed with more than 20 antennae that extend from the fuselage, cockpit, wings, and tail. Aircraft are becoming more interconnected with advancements in technology, specifically, antennas.

With antennas being located on the exterior of the aircraft, they are more susceptible to wear and tear. Antenna repair and maintenance is critical to the successful operation of an aircraft. These repairs fall into three different categories: electrical, mechanical, and cosmetic repair. Electronic repairs involve a failed device that may have been removed during a troubleshooting sequence. An antenna is deemed functional by measuring how much power is radiating off the device. Mechanical failures occur when the antenna is bumped or strikes another object.

These objects can include trolleys, ground servicing equipment, lifts, and even birds. These bumps lead to cracks in the fasteners of the antenna, or the antenna itself. Repairing this type of damage may involve physically intervening in the structure of the antenna, potentially affecting its efficiency. If this occurs, an anechoic chamber can be used for testing; a costly and time-consuming process. In comparison, cosmetic damage is when the antenna suffers chipped paint or discoloration.

Cosmetic damage is common in antennas. As the aircraft is in flight, ice and water from the slipstream have a high probability of causing corrosion. The paint used on antennas must be extremely calibrated and specialized. Lightning strikes are another type of external damage an antenna may face. The harsh environment that these antennae are exposed to becomes an issue.

Antennas also provide satellite communications, marker beacons, weather radars, radio navigation technology, and many more functions. The aforementioned Boeing 787 features antennas for its landing instruments, air traffic control, traffic collision avoidance systems, and many other functions. Proper maintenance and routine inspections should be practiced ensuring its longevity.

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The complexity of aircraft hydraulic systems depends heavily on the functions it needs to perform. In smaller planes, hydraulics are used to operate constant-speed propellers, landing gear, and wheel brakes. On larger planes, the systems tend to be more complex as they are used to operate flight control surfaces, spoilers, wing flaps, brakes, and other flight critical functionality. The principles of hydraulics are based on Pascal’s law—pressure exerted anywhere in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted equally, in all directions throughout the fluid, such that the pressure ratio remains constant.

Let’s explore how hydraulic systems work. Hydraulic fluid is first pumped from a reservoir by an electric, or engine operated pump. It runs through a filter to keep the fluid clean, and then passes through a selector valve to relieve pressure. Once it reaches the actuator, the pressurized fluid power is converted into work by the actuators’ piston. The actuator can be single or double acting depending on the requirements of the system. The piston reacts and is able to control aircraft systems, brakes, flight controls, and many other operations. Actuators are the main moving parts in hydraulics; a vital component contributing to overall functioning capabilities.

A hydraulic actuator consists of a cylinder, or fluid motor, that utilizes hydraulic power to facilitate mechanical operation. It gives an output in terms of linear, oscillatory, or rotary motion. An actuator can exert a considerable amount of force since liquids are nearly impossible compress entirely. It consists of a hollow cylindrical tube on which a piston can slide. Some actuators are single acting, meaning fluid pressure is applied to just one side of the piston, causing it to move in one direction. There are also double acting actuators. This term is used when pressure is applied to both sides of the piston; a difference in pressure between the two sides causes the piston to move in the more pressurized direction. Actuators can come in different sizes and shapes depending on the size/weight of the object it needs to move.

Hydraulics have the ability to deliver a great deal of power without occupying too much space or weight. They can be operated quickly, relied on, and are easy to maintain. They do not need electricity to function, which means the chance of a fire hazard are very low, making them a safer option than other systems. Yet, perhaps the main advantage they offer is that they can handle an immense workload, which is invaluable in today’s aerospace engineering.

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When we think about being in a comfortable space, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not an aircraft cabin. Most people who fly economy class feel cramped and after a long flight, passengers are often tired and achy. Airlines have sacrificed passenger comfort throughout the years in order to save on costs and fit more seats. With heavy materials and the related fuel consumption, the design has often been centered around savings and maximizing profits. However, making aircraft comfortable for passengers is becoming increasingly economical as technology rapidly develops and consequently increases an aircraft's efficiency. 

The more an airline can save on the vast array of costs associated with flying, the more they can invest in cabins that increase comfort. Innovative technologies and material are used for both the interior and exterior components of an aircraft to improve passenger comfort. Let's take a look at a couple of the aircraft that have utilized these technologies: The Boeing 787 family and the Airbus A350 family.  

The Boeing 787 has a spacious cabin, large windows, and vaulted ceilings. The passenger’s windows are not only larger, but don’t have the traditional panel that slides up and down— passengers can adjust the tint with the press of a button. This technology increases passenger comfort by allowing them to maintain a view of the beautiful aerial scenery while not being blinded by sunlight. The design also incorporates a new air system which adjusts air pressure and humidity, and this leads to reduced fatigue and dryness. A few of the other features include more comfortable seating, large overhead bins, and new lighting systems. Adjustable LED lighting creates a more relaxing environment. The traditional lighting options have often contributed to fatigue. One of the newest technologies to increase passenger comfort is the Boeing 787s ability to sense and dampen turbulence— reducing motion sickness. 

The “Airspace by Airbus” cabin in the A350 family is quiet and comfortable. Airbus Industries was able to achieve its goal of increasing comfort by utilizing various modern technology. It has wider seats, high ceilings, and ambient lighting. The cabin’s air system is refreshed every few minutes and has an optimal cabin altitude of 6,000 ft, reducing the effects of jet lag. Air is also adjusted to comfortable temperatures and humidity. 

Both of these companies have used similar technology to increase airline passenger comfort and reduce the dreaded effects of jet lag while maintaining features unique to their own aircraft. But, none of these improvements would have been possible without the advancements in electrical systems and composite materials. 

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If you've ever traveled by plane, you've probably had the misfortune of being stuck on the runway past your departure time because of this problem or another. And while it's frustrating to be a passenger stuck waiting for takeoff, it can't be worse than being an airliner with an AOG.

When an aircraft is grounded due to a maintenance issue, it is called an aircraft on ground (AOG) and can accrue many costs for various reasons. Passenger carriers don't lose revenue because passengers are re-booked. However, costs from meals, accommodations, transportation, additional crew costs, mechanics overtime, component shipping costs, and productivity losses all add up and can cost an airline up to $150,000 per hour for any given AOG. In comparison, a cargo carrier can lose revenue if the cargo isn't delivered on time, so they tend to have more support aircraft. Fortunately, there are a few things an airline can do to minimize the effects of an AOG or prevent them. Having regular inspections, following time between overhaul (TBO) and all other original equipment manufacturers (OEM) maintenance and repair schedule recommendations are important in mitigating the risk of having an AOG. Some of the ways that can reduce the costs associated with AOGs are to create a parts stock model and to work with an aftermarket spares supplier to be ready for an AOG and reduce the time it takes to get the part delivered.

The software can help in creating a parts stock model. An airline should start with the reliability of no-go parts because they are category one on the minimum equipment list (MEL). If these parts malfunction, it will cause an AOG. The next step is to create a required level of parts stock. This has been done through a Required Spare Provisioning List (RSPL) model, but they vary in how complete they are.

Some airlines and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) companies prefer to keep all essential parts and components in stock at their facilities. However, it is sometimes more efficient to outsource with a parts distributor. Keeping a list of part numbers that have reoccurring issues and utilizing predictive analytics can help an airline and their parts distributor prepare for AOGs.

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Have you ever wondered how pilots can maneuver through the sky without crashing into each other? It’s mainly due to communications antennas. Aircraft use radio frequencies to navigate and communicate with air traffic control.  Each antenna has different frequencies and applications which determine where on the aircraft they are located. 

When communicating with air traffic control (ATC), these antennas are operating short-range using a very high frequency (VHF) band between 118 MHz and 137 MHz. Since the aircraft is constantly moving, the signal must be sent in all directions to ensure it is received.  These VHF frequencies operate with line-of-sight capabilities, meaning that the range only reaches the visible horizon.  The height of the antenna being used determines what kind of range you get–higher antenna means wider range. 

These antennas can be found either on top of the aircraft or underneath it. They are slightly bent and usually made from white or stainless steel.  The standing wave ratio (SWR) for these should typically be between 1:1 and 1:2; this refers to how well the antenna performs and how much of a reflection is coming off the antenna.  Antennas like these must be grounded well, meaning that they need a strong mounting sheet that will reflect the signal back toward the transmitter.

Since VHF is only recommended for short distances, the high frequency (HF) band is used for long-range communication needs.  Airliners are equipped with satellites that allow them to have long-range communications while they travel, and to provide accommodations like wireless internet to their passengers. These airliners are supplied with special radios and a vertical antenna that work with the HF band to take over communication once they leave the range of the VHF.

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The pilot is responsible for all things that happen on the ground and in the air. However, because there are so many things to do and prepare, the pilot doesn’t do everything alone. He or she works with a team made up of cabin crew, cleaning crew, air traffic control (ATC), GSE mechanics, and so on. And in order to communicate and coordinate all these personnel, the pilot uses the most important tool in their arsenal, the portable aviation radio. 

There are many different uses for the portable aviation radio, from radioing for clearance to communicating with ATC for help during turbulence, the portable radio can be a life-saver. But that begs the question of “how good is a portable radio during emergencies?” Is it only good up to a short distance from the airfield? Or does its usefulness end with the boundaries of the airfield? 

The Icom A14, Icom A24, Yaesu FTA-550, and Sporty’s SP-400 were put to the test in a one-hour flight on a Robinson R44 helicopter. Most pilots would assume that portable radios only work within a few miles of the airport at best, but apparently, that’s wrong. Surprisingly, the portable radio is more useful than we’re inclined to believe. In fact, the portable radios were perfectly usable at a range of 5 miles from the airport. Even at 10 miles, all transmissions were still readable — that’s enough of a range for most emergency situations. At 10 to 20 miles, the results began to vary. The Yaesu was the most limited, becoming unreadable at 17 miles, while both Icoms worked up to 20 miles. The Sporty’s SP-400 worked very well up to 20 miles and only became unreadable at 25 miles. 

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