February 10, 2011

ONR’s TechSolutions Moves Aircraft Launch Bulletins Into Digital Age

By Geoff S. Fein, Staff Writer, Corporate Strategic Communications, Office of Naval Research

Flight crews responsible for launching aircraft from the decks of carriers are transitioning into the computer age, with the aid of an Office of Naval Research (ONR) TechSolutions effort to move paper tables onto handheld devices.

The Catapult Capacity Selector Valve (CSV) Calculator could eventually eliminate the need for paper-bound launch bulletins. The device underwent final test and evaluation at the end of January aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The Truman's flight deck crew recently underwent training with the Catapult CSV Calculator.

The capacity selector valve is used to set the energy level needed for a launch on an aircraft carrier. Calculations are based on aircraft type, weight and wind speed, among other variables. All that information is contained in a loose-leaf notebook, and crews must manually look up the data to determine the energy level for each launch.

Launch bulletin updates are e-mailed to the ship from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and Sailors have to print, then put them into the notebooks by hand.

Now, "instead of relying on the book, the launch bulletins are stored in the calculator, and they are updated automatically," said Stephanie Everett, ONR's TechSolutions Program Manager.

The ruggedized Catapult CSV Calculator will fill a technology gap, and is expected to increase efficiency and safety, while also reducing wear on catapult machinery. The calculator also performs automatic error checking.

"There will be a final project assessment before it goes to the fleet," Everett said. The purpose of the final assessment is to verify that the device is usable under operational conditions, and to verify that it produces the same results as the paper tables.

The goal is to eventually outfit all Nimitz-class carrier flight deck crews with the calculator. During testing, the device will be used in parallel with paper notebooks to verify the electronic calculations, said Master Chief Charles Ziervogel, ONR's command master chief, who oversees TechSolutions. "The calculator is not yet certified for use by itself."

The request for an electronic replacement for the paper launch tables came to TechSolutions from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., in April 2009.

ONR selected NAVAIR Lakehurst, N.J., and New Jersey-based Specialty Systems to develop the calculator. The transition sponsor is NAVAIR Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (PMA 251).

TechSolutions accepts recommendations and suggestions from Navy and Marine Corps personnel on ways to improve mission effectiveness through the application of technology. For more information about TechSolutions and to submit suggestions, Sailors and Marines can visit the department website at www.onr.navy.mil/techsolutions or email ideas to [email protected].


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