Tony Stevenson

Airbus Industrie and Boeing aircraft will not be at risk to the "millennium bug" as the clock strikes midnight at the end of 1999.

Both major manufacturers have given pledges that aircraft systems will be "millennium compliant."

Boeing's Walt Gillette, leader of engineering and product development for Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, says an extensive analysis of Boeing-built and supplier-provided equipment revealed only three items that were date sensitive.

The so-called millennium bug is a problem associated with older computer chips and systems. To save programming space, the computer industry wrote dates as two digits (this year is 98). So 2000 will come up with unpredictable results.

The three systems which Boeing found to be date-sensitive involved the onboard navigation database found in the flight management computers or inertial navigation systems on some 737, 747, 757, 767 MD-80 and MD-90 models.

Gillette says Boeing sent service bulletins to customers detailing necessary software, procedural or hardware changes. "In addition to implementing the changes, the airlines are also reviewing systems they've installed themselves," he says.

Airbus flight tests showed no issues affecting airworthiness or operations were detected. Some "minor abnormalities in non-mission critical equipment" will be corrected by the manufacturers self-imposed deadline of 1 January 1999.

AI has been working through a major project to address the issue. It looked at aircraft systems, customer services, and support and business systems.

A range of concerns included inertial navigation systems from Litton on some aircraft. Litton has provided instructions for rectifying potential problems on manual date entry.

Meanwhile at Farnborough, ERA Technology (Hall 3, B12) is displaying MOPAS 2000, described by the company as one of the world's most advanced 'best engineering practice methodologies' for addressing the Year 2000 problem.

Michael Neale of ERA says: "We have considerable experience in the aerospace industry and to date we have found that only a small proportion of the embedded systems are date-aware."

These are embedded process in faxes, access control systems, robotic arms and telephone switchboards.

"Of these only a few will fail in the year 2000. The big problem is that for many organisations it will take one failure to significantly damage their business."

ERA's MOPAS 2000 system and the company's engineers and technical professionals use investigation, analysis and testing to determine whether a system is Year 2000 compliant.

Source: Flight Daily News