$46.3 million Boeing contract will update AWACSPublished: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 By: Sarah Terry-Cobo Source: The Journal Record
The Boeing Co.’s engineers are upgrading several 1970s-era aircraft with a modern navigation system.
The company received a $46.3 million federal contract to provide five kits for Air Warning and Control Systems planes at Tinker Air Force Base, the U.S. Defense Department announced on Friday. Boeing spokesman Ben Davis said the solution is more efficient than the existing parts, will save money, and will help the Air Force meet federal guidelines.
The company’s engineers designed the control panels to replace outdated dials on AWACS aircraft.
Those employees developed a global-positioning-system-like interface and solved electrical issues to make the new system fit where the existing dials sit. Tinker employees will install the parts on the planes.
The new system will allow pilots and the flight crew to look at maps in real-time. That is more efficient than using paper maps or relying on a navigator and will allow the Air Force to reduce the flight crew from four to three.
Some parts manufacturers for the ’70s-era equipment are no longer in business. The company and its contractors often had to build those parts from scratch. Upgrading the electronics eliminates that problem, Davis said.
Work began right after the contract was announced and is expected to last until January 2022, according to the Defense Department. Boeing already provided one kit each for an AWACS aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and for NATO.
The AWACS is among three aircraft fleets that are receiving updates to the cockpit.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration requires digital navigation equipment for air traffic control reasons. The new kits will help the Air Force comply with that Next Generation Air Transportation System mandates, Davis said.
“A lot of the work we do in Oklahoma City is focused on keeping legacy aircraft airborne and ready for flight,” he said.