Vol. 2 No. 1 – March 2021
Gregory J. Scaven | President, PacSci EMC
10,000 AND COUNTING
It’s almost hard for me to imagine it has been over five years ago since we introduced our 103377-500 space initiator to the market. Our idea for this device started out a lot differently than other products we typically provide to our customers. When I describe our business at PacSci EMC to other business leaders, I certainly oversimplify what we do when I say we’re a ‘job shop’ with well over 10,000 different part numbers currently in production. I may go on to add that all of these devices play some critical role in ensuring a customer’s mission success for a variety of aerospace and defense (A&D) applications and because of that, we have exacting standards that have to be met to provide at least five 9’s of reliability because people’s safety depend on our devices working ‘always safe, on command, when commanded.’ Being a job shop – most of our devices start out as custom engineered designs conceived to specifically support a detailed mission specification that a customer has in mind. That’s not unlike a lot of suppliers in the A&D market, and we certainly have tremendous experience and technical expertise that allows us to excel in these types of tasks. One of the challenges with this approach, however, is it takes a long time to design, test, and evaluate these new devices. This creates relatively long lead times as we often must pass a certain set of qualification parameters defined by our customers for this very specific application before we enter production. Add to this – since these designs are not finalized and most jobs are indeed custom ordered if you will – we don’t typically have stock on hand for the various machined components and other raw materials required to complete these assemblies. Another complicating matter is the lack of scale this creates – production quantities for those 10,000 (or more) part numbers are pretty low. Keep in mind: there are always exceptions to some of my generalizations in this paragraph, but in terms of the 80/20 rule…I’ve just described the 80.
Our -500 approach was completely different than this. We started with two other specific designs in mind that had extensive flight heritage: our -421 and -449 initiators. We ran a series of exacting environmental tests to ensure we met the same performance requirements as the existing NASA Standard Initiator (NSI). We even had NASA participate in the testing of the then-new -500 design. Perhaps that’s not all that radically different from what we normally do – but we did decide to change the service model we offered to our customers with this new initiator. We offered dramatically reduced lead times by keeping a minimum quantity of finished goods inventory on-hand in addition to the necessary raw components needed to build future lots – and
we standardized the acceptance testing criteria for every lot of -500 initiators. Because we were able to lower costs by using this approach, we also offer lowest lead times (less than three weeks in most cases) and lowest price for similar types of space initiators when no specific design or test customization is required. Of course, we can customize the design or the testing should a customer want us to do this – but in this case, there is an associated increase in lead time and/or price compared to the currently quoted standards.
I like to think we’ve started a journey with our -500 towards more modularized and less customized designs. So – when you think of 10,000 or more part numbers – maybe change your thinking to this: as of Jan 2021, we’ve sold over 10,000 -500 space initiators to customers throughout the industry. And we’ve booked plenty more orders for more -500’s so far in 2021. While these
quantities are impressive in a short five years for our industry, they are nowhere near what one would have in the automotive industry for similar types of products found in airbag safety systems in a similar time span. Of course, while the environmental exposures in our industry are indeed more severe than those for a typical passenger automotive application, the need for five or more 9’s of reliability is just as important – and is met or exceeded based on the many millions of automotive initiators produced every year in the U.S. alone.
Imagine if we could apply the lessons learned about the market success enjoyed so far by our -500 space initiator to other parts of our vast portfolio? Well, we’re on a journey starting in 2021 to do just that. It’s no great surprise to those of you who follow our company that many of our newly engineered products leverage the capability of today’s electronic circuit-based technologies with our extensive heritage of pyrotechnic initiating and actuating mechanisms. I wrote about this in last quarter’s edition of ALLFIRE in some detail, so feel free to learn more details there if you’d like. Our advanced product development team will be looking at more modularization in these types of devices starting with our electronic flight termination system offerings later this
year – and then extending our know-how and experience there to other portfolio product lines. While we will always offer customization when a customer’s mission success depends on that, we have a desire as well at PacSci EMC to offer faster lead times and lower prices for those products that don’t require customization and can leverage higher production volumes. Faster lead times? Lower prices? I think that resonates with most customers. Help us make that your reality with your next engineering query by asking about our highest run-rate part numbers for your type of application – and it will help us cut down on the proliferation of part numbers. More volume means lower lead times, lower costs, lower prices and more 9’s on that reliability number
EMERGENCY EGRESS SYSTEMS
DAVID GILES | PACSCI EMC
PacSci EMC has over 65 years of history in developing pyrotechnic components with some of our components dating back to the seat ejection systems during the Apollo missions. PacSci EMC is
heavily involved with the design and manufacturing of components and hundreds of safety critical applications for missiles and munitions, military and commercial aircraft markets, as well as both launch vehicles and spacecraft.
Escape System Evolution
Emergency egress from an aircraft has greatly evolved from the early days of flight. Initially, pilots would solely rely on a parachute to flee from an aircraft that was under duress. With the advent of World War II, aircraft technology had progressed quite significantly from those early designs. The first successful ejection seat use was by a German test pilot using the HE-280 prototype; this had a canopy jettison and ejection seat system.
After World War II, the technology only continued to improve for these fast-moving jets.
Aircraft now required more powerful ejection seats in order to clear the vertical stabilizer or tail of an aircraft when traveling at high speeds.
The modern ejection seat technology really started to take shape from the 1960s and on. Different methods of ejection were iterated upon such as getting rid of the canopy, in which the entire crew capsule could be ejected. Additional improvements to seat technology enabled ejections straight through the transparency without needing to remove it. Finally, a canopy fracturing system allows for egress through a hole in the canopy without removing or jettisoning it entirely.
Besides in-flight and high-speed, an egress system for rapid escape in a submerged or underwater environment has been recently developed with PacSci EMC input.
With any new platform or aircraft, crewmember safety is always at the forefront and center.
When designing an egress system, the initial focus is clearly on “What mode(s) of egress do you need, ground only, in-flight only, both?”
Additional questioners we may need answers to include:
- Is it in-flight at low speed or in-flight at high speed?
- Is there a ground egress requirement?
- Is there an underwater operating environment that the crew may need escaping from?
Once you have the modes established, then the target type, or what material needs to be broken or removed to allow for egress, must be addressed. Additionally, multiple requirements can come into play.
Overpressure and severance margin are two requirements that are often at direct odds with one another, especially for a canopy fracturing system. For severance margin, the goal is to always ensure a complete and thorough cut of the transparency. Keeping in mind the larger the charge you use, the greater the blast effects on the crew member. These blast effects include acoustic overpressure, as well as splatter effects from the detonating charge. Personal protective equipment for the pilot becomes especially important, but that can play into the human factors or how the system is initiated.
Likewise, reliability and redundancy requirements are important. If there is a fault in the system, a backup or alternate path is in place to ensure the crew member can still get out. This can lead to additional or redundant components, adding weight to the airframe. Any additional components need to be maintained or replaced and tracked for maintenance to a shelf-life schedule. Each of these parts adds another layer of logistics to the program.
In the end, the solution to these competing requirements has evolved to the modern ejection seat and canopy fracturing system.
Pyro System Sequence:
A pyrotechnic system sequence involves:
Aircraft Emergency Egress Types:
For fixed-wing in-flight modes, there are a few ways to create a clear path for the pilot to egress safely.
Canopy Jettison is where the entire canopy is removed as a full piece and allows a clean path from the cockpit. This provides the optimum amount of clearance for the seat.
Some drawbacks to this are:
- Will not work with a side-opening canopy
- Potential impact with the ejection seat
- Requires a complicated latching mechanism
Through-Canopy is where the seat is a blunt force used to break the transparency, which then continues up into the free stream air. Nowadays this is often a backup system, thickness permitting of the transparency. It’s associated with the lowest cost, and there’s no weight penalty from additional components, along with an instantaneous function. Some drawbacks include:
- Requires the Seat/Aircrew combination to break through the transparency, which has the highest potential for injury, such as spinal, head, or leg injuries.
- Potential for injury.
- No ground egress capability.
Canopy Fracturing uses linear products such as:
- Mild Detonating Cord (MDC)
- Flexible Linear Shaped Charge (FLSC)
- Expanding tube assemblies (XTA)
These are laid up against the transparency to force or cut and weaken the transparency. This allows for the seat to travel through an opening in the canopy with less impact to the pilot. It also has similar instantaneous function like the Through-Canopy. It is lightweight and low cost. An additional benefit of the canopy fracturing system is that it can be used for ground egress. Some drawbacks may include:
- A high acoustic noise level, which has been proven to be acceptable and a non-injurious
- Back-blast of the rubber extrusion for which there are equipment and PPE considerations for the crew member protection
- Potential for inward collapse of the canopy pieces, which has been mitigated by using physical barriers to prevent collapse like structural elements that support the canopy or even airbags. You can use the actual pattern design of the canopy fracturing system as one of these barriers.
The pattern is the path the linear product is laid up against. The transparency and different shapes will have different flyweight patterns. Some typical patterns you might hear/see are:
- Christmas tree
Depending on the type of transparency, different effects can be seen. The stretched acrylic tends to stay in large pieces set by the cut pattern, whereas the cast acrylic will tend to crack and fracture into multiple pieces crossing over between the cut paths (think about safety glass in your car windshields as an example of this type of fracture).
Emergency egress, whether it is in-flight or on the ground, requires many components working together and different technologies, across many companies, leading to successful crewmember egress.
To begin, you have system actuation, which includes: Pull handles, seat motion detectors, and even automatic detection systems based on your avionics feedback.
The signal propagation takes that actuation and connects it to further components together in the ejection sequence. Transfer lines such as shielded mild detonating cord, rapid deflagration cord and flexible confined detonating cord are in this category. It can also include electrical bus signals for electronic sequencing.
These propagation components connect the signal nodes of the transfer. Signal node components, such as ordnance manifolds or one-way initiators, direct that signal to multiple locations across the airframe. For example, at the canopy opening sill, paired components such as an acceptor/donor allow the signal to cross an air gap in-flight, but not when the canopy is open.
These lead to the final main areas: the canopy and the seats. The transparency fractures or jettisons completely using the pyrotechnic or explosive linear components. The seat moves using rocket motors and catapults out from the crew station. Once in the air, the post ejection sequence takes over and a drogue chute deploys to slow down the seat and the main parachute comes out to start recovery. The aircrew and seat are then separated, and final deployment of the parachute and survival kit can occur, allowing for a safe landing. Implementing all of these components is often done and communicated through a schematic. The overall schematics and complexity have changed over time for the modern aircraft, often reducing the more modern we get. Redundancy requirements, along with component improvements have simplified those designs of the past, but all these systems still follow the same pattern of the initiation, event sequencing, and the function.
Ground Sequence Escape:
The ground escape system is similar to in-flight escape as it pertains to removing the canopy. There is no seat ejection involved. An initiation handle is still pulled, either by crew members or ground personnel. This sets off a series of transfer lines which culminate at the transparency. The canopy is cut by the linear product and a clear path is made, but instead of the seat traveling through, the crew member is able to scramble out safely.
There are a variety of components that go into the system and PacSci EMC fabricates many of these
- Arm fire initiators
- One-way initiators (OWI)
- Ordnance manifolds
- Hot gas initiators (HGI)
Explosive Transfer Lines (ETLs) connect the various other system components into an energetic communications network. The basic construction of an ETL consists of an end-fitting at each end, connected by a linear length of explosive cord. How that cord is wrapped or configured determines the type of transfer line.
Deflagrating lines, such as the Rapid Deflagrating Cord Transfer Line (RDCTL), burn quickly at about 300 m/s. Detonating lines propagate a shock wave down the length of the cord at velocities greater than 6500 m/s, ranging up to 8000 m/s or more.
For Shielding Mild Detonating Cord (SMDC) lines, the cord is encased within a stainless-steel tube. This will fully contain all the detonating products but must be pre-formed using tube bending tools prior to the installation due to the stiffness of the tube required to contain the detonation event.
Flexible Confined Detonating Cord (FCDC) lines wrap the cord within a polymer casing. Confined Detonating Cord (CDC) is similar in flexibility except they have a smaller outside diameter and have a stainless-steel outer jacket. Both the FCDC and CDC Lines have a velocity similar to SMDC Lines. These still contain the detonation products but allow for a flexible installation and routing throughout the airframe. A drawback to this is the bulkiness of that polymer, as it doesn’t allow for as tight of radii as the SMDC. However, these can be flexed thousands of times across the joint, such as a canopy opening or a door opening.
RDCTLs are the newest ETL used for emergency escape systems. Their deflagrating features allows flexibility in end fitting for various functions. They can be initiated mechanically, low energy or high energy depending upon the desired event. They are a robust line that allow use in several different emergency system applications.
- Percussion Primers (PP), requires a mechanical input such as a firing pin.
- High Energy (HE) end tip, requires a detonating input from another HE detonation fitting. It can also supply that detonating event to another line or component.
- Low Energy (LE), requires a pressure, flame front or a detonation from another RDCTL or component.
These end tip combinations allow the system node components to be inert or non-explosive products, which helps to reduce the logistics footprint of the overall system by only needing to change out the explosive transfer lines on a regular basis.
The RDCTLs contain all the by-products of combustion when functioned. The outside diameter of the RDCTL has the lowest profile or diameter of known ETLs used on aircraft. Because the tube is semi-rigid, it can be formed during installation process. All of these transfer lines ultimately form a network of signals, resulting in a sequencing of event and initiating other system components to remove the canopy transparency and provide a clear path for ground escape or seat ejection in-flight by the aircrew.
All of these transfer lines route and ultimately connect to the canopy. For canopy fracturing systems, the signal is transferred to a linear product, which can be used to cut a hole in the transparency to make a clear path for the pilot, or a crew member to escape.
Canopy Component Details:
Mild detonating cord, linear shaped charge, and expanding tubes are in use on aircraft and rotary craft today in order to allow emergency egress.
Mild Detonating Cord A majority of Canopy Fracturing Systems (CFSs) utilize Mild Detonating Cord (MDC) to fracture the canopy transparency. The MDC consists of an explosive encased within a metallic sheath material. This is drawn to a long length, cut, and then routed and formed to complex geometries for the transparency.
The cord is normally supported by a rubber charge holder. This assembly is then affixed against the glass or transparency, making sure there is intimate contact of the MDC and the target. This is done either by using positive pressure with some sort of retainer or by gluing it directly against the glass with an RTV silicone rubber. This intimate contact is critical to the fracture mode of the transparency.
During an MDC detonation, a high pressure wave expands out from the explosive core. This pressure wave is a high spike of pressure that transfers through the sheath and into the transparency and keeps going until it reaches the other side of that transparency.
At this interface the wave is reflected back against itself. The amount of reflection depends on what the medium is on the other side and the impedance mismatch between that transparency and the outer medium. For instance, if the other side has water, these have similar impedances, so less of the wave is reflected back. However, air has a very low impedance value, and this mismatch will cause the majority of the effect to be initially reflected.
When that wave is reflective, it causes a momentary increase in the stress inside the transparency, which, basically pulverizes it. Think about two waves that come together and create a wave that’s double the intensity. The waves don’t cancel each other out, but instead, rip apart the transparency.
Typically, there’s a cut region directly underneath the MDC and then a triangular piece that’s liberated.
The benefit of MDC is that it can be easily formed to any pattern shape, which can customize the hole in the transparency for the seat to travel through. It can also go down to very small correlates without disrupting the propagation limits of detonation. This allows for tailoring of the output charge to precisely limit the blast attacks against the pilot. PacSci EMC manufacturers and supplies cord that is down to 2.5 grains per foot.
However, there are limitations for MDC depending on the target thickness. MDC is usually reserved for a ¼ inch or less thickness. The bigger the target, the higher the energetic explosive weight in that cord is needed. Once the target material gets to a thickness of 0.300” or greater, then other solutions for cutting the transparency start to become more advantageous for both cutting through and overpressure effects.
Flexible Linear Shaped Charge (FLSC) Flexible linear shaped charge, or FLSC, is often the solution for the thicker transparencies. Instead of just blasting away at the thick transparency with a large MDC, the FLSC has a more refined cutting action to break through the transparency.
The FLSC is shaped into a chevron, or house shape. The function of the FLSC is described best by something called the Monroe Effect. When the detonation of the interior core goes off, the energy is shaped against the inner apex region of the shaped charge. This focusing causes the shape charge to collapse in on itself and accelerate. The metal changes form into a cutting jet that forces against and penetrates the target. This penetrating jet is coupled with the shockwave to break apart the transparency.
The main difference compared to MDC is the depth of the cut. The cutting depth can be either the entire thickness of the transparency or just a partial cut through and then rely on the shockwave for the final cut of the transparency.
Unlike the MDC, the FLSC actually performs better when it’s slightly raised off from the target surface. This standoff allows time for the jet to coalesce and form for optimal performance. If the standoff is too short or too low, the FLSC will have decreased performance as the jet doesn’t have time to fully form. Conversely, if it’s too far away, the cut tends to be erratic as slugs of metal tend to break deeper in some areas, while barely peppering others along the length of the charge.
FLSC can be formed into various patterns like MDC. Care must be taken when forming the FLSC into the various patterns to ensure the chevron shape is not deformed so the effectiveness of the cutting jet is not hindered when fired.
FLSC can be formed into various patterns like MDC. Care must be taken when forming the FLSC into the various patterns to ensure the chevron shape is not deformed so the effectiveness of the cutting jet is not hindered when fired.
Another consideration for FLSC is maintaining a clean surface of that inner apex region. Irregularities or FOD in this area can disrupt the jet formation – material at the very top is the most detrimental. Some solutions to this include the use of a foam barrier or ensuring there is a complete bond line to the acrylic in order to help protect this critical region.
Expanding Tube Assembly (XTA) An Expanding Tube Assembly (XTA) is a specialized component that utilizes a mechanical action caused by the function of Mild Detonating Cord (MDC). In an XTA, the MDC is enclosed within a flattened, stainless steel tube. When the MDC functions the stainless steel tube expands very quickly, and this energy can be harvested to cause the structure to shear or bolts to break at a pre-determined location, often using stress risers or thin membranes to force the break.
The expansion also can be used to quickly push release mechanisms such as the case for the F-16 Emergency Canopy Release Lines (ECRLs). In this application, the tube expands and breaks open a hook locking box, which in turn allows the release of the full canopy.
Another application now qualified for use on the AH-64 Apache is for underwater egress. If the canopy is flooded, the detonation wave from an exposed MDC or FLSC more readily transmits through the water due to the low impedance value of the water. The XTA contains the combustion overpressure and reduces both impulse and overpressure effects. When compared to the exposed cord-only system, the XTA minimizes potential for injury against the air crew member. The expanding tube functions against the acrylic, pulverizing and weakening it due to the initial shock wave. Then it mechanically breaks it using the expansion energy from the tube.
Linear products, specifically PacSci EMC’s linear products, have been used for many emergency egress applications. In conjunction with industry partners, PacSci EMC has been providing a safe escape for crew members for decades.
Q. Why isn’t FLSC used on all canopies?
A. One of the limitations for FLSC is the core load size. Oftentimes, to
maintain that really good chevron shape, you typically see it down to
8 to 10 grains per foot, and lower than that it’s much harder to form.
When you have the thinner transparency, the FLSC is almost oversized
for the smaller ones and the MDC becomes more economical. Not
only is that circular shape easier to manufacture, it also can be routed
and requires a little bit less care than the FLSC. That’s why, if you can
get away with it for the lower transparencies, MDC is often the best
Q. Is there a design cutting factor of safety that is typically used?
A. For severance margin, a lot of times what you see is a 20% factor to
consider for error in tolerances for manufacturing and for installation.
You’ll want to be able to penetrate or cut a target that’s 120% larger
than the flight thickness during the development testing to prove out
the robustness of the design.
Q. How is the pilot or aircrew protected from flying debris?
A. The protection for aircrew is done via structural barriers, such as
retainers, or personal protection equipment.
► A retainer that blocks the effects in critical errors oftentimes
along the sill area or the lower area of the canopy,
► Airbags that can be deployed to block debris just like in your
Also, the protective equipment on the pilot. Tests are run in conjunction
with the prime manufacturers in order to make sure that the flight suit
or helmet designs are able to withstand the detonation and canopy
Q. Has anyone ever been hurt using PacSci EMC products during an ejection?
A. The primary reported injury PacSci EMC has received is red-like rash
on exposed skin of the aircrew. This is most likely caused by backblast
splatter of the MDC or FLSC when fired. This ‘rash’ is temporary
and normally clears up in a few days. Other reports indicated some
of the fragilized canopy transparency or MDC/FLSC rubber charge
holder striking the aircrew and leaving a non-permanent mark on
exposed skin. The combination of retainers and the aircrew properly
wearing their flight gear greatly reduces any injury potential.
Q. What generated the need for underwater egress systems?
A. As aircraft missions have become more advanced and launched from
platforms not originally envisioned, escape system requirements have
had to evolve to protect the aircrew from harm. An example of this
is the launch of AH-64 Apaches from aircraft or assault carrier to support the mission. The increased flight over water highlighted the need to improve the current escape system to function with a cockpit potentially filled with water in an emergency. Our UEES has proven with the incorporation of our XTA based system to sever the window and door transparencies underwater, the aircrew will not receive life threatening injuries as a result of using their emergency egress system.
Q. Why is expanding tube the best solution for underwater egress?
A. When you compare the XTA to the exposed cord, the exposed
cord with a water medium has impedance values that are very
similar, so you get a high transmissibility of the overpressure. In
water, as compared to air, the distance away is important. In air, the
overpressure drops off, much more quickly, whereas in water, the
overpressure, drops off more slowly. So, for the same given distance,
more gets transmitted to the crew member.
The XTA contains the combustion event of that raw MDC and basically
focuses the energy into the expansion as opposed to just going off
from the raw MDC. That ends up reducing the overpressure and
focusing against the target as opposed to the pilot.
Q. Can you control the size of the fracture?
A. This is a key question for a lot of programs as one of their design
In order to control that, you can base it on the pattern or the layout
of the linear product. For instance, if you layout a certain pattern,
you can set the size of the pieces and also get some fracture across
the paths. It is a little more difficult for stretched acrylic but it can
be done. For cast acrylic you can get those smaller sizes from crack
propagation throughout the acrylic to help control the fragment size.
Q. Does PacSci EMC have experience cutting polycarbonate?
A. Yes. We have done quite a few development programs on
polycarbonate and those have been proven successful in the
Is canopy fracturing used for in-flight egress, ground egress, or both?
A. Both. Canopy Fracturing Systems can be designed for ground only, in-flight
only or a combination of inflight and ground emergency. The broad
spectrum of PacSci EMC products can accommodate a wide range of
customer and mission requirements.
FORTIVE BUSINESS SYSTEMS – IN PRACTICE
JUSTIN MCLEAN | PACSCI EMC
Here at PacSci EMC, we are always looking for ways to implement best practices across our organization. When it comes to Government Property, much of our
standard work is dictated by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) policies and regulations. Recently, members of the Contracts, Government Property
Organization, Manufacturing Engineering and Lockheed Martin Corporation gathered together during a virtual Kaizen reducing the level of Government Property Non-Compliances and ensure our standard work in support of Government Property record retention and disposition process are current and auditable per the FAR.
The focus of the 2-Day Virtual Kaizen event was to identify gaps within our current process and begin reducing the number of Government or Customer findings we have on an annual basis. To ensure this happened, the team used a variety of Fortive Business Systems (FBS) tools including going to Gemba and Value Stream Mapping. Following a collaborative and well led Kaizen by FBS Lead, Chris Ely, the team developed a robust action plan which included updates to our Government Property Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), updates to our PM Workbook, and a number of follow-up Kaizen events that will take place in 2021.
Completion of this action plan will ensure we are compliant with the current government regulations. Compliance in this area may result in winning future contracts, in addition to being provided Government Furnished Material/Tooling IN PRACTICE or Customer Furnished Material/Tooling on critical future contracts. FBS is truly our way of life at PacSci EMC. The power of the tool never ceases to amaze me. For operators and employees alike, FBS is all about helping everyone work smarter, not harder and encourages us to make continuous improvements. Learning the tools and putting faith in the process empowers every employee to take control of any situation and make impactful, lasting changes to the organization. This was certainly the case regarding our Government Property standard work Kaizen.
My story with ejection seats and escape systems started over 40 years ago as a U.S. Air Force maintainer in 1977. I was a brand-new graduate of the U.S. Air Force Egress Tech School at Canute AFB, Illinois. The USAF assigned me to my first base with the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Bergstrom AFB, Texas to work on the RF-4C Phantom II and MK-7 ejection seat. This assignment and an event during this time would shape my future career to where I’m at today. I was sent to a specific school to learn about the MK-7 Ejection Seat. It was an intense several weeks to learn the maintenance and inspection procedures to ensure pilots had their best chance in a critical situation.
The MK-7 already had a very successful record in Vietnam saving hundreds of aircrews. After successfully finishing the MK-7 school, my on-the-job training and work started by assisting with on aircraft and hourly phase inspection. One aircraft was in for a ‘600-hour phase’. This included bringing the ejection seats in for a full inspection and scheduled checks on different devices. After my supervisor and I completed the work, we reinstalled the seats into the aircraft. The aircraft was then placed on the schedule for a training flight af-ter completing a check flight. It went up late in the evening and ran into an issue. I had gone home and when I arrived back at work the next morning, I was told about the loss of the aircraft and the successful ejection of the pilot and his Reconnaissance System Operator (RSO). It was really the first time through all of my training and experiences I realized how important my career field affects other lives. The pilot and RSO came to thank the shop for the work on the seats, especially for my supervisor and me. This left a very permanent and positive impression on my career even to this day. I continued to work the MK-7 on F-4Cs, Ds, Es and Gs. Though I’ve worked other seats, the MK-7 was my first and gave me my first career impression.
Martin Baker’s MK-16 seat on the T-6 Texan II, launched my civilian career supporting ejection seats in Wichita, Kansas after retiring from active duty in 1998. I learned installation of all the pyro devices on the seat for installation on new T-6 trainers. So, Martin Baker started both phases of my career, military and civilian. My original experience of working on a set of MK-7 seats and saving two lives over 40 years ago drives my continued dedication being part of a proud line of ejection seat maintainers who continue to help save lives worldwide
ALEX MCGILL | PACSCI EMC
For most people, piloting a helicopter, or even flying in a helicopter, is uncommon. For those who do pilot or fly in a helicopter on a regular basis, the feeling is very unique. But what many don’t know about is all the safety features packed into a ‘bird’. PacSci EMC provides many of those safety features through pyrotechnic devices for both commercial and military helicopters. We are the designer, qualifier, manufacturer, and field support of several different devices initiating and functioning safety systems on today’s modern helicopter. Our experience and collaboration with government and contractors is demonstrated by the sub-systems and components in platforms flying our products today.
Our experience, reliability and success with fixed-wing aircraft is duplicated in the products we provide for helicopter initiating and functioning Emergency Escape, Fire Extinguishing, Load Release and Emergency Flotation sub-systems and components. These reliable and fast acting products ensure the safe recovery of aircrew and passengers.
Our dedicated team applies the most advanced technology providing the safest and most reliable sub-systems and components in aircraft today. Our adherence to established design and safety standards ensure our products meet the requirements of MIL-C-83124, MIL-C-83125, MIL-STD-23659, MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-882, MIL-STD-1472 and MIL-HDBK-781 and multiple customer SOW’s and specifications. Safe return of the aircrew to their family and friends is our focus.
Helicopter Safety Systems
Emergency Ground Egress Systems
We are the pioneer and industry leader of ground emergency egress on helicopters utilizing our canopy fracturing system technologies. We provide everything from initiation to the final severance of the window and door acrylics, opening a safe escape route from a distressed helicopter. Our pioneering efforts continue with our recent qualification and acceptance of the Underwater Emergency Egress System (UEES). This allows the aircrew to initiate the system, even when the cockpit is full of water. Some of the main advantages of the UEES include:
- Reduction of peak pressure acoustic levels by a factor of 30 & impulse levels if submerged
- Interior acrylic panel breaks off in one (1) piece instead of multiple shards, reducing aircrew injury and survival equipment damage from sharp pieces
- Maintains structural integrity of surrounding window and door frames during open air and or under water function events
- All by-products of explosive events are fully contained when system functioned
- No flammable gas ignition
PacSci EMC is able to provide an all ordnance or electronic (digital) sequencing of events. Our wide variety of electronic and ordnance devices allow us to design a network of components which work in sequence offering a reliable and proven outcome. Our arm fire initiators, explosive transfer lines, time delays, one-way initiators, connector manifolds, electronic controller, digital smart initiator and window/door severance assemblies are sought by the newest platforms because of the products long history coupled with cutting edge technologies resulting in reliable and successful aircrew rescues.
Our recent advancements in electronic (digital) technologies allow us to offer an alternative to ordnance sequence control of events. Coupled with our electro-explosive smart initiators and detonators, we can provide a fast digitally based sequence set of events. Achieving these advantages are now possible using our electronic technology:
- Enhancing system safety by ‘staggering’ firing sequence of the window and door severance devices at millisecond intervals helping to reduce cockpit acoustic levels
- Addition of Built-In-Test (BIT) function to monitor system health
- Reduction of overall number of components results in:
- Smaller system weight
- Number of time sensitive replacement devices
- Net Explosive Weight (NEW) content
- Minimizing the space necessary for handling and storing explosive
Fire Extinguishing Cartridges
The leading manufacturers of fire suppression systems for fixed-wing and helicopters use our electro-explosive pressure cartridges and detonators to initiate and open fire suppressant bottles. Our reliable devices on helicopters extends beyond the engines including Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and Gear Boxes. The cartridge opens the closure on the bottle allowing free flow of the suppressant to the affected area.
Payload Release & Deployment (Rescue Winch, Cargo Hoist & Pylon Mounted)
Our electro-explosive cartridges and devices unlock hooks, sever cables, and separate locking mechanisms to release or deploy mission critical or unstable payloads. Critical payloads like missiles, munitions, or relief supplies initiate or release quickly and reliably with our designs ensuring mission success. If the payload is unstable or unsafe, our devices act within milliseconds of receiving an electrical input. The offending payload’s release is quick and definite, no longer posing a danger to the helicopter, its aircrew or passengers.
Flotation System Initiation
When flying over water have confidence with our industry leading cartridges for initiating flotation bladders and systems. Instead of reinventing the wheel with each application, we utilize proven technologies, adapting to new platform requirements and maintaining the level of reliability required of safety systems.
Our devices remove a closure over the inflation gas storage bottle mechanically or with an energetic output allowing free flow into the inflatable device reliably and quickly.
Test & Field Support
PacSci EMC not only offers our design and manufacturing expertise resulting in reliable hardware but also test, platform, and field support. We write Installation & Inspection Manuals, offer on-site test support, training of your associates on our products, and are on-call for safety and maintenance anomalies encountered in the field. Our commitment is to ensure customers never have a doubt that when our products are required, they function the first time, every time, without question.
Though the output of the pyrotechnic device has changed little over the past 30 years, the inputs, design components, and available manufacturing techniques have advanced significantly. These advancements and expedited customer delivery expectations require us to rethink how we design, manufacture and market our products. We must pivot our design approach from unique customized designs to standard core modules.
In past years PacSci EMC has developed a multitude of products for specific applications and customers. Everything from simple initiators to complex flight termination systems and payload release systems have been uniquely designed and precisely tested to each specification. Although this development method delivers a custom product, it is a tedious and expensive process which often results in unique parts, tooling, fixtures, and test equipment. Development time averages between 12 and 36 months before a qualified product can be delivered. Today, the customer lead-times are half this time.
In addition to the extended development time, this design philosophy proliferates a very large portfolio of unique detail components and associated documentation. Due to the low volume and high mix of our products, as well as the low reuse of detail components, we must wait until a customer purchase order is received before we can procure parts for the specific product ordered. This process often results in longer lead-times that do
not align with desired customer delivery dates.
So, how can we restructure the design process to allow the addition of new features without redesigning the entire product? How do we make a basic design adaptable to future needs? Companies ranging from LEGO® to Apple® have long used the practice of establishing sub-assemblies with standardized interfaces or modules that can be rearranged to offer a customized solution without detailed development for each new product. By using a product portfolio made of modular sub-assemblies, customization becomes a feature instead of an afterthought, reduces design and development time for new offerings, facilitates alternate purchasing strategies, and enables cost efficient manufacturing. Modularization promotes solution diversity and design evolution. A customer can purchase a stand-alone device or modules to integrate into their next-level assembly.
Starting in 2021, PacSci EMC is launching a policy deployment initiative to promote modular design concepts across our product lines. Success of this initiative will be measured in terms of shorter development lead times, better first pass yield through qualification, reduced development cost for new programs, and improved manufacturability. This will not be easy, that is what makes it a strategic policy deployment.