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IETM in Aerospace Domain

Technological advances have not only changed products, it has also changed the way product manuals are made. Time was when products came with printed manuals. These manuals gave detailed instructions about how to operate the product. While this worked well for simple household gadgets like TVs, mixers and other electronic devices, reading a manual for a naval ship or a fighter aero plane was not exactly fun. The introduction of Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs) has solved this issue to a large extent. IETMs are a type of digital documentation that provides technical information and support to users of complex systems and machinery. Unlike the chunky paper editions (which could run into several volumes for something as complex as an aircraft carrier), IETMs include interactive features that make them very handy. Some of these features include hyperlinks and search functions. Not only that, the more advanced versions also include multimedia content such as videos, animations, and 3D models, whichhelp users assimilate information easily. Hyperlinks and search function make it easy for the user to quickly find the exact information they need. These features are quite useful when it comes to grasping difficult concepts and in operating the system safely and effectively. One of the most utilitarian features of IETMs is that they can be updated and maintained easily, so that users always have access to the most up-to-date information.

Benefits of IETMs
IETMs are widely used in a range of industries, including aviation, defence, and manufacturing, where they can help to improve safety, reduce maintenance and repair times, and increase operational efficiency. Unlike printed technical documentation, which is cumbersome to handle, requires large storing space and is very difficult to update, IETMs offer benefits such as:

  • Up-to-date knowledge: Simplified update and maintenance of documentation with automated updates make IETMs up to date
  • Hyper linking: Hyper linking feature enables IETM users to navigate from one page to the other related hyperlinked page by a mere click of the mouse.
  • Better organization: IETMs are typically organized in a logical and user-friendly manner, with easy-to-use search functions that allow users to quickly find the information they need.
  • Improved safety: By providing easy access to accurate and up-to-date technical information, IETMs can help to improve safety in the workplace and reduce the risk of accidents or errors
  • Reduced costs: IETMs can help to reduce costs associated with paper-based manuals, such as printing, shipping, and storage costs. They are easy to reproduce and are very portable.
  • Other features: version specific information, automated navigation, pan and zoom, fully structured information hierarchy, dynamic cross-referencing, etc. make IETMs user friendly.

IETMs can be divided into five classes, starting from very simple (class 1) to highly advanced (class 5).

Let us now take a specific domain – aerospace – and explore how IETMs can prove to be useful for this sector.

IETMs for Aerospace
IETMs have a wide range of applications in the aerospace industry, where they can be used to support the maintenance, repair, and operation of complex aircraft systems. Let us see some features and examples that make the use of IETMs in aerospace popular:

  • Aircraft maintenance: IETMs can be used by maintenance crews to quickly locate and diagnose faults, access repair procedures, and order spare parts. For example, an IETM might include 3D models of aircraft systems, with hyperlinks to relevant maintenance procedures and part numbers.
  • Flight operations: IETMs can be used by flight crews to access critical information about aircraft systems and procedures, such as emergency checklists and performance data. For example, an IETM might include videos of cockpit procedures, with interactive links to relevant checklists and performance charts.
  • Training: IETMs can be used to support training programs for aircraft maintenance crews, flight crews, and other personnel. As an example, the IETM might include interactive training modules, quizzes, and simulations to help users learn and practice key procedures.
  • Technical publications: IETMs can be used to produce technical publications, such as maintenance manuals, parts catalogs, and service bulletins. An IETM might include an interactive parts catalogue, with hyperlinks to relevant maintenance procedures and service bulletins.

Skills Required for the Creation of an IETM in Aerospace
Compiling an Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) for a complex domain such as aerospace requires a range of technical and domain-specific expertise. Here are some of the key areas of expertise that are needed:

  • Technical writing: Technical writers are responsible for creating clear, concise, and accurate technical documentation that can be understood by a range of audiences, from maintenance technicians to flight crews.
  • Aerospace knowledge: Creating an IETM in the aerospace industry requires a good understanding of aircraft systems, procedures, and regulations. Subject matter experts with a background in aerospace engineering, avionics, or other relevant areas are needed for understanding the technical aspects of the equipment and systems being documented in the IETM. It is essential for ensuring that the IETM is accurate, relevant, and useful to its intended users.
  • Multimedia expertise: IETMs often include multimedia content, such as videos, animations, and interactive simulations. The IETM team should have skills in video editing, animation, and interactive media development, as well as a good understanding of user experience design.
  • Project management: Creating an IETM is often a complex and multi-disciplinary project, involving multiple stakeholders and contributors. Project managers are responsible for coordinating these efforts and ensuring that the IETM is delivered on time and on budget.
  • Regulatory compliance expertise: Aerospace industries are highly regulated, and compliance with industry standards and regulations is critical for safety and success. Experts in regulatory compliance would be responsible for ensuring that the IETM meets the required standards and regulations of the respective country.

Overall, the use of IETMs in aerospace can help to improve safety, reduce maintenance and repair times, and increase operational efficiency. By providing easy-to-access and up-to-date technical information, IETMs can help to ensure that aircraft are maintained and operated to the highest standards of safety and reliability. Manufacturing companies typically focus on production, and it is difficult to find the necessary skill sets to produce an accurate and comprehensive IETM in-house. This is one of the reason they prefer outsourcing the IETM creation to competent engineering services providers, as these companies have the necessary expertise and experience needed to compile a high class IETM.