UTC Aerospace Systems Honored by Aviation Week for Groundbreaking Work in Aviation Safety

    24 Oct 2017


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UTC Aerospace Systems Honored by Aviation Week for Groundbreaking Work in Aviation Safety

  • Company recognized for scientific research and development of advanced icing wind tunnel; development and qualification of industry’s first airspeed sensors capable of operating in severe icing conditions; and production ramp to provide retrofit probe solution

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — At Aviation Week Network’s 16th Annual Program Excellence Awards banquet last night, a team from UTC Aerospace Systems’ Sensors & Integrated Systems business was honored for the company’s groundbreaking achievements in improving aviation safety in severe icing conditions. The team won in the Supplier Research and Development/System Design and Development category. UTC Aerospace Systems is a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).


The adverse effects of high altitude icing on aircraft propulsion and air data sensors have been a growing concern of the aerospace industry and airworthiness authorities. The combination of modern aircraft reliance on air data sensing systems for primary flight controls and increased air traffic in inter-tropical regions has increased exposure to high altitude icing conditions. These conditions can affect multiple or all pitot probes installed on an aircraft and can lead to unreliable airspeed measurements. As a result, actions were taken across the industry to improve safety, including new regulations embodied in Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 33, Appendix D, “Mixed Phase and Ice Crystal Icing Envelope.”

UTC Aerospace Systems responded by addressing both short- and long-term industry needs. A lean production system was developed utilizing the United Technologies ACE (Achieving Competive Excellence) operating system to streamline the production of a pitot probe that had increased robustness to Appendix D conditions. This allowed operators to retrofit their aircraft with the improved probes more quickly than would otherwise have been possible. 

At the same time, UTC Aerospace Systems launched a 5-year effort to develop a new facility capable of creating and testing extreme icing conditions, and a new generation of air data sensors capable of operating in the expanded certification envelope. In 2015, the company completed construction of its advanced icing wind tunnel and soon after successfully qualified the industry’s first air data sensor, a pitot probe, to the full Appendix D envelope.  

“From a technical perspective, creating an environment in which to study, design and test air data sensors in new and extreme icing conditions represented a significant undertaking,” said Mauro Atalla, vice president of engineering and technology for Sensors & Integrated Systems. “Our advanced icing wind tunnel is generally recognized in the aerospace industry as the most capable air data icing tunnel when considering its unique combination of airspeed, altitude, temperature and ability to deliver coverage of Appendix D conditions.”

The Aviation Week Program Excellence Award the company received for its work was given in recognition of both the performance and execution of this complex project and its parallel development efforts. This parallel development allowed for faster project execution and ensured that each aspect of the project met its objectives. UTC Aerospace Systems is continuing to use the results from the project to develop Appendix D-capable versions of more air data probe models.

“At UTC Aerospace Systems, we’re committed to leading the aerospace industry in solving its most pressing challenges through operational excellence and development of new technology, and that is exactly what our team did here,” said Sensors & Integrated Systems President Justin Keppy. “We’re honored to receive this prestigious award from Aviation Week, which is a testament to the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of our team.”

The Aviation Week Program Excellence Awards honor global aerospace and defense programs and projects, their leaders and their teams for going beyond meeting requirements to exemplify the best in value creation, leadership, adapting to complexity and executing with excellence. Developed in 2004, the awards were created in response to repeated concerns about the complexity and difficulty associated with managing and leading the aerospace and defense programs that are the foundation of the industry. During the evaluation process, more than 300 program management representatives from across industry and government score each application, resulting in the widespread sharing of innovative practices and processes.