Aerospace Operational Support Group (AOSG) is a Force Element Group of the Royal Australian Air Force. AOSG operate a variety of aircraft for test and evaluation purposes with the PC9/A, F/A-18 Hornet, S-70A-9 Black Hawk and the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter being permanently assigned to the group.
Development and Test Wing is a part of AOSG located at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia. Within this Wing, Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) conducts Flight Test using instrumentation systems developed by Aerospace Systems Engineering Squadron.
During Flight Test operations, telemetry from instrumented aircraft is received and monitored in the Real Time Monitoring Facility (RTMF) which is equipped with reception, processing and display systems for aircraft instrumentation data. Using audio visual technology, the Flight Test Director and a team of aeronautical specialists are provided with situational awareness of the Flight Test operation. The intercom in this facility integrates several audio services into a system by which the Flight Test Director can exercise command and control of the RTMF whilst sharing information amongst the team.
At the initial design stage, a simple two channel party line system was anticipated. However, the end users demanded functionality that reflected their expectations based on military and aviation grade systems as used in heavy aircraft, air traffic control and in Command Centres. Accordingly, a matrix architecture was sought. The Clear-Com system was chosen because it offered generous interfacing capabilities at a price point well below military grade systems which would have been excessive for ground use. The i-Series user stations were selected for their slimline form factor which sits discreetly on the desktop.
The interfacing capabilities of the Clear-Com have been put to good use. Signals between the Matrix controller and User Stations are transported over Category Five cabling. The Matrix controller has been interfaced with UHF transceivers and specific users are enabled to key the transmitter from their stations. PABX access is also provided through the controller and likewise, users are able to dial out from their stations. Both open and closed headsets can be plugged in at the user’s option. The rear panel of the i-Series stations provided means to open the microphone or to key UHF transceivers by a choice of belt clip PTT switch, foot pedal or front panel button. Selected nets are fed into a data recorder for subsequent post mission review.
The air to ground telemetry downlink provides cockpit audio which has been interfaced into the Matrix controller. This functions as a one way hot-mic service by which the Test Pilot can talk his way through a manoeuvre. It is independent of the UHF system which remains open for the Flight Test Director to call a stop based on feedback from telemetry data.
Even though the ClearCom system is a commercial product, the military aviation community at AOSG is completely familiar with its functionality. The headsets are similar to but lighter than aviation models. Users take advantage of one to one and one to many networks, key their transmitters, issue and execute commands as a disciplined and professional crew.
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