Delta to Retrofit New Cockpits on MD-88s, MD-90s

 - April 10, 2013, 5:52 PM

Delta Air Lines has awarded Innovative Solutions & Support a $60 million contract to outfit its fleet of 182 MD-88s and MD-90s as well as several flight simulators with standardized glass cockpits. The avionics suites feature flat panel displays outfitted with full required navigation performance, required time of arrival and GPS capabilities while incorporating data link and ADS-B functionality as well as an advanced flight management system to align with the U.S. NextGen air traffic management equipment requirements. Delta said the improvements will allow the aircraft to fly shorter flight paths and take advantage of continuous-descent, RNAV approaches to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and noise levels–a primary objective of NextGen.


.............."Using a custom-developed Android app dubbed PlaneSploit, researcher Hugo Tesa of N.Runs showed how a virtual plane in a laboratory could be redirected. Because there's no means to cryptographically authenticate communications sent over ACARS, pilots have no way to confirm if messages they receive in the cockpit are valid. Malformed messages can then be used to trigger vulnerabilities, Tesa told Forbes"......

Hmm, let's see.

Delta gets their hands on AirTran 717s courtesy of Southwest. Those are all Nextgen capable glass cockpit aircraft. The 88s, 90s and 717s are all DC-9 derivatives, which is why you get a DC-9 type rating once qualified. A common cockpit, a single type rating?

All makes sense to me.

@Analog has its merits:

ACARS is strictly a communications tool and nothing more. ATC can only use the selective calling feature (SELCAL) to alert crews to a message that is then transmitted via voice. Companies use ACARS for transmitting messages to an aircraft that is of an administrative or operational nature. ACARS being overridden or corrupted only means one thing for crews, quit using the stupid thing and write it up once on the ground. ACARS datalinks go down or the onboard system hiccups often enough for crews to know that it is not a show stopper to go with an inoperative system. Any aircraft performance data that is relayed through ACARS, also has a printed sibling that is part of the dispatch paperwork the crew is handed prior to each flight.

The navigation database is a separate part of the system that is accessed through a physical connection inside the flight deck, so I see this as much ado about nothing.

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