2955 Diab Street

Montreal, Quebec,

Canada  H4S 1M1

Tel.:   514-332-3077

Fax:   514-332-6711

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 1-877-332-3055

Cage Code: 38002

Pitot Static Test Equipment and RVSM Air Data Accessories Kits

Nav-Aids Ltd is ISO 9001: 2008 Certified

 

50 Years of Safety:

Nav-Aids Ltd. Innovates Pitot-Static Test Adaptors

S T O R Y   B Y    C H R I S T I N E   K N A U E R

Avionics News June 3013

 

Designing and building pitot-static test adaptors and air data accessories kits takes tremendous precision, experience and expertise. The pitot-static system feeds airspeed and altitude data to flight-critical computers, controllers and switches. It isn’t hyperbole to say that test adaptors must accurately assess the integrity of the system, or risk harm to aviators, passengers and aircraft. 

Nav-Aids Ltd. of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, has taken on this enormous responsibility for more than 50 years. The family-owned and -operated company is an early pioneer, specializing in pitot-static test adaptors and air data accessories kits for all manner of aircraft – from general aviation, commuter, corporate, transport and military to missile defense, unmanned aerial vehicles and space vehicles. Nav-Aids Ltd. supports more than 300 different types of aircraft in all. All of Nav-Aids’ design, assembly and testing takes place at its state-of-the-art 6,000-square-foot facility located near Montréal-Trudeau International Airport. 

“Our adaptors are available as stand-alone items or in aircraft-specific kits that include all required adaptors, hose assemblies, pre-test tools, control consoles (LSUs), spare seals, lubricating fluid, hose suspension fixtures and more, all contained in transit cases equipped with dunnage to properly store and protect contents,” said Brent Gilday, Nav-Aids president. 

“We also offer a complete line of spares and consumables that can be easily replaced in the field without special tooling. Plus, we’ve developed an extensive line of high-temperature pitot probe covers and static vent covers.” 

Challenges of Design

During the last 50 years, Nav-Aids Ltd. has continued to develop new products even as evolving aircraft designs and technologies pose a variety of challenges. Obstacles in close proximity to static ports, differing contours and other issues often make attaching a mechanism difficult. Plus, today’s probes not only provide source pressure for pitot and static sensing, they often provide angle of attack sensing, too, which also requires measurement and calibration. Overcoming these challenges has led Nav-Aids Ltd. to create a stable of innovative solutions for test adaptors. 

 

Did You Know?

BY GEOFF HILL, EDITOR, AVIONICS NEWS

In March 2013, Avionics News published an article titled “Testing Technology” that discussed automation and adaptors for pitot-static testing. 

The article suggested that the first pitot-static adaptors were introduced in 1998. However, Brent Gilday, president of Nav-Aids Ltd., said there’s more to the story.

“My father, John Gilday of Nav-Aids Ltd., produced and patented the first static adaptor in 1963, and the first pitot in 1968,” Gilday said.

And, according to Gilday, most test-equipment manufacturers do not specialize or make adaptors as the article suggested. “Of the major brands, only one makes a limited line of adaptors,” he said. “In fact, many ADT manufacturers, including GE, Barfield and Laversab, have teamed with Nav-Aids Ltd. to offer the ‘complete solution’ for pitot-static testing. With a Nav-Aids air data accesories kit in one hand and an ADT in the other, a technician has all the tooling required to complete the task.”

Gilday also said it’s important to understand that smart probes test for pitot, static and, most importantly, angle of attack. “These probes work in unison with each other,” he said.

Finally, Gilday noted the “the technology to locate and identify leaks has been a reality for 50 years. The adaptors are connected to the tester by means of hose assemblies that give you precisely this ability. The hose assemblies are configured in such a manner that each system can be shut down one-byone until the leak is located.”

E-MAIL: info@navaidsltd.net 

WEBSITE: www.navaidsltd.net

FACILITIES: 6,000-square-foot facility for design, assembly and testing.

WHAT THEY DO:

Nav-Aids designs and manufactures pitot test adaptors and air data accessories kits.

EMPLOYEES: 22 in-house employees; additional support provided by two dedicated machine shops.

FOUNDED: 1962 by John E. Gilday

AEA MEMBER SINCE: 2002

Brent Gilday, Nav-Aids president, holds one of the company’s smart probe adaptors with a pre-test tool.

 

“Not only have we developed a complete line of smart probe adaptors, but we’ve seen a need for a variety of other specialized pitot-static test adaptors in recent years,” said Gilday, who also leads the company’s research and development team. “And, although alpha probes have been around for decades, the latest generation of smart probes has found favor in both military and civilian applications. We work in conjunction with the probe manufactures and aircraft manufacturers to provide the right aircraft manufacturer-approved product to complete the task.” 

Historically, static test adaptors have fallen into four different groups, according to Gilday. “The Cleco-type is used on ‘pepper pot’ vents, and attached by way of a mandrill that is inserted into the center hole,” he said. “This is accomplished by use of our 33410 series that is adapted to provide for many different sized ports. We have our 21298 series that is designed to fit a wide range of ‘single-hole’ static ports.

 

Nav-Aids Ltd. is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, near the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, inside a 6,000-square-foot facility for design, assembly and testing.

 

“Many aircraft manufacturers provide anchor nuts in close proximity to the static ports that can be used for a very secure connection of the static test adaptor. Our universal-style SKA series is used when the port is too small for direct attachment, and no anchor nuts are available.” 

What about unusual circumstances where obstacles impede on small static holes, or suction cups don’t work with the paint or the probe design encumbers attachment? Nav-Aids Ltd. developed smart solutions for those situations, too. 

“In the case of the Cessna 206, the obstacle is a raised fence directly adjacent to a very small static port,” Gilday said. “Access to the port while avoiding the possibility of drawing air from between the port and the aircraft skin posed a particular problem. The solution was the development of a variation of the SKA series that utilizes a bore-sighted assembly to bypass the fence to seat and seal directly in and on the port.” 

In a recent patented design, Nav-Aids Ltd. created a test adaptor that uses three of the static vent’s surround holes as attaching points. 

“The fact that the center hole was deemed too small for conventional adaptors, the lack of anchor nuts, and the paint finish not being conducive to suction cups led to the development of this unique adaptor,” Gilday said. “The three-point mechanism is inserted into the static port and secured by means of a thumbscrew. The seal holder is then screwed onto the jaw assembly for testing. This technology has since been adapted for other aircraft as well.” Even the probes on Piper aircraft required a unique solution, resulting in an adjustable arm that allows technicians to accommodate the various ports from aircraft to aircraft. “In the past, the ‘shark fin’ shape of the probe was accommodated by a molded rubber adaptor secured with gear clamps,” he said. “However, variation between probes led to problems that forced the technician to tee in behind the probe. This practice not only meant the test was not being done from source, but also led to potential damage of connectors and was very time consuming. The solution was to develop an adaptor that uses a three-sided frame to accommodate the probe, most recently with an adjustable arm for the static port seal. This unit is a real time saver.” 

Living up to the Legacy

As more demanding operating conditions have required higher standards for test equipment, pitot-static sensing has rapidly evolved from hose lines and analog instruments to transducers and glass cockpits. Multifunction probes are now the norm, according to Gilday, “and increasing air traffic makes high accuracy avionics and avionics test equipment an absolute necessity.”

Nav-Aids Ltd. is well positioned to handle the challenges, drawing on a long legacy of expertise. Many of the company’s personnel are second- and third-generation pitot-static experts having worked with Gilday’s father and founder of the company, John Gilday.

“Prior to 1962, Nav-Aids Ltd. was an instrument repair shop known as Canadian Aeronautical instruments,” Gilday said. “My father, having served with the Royal Air Force and later as apprentice to a watchmaker, quickly made the transition to instrument repair after World War II. It was with the invention of the Cleco-Static Test Adaptor that Nav-Aids Ltd. came into being.

“With the pressurization of the aircraft cockpit came the need to have the altimeter source pressure from the outside of the airframe. This was accomplished by way of static ports that would need to be tested from the port through hose lines to the instrument panel. As well, pitot probes were becoming more complex and increasingly difficult to test with homemade solutions, such as garden hose and plumbing clamps. With the patents of the first static test adaptor in 1963, and the first pitot test adaptor in 1968, Nav-Aids Ltd. began to specialize in aircraft-specific adaptors.”

Throughout its history, the company has experienced near continual growth. Gilday credited the company’s smaller size to being nimble enough to react quickly and efficiently on customers’ behalf. Plus, the implementation of RVSM standards, the wide-spread use of UAVs and the increased popularity of business aircraft have led to Nav-Aids’ strong growth.

“We warranty our product without reservation, and pride ourselves on our record of support,” he said. “Our technical sales representatives travel throughout the world to provide timely solutions and support for virtually all new and existing aircraft. Our dedicated military liaison officer ensures that the right product is in the right place at the right time. As well, our distributors are a vital and dynamic element in our product promotion and sales. In all, we strive to produce the highest quality, user-friendly tools available.” 

 

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