Mike Dinallo and Larry Schneider prepare to employ the PASD diagnostic on a wiring bundle in the cockpit of a retired Boeing 737. (Photo by Randy Montoya)
June 21, 2006 An intermittent fault is the most frustrating problem of all. Most of us who play with Gizmos have experienced it at least once, and some of us in specialist jobs have experienced it many times. One can only imagine the feelings of futility that technicians experience when trying to find an intermittent short circuit in the miles of wiring behind the panels of an aging commercial airliner – or the cost of tracking the potentially dangerous short circuit down. Now Sandia National Laboratories has invented a new rapid technique that may make it financially feasible for airlines to quickly diagnose and repair the hard-to-locate intermittent faults that have plagued the industry and cost millions of dollars in lost revenue due to aircraft downtime. Pulsed Arrested Spark Discharge (PASD) is expected to be on the market by September via licensee Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems, combined with that company’s other patented test methods under the name ArcSafe. Other possible uses eventually envisioned for PASD are as inexpensive tests for the wiring harnesses of passenger cars and new homes. Military tanks and the hard-to-reach wiring behind the steel bulkheads of submarines are also possible candidates.