Black Hawk pilots, mechanics stay informed via online program

Starting this month, the pilots who fly the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters and the
mechanics who maintain the aircraft can browse Black Hawk data stored on multiple Web
servers.


At a spring conference of Black Hawk users, Paul Behrens, project officer for the
Army’s Engineering Data Management Systems, described the response to the Web program
as fantastic.


“The Black Hawk has a user base of about 2,500 people,” he said.
“It’s not just the number of people that’s important, it’s the amount
of information scattered in different locations.”


The Army EDMS Office in Huntsville, Ala., is pulling together the scattered information
using SuiteSpot tools from the Defense Information Systems Agency’s license of
Netscape Communications Corp. server software.


Although Netscape’s Compass Server was not included in DISA’s departmentwide
license last year, the Army wants to add it, Behrens said. Compass Server can index all
the Black Hawk documents by categories, pointing to those hosted on different intranet and
File Transfer Protocol sites maintained by the Army and its contractors, he said.


A mechanic looking for specific information about, say, the helicopter rotor could see
all the documents or video clips in that category at a mouse click.


They might reside on an intranet of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., the United Technologies
Corp. subsidiary in Stratford, Conn., that makes the chopper, or in an engineering drawing
stored in one of the Defense Department’s Joint Engineering Data Management
Information and Control System repositories.


The mechanic also might subscribe to specific information categories under Compass
Server’s profiling feature, called My Compass, which would send a custom newsletter
whenever new information was added to the categories. The custom newsletter would arrive
by e-mail, via a personal Web page or over Netscape’s Netcaster channel.


“There’s a strong push by DOD to be able to access information directly at
the contractor’s site, which alleviates management of information at our end,”
Behrens said. “The term I like for this concept is ‘deliver in place.’


He credited the idea of simplifying Black Hawk data access to Col. Thomas Harrison,
project manager for the Army’s utility helicopter category.


The category includes, in addition to the Black Hawk or UH-60, the Huey or UH-1 chopper
made by the Bell Helicopter unit of Textron Inc. in Providence, R.I.


“Harrison wanted the [Compass Server] site to be the single point of entry for
anyone needing technical or programmatic information on the Black Hawk,” Behrens
said. “A user shouldn’t have to go to 50 different places to find that
information.”


The same data consolidation could extend to the Navy, which calls the UH-60 the Sea
Hawk. The Army chairs a joint service group called Team Hawk, which includes
representatives of all UH-60 users. 

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