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Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137



Vicky Diaz Nevangga, Romi Wiryadinata

Electrical Engineering Department, Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa University - UNTIRTA

Number of aircraft accidents occurred within the last few decades led toaircraft manufacturers continue updating the technology
in their products, however air transportation accidents were still happen, with one of the cause were due to failure on the flaps
and slats which was parts of the flight controls system. This study aims to determine the factors of failure of Leading Edge Flap
and Slat Position Indicating System Boeing 737NG series aircraft and design expert system decision makers for maintenance of
the system. The method of analysis in this study conducted in three phases, namely graph analysis, FMEA (Failure Mode Effect
Analysis) approach and the analysis through simulation of a forward chaining expert system using MATLAB. Analysis shows that
the most cases occured in Leading Edge Flap and Slat Position Indicating System was light illuminate cases and the proximity
sensor failure was one cause. Another factor affecting the failure is the aircraft ages, the older the aircraft, the level of aircraft’s
reliability and allof the components will decrease.
Key Words: accidents, aircraft,flap slat, failures, expert system

1. Introduction
Air transport plays an important role in supporting the economic growth of a country. One of important factor that
is required to achieve reliable air transportation is good conditions of aircraft, to meet safety and security requirements.
Aircraft maintenance is conducted on a regular basis in accordance with the established regulations by the world's civil
aviation organization ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), the world air transport association IATA
(International Air Transport Association), and the Indonesian aviation authorities (Office of Airworthiness Indonesia).
The number of aircraft accidents that occurred within the last few decades led to the aircraft manufacturers are
constantly updating the technology on the aircraft products, but in fact variety of accidents involving air transportation
continues to happen. If analyzed, in general a plane crash can be caused by the following factors namely human error,
engineering problem, and weather condition.
Of the three factors above, which become the focus of discussion in this paper is the second factor, namely engineering
problem and will be devoted to the case of flight controls failure.
This research was conducted at PT. GMF which is an SBU (Strategic Business Unit) of PT Garuda Indonesia Group.
GMF AeroAsia does care and maintenance of the entire fleet of PT Garuda Indonesia, including Boeing 737 Next
Generation Series which is the object of this research.

2. Literature Review
2.1. Flight Control System
Flight control system consists of three parts, the main part (Primary / Main Control Surface), which consists of
aileron, elevator, and rudder, then the secondary part (Auxiliary Flight Control Surface), or commonly referred to as
secondary Flight Control Surface consisting the flaps, slats, and speed brakes, as well as tertiary section
(Supplementary Flight Control Surface)15).

Figure .1. Flight Controls Design

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

1. Aileron
Aileron function is to control the aircraft movement roll to the right or left which is called roll.
2. Elevator
Elevators function is to move the plane ride (climb) and down (descend) which is called pitch up and pitch
3. Rudder
Rudder function is to provide the plane maneuver to the right or left of that , which also known as yaw.
4. Wing flaps & slats
Wing flaps and slats are used to give lift force whose function is to reduce the path length through the runway
by the time plane taking off. The use of flaps and slats when landing would be useful to reduce speed and
maintain a stable plane11).
5. Speed brakes(spoiler)
Speed brake alsocalled drive flaps / spoilers which used to slow down the aircraft during flight and descent. In
deal with the aileron, speed brakes provide lateral control, while in spoilers system as speed brakes.

2.2. LE (Leading Edge) Flap and Slat Position Indicating System

In this system there are 30 pieces of distance sensors (proximity sensors), each of the two pieces on each LE flap
and slat numbers 1 and 8, and each of the three pieces of slat numbers 2 to 7. The distance sensor measures the
position of a moving target with the surface. The proximity sensor sends data to the FSEU, then FSEU use this data to
control the LE devices annunciator panel in the cockpit.

Figure 2. Working Principle of Proximity Sensor schematic on the LE Slat

Schematic working principle of proximity sensor on the LE slat (Figure 2) can be described as follows. At LE slat 1
and 8 there are 2 pieces proximity sensor that is in board and outboard sensor. When at the retracted position, inboard
and outboard sensor reading each target position, when extended position only inboard sensor that reads the target, and
when at the fully extend position only outboard sensor that reads the target. The picture is shown for LE slat 1, while
on LE slat 8 contrary to the position in the figure.
While in the LE slat 2 to 7, there are 3 types of proximity sensornamely inboard sensor, retract sensor, and outboard
sensors. When at the retracted position, the retract sensor only that reads the target position, when at extended position
the inboard sensor only that reads the target, and when at the fully extended position the outboard sensor only that read
the target. Figure 2 shown for LE slat 2-4, while LE slat 5-7 in contrary position to the figure.

Figure3. LE Devices Annunciator Panel

Leading edge devices annunciator panel is an indicator components of LE flaps and slats which is found on the
overhead panel in the cockpit, this indicator has 2 pieces of colors: green and amber. The figure 3 shows all the
indicator light (LE flap 1-4 and LE slat1-8) after the test button is pressed, which is a normal procedure in checking the
condition of the indicator lights15).

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

2.3. FMEA
Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a systematic approach that applies a method creating tables to help
the thought process used by engineers to identify potential failure modes and their effects. FMEA is an engineering
evaluation of system reliability to determine the effect of the failure of the system. Failure characterized by a given
impact on the success of a mission of a system.
In general, FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) is defined as a technique that identifies three things, namely:
 The cause of a potential failure of the system, product design and process during its life cycle,
 The effect of these failures,
 The critical level failure effects on the function of the system, product design and process.

2.4. Expert System

Expert System is a branch of AI (Artificial Intelligence) or computer-based artificial intelligence that uses
knowledge, facts, and reasoning techniques to solve a problem that usually can only be solved by an expert in that
To build a system that functioned to mimic a human expert should be able to do things that can be done by experts. To
build such a system like it, the following basic components should be included:
1. User interface
2. Knowledge base
3. Inference engine

Figure4. Expert System Structure

Expert System has two main parts, namely 13):

1. Development environment, the part which is used to insert expert’s knowledge into an expert system
environment. Components included in this section are knowledge base, knowledge engineer, knowledge
improvement, expert, and inference engine.
2. Consultation environment, the part used by non-expert users to gain knowledge. Components included in this
section are user, interface, explanation facilities, recommended actions, workplace, and inference engine.

3. Research Methode
Design and analysis methods in this study requires the completion of steps using scientific methods. The methods
used in this study are:
1. Literature study, learn and understand the basic theory of the Expert System, and other materials related to the
system flaps and slats on aircraft flying through books, journals, research, AMM (Aircraft Maintenance Manual)
and CMM (Component Maintenance Manual).
2. Field studies, namely the collection of data by making observations to the PT GMF to know about how the
leading edge slat and flap position indicating system in Boeing 737 Next Generation series works with a wide
variety of cases, as well as to obtain data required parameters used in this study.
3. Research design, the development of software systems in accordance with step by step on Expert System as
follows: problem identification, analysis and knowledge acquisition, selection tools, knowledge representation,
verification and validation, implementation, evaluation and implementation of the final stage.

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

4. After processing and data selection, analysis of first phase by using a graphic display, and analysis of second
phasewith FMEA method approach.
5. Design of an expert system which is the third stage of the analysis, namely the development of software systems
in accordance with step by step on Expert System as follows: database design, table design and decision-making
tree corresponding forward chaining method, then design interface (GUI).
6. Testing expert system according to the reference of the expert, whether it is as expected or not.
7. Analysis of the results of testing and making conclusions.

3.1. Hardware
The hardware used in this study is a laptop with the following system specifications:
Manufacturer : ASUSTek COMPUTER INC.
Model : K46CM
Rating : 4,9 (Windows Experience Index)
Processor : Intel (R) Core(TM) i3-3217U CPU @ 1.80GHz (4 CPUs)
Memory : 4096 MB RAM
System type : 64-bit Operating System
Op. System : Windows 7 Ultimate (6.1, Build 7600)
Product ID : 00426-OEM-8992662-00400

While display device specification as follows:

Name : Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000
Manufacturer : Intel Corporation
Chip Type : Intel(R) HD Graphics Family
DAC Type : Internal
Total Memory : 1696 MB
Monitor : Generic PnP Monitor

3.2. Software
This study used MATLAB software. MATLAB is a programming language with high ability in the field of
computing. MATLAB has the capability of integrating computation, visualization, and programming. Therefore,
MATLAB is widely used in the areas of research that require complex numerical computation.

3.3. Research Design

In the rule-based expert system, domain knowledge represented in a collection of IF-THEN-shaped, while the
data represented in a collection of facts about the incident at this time. Comparing interference engine each rule stored
in the knowledge base with the facts contained in the database.

Figure5. Expert System General Design Flowchart

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

The block diagram for the Expert System in this study are as follows,

Figure6. Expert System Block Diagram

3.4. Table Contents Design

While designing the contents of the table, this study used some codesfor represent the problem, the following
tables informed some phase or condition contained on the problem with the code.
Table1.Problem Code(Phase)
No. Condition/phase Code
1. Taxi TAXI (A)
2. Take off T/O (B)
3. Climb CLB (C)
4. Cruise CRZ (D)
5. Descend DES (E)
6. Approach APP (F)
7. Landing LDG (G)
8. No remarks NO RMK (H)

After knowing the code of the problem, there is another code which also used to represent the action, while the action
is the proceeding taken by the engineers in solving problems.
Table 2.Action Code(Phase)
No. Action Code
1. Adjustment adj
2. Alternate alt
3. and n
4. Asymmetry assy
5. Check chk
6. Circuit Breaker CB
7. Clean cln
8. Clear clr
9. Computer comp
10. Connection conn
11. Electrical elect
Flight Data Acquisition
12. FDAU
13 Flap Slat Electronic Unit FSEU
14. Flaps / Slats F/S
15. Hydraulic hyd
16. Indicator ind
17. Leading Edge LE
18. Left Hand LH
19. Mechanical mech
20. Message msg
21. Operational Check OPC
22. Performance perform
23. Position post
24. Proximity prox
25. Recycle rcl
26. Replace rpl
27. Reposition repost
28. Retract ret
29. Trailing Edge TE
30. Transmitter tx

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

Table 3.Problem Code (Flap Position)

No. Position Retract Extend
1. Flap 1 (F1) A1 B1
2. Flap 2 (F2) A2 B2
3. Flap 3 (F3) A3 B3
4. Flap 4 (F4) A4 B4

Table 3 is a problem code for theflap position with 2 classifications that are in retracted flaps (docked) or extended
(widen) flap1 to 4.
Table4.Problem Code (Slat Position)
No. Position Inboard Outboard
1. Slat 1 (SL1) C1 D1
2. Slat 2 (SL2) C2 D2
3. Slat 3 (SL3) C3 D3
4. Slat 4 (SL4) C4 D4
5. Slat 5 (SL5) C5 D5
6. Slat 6 (SL6) C6 D6
7. Slat 7 (SL7) C7 D7
8. Slat 8 (SL8) C8 D8

Table 4 is a code table to position the slat problem with the classification of 2 position i.e. inboard slat and outboard
slat in location from slat 1 through slat 8.

Table5.Action Code (FIM Task)

No. Action Code
1. FIM 27-88 TASK 803 P
2. FIM 27-88 TASK 804 Q
3. FIM 27-88 TASK 805 R
4. FIM 27-88 TASK 806 S

Table 5 is the encoding of action that leads into the FIM task engineer / mechanic while doing aircraft maintenance
process. This study used 4 pieces of the task FIM 27-88 803 numbers up to 806.

3.5. Inference Mechanism

Inference is the process to generate information from known or assumed facts. Inference is a logical conclusion
(logical conclusion) or implications based on the information available.



For I = 1 Input Value Problem


If problem1 = true
And problem 2 = true

Search for Solution

If Solution found

Displaying Solution


Figure7. Forward Chaining Process Flowchart

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

3.6. Knowledge Basis Representation

Table6. Rules
1. IF A THEN 4, 29, 34
2. IF C THEN 23, 24
3. IF D THEN 1, 9, 11, 28, 30
4. IF F THEN 33, 35, 38, 39
5. IF G THEN 2, 3, 5, 8 ,10, 13, 18, 19, 26, 27, 42, 44
IF H THEN 12, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 25, 31, 32, 36, 40, 41,
43, 45, 46
10 IF (D AND H) THEN 15
11. IF (E AND F) THEN 6

Rules can be explained briefly that the code letter (A, B, C, and so on) is the representation of the problem that is in
accordance with Table 1. While the code numbers (1, 2, 3, and so on) is a representation of the action in accordance
with Table 2.
In this expert system design using advanced tracking reasoning (forward chaining) which start from a set of facts about
a problem that is given by the user as an input system, then tracking is performed calculations to final destination a
possible diagnosis and the value of the damage caused to his beliefs.
For the inference process can be seen in Figure 7 which is a picture of the system solutions expert search using
flowchart or flow charts.

3.7. Decision Tree

Figure 8. Combined Decision Tree I

In this study made a joint decision tree obtained from several decision tree. Fig 8 explains the composite image of six
decision tree for the input and output parameters phase. This decision tree is based coding has been waged and refer to
Table 1 is a table problem code (phase) and Table 2 is table action code number (phase).

Figure 9. Combined Decision Tree II

Figure 9 is a decision tree based on the location of the position parameters of the likelihood of error, which is between
1 to flap flap and slat 4 slat 1 to 8.

3.8. GUI Design

Modeling expert system that is designed to use graphical user interface configuration (graphic user interface) or
commonly called a GUI in MATLAB programming. GUI design is designed with the format. Figure can be seen in
Figure 10 below.

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

Figure10. Matlab GUI figure

4. Result
4.1. Results Analysis Phase I
Here are 5 pieces of graph analysis of data obtained from the PT GMF, starting from the case and case
classification B737NG causing operational delays (delay) with the data span January 2010 - May 2012. Classification
of cases that do only take 3 pieces of the most common cases, the asymmetry flaps, flaps stuck, and illuminate light
error. Then take one piece case that is most common in both types of aircraft, the light illuminate the error displayed
chart based on the time span of each month in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

40 Flaps
30 assymetry
20 Flaps stuck
0 Light
GE* GF* GM* illuminate

Figure11. B737NG Case Classification

Figure 11 drawing graphs shows that the B737NG aircraft with registration number PK-GE* is the most experienced
flight cases and cases in each registration is light illuminate error.

8 Flaps
6 assymetry
4 Flaps stuck
0 Light
GE* GF* GM* illuminate
Figure12. B737NG Case Classification – Delay Caused

Figure 12 graphs show results similar to the previous chart, B737NG aircraft, registered PK-GE* and the case of light
illuminate the error is still at the highest chart position.

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

0 GM*



Figure13. Light Illuminate Error Cases in B737NG – 2010
From Figure 13 looks aircraft, registered PK-GM* and PK-GF* yet many are having problems in its first year in
operation (2010), in contrast to the following year (2011) in Figure 14, which means the fluctuating graph has many
cases of light illuminate error.

1 GM*
Jan MarMay Jul Sep Nov
Figure14. Light Illuminate Error Cases in B737NG – 2011

Graph in Figure 15 shows the number of cases that occurred in 2012 until May, when a review of the field to the PT.
GMF and this thesis report is being structured.


0 GM*
Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Figure15. Light Illuminate Error Cases in B737NG – 2012

4.2. Results Analysis Phase II

From the results of table creation FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) can be determined one cause of failure
in the Leading Edge Flap and Slat Position Indicating System caused by the failure of the proximity sensor. After
unpacking the causes of failure (failure mode), it is known that the metal material of the proximity sensor-based
aluminum has poor reliability, causing many problems. Therefore, the proximity sensor is replaced with a titanium-
based metal that has a better reliability in accordance with the maintenance standards.

4.3. Results Analysis Phase III

After the analysis of conventional data processing stage 1 with the output of graphics display and analysis using
FMEA table stage 2, stage 3 analysis by simulation with an expert system using MATLAB programming
language.Here are the results and display the GUI (Graphic User Interface) of the expert system program has been

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

Figure 16. Matlab GUI Expert System Default

Shown in figure 16 is a MATLAB GUI after the program is executed, with 3 separate blocks of the problem as an
input parameter and action as well as the FIM Task as outputs and outcomes. Block problem has 2 input parameters
namely position and phase. Position parameters retract the F1-F4, F1-F4 EXTEND, SL1-SL8 OUTBOARD, and SL1-
SL8 Inboard. Whereas the phase parameters TAXI, TAKE OFF, CLIMB, CRUISE, Descend, APPROACH,

Figure 17. Example Display Result 1

In Figure 17 is an example of the display when the parameters entered F1 retract position, and the parameters included
in this phase is TAXI. When the program is executed (Run), then the action will be seen advice column 1. Chk flaps
perform; 2. RCL FSEU; 3. RPL prox sensor OPC flap LE. This indicates an optional action that is checked flaps
performance, recycle FSEU, or replace proximity sensor flap Leading Edge, operational check. In the FIM Task
column visible suggestion to refer to the FIM 27-88 TASK 805.

Figure 18. Example Display Result 2

Figure 18 is an example of the display when the position parameters and parameter F2 EXTEND CLIMB execution
phase, which results in the form of information on the action column 1. CLN sensor and Chk LE flap surface; 2. CLN
slat # 6 switches and 27-88 TASK 806 FIM Task column. This means the option maintenance action to be taken is to
clean the surface of the sensor and check the LE flap, as well as by cleaning switch on slat # 6. The procedure is also

Proceedings International Seminar of Aerospace Science and Technology 17th SIPTEKGAN -2013, 17: 127-137

done according to what is contained in the FIM 27-88 TASK 806.

5. Conclusion
Based on the research that has been conducted in accordance with the formulation of the problem and existing
research purposes, it can be concluded as follows:
1. Failure cases occured in the Leading Edge Flap and Slat Position Indicating System of Boeing 737NG aircraft,
from the most frequent, are light illuminate case, stuck flaps, and flaps asymmetry, respectively.
2. Based on the analysis of FMEA, there is a Leading Edge Flap and Slat Position Indicating System failure caused
by improper use of material (stainless steel) for proximity sensor. Action is taken to replace the component with
a titanium proximity sensor,which has a better reliability level in accordance with the maintenance standards.
3. Another factor affecting the failure is the aircraft fleet age. The older age of the fleet, the level of reliability of the
aircraft and all the components in it will decrease, this is provided by data in the field that shows the registered
PK-GE* of B737NG aircraft, the relatively older age compared to the registered PK-GM* and PK-GF*, have
more frequent system failures.
4. After analyzing the test results, it is shown that referral from FIM (Fault Isolation Manual) expert system is in
100% agreement with the referral from existing experts.

Suggestions relating to the study, namely:
1. In the research that has been done, the scope of the object only focuses on the system that is the ATA 27-88
discusses the Leading Edge Flap and Slat Position Indicating System. For further research is expected to expand
the scope of the object.
2. Expert system designed in this work is still modest, but can be developed further with more complex algorithm in
the next research.
3. Leading Edge Flap and Slat Indication system must be supported with good care and maintenance and routine so
that system reliability can be maintained.
4. The expert system is a decision maker tool that was first created in PT. GMF, when further developed will be
great potential in improving the performance of human resources in the company.


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