Flight Test of the Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and
Control Countermeasures Dispense Envelope
Mark A. Mitchell (M)
Norman E. Howell (AF)
The Boeing Company
The Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, based upon the Boeing Business Jet 737-700IGW model with CFM56-7B27A engines and auxiliary fuel tanks, is the airborne mission segment sold in direct commercial sale to provide modern surveillance, command and control capabilities for international air, land and sea forces. The AEW&C aircraft hosts a multimode MESA radar/IFF, data links, mission radios and electronic support measures to provide an airborne command and control node to friendly forces within an area of operation. Customer options may include self protection measures, of which a countermeasure dispensing system (CMDS) may be a feature. This paper describes the effort to test and certify the safe separation of expendable countermeasure stores on the AEW&C aircraft in September-October of 2009. We adapted “value stream mapping” to develop a testing sequence. By applying this lean concept, the team experienced a 32% reduction in test points required, and improved risk management using a multipath build up technique. The team developed a risk-based decision-making tool, called a decision matrix, to support real time go / no go calls. These methods enabled clearing countermeasure dispensing for an entire aircraft operating envelope, despite multiple risk areas and scant predictive analysis. The paper concludes with “lessons learned” in test planning, execution, and risk management during the test of a unique countermeasure system design.