Technical Illustrations Extend Aircraft Life (including F15)

Found in Translation – Keeping F-15s in the Sky

“Canvas is invaluable in taking complex data and making it very easy for front line service personnel to understand.”

Patricia Hume
May 19, 2020

Translations and Communication

Whenever I see high ranking officials communicating through translators – particularly when relations between those officials are a touch strained – I find myself thinking just how important that translator actually is.

They may not be the highest ranking person in the room, but there’s an argument to be made that — in that moment, and in that delicate workflow — they’re the most powerful.

After all, they choose one wrong word and we could all be toast!

Support and Maintenance in the Aerospace Industry

I was reminded of the value of translation recently after we heard from one of our many Canvas users in the Aerospace industry; a technical lead at one of the world’s largest aerospace companies. He heads a team working on support and maintenance for key aircraft used by our own armed forces, and those of our allies – including the iconic F-15 and the A-10 Thunderbolt.

These planes have been around a long time but their lives are being extended thanks to the work of these retrofit teams. The F-15 took its first flight almost 50 years ago, and yet it continues to evolve, improve and stay both potent and relevant, as this article shows.

Keeping them in the air requires that the front line maintenance and repair staff need absolute clarity of understanding when it comes to the service programs set out by the engineers responsible for the products.

“Canvas is invaluable in taking complex data and making it very easy for front line service personnel to understand.”

“Technical illustrators have always been the liaison between the front line manual and service workers and the engineering community,” our customer told us.

“We take these very intense, highly complex engineering drawings and simplify them into pictures that enable those front line workers to pick up their tools, look at the picture, and go to work. We used to do it with paper, now we do it with Canvas software.”

Making complex information accessible, understandable, and actionable is a vital process at numerous engineering and manufacturing firms. And it is, at its core, a work of translation.

“Graduate engineers who have eight years of college speak a totally different language to the young adult who has graduated high school and joined the military,” says our Canvas user. “These young people might not use such sophisticated language but they have great manual dexterity and visual acuity, and they can look at a picture and realize what it’s telling them. Canvas is invaluable in taking that complex data and making it very easy for the mechanics to understand.”

F-15 in flight

Canvas occupies a unique position in the workflow of this particular user, thanks in part to our software’s ability to import data in so many different formats. Across Canvas X, Canvas X Geo (our geospatial data visualization product) and Canvas X3, which allows users to import, manipulate and display 3D CAD models, we can import well over 100 different file types.

This makes us both highly complementary to other software solutions used by large manufacturers, and a natural workflow hub for key communicators like this customer, who provides visual documentation for the modernization and upkeep of these aircraft.

A company of this size and complexity has a vast array of software packages involved in the product lifecycle but, our customer told us (returning to the theme of translation), they don’t always talk to each other too well:

“Fortunately Canvas is loaded with great translators,” he said. “We use it to convert text searchable PDF files of schematics exported from our Common Electrical / Electronic Data System (CEEDS) into Siemens NX-compatible CGM import files. And we use Canvas to import engineering vector artwork produced in Siemens NX and combine that with color, raster JPG or TIF images in our Canvas illustrations.”

“Canvas is loaded with great translators.”

He continued: “I might take a CGM file of a rendered wireframe from VizMockup and pull it into Canvas where I can start adding my callouts, my arrows, using saved templates, add my artistic flourishes and then I have the fully rendered figure. I export that as a JPG or a TIF and it goes to publication.”

This is a great example of how Canvas is so much more than an illustration package, and how our customers are endlessly innovative in their discovery of new applications for the software.

I realized that Canvas is just like those translators working on the world stage. Maybe not the highest-ranking piece of software in the building — and certainly not the most expensive! — but absolutely instrumental to a host of essential and sometimes delicate processes that allow progress to continue.

And, of course, with Canvas, nothing is lost in translation.

About the author
Patricia Hume
Chief Executive Officer

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