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  1. On About Time
  2. Oh and one last thing


On About Time

From Terry Kerger

Good information re “About Time Project”
I see you mentioned noncertified on board electronic timer flight recording capabilities. Basically, implying since they are not certified, their data should be discredited. Possibly upsetting Russian glider flyers and F1C flyers using Sidus timers. Delicate situation now that Russian is banned from FAI community, how can they participate in certifying their timers for Flight recorders. If I remember those timers were first to include flight information for downloading. Requiring a time stamp at launch and end of flight/landing seems to be the most certifiable flight duration data. Eliminate any discrepancy as to when flight data for particular flight was made.

Also, it seems like the F1C motor run issue have subsided now that motor runs are electronically controlled.

Terry Kerger

Editor’s Comment

Terry, Let me clarify some of the points I could have put in the original About Time report
The Certification process makes sure that the timing and measure of altitude is working properly, the rate of taking the measurement, compensating for temperature change  for example. It also requires a process to verify that measurement was made during the round and not pre-stored from a previous flight. It makes sure that the information is readily  readable..

The “altimeter dance” process that permits the using of uncertified altimeters as a transitional measure only serves to verify that the flight information was not pre-recorded. It does not verify the accuracy of the device. The way it works is that the altimeter is turned on before the flight starts and all the sportsmen  are instructed by the contest director to raise and lower the model in a sequences known on to the CD. This puts a unique trace on the flight record that is used after the flight to verify the authenticity of the flight. Note that the reason the altimeter in the Sidus cannot even be used in this mode is because the altimeter is turned on by the Sidus timer when the flight starts  (nice thing to  do) so it cannot put anything on the trace before the start of the flight.

While for some sportsman writing the software for an altimeter may be a complete mystery, today with the availability of sensors and microcontrollers making an altimeter is a simple high school or earlier STEM project. There can of course be mistakes or even malicious code in the software so it needs to be independently verified. Also ofther factors such as the frequency of taking the readings is important to ensure the accuracy of the record.  The process to do this described in the FAI/CIAM EDIC documents.  It was the President of the CIAM that pointed out to FF community that a device used for determining the results needs to be to the highest standards, and be approved as fit for purpose.. It is the maker of the device that requests the certification or the device and supplies a lot of the technical information.

In my article I talked about an experience with a M&K timer, I understand this to have not been the very latest version so may have required some higher level of expertise to read it properly. The certification process will check this. These altimeters can be used as long as uncertified ones permitted. I believe you are correct in that it is not possible for Russians to get their devices certified at the moment.

I should also make it clear that I do not consider either the Sidus or M&K timer or altimeter to be bad, they are very popular devices used by people from many countries but they were designed and made before the latest evolution of the rules.

Lastly the F1C engine run issue has not gone away. For example there was an on again off again episode at the last World Champs about possibly timing F1C engine runs on the ground due to the difficulty of timing them in the air.  This was considered but there was not complete agreement so it was not done.

Note that one of the rules changes proposals coming up at the next CIAM meeting calls for the exclusion of uncertified devices and permitting the use of certified devices in challenging timer recorded flight times in rounds as well as fly off flights. This make it more important than ever that determination of the flight time be very easy for the official. The object should be making it easier to run an event fairly not harder.

Oh and one last thing

Left out of the About Time Report were 2 items of input that  we have just received.

The first is that we probably need to review the marking on certified altimeters including serial numbers to make it easier to identify them and more difficult to change the external marking.

The second is that there an increasing number of top level sportsmen who believe that the altimeters of the top five (for example, at least) in World Cup and Champs final  flights of the day must be submitted for examination of the last flight, almost certainly a fly off flight. Some events are considering adding this as a local rule before any Sporting Code change. Note this would be a binding rule with the score being taken into account. Not just a test as we did at Fab Feb.  This further acknowledgement that is generally considered that just as many, if not more people get extra seconds than lose them because of timing anomalies so those people may not contest their score.