Avionics Directorate, LAHAV division
The Avionics directorate at LAHAV division of
Israel Aircraft Industries is responsible for providing modern avionics
solutions and support products for modernised aircraft. It is a
relatively small entity about 100 people.
The avionics upgrade projects follow a well
established mature engineering process starting with concept definition
through requirements, design, software development, system integration
to flight testing by the customer.
User needs are addressed by a group of IAI pilots
who represent the customer/user and define the operational requirements.
Their work is based on their operational experience and previous
projects, but is not supported by any specific methods and techniques.
LAHAV is part of IAI-wide process improvement
program that started at 1992. The program initially focused on software,
adopted SEI Capability Maturity Model as a map for improvement.
In following years process improvement assets and a support infrastructure
was created and contributed to successful introduction of processes,
methods and technologies.
LAHAV joined the TRUMP project with the objective
of evaluating the impact of applying user-centred methods on a typical
project. LAHAV had the following business objectives:
- Improve the operational requirements definition
and evaluation process
- Increase usability of LAHAV products
- Increase customer satisfaction from LAHAV
At a more detailed level we wanted to:
- Assess the techniques' contribution to usefulness
of the developed product.
- Understand how these techniques can be integrated
into IAI development process.
- Measure the costs of applying the techniques.
- Evaluate developers' and managers' readiness
to practice these techniques and the degree of their satisfaction
from the process and their results.
We learned from our process improvement experience
that the last objective is especially important for successful introduction
of new methods.
Use of techniques
We selected the development of a new Mission
Planning Centre (MPC) using the Windows NT Interface as a trial
project. An MPC enables a pilot to plan an airborne mission that
is then loaded onto a cartridge and taken by the pilot to the aircraft.
In the aircraft the pilot loads the data into the aircraft’s main
We started with a one-day informal workshop-style
assessment against the Usability Maturity
Model (UMM) performed by Serco. A series of interviews with
developers and managers were held throughout the day to rate the
extent to which each base practice was carried out.
Then we selected which methods to use for the
trial. The selection was based on:
- The areas for improvement identified in the
- The specifics of
- Ease of integration with the IAI development
- Our intuition relating the potential value
of each technique
IAI experience of using
the methods was very positive.
After application of the techniques, the pilots
group assessed the benefits. The conclusions were very positive.
- Most of the techniques are very intuitive
to understand, to implement and even to facilitate. The techniques
are divided into two major categories: (1) meetings or workshops
usually lasting 2-6 hours with about 3-6 participants. (2) a one
on one paper or computer prototype evaluation by potential users,
about 2 hours for each one.
- Practising these techniques in the early
stages of design and development ensured less design mistakes
- All participants and developers thought that
most of the techniques were worthwhile and that they helped in
developing a better and more usable system.
- The techniques were assessed as very cost
effective and low cost.
The last observation deserves elaboration. Usually
introducing changes into an organisation is a lengthy, costly and
complicated process. It requires convincing many people to invest
time and money and then demonstrate the benefits versus costs. In
the recent years it became even more difficult due to staff shortage
and the requirement to reduce the time to market.
TRUMP was the exception due mainly to its low
cost, and obvious benefits. When the developers only have to invest
a few days in applying the methods and see the results on the spot,
convincing the managers is very simple and performing cost-benefit
analysis is simply not needed.
In view of the short time and effort it took
to practice these techniques and the strong impact they had on the
quality of the system, they are being incorporated in LAHAVs
development process. The expertise available at LAHAV to practice
these techniques is not great. Nevertheless the techniques are fairly
intuitive and should be easy for new facilitators to learn.
We are currently working on establishing a specific
support structure for disseminating the techniques into other IAI
Other parts of the
IAI case study
Introducing User Centred Design
UCD: calculating cost benefits
Last updated 4-Oct-00.