Technical Writing and Illustration
We write maintenance manuals and sell products to facilitate the production and review of technical documentation. All of our maintenance manuals are written to be in general compliance with the content models and format recommendations defined in the A4A iSpec-2200 (A4A Information Standard 2200), and the ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English Standard.
PTWS writes and illustrates documents to support Supplemental Type Certification projects (STCs modify the original aircraft design specification). Products classified beyond the level of “minor modification” must be certified for installation by the FAA and documents will be needed to support those products. We write those supplemental documents.
Each type of maintenance manual has its specific purpose and content model. We’ve created templates and standard content to efficiently produce the manuals you will need to get your product certified. Common manuals include the Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM), Component Maintenance Manual (CMM), Aircraft Illustrated Parts Catalog (AIPC), Wiring Diagram Manual (WDM), Structural Repair Manual (SRM), and Service Bulletins.
We’ve developed and produced several other types of documents to support our clients, including Operator’s Manuals, Installation Manuals, Configuration Manuals, Airplane Flight Manual supplements, process and interior color and specifications, and, on occasion, administrative procedural documents. Let us know what you need, and we’ll tell you if we have the capability to do the work.
It is important to say up-front that we don’t write every type of manual described in the iSpec-2200. We don’t bid on every job. Some jobs cannot be effectively done by an off-site contractor. The complexity of your project, your working methods, and your ability to provide data will determine whether you should be using a contractor or developing in-house writing capabilities. If you are considering PTWS as your technical writing resource, you will need to brief us on your project and send us your detailed RFQ. We’ll study your project, and, if we have the capability to do your work, we’ll submit our bid. If we don’t have the resources to do your work, we’ll tell you, and we'll pass on your project.
The Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM)
All products installed on commercial airplanes require some type of maintenance. The AMM addresses maintenance actions that line-technicians should reasonably be expected to perform to keep your product in service between heavy checks. The AMM describes your product in the context of its purpose and function in the aircraft.
Content sections for the AMM are classified as either descriptive or procedural. The content and extent of the information in those sections depends of the complexity of your product. The content model for this manual type is described in the iSpec-2200 recommendation, but, depending on the product, the organization of the content can be highly variable.
The primary considerations for all AMM supplements are two-fold: that the manual provides a complete technical description of the product to support the knowledge requirements to effectively work on the system; and that all procedures required to perform routine maintenance tasks are covered to the level of detail needed to support line-level maintenance.
All projects begin with the development of the Description and Operation (D&O) section of the AMM. In order to do that, we need to fully understand your product. This is the point in production where your approved data package hits the table, and where we do our homework. If we don’t understand your product, don’t have adequate access to your data, don’t have your drawings in-hand, or don’t have a point-of-contact to answer technical questions, we don’t proceed. Accurate and useful technical manuals cannot be written without supporting data. When the D&O is written and approved, the rest of the manual tends to flow rather quickly, but no D&O is a show-stopper.
The Aircraft Illustrated Parts Catalog (AIPC)
The Aircraft Illustrated Parts Catalog (AIPC) provides your customers with the logistics information they will need to support your product in the field. All products installed on a commercial aircraft need to be included in the AIPC, either as a supplement, or by integrating the product into the OEM manual set.
Contact information for your company and for the vendors who supply the parts for your products are listed. Your products are illustrated in breakdown format to the level needed to unambiguously identify all sourceable parts.
The Part List shows all parts and variants that can be sourced by your customers and gives a narrative to further identify the parts illustrated on the figure pages.
Effectivity codes are used to correlate parts to specific airplanes if needed. Parts are found by searching for the part number in the Alpha-Numerical Index, or by navigating to the Chapter / System section in the supplement and locating the parts visually on the illustration.
Your product design should be fairly solid before AIPC development begins. Developing an AIPC on fluid data is generally an inefficient use of time, so your approved drawings are critical. We use the part lists on your drawings to categorize, organized, and sort the parts into installations, assemblies, subassemblies, and attaching parts. We analyze your drawings and OEM documentation to make decisions on the illustrations, and work with your available graphics, or develop original illustrations to describe your product.
The Wiring Diagram Manual (WDM)
Products that interface with the aircraft electrical system require a Wiring Diagram Manual (WDM) supplement. Technicians must be able to troubleshoot electrical faults in your product, and your wiring diagrams are essential to the process.
WDM supplements tend to be rather small, unless you are doing something like a lighting system modification, or installing an entertainment system. Legibility is the critical factor for a WDM supplement, and our graphic requirements very specific. We have no qualms about rejecting diagrams of marginal quality or items delivered in an unsuitable format. The bottom line on wiring diagrams is that someone will have to read those drawings under difficult conditions and poor lighting. Low quality WDMs are not an option for us.
The Structural Repair Manual (SRM)
The Structural Repair Manual (SRM) is the only document in the suite of supplements that requires certification by a DER. The SRM supplement describes materials and processes that are not included in the OEM documentation that may have a critical affect on the safe operation and material condition of the aircraft. If your product modifies primary or secondary structural components, or uses materials or procedures that have not been previously used on the aircraft, you’re up for an SRM supplement.
The SRM supplement has three content elements: Structure Identification, which describes the parts, materials, procedures, and consumables you specify in your design; Damage Limitations, which define the types and level of damage that may be repaired without engineering support; and Authorized Repairs, which describes methods and procedures to implement repairs on the new class of structures or materials.
Your engineering staff will need to be involved in the development process for this manual supplement. Mushy SRMs are a show-stopper for the FAA. Your research, analysis, evaluations, and recommendations will need to be clear and comprehensive, and your DER will need to authorize the release of your data. We make sure the data complies with the content model and language standards, and that it meets the illustration standards for an SRM supplement.
The Component Maintenance Manual (CMM)
Every product that has assemblies, subassemblies, or component parts that can be repaired or overhauled needs a Component Maintenance Manual. This is the master manual for your product. If your product is an Installation or Assembly level item, we develop the CMM first. Descriptions, procedures, part lists, and illustrations are redacted directly from this manual as source material for the AMM and AIPC. Procedures are extracted and modified as needed for the AMM sections. The CMM addresses your product as a stand-alone repairable item. The CMM is a comprehensive shop-level manual.
The content model for this manual depends on the complexity of the product. All CMMs will have a Description and Operation section and an Illustrated Parts List. Additional sections may include Testing and Fault Isolation, Troubleshooting, Disassembly, Cleaning, Check, Repair, Assembly, Fits and Clearances, Special Tools and Fixtures, Schematics and Wiring Diagram, Storage and Preservation, Shipping, and a Rework section.
CMMs are not quick turn-around items. A large amount of data is required to put a CMM together for a complex installation like a wet galley, modular lavatory, or an overhead bin system. You will be expected to provide technical and engineering support. Logistics information will need to be researched. Procedures will need to be written by us and verified on your end. And, we generally require a full set of photographs with multiple reference views and details of all items to be illustrated. An on-site evaluation of your product may be required.
CMMs that document structural products are relatively easy to produce. Manuals for complex mechanical components, such as hydraulic pumps or pneumatic valves can be problematic. Manuals for digital equipment controlled by software may not be possible to produce at our level without training and full access to engineering data. If you plan of using us long-term, your investment in training us may be money well spent. If you plan on using our services for a short-term project, or for a one-off manual, then probably not. Consider developing in-house capabilities for doing work that requires extensive engineering support.
Service Bulletins (SB)
Service Bulletins are generated to address issues or deficiencies in an approved design. Service Bulletins document engineering fixes that require immediate or short-term attention. Services Bulletins are classified as either Alert or Routine. Alert level SBs address issues that relate to hazards and safety issues, or critical failures that must be corrected immediately. Routine level SBs document improvements or upgrades to a product. All SB data is integrated into the affected manual set in the normal revision cycle.
Service Bulletins are identified by a unique number and date and apply to a single system or component. A short Table of Contents should be included if the SB is lengthy. The SB may have an introductory section that identifies the issue and summarizes the tasks to be completed. This is a useful section for maintenance planners and schedulers and should be included for all but the shortest and simplest SBs.
The SB has three body sections including Planning Information, Material Information, and Accomplishment Instructions. The Planning Information defines the aircraft or product involved, the reason for the SB, and the additional administrative and reference information needed to accomplish and record the actions. The Material Information section lists the logistics requirements for SB accomplishment. The Accomplishment Instructions describe the required steps the maintenance technician must perform.