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What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 30, 2021

Check out the May 30 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.



Airbus Gives Update on Production Plans

Airbus expects to ramp up its production rate for its A320 family, including the A320neo pictured here. (Airbus)

Airbus provided suppliers with a production update on its aircraft in anticipation that the commercial aircraft market recovery will hit pre-pandemic levels in 2023 and 2025 and be led by the single-aisle segment, according to a May 27 press release.

For the A320 family, Airbus is expecting a production rate of 45 aircraft per month in Q4 of 2021 and is asking suppliers to enable a scenario of rate 70 by Q1 of 2024, according to the release. The A220 and A350 families’ rates are currently around five aircraft per month and will rise to six in early 2022. The A330 family production rate remains at two per month.

“The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO, said in a statement. “The message to our supplier community provides visibility to the entire industrial ecosystem to secure the necessary capabilities and be ready when market conditions call for it. In parallel, we are transforming our industrial system by optimizing our aerostructures set-up and modernizing our A320 Family production facilities. All these actions are set in motion to prepare our future.”

Honeywell, Curtiss-Wright 25-Hour Flight Data Recorder Certified by EASA

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the 25-hour Flight Data Recorder (FDR), HCR-25, made by Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright for the air transport market. (Curtiss-Wright)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the 25-hour Flight Data Recorder (FDR), HCR-25, made by Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright for the air transport market, the company announced in a May 26 press release.

“The partnership of Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright continues our shared legacy as pioneers and innovators of crash-protected recorders, with both companies taking leadership roles in providing flight recorders to the industry for over 60 years,” Chris Wiltsey, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions division, said in a statement. “We are proud to work closely with Honeywell to bring extended operation and greater survivability for flight data recorders to the aviation market, enhancing these critical technologies with next-generation features such as real time streaming connectivity and new levels of performance.”

The FDR is based on Curtiss-Wright’s Fortress technology and goes beyond the requirements of each of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defined flight recorder types while adding real time data streaming support, according to the release. Certification of the HCR-25 FDR variant follows the EASA TSO certification issued for the HCR-25 cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in January.

“The new regulatory requirement provided a great opportunity to strengthen our recorder technology and provide our customers with solutions that fit their needs,” Amanda King, vice president and general manager of Connected Secure Solutions at Honeywell Aerospace, said in a press statement. “We worked alongside Curtiss-Wright to design and develop a new generation of recorders that leverages our full hardware and software expertise to meet the 25-hour requirement, and identify the right information and make it available to accident investigation agencies when it’s most needed.”






Delta Expands Viasat In-flight Connectivity Order to More than 230 Additional Aircraft

Delta Air Lines is expanding its January order for Viasat in-flight connectivity (IFC) to more than 230 aircraft within its domestic fleet, according to a May 26 press release.

Under this expansion, select aircraft from Delta Air Lines’ Airbus 321neo, Airbus 220-300, Boeing 737-800, Airbus 320ceo and Airbus 319 fleets will be retrofitted with Viasat’s Ka-band satellite technology, according to the release.

“A single Viasat high-capacity Ka-band satellite antenna will power IFC while simultaneously providing live TV access to the seatback screens,” the company said in the release.

This new aircraft award is in addition to the more than 300 Delta aircraft already announced in January 2021.






US Air Force Proposes Divestments of 201 Aircraft, Big Increases for GBSD, NGAD  

The U.S. Air Force fiscal 2022 budget request proposes the retirement of 201 aircraft to help pay for $28.8 billion in requested research and development (R&D) funding—a $2.2 billion increase over the fiscal 2021 enacted level.

While the Air Force procurement budget has been billions of dollars more than the service R&D budgets in the past, fiscal 2022 marks the third consecutive year that the Air Force has asked for more in base R&D dollars than base procurement dollars. In fiscal 2022, the U.S. Air Force acquisition request, not including the U.S. Space Force, is $22.9 billion—$5.9 billion less than the R&D request.

The proposed Air Force fiscal 2022 aircraft divestments, including the retirements of 48 Boeing F-15C/Ds, 42 A-10s, 18 KC-135s, 14 KC-10s, 47 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds and eight C-130Hs, 20 Northrop Grumman Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawk drones and four Joint STARS aircraft, would save nearly $1.4 billion, the Air Force said.

The service wants to position itself to face Russia and China while sustaining its capacity for engagements with less technologically advanced potential adversaries.

The Air Force requests more than $1.5 billion for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program–a $623 million increase from the fiscal 2021 enacted amount—and more than $2.5 billion for the Northrop Grumman Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD)—$1.1 billion more than funded in fiscal 2021—to replace the Boeing Minuteman III ICBMs. The service also proposes $3.3 billion for the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber in fiscal 2022, an increase of $474 million—including $30 million more in R&D to prepare for B-21 initial production, and $3.2 billion in procurement for 14 Boeing KC-46 tankers to bring the total number of planes to 71.




Hurricane Hunters Get a Software Update

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters” aerial reconnaissance weather officer (ARWO) and loadmaster/dropsonde operator stations are getting hardware and software upgrades to increase their capabilities, according to a May 25 release.

“This upgrade on the ARWO pallet and in regards to the hardware, software and development, to include replacing the monitors to keep up with the new information and data processing, are vital to keeping us up-to-date with the weather community,” Tech. Sgt. Michael Gehl, 403rd MXS meteorology technician, said in a statement. “We work hand-in-hand with engineers and developers from the 580th (Software Engineering Squadron) and (Air Force Reserve Command) for testing and developing any of the equipment that the weather community requests.”

The Hurricane Hunters fly a special WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft into storms to gather weather information, according to the release.

“The (Meteorology Equipment Technician) shop is in the middle of a system upgrade, specifically on the ARWO station,” Maj. Tobi Baker, 53rd WRS ARWO, said in a statement. “It’s a major overhaul because the hardware and software that we use is specialized and a lot of the programs and components are made in-house.”

One of the main upgrades is updating the computer operating systems from Windows XP to Windows 10, according to the release.

“To give you a sense of time, the computers on the ARWO pallet were brand new in 2005 and now they’re all being updated to the current technology,” Master Sgt. Alexander Mitchell, 403rd MXS MET noncommissioned officer in charge, said in a statement. “Originally we were in the middle of upgrading from XP to Windows 7, but due to Air Force’s Windows 10 compliance, it delayed us in testing and implementing that software and hardware in 2018.”







SpaceX Launches 4 Starlink Missions in 1 Month, Expands Service to Belgium, Netherlands 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 60 Starlink satellites on May 26. (SpaceX)

SpaceX launched a batch of 60 Starlink satellites on Wednesday afternoon, and announced that Starlink service is now available in Belgium and the Netherlands. This was the 13th dedicated Starlink mission of 2021, and the fourth Starlink mission for the month of May.

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 2:59 p.m. ET. The satellites were successfully deployed about 1 hour and four minutes into the mission. The first stage booster successfully touched down on a drone ship in the ocean about eight and a half minutes into the mission. In addition, this was the first-ever mission in which SpaceX flew a fairing half for the fifth time.

During the launch webcast on May 26, Youmei Zhou, a Dragon propulsion engineer, said that SpaceX was expanding Starlink’s broadband internet beta service to Belgium and the Netherlands. Service is now available in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and several locations around Europe.

“To date, over half a million people have placed an order or put down a deposit for Starlink. With every launch, we get closer to connecting more people across the world,” Zhou said.




Lockheed Martin and General Motors Partner for Next-Gen Rover

A new generation of lunar rovers under development by Lockheed Martin and GM could be used by Artemis astronauts to extend and enhance the exploration of the surface of the Moon. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin and General Motors will be partnering to develop a next-generation lunar rover to transport astronauts on the surface of the moon for NASA’s Artemis program, according to a May 26 release.

“This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles,” Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space, said in the release. “Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”

Lockheed Martin will lead the team and brings experience from its work on spacecraft like NASA’s Orion, according to the release. GM will share its expertise on battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems as well as autonomous technology.

“General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon,” Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors, said in a statement. “Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again.”







Inmarsat Invests in UAV Growth With 2 Executive Appointments 

Jon Holmes, left; and Mark ter Hove, right. (Inmarsat)

Inmarsat continues to refresh its senior management team with new two high-profile appointments to target the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market. Inmarsat announced in a May 27 press release it has appointed Jon Holmes as senior director of UAV Technology and Mark ter Hove as senior manager of European Market Development. The company said Holmes and ter Hove will drive Inmarsat’s plan to be the leading connectivity partner in what it sees as a burgeoning sector.

Inmarsat cited a 2019 report by the Teal Group “World Civil Unmanned Aerial Systems 2019 Market Profile & Forecast,” which forecasts the number of UAVs flying in airspace to increase tenfold from 1.1 million to 10 million by 2027, with impacts on emergency services, disaster relief and surveillance, cargo delivery, inspection, and urban transport. Inmarsat entered the commercial UAV market in 2020.

Holmes will be responsible for creating Inmarsat’s roadmap for UAV products and services, working with customers, partners, and internal stakeholders. ter Hove will be responsible for evaluating customer and market opportunities in Europe to reinforce Inmarsat as the leading provider of connectivity products and services in the field of UAV BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations.


Thales Partners with Airspace Link for UAS ATM System

Thales and Airspace Link formed a new partnership to integrate ground risk data from state and local governments into unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) air traffic management (ATM) system, according to a May 27 press release.

“We envision a future where manned and unmanned aviation operate together seamlessly,” Jean Ferré, Vice President of Airspace Mobility Solutions at Thales, said in a statement. “Thales’ investment and partnership with Airspace Link is an important step forward toward this reality.”

The information will include the location of schools, power lines and firework displays, according to the release.

The two companies have previously worked together on Vantis, the state-wide UAS network in North Dakota.







EHang Adds Long-Range eVTOL

The VT-30 is made for inter-city transportation with a range of 300 km and up to 100 minutes of flight time. (EHang)

EHang announced a new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL), VT-30, for long range flights, according to a May 26 press release.

The VT-30 is made for inter-city transportation with a range of 300 km and up to 100 minutes of flight time, according to the release.

“Our passenger-grade AAV EH216 is already fully equipped to travel in the cities with its lightweighted and streamlined structure, and the launch of the VT-30 provides a powerful complement to the inter-city air traffic network by meeting needs for covering longer distance,” Huazhi Hu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang, said in a statement. “Moving forward, these two product series will be used as core development for a service-oriented operations strategy to improve the safety, duration and capacity for carrying both passengers and goods. We will work continuously to obtain regulatory certification for our various AAV products, including the VT-30, and provide a more convenient and efficient public urban air mobility operational services.”







FAA Downgrades Mexico to Category 2

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it would downgrade Mexico’s rating to Category 2 after an assessment of its civil aviation authority found that the government of Mexico does not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards, the agency announced in a May 25 press release.

This rating change will prevent Mexican carriers from creating any new services or routes but allows them to continue any existing service in the United States, according to the release. The rating change will also mean that U.S. airlines can no longer market and sell tickets with their names on them to Mexican-operated flights and Mexican airline flights to the U.S. will also be under heightened scrutiny.


FAA is Looking to Fund Environmental Projects at Airports

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is looking for airports to participate in the Environmental Mitigation Pilot Program which will fund six projects with positive environmental impacts, the agency announced in a May 25 press release.

The program is looking for projects that will reduce or mitigate aviation impacts on noise and air or water quality at or within five miles of an airport, according to the announcement. Airports have until July 9 to submit an application and be considered. The cost of each project cannot exceed $2.5 million and it must be completed within 24 months, according to the release.

The FAA will be choosing six projects in 2022 and 2023 that provide the largest environmental benefits.




FAA Rules on Airport Solar Panels

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a final policy requiring airports to measure visual impacts of solar projects, according to a May 26 release. Projects including solar panels have become more common as the aviation industry seeks to invest in this technology for environmental and economic benefits.

The policy is aimed at ensuring that solar panels do not create a hazardous glare for pilots and air traffic control personnel, and it applies to solar energy systems at public airports that have accepted federal assistance, according to the release.

The policy states that airports must file a Notice of Proposed Construction including a statement that the project will not cause any visual impact instead of submitting an ocular analysis to the FAA, according to the statement.





Boeing to Pay $17 Million in Penalties

Boeing 737 Max production line at the Renton Factory. (Boeing)

The Boeing Company will pay at least $17 million under a settlement agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the 737 MAX cases, according to a May 27 press release.

“The FAA found that the Chicago-based manufacturer installed equipment on 759 Boeing 737 MAX and NG aircraft containing sensors that were not approved for that equipment; submitted approximately 178 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for airworthiness certification when the aircraft potentially had nonconforming slat tracks installed; and improperly marked those slat tracks,” the agency said in the release.




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PODCAST: Alton Aviation Analyst Talks Asia Pacific Region Airlines, COVID and Connectivity

Joshua Ng, an analyst with Alton Aviation Consultancy, is the guest on this episode.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Joshua Ng, director of Alton Aviation Consultancy joins to provide some perspective on the state of the commercial airline industry in the Asia Pacific region, among other topics.

Alton Aviation Consultancy is an independent advisory firm that has advised some of the world’s largest airlines, aircraft manufacturers and investors throughout Asia, the U.S. and Europe. You may have seen analysis from Alton in publications like Bloomberg or The Business Times for example.

Joshua discussed how some airlines in the Asia Pacific region are adjusting to the impact of COVID-19 on passenger air travel demand and the status of the air cargo market as well.

Based on his observation and consulting with airlines and others across the aviation industry in the region, he also discusses some of the new in-flight services such as ancillary revenue services that airlines could enable with connectivity in the near future.

Have suggestions or topics we should focus on in the next episode? Email the host, Woodrow Bellamy at, or drop him a line on Twitter @WbellamyIIIAC.

Listen to this episode below, or check it out on iTunes or Google Play If you like the show, subscribe on your favorite podcast app to get new episodes as soon as they’re released.

FREE REGISTRATION: Connected Aviation Intelligence webcast, June 8-10, 2021 –

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Lilium Gets Support to Build Airline Operations in Europe

A rendering of the 7-Seater eVTOL jet which shows the 36 ducted fans. (Lilium)

Lilium announced a new partnership with Luxaviation Group to support its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) operations in Europe, the company announced in a May 20 press release.

“We are proud to be working alongside Luxaviation Group, a leading operator in the aviation sector with a track record in offering an innovative and customer-focused service, to build out the Lilium network in Europe,” Remo Gerber, chief operating officer at Lilium, said in a statement. “This marks a key milestone as we prepare for launch, and we look forward to working together to provide an exceptional airline service for our passengers.”

Through the partnership, Luxaviation Group will be responsible for airline operations of Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet including securing approvals and managing pilots, according to the release. The companies will also work together on the development of the customer experience on Lilium’s eVTOL. Lilium has planned its commercial launch for 2024.

“Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft will fundamentally change the way we travel, and the Lilium network is poised to be at the forefront of this sea change in aviation,” Patrick Hansen, group CEO at Luxaviation Group, said in a statement.

The 7-Seater Jet is an updated version of Lilium’s 5-Seater aircraft and carries six passengers and one pilot. (Lilium)

Lilium released design architecture details for the 7-Seater Jet earlier this year. While it will have hover capabilities, Lilium focused on creating efficient cruise flight when designing the jet because of its intended use for regional air mobility connecting two different cities versus points within a city. It will have a range of 200 kilometers at speeds up to 300 kph and use forward canards, main wings, and a distributed propulsion system providing vectored thrust to fly.

“We are very pleased to have been selected by Lilium to be their partner in aircraft operations,” Christophe Lapierre, head of strategy of Luxaviation Group, said in a statement. “As an early believer in advanced air mobility, we look forward to bringing our experience and credentials to the partnership with Lilium and building out a service that will truly feel like a first of its kind.”

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EASA Releases First Study on Citizens’ Acceptance of UAM

Volocopter received the first company-wide approval from EASA to design eVTOL aircraft. (Photo: Volocoter)

Industry is undoubtedly excited about the prospect of urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft like drones and air taxis entering service in the next three to five years, however, these vehicles must also be accepted by everyday citizens whose lives they will be impacting. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published the results of a new study showing that the majority of European Union citizens surveyed welcomed UAM vehicles but showed reservations about safety, environment, noise, and security concerns.

“As a result of this study, for the first time, EASA and the EU have insights into what the general public in Europe thinks about this entirely new development in the field of aviation,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said. “For EASA as a regulator this information is crucial. It will allow us to set up the rules and regulations for this area in a way that is aligned with the expectations and perceptions of citizens.”

EASA’s study included an online quantitative survey of 4,000 EU citizens in six urban areas, over 40 qualitative interviews, and a noise simulation test.

The vast majority of respondents were positive about UAM. (EASA)

“The study was conducted in six European cities, which offer the conditions for potential deployment of urban air mobility operations,” Ky said. “In order to select these cities, a detailed market analysis was conducted based on six use cases which are likely to come first…The most viable cities for each of these use cases were determined. This was done based on a KPI system individually set up for each use case, showing then for which city the respective use case is most viable. This helped to create a shortlist of 15 cities for each use case, resulting in a total of 90 cities. Finally, based off this short list of 90 cities, six cities were selected for a survey with the intent to cover all major European regions, different city archetypes and cultures.”

The study found that 83 percent of respondents had positive feelings about introducing UAM vehicles into the airspace. The results did not show any major deviation between the respondents of the different cities or according to age or household composition.

“The results also show that a large share of the population would also be interested to use UAM services: 64 percent of the respondents would be interested in using drone delivery and 49 percent would be interested in using an air taxi. 43 percent would be interested in using both, 71 percent are likely to make use of at least one service,” the study states.

Emergency use cases are expected to be most useful. (EASA)

Respondents showed strong support for using UAM vehicles in cases of public interest like medical or emergency transport. The study showed transporting an injured person to the hospital as the most important use case supported by 41 percent of respondents and drone delivery of medical supplies to hospitals as the second most important. Transporting emergency medical personnel and disaster management using drones were also in the top four use cases ranked by respondents.

“This indicates that use cases that are in general public interest, notably in the health and safety domains, would be better accepted than those fulfilling private and individual needs, such as sightseeing,” the study states. “Respondents confirmed however, that medical/emergency should meet the same safety or security standards as other use cases.”

The use of drones for delivery purposes garnered less support. The uses of drones to deliver heavy cargo over long distances came in fifth when ranked by respondents with 25 percent support.

Using UAM vehicles to transport passengers garnered the least support from respondents with all use cases receiving 10 percent or less support.

“While people transport only comes third in terms of importance, looking within the rankings of the different use cases, people favor longer connections so connecting more remote areas to in inner city connections,” Ky said. “So, people see more value in connecting remote areas within the transport use cases.”

Improved response time is clearly perceived as top benefit. (EASA)

The study showed that EU citizens expect UAM vehicles to provide faster, cleaner, and extended transportation. Respondents expected improved response times in emergencies to be the largest benefit with reduction of traffic jams ranked second and reduction of local emissions ranked third.

“71 percent of participants expected an improved response time in case of an emergency as major benefit,” according to the study. “The reduction of traffic jams ranked second (51 percent) on average, closely followed by an expected reduction of local emissions (48 percent). Better connection to remote areas (41 percent), and the creation of new jobs (32 percent) represented other perceived benefits.”

Respondents had similar concerns about delivery drones and air taxis. (EASA)

While respondents showed acceptance of UAM vehicles, they are still concerned about their safety, security, and environmental issues.

“We asked people to rank the concerns differentiated between drones and air taxis so we can identify differences,” Ky said. “We see, overall, the important concerns are all the same, but we see slight differences between drones and air taxis. For air taxis, safety, noise, and environmental concerns rank roughly the same. Obviously slightly different answers for drones. We can see, firstly, that noise is less important for drones. This is most likely as air taxis are larger and people expect more noise from air taxis than from drones. But what we can also see is that the security concern is around 10 percent higher for drones, which is also most likely as drones are unmanned and are controlled via a cyber link versus air taxis, I initially expect it to be manned and are more associated with regular aviation traffic.”

Respondents expect existing aviation safety levels to be the benchmark for UAM safety assessments. Simplified trade-off analysis found that respondents’ acceptance could be improved by 56 percent for drones and 49 percent for air taxis by implementing the highest levels of safety, noise, and visual pollution.

“We also found out that safety is really important, and that the existing safety standards are the benchmark for European citizens…But this only shows one part of the picture, when actually asking people in personal interviews, people responded that they sometimes forgot to mention safety because they just take it for granted, and when explicitly asking them about the safety level, they all clearly stated, unanimously, that they would expect the same levels of safety as every any existing aviation vehicles today,” Ky said.

Result comparison between familiar sound and Urban Air Mobility vehicle sounds at same maximum noise level. (EASA)


Noise perception at different distances. (EASA)

During the noise portion of the study, 20 participants were exposed to vehicle sounds played on top of a typic city background noise of about 55 dBA. Respondents were able to separate the noise from air taxis and drones from the sounds of helicopters, aircraft, motorbikes, and buses and showed a higher level of annoyance for UAM vehicles.

“People react very differently to urban air mobility noises,” Ky said. “With new urban air mobility sounds you can see that the reaction is much more averse. People are more annoyed by urban air mobility noises at the same sound level, but then when we look at reducing the sound by increasing the distance, you can see at around 65 dBA, the urban air mobility vehicle reaches around the same annoyance level as a bus or motorbike in a city.”

EASA will use the results of this study to create an impact assessment and regulatory proposal for UAM in Europe in 2022.

“In order to support public acceptance, urban air mobility introduction should be done gradually starting with pilot projects and routes to enable citizens to experience this new technology first and allow them to familiarize over time,” Ky said. “Use cases in the public interest such as emergency transport should clearly come first, as people see the largest benefits, and they could also then adopt gradually, which can foster acceptance for sustainable at scale operation. At the city level, services must be affordable for a large share of the public and well-integrated with the public transport infrastructure.”

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Connect Airlines to Join Growing Number of Q400 Operators Using FLYHT AI Services and Connectivity

Connect Airlines is adding FLYHT’s AFIRS satcom box and new AI Services capability to its fleet of Q400s. (Connect Airlines)

Connect Airlines, the new Toronto-based scheduled air carrier, will become the latest Q400 operator to modify its fleet with connectivity and intelligence services supplied by Calgary-based avionics manufacturer FLYHT Aerospace Solutions.

Under a new five year agreement announced in a May 4 press release, Connect Airlines is adding FLYHT’s Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) and Actionable Intelligence (“AI”) services to its fleet of DHC-8-Q400 turboprop aircraft. AFIRS is a satellite communications computer that provides Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) over Iridium messaging capability. The system also uses a a proprietary software known as the embedded launching application to determine what information an operator wants to capture about its aircraft’s performance.

FLYHT describes its new AI services platform as initially enabling voice and text communications, engine and airframe exceedances, situational display and automatic movement messages. Future services for the AI platform are also in development, to include “fuel management, turn and airport apron operations, integrated flight plan and emissions tracking,” according to FLYHT.

“They’ll be utilizing the built in AFIRS Quick Access Recorder (QAR) to record all data to satisfy a [flight data monitoring] FDM program, including future upgrade to our wireless QAR functionality to automate the post flight download of QAR data via LTE/5G accordingly,” Derek Taylor, VP of sales and marketing for FLYHT told Avionics International in an emailed statement.

Connect will also leverage AFIRS to gain real-time insight into arrival information and gate turn management, while also sending real-time engine take-off and stable cruise reports to the aircraft’s engine OEM for trending purposes, according to Taylor.
There are also future upgrades in development for the initial electronic flight bag applications that the AFIRS system will support on Connect’s fleet of Q400s.

“Initial use cases include two-way text messaging between crew and OCC/MCC, METAR/TAF/NOTAM weather reports, with future capabilities including an [aircraft interface device/aircraft data interface device function] AID/ADIF for aircraft data such as GPS, fuel, etc. to be fed to iPads to integrate to various iPad applications for increased operational awareness and efficiencies – ultimately maximizing in the investments of the iPad use cases,” Taylor said.

Taylor said Connect Airlines is the latest Q400 fleet operator to join a growing number of others using AFIRS on the turboprop aircraft, including Air Niugini, Air Iceland, Congo Airways, Jambojet, Air Tanzania and Voyageur Airways. Launched by Boston-based charter operator Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA) last month, Connect Airlines is focused on flight operations that will connect Toronto Bill Bishop City Airport with airports in the northeast and midwestern U.S.

“After an exhaustive review of alternatives, we chose FLYHT because it provided our flight crew and operations team the technology, data, and analytics to operate a highly efficient and reliable airline, right out of the box,” David Marcontell, COO of Connect Airlines, said in a statement.
Connect Airlines will begin scheduled operations in October.

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eVTOL Certification: Where Are They Now and the Challenges that Still Lie Ahead

Joby Aviation received the first military airworthiness for an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle from the AFWERX Agility Prime program. (Joby Aviation)

There are questions about how realistic the predictions are concerning the commercial launch of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the next three to four years. While there are many factors that will determine if these timelines prove accurate, certification from regulatory bodies will be the deciding factor.

At a panel discussion during the Vertical Flight Society’s Forum 77 on May 13, experts from regulatory bodies and eVTOL manufacturers provided an update about the path eVTOL aircraft could take to achieve certification and what challenges still lie ahead.

One reason some people may be skeptical about how quickly eVTOL manufacturers are attempting to certify their aircraft is that the process is moving significantly faster than previously done in the industry.

“It took the airline industry almost 100 years to get to the level of safety, utility, and efficiency they have today and we’re trying to do it in about one-tenth of that time,” Lowell Foster, director of global innovation and engineering at GAMA, said.

Foster said the aspects of developing an aircraft must be done in parallel with each other instead of one at a time.

“We’re going to have to do everything in parallel. It’s a pretty big challenge, right,” Foster said. “Historically, you would certify the aircraft and would go through the pilot training, then you’d figure out how to operate it, and the infrastructure would follow. We don’t have that luxury today. We really need to be able to start operating these vehicles, as soon as they’re PC’d [part certified] which means we’ve got to work the training and the operations concurrently with certification. Furthermore, you know, if, we get these vehicles ready to fly and we don’t have the infrastructure, aerospace operations could be severely limited. So, it really is important we look at all these different aspects from a parallel approach.”

Several eVTOL aircraft manufacturers are currently coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to find a path to certification. While eVTOL aircraft are unique, they also have aspects that allow them to take advantage of previous certifications.

“All the VTOL projects are using performance-based requirements in their cert. [certification] bases, which is a big benefit because it lets the authorities leverage means to compliance for all kinds of new technology and innovation,” Foster said. “The other good thing is that almost two-thirds of the existing means of compliance are already applicable. We are only looking at new areas for about a third of that.”

Archer Aviation’s eVTOL aircraft will use a blend of current FAA Part 23, 27, 33, 35, and 36 requirements, Eric Wright, head of certification at Archer, said. The areas where the aircraft differs from available certification requirements include unique aircraft configurations, electric distributed propulsion, energy storage and distribution systems, high voltage architecture, fly-by-wire flight control systems, advanced or automated systems, crashworthiness requirements, and noise standards.

“How are we dealing with these issues? Essentially these additional certification considerations are being dealt with by issue papers, for the most part, with all of these new and novel topics essentially being addressed through presentation of design application of standards and then regulatory collaboration,” Wright said. “There are white papers to bring up the understanding of the regulator with detailed system descriptions, and so the regulators get a good understanding of what those systems do and what other systems they talk to.”

Wright said there has been good progress with special conditions and provided the example of provisions under the FAA’s Part 41 for electric propulsion.

Archer Aviation’s eVTOL aircraft will use a blend of current FAA Part 23, 27, 33, 35, and 36 requirements. (Archer Aviation)

EASA is working on special condition VTOL (SC VTOL) means of compliance (MOC) to certify eVTOL aircraft. This process began in 2019 and is currently in phase three, David Solar, SC-VTOL lead at EASA, said. In the first two phases, the MOC addressed fly-by-wire systems, validation loads for structures, and design requirements. In phase three, which will be presented to the public later this year, Eurocae standards will be released as well as operational aspects including the development of the first EASA qualified virtual reality simulators.

One path that eVTOL manufacturers, like Joby Aviation, are choosing to take involves creating an aircraft that needs minimal exemption to currently available certifications.

“We have chosen a path that fits through the type certification path with minimal need for exemption, through the flight pilot training and qualification path through the operational path and into the airspace integration path,” Greg Bowles, head of government affairs at Joby Aviation, said.

Bowles said this thought process led them to decide to include a pilot onboard instead of building a fully autonomous aircraft like some other companies.

“Having a pilot onboard allows us to take advantage of the existing air traffic control system, the voice communication path, it allows us to use the pilot’s traditional skills for detect and avoid,” Bowles said. “There are a whole number of technologies that aren’t actually needed to mature yet with a pilot on board.”

Joby has also classified its eVTOL with the FAA as an airplane that can take off and land vertically, Bowles said.

“So, if you think of something like an F-35, that’s an airplane,” Bowles said. “We would look at that and not say that’s a rotorcraft vehicle, we would look at that and say, oh, that’s an airplane, and it can also perform vertically.”

While these achievements mean the certification process for eVTOL aircraft is moving forward, experts expressed there are still hurdles before they can reach the finish line.

Near-term challenges could include the use of fossil fuel certification approaches for electric propulsion aircraft, Foster said.

“We’re still seeing the use of the fossil fuel mentality when we approach electric propulsion,” Foster said. “…The concern here is that we may miss an electric specific safety issue because we’re so focused on legacy.”

Another problem could be regulatory agencies’ tendency to be too conservative when considering new technologies, Foster said.

“The general tendency is for authorities to approach new technology from an absolute versus relative safety perspective,” Foster said. “…The problem with the tendency to lockstep to absolute safety is, it can present a disincentive to putting new safety devices on aircraft because of the additional costs and the additional timeframe that might be there and uncertainty too.”

Creating a certification for the use of automation could also prove to be an obstacle.

“The extensive use of automation for not just flight controls but for distributed electric propulsion and also where we’re replacing traditional pilot tasks with automation the complexity level is very high and we may need a new approach here instead of just the traditional Part 25/29 legacy approach,” Foster said. “As we get into higher levels of automation, we really have the potential to make aircraft a lot safer and maybe more human error tolerant too. We probably need to be looking at a new approach to systems or maybe a new architecture to really leverage that and so we don’t want to get too locked into legacy approaches develop in the 70s.”

Bowles said all the new technological developments might be a challenge as companies are developing.

“We get very excited right now in aviation because we’re in such a technological change,” Bowles said. “And as this evolution is happening, there are going to be infinite opportunities, and frankly that’s why there’s so much excitement around the world for this space. But the good news is we don’t want to lose sight of the path that’s right in front of us that we can execute on in the short term and how that evolves into all those different directions.”

The post eVTOL Certification: Where Are They Now and the Challenges that Still Lie Ahead appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Increased Customer Expectations are at the Heart of Satellite’s Mobility Debate

On Wednesday, May 19 during the SATELLITE 2021: EMEA + Asia Forum, several airlines and in-flight connectivity service providers discussed the need to work more in cooperation.

More joint thinking is needed between the satellite industry and its mobility customers, aviation and maritime experts said in a mobility panel on Wednesday, May 19 during the SATELLITE 2021: EMEA + Asia Forum.

John Padgett, chief experience officer of Carnival Corporation, an SES customer and buyer of satellite capacity said a move to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) is great, and that the more capacity and more options will ultimately mean a better experience for the guest and the consumer.

“When I came into the cruise industry, there was this big debate about GEO [Geostationary Orbit] or MEO [Medium-Earth Orbit], and I said ‘both.’ Each of them has characteristics that are beneficial to the guests and the operations. Distance matters. Engineers are going to figure out LEO and make it cost-effective and reliable. LEO in combination with MEO and GEO, is a portfolio of capacity spanning the globe,” Padgett said.

Carnival Cruise Line, which has a number of different cruise brands, has been focused on bringing leading edge connectivity experiences to its passengers. Padgett believes companies in this area need to keep a simple, laser-like focus on the connectivity that customers expect.

“Brands have convinced themselves that their consumers are different. Connectivity is universal. Every individual is seeking fast, reliable, and affordable connectivity,” he said. “Customers will hold you accountable whether you are a cruise company, airline, train operator, any mobile platform operator. It is our job to overcome these complexities and give them what they really want. People don’t go on vacation to sacrifice, they go on vacation to have more. You don’t have to do giant research studies to know what they want. Everybody knows what they want.”

Padgett believes while there is much talk about the capabilities of tomorrow, the coming developments in LEO and MEO should not be a reason for companies to delay. “I hate when people talk about things that are coming as a reason to delay to improve your guest experience now. The fact that LEO will improve the guest experience in two to three years will do nothing for my guests today,” he said.

It is also clear that demands for bandwidth are only going to increase once cruise ships start to fill up again. Five years ago, Padgett said, a cruise ship with 4,000 to 5,000 people could have 70 Mbps of service, and when he brought 500 Mbps to a ship, it was a game-changer. Now, he forecasts connectivity will be in the range of gigabits per second very soon.

While making improvements to fleet connectivity, cruise ship operators have to deal with hardware on ships, just like airlines do. Yet Padgett said cruise ship operators shouldn’t promise one experience on one piece of hardware, and another experience on another piece of hardware, because customers don’t care about those details.

“It is your brand expectation. It is really about a consistent focus on strategy. You have never got to the end point. Focus on the here and now while setting yourself up for continuous improvement, as it is not going to stop anytime soon,” Padgett added.

Alia Al Qalam, manager of Development Engineering for Oman Air, said investments on behalf of the satellite industry in capabilities in LEO will encourage airlines to invest in more capability if they can provide better services as a result. However, past experiences with issues like outages mean airlines like Oman Air are somewhat nervous about jumping in straight away.

“We are really interested to see a more practical experience, rather than a theoretical experience. We heard a lot about LEO, that it will have better coverage, and that it will be more cost effective. We really believe in having some guarantees that will be met,” she said. “For now, we cannot judge, we are monitoring it closely. We need global coverage [and to] offer the service in a cost-effective way.”

Al Qalam talked about how airlines such as Oman Air want to embrace new technology, but have been put off by the length of time it proves to be reliable. She added: “By the time the technology we have acquired is reliable, there is a new technology to invest in. We are not enjoying any long-term stability and ROI. We need to accelerate the satellite service provider, and hardware providers need to accelerate development, but if there are issues, they need to be solved quicker. It takes us a long time to see these developments.”

In the post-COVID environment, Al Qalam said there will be a greater focus on ROI through connectivity services. She added, “We want to see ROIs, revenue streams when we invest now. It is not the same concept prior to COVID. Some would like to provide services for free. But I think the perception has changed. We need to diversify and have ancillary revenue. Yes, we want to have operational efficiency, strengthen our brand, but we want a ROI.”

Nicole Grainger, strategic marketing manager of Collins Aerospace said while advances in technology are great, higher expectations from customers will become the norm. “There was a bit of a regroup when we first hit last year. There are airlines looking to accelerate and match digital expectations. We are judging our experiences on our latest experiences with Netflix. Once passenger traffic comes back, people will have higher expectations,” she said.

For airlines, meeting these enhanced expectations will be key going forward as they look to make certain brand promises to passengers. Mohammed Jamsheer, marketing and digital director of Gulf Air said this period was putting a lot more pressure on airlines and the hospitality industry as customers are now expecting a much more seamless experience having worked remotely from home.

“We need to be cost-effective and provide a great service. I don’t think the customer knows the details of the satellite. They are exposed to Facebook, Instagram, Netflix,” he said. “When we are advertising our brand, we are exposing it to a very digital savvy population. When you sit on our plane, you want to feel it is like an ‘at home’ experience. If we can’t provide this, they will use this against us, saying our brand promise is not meeting their expectations.”

Nancy Walker, senior vice president of Aviation Connectivity for Global Eagle echoed these sentiments saying that customers and passengers expect what they have on the ground when they are in the air.

“They want a terrestrial feel, to upload photos, set up VPNs, work in the cloud. This is why latency is important. You need to partner with people that cross lines. We all talk about the satellite, but your on vessel hardware is so important. You need to partner with the right people,” she said.

Collaboration is important particularly as airlines and cruise ship operators want more flexibility going forward when investing in new capability. “You can say it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community of providers working together in partnership. Everybody is sitting on the same side of the table. It takes a lot of people working together,” Walker added.


Editorial Note: This article was first published on Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics. It has been edited.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 23, 2021

Check out the May 23 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.




Virgin Galactic Completes Test Flight from Spaceport America 

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity 2 completed its third successful spaceflight on May 22, 2021. (Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic completed its third successful spaceflight with the VSS Unity on Saturday May 22, and the first ever human space flight from Spaceport America, New Mexico. VSS Unity achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from the mothership, VMS Eve, and reached space, at an altitude of 55.45 miles, according to a May 22 press release.

On VSS Unity’s flight deck were CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay, while Kelly Latimer and Michael Masucci piloted VMS Eve. CJ, who flew as pilot-in-command.

The company fulfilled a number of test objectives during the flight, according to the release, including:

  • Carried revenue-generating scientific research experiments as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.
  • Collected data to be used for the final two verification reports that are required as part of the current FAA commercial reusable spacecraft operator’s license.
  • Tested the spaceship’s upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls and validated EMI reductions.

“We will immediately begin processing the data gained from this successful test flight, and we look forward to sharing news on our next planned milestone,” Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said in a statement.

Check out this video of the flight tweeted by Virgin Galactic on Saturday.





Breeze Airways Officially Launches Operations from 16 Cities

Breeze will operate a fleet of 13 Embraer e-jets ahead of Airbus A220 aircraft arriving from October, according to a May 21 press release. (Breeze Airways)

Breeze Airways, the new Utah-based low cost carrier launched in 2020 by JetBlue founder David Neeleman, officially launched its debut network in a May 21 press release.

The airline is headquartered in Salt Lake City, and is focusing on operations from four main airports, including “Tampa, FL; Charleston, SC; New Orleans, LA; and Norfolk, VA,” according to the release.

“Breeze will operate 13 single-class Embraer aircraft this summer, flying routes with an average flight length under two hours. The ten E-190 jets will be configured to seat 108 Guests while the three E195 aircraft will have 118 seats,” the airline said in the release.

Additionally, the new low cost carrier will start taking delivery of 60 Airbus A220 aircraft, beginning in October of this year and delivering at about one per month for five years. The A220 routes, which will be announced later this year, will serve routes longer than two hours in duration.

“Together, we created Breeze as a new airline merging technology with kindness. Breeze provides nonstop service between underserved routes across the U.S. at affordable fares. A staggering 95 percent of Breeze routes currently have no airline serving them nonstop,” Neeleman said in a statement.


First Long-Haul Flight of SAF From France

No modifications were made to the storage, distribution infrastructure, aircraft or engines to use the SAF.

Air France Flight 342 became the first long-haul flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced in France when it took off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport for Montreal on May 18, according to a release.

The flight was a joint effort between Air-France-KLM, Total, Groupe ADP, and Airbus, according to the release from the companies. The SAF used was produced in Total’s French plants.

“This first flight from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport is a symbol of our ambition to decarbonize air transport by integrating new sustainable air fuels into aircraft,” Augustin de Romanet, Chairman and CEO of Groupe ADP, said in a statement. “The European air transport roadmap aims for zero net emissions by 2050, and we are keen, as an airport operator, to support this energy transition and to embark, without delay, on the path of transforming our operation process and infrastructure.”

No modifications were made to the storage, distribution infrastructure, aircraft or engines to use the SAF, according to the release. The SAF used was produced from cooking oils at its La Mède biorefinery in southern France and at its Oudalle factory near Le Havre. This did not include any virgin plant-based oil. It also received certification from the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification System.

“The development of biofuels is part of Total’s broad-energy strategy for decarbonizing the transportation industry,” Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total, said in a statement. “After successfully launching production of sustainable aviation fuels at our facilities in France last March, we are continuing to adapt our industrial facilities to prepare for the growing demand from the aviation industry in the coming decade. By directly reducing the carbon intensity of the energy products used by our aviation industry customers, we are actively working with them to achieve our ambition to get to net zero by 2050, together with society.”


New Legislation Could Give Tax Benefits to US Airlines for Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel 

Lawmakers introduced new legislation Thursday that would establish a blender’s tax credit for using sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent.

The Sustainable Skies Act was introduced by representatives Bradley Schneider (D-IL), Dan Kildee (D-MI), and Julia Brownley (D-CA) and would establish a $1.50 per gallon tax credit for SAF that reduces emissions by 50 percent. If the reduction is over 50 percent, $0.01 is added for every percentage point maxing out at $2.

“Airlines have made sustainability commitments to reduce the carbon emissions, and the SAF industry has demonstrated its preparing to meet that demand,” Schneider said during a press call announcing the legislation. “But there is a clear need for federal investment to help SAF producers scale up and ensure aviation can meet their goals. This tax legislation represents a well-calibrated well-timed effort to kickstart SAF’s long-term viability. Our legislation enjoys the support of the aviation industry, the environmental community, fuel producers, and organized labor. The Sustainable Skies Act represents a pragmatic focused approach to reducing aviation’s carbon emissions.”




Business & GA

Aerion Supersonic is Shutting Down 

Aerion Supersonic is shutting down its production plans for the AS2 supersonic jet. (Aerion)

According to reports confirmed by several media outlets, including CNBC, Nevada-based Aerion Supersonic is no longer pursuing its plans to develop business jets capable of flying faster than the speed of sound, and is shutting down.

“In the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to begin production of its AS2 supersonic jet,” the company said in a statement reported by CNBC. “Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment.”

The announcement comes several months after the company announced an avionics supplier agreement with Honeywell Aerospace for the AS2, which was previously on track to fly by 2024.





Luxaviation Partners with Lilium on eVTOL Airline and Operations Training Support 

Luxembourg-based business jet operator Luxaviation is partnering with Lilium, the Munich, Germany-based eVTOL developer whose 7-seater jet—pictured here—has received CRI-A01 certification from EASA and concurrent type certification with EASA and the FAA. The 7-seater jet has a cruise speed of 175 mph and flies at 10,000 feet with a range of 155 miles. (Lilium)

Luxembourg-based private aviation operator Luxaviation has established a new partnership with Munich-based electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) jet-maker Lilium to support the building out of their airline operations in Europe, according to a May 20 press release.

Under the partnership, Luxaviation will build on its track record of becoming the first business jet operator to obtain a European Union Aviation Safety Agency Air Operator Certificate (AOC) approval to become responsible for parts of the airline operations being developed by Lilium. These responsibilities will include “securing necessary approvals and managing pilots, which will be trained following a type rating concept developed by Lufthansa Aviation Training, another Lilium partner,” according to the release.

“Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft will fundamentally change the way we travel, and the Lilium network is poised to be at the forefront of this sea change in aviation,” Patrick Hansen, Group CEO at Luxaviation Group said in the release.



Airbus Corporate Jets Teams with Latécoère to Develop Li-Fi In-flight Entertainment Monitor

Airbus Corporate Jets is bringing a new smart Li-Fi monitor to its business jet family. (Airbus Corporate Jets)

Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) announced a new partnership with Toulouse-based electronic wiring interconnection system (EWIS) supplier Latécoère Interconnection Systems to develop the aircraft manufacturer’s first Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) in-flight entertainment (IFE) monitor on the first day of the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition’s (EBACE) 2021 online forum.

According to a May 17 press release, the two companies are developing the next generation “ACJ Smart Li-Fi Monitor,” with the goal of having it certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) before the end of the year. The monitor will usher in a new generation of cabin IFE technology for the business jet division of Airbus, as it will also feature Bluetooth, casting, mirroring, videoconferencing, and Wi-Fi all embedded inside a single screen without the need for an associated computing box or server.




U.S., Canada, and EASA Approve Astronics EVS for Airbus Helicopters

The U.S., Canada, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have approved Astronics Corporation’s Max-Viz 1200 and 1400 Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) for EC130 B4 and T2 Airbus Helicopter models, according to a May 20 release.

“The Astronics’ Max-Viz technology provides pilots with an unprecedented level of situational awareness and safety,” Tom Geiger, Max-Viz Business Unit Director for Astronics, said in a statement. “Our EVS is perfectly suited for these single-engine light utility helicopters. To advance the application of our technology, we worked closely with STC holder AVIO dg to get this excellent technology approved for daily missions on the EC130.”

The Astronics’ EVS systems are lightweight, solid-state, low power, and feature an uncooled thermal camera, according to the release.




GAMA Q1 Numbers In

Turbine helicopters and propeller airplanes showed increased deliveries and business jet and piston helicopter shipments were flat in the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) first-quarter shipments and billings report, according to a May 20 press release.

Piston airplane deliveries increased about 7 percent and turboprop airplane deliveries increased about 18 percent when comparing the first quarter of 2021 to 2020, according to the release. Civil-commercial turbine helicopter deliveries increased about 8 percent and piston helicopter deliveries matched last year’s numbers.

“The first quarter of 2021 shows progress for the industry. It is encouraging to see manufacturers begin to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce, said in a statement. “Although, we are not yet in the clear. The industry continues to face headwinds, especially with ongoing supply chain issues and pandemic related restrictions and constraints to global travel. It is important that we continue working with governments to assist in strengthening our supply chain, safely easing travel related restrictions and protecting our highly skilled workforce. Our outlook toward the future is exciting, particularly in light of our industry’s commitment to, and focus upon, environmental sustainability which continues to spur development of new aircraft, innovative technologies, and the production, distribution and uptake of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.”





Rohde & Schwarz Radio Comms to be Used in T-7A Red Hawks

Boeing-Saab’s T-7A aircraft, shown here with drop-down access panels open, has begun production at the company’s St. Louis production line. (Boeing)

Boeing awarded a contract to Rohde & Schwarz for R&S MR6000R multiband-capable airborne transceivers to be used on the new advanced pilot training system used by the U.S. Air Force on the T-7A Red Hawks, according to a May 19 release.

“This cooperation is the culmination of years of unwavering teamwork by Boeing and Rohde & Schwarz,” Michael Hostetter, vice president of Boeing Defense & Space Germany, said in a statement. “Along with updated technology and performance capabilities, the T-7A will be fitted with an enhanced radio communications suite, giving it an added benefit, preparing pilots for fifth-generation aircraft. We are looking forward to working with Rohde & Schwarz on this very important project, as well as future opportunities.”

The R&S MR6000R covers the frequency range from 30 MHz to 400 MHz and supports NATO frequency algorithms for interoperability, according to the release.

“We are proud to work with Boeing, having committed ourselves to delivering systems that meet the training needs of the U.S. Air Force,” Frank Dunn, President and CEO of Rohde & Schwarz USA (and Canada) Inc., said in a statement. “The airborne transceivers from the SOVERON radio family provide excellent RF characteristics suitable for applications in harsh military environments for all types of airborne platforms. As this is a software defined radio, we can adapt it for further training opportunities.”



FLIR Deal Gives Teledyne Comprehensive Unmanned Systems Portfolio

Teledyne Technologies’ acquisition this month of FLIR did more than dramatically expand its portfolio of sensor capabilities, it expanded the company’s suite of unmanned systems that now range from unmanned and remotely operated undersea and surface vessels to unmanned ground and aerial systems for solutions across multiple domains.

FLIR, prior to Teledyne closing the deal for the company, also recently booked a $15 million order to deliver more palm-sized Black Hornet 3 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Army, bringing order totals to $85 million under the Soldier Borne Sensor program. FLIR also has a lineup of small vertical take-off-and-landing UAVs and several small fixed-wing UAVs.

“As a combined company, Teledyne FLIR will uniquely provide a full spectrum of imaging technologies and products spanning X-ray through infrared and from components to complete imaging systems. Teledyne FLIR will also provide a complete range of unmanned systems and imaging payload across all domains ranging from deep sea to deep space. Finally, I want to congratulate Edwin and Todd, whose promotions are very well deserved,” Robert Mehrabian, Executive Chairman of Teledyne, said in a May 13 press release.

Teledyne and FLIR filed the vote results for their respective special meetings of stockholders on a Form 8-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on May 13, 2021.





UK CAA and European Union Aviation Safety Agency Agree on Technical Implementation Procedures

In a May 17 press release, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that they have concluded negotiations on the “Technical Implementation Procedures (the TIP).”

The TIP gives both the CAA and EASA oversight of the Air Safety Agreement that was signed between the UK and EU in December, and sets out the measures the aerospace sector must take in order to design and produce new aerospace parts moving between the UK and the EU, according to the release.

“This agreement today provides the clarity aerospace organizations need to allow them to operate efficiently under the post-EU regulatory landscape. While the UK system is now independent of the EU regulatory system, both sides recognize the importance of close collaboration to overseeing the highest standards of aviation safety,” Richard Moriarty, Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s, said in the release.





Viasat Signs IFC Content Partnership with the NBA 

The Viasat-3 constellation is to deliver three terabits per second of capacity. (Viasat)

Viasat has signed a multi-year In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) content partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to make its live game subscription service NBA League Pass available to airline passengers. The initial agreement includes Viasat-equipped planes from JetBlue Airways and American Airlines, according to a Viasat representative, with more airlines to come.

Under this partnership, passengers can watch live and on-demand NBA games and content on their personal electronic devices at no extra cost when they register for NBA League Pass in-flight. The service will begin for the 2021 NBA Playoffs, which start May 22.

One limitation is that the service is only available on international flights — the agreement doesn’t include domestic flights within the U.S., Canada, or China.

Viasat said this partnership is an example of how it is offering premium Over-the-Top (OTT) content and streaming experiences for in-flight customers.



Ball Aerospace and Microsoft Demonstrate Satellite-to-Cloud Data Processing

(Via Satellite)

Ball Aerospace and Microsoft have demonstrated satellite-to-cloud data processing in recent tests for the U.S. Department of Defense, that also involved Telesat’s Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

In the tests, announced by Ball Aerospace on Wednesday, simulated data from Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) was pushed to Microsoft’s Azure cloud where it was processed using Ball-developed event-driven architecture. The data was then disseminated to multiple endpoints. In the final demonstration, Telesat joined completed a direct downlink of data from its network of LEO satellites to a Ball-built electronically steerable Ka-Band phased array affixed to a tactical vehicle

The companies said these tests proved commercial cloud computing can process and securely deliver actionable information quickly, to a ground station, command center, or the battlefield. The demonstrations were enabled by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), and support the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) CASINO program office, which stands for Commercially Augmented Space Inter-Networked Operations.





Skyports Selected for 2 New Projects in Japan

Skyports, a vertiport company, will participate in two electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) projects in Japan’s Osaka Prefecture, the company announced in a May 21 release.

“As part of these projects, we are helping Osaka fulfill its vision of becoming an urban air mobility center in Japan, providing not only a vital facility to support the burgeoning air taxi market but demonstrating the benefits that drone delivery services will provide to the region,” Duncan Walker, chief executive officer at Skyports, said in a statement. “The fact that we have been selected to contribute to multiple programs aimed at developing Japan’s AAM ecosystem is testament to the work that Skyports does. We look forward to working with new and existing partners to enable AAM to thrive.”

The projects will include being one of five organizations providing eVTOL expertise to the Osaka prefecture Super City and participating in Osaka Prefecture’s “Green Table,” according to the release.


AMETEK Abaco Systems Upgrade Provides Enhanced Capabilities for Air Force Aircraft

The upgrades were valued by the company initially at $211,000 with a lifetime potential of $20 million, according to the release. (Abaco)

AMETEK Abaco Systems announced a design upgrade for the VP460 6U VPX Direct Radio Frequency Processing System and the SBC627 6U OpenVPX rugged single board computer that will deliver a combination of radio frequency system on chip and field-programmable gate array in a single card design for U.S. Air Force aircraft, the company announced in a May 19 press release.

“Our innovative approach with the VP460 and SBC627 brings the opportunity to supply an upgrade from old systems, which recorded data for later analysis, to new technology allowing for real-time processing of ELINT and SIGINT with the latest tech offerings,” Pete Thompson, VP of Product Management at Abaco said in a statement. “Delivering best in class products to assist in mission-critical operations is at the core of our commitment to supporting warfighters on land, air and sea.”

The upgrades were valued by the company initially at $211,000 with a lifetime potential of $20 million, according to the release.

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PODCAST: OnAsset Intelligence CEO Talks Future of Connected Air Cargo

OnAsset Intelligence CEO Adam Crossno is the guest on this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, OnAsset Intelligence Adam Crossno joins to discuss how his company’s smart tag and autonomous real-time tracking device technology continues to enable new use cases for air cargo operators.

Texas-based OnAsset Intelligence’s smart tag and tracking technology is used by some of the largest air cargo airlines across the globe, and in recent years, some of those operators have been researching how to exploit their technology to enable in-flight tracking of time critical assets, among other applications.

Have suggestions or topics we should focus on in the next episode? Email the host, Woodrow Bellamy at, or drop him a line on Twitter @WbellamyIIIAC.

FREE REGISTRATION: Connected Aviation Intelligence webcast, June 8-10, 2021 –

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New Legislation Could Give Tax Benefits to US Airlines for Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Alaska Airlines has been participating in various initiatives to develop and test sustainable aviation fuels, such as the November 2016 flight powered by a 20 percent blend of biofuel made from forest residuals pictured here. But the carrier’s new CEO believes electric power is the technology enabler that could help the industry meet ambitious future net-zero emissions goals.

Lawmakers introduced new legislation Thursday that would establish a blender’s tax credit for using sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent.

The Sustainable Skies Act was introduced by representatives Bradley Schneider (D-IL), Dan Kildee (D-MI), and Julia Brownley (D-CA) and would establish a $1.50 per gallon tax credit for SAF that reduces emissions by 50 percent. If the reduction is over 50 percent, $0.01 is added for every percentage point maxing out at $2.

“Airlines have made sustainability commitments to reduce the carbon emissions, and the SAF industry has demonstrated its preparing to meet that demand,” Schneider said during a press call announcing the legislation. “But there is a clear need for federal investment to help SAF producers scale up and ensure aviation can meet their goals. This tax legislation represents a well-calibrated well-timed effort to kickstart SAF’s long-term viability. Our legislation enjoys the support of the aviation industry, the environmental community, fuel producers, and organized labor. The Sustainable Skies Act represents a pragmatic focused approach to reducing aviation’s carbon emissions.”

The legislation qualifies SAF as a liquid fuel that consists of synthesized hydrocarbons and meets the requirements of ASTM International Standards. It also specifies that to qualify for the tax credit SAF cannot be derived from palm fatty acid distillates, which have been shown to be harmful to the environment. These fuels must be produced in sustainable pathways and follow the guidelines instituted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Nathaniel Keohane, Environmental Defense Fund’s senior vice president for climate, expressed support of these safeguards during the call.

“We’re also excited about the broader environmental safeguards,” Keohane said. “The bill includes rigorous sustainability criteria and relies on traceability information requirements that the US government helps to put in place in the UN body, ICAO…or requirements that will be equivalent to that sort of stringency and the integrity of those requirements to ensure that only the highest integrity fuels get the tax credit. That will ensure for example that biofuels from the deforested lands don’t qualify this. That is a really critical aspect.”

Keohane also stressed the importance of this legislation following the COVID-19 pandemic which has put a strain on airlines.

“As economies reopen as demand for flights and all that they bring and the airlines come back, it’s really important that we take this moment to be forward-thinking put climate change at the center of the airlines’ recovery,” Keohane said. “The Sustainable Skies Act not only supports sustainable aviation fuels, but it does so in a way that creates the right incentives. It’s performance-based. It’s designed to exclude…some of the most problematic pathways in the past, palm oil, soy, rapeseed, and so on. It’s designed to that the incentive grows with the carbon benefit. The bigger the climate benefit, the bigger is the tax credit, and I think that’s a critical design feature.”

Airlines are already showing strong support for the legislation. A letter of support signed by over 60 organizations including American Airlines, Boeing, Delta, FedEx Express, JetBlue Airways, Southwest, and United, expressed support for passing and enacting the legislation.

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby participated in the call announcing the legislation and stressed the importance of industry working with climate organizations.

“One of the important things today is, I hope, the start of a new trend where you see industry, represented by me, arm and arm with the Environmental Defense Fund…that is about finding genuine solutions instead of fighting each other,” Kirby said. “There are some industries, like aviation, that are going to be hard to decarbonize.”

Kirby said United is taking multiple initiatives to decarbonize its operations, however, he argued that SAF would be extremely important because of its ability to fuel large aircraft.

“We’re doing a lot at United for electric aircraft and hydrogen-fueled aircraft, but the truth is they don’t have the energy density to fly bigger planes long distances,” Kirby said. “So how do we decarbonize an industry that needs jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel is by far the number one alternative for us to do that.”

Brownley, who sits on the select committee on the climate crisis and the aviation subcommittee on the transportation and infrastructure committee, echoed the importance of SAF in decarbonization efforts

“SAF can both reduce emissions by up to 80 percent over traditional fuels and be dropped into the fuel tanks of existing aircraft,” Brownley said. “It can provide an immediate climate impact to our existing aviation system. All that’s missing is crucial government support to help grow the burgeoning SAF industry at the pace needed to meet our climate goals.”

Kildee said the Sustainable Skies Act takes climate change seriously because it targets that accounts for almost 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“We know climate change is real. It’s a present danger to our country and we’ve got to do all we can do to address it,” Kildee said. “That’s why I’m proud to support the Sustainable Skies Act. It takes the threat of climate change seriously by addressing one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters, and that’s jet fuel. Commercial aviation accounts for roughly 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly all of which comes from the combustion of jet fuel. The Sustainable Skies Act would incentivize companies to use sustainable aviation fuels, SAF. Low carbon synthetic jet fuel is made with safe and sustainable materials, which create lower greenhouse gas emissions and that’s the goal.”

The post New Legislation Could Give Tax Benefits to US Airlines for Using Sustainable Aviation Fuel appeared first on Aviation Today.

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