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Clean Sky 2 Airbus C295 Technology Demonstrator Completes First Flight

The Flight Test Bed 2, based on the Airbus C295, made its first flight this week. (Photo: Airbus)

The Airbus C295 Flight Test Bed 2 (FTB2), as part of the Clean Sky 2 program, completed its maiden flight successfully, taking off from Seville, Spain. Modifications to the aircraft aim to reduce emissions and noise levels and include a high-efficiency, semi-morphing wing, dynamic winglets, and a flat panel SATCOM antenna, according to the announcement.

The FTB2 is based on the Airbus C295, a new-generation tactical airlifter, and completed ground tests prior to achieving this first flight milestone. According to Airbus, applying the modifications of the FTB2 to a future aircraft configuration could make it possible to achieve “up to 43% CO2 and 70% NOx reductions in a typical Search and Rescue mission of 400 nautical miles, as well as 45% less noise during take-off.”

A more efficient high lift system results from the new flight control system, where flight controls can be adjusted in-flight—including controls for ailerons, flaps, and flap tabs. It will also be possible to optimize the wing’s aerodynamic shape while in flight by leveraging digital control systems.

“The first flight of the C295 FTB2 is a key milestone that represents an important step forward in the programme, following the successful integration of the new aero structures, power-on, and ground tests. A few years ago, this programme was just a dream of a more sustainable future for aviation. Today, we are at the final stage, and we finally made it fly,” Francisco Javier Sánchez Segura, Executive Vice President Engineering for Airbus Defence and Space, said in the announcement from Airbus.

The demonstrator introduces improvements to the manufacturing process such as use of Scalmalloy and additive manufacturing. The aero structures of the wing are also constructed via a new assembly method. Assembling the FTB2’s flaps and ailerons was accomplished through jig-less methods, the use of which also reduces manufacturing costs.

Clean Sky, a public-private research partnership, connects the European Commission with Europe’s aeronautics industry to demonstrate innovative aircraft configurations that accelerate the reduction of CO2, NOx, and noise emissions in aviation. The program’s second phase, the Clean Sky 2 (CS2) joint undertaking, has the additional objective of developing “a strong and globally competitive aeronautical industry and supply chain in Europe,” according to the organization’s website. In combination with Horizon 2020, Europe’s largest research and innovation program, CS2 tests technologies related to its future regional multi-mission aircraft. Although the CS2 program will come to an end in 2023, it is estimated that 75% of the initiatives will reach a high level of readiness by the end of next year.

The post Clean Sky 2 Airbus C295 Technology Demonstrator Completes First Flight appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Scaling Up to Advanced Air Mobility

A series of speakers presented topics on Scaling Up to AAM during this week’s Transformative Vertical Flight event featuring an eVTOL symposium. (Photo: Black & Veatch)

The Scaling Up to AAM discussion during the eVTOL Symposium at TVF2022 started with a presentation by Paul Stith, Associate Vice President, Global Transportation Initiatives – Growth Accelerator at Black & Veatch. Black & Veatch is an engineering, consulting, and construction company that focuses on sustainable infrastructure innovations. To date, they have deployed well over 2,000 EV charging stations, said Stith. He sees the keys to establishing advanced air mobility (AAM) as industry collaboration, standardization, and policy support. 

Black & Veatch recently conducted an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Electrical Infrastructure Study to understand what changes are needed to the grid, to civic infrastructure, and to fueling systems in order to reach a zero-emission future. The question is, how can EV charging sites and existing infrastructure be developed and scaled up? Three challenges that need to be addressed are funding, permitting, and avoiding stranded assets.

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) and Portland General Electric (PGE) have partnered with Black & Veatch to bring a public charging station online—one that is specifically designed for medium and heavy-duty electric commercial trucks. A statement from the company said that the “Electric Island” project will “demonstrate high-power charging infrastructure scaled to accommodate electric trucks and their large batteries capable of moving up to 80,000 pounds at highway speeds.” Stith views Long Beach Airport as a potential candidate for a site where both electric conventional take-off and landing (eCTOL) and eVTOL aircraft could be integrated into the existing system.

Alan Davis, President and CEO of i5 Services, LLC, discussed the topic of the manufacturing supply chain in the context of AAM and eVTOL aircraft. The CONNEX Marketplace, developed by i5 Services, offers supply chain solutions both nationwide and at a state level. It includes a database of manufacturers that is categorized by thousands of data points based upon specific capabilities.

Davis mentioned PPE as an example of a supply chain issue: “It wasn’t that we didn’t have capable manufacturers, but that we couldn’t find those capabilities in the U.S., and we had people that couldn’t find the demand.” In order to use the database as a national platform, it was critical to provide value to the manufacturer; forcing manufacturers to provide data doesn’t work, said Davis.

In May 2021, i5 Services and NEXA Capital partnered to form a national consortium aimed at developing an integrated supply chain solution for AAM using the CONNEX electronic exchange platform. The AAM platform connects eVTOL developers in the U.S. to both local and national suppliers of products such as motors, propellers, power control systems, traffic management systems, avionics (flight control, pilot assistance, surveillance, etc.), and energy storage systems. Davis explained, “If we’re searching for supply, we need to be able to expand the search to broader geographies for capabilities that may not be locally available. It’s also important that we have the ability to contract and search very locally.” 

David Stepanek, Executive Vice President, Sales and Chief Transformation Officer at Bristow Group, represented one of the world’s largest helicopter operators. Bristow Group joined Overair in a partnership last month in development of Overair’s Butterfly eVTOL aircraft. Bristow President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Bradshaw commented on the announcement: “Our MOU with Overair allows us to set the stage for the next generation of vertical flight. Our collaboration facilitates expansion into new high-density geographic markets with sustainable, innovative and efficient vertical lift and aerial transport services.”

Overair and Bristow Group signed an MOU to work together on commercialization plans for Overair’s Butterfly eVTOL aircraft. (Photo: Overair)

Stepanek remarked that one challenge in scaling AAM is an already short supply of pilots. “You can’t just take a pilot out of flight school and put him in a cockpit.” At Bristow, pilots need 1,500 hours of flight time before they can operate the aircraft independently. Another obstacle is public acceptance. To build and scale a compelling business, “we’re going to have to sell people on sustainability,” Stepanek said, emphasizing the importance not only of sustainability but also of safety at every stage of development in AAM.

Dana Jensen, Senior Industrial Policy Analyst for the US Air Force, discussed scaling of the AAM supply chain during this week’s eVTOL Symposium. He asks, how do we address the concerns associated with a limited set of suppliers that are not in coordination with each other? “Some may be able to supply products for AAM and don’t even know it. Our purpose is to develop an electronic exchange platform and a modeling and simulation environment.” 

The Agility Prime program, in coordination with NASA, issued an RFI and received over 370 responses. The manufacturing companies that are reluctant to communicate with each other have been more willing to respond to RFIs with details of their capabilities and financials if they think it could provide benefits.

Respondents to the RFI “may have the opportunity to closely collaborate with NASA, Agility Prime, and other government organizations in discussions relating to developing and operationalizing AAM. These discussions will leverage NASA and Agility Prime’s industry knowledge and extensive experience designing, testing, and flying novel aircraft, and airspace management systems,” according to NASA’s website. The initial rollout for the prototype of the modeling and simulation tool is tentatively set for early April, Jensen said, and they are always looking for new firms to submit responses to the RFI.

The “Scaling Up to AAM” discussion was concluded with a presentation from Vivek Saxena, Managing Director, Advisory Aerospace OSC, in which he shared Advisory Aerospace’s efforts to enable Smart Factories. “We work with manufacturers that make fasteners, and those who make full aircraft systems. Most aerospace factories with complex manufacturing show poor performance on KPIs such as Velocity, OTD, and Cost.”

“In manufacturing, only 13% of available data is currently used, and that number is even lower for aerospace manufacturing—less than 10%. Due to disconnected data sources, very few people have a full view of what’s going on in the factory. They aren’t using existing data to run the factory more efficiently.”

Improving factory operations and supply chain visibility, Saxena said, doesn’t require expensive software. Startups like Advisory Aerospace can perform complete modeling and simulation of a large factory in less than two months. “We can help eVTOL companies optimize operations whether they have a data system or not,” added Saxena.

The post Scaling Up to Advanced Air Mobility appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Transformative Vertical Flight 2022: Opening Words from NASA, FAA, and USAF

Speakers from NASA, the FAA, the USAF, and the US Army presented updates during the Government Plenary of the Transformative Vertical Flight event this week. (Photo: Joby Aviation)

This week, the Transformative Vertical Flight 2022 event is taking place for in-person attendees in San Jose, California, as well as for virtual attendees. The 9th annual eVTOL Symposium includes presentations from researchers, government agencies, and industry leaders. The opening session of TVF2022 featured Davis Hackenberg and Jaako Karras from NASA; Col. Jay Hopkins, US Army, Chief of Staff, FVL CFT; Col. Nathan Diller, USAF, Director of AFWERX; and Steve Bradford from the FAA.

Davis Hackenberg is the AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) Integration Manager at NASA. He shared details about NASA’s AAM National Campaign—a series of flight demonstrations intended to promote public confidence in the safety of AAM and to develop sustainable, accessible air travel in partnership with government entities and industry leaders. National Campaign-1 (NC-1) includes both flight demonstrations and simulations that will take place this year. Vehicle partners that will participate in NC-1 include Joby Aviation, Wisk Aero, and Reliable Robotics. Additionally, Joby took part in integrated operational urban air mobility (UAM) scenarios in 2021 as part of the developmental testing phase.

For NASA, the focus is less on the performance characteristics of the electric aircraft and more on gathering data on safety. Multiple companies including BETA and Joby are already flying, gathering data, and developing prototypes, Hackenberg said, and with most of the new vehicles, the automation of in-flight controls enables even safer configurations. NASA’s AAM National Campaign is concerned not only with safety but also with minimizing environmental disturbance. Flight testing performed with Joby’s eVTOL aircraft last year provided NASA with an opportunity to collect high-quality noise data using 60 microphones.

TVF 2022 and the annual eVTOL Symposium are taking place this week, featuring updates and perspectives from industry leaders, government agencies, and researchers. (Photo: Honeywell)

Jaakko Karras, a Robotics Electrical Engineer with NASA, gave a presentation on the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which successfully landed on Mars in February 2021. “The motivation for ingenuity is to enable new forms of exploration on Mars. There is a lot that can be done in the aerial dimension,” Karras says, in spite of the thin atmosphere of Mars—which is 1% the density of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level. In addition to the difference in atmospheric density, other challenges the team faced included the cold temperatures (90℃), the need for a self-sufficient solar power system, and autonomous operations due to the distance from Earth and inability to maintain real-time communications.

The next presentation was given by Col. Jay Hopkins, US Army, Chief of Staff, Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team (FVL CFT). He shared three areas of focus for future unmanned aerial systems (UAS):

  1. Future Attack Recon Aircraft (FARA), with the first prototype flight planned for FY23. Prototype builds are already between 70–80% complete. 
  2. Future Unmanned Aircraft Systems (FUAS)
  3. Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), with the first prototype flight expected to take place in the second quarter of FY25.

According to Hopkins, the four tenets of Future Vertical Lift are reach, survivability, lethality, and affordability. Aircraft will need to be built with the capability for multi-domain operations. When range and speed increase, so will survivability, which requires a layered approach of intelligence preparation off the battlefield and both off-board and on-board technologies. Another priority is driving competition to reduce both risks and operational costs.

Director of the AFWERX program within the USAF, Col. Nathan Diller spoke on the program’s progress and their coordination with the FAA to examine airworthiness and flight standards. May 2021 marked the Air Force’s first airworthiness approval awarded for human flight in the Agility Prime program. “​​It provides us the opportunity to do government-directed flight tests and understand the multiple different use cases,” Diller said. “In May, AFWERX also sent out a team of 20 operators that worked closely with our partners to identify the areas with the highest interest among our air force operators of these new electric aircraft.”

Just last month, the first AFWERX Agility Prime Air Force pilot was able to fly the Kittyhawk eVTOL through remote operations. Also in December, Archer performed its first hover flight with its Maker eVTOL. This month, Joby Aviation received FAA and USAF approval for their second aircraft prototype and also achieved a flight speed of 205 mph. “Looking to the year ahead, we see companies—fast followers—contacting us with opportunities to participate more broadly [in the AFWERX program],” shared Col. Diller. He also explained that they are collaborating with NASA to advance autonomy, traffic management technologies, and supply chain management.

Pictured above is Kittyhawk demonstrating Heaviside’s autonomous capabilities. (Photo: Kittyhawk)

TVF2022’s opening session concluded with a presentation from Steve Bradford, Chief Scientist for Architecture and NextGen Development at the FAA. The topic was integration of UAM operations into the airspace. Bradford said that airspace integration is defined by conflict management, which is comprised of traffic synchronization, balancing of demand and capacity, and airspace organization. 

UAM corridors came into existence when the FAA released the first version of its Concept of Operations (ConOps) in July 2020. Bradford and his team are working on ConOps 2.0 now with the idea that corridors will be implemented only as needed; there will be alternate mitigation strategies for crossing traffic; and the overall impact to non-UAM vehicles will be reduced. Through this version of ConOps, expected to be issued early this year, the FAA will offer more flexibility for UAM corridor design.

The post Transformative Vertical Flight 2022: Opening Words from NASA, FAA, and USAF appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Lockheed Martin Finishes 2021 With Strong Fourth Quarter

Lockheed Martin delivered 52 F-35s in the fourth quarter of 2021. Pictured here is the company’s F-35 production factory located in Fort Worth, Texas. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin on Tuesday reported strong fourth quarter financial results, ending a challenging 2021 on a high note, although the company continues to project a drop in sales in 2022.

Net income in the quarter rose 14 percent to $2 billion, $7.47 earnings per share (EPS), versus $1.8 billion ($6.38 EPS) a year ago, results that cruised well above consensus estimates of $7.15 per share. Sales increased 4 percent to $17.7 billion from $17 billion a year ago.

Overall, in 2021 sales increased 3 percent to a record $67 billion from $65.4 billion in 2020 and net income tumbled 8 percent to $6.3 billion ($22.76 EPS) from $6.8 billion ($24.30). Lockheed Martin’s annual earnings took a substantial hit in the third quarter due to $1.3 billion charge related to pension costs.

Last October, when Lockheed Martin released its third quarter financial results, the company reduced its sales outlook for 2021 and 2022 due to supply chain constraints on several of its operating segments. James Taiclet, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, said on Tuesday that there are still supply chain disruption risks but “we think the bow wave has passed in supply chain disruption for Lockheed Martin.”

Sales in 2022 are forecast to be about $66 billion, down more than a percent from 2021, and earnings are forecast to be about $26.70 EPS. Free cash flow is projected to be at least $6 billion, about $500 million below the prior outlook due to an expected tax payment related to a research and development amortization provision in a 2017 COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Free cash flow in 2021 was $7.7 billion. Lockheed Martin spent $4.1 billion of its free cash on share repurchases and $2.9 billion on dividends to shareholders. The company also spent a record $1.5 billion on independent research and development, with key investments in hypersonics, directed energy, and artificial intelligence, Taiclet said.

The company also created mission-based technology roadmaps and invested in its 5G.mil architecture to enable joint all domain operations across platforms and military services and allies, he said.

Sales in the quarter were up at the Missiles and Fire Control, Aeronautics, and Rotary and Mission Systems segments, driven by the PAC-3, tactical and strike missile programs, F-35 fighter aircraft, classified, C6ISR, training and logistics, the Canadian Surface Combatant and Aegis programs.

Lockheed Martin delivered 52 F-35s in the quarter versus 42 a year ago, and 142 in all of 2021 versus 120 in 2020. The program is currently expected to peak at 156 aircraft per year. The F-35, including production, development and sustainment, accounts for about 25 percent of the company’s revenue.

Lockheed’s fourth quarter earnings report comes following the company’s undisclosed investment in electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Electra.aero last week.

This article was first published by Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics International, it has been edited. To view the original version, click here.>>

The post Lockheed Martin Finishes 2021 With Strong Fourth Quarter appeared first on Aviation Today.

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FAA Requires Boeing 747-8, 777 Flight Manual Changes to Address 5G C-Band Radio Altimeter Interference

A new airworthiness directive published by the FAA on Tuesday, Jan. 25, requires airplane flight manual changes for all Boeing 777, 747-8 and 747-8F aircraft. Pictured here is the 747-8F aircraft that Boeing used to complete certification testing for the model in 2011. (Boeing)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) on Jan. 25 requiring airplane flight manual (AFM) changes for Boeing 747-8, 747-8F and 777 after determining that the radio altimeters featured on these aircraft models “cannot be relied upon to perform their intended function if they experience interference from wireless broadband operations in the 3.7-3.98 GHz frequency band (5G C-Band).”

Radio altimeter data featured on the Boeing aircraft models identified in the directive are vulnerable to interference that may affect “pitch control laws, that provide tail strike protection regardless of the visibility conditions or approach type being used at airports in regions where 5G C-band stations have been deployed,” according to the directive. Other systems that could be impacted include the auto throttle, ground proximity warning, thrust reversers and Traffic Collision Avoidance System.

“The AD does not apply to landings at airports where the FAA determined the aircraft altimeters are safe and reliable in the 5G C-band environment. It also does not apply to airports where 5G isn’t deployed,” the agency said in its latest statement on the ongoing 5G C-band rollout.

There are approximately 336 aircraft registered in the U.S and another 1,714 worldwide impacted by the new AD. The FAA determined that the AFM changes required under the new directive will cost the combined U.S.-registered fleet $28,560.

FAA’s requirement for 747-8 and 777 operators to change the limitations section of their AFM comes following an evaluation of 5G C-Band interference by Boeing that occurred since the issuing of an AD by the agency last month requiring similar changes that focused on low visibility conditions. That testing, according to the directive, determined that anomalies from 5G C-Band interference may not be evident to pilots until low altitudes and could result in “uncommanded, inappropriate pitch inputs, adversely affecting controllability.”

The directive comes following a series of 5G C-Band policy updates issued by the FAA, including one last week where altimeters for most of the in-service Airbus, Boeing and Embraer U.S. airline-operated fleet were cleared from vulnerability to any interference issues. Boeing issued “Multi Operator Messages MOM-MOM-22-0024-01B(R2)” to affected 747-8 and 777 operators last week. A key update in the new directive from the FAA is that it is not limited to the low visibility and poor weather conditions outlined by the agency on Dec. 23.

AT&T and Verizon have agreed to limit the power of radio frequencies generated by 5G C-Band stations deployed near airports for the first six months of the year.

Boeing 747-8 and 777 operators are provided the opportunity to request permission for Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs) in the new AD. The FAA also included further details on why commercial aviation radio altimeters are vulnerable to 5G C-Band interference.

“The radio altimeter must detect faint signals reflected off the ground to measure altitude, in a manner similar to radar,” the agency writes in the directive. “Out-of-band signals could significantly degrade radio altimeter functions during critical phases of flight, if the altimeter is unable to sufficiently reject those signals.”

The post FAA Requires Boeing 747-8, 777 Flight Manual Changes to Address 5G C-Band Radio Altimeter Interference appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Boeing Invests $450 Million in Wisk eVTOL Development

Boeing has invested $450 million in Wisk to support certification of their 6th-gen eVTOL and expand Wisk’s global reach. (Photo: Wisk Aero LLC)

Wisk, the eVTOL developer and advanced air mobility (AAM) company, has received $450 million in funding from The Boeing Company. In addition to supporting development of Wisk’s 6th-generation eVTOL aircraft, the investment from Boeing will contribute to Wisk’s preparations for launching scale manufacturing and go-to-market operations. Along with its previous investments, Wisk is now one of the most well-funded AAM companies worldwide.

During a Jan. 24 media briefing announcing the investment, Wisk’s President and CEO Gary Gysin spoke about the benefits of the new partnership with Boeing. “It’s not just capital—it’s also the resources, the engineering expertise. The funding will support scaling our manufacturing and go-to-market efforts.” Wisk plans to reveal the design of their eVTOL aircraft later this year. When asked about a timeline for certification, Gysin explained, “We’ll fly when it’s safe, when we’re ready, and when it’s certified.” Once it is certified, their 6th-generation vehicle is expected to perform close to 14 million annual flights within five years. 

One of Wisk’s missions is for their eVTOL to provide affordable commuting options. (Photo: Wisk Aero LLC)

Cora, the eVTOL being developed by Wisk, is a two-passenger all-electric self-piloted aircraft. It has an experimental airworthiness certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to their website. Gysin stated, “As we enter this next stage of our growth, this additional funding provides us with capital while allowing us to remain focused on our core business and our number one priority, safety.”

Wisk intends to remain the OEM and operator for the foreseeable future, and they are also engaged with companies and organizations to provide other capabilities. The company collaborated with Blade Urban Air Mobility to operate Wisk’s eVTOL aircraft on Blade’s network of dedicated terminals in the U.S. A partnership with NASA began in November 2020 to study safe integration of autonomous aircraft systems into urban air mobility (UAM) applications. In July 2021, NASA selected Wisk as an industry partner to support the advancement of AAM flight, airspace, and operations infrastructure. Another investor is Kittyhawk, who has supported Wisk’s development efforts for previous generations of eVTOL aircraft.

Brian Yutko, Vice President and Chief Engineer of Sustainability and Future Mobility at Boeing, shared that his team recognized the commercial potential of Wisk in 2019. “We liked that Wisk has achieved a number of aviation firsts and industry firsts,” he remarked during the briefing. The collaboration, he explained, includes development of technology and expansion of Wisk’s global reach in addition to supporting Wisk’s mission of achieving certification. Commenting on Wisk’s pioneering of all-electric autonomous capability, Boeing’s Chief Strategy Officer, Marc Allen, said, “Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale across all AAM applications, from passenger to cargo and beyond. That’s why straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle.”

Wisk has received support in developing its eVTOL and advancing AAM and UAM through partnerships with Blade Urban Air Mobility, Kittyhawk,  and NASA. (Photo: Wisk Aero LLC)

Wisk’s vision for an AAM network includes opportunities to leverage existing infrastructure—such as small and mid-size airports—to repurpose as vertiports and charging stations. Not only does this allow Wisk to focus on certification for their aircraft, but it is also a more efficient and environmentally friendly strategy. “Much like the development of eVTOL aircraft, the development of eVTOL infrastructure—if done responsibly—will add value while seamlessly integrating into local communities,” a Wisk spokesperson previously told Avionics International.

The post Boeing Invests $450 Million in Wisk eVTOL Development appeared first on Aviation Today.

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eVTOL Company Jetson Has Sold Out All 2022 Production

Jetson, a Swedish eVTOL company, announced that it sold out of all units that will be produced in 2022. The first buyers will receive their Jetson ONE this fall. (Photo: Jetson)

Swedish eVTOL company Jetson has sold out all of its 2022 production of the Jetson ONE. The company recorded 100 units sold since the official launch on October 21, 2021, in addition to more than 3,000 pre-orders. In 2022, Jetson will initiate its first round of external fundraising, and the first aircraft will be delivered sometime this fall.

Jetson co-founder and president, Peter Ternstrom, described the Jetson ONE as “a high-performance motorcycle for the sky” in an interview with Avionics International. The aircraft weighs 190 pounds (86 kilos), and two of its key features are the flight computer and the programming that are both custom-built for it. Safety is a top priority, as is ease of use. “You can lose an engine and continue flying,” remarked Ternstrom. He explained that it is incredibly easy to fly the Jetson ONE; “It helps you to land—it always executes a perfect landing.” 

The Jetson ONE weighs about 190 pounds. (Photo: Jetson)

The 2023 model is expected to have an increased flight time of 24 minutes. While the airframe, motors, and computers will stay mostly the same, explained Ternstrom, future improvements in battery technology will result in longer flight times for each iteration of the Jetson ONE. The model produced in 2024, for example, could have a flight time of 28–30 minutes.

The total number of orders for the Jetson ONE just reached 228, with two to five new orders coming in each day, Ternstrom said. The team is building 10 prototypes for testing, ensuring safety, and further improving the software. “We’re going to test everything to make it a great, safe flight experience before we go to mass production, which we are going to do in the second half of 2023.”

Total units ordered just reached 228, and there have been over 3,000 pre-orders made so far. (Photo: Jetson)

Jetson’s Head of Communication, San Sunner, shared in an emailed statement to Avionics that the eVTOL is constructed with “a unique safety cell around the pilot using modern production techniques like 3D printing and computer simulations.” She also remarked that the company’s goals for this year include expanding the R&D division as well as opening a new production and test facility. 

Each year, as urban areas become more and more crowded, the costs of expanding public transport and maintaining roads increases. Jetson’s long-term vision, Ternstrom said, is to make big cities better places to live in. Within the next 15 to 20 years, they hope to move 50% of street traffic into the air. “Jetson is not here to build just the Jetson ONE,” he commented. Jetson’s current eVTOL model is the perfect product for customers who are very early adopters because it is enjoyable to operate and it is not extremely complex, so it can be brought to market very quickly to help the company gain market and brand recognition.

Jetson was founded by Tomasz Patan, Chief Technical Officer (left), and Peter Ternstrom, President (right).

Ternstrom envisions that in six years or so, the company will develop a luxury two-seater aircraft that will be much more complex in its construction. In ten years, they may create an aircraft to replicates the concept of the standard four-passenger car in the air. It would need to be affordable for an upper-middle-class family, he added.

Jetson’s eVTOL is designed to execute a safe landing every time. (Photo: Jetson)

The post eVTOL Company Jetson Has Sold Out All 2022 Production appeared first on Aviation Today.

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FAA Clears More Altimeters From 5G C-band Impact as Airlines Adjust Flight Operations

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, whose Terminal 5 Airfield is pictured here, was one of several U.S. airports that Emirates resumed flights to after temporarily suspending flights to some U.S. destinations amid the deployment of 5G C-Band services. (Chicago Department of Aviation)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday published a statement to allow an estimated 78 percent of the in-service U.S. commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at airports where wireless companies deployed 5G C-band, giving several U.S. and international airlines the ability to restore some flights that were cancelled due to AT&T and Verizon flipping the switch on their new networks on Jan. 19.

Thursday’s update from the FAA followed an agreement reached by the aviation and telecommunications industry on Tuesday when AT&T and Verizon both agreed to temporarily delay turning on a limited number of the 5G C-Band towers that they’re deploying near certain airports. Since the beginning of December, the two sides of the 5G C-Band deployment have agreed to several delays and risk mitigation measures for the 5G towers being deployed to ensure aircraft radar and radio altimeter signals do not experience interference from the new wireless network services that are being deployed.

According to the statement published Thursday by the FAA, airplane models that feature one of 13 “cleared altimeters” that the agency has determined are safe from potential 5G C-Band interference include “all Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, 787, MD-10/-11; all Airbus A300, A310, A319, A320, A330, A340, A350 and A380 models; and some Embraer 170 and 190 regional jets.”

FAA officials are anticipating some altimeters will be too susceptible to potential 5G interference and the aircraft they’re featured on will be prohibited from performing low-visibility landings where 5G C-Band is deployed because the altimeter could provide inaccurate information. Aircraft radar altimeters operate within 4.2–4.4 GHz, the lower half of which falls within the C-Band—a frequency range from 3.7–4.2 GHz where the combination of the range of signal transmissions and capacity are optimum.

The 5G wireless networks that were switched on by AT&T and Verizon this week operate within the 3.7–3.98 GHz frequency range, close to the altimeters, which has left aviation industry experts with concerns over signal interference issues. In December, the FAA published new airworthiness directives (ADs) that will prohibit certain types of advanced fixed and rotary wing landing procedures that rely on the use of radar altimeter data.

Verizon, in a Jan. 19 statement published to its website said that it has “voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries.” This latest voluntary agreement, which AT&T has also committed to, is in addition to the six-month period during which the two companies have already stated they will limit the power radiated from 5G base stations located near airports.

“Following a 6-week voluntary pause and the implementation of additional precautionary measures to allow the Federal Aviation Administration and aviation industry to complete evaluations, today’s introduction of C-Band spectrum begins turbo-boosting our 5G wireless service with our newest AT&T 5G+ service,” AT&T said in a Jan. 19 statement.

Several U.S. and international airlines adjusted flight operations this week as the FAA continues its work determining which aircraft altimeters are too susceptible to 5G C-Band interference to allow them to operate low visibility landings at certain airports. The FAA on Jan. 7 published a new list of the 50 U.S. airports that will have “buffer zones” around them to further mitigate against the risk of potential 5G C-Band altimeter signal interference.

Emirates is reinstating its Boeing 777 operations to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando and Seattle as a result of the FAA’s latest update clearing altimeters featured on nearly 80% of the in-service U.S. commercial fleet, according to a Jan. 20 statement published by the Middle Eastern carrier. Earlier this week, Emirates suspended its services to some US destinations based on the FAA advisory and recommendations from Boeing on possible interference between the 5G antennas and aircraft altimeters.

“We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers by the temporary suspension of flights to some of our US destinations. Safety will always be our top priority, and we will never gamble on this front,” Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline said in a statement. “We welcome the latest development which enables us to resume essential transport links to the US to serve travelers and cargo shippers. However, we are also very aware that this is a temporary reprieve, and a long-term resolution would be required. Emirates will continue to work closely with the aircraft manufacturers and relevant regulators to ensure the safety and continuity of our services.”

When asked about the 5G C-Band deployment issues during a Jan. 20 earnings call, outgoing American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said that the airline does not anticipate “any material disruption” as long a the latest voluntarily agreements from AT&T and Verizon remain in place. Incoming Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan shared an update with the regional carrier’s employees on Jan. 19 that was also welcoming to the agreements undertaken by AT&T and Verizon as well.

Jordan said that the two companies only recently released all of the data necessary for aircraft manufacturers to perform safety tests. “This means the right parties haven’t had the time needed to study potential 5G interference with aircraft equipment and to develop extensive mitigation plans that would prevent disruptions,” he said. “Now, my hope is that this pause in 5G expansion grants the FAA more time to evaluate the data for specific airports and runways so that 5G cellular service and airline operations can safely coexist, as it shouldn’t be a one-or-the-other proposition.”

The post FAA Clears More Altimeters From 5G C-band Impact as Airlines Adjust Flight Operations appeared first on Aviation Today.

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NASA’s Innovation Award Supports Phase II of ATM Optimization Project

The SmartSky network was designed specifically with applications like this collaborative project with Mosaic ATM and GE Aviation in mind, the company says. (Photo: SmartSky Networks)

A new collaboration between GE Aviation, SmartSky Networks, and Mosaic ATM was announced that will connect airborne and cloud-based flight management systems (FMS) for airspace management optimization in addition to enabling low altitude air traffic management (ATM) for advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft. This research and the efforts to optimize air traffic management will be conducted under an Innovation Award from NASA. The cloud-based FMS concept will expand available data inputs and processing capabilities to improve real-time airspace management planning for air traffic controllers.

Representatives from each of the three companies involved in this collaboration spoke in more detail with Avionics International about what they hope to accomplish. Todd Kilbourne, Senior Program Manager at Mosaic ATM, explained that they began partnering with SmartSky Networks during Phase I of the project. “We started with a simulation of messages that would go back and forth between an on-board FMS and a cloud digital twin version of the FMS,” Kilbourne said. “We used the SmartSky network—both in their simulation lab and their real air-ground network—to validate that the types of messages that would be transmitted between the two versions of FMS could be delivered at the required performance levels over an existing network: the high-bandwidth, high-reliability SmartSky network. We proved that concept and validated that we had an existing network that could perform the way we needed it to.”

Pictured above is the cockpit demonstrator with the cloud-based flight management system. (Photo: SmartSky Networks)

NASA gave another Innovation Award to SmartSky and Mosaic, allowing them continue with Phase II of the project—which is when they added GE Aviation as a partner. Now, they are about six months into what will be a two-year-long project. In Phase II, Kilbourne shared that they will be testing, both in the simulation lab and SmartSky’s network, “a real connection between the GE TrueCourse FMS on board and their cloud instance of that, and further validate the concept using real products.” The results of this project will include research results, experimental results, and test reports to inform further development of the SmartSky network along with GE’s TrueCourse FMS. Throughout Phase II, there will be a significant focus on commercialization of the concept.

Gary Goz, Navigation Systems Product Director with GE Aviation, explained that in this collaboration, they are working to establish the architecture and design decisions for the changes necessary to accommodate the cloud-based version of GE’s TrueCourse FMS. Their FMS, he said, “is designed to be an open architecture, so it is built with scalability in mind and really focused on how TrueCourse plays in a more connected ecosystem.”

“The project will take the TrueCourse baseline, take some of that flight management non-safety-critical modularity, and either move it or replicate it offboard. In creating that digital twin piece, we take all of that software offboard and provide that capability to innovate the pieces that we can’t change often or quickly onboard, and replicate that in the cloud,” said Goz. Using that digital twin enables traffic flow management and the ability to avoid stackups or hold patterns, which can be done offboard in a highly accurate way. 

The SmartSky aircraft connectivity network was designed specifically with applications like this collaborative project in mind, and the products the company used for this project are standard commercial products that are available off-the-shelf. Brian Trainum, Director of Applications at SmartSky, commented, “The aircraft radio and the ground network itself are really designed specifically for these types of requirements that need low latency, that need a bi-directional, high-bandwidth network to support.”

The collaboration is testing a real connection between the GE TrueCourse FMS on board and the cloud version in order to validate the concept. (Photo: SmartSky Networks)

Goz from GE Aviation shared his perspective on the AAM market, saying that there have been many providers hoping to introduce services with traditional, proven capabilities in order to lower risk and achieve certification more quickly. “With our incumbency on the air transport side,” he explained, “the capability to go to market will be a lot easier because we can use that incumbency to prove the product that we have there. That allows us to get it to market more efficiently and in a short time frame.” The team at GE Aviation has been actively engaged with some OEMs and those looking to build out the infrastructure for AAM. Getting their FMS to market quickly is critical for delivering the volume of service that the market now expects, Goz commented.

Modernization of airspace and the role of the FMS—in addition to the pilot participating in a more connected ecosystem—are central to GE Aviation’s mission of sustainability, said Jeremy Barbour, Vice President and General Manager of Connected Aircraft at GE Aviation. “Exploring this technology so that we more deeply understand how flight management system products need to evolve to efficiently participate in this network is really going to help us do that effectively,” he shared.

Barbour also spoke about the numerous flight plan optimization applications currently available in the market and the problems that may arise in utilizing them. “If the offboard application—which is not a digital twin of the FMS—determines that there is a better way to fly the plane, it’s very difficult to know if the FMS will agree that it is, in fact, better. Will the aircraft fly the changed route in a highly predictable, accurate way?”

Having the digital twin of the FMS in the cloud is a great way to solve these problems, he said. “You can interact with the FMS to know: does the FMS agree that this is a better route? If we upload that route change to the FMS, will that plane fly that route in an extremely accurate and predictable way? In order to achieve optimization at the network level that we need, those two problems have to be solved, and we think this is a great way to do that.”

The post NASA’s Innovation Award Supports Phase II of ATM Optimization Project appeared first on Aviation Today.

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CEO of AIR Talks eVTOLs for Personal Flight

AIR has already received pre-orders for more than 50 units of its AIR ONE eVTOL. (Photo: AIR)

The electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) developer AIR unveiled its AIR ONE vehicle and began taking pre-orders in October 2021. In an interview with Avionics International, CEO and co-founder Rani Plaut discussed the company’s approach to designing its personal aerial vehicle and achieving FAA certification by the end of 2023. AIR looks to be growing rapidly over the last few months and has already received pre-orders for over 50 units.

There are two prototypes of the AIR ONE—a full-scale, semi-functional prototype for ground demonstration, and another large-scale that is, technologically, fully functional. Plaut explained, “We have a division of functionality so we can really sharpen the product on both the aesthetics and on the technological side.” The technologically functional prototype is set to take off in the next 4–6 weeks.

AIR has worked to differentiate the AIR ONE from other players in the eVTOL market as a vehicle intended for personal use, for “making flight accessible to regular people,” said Plaut. “Of course, a pilot license is required, but we are aiming for a very low level of training.” The eVTOL market includes small, recreational aircraft that have a very short range, and the larger eVTOLs and air taxis produced by companies such as Volocopter, Lilium, Archer, Joby, and others are designed for commercial applications. The AIR ONE, then, is sthe car of the category—a personal vehicle intended for commuting or leisure purposes. 

The range of an AIR ONE eVTOL will be over 100 miles. AIR hopes to obtain G1 certification from the FAA by the end of 2023. (Photo: AIR)

The key features of AIR’s eVTOL are practicality, affordability, safety, and ease of handling. The range is over 100 miles, and units are priced at $150,000 each. Plaut describes the aircraft’s “extreme simplicity and high redundancy that creates a very high level of safety and very easy handling. If I train you, within an hour you will be able to operate it. You are truly enveloped in our software and are very safe.”

AIR’s vision is to bring its vehicle to the mass market, producing and selling thousands of units each year. To grow public acceptance and ensure smooth assimilation of the aircraft into low altitude airspace, the team is focusing on safety and noise reduction. “At the end of the day,” said Plaut, “the product needs to coexist with people. It’s not about the user; it’s about the whole community.” While the U.S. market is the primary target for AIR’s eVTOL, customers from Israel and the U.K. have already pre-ordered units, and Australia is another potential market. 

This is the prototype of the AIR ONE vehicle being worked on at their facility. (AIR)

One of the company’s priorities is designing an aircraft that can be used in a variety of applications but is not tailored to any one specific use. A rescue helicopter, in comparison, is designed with one specific set of operations in mind. Just as a car owner can use their vehicle for commuting, leisure, or a taxi service, the AIR ONE could be used by package delivery companies like UPS, by first responders, or by those working in agriculture. “It’s like an F150. You can be a plumber with an F150; you can take your family in an F150,” remarked Plaut.

“If enough people [are interested in] using the air as a means of day-to-day transportation, companies will invest in engineering efforts in order to decouple skillsets from safety. In the air, your skillset is your safety—if you’re skilled, you’re alive. In a car, the vehicle protects you. We’re trying to make things that fly as easy to live with as cars.”

The post CEO of AIR Talks eVTOLs for Personal Flight appeared first on Aviation Today.

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