What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021

May 3rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021

Check out the May 2 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.

Commercial

Airbus Reports First Quarter Profit, More Deliveries

Airbus published its first quarter results last week. Airbus employees are pictured here celebrating the first A321XLR Center Wing Box delivery. (Airbus)

Airbus on April 29 reported first quarter 2021 net income of €362 million ($439 million), while completing 125 total aircraft deliveries and 39 new orders.

Revenues generated by the French aerospace manufacturer’s commercial aircraft activities decreased by 4 percent, mainly reflecting lower volume in services, according to an April 29 press release. Airbus Helicopters delivered 39 units with revenues reflecting lower volume in civil helicopters, partly offset by growth in services. Revenues at Airbus Defense and Space were also stable compared to a year earlier.

“The good Q1 results mainly reflect our commercial aircraft delivery performance, cost and cash containment, progress with the restructuring plan as well as positive contributions from our helicopter and defense and space activities,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said in the release. “The first quarter shows that the crisis is not yet over for our industry, and that the market remains uncertain. We are investing in innovation and in the transformation of our Company to deliver on our long-term ambitions across the portfolio.”

 

 

Calhoun Sees 2021 As “Inflection Point” For Recovery; Boeing Posts Losses, Lower Sales

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said Wednesday during the company’s first quarter earnings call that 2021 will be an “inflection point” for Boeing.

Boeing on Wednesday reported lower losses in its first quarter amid signs of a recovery in commercial aerospace and the company’s defense business posted strong results, largely driven by the KC-46A aerial refueling aircraft for the Air Force.

“While the global pandemic continues to challenge the overall market environment, we view 2021 as a key inflection point for our industry as vaccine distribution accelerates and we work together across government and industry to help enable a robust recovery,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

During the company’s earnings call, Calhoun said a “full recovery is still likely a few years away” and is dependent on vaccine distribution and the lifting of travel restrictions in various domestic and regional markets. Greg Smith, Boeing’s outgoing chief financial officer, said on the call that Chinese regulators’ approval of the return to service in China of the 737 MAX passenger aircraft will also impact deliveries of the aircraft, which was grounded worldwide for more than a year following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Sales fell 10 percent to $15.2 billion from $16.9 billion on lower revenue from the Commercial Airplanes segment and lower commercial revenue in the services segment. Defense sales were higher, primarily on KC-46A tanker orders.

The Defense, Space & Security segment increased sales 19 percent to $7.2 billion and turned in an operating profit of $405 million following a loss a year ago related to charges on the KC-46A program. Boeing, in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said 23 percent of defense sales were to international customers.

 

FAA Issues New Airworthiness Directive to Address 737 MAX Electrical Bonding Issues

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring electrical bonding modifications to the flight deck panel assemblies of some newly manufactured 737 MAX aircraft, according to a new airworthiness directive (AD) published by the agency on April 30.

In the directive, the FAA has identified a total of 71 MAX aircraft with electrical bonding and grounding issues first identified by Boeing during standard production testing earlier this month. None of the identified airplanes—delivered and those awaiting delivery—have experienced any operational issues, but will be grounded until undergoing some flight deck panel assembly modifications.

“Investigation identified design changes to the flight deck support panel assemblies, which affected the dedicated bonding and grounding paths that existed prior to the changes,” the FAA writes in the AD. “The affected areas are the P6 panel assembly, including the mounting tray for the standby power control unit (SPCU), located behind the first officer, and the main instrument panel (MIP) assembly located in front of and between the captain and first officer.”

 

 

US to Ban Air Travel From India as Nation Hit with Record Number of COVID Cases

As the number of COVID-19 cases explode and a new variant spreads in India, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration published a presidential action statement on April 30 proclaiming all forms of travel from India will be banned starting May 4.

“The World Health Organization has reported that the Republic of India has had more than 18,375,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The magnitude and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of India is surging; the Republic of India accounts for over one-third of new global cases, and the number of new cases in the Republic of India is accelerating at a rapid rate,” the White House said in the presidential action statement.

Under the new policy, noncitizens who were residing in India for any 14-day period prior to entry in the U.S. will be banned from boarding aircraft traveling to the United States.

 

 

US Airline Passenger Mask Mandate Extended to September

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has extended its face mask requirement for commercial airline passengers traveling through airports and onboard commercial aircraft through Sept. 13, according to an April 30 press release.

TSA’s initial requirement that went into effect in February was to be lifted May 11.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” Darby LaJoye, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator said in a statement. “Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business & GA 

Embraer Expresses Cautious Optimism in First Quarter Results

KLM received their first Embraer 195-E2 in February. (Embraer)

Embraer delivered 22 total aircraft during the first quarter of 2021, including nine commercial jets and 13 business jets.

Those numbers were slightly higher than the same period a year ago, when COVID and the collapse of their commercial aviation deal with Boeing presented a double impact to the Brazilian airplane manufacturer’s financial and operational performance.

“Historically, Embraer seasonally has fewer deliveries during the first quarter of the year, and with some regions of the world, particularly the United States, starting to show better vaccination rollout and improved traffic in the commercial aviation and business aviation markets, the Company is cautiously optimistic for a more evenly balanced quarterly cadence of deliveries in 2021 as compared to 2020,” Embraer said in their first quarter earnings release.

 

ZeroAvia Hydrogen-Powered Test Aircraft Damaged in ‘Off-Airport Landing’

ZeroAvia’s research and development aircraft for its hydrogen propulsion system made an “off-airport” landing according to the startup, the aircraft crashed just outside of Cranfield Airport. (Image: C/O @MEHarris on Twitter)

The hydrogen-powered Piper M-class six-seater turboprop being operated by ZeroAvia as a testbed for its hydrogen propulsion system was damaged during an off-airport landing on April 29, according to a May 1 press release published by the California-based startup.

According to the release, the aircraft mad an “off-airport landing” near Cranfield Airport during a routine test flight, landing on its wheels before the left main gear and wing were caught in the “uneven terrain” where it landed. The two crew members onboard were not injured, according to ZeroAvia.

“The flight conformed to the approved test route over the airport; the structural integrity of ZeroAvia systems was maintained throughout the incident sequence and there were no unintended hydrogen or electrical releases and no fire,” ZeroAvia said in the release. “After the landing, the crew were able to safeguard the battery and safely release hydrogen from the onboard tanks, following ZeroAvia safety protocol; no fluid leaks were observed at the time; and full data logs were preserved and will be used in our investigation.”

Check out the full statement from ZeroAvia about the incident here.

 

 

Military 

L3Harris Teams with Bye Aerospace to Develop All-Electric ISR Aircraft

L3Harris Technologies has partnered with Bye Aerospace to develop an all-electric ISR aircraft. (L3Harris Technologies)

L3Harris Technologies has signed a new agreement with Bye Aerospace to develop an all-electric, multi-mission aircraft that will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, according to an April 28 press release.

The agreement comes a week after Bye Aerospace released details about its new all-electric eight seater aircraft under development for the commercial market. Under their agreement with L3Harris, the two companies will modify the eight-seater to feature “multi-mission airborne ISR solutions.”

(L3Harris Technologies)

“Applying our missionization expertise to Bye Aerospace’s all-electric platform will help drive future mission applications,” Luke Savoie, President, Aviation Services, L3Harris said in a statement. “These platforms offer sustainability and mission advantages that will benefit a new generation of tactical manned ISR mission aircraft.”

 

 

Northrop Grumman Posts Strong First Quarter, Raises Guidance

Northrop Grumman on Thursday reported a strong open to 2021, delivering higher sales and net income, buoyed in part by the divestiture in January of its information technology services business and top and bottom-line improvements in three of its four operating segments.

The strong quarter led the company to increase guidance for sales and earnings.

Net income in the first quarter soared 153 percent to $2.2 billion, $13.43 earnings per share (EPS), from $868 million ($5.15 EPS) a year ago, driven largely by a $1.1 billion ($6.86 EPS) gain on the sale of the IT services business to Veritas. Excluding the one-time benefit, adjusted net income was still up a handsome 24 percent to $1.1 billion ($6.57 EPS), beating consensus estimates by $1.09 per share.

Sales increased 6 percent to $9.2 billion from $8.6 billion a year ago. Reduced revenue related to the sale of the IT business was more than offset by three extra working days in the quarter.

At the operating level, the Space Systems, the company’s fastest growing segment, led the strong results with sales and operating earnings up 29 and 37 percent respectively on the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, hypersonic programs, classified work, NASA’s Artemis human spaceflight program and the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Radar satellite program, and lower overhead rates.

Mission Systems and Aeronautics Systems also delivered strong results on a wide variety of programs including airborne radar, land and maritime systems, targeting and navigation programs, electronic warfare, classified manned aircraft, and the E-2 and F-35 aircraft production programs.

 

 

Space

Ingenuity Completes Third Successful Flight on Mars with Greater Speeds and Distance 

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter can be seen hovering during its third flight on April 25, 2021, as seen by the left Navigation Camera aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.(NASA JPL)

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity completed a third successful flight on April 25 showing progress on its abilities to fly further and faster than in the two previous demonstration flights, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announced.

Ingenuity’s third flight occurred at 4:31 a.m. EDT or 12:33 p.m. Mars time, according to NASA. The helicopter climbed 16 feet, which was the same as the second flight, and then flew downrange for 164 feet at a top speed of 6.6 feet per second.

“Today’s flight was what we planned for, and yet it was nothing short of amazing,” Dave Lavery, the project’s program executive for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. “With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars missions.”

 

 

FCC Approves SpaceX Request to Lower Starlink’s Altitude

The FCC has granted SpaceX permission to lower the altitude of future satellites in the Starlink Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation. The FCC’s decision, announced Tuesday, came despite protests from Viasat, Amazon, SES, and other satellite competitors.

The license modification allows SpaceX to change the altitude for 2,814 future Starlink satellites, from the 1,100-1,300 km range to the 540-570 km range. It also modifies the final size of the Starlink constellation by one satellite from 4,409 to 4,408. SpaceX just under 1,400 satellites in orbit at this point.

 

 

 

 

Unmanned 

Wingcopter Announces New 198 Electric Triple-Drop Delivery Drone

The Wingcopter 198 has a payload of 13 pounds and a range of 47 miles. (Wingcopter)

German drone developer and manufacturer Wincopter is debuting a new all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) fixed-wing drone capable of “triple-drop” deliveries, according to an April 27 release from the company. The new drone generation will be known as Wingcopter 198.

The Wingcopter 198 has a payload of 13 pounds and a range of 47 miles, according to the release. It is based on Wingcopter’s tilt-rotor technology and does not require infrastructure for operations.

“The Wingcopter 198 is a game-changer for drone-based deliveries, ready to create logistical highways in the sky,” Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, said in a statement. “It can be perfectly utilized as a fleet solution in delivery networks to create new opportunities, everywhere.”

Wingcopter 198’s delivery process is fully autonomous and has beyond visual line of sight capabilities. The system moves beyond the one operator to one drone ratio and is capable of expanding it to one operator to every 10 drones, according to the release. The triple-drop delivery mechanism allows for multiple destinations per flight.

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Congress Needs to Provide Funds and Regulatory Relief to Advance Aviation, Industry Says

May 1st, 2021   •   Comments Off on Congress Needs to Provide Funds and Regulatory Relief to Advance Aviation, Industry Says   
Congress Needs to Provide Funds and Regulatory Relief to Advance Aviation, Industry Says

The hearing comes a week after new final rules for flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace went into effect last week. The rules address remote identification of UAS and UAS operations over people and at night. (Skydio)

During an April 28 House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee meeting, aviation industry advocates asked Congress to provide more funding for innovation and clearer regulatory guidelines to help advance emerging technologies.

“We need your help at the federal level,” Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the city of Los Angeles, California, said during the hearing. “Don’t let us have 1,000 standards in 1,000 cities. Let’s develop a national standard and clear rules for managing low-altitude airspace that recognizes the responsibility of local governments around land use, density, and development. The FAA needs to prioritize research into safely integrating AAM [Advanced Air Mobility] into congested airspace, as well as research into how takeoffs and landings will weave into the flight path of traditional commercial aircraft operations.”

The stated purpose of the hearing was to allow industry to inform members of the subcommittee on new aviation technologies with potential societal, safety, and environmental benefits, according to Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA). The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), commercial space transportation, the National Mediation Board, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The hearing comes a week after new final rules for flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace went into effect last week. The rules address remote identification of UAS and UAS operations over people and at night. However, industry experts expressed concern over the slow and often disparate.

“The US safety regulatory system for civil aviation has an enviable record of stewardship over the busiest and most complex aviation system in the world,” James L. Grimsley, executive director of advanced technology initiative at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said. “In order to sustain this vibrancy, our regulatory system needs to evolve to enable and support emerging technologies and new entrants into the airspace, although we’ve made progress in the IPP and BEYOND and understanding how our regulatory system needs to evolve to integrate drones, our policies lagged behind the pace of technological advances. This hinders the industry unnecessarily.”

Later in the hearing, Grimsley cited an example of the regulatory barriers facing industry in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grimsley said he was contacted by many in his community who were looking to use drones for contactless delivery, however regulatory hurdles hindered their ability to be of use.

“We saw a lot of other businesses that were using things like curbside delivery, online ordering app ordering, they were able to shift and society was able to adjust quickly,” Grimsley said. “On the side of things like drone delivery, where society could have benefited, the regulatory system was not ready. We could not get anything in place to do any sort of meaningful missions or to help the public specifically because the regulatory system has been so slow to get to where we are now. So, I’d say our regulatory system actually delayed our ability to respond, in my opinion, very proactively and very constructively to the pandemic response.”

Grimsley said the U.S. is at risk of losing its aviation leadership role because of the slow regulatory movements that are plaguing the drone industry.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) both inquired about competition in the drone industry from China. Adam Bry, chief executive officer at Skydio, said that 80 percent of drones currently in use are made by China and have security concerns.

“Even though the drones are small, the stakes are high,” Bry said. “For the recent past, the drone industry has been dominated by manually controlled drones that are hard to fly and easy to crash. Eighty percent of these drones are made by companies based in China and come with a slew of cybersecurity concerns. The drone market is ripe for a transition from hardware to find products to software-enabled solutions, and…there is an opportunity for U.S. companies to lead the way with the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs here in the U.S.”

Job creation is not the only benefit of U.S.-made drones, Bry said. U.S. manufacturers will also be able to set standards that reflect their values.

“Most importantly, the stronger the domestic drone industry, the more this technology will reflect democratic values,” Bry said. “In 2020, Skydio became the world’s first drone company to issue a set of ethical principles to guide our work. We consider the holistic impact of our products with a particular focus on privacy and civil liberties.”

The U.S. is also falling behind on aviation technologies that can drive environmental sustainability, Roei Ganzarski, chief executive officer at magniX, said during the hearing.

“The U.S. has always been a leader, be an economics, culture, technology, the world looked to us as a beacon for the future, however, with aviation our country is falling short of our reputation for pioneering innovation and leading industry,” Ganzarski said. “In Europe countries are pledging domestic flights to be electric by 2030, banning short flights to reduce emissions, and providing hundreds of billions of dollars to advance carbon-free aviation.”

Ganzarski said the solution is for Congress to invest in electric aviation and provide incentives to operators who adopt it. He said he wants to see an amendment of the Essential Air Service which was passed in 1978 and aimed at guaranteeing that small communities are served by air carriers and given access to the National Air Transportation System.

“Congress needs to provide incentives for operators to adopt electric aircraft for existing and new routes, incentives for airports to invest in charging capabilities, and incentives for manufacturers to develop all-electric aviation solutions. These incentives can include grants, tax credits and more. I also propose amending the Essential Air Service, a taxpayer program, by adding an environmental performance criterion to be awarded subsidies. Separately I’ll share that the FAA is doing an amazing job working with the right attitude and approach with these new technologies, but there are lacking resources.”

Black Scholl, founder and chief executive officer at Boom Supersonic, also advocated for tax credits and policy incentives. He cited the FAA’s work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as critical to future supersonic flight and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) which is being offered as a solution to move away from fossil fuels.

“Regulatory certainty is vital to our success and ICAO must continue to advance economically reasonable, technologically feasible, and environmentally beneficial standards for supersonic aircraft,” Scholl said. “In the field of SAF, policy incentives will also be critical to accelerating production and adoption. At Boom, we support measures such as blender tax credits to accelerate staff production, and we’re working with a broad coalition of staff stakeholders to advance that policy.”

Pierre Harter, director of research and development at the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University, said the aerospace industry is not only critical to the economy but also national security.

“It is apparent that U.S. dominance in aerospace is a critical economic driver and a national security imperative,” Harter said. “The next two decades promise exciting new aerospace innovations and products that will transform the way we live and work enhancing the quality of life for Americans and the rest of the world. As in the past, the government must continue to support innovation by incorporating these new technologies into a strategic framework, investment in R&D, and capitalizing on industry, academia, and government partnerships will enable the safe, secure, and efficient introduction of these new technologies and products.”

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New Airworthiness Directive Grounds Some 737 MAX Airplanes While Boeing Develops Electrical Bonding Fix

May 1st, 2021   •   Comments Off on New Airworthiness Directive Grounds Some 737 MAX Airplanes While Boeing Develops Electrical Bonding Fix   
New Airworthiness Directive Grounds Some 737 MAX Airplanes While Boeing Develops Electrical Bonding Fix

A new airworthiness directive issued by the FAA requires an electrical bonding fix to some newly manufactured 737 MAX aircraft. (Southwest Airlines)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring electrical bonding modifications to the flight deck panel assemblies of some newly manufactured 737 MAX aircraft, according to a new airworthiness directive (AD) published by the agency on April 30.

In the directive, the FAA has identified a total of 71 MAX aircraft with electrical bonding and grounding issues first identified by Boeing during standard production testing earlier this month. None of the identified airplanes—delivered and those awaiting delivery—have experienced any operational issues, but will be grounded until undergoing some flight deck panel assembly modifications.

“Investigation identified design changes to the flight deck support panel assemblies, which affected the dedicated bonding and grounding paths that existed prior to the changes,” the FAA writes in the AD. “The affected areas are the P6 panel assembly, including the mounting tray for the standby power control unit (SPCU), located behind the first officer, and the main instrument panel (MIP) assembly located in front of and between the captain and first officer.”

The directive comes following the recommendation issued by Boeing to 16 customers and operators of the 737 MAX on April 8 to remove the identified models from service to address an electrical issue. Boeing’s investigation into the issue found that design changes introduced in early April to the metallic support panel assemblies for the SPCU and MIP do not allow for sufficient electric grounding — an electrical panel design method that safely discharges excess electricity — and present the potential for unsafe conditions.

Operators of the identified 737-8 and 737-9 models have been instructed to ground those aircraft while Boeing develops a service bulletin to address the issue, which could affect the aircraft’s engine ice protection system and has the potential to “result in loss of critical functions and/or multiple simultaneous flight deck effects,” according to the AD.

Boeing 737 MAX cockpit. (Boeing)

A representative for Boeing told Avionics International in an emailed statement that the company fully supports “the FAA’s directive to address electrical issues identified in certain locations in the flight deck of select 737 MAX airplanes.”

“We have been working closely with the FAA and our customers to finalize two service bulletins that will ensure a sufficient ground path in those areas,” according to the statement. “Upon FAA approval, we will provide the final versions of the bulletins to affected operators with detailed instructions on completing the work to return their airplanes to service.”

A cost breakdown of the repair provided by the FAA estimates that the modification of multiple flight deck panels on 68 of the identified aircraft will cost airlines operating those aircraft a collective total of more than $150,000. Three of the airplanes identified by Boeing will only require one flight deck panel modification.

FAA’s publishing of the new AD comes less than five months after Brazilian airline GOL completed the first passenger carrying flight of a 737 MAX since it was first grounded worldwide in March 2019. The FAA is accepting comments on the new directive through June 14.

Since the FAA’s approval to return the 737 MAX to operations in November 2020, Boeing has delivered more than 85 737 MAX aircraft, and 21 airlines have returned their fleets to service, the company said in its first quarter 2021 earnings results published Wednesday. Boeing CEO David Calhoun also provided an update on the efforts to address the electrical issues in a statement published along with the results.

“We are also working closely with the FAA and customers to address electrical issues identified in certain locations in the flight deck of select 737 MAX airplanes. We are finalizing the plans and documentation with the FAA to outline the process required for operators to return their airplanes to service,” Calhoun said. “Upon approval by the FAA, we expect the work to take a few days per airplane — and we will continue to focus on safety, quality and transparency through this process.”

The post New Airworthiness Directive Grounds Some 737 MAX Airplanes While Boeing Develops Electrical Bonding Fix appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: Finnair’s Vice President of Customer Experience Talks Contactless Cabins and Digital Strategy

April 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Finnair’s Vice President of Customer Experience Talks Contactless Cabins and Digital Strategy   
PODCAST: Finnair’s Vice President of Customer Experience Talks Contactless Cabins and Digital Strategy

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Tiina Tissari, Vice President of customer experience at Finnair, joins to discuss some of the adjustments made by the Nordic airline over the last year under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel in Europe.

Finnair continues to operate a limited network and expects gradual passenger demand recovery to begin around the third quarter, according to their April 27 interim report. While there is still some uncertainty ahead for Finnair, like most European airlines, the carrier is re-opening passenger flights to New York after a break of almost one year and has maintained a relatively strong reputation with its passengers, holding a Net Promoter Score of 54 between January and March 2021.

Tissari provides some perspective on how Finnair is making its passenger experience more contactless with new digital technologies onboard and at the airport, among other changes that they’re enacting.

Have suggestions or topics we should focus on in the next episode? Email the host, Woodrow Bellamy at wbellamy@accessintel.com, 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.

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Global Eagle’s Hope Groves Added to April 29 In-flight Entertainment Innovation Webcast

April 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Global Eagle’s Hope Groves Added to April 29 In-flight Entertainment Innovation Webcast   
Global Eagle’s Hope Groves Added to April 29 In-flight Entertainment Innovation Webcast

Hope Groves is the vice president of content technology for Global Eagle.

Hope Groves, Vice President of content technology for Global Eagle, has been confirmed as a last-minute addition to the next webcast occurring as part of the ongoing Connected Aviation Intelligence web series hosted by Avionics International.

Connected Aviation Intelligence, first launched in December 2020, is a series of online sessions hosted by Avionics International and Via Satellite as a way to bridge the gap left by the second consecutive postponement of our annual Global Connected Aircraft Summit live event.

On a bi-monthly schedule, the new web series features roundtables, case studies, networking opportunities, and interactive question and answer sessions that seek to provide our global audience with the type of intelligence they need to continue to operate amid the uncertain conditions that the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impose across all segments of the aviation industry.

Groves was appointed to her new position with Global Eagle just last month, after previously working with The Walt Disney Company, where she was Director of Studio Technology. Prior to Disney, she was Universal Music Group’s Senior Director, Digital Supply Chain Operations.

Her hiring was part of an executive restructuring that Global Eagle went through in March. She will be part of the Connected Aviation Intelligence panel on Thursday, April 29, 9:30-10:30 AM ET, that also features Jay Alger, COO of Qloo, and Ralph Wagner, CEO of Axinom each discussing new ways that airlines are adopting AI, ML and cloud computing technologies for in-flight entertainment (IFE).

FREE registration is open for the AI/ML/Cloud in IFEC panel, click here to register: https://www.bigmarker.com/series/april-connected-aviation-int/series_summit

Shortly after the IFE panel concludes, Floris Hoogenboom, lead data scientist for Schiphol Airport, will participate in the second and final session of the day on Thursday with a case study and Q&A on the Netherlands-based airport’s adoption of AI and ML to improve aircraft turnaround times and passenger flows through terminal areas.

Check out the full agenda and speaker lineup for the webcast happening on Thursday, April 29, below.

Thursday, April 29, 2021 

9:30 – 10:30 am Eastern Time

IFEC Innovation Panel: AI, ML, and Cloud

New artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing services are increasingly becoming available for next-generation in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) systems.

In recent years, several companies have introduced new solutions that can use machine learning to generate data analytics about passenger IFE content trends and interests on a per-flight basis or leverage the aircraft’s connectivity system to introduce new services designed to increase airline ancillary revenues.

Other new solutions can even provide airline advertising analytics tools or create behavioral data sets about passenger IFEC engagement based on demographics, routes, and regions where an operate flies. This interactive panel will feature three new players bringing AI, ML, and cloud to the world of IFEC to discover what new efficiencies and advancements these technologies can drive for airlines and connectivity service providers alike.

Speakers:
Jay Alger
, Co-Founder and COO of Qloo Inc.,
Ralph Wagner, Chief Executive Officer, Axinom
Hope Groves, Vice President, Content Technology, Global Eagle

 

11:00 – 11:30 am Eastern Time

Artificial Intelligence at the Airport

Airports have become some of the earliest adopters of artificial intelligence and machine learning in aviation to leverage these new technologies as tools to improve their ability to predict arrival and takeoff times, passenger flow through terminals or areas of the airport and as a way to improve workflows that drive quicker aircraft turnaround times.

In this interactive case study, we will feature one of the many different airports from around the globe that are in various phases of artificial intelligence adoption.

Speaker: 

Floris Hoogenboom, Lead Data Scientist, Schiphol Airport

 

You can register for free to watch the webcast live or on-demand, by clicking here.

 

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Wingcopter Announces New 198 Electric Triple-Drop Delivery Drone

April 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Wingcopter Announces New 198 Electric Triple-Drop Delivery Drone   
Wingcopter Announces New 198 Electric Triple-Drop Delivery Drone

The Wingcopter 198 has a payload of 13 pounds and a range of 47 miles. (Wingcopter)

German drone developer and manufacturer Wincopter is debuting a new all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) fixed-wing drone capable of “triple-drop” deliveries, according to an April 27 release from the company. The new drone generation will be known as Wingcopter 198.

The Wingcopter 198 has a payload of 13 pounds and a range of 47 miles, according to the release. It is based on Wingcopter’s tilt-rotor technology and does not require infrastructure for operations.

“The Wingcopter 198 is a game-changer for drone-based deliveries, ready to create logistical highways in the sky,” Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, said in a statement. “It can be perfectly utilized as a fleet solution in delivery networks to create new opportunities, everywhere.”

Wingcopter 198’s delivery process is fully autonomous and has beyond visual line of sight capabilities. The system moves beyond the one operator to one drone ratio and is capable of expanding it to one operator to every 10 drones, according to the release. The triple-drop delivery mechanism allows for multiple destinations per flight.

German drone developer and manufacturer Wincopter is debuting a new all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) fixed-wing drone capable of triple-drop deliveries. (Wingcopter)

“We applied the many years of experience with the Wingcopter 178, the model that literally enabled us to take off as a company, and applied it to the development of the Wingcopter 198, optimizing every design aspect for ease of use, efficiency and safety,” Jonathan Hesselbarth, CTO of Wingcopter, said in a statement. “The result is what we believe to be the most advanced, versatile and efficient delivery drone solution in its category.”

This drone could be used for middle or last-mile gaps in delivery operations for medical supplies, consumer goods, tools, groceries, or freshly prepared food, according to the release. Wingcopter’s unveiling of the 198 comes as the company prepares for deployment of a new drone delivery network for pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods in Japan under a new partnership with All Nippon Airways.

Serial production for the Wingcopter 198 will begin shortly, and will follow the European aerospace quality management standard EN9100.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 25, 2021

April 26th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 25, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 25, 2021

Check out the April 25 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.

 

Business & GA 

Bye Aerospace Unveils New Electric eFlyer 800

Bye said they have assembled their first aircraft and others are also on their way. The eFlyer 800 could start production and delivery at the end of 2022 or into 2023. (Bye Aerospace)

Bye Aerospace announced the eFlyer 800, an all-electric twin turbo-prop class airplane that will be able to seat eight people, according to an April 22 announcement.

Bye Aerospace CEO George Bye said they decided to develop an electric aircraft that was geared toward the regional and charter aircraft market but provided the service at a reduced cost and zero CO2 emissions.

The eFlyer 800 will have a 500 nm range with an operational ceiling of 35,000 feet, and 320-knot cruise speed. It will use two wing-mounted electric motors with dual redundant motor windings and quad-redundant battery packs.

 

 

 

Pilatus Chairman to Retire This Summer

Pilatus Aircraft Chairman Oscar Schwenk will be stepping down from his post this summer, as the Swiss business jet manufacturer looks to build on the results they produced last year under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have come through a challenging year with flying colours. The operational management team under CEO Markus Bucher has done outstanding work. Surviving the corona year with such a good result is proof that Pilatus is a very healthy company with a sustainable strategy which is fully supported by all. I have therefore decided to hand over the office of Chairman of the Board of Directors to new hands from summer 2021 – now is the right time,” Schwenk said in an April 22 press release.

In 2020, Pilatus delivered a total of 129 aircraft and generated a slightly better operating income than 2019, finishing the year above 155 million Swiss francs.

 

 

 

 

Commercial

Boeing Chief Financial Officer to Retire in July

Greg Smith will retire from his position as chief financial officer of Boeing in July. (Boeing)

Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith has decided to retire from the company, effective July 9, 2021. Boeing is conducting a search for Mr. Smith’s successor, according to an April 20 press release.

“I could not be prouder of the 140,000 people who work hard every day to deliver on our promises to all stakeholders and live our foundational values. With the company well positioned going forward, the timing is right for me personally to begin a new chapter outside of Boeing. I will always cherish and be grateful for the experiences I have had, and the relationships I have made, in my thirty years at Boeing,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith was appointed chief financial officer in 2011 and later served in expanded roles as the executive vice president of Finance, Enterprise Performance and Strategy, and more recently executive vice president of Enterprise Operations, Finance and Sustainability.

Boeing has also made the decision to extend their standard retirement age of 65 to 70 for President and CEO David Calhoun, who has been in the role since Jan. 13, 2020.

“Under Dave’s strong leadership, Boeing has effectively navigated one of the most challenging and complex periods in its long history,” Boeing Chairman Larry Kellner said in a statement. “Given the substantial progress Boeing has made under Dave’s leadership, as well as the continuity necessary to thrive in our long-cycle industry, the Board has determined that it is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders to allow the Board and Dave the flexibility for him to continue in his role beyond the company’s standard retirement age.”

 

 

 

Delta Places Order for 25 Airbus A321neo Aircraft

Photo courtesy of Airbus

(Airbus)

Delta Air Lines finalized a firm order for 25 A321neo (New Engine Option) aircraft. This is in addition to Delta’s 2017 order of 100 A321neo aircraft. These planes will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines. Additionally, Delta has accelerated delivery of two A350-900 aircraft as well as two A330-900neo aircraft.

“With our customers ready to reclaim the joy of travel, this agreement positions Delta for growth while accounting for the planned retirements of older narrowbody aircraft in our fleet, reducing our carbon footprint, increasing efficiency and elevating the customer experience,” Mahendra Nair, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Fleet Strategy, said in an Aril 22 press release. “We thank Airbus for their steadfast partnership during the pandemic and look forward to working with them as we take delivery of the A321neo as well as our accelerated A350 and A330-900neo deliveries.”

Delta’s A321neos are being powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines.

 

 

 

OUR&D Invests $50k in SAF

The non-profit organization OUR&D announced a $50,000 grant opportunity for early-stage research into sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), according to an April 22 release.

The request for proposals (RFP) will take submissions for eight weeks on proof of concept ideas for SAF that need further development, according to the release. The company will then review the RFPs over six weeks before announcing a winner.

“We are pleased to be able to make this funding available to scientists who are working on one of the most important technological problems of our time,” Ethan Palay, President of OUR&D’s Board of Directors, said in a statement.“The science is clear, we must eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, and there is no clear path for the aviation industry to accomplish this goal.”

 

 

New Digital Glass Cockpit for HX50

(Hill Helicopters)

Hill Helicopters announced a new digital glass cockpit for the HX50 personal turbine helicopter, according to an April 21 release.

The Hill Digital Cockpit (HDC) integrates and complements iPad-based navigation and flight planning apps through a single control interface, according to the release. It uses high-definition synthetic vision, 21st-century connectivity, and clear instrument indications.

“We designed HX50 to simplify flight and give aspiring pilots the confidence they can fly,” Hill Helicopters President and CEO Jason Hill, said in a statement. “The VFR-optimized HDC is central to this objective. Electronic flight systems available today are generally designed for fixed wing aircraft and are poorly suited to the typical missions of VFR private helicopter operators. We designed a simple, elegant digital cockpit that blends aerospace integrity with the very best of automotive and industrial design to provide unparalleled improvements in situational awareness. This delivers a near effortless flying experience, simplifies training, delivers optimal pilot support and oversight, and most importantly, boosts safety by intelligently managing the information flow, which minimizes pilot workload and cognitive demand in all phases of flight.”

 

 

 

Connectivity

KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started rolling out Viasat in-flight connectivity across its Boeing 737-800 fleet. (KLM)

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started operations of its first Boeing 737-800 to feature in-flight connectivity (IFC) provided by Viasat, according to an

The Amsterdam-based airline is on schedule to equip it’s entire 737-800 fleet with Viasat IFC by the end of 2022, according to an April 22 press release. Viasat’s IFC service will be added to 18 total 737s operated by KLM.

Viasat first confirmed KLM’s selection of its latest satellite connectivity technology in a second-quarter 2020 earnings report. The service is initially being introduced in three packages that include free messaging, and two tiers of access to basic Internet services as well as an option for full video and audio streaming.

“On-board Wi-Fi is an important service that customers want to enjoy for the entire duration of their journey. KLM’s Internet service is already being used extensively on our intercontinental flights. Through this partnership with Viasat, we are ensuring that our customers can be online on European flights as well,” Boet Kreiken, EVP Customer Experience, said in the release.

Widerøe to Trial Inflight Dublin’s Wireless IFE System

(Widerøe)

Norwegian regional carrier, Widerøe, will begin operating flights with Inflight Dublin’s wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, Everhub, as part of a six-month trial.

Everhub is Inflight Dublin’s DO-160G certified portable server that can run off battery or aircraft power, and features browser-based content with removable SSD cards.

“Taking the first step into the inflight entertainment space is something we have wanted to do for some time and we are excited to be working with Inflight Dublin to further enhance our passengers’ journey. The Everhub solution is impressive and we look forward to offer this to our customers and benefit from the potential revenue opportunities the system has to offer,” Knut Anders Enoksen, Widerøe’s manager of its ancillary products and loyalty program.

 

 

 

 

Military 

Boeing Announces Delivery of Second F-15EX to USAF Ahead of Schedule

The second F-15EX arrived at Eglin Air Force Base to begin testing with the first EX that was delivered last month. (Boeing)

Boeing said that it delivered a second F-15EX fighter aircraft to the U.S. Air Force on Apr. 20—a delivery that the company said came “earlier than the contract requirement.”

Both of the F-15EXs are at Eglin AFB, Fla. for testing.

Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager, said in a statement on Apr. 21 that “along with state-of-the-art avionics and survivability suite, the new F-15EX includes almost 3 miles of high-speed digital data bus to enable open architecture, which will keep it evolving ahead of threats for decades.”

The Air Force is to buy 144 F-15EXs, which will feature an Open Mission Systems architecture to enable faster avionics upgrades.

In July last year, the Air Force awarded Boeing an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract for up to 200 F-15EXs. The Air Force said that the first F-15EX bases will be located in Florida and Oregon.

Airbus Completes Flight Testing for A400M Helicopter Refueling Certification

Airbus has completed the flight testing portion of its A400M new generation airlifter’s helicopter air-to-air re-fueling certification campaign.

The company’s defense division aims to achieve full helicopter air-to-air refueling certification later this year with the conclusion of all mandatory night operation trials, according to an April 19 press release. The flight tests, performed in coordination with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA), involved operations with two French Air Force H225M helicopters.

“The campaign took place in day and night conditions over the west coast of France at between 1,000 ft and 10,000 ft and flight speeds as low as 105 knots. During those flights, a total of 81 wet contacts and transfers of 6.5 tonnes of fuel were achieved, which included simultaneous refueling of two helicopters for the first time,” Airbus said in the release.

 

 

 

Embraer to Study Unmanned Aircraft System Development for Brazilian Air Force

Through a newly signed memorandum of understanding, Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) have established a cooperation to study the necessary capabilities for the conceptual design and development of an advanced unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

“This is a unique opportunity for the Brazilian Air Force to deepen its studies in disruptive technologies that may cause an imbalance in current and future scenarios,” Brazilian Air Force Commander, Lieutenant-Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Junior, said in an April 23 press release. “In modern war, it is essential to use unmanned aerial platforms, operating alone or in conjunction with conventional aircraft. Such technology makes it possible to reduce costs and risks, without losing effectiveness in fulfilling the missions assigned to the Brazilian Air Force.”

The study will analyze and prioritize the operational and logistical elements related to the “development of a superior class unmanned aircraft system,” according to an April 23 press release.

“This study is of fundamental importance for the maintenance and expansion of Embraer’s competencies in the development of aerial defense systems with high technological content and great integration complexity,” Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer said in the release. “It is also an opportunity for the continuous development of new technologies and products for the FAB and the Ministry of Defense, aimed at expanding the operational capacity and guaranteeing national sovereignty. A major challenge for this aerial system will certainly be its integration and joint operation with other systems and aircraft, manned or unmanned.”

 

 

 

Japan’s RQ-4B Takes First Flight

Japan’s RQ-4B Global Hawk took its first flight in Palmdale, California on April 15, Northrop Grumman announced in a statement.

“The unarmed RQ-4B Global Hawk will provide Japan with on-demand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information supporting the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s missions of protecting borders, monitoring threats and providing humanitarian assistance in times of need,” Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement. “This successful first flight is a significant milestone in delivering Global Hawk to our Japanese allies.”

The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle that can deliver near real-time on demand data at all times.

 

Unmanned

Final Drone ID Rules Begin in US Airspace 

Final rules for drone remote identification (remote ID) and drone operations in the U.S. over people went into effect on Wednesday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The rules were unveiled in December 2020 and were originally supposed to take effect on March 10 but were delayed amid a regulatory freeze caused by the change in presidential administration.

“Today’s rules are an important first step in safely and securely managing the growing use of drones in our airspace, though more work remains on the journey to full integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS),” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “The Department looks forward to working with stakeholders to ensure that our UAS policies keep pace with innovation, ensure the safety and security of our communities, and foster the economic competitiveness of our country.”

According to the FAA, the remote ID rule establishes a new Part 89 in Title 14 of the code of Federal Aviation Regulations. Remote ID will work similar to a digital license plate and includes the UAS ID number, latitude, longitude, altitude, velocity, location information about the control station, emergency status, and time mark.

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 25, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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New All-Electric eFlyer Aircraft from Bye Aerospace

April 24th, 2021   •   Comments Off on New All-Electric eFlyer Aircraft from Bye Aerospace   
New All-Electric eFlyer Aircraft from Bye Aerospace

The eFlyer 800 will have a 500 nm range, 35,000 feet ceiling, and 320-knot cruise speed. It will use two wing-mounted electric motors with dual redundant motor windings and quad-redundant battery packs. (Bye Aerospace)

Bye Aerospace announced the eFlyer 800, an all-electric twin turbo-prop class airplane that will be able to seat eight people, according to an April 22 announcement.

George Bye, Bye Aerospace CEO, said they decided to develop an electric aircraft that was geared toward the regional and charter aircraft market but provided the service at reduced cost and zero CO2 emissions.

“The background of what’s happening is a megatrend,” Bye told Avionics International. “It’s not something that is kind of a question mark anymore. Electric vehicles are expected. Today, all around the world, young people kind of look at us and they go, what do you mean internal combustion engine. They’re expecting electric.”

Bye Aerospace and Safran will work together on the electric powertrain for the eFlyer 800, according to Bye Aerospace. Bye said the aircraft will use lithium-sulfur battery cells. (Bye Aerospace)

The eFlyer 800 will have a 500 nm range with an operational ceiling of 35,000 feet, and 320-knot cruise speed. It will use two wing-mounted electric motors with dual redundant motor windings and quad-redundant battery packs.

“It’s a brand new design and the design is optimized to carry an electric propulsion system,” Bye said.  “The size, weight, speed, etc., is a turboprop equivalent. It has trouble prop speed and altitude at about a 500 nautical mile range with eight seats. And that is kind of the ideal sweet spot for the mission of what our classic regular legacy turboprops do every day.”

Bye Aerospace and Safran will work together on electric powertrain development for the eFlyer 800, according to Bye Aerospace. Bye said the aircraft will use lithium-sulfur battery cells.

The eFlyer 800 will also have the option for supplemental power through solar cells which would be used for things like cabin air conditioning or lighting on the ground.

“It would be a functional power source but solar power by itself is not enough to fly the plane,” Bye said.  “It is supplementary, which is great, but it’s more meaningful when you’re on the ground and not wanting to pull down from the battery while you’re while you’re sitting there loading and unloading passengers and you want to keep the cabin comfortable.”

Bye said they have assembled their first aircraft and others are also on their way. The eFlyer 800 could start production and delivery at the end of 2022 or into 2023. (Bye Aerospace)

Bye Aerospace is currently working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Part 23 certification for their eFlyer 2 and eFlyer 4. This aircraft will be certified in a similar way, however, there will be a different certification process for the electric propulsion system.

“It’s a classic design,” Bye said. “The wings and the fuselage are balanced. The aerodynamics are appropriate, very clean, very efficient, and the benefit of that is, this is a standard process of certifying an airplane. The electric propulsion system is new.”

Bye said that the use of batteries and electric motors on airplanes is not an entirely new concept, but that they have never been certified within a propulsion system.

“The motors and batteries are fairly well understood,” Bye said. “What we’re doing, that’s new and unique, is to use those as a primary propulsion system, and of course, that’s what we’re doing. That’s kind of pioneering work with the FAA to deliver a normal category Part 23 aircraft to our customers.”

Bye said they have assembled their first aircraft and others are also on their way. The eFlyer 800 could be ready to start production and delivery by the end of 2022.

“We have the assembly of our first airplane so number one underway right now,” Bye said. “Number two and three are on the way. After that, we should start production and delivery at the end of next year and into 2023.”

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KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity

April 23rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity   
KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started rolling out Viasat in-flight connectivity across its Boeing 737-800 fleet. (KLM)

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started operations of its first Boeing 737-800 to feature in-flight connectivity (IFC) provided by Viasat.

The Amsterdam-based airline is on schedule to equip it’s entire 737-800 fleet with Viasat IFC by the end of 2022, according to an April 22 press release. Viasat’s IFC service will be added to 18 total 737s operated by KLM.

Viasat first confirmed KLM’s selection of its latest satellite connectivity technology in a second-quarter 2020 earnings report. The service is initially being introduced in three packages that include free messaging, and two tiers of access to basic Internet services as well as an option for full video and audio streaming.

“KLM continues to invest in the onboard product so that we can continue to meet our customers’ expectations and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. On-board Wi-Fi is an important service that customers want to enjoy for the entire duration of their journey. KLM’s Internet service is already being used extensively on our intercontinental flights. Through this partnership with Viasat, we are ensuring that our customers can be online on European flights as well,” Boet Kreiken, EVP Customer Experience, said in the release.

The Dutch carrier has been featuring connectivity from Gogo’s 2Ku network and Panasonic Avionics separately across its 787 and A330 aircraft fleets for several years. According to KLM, 81 percent of their total intercontinental-range fleet are equipped with connectivity, and they expect to modify all of those aircraft with Internet access by the first quarter of 2022.

(KLM)

Viasat connectivity has been installed on two 737s operated by KLM so far, with the airline rolling out free-of-charge services during an initial trial period for passengers.

“KLM came to us seeking an IFC partner that could deliver new, affordable ways to engage and entertain passengers in-flight, with options that included streaming, scrolling, and staying connected,” Don Buchman, Viasat’s Vice President and general manager said in a statement. “In understanding their needs, we delivered a high-value IFC service that can support rising data requirements and the latest internet trends—anytime and on any short hop European flight.”

The wireless access points, modems antennas, and Wi-Fi portals featured on KLM’s 737s and E-195s connects passenger devices to Viasat’s Ka-band satellite network, including “KA-SAT, ViaSat-2 and other owned and partner satellite systems,” according to Viasat. That IFC equipment is also forward-compatible with the communications company’s third-generation satellite constellation, ViaSat-3.

Viasat delayed the launch of its first ViaSat-3 satellite due to a wave in COVID-19 cases that occurred in Arizona, where their payload facilities are located, the company said during its fiscal year 2021 third-quarter earnings call in February.

KLM also plans to begin equipping its Embraer E-195 fleet with Viasat connectivity, noting that specifics for those aircraft will be “announced at a later time,” according to the release. Embraer delivered KLM’s first E-195-E2 aircraft to Schiphol Airport in February.

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes Second Flight

April 23rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes Second Flight   
NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes Second Flight

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its left Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast. This is one still frame from a sequence captured by the camera while taking video. This image was acquired on Apr. 22, 2021. (NASA JPL)

Ingenuity, NASA’s Mars helicopter, completed a second flight on the red planet on April 22 with new challenges including a higher maximum altitude, longer flight duration, and added sideways movement, according to a statement from NASA. Ingenuity’s first flight was earlier this week on April 19.

“So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate,” Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a statement. “We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity.”

The second test flight took place at 5:33 am EDT, or 12:33 pm Mars time, and lasted 51.9 seconds, according to NASA. Ingenuity reached 16 feet in altitude compared to 10 feet during its first flight. It also completed a 5-degree tilt which carried the helicopter sideways for 7 feet.

“The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions,” Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot at JPL, said in a statement. “Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here – to make these unknowns known.”

The downward-looking navigation camera aboard NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took this image of the rotorcraft’s shadow on the surface of Jezero Crater during helicopter’s second experimental test flight on April 22, 2021. The helicopter’s navigation camera autonomously tracks the ground during flight. (NASA JPL)

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration on the Perseverance Mars rover mission. The JPL team was allocated 30-sol, or 31 Earth days, to complete the demonstration before the Perseverance rover continues on with its mission. This flight is taking place on the 18th sol or Martian day or the demonstration.

The Perseverance rover is sitting about 211 feet away from Ingenuity’s airfield that NASA named “Wright Brothers Field.” The rover is able to use two of its camera to document the flights.

“For the second flight, we tried a slightly different approach to the zoom level on one of the cameras,” Justin Maki, Perseverance project imaging scientist and Mastcam-Z deputy principal investigator at JPL, said in a statement. “For the first flight, one of the cameras was fully zoomed in on the takeoff and landing zone. For the second flight, we zoomed that camera out a bit for a wider field of view to capture more of the flight.”

Ingenuity survived its second flight and is still within its demonstration timeline so it will continue to take more test flights. After the first flight, MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL, said there could be up to four additional test flights of the helicopter.

“So, beyond this first flight, over the next coming days we have up to four flights planned and increasingly difficult flights, challenging flights, and we are going to continually push all the way to the limit of this rotorcraft, we really want to push the rotorcraft flights to the limit and really learn and get information back from that,” Aung said in a briefing on April 19.

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