Indonesia Authorities Identify Location of Sriwijaya Air SJ-182 Flight Data Recorder

January 12th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Indonesia Authorities Identify Location of Sriwijaya Air SJ-182 Flight Data Recorder   
Indonesia Authorities Identify Location of Sriwijaya Air SJ-182 Flight Data Recorder

Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), has retrieved some of the aircraft parts, shown above, from the Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ-182 that lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly after taking off for a flight carrying 62 passengers and crew on Saturday Jan. 9, 2021. (Basarnas)

Indonesia’s National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT) Chief Soerjanto Tjahjono confirmed that his agency has identified the location of the flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from a Sriwijaya Air passenger jet that lost contact with air traffic controllers on Saturday Jan. 9 shortly after taking off.

In a statement published to its Facebook page, Sriwijaya Air said that the Flight SJ-182 was taking off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport headed to the city of Pontianak when it disappeared from controller radar surveillance. There were a total of 62 passengers and flight crew onboard according to the airline’s statement.

“The plane was manned by 6 active crew, and carried 40 adult passengers, seven children and three babies. In addition, there were also six crew members as passengers (extra crew). Sriwijaya Air expressed its concern and deep condolences to all the families of the passengers and crew on the SJ-182 flight. We will continue to provide full support and assistance for the SJ-182 passenger families during the evacuation and identification process,” the airline said in the statement.

A flight path graphic of Flight SJ-182 published by Flightradar24.

The aircraft lost contact with controllers at 2:40 p.m. local time (2:40 a.m. ET), 11 nautical miles north of Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, according to data about the flight captured by flight tracking web service Flightradar24. According to Flightradar24, the aircraft was a Boeing 737-500 that climbed to an altitude of 10,900 feet and then began a steep descent before losing contact with controllers and the last position reporting data putting the aircraft 250 feet above sea level.

While Tjahjono said the location of the CVR and FDR have been identified, CNN’s latest reporting on the accident investigation includes statements from the head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Commission stating that they have located two different locations for the recorders. Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, said that they are “receiving two signals from the black box and are continuing to monitor it,” according to the report.

“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta regarding Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182. Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families,” Boeing said in a Jan. 9 media statement. “We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time.”

According to Srwijaya Air’s website, the airline is the third largest in Indonesia and prior to the impact of COVID-19 was transporting more than 950,000 passengers a month to 53 destinations across four different countries. Flightradar24 registration information about the SJ-182 aircraft showed that it originally entered into service with Continental Airlines in 1994, before being first delivered to Srwijaya Air in 2012.


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Boeing to Pay $2.5 Billion to Resolve 737 MAX Investigation

January 12th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Boeing to Pay $2.5 Billion to Resolve 737 MAX Investigation   
Boeing to Pay $2.5 Billion to Resolve 737 MAX Investigation

Boeing has agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine to resolve the U.S. government’s investigation into what caused two fatal crashes of MAX aircraft in 2018 and 2019.

On Jan. 7, Boeing agreed to a pay a $2.5 billion fine to resolve the U.S. government’s investigation into the company’s 737 MAX passenger aircraft, which has been grounded since March 2019 following two catastrophic crashes of the aircraft that month and in October 2018 that resulted in 346 people being killed.

The settlement with the Department of Justice includes a $243.6 million penalty, $500 million in additional payments to the families of those lost in the two crashes, and nearly $1.8 billion to Boeing’s airline customers to compensate them for losses due to the grounding of the 737 MAX, which began a phased return to service in December. Boeing has already made partial payments to its impacted airline customers, partially offsetting the amount agreed to in the settlement.

Boeing said it will take a $743.6 million charge in its 2020 fourth quarter financial results, which will be reported later this month, to account for the settlement’s impact on the company. Boeing has been suffering financial losses for more than a year due to the grounding of the aircraft.

“I firmly belief that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do, a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations,” David Calhoun, Boeing’s president and CEO, said in a note to employees. “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

In November, the FAA became the first civil aviation authority to approve the MAX’s return to passenger carrying service, while the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and others have been subsequently giving their own independent approvals in the weeks since then. Brazil’s GOL became the first airline to fly the MAX on passenger carrying routes on Dec. 9, 2020.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – January 10, 2021

January 11th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – January 10, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – January 10, 2021

Check out the Jan. 10 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.


Amazon Purchases 11 Boeing 767-300 Aircraft

Amazon is expanding its fleet of cargo aircraft with the purchase of 11 Boeing 737-300 aircraft that will be operational in 2022, the company announced in a Jan. 5 press release. Amazon purchased seven of the aircraft from Delta and four from WestJet.

“Our goal is to continue delivering for customers across the U.S. in the way that they expect from Amazon, and purchasing our own aircraft is a natural next step toward that goal,” Sarah Rhoads, Vice President of Amazon Global Air, said in a press statement. “Having a mix of both leased and owned aircraft in our growing fleet allows us to better manage our operations, which in turn helps us to keep pace in meeting our customer promises.”

The purchase was a result of the high demand for faster shipping, Amazon said in the release. The four aircraft purchased from WestJet will join Amazon’s network in 2021 and the seven aircraft from Delta will follow in 2022. Before the aircraft can join Amazon’s network, they must be converted from passenger to cargo aircraft.

Airbus Releases 2020 Delivery Stats

JetBlue has ordered 70 A220 aircraft to be delivered to New York before the end of 2020. (Airbus)

Airbus delivered 566 commercial aircraft to customers in 2020 which was 34 percent fewer than 2019, according to a Jan. 8 press release. In April 2020 Airbus adopted an e-delivery system which comprised 25 percent of 2020 deliveries and helped minimize travel.

“Working hand-in-hand with our customers allowed us to navigate a difficult year,” Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer, said in a press statement. “The Airbus teams, customers and suppliers truly pulled together in the face of adversity to deliver this result. We also thank our partners and governments for their strong support to the sector. Based on our 2020 deliveries we are cautiously optimistic as we look into 2021, although challenges and uncertainties remain high in the short term.”

Airbus also recorded 383 new orders in all market segments and 115 cancellations bringing their order backlog to 7,184 aircraft.

Lufthansa Raised 500 Million Euros Using Eight Aircraft in Re-financing Efforts

Lufthansa used five of its A350s, pictured here, and three A320 model aircraft to raise more than 500 million euros during the second half of 2020, the airline reported on Jan. 7, 2021.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG has raised a total of around €500 million by using aircraft as security in several financing transactions completed during the second half of 2020, the German carrier said in a Jan. 7 press release.

The airline used three of its Airbus A320s and five A350s as securities for “various financing instruments,” including lease back financing, secured loans and promissory notes, according to the release. Several Asian and European banks and investors participated in the financing, increasing Lufthansa’s total financing raised in all of 2020 to more than €2 billion.

“We have taken another successful step in refinancing existing liabilities which are maturing in 2021, Wilken Bormann, executive VP of corporate finance for Lufthansa Group, said in the release. “The transactions once again demonstrate the confidence the market has in our company and our restructuring measures. We have a wide range of financing instruments at our disposal and aircraft financing will continue to play a key role in our financing strategy as it offers financially attractive conditions.”

Air Traffic Management 

Eurocontrol’s new “Think Paper” provides a look back at a year like none other, using their own unique network data
to show the impacts on European aviation, and looks ahead to 2021. (Schiphol Airport)

Eurocontrol ‘Think Paper’ Provides Outlook for European Air Traffic in 2021

On Jan. 1, Eurocontrol published its first “Think Paper” of the new year, analyzing how COVID-19 impacted flights in Europe last year and how the region’s airlines can expect a continued slow recovery of passenger demand to pre COVID-19 air traffic levels in 2021.

Developed based on data taken from Eurocontrol’s network traffic aviation databases, the Think Paper further predicts the recovery in passenger demand for European airlines to start ramping back up by the summer.

“The COVID crisis has dramatically affected in social and economic terms all actors in the European aviation value
chain. Pan-European ANSP losses are estimated at €4.9 billion – of which they can expect to recover €4.5 billion
from airspace users over the next decade, resulting in an overall net loss of €0.4 billion,” the agency said in the new paper.

Some of the statistics reported by Eurocontrol tell the story of how the pandemic impacted European airlines in 2020:

  • €56.2 billion in combined losses for airlines, airports and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs)
  • 1.7 billion fewer passengers
  • 6.1 million fewer flights than 2019
  • 51 percent of all aircraft grounded at year-end

European traffic for 2021 is expected to recover to 51 percent of 2019 levels, with faster recovery expected from the summer onwards.

Check out Eurocontrol’s full Think Paper here.

1980s Level Air Traffic in 2020

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung recorded 56.2 percent fewer flights in 2020 bringing them back to pre-reunification levels, according to a Jan. 7 press release. In 1989 the Federal Republic of Germany record 1.47 million flights in their airspace. In 2020 there were only 1.46 million flights compared to 3.33 million in the previous year.

“Passenger traffic has been particularly hard hit in 2020 due to the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases now being recorded in many countries and the travel restrictions once again being imposed as a result of this,” Dirk Mahns, Chief Operations Officer (COO) at DFS, said in a press statement.

However, air freight only saw modest reductions in 2020.

“Airports that handle a high proportion of freight have therefore observed significantly fewer drops in traffic,” Mahns said.


FAA Drone Advisory Committee Expands

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made 12 new appointments to its Drone Advisory Committee (DAC), the FAA announced in a Jan. 5 press release. The DAC is a 35 member committee that represents unmanned aircraft system (UAS) interests across industry, research, academia, retail, technology, and state and local government.

“As the UAS industry continues to evolve, it is important to have DAC members who mirror the many facets of this fast-growing industry. We know the members will help the FAA ensure the highest level of safety while keeping pace with the new and innovative technology for UAS,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a press statement.

The new DAC members will serve two-year terms advising the FAA on strategies for integrating UAS into the national airspace, according to the release.

The new members are:

  • Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation
  • Dr. Paul Hsu, Founder and Chair, HSU Foundation
  • Matt Parker, President, Precision Integrated Programs
  • Molly Wilkinson, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, American Airlines
  • Brad Hayden, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Robotic Skies
  • David Carbon, Vice President and General Manager, Amazon Prime Air
  • Adam Bry, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Skydio
  • Kenji Sugahara, President and Chief Executive Officer, Drone Service Providers Alliance
  • Brandon Torres Declet, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, MEASURE
  • Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President, Head of UAM Division and Chief Executive Officer, Genesis Air Mobility
  • Dr. Catherine Cahill, Director, Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration
  • Vic Moss, Owner, Moss Photography




Skyborg Vanguard Program to Include General Atomics

A Skyborg conceptual design for a low cost attritable Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle. (Air Force Research Laboratory artwork)

A Skyborg conceptual design for a low cost attritable Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) will modify two Avenger Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) for use in the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) Skyborg Vanguard Program, according to a Jan. 6 press release.

“GA-ASI is excited to continue working with the Air Force to advance the Skyborg concept,” GA-ASI President David R. Alexander said in a press statement. “Our ongoing investments in advancing unmanned systems over the past 30 years provide a critical advantage for fast-tracking development time and reducing overall program risk.”

Skyborg will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to become the foundation of Air Force unmanned combat aerial vehicles, according to the release. The RPA will be upgraded with datalinks, payloads, and the core Skyborg System Design Agent (SDA).

“The Avenger platform is a jet-powered, advanced RPA that is well understood and has undergone more than a decade of research and design,” Alexander said. “We have already shown its suitability as a next-generation host for advanced AI software. This next phase of integration will combine the Skyborg software with GA-ASI hardware, in order to prove that a dynamic mix of manned and unmanned aircraft can communicate, collaborate, and fight together.”


$1.28 Billion Contract to Lockheed for 2021 F-35 Sustainment

Eilson AFB, Alaska received its first two F-35A Lightning IIs on Apr. 21 (United States Air Force Photo)

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $1.28 billion Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA) from the F-35 Joint Program Office for sustainment through June 30, 2021, according to a Jan. 6 press release. The contract will fund sustainment experts supporting worldwide operations, individual bases, depot maintenance, pilot and maintainer training, and sustainment engineering worldwide.

“This contract ensures F-35s remain ready to fly and accomplish the warfighter’s mission,” Bill Brotherton, Lockheed Martin F-35 program acting vice president and general manager, said in a press statement. “We continue to see improvements in readiness and cost, and as the fleet grows, so does the opportunity for the joint government and industry team to collaborate, realizing even more long-term benefits.”


France Signs LOA To Buy Three E-2Ds

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, one of the launch platforms for EGI-M. (Northrop Grumman)

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. (Northrop Grumman)

France signed Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) to buy three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) aircraft for the U.S. Navy worth up to $2 billion on Dec. 2, the U.S. Navy said in a Jan. 5 press release.

The LOA comes after the State Department previously approved the Foreign Military Sale to France Jul. 6, 2020.
At the time, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said France would use the aircraft as a sustainable follow-on capability to its legacy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft while expanding French naval aviation capabilities and maintaining interoperability with U.S. forces.

“The E-2/C-2 program office is looking forward to continuing a longstanding partnership with France and beginning a new chapter with the E-2D,” Capt. Pete Arrobio, program manager of the E-2/C-2 Airborne Command & Control Systems Program Office (PMA-231), said in a press statement.

The three aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2028, replacing the current three E-2C Hawkeyes in-service with the French navy, Marine Nationale.


Embedded Systems

Embedded Tech Trends 2021 Goes Virtual

Embedded Tech Trends, the industry-wide forum where suppliers of component, board and system level solutions can meet exclusively with members of relevant industry media to discuss technologies, trends, and products, is back in a new format this year. 

Hosted by VITA, the annual event has become one of the leading gatherings to unveil new and exciting advancements for the embedded systems segment of the global aviation electronics industry.

This year, VITA is making Embedded Tech Trends all-virtual, on Jan. 25. 

A preliminary agenda is planned to be published on VITA’s website, and attendees can register for the event here.

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FAA Announces Final Rules for Supersonic Flight Testing in US

January 9th, 2021   •   Comments Off on FAA Announces Final Rules for Supersonic Flight Testing in US   
FAA Announces Final Rules for Supersonic Flight Testing in US

The FAA has established new rules for supersonic flight testing in U.S. airspace. Pictured here is XB-1, a supersonic demonstrator aircraft that Colorado-based Boom Supersonic will use this year on its path to developing a supersonic passenger jet in the near future.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced final rules for civil supersonic test flights in the United States in a Jan. 6 press release. Supersonic flights in the U.S. are still prohibited, however, these rules provide criteria for applications for approved special flight authorizations.

“The FAA supports the new development of supersonic aircraft as long as safety parameters are followed,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, said in a press statement. “The testing of supersonic aircraft at Mach 1 will only be conducted following consideration of any impact to the environment.”

Rules for supersonic flight tests were first proposed in June of 2019 and modified in April 2020 for noise certification requirements. The final rules mostly follow the earlier proposals with three modifications: the creation of a designated office for questions and applications, the organizing of all application requirements into a list, and proposed addition of a new reason for flight testing to accommodate future noise certifications, according to the rule.

“Today marks a significant milestone in the development of civil supersonic flight,” Aerion CEO, Tom Vice, told Avionics in an emailed statement. “We are encouraged that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a final rule that streamlines and clarifies procedures to obtain FAA approval for supersonic flight testing in the United States. As we approach production and flight testing of the AS2, this rule provides our company the ability to test the AS2 aircraft over land in addition to overwater testing currently planned.”

All supersonic aircraft test flight applications must consider environmental impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The FAA will make this determination when evaluating applications in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations, according to the rule. With supersonic test flights, noise pollution is a concern.

Illustration of NASA’s planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration aircraft as outlined during the project’s Preliminary Design Review.
Photo: NASA / Lockheed Martin.

Boom Technology, a startup also known as Boom Supersonic designing a passenger supersonic transport aircraft, requested the FAA create a streamlined NEPA process for flight authorizations citing evidence that the FAA would be unlikely to find any significant sonic boom noise impacts from individual supersonic flight test programs, according to the ruling. The FAA disputed this evidence and the final rule requires individual evaluation for flight test authorization.

“The establishment of “parameters” relating to the NEPA review of supersonic flight tests would require an analysis of part 91 operations in order to justify a categorical exclusion, and the supporting documentation would need to go through the public process required for all changes to FAA’s NEPA procedures 11 as set forth in Order 1050.1F,” the ruling states. “Although at some point in the future FAA might undertake the necessary analysis and public review process to establish such a categorical exclusion, absent a change to Order 1050.1F, FAA currently must individually consider the potential environmental impacts of requested special flight authorizations.”

A new provision added to the final rules will allow for special test flight authorization when measuring noise characteristics of an aircraft for compliance with noise certification tests, the rules state. While there are no noise standards at this time the FAA said this provision was forward-looking for when future standards are adopted.

“We’re pleased that the FAA remains committed to facilitating the return of supersonic flight through data-driven regulation,” a representative for Boom told Avionics. “As we plan for the start of our XB-1 flight test campaign later this year, we welcome the FAA’s interest in clarifying supersonic test flight rules.”

GE Aviation joined Boom in requesting that the FAA create an expedited application process with pre-approved parameters for certain circumstances, the ruling states. The FAA refused this request as well stating that they do not believe pre-approved circumstances can be determined and that because environmental considerations can be time-sensitive it would not be possible to make prior determinations. The final rule states that the FAA will accept previous environmental analysis for a test flight area if the information is still current or has been updated to meet requirements.

Multiple companies and organizations including GE Aviation, Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA), Supersonic Flight Alliance (SSFA), AeroTEC, and Boom asked the FAA to allow multiple manufacturers to use a single test flight area, according to the ruling. There was concern from commenters on the proposed ruling that test areas need to expand beyond military operation areas (MOAs) citing concerns over crowded airspace.

The final rule from the FAA states that test flight areas are not limited to one applicant and they encourage applicants to request alternative flight test areas that meet regulations and environmental impacts. The ruling states that a single test flight area may be used by multiple applicants, but the test area will need to submit its own application. Once this application is approved, applicants can submit information with a description of the same requested test site.

X-59 QueSST low-boom demonstrator design concept. (Lockheed Martin)

X-59 QueSST low-boom demonstrator design concept. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin requested that the FAA establish dedicated supersonic test flight areas. The FAA declined to include dedicated test areas or civilian supersonic corridors in the final rule.

The proposed rule stated that applicants must show why flight tests must be conducted over land and not the ocean, according to the ruling. The final rule was modified to include “the applicant must indicate why its intended operation cannot be safely or properly accomplished over the ocean at a distance ensuring that no sonic boom overpressure reaches any land surface in the United States.”


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U.S., Europe Civil Aircraft Parts Tariff Battle Escalates

January 7th, 2021   •   Comments Off on U.S., Europe Civil Aircraft Parts Tariff Battle Escalates   
U.S., Europe Civil Aircraft Parts Tariff Battle Escalates

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is adjusting tariffs on large civil aircraft parts manufactured in France and Germany, such as those assembled on the final assembly line by Airbus in Toulouse, pictured here. (Airbus)

New tariffs on European Union (EU) aircraft manufacturing parts from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) that were announced last month are set to become effective on Jan. 12. The tariffs are just the latest escalation in the tit-for-tat tariff battle between U.S. and European regulatory officials over large civil aircraft subsidies involving aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.

The new tariffs from the U.S. are in response to November tariffs from the EU and will affect EU fuselages and fuselage sections, wings and wing assemblies, and horizontal and vertical stabilizers. Airbus condemned the new tariffs.

“USTR’s expansion of tariffs to include components for aircraft manufactured in the U.S. – by American workers – is counterproductive in every way,” a representative for Airbus said in an emailed statement to Avionics International. “Airbus regrets that USTR has decided to escalate this dispute by taking a step that also hurts U.S. manufacturing, U.S. workers, and U.S. consumers. This will not contribute to a climate of trust to create a negotiated solution.”

The dispute began in 2019 as a result of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Large Civil Aircraft litigation which involved EU subsides equaling $7.5 billion annually, according to the USTR. The U.S. determined they were denied rights under the WTO Agreement and placed additional duties on products from certain EU member states in Oct. 2019.

The initial tariffs were then increased again by the U.S. in March and June 2020. The EU responded in Nov. 2020 imposing additional duties on U.S. large civil aircraft and other goods equaling a trade value of $4 billion.

On Dec. 30, USTR published its response to the action taken by the EU in November, levying additional tariffs to aircraft parts manufactured in France and Germany.

“The EU has represented that its retaliatory action mirrors the action taken by the United States in this investigation, but that is not accurate,” the notice from the USTR said. “Specifically, the EU’s action does not mirror the U.S. action because the methodology used by the EU to exercise its $4 billion authorization relies on a benchmark reference period affected by the economic downturn caused by the COVID pandemic. Under this methodology, the EU was able to cover a greater volume of imports than if, like the United States, it had used data from a period when trade was not affected by the pandemic.”

The USTR said their actions were not escalatory because the adjusted product coverage was less than the full amount of what would have been justified using the EU’s chosen time period.

However, Airbus disagreed and said in their statement that the new tariffs were unwarranted.

“Airbus trusts that Europe will respond appropriately to defend its interests and the interests of all European companies and sectors, including Airbus, targeted by these unwarranted and counterproductive tariffs,” Airbus said in an emailed statement.

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Delta to Connect 300 Airbus, Boeing Jets with Viasat In-flight Connectivity

January 6th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Delta to Connect 300 Airbus, Boeing Jets with Viasat In-flight Connectivity   
Delta to Connect 300 Airbus, Boeing Jets with Viasat In-flight Connectivity

Delta is equipping 300 of its new-build and in-service Airbus and Boeing jets with in-flight connectivity supplied by Viasat. (Delta Air Lines)

Delta is installing Viasat’s Ka-band satellite in-flight connectivity (IFC) system on more than 300 of its Airbus A321ceo and Boeing 737-900ER 757-200s.

The Atlanta-based international carrier expects to introduce the new service to passengers with a new in-flight Wi-Fi portal by the summer of 2021. Delta’s commitment to the in-flight connectivity upgrades on new and in-service aircraft comes as the airline continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic with including a range of operational adjustments.

Recent changes include negotiating employee buyouts and furloughs, blocking middle seats on all flights through the end of March, and the launch of contact tracing for travelers returning to the U.S.

According to a Jan. 5 Viasat press release, Delta’s aircraft will be modified with Viasat’s latest Ka-band IFC system, and will be compatible with the company’s complete fleet of satellites, including their “first-generation spacecraft and partner satellites; second-generation spacecraft ViaSat-2, and the forthcoming ViaSat-3 class of satellites, which are expected to offer global coverage with nearly eight times more capacity than Viasat’s current fleet,” the company said.

In a question and answer published by Delta, Ekrem Dimbiloglu, their director of brand experience,  in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi, admits the new Viasat deal will not introduce the goal of providing free IFC to passengers proposed by CEO Ed Bastian during a keynote speech at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Viasat’s Ka-band IFC system to include onboard servers, modems, and wireless access points will be added to the interiors of Delta’s 737-900ER fleet, such as the aircraft pictured here. (Delta Air Lines)

Ekrem said Delta remains “committed to delivering Free Wi-Fi in the future,” and that their insights drawn from a 2019 “Free Wi-Fi Pilot” initiative is guiding their approach eventually providing a free service.

Viasat’s summer-time rollout on Delta will be joined by what Glenn Latta, the airline’s managing director of in-flight entertainment, described in the same interview as a new “Delta-developed Wi-Fi access portal” that acts as an “interface that integrates in-flight Wi-Fi and other day-of-travel features under one roof.”

“It is built to work with Viasat and acts as the front page to your experience – the first thing that will greet you as you connect to the onboard Wi-Fi,” Latta said.

According to Latta, the addition of Viasat to select Airbus and Boeing models is part of their long-term multi-connectivity service provider strategy. Gogo, Delta’s other IFC service provider, amended their agreement with the airline to provide their 2Ku service to feature a shortened expiration date, according to Gogo’s third-quarter earnings filing.

Delta also stopped adding new content to its Gogo-enabled Delta studio platform in April, opting to keep free Wi-Fi enabled messaging and live satellite television on Gogo-equipped aircraft.

“In working with Viasat, we gain the tools needed to deepen customer interactions and bring us closer to delivering more personalized in-flight content as well as an ability to consistently provide free, fast, streaming Wi-Fi in the future,” Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer, Delta, said in the Viasat release.


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PrecisionHawk on 2020 Lessons and What’s to Come in 2021

January 5th, 2021   •   Comments Off on PrecisionHawk on 2020 Lessons and What’s to Come in 2021   
PrecisionHawk on 2020 Lessons and What’s to Come in 2021

PrecisionHawk is looking to pursue EVLOS and BVLOS in 2021. (PrecisionHawk)

The integration of drones into the national airspace is approaching quickly as companies are developing new and innovative technologies and government bodies are figuring out how to regulate them. PrecisionHawk, a commercial drone and data company, is one of many innovating in this space.

Kristen Ellerbe, VP of product management and design at PrecisionHawk, spoke to Avionics International about the challenges they faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and their goals for 2021.

Avionics International: What challenges or opportunities were presented in the UAV space from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020? How will these carry over into 2021?

Ellerbe: COVID-19 presented many challenges, as well as opportunities, in 2020 and some of these will carry over into the new year. One very obvious challenge was the sudden significant shift in how and where people worked. While that was a difficult and momentous transition, the value of data and data analytics really crystalized, as companies managing dispersed physical assets shifted to remote collection methodologies, such as UAVs, that could gather data in a safer way compared to manual inspections. UAVs have many benefits – a benefit directly related to COVID-19 is the ability to conduct inspections with limited exposure to other people. The remote aspect of UAVs allowed smaller inspection teams without inherent touchpoints.

More than just the remote collection, the visual audit data from remote collections also enables digital insights that you do not get from manual visual inspections. Beyond helping workers stay safe, this shift also led to more uniform and accurate findings with the ability for audits and new analysis from the computer, along with cost savings, meaning it’s likely a trend that is here to stay.


Avionics International: What new technologies is PrecisionHawk looking to explore in 2021? What are PrecisionHawk’s goals with these technologies?

Ellerbe: I think the whole industry hopes to take advantage of new technologies related to [extended visual line of sight] EVLOS and [beyond visual line of sight] BVLOS, but we are also waiting for regulation to catch up to our innovations. Here at PrecisionHawk, we are focused on bringing action-ready solutions to the market today. While we wait, we are exploring accelerators to use for full end-to-end data analytics solutions.

We’re integrating different technologies ranging from AI on the edge, fleet management systems, and automated flight options to bring to reality the fastest realization of actionable insights from collection in the field. We do this all with the goal of learning about physical assets as consistently, safely, and quickly as possible.



Avionics International: How will PrecisionHawk advance artificial intelligence and machine learning in UAVs in 2021?

Ellerbe: Our biggest focus is to take the models we’ve already created and continue to advance towards the edge. On cloud, batch computing has its place in comprehensive and advanced analytics, but there is also real value in targeting the right use cases on the edge. How do we bring the most critical identification as near to real-time as possible? This will all be facilitated by new chips, heavy payloads, and more computing power onboard our UAVs. Edge AI will facilitate faster reporting for critical issues and move our insights from the field to the command center. This will accelerate automated workflows and ultimately allow the industry to leverage AI on the edge to reduce time-to-value for supercritical issues.



Avionics International: What trends do you see emerging in the UAV space in 2021?

Ellerbe: We will make more progress in the shift toward fully autonomous flight. We have a specific autonomous flight for some of our most critical structures, but we need to continue to push better, smarter flights for more complex and sensitive structures. Today’s FAA standards dictate that even if a drone is automated you have to be able to take control of it, and even more limiting, you also have to keep it within visual line of sight.

But autonomous capabilities are rapidly advancing and as the use cases for drones continue to multiply – another shift accelerated by the pandemic – the FAA will have to decide how it wants to integrate drones into the national airspace sooner rather than later, a process they will likely be working through next year.

The post PrecisionHawk on 2020 Lessons and What’s to Come in 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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EPA Releases First US Airplane Emissions Rules, Environmental Groups Express Criticism

December 30th, 2020   •   Comments Off on EPA Releases First US Airplane Emissions Rules, Environmental Groups Express Criticism   
EPA Releases First US Airplane Emissions Rules, Environmental Groups Express Criticism

Airbus unveiled three new zero-emission commercial aircraft concepts, all named ZEROe, this year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first U.S. airplane emission rules which will align with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) carbon dioxide emission standards, the agency announced on Dec. 28. However, environmental groups and the agency itself say these rules will not reduce emissions. 

The standards apply to new design airplanes and in-production airplanes used by civil subsonic jet airplanes with a maximum takeoff mass greater than 5,700 kilograms and civil larger subsonic propeller-driven airplanes with turboprop engines with a maximum takeoff mass greater than 8,618 kilograms, according to the final rule document released by the EPA. The standards meet section 231 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for six well-mixed GHGs. 

According to the document, the EPA does not project these standards reducing emissions. All aircraft manufactured in the U.S. will probably already meet the standards by 2028 because they will either re-certify as compliant or older models that are not compliant will go out of production before then. 

“For these reasons, the EPA is not projecting emission reductions associated with these GHG regulations,” the document states. “However, the EPA does note that consistency with the international standards will prevent backsliding by ensuring that all new type design and in-production airplanes are at least as efficient as today’s airplanes.” 

Annie Petsonk, International Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, called the rules “do-nothing” and claimed they are inadequate because they fail to address the aircraft as a whole and instead just focus on the engine. 

“Moreover, EPA’s new rule fails to address the environmental injustice of high toxic and particulate pollution around airports, which disproportionately affects airport workers and local communities downwind,” Petsonk said in a statement. “An ambitious rule that addresses these disproportionate effects, and gives the industry flexibility to use the full panoply of measures – from better engine and aircraft design to light-weighting, to high-quality sustainable fuels, and limited high-quality carbon credits such as those already agreed to by the United States in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – can spur innovation across the sector, put people to work retrofitting today’s aircraft and producing better fuels and aircraft, and make real cuts in aviation pollution.”  

The Center for Biological Diversity, a national nonprofit conservation organization, also released a statement criticizing the final rule. The Center said if the incoming Biden administration does not immediately replace the rule they will challenge it in court. 

“This rule is especially infuriating because there are effective ways for the aviation industry to modernize and decarbonize,” Liz Jones, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in the statement. “What we desperately need are technology-forcing standards to get the industry on track.”

Airline groups and manufacturers applauded the rule as a commitment to addressing climate change. 

“With this final rule, the EPA has demonstrated America’s commitment to global action against climate change and ensured U.S. aircraft will meet the same standards as our competitors across the world,” David Silver, Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) Vice President of Civil Aviation, said in a statement. “Improving aircraft efficiency is a crucial part of the aviation industry’s plans to reduce CO2 emissions, and we look forward to working with the FAA to incorporate this standard into its aircraft certification requirements.” 

Aligning standards with ICAO was important because it ensures that U.S. manufacturers can produce one fleet which can fly globally. 

“In the absence of U.S. standards for implementing the ICAO Airplane CO2 Emission Standards, U.S. civil airplane manufacturers could be forced to seek CO2 emissions certification from an aviation certification authority of another country (not the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)) in order to market and operate their airplanes internationally,” the document states. “We anticipate U.S. manufacturers would be at a significant disadvantage if the U.S. failed to adopt standards that are harmonized with the ICAO standards for CO2 emissions.”

The post EPA Releases First US Airplane Emissions Rules, Environmental Groups Express Criticism appeared first on Aviation Today.

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FAA Releases Final Rules for Remote ID and Drone Operations Over People

December 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on FAA Releases Final Rules for Remote ID and Drone Operations Over People   
FAA Releases Final Rules for Remote ID and Drone Operations Over People

Remote ID rules will allow the identification of UA in the national airspace. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the highly anticipated final rules for unmanned aircraft (UA) concerning Remote Identification (Remote ID) and drone operations over people, the agency announced on Dec. 28. 

“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, said in a press statement. “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”

The Remote ID ruling, seen as a major step to integrating drones into the national airspace, will essentially provide a digital license plate for drones allowing them to be easily identified while flying. The final Remote ID rule establishes a new Part 89 in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and becomes effective 60 days after the publication date which is expected to occur in January 2021, according to the FAA.

There are three options for commercial and civilian drone operators to satisfy the requirement: standard Remote ID, UA with Remote ID broadcast module, and FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA), according to the FAA. The standard Remote ID will include the UA ID number, latitude, longitude, altitude, velocity, location information about the control station, emergency status, and time mark. The Remote ID database will be limited to the FAA, but its information can be shared with authorized law enforcement and national security personnel. 

UA can also use a broadcast module, which would be a separate device attached to the UA or built into the aircraft, to comply with the Remote ID rules, according to the FAA. The broadcast module will include information about the drone’s flying location, take-off location, and time mark, and must be operated within visual line of sight. 

FRIA will be available for operators to fly without Remote ID. Operations have to fly within the boundaries of the FRIA and within visual line of sight, according to the FAA. 

The final Remote ID rule eliminates the network-based and internet transmission requirements in the proposed rule and replaces the limited remote ID UAS with Remote ID Broadcast Module requirements.

“This is the kind of the next big step in our strategy to integrate UAS operations and be able to scale them in the airspace, rather than segregate them in specific areas or do exemption carve-outs and things like that, which was really kind of where the agency was about four or five years ago,” Dickson said during a presentation in October. “And so, I think that we are on a path towards integration and Remote ID is the next big enabling step to do that.”

Part 107 waivers will be eliminated with the “Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Over People” final rule. This rule will also enable operations at night and over moving vehicles, according to the FAA. The rule divides UAS into four categories according to the level of risk to the people on the ground and assigns requirements by category. 

The final ruling made changes to the exposed rotating parts on Category 1 small UA and added Category 4 as eligible for operations over people and moving vehicles. It also requires Category 1, Category 2, and Category 4 small drones to operate over open-air assemblies if they can meet the requirements of the Remote ID rule, according to the FAA. 

The rule requires operators to have a remote pilot certificate and Remote ID while operating UAS, according to the FAA. It also requires pilots to complete pilot certification tests every two years. 

“These final rules carefully address safety, security, and privacy concerns while advancing opportunities for innovation and utilization of drone technology,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, said in a press statement. 

The post FAA Releases Final Rules for Remote ID and Drone Operations Over People appeared first on Aviation Today.

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The Top 10 Avionics International Articles of 2020

December 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on The Top 10 Avionics International Articles of 2020   
The Top 10 Avionics International Articles of 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, we have compiled the top 10 most read articles published by Avionics International this year. Using our web data analytics platform, our traffic monitoring shows that these are the most read articles published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 20, 2020.

Look out for more coverage of the exciting world of aviation electronics and aerospace technology from our publication in 2021. Our regular news cycle will return on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.


10. Airlines in Middle East Adjust to COVID-19 Pandemic

Airlines based in the Middle East are resuming limited flight operations in support of COVID-19 passenger repatriation and going through maintenance checks, such as disconnecting batteries, as an Etihad Airways technician pictured here does. Photo: Etihad Airways

Middle Eastern carriers are resuming limited passenger flights, using the grounding of airplanes to perform extensive maintenance checks, and introducing new airport testing and mask wearing requirements in response to travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 coronavirus. This article published on Apr. 17, 2020, covers some of the new policies airlines in the region enacted in reaction to new international COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

9. PODCAST: Airbus A220 Chief Engineer Explains How Cabin Air is Cleaner Than You Think

The Airbus A220, pictured here, preparing for a demo flight at Chubu International Airport in Japan. (Airbus)

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, we caught up with Jean-François Parent, head of engineering and chief engineer for the Airbus Canada Limited Partnership’s A220 program. This podcast, published May 29, 2020, provided a timely perspective on the safety of cabin air associated with passenger concerns about transmitting COVID-19 in-flight.


8. Lockheed Awarded $2.3 Billion in Various F-35 Contracts at Year’s End

Lockheed Martin nabbed up to $2.3 billion in contract awards for the F-35 program prior to the end of 2019. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The Pentagon awarded Lockheed Martin five contracts worth a cumulative $2.3 billion at the end of 2019 for various work related to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, to include logistics services for delivered aircraft, long-lead materials, and upgraded software capabilities. This article, published Jan. 4, 2020, covered the contracts, awarded between Dec. 27-30, 2019 totaled $2.347 billion, per a Dec. 31, 2019 Defense Department contract round-up.



7. First Flight of MagniX eCaravan Showcases Maturity of Electric Aviation

A thirty minute flight by an all-electric Cessna Grand Caravan, by MagniX and AeroTEC, brings electric aviation one step closer to primetime. (MagniX)

Skies were all-clear for Redmond, Washington-based MagniX’s first flight of the largest all-electric commuter aircraft yet. This article, published May 29, 2020, covers the first flight of a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan retrofitted with a 750-horsepower Magni500 propulsion system.



6. FAA Targets 2021 for Launch of Drone Remote ID Service

Through the remote ID system, described in the agency’s proposed remote ID rule released on December 29, drone operators will be required to transmit via broadcast and network their location, their drone’s location, velocity, and identifying data to a centralized system, which a variety of remote ID USSs share and retrieve information from in near-real-time. This article, published May 14, 2020, covered some of the latest updates around the FAA’s Remote ID service.



5. Vistara to Become India’s First Airline to Feature In-flight Internet

Soon, Vistara Airlines’ cabin experience will feature in-flight Internet access for passengers. Photo: Vistara

This article, published Feb. 27, 2020, covered a new partnership agreement between Panasonic Avionics and Tata Group subsidiary Nelco Limited that made Vistara India’s first domestic airline to offer in-flight Internet access to passengers.



4. Boeing 737 MAX Certification Flight Waiting on Software Validation

During their first quarter 2020 earnings call, Boeing’s chief executive provided updates on their work to return the 737 MAX to passenger-carrying service.

This article, published on Apr. 30, 2020, covered some of the latest updates around Boeing’s 737 MAX flight control software update.


3. Investigators Reviewing Crashed Pakistan Airlines A320 Flight Data Recorder in Karachi

An Airbus A320 operated by Pakistan International Airlines as flight PK8303 crashed just before reaching the runway at Jinnah International Airport, pictured here. Photo: Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority

This article, published May 26, 2020, covered a report on accident investigators recovering the flight data recorder (FDR) from the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303’s Airbus A320 that crashed upon landing on May 22 near Jinnah International Airport.



2. Palantir Forecasts Major Increase in Its Share of DoD, Other Federal Software Business

Palantir CEO Alex Karp. (Keystone)

This article, published Nov. 2, 2020, covers a forecast by Denver-based Palantir Technologies, Inc. noting a major future increase in the company’s share of DoD, intelligence community, and other federal software business, as the company seeks to become the “central operating system for all U.S. defense programs,” per last month’s prospectus for the company’s initial public offering (IPO).



1. Elon Musk Talks Starlink, 5G, Education and More at SATELLITE 2020

SpaceX Founder and Chief Engineer Elon Musk discussed a number of hot topics facing his company and the broader aerospace industry during a keynote speech and fireside chat at SATELLITE 2020.

Our most read article of the year borrows coverage from sister publication Via Satellite Editorial Director Mark Holmes’ coverage of Elon Musk at SATELLITE 2020.

“If the schedule is long, the design is wrong,” was an adage shared by SpaceX Founder and Chief Engineer Elon Musk as he waded into a range of topics on the first day of SATELLITE 2020 — from the value of a college education, management by rhyming, and updates on Starlink and Starship — while name-checking everyone from Homer Simpson, Sergei Korolev, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Larry Ellison.

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