PODCAST: Bombardier’s Elza Brunelle-Yeung Talks Smart Link Plus Business Jet Upgrade Program

April 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Bombardier’s Elza Brunelle-Yeung Talks Smart Link Plus Business Jet Upgrade Program   
PODCAST: Bombardier’s Elza Brunelle-Yeung Talks Smart Link Plus Business Jet Upgrade Program

Bombardier Director of Business Development Elza Brunelle-Yeung joins this episode of the podcast.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Elza Brunelle-Yeung, Bombardier’s senior director of business development, joins to discuss the Canadian aircraft manufacturer’s new legacy business jet upgrade program, SmartLink Plus.

Smart Link Plus was first jointly launched by Bombardier and GE Aviation at the 2019 National Business Aviation Association annual conference and exhibition to bring a free new health monitoring unit to legacy Challenger and Global business jet operators. We discuss how the program was first established, progress over the last year, and the start of the upgrades, which are scheduled to begin this summer.

We also learn more about the data visualization tool that the upgrade is bringing to Bombardier operators.

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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LAS Cargo Activates eFOQA for Boeing 727 Fleet Under New Deal with GE Digital

April 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on LAS Cargo Activates eFOQA for Boeing 727 Fleet Under New Deal with GE Digital   
LAS Cargo Activates eFOQA for Boeing 727 Fleet Under New Deal with GE Digital

Colombia-based LAS Cargo has activated eFOQA for its fleet of Boeing 727-100s. (LAS Cargo)

Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (LAS) Cargo, a Colombia-based domestic air freight carrier, has signed a new five-year contract with GE Digital to electronically transform their Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA) program.

FOQA is described by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a voluntary safety program that enables sharing and analysis of de-identified flight data with civil aviation regulators so that they can identify and reduce safety risks as well as monitor national trends as they occur within aircraft operations. Boris Zuniga, director of safety and quality for LAS Cargo, told Avionics International that the automated data processing and error detection capabilities of eFOQA will give his team cleaner and more accurate data with fewer false positives.

“Currently, LAS Cargo has activated the eFOQA technology in its Boeing 727s and 737-300. Our technical department performed a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for each aircraft,” Zuniga said.

While FOQA programs are not mandated by the FAA for U.S.-registered airlines, some other civil aviation regulators, including the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority, require operators of certain aircraft types to develop and sustain a FOQA program. In 2008, the International Civil Aviation Organization amended Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention to introduce new recommendations for airlines around the establishment of FOQA and flight data monitoring practices.

Most airlines manage this by downloading flight parameter data points captured by their flight data recorder (FDR) or a quick access recorder (QAR), and then review or compare what they’ve captured to historical records and performance of that aircraft.

“The Quick Access Recorder will record our fleet’s key parameters and provide valuable operational information that will allow us to continue improving our standards and procedures,” Zuniga said.

eFOQA gives LAS Cargo a new cloud-based method for analyzing flight recorder data and tracking safety metrics to alert its flight department of possible risk. (GE Digital)

According to GE, their eFOQA technology also analyzes FDR data and actively tracks safety metrics to alert flight departments of possible risks. Several tasks in the FOQA process that previously would have been performed by humans, including data ingestion, error correction, and statistical reporting are now automated by LAS Cargo’s use of eFOQA.

Zuniga said the airline is also considering new methods for downloading their data directly from the aircraft.

“We are also evaluating a Wi-Fi option. Once the plane’s data is downloaded, we upload it to the cloud,” he said. “GE receives the information and performs its analysis to have the visibility of the necessary actions to improve our procedures.”

Using GE Digital’s Event Measurement System (EMS), a flight data platform, operators can access both safety and fuel analytics to identify and quantify specific opportunities to reduce fuel consumption. The eFOQA platform utilizes EMS to gather, cleanse, and process data, according to GE.

Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Digital’s aviation software division, says their eFOQA technology will allow LAS Cargo to “be safer, more efficient, and profitable in challenging times.”

“Our aviation industry takes great pride in being the safest means of transportation on Earth. This only happens by implementing processes, safeguards, and controls to make safety the number one priority,” Coleman said in an email. “It also only happens by harvesting the wealth of information modern aircraft make available and translating it into actionable insights to ensure we are constantly learning from our collective flying experiences. We serve hundreds of customers in the aviation ecosystem, as well as sponsor the industry-wide collaboration, to ensure best practices in analyzing flight data are fully shared and understood across our industry.”

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Will the Mars Helicopter Persevere?

April 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Will the Mars Helicopter Persevere?   
Will the Mars Helicopter Persevere?

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its rotor blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity encountered a problem during a high-speed spin-up test of its rotors on April 9 delaying its planned first flight demonstration. NASA has found a solution to this problem however the demonstration timeline will be further delayed while this issue is fixed, according to an update from NASA published on April 12.

Ingenuity landed on Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance Rover on February 18. The helicopter ran into a problem during the week NASA’s team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) planned to test sensors, server mechanisms, and motors.

The solution JPL came up with includes a small modification and reinstallation of Ingenuity’s flight control software, according to the update. The modification includes changing the process where the two flight controllers boot up to allow the hardware and software to safely transition to the flight state.

According to the update, most of the delay will come from validating the software change and completing the uplink to Ingenuity. JPL has not yet released an updated timeline for the demonstration. However, there is a deadline for this mission which must occur within the 31 Earth days allotted to the demonstration before NASA has to move on with the rest of the Perseverance mission.

Perseverance is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to Mars. Ingenuity, a technology experiment, will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet. Perseverance will arrive at Mars’ Jezero Crater with Ingenuity attached to its belly. (NASA)

While this issue caused a delay, JPL says Ingenuity is still healthy and its critical functions like power, communications, and thermal control are stable.

“It is not unexpected for a technology demonstration like this to encounter challenges that need to be worked in real time,” NASA said in the update. “The high-risk, high-reward approach we have taken to the first powered, controlled flight on another planet allows us to push the performance envelope in ways we could not with a mission designed to last for years such as Perseverance. In the meantime, while the Ingenuity team does its work, Perseverance will continue to do science with its suite of instruments and is gearing up for a test of the MOXIE technology demonstration.”

Before this issue was diagnosed, Ingenuity completed important milestones like detaching from the Perseverance rover, recharging its batteries using its solar panels, and surviving on Mars.

“This is, in effect, an aircraft that also happens to be a spacecraft,” J. Bob Balaram, Ingenuity chief engineer at JPL, said during a press conference remotely hosted by NASA on March 23. “It has survived launch. It has survived the journey through space with vacuum and radiation. It has survived the entry and descent and landing on the surface on the bottom of the Perseverance rover and it has survived all of the challenges and design issues that are necessary for a spacecraft. But most of all I think of Ingenuity also as an experimental aircraft.”

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All Nippon Airways Partners with Wingcopter to Bring Drone Delivery to Japan

April 16th, 2021   •   Comments Off on All Nippon Airways Partners with Wingcopter to Bring Drone Delivery to Japan   
All Nippon Airways Partners with Wingcopter to Bring Drone Delivery to Japan

Wingcopter’s drone has a range of 120 km and has been tested in harsh weather conditions. (Wingcopter)

ANA HOLDINGS INC. (ANA HD), the parent company of All Nippon Airways, and Wingcopter have formed a new partnership to build a drone delivery network for pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods in Japan, according to an April 15 release.

The project will use Wingcopter’s drone which has vertical take-off and landing capabilities while also taking advantage of fixed-wing architecture for flight mode by using a tilt-rotor mechanism, according to the company’s website. Wingcopter will also provide pilot training, mission planning, operational design, and maintenance.

“Being able to help a global company like ANA open up new business areas and at the same time pursue our mission to save and improve lives, is what we tirelessly work for,” Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, said in a statement. “We are really looking forward to the next steps and the overall partnership with ANA in Japan and beyond.”

In a video announcing the partnership, Plümmer said operations would start on the Gotō Islands in Nagasaki Prefectur, Japan and expand from there.

“Here in Gotō, 100 km west from Nagasaki city, there are 11 inhabitant remote islands,” Tetsuya Kubo, vice president of ANA HD overseeing the digital design lab, said in the video. “We would like to help those people living on the islands who have difficulties in accessing medical care, food and other vital supplies.”

Wingcopter’s drone has a range of 120 km and has been tested in harsh weather conditions, according to the company’s website. The drone has a 178 cm wingspan, 132 cm from front to tail, and has a max payload of six kilograms. In fixed-wing mode, it can reach speeds of 150 kilometers per hour and drops down to 100 kilometers per hour in cruise speed.

“The ongoing tests of Wingcopter aircraft represent a significant step forward in the creation of a viable drone transportation network,” Kubo said. “We are excited to partner with Wingcopter as we build on the advances and innovation of previous trials to bring drone delivery one step closer to reality. Once fully realized, a functioning drone transportation infrastructure will help improve quality of life in rural areas across Japan.”

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BETA Expands into Passenger Market with Blade Deal

April 16th, 2021   •   Comments Off on BETA Expands into Passenger Market with Blade Deal   
BETA Expands into Passenger Market with Blade Deal

Blade Urban Air Mobility is purchasing up to 20 BETA Technologies’ ALIA electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft marking BETA’s first passenger service customer. (BETA)

Blade Urban Air Mobility is purchasing up to 20 BETA Technologies’ ALIA electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft marking BETA’s first passenger service customer, according to an April 13 release.

“Blade is laser-focused on its transition from conventional rotorcraft to electric vertical aircraft,” Blade founder and CEO Rob Wiesenthal said in a statement. “The ALIA’s extremely low sound footprint coupled with its zero-emissions design will enable us to reduce the noise and environmental impact to the communities surrounding the existing heliport and airport infrastructure we currently use.”

Last week BETA announced an agreement with UPS in a deal that could total up to 150 aircraft as well as charging stations.

“Blade is flying people in and out of cities every day, and we’re excited to partner together with the leader in UAM to create a new paradigm in passenger aviation,” Kyle Clark, BETA’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “BETA is a pragmatic company building pragmatic aircraft. It’s clear that the simplicity of our approach, strength of our technology, consistent progress against our timelines as well as the expertise of our team resonates with the best operators in the world. We are extremely excited to partner with Blade and serve the passenger mission”

BETA’s ALIA eVTOL aircraft will have a range of 250 nautical miles with a cruising speed of 170 miles per hour, according to the release. According to the company’s website, the aircraft uses a distributed direct-drive electric propulsion system and has zero operating emissions. It has a wingspan of 50 feet and a 1,400-pound cargo capacity.

Deliveries of BETA’s ALIA to Blade are scheduled to begin in late 2024.

“ALIA is a full-scale EVA flying in piloted configuration almost every day,” Wiesenthal said. “The team’s progress is formidable. BETA’s scheduled delivery beginning in 2024 is ahead of our current projected deployment of EVA in 2025. The transaction, consistent with our asset-light operating model, allows Blade to leverage our significant flight volumes and third-party financing relationships to support the purchase of BETA aircraft by our operator partners.”

BETA’s other partners include United Therapeutics and the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program, according to the release.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 11, 2021

April 12th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 11, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 11, 2021

Check out the April 11 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

737 MAX Electrical Issue Leads to Some Aircraft Pulled From Service

Boeing on Thursday identified a potential electrical issue involving the 737 MAX and has recommended some airlines operating the aircraft, which recently re-entered service, temporarily pause those operations to address it.

“Boeing has recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations,” the company said in an April 9 statement.

The airplane manufacturer said the recommendation for removal from service is being made to “allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.”

 

 

 

Avelo Launches New Low Cost Airline with Routes From California

Avelo Airlines, a new low cost Boeing 737 operator, will start flights from Hollywood Burbank Airport later this month. (Avelo Airlines)

Avelo Airlines will start operating flights to 11 destinations in the western U.S. later this month, with one-way fares starting as low as $19, according to an April 8 press release.

The new low cost carrier will operate from Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR), and has already started taking bookings for its flights beginning that will start on April 28. Avelo is operating an all-Boeing fleet of 737 Next Generation aircraft, and has hired a leadership team that includes former executives from Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Northwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines.

“Avelo has a simple purpose — to Inspire Travel,” Avelo Founder, Chairman and CEO Andrew Levy said in the release. “After more than 20 years of steadily shrinking consumer choice, the American flying public wants and deserves more options and lower fares.”

 

Waltzing Matilda Aviation Launches Connect Airlines

IBS Software will power Connect Airlines with its mission-critical SaaS solutions. (WMA)

Connect Airlines, a new airline launched by Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA), will connect Toronto Bill Bishop City Airport with airports in the northeast and Midwest United States, according to an April 8 press release.

“We are passionate about how aviation brings people, cultures and business together,” John Thomas, chief executive officer of WMA, said in a statement. “Especially in these challenging times, we are committed to delivering the world’s most rewarding premium travel experience with safety, service, convenience and reliability.”

The airline will use the Q400 turboprop built in Canada, according to the release. IBS Software will be a strategic launch partner in this effort also and will use Connect Airlines to launch its Airline-in-a-box set of solutions.

“Connect Airlines is bucking an industry-wide trend,” Jitendra Sindhwani, IBS Software ‎President & Head and Aviation Business at IBS Software, said in a statement. “This bold statement is testament to the growing confidence in the aviation industry recovery. Our integrated set of solutions will support Connect Airline’s commercial and operational business. This includes reservations, fleet and crew operations, maintenance, and their website and mobile application. We are able to provide all the technology to enable the airline to start flying. We are thrilled to welcome Connect Airlines to the IBS Software family and look forward to our long-term partnership with Waltzing Matilda Aviation.”

 

 

 

 

Airline Executives Urge Streamlining of Digital Passports to Re-Open International Flights

United Airlines added a “Travel Ready” center to its website and mobile help to let passengers know what travel restrictions or policies they face when flying to various destinations. (United Airlines)

One aspect of the air travel process that will help restore demand for business and international travel is the use of digital health passports or apps that airlines, airports, and border agencies can use as a means of confirming a traveler’s negative COVID-19 status prior to boarding their flight. As airlines take their own individual approaches to deploy new apps that allow their passengers to digitally prove their COVID-19 status airports, there are a number of challenges to be addressed.

“I think the concern some folks have around the digital passport is it has a lot of complexity. Number one is really establishing a global standard so that this passport can be used across any country you fly around the world,” Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci said during a panel virtually hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its annual 2021 Aviation Summit panel.

Minicucci believes individual privacy associated with a passenger’s medical information is another concern. In February, Alaska rolled out its new VeriFLY app, to give travelers a digital method of providing proof of a negative COVID test. American Airlines is also using VeriFLY, while United and Delta have both added new features to their existing airline mobile applications that provide similar COVID-19 test verification capabilities.

“How do you transfer private medical records into a health app, whatever health app we end up agreeing to? There are these complexities, I think if it unlocks international travel I think it’s something that we should pursue collaboratively, but it’s going to take collaboration from different stakeholders,” Minicucci said.

Outside of the U.S. however, airlines are facing challenges that vary on a region-by-region basis. U.S. airlines on average operate 60 percent of their flights domestically, while Chinese airlines are dependent on international travel for 45 percent of their total passenger demand, according to the Oliver Wyman report. The majority of airlines in the Asia Pacific region face the same situation, waiting on international travel regulations to allow for less uncertainty and quarantine requirements.

European carriers are similarly more dependent on more cross-border travel due to the region’s geographical structure. Inter-European travel is still suffering from a rise in cases in the region that occurred throughout the first three months of the year.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr also addressed the Aviation Summit audience remotely from Germany, outlining some of the key factors he believes could help re-open international flying.

“Three factors will have a significant impact on global air traffic. The first is the ongoing development of the coronavirus pandemic and the unfortunate reality of global travel restrictions. Second is video conferencing, and the potential decline in business travel, and last, our joint efforts toward environmental sustainability,” Spohr said.  “I would like to appeal to politicians, we need international digital tests and vaccination certificates to enable our customers to travel again.”

 

 

 

Space

Mars Helicopter Flight on Track to Occur This Week 

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its rotor blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Based on data from the Ingenuity Mars helicopter that arrived late Friday night, NASA has chosen to reschedule the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first experimental flight to “no earlier than April 14,” the agency said in an April 10 statement.

During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a “watchdog” timer expiration, according to NASA.

“This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode. The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth,” the agency said in an update published to its website Saturday.

The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned.

NASA’s helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.

 

 

 

Connectivity

Former NASA Administrator Bridenstine Joins Viasat’s Board

Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. (Viasat)

Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has joined Viasat’s board of directors. The satellite operator announced Thursday that Bridenstine will serve as a Class II director. Viasat’s board now consists of eight members, six of whom are independent directors.

Bridenstine said in the release that this move reflects his passion for space and national defense. He joins Viasat as the operator is preparing for the launch of its first ViaSat-3 ultra-high capacity Geostationary (GEO) satellite in early 2022.

“Joining the Viasat board of directors is an opportunity for me to stay at the leading edge of technology, and apply my experience and insights to critical global and national priorities. Viasat’s missions, rapid entrepreneurial growth and culture of innovation – sustained over decades – presents a very attractive, mutually-beneficial opportunity to continue to contribute in private industry,” he commented.

As NASA administrator, Bridenstine led the Commercial Crew program parting with commercial space companies which saw historic success returning crewed spaceflight to the U.S. last year with SpaceX.

 

 

 

 

Military 

Lockheed Martin Names Lauderdale As New F-35 Chief

Bridget Lauderdale is the new head of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 strike fighter program. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin named Bridget Lauderdale as the new head of its F-35 strike fighter program, succeeding Greg Ulmer, who became executive vice president of the company’s Aeronautics group on Feb. 1 following the death earlier this year of Michele Evans.

Lauderdale is currently vice president and general manager of Aeronautics’ Integrated Fighter Group, which is responsible for the development, manufacture and sustainment of the F-16 and F-22 fighter programs. Lauderdale was named head of the Integrated Fighter Group in March 2019 after services as vice president of F-35 Global Sustainment.

As the new F-35 vice president and general manager, Lockheed Martin said that Lauderdale “will be responsible for partnering with domestic and international customers to ensure the F-35 program delivers the most affordable fifth generation aircraft in production, advances capability through a stable modernization program, and increases availability while reducing overall operational and sustainment costs,” according to an April 5 press release.

Lauderdale has held a number of other roles within Lockheed Martin including senior vice president of Corporate Strategy & Business Development, vice president for Aeronautics Operations, vice president and general manger for F-16 and F-2 fighters, and vice president for F-22 Product Development.

 

 

 

F-35 Goes to Denmark

Lockheed20F-35A20CTOL

A Lockheed-Martin F-35. (File photo)

The first F-35A Lightning II for the Danish Air Force (RDAF) was debuted at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas marking a milestone in the F-35 program, according to an April 7 press release.

“The security situation around the world is increasingly complex,” Trine Bramsen, Danish Minister of Defense, said in a statement. “Being able to defend yourself and your allies is crucial. For peace. For stability. For freedom and democracy. With the new F-35 fighter jets we will increase our ability to protect Denmark. Our region. And wherever necessary as we have done before – side by side with the U.S. and other allies. The F-35s will be at the absolute center for the Danish Defense in the coming decades.”

Having the F-35 as part of its fleet will allow the RDAF to train and fight alongside NATO allies who is using the aircraft to spearhead its air power effort, according to the release.

“The F-35 will ensure Denmark’s sovereignty and air dominance, enhance its multi-domain and network-based coalition operations, and play a pivotal role in keeping the Arctic a secure and stable region,” Greg Ulmer, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said in a statement. “This game-changing capability would not be possible without the unwavering support of the Danish government and the innovative contributions of Danish industry.”

Later this month the first F-35 of the RDAF program will be delivered to Denmark, according to the release. The entire program encompasses a total of 27 F-35A aircraft.

 

 

 

Curtiss-Wright Open Architecture COTS Modules to be Use on F-22

F-22 Raptor

An F-22 Raptor at 2010’s Fort Worth Alliance Air Show. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin awarded a contract to Curtiss-Wright for its commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) modules for the F-22 Raptor, according to an April 7 press release.

The modules will use open architecture technology and is aligned with the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) which will enable quicker and less costly upgrades, according to the release.

“Curtiss-Wright is very proud to be the first vendor selected to supply COTS processing technology for use on the F-22 Raptor, supporting the DoD’s vigorous mandate to bring the benefits of the Modular Open Systems Approach to deployed platforms,” Lynn M. Bamford, President and CEO of Curtiss-Wright Corporation, said in a statement. “Our commitment to championing the use of industry-leading open standards solutions, as evidenced in the formation of our MOSA Task Force, is unwavering, and it is very exciting to see this vision realized on the USAF’s leading tactical fighter. We look forward to supporting many more important platforms and programs as the DoD’s movement to open architecture electronics systems continues to expand and accelerate.”

Shipments for this contract began in Q4 of last year and will run through 2023, according to the release.

 

 

 

 

Sixth Flight Test of XQ-58A Valkyrie Features First Weapons Bay Release 

The Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie releases the ALTIUS-600 small UAS in a test at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground Ariz. test range on March 26– a test that marked the first time that the Valkyrie’s weapons bay doors have been opened in flight. (AFRL Photo)

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on March 26 conducted the sixth flight test of the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie drone at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.–a demonstration that featured the launching of an Area-I ALTIUS-600 small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) from the Valkyrie’s internal weapons bay in what AFRL said was the first opening of the Valkyrie’s weapons bay.

“In addition to this first SUAS separation demonstration, the XQ-58A flew higher and faster than previous flights,” Alyson Turri, AFRL’s demonstration program manager, said in a statement.

AFRL said that Kratos, Area-I and AFRL designed and fabricated the SUAS carriage and developed software to enable the release of the ALTIUS-600.

“After successful release of the SUAS, the XQ-58A completed additional test points to expand its demonstrated operating envelope,” per AFRL.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Air Taxi

Wheels Up and Bell Partner for UAM Initiative

Bell’s Nexus 4EX air taxi concept, a four-seat all-electric aircraft targeting 60 miles of useful range for use in and near urban areas. (Bell)

Wheels Up and Bell Textron are partnering to expand the portfolio of Wheels Up by providing short and long-term vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft solutions, according to an April 9 release.

“We are always looking for different ways and new features to enhance the services we provide to our Members and Customers and this is a logical evolution of our systematic disruption of the aviation industry, and a vision to extend our holistic approach to air transportation,” Kenny Dichter, founder and CEO of Wheels Up, said in a statement. “Our strategic initiative with global innovation leader Bell is focused on serving our Members’ and Customers’ travel needs using our leading-edge Avianis Flight Management System technology platform for helicopter service.”

Wheels Up will use Bell’s VTOL aircraft in intra-city markets and is expected to launch in 2021, according to the release.

“Bell is proud to join with Wheels Up to make this cutting-edge travel solution a reality,” Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell, said in a statement. “We have a history of setting new standards within the industry and utilizing our ability to deliver flexible travel solutions to market. We are excited to work with a company like Wheels Up to display the convenience of helicopter-based travel.”

Delta Air Lines is already a partner with Wheels Up and as such will provide connectivity and new transportation options to its customers through this deal, according to the release.

“We must challenge the status quo as we envision the future of travel,” Bill Lentsch, Delta Air Lines chief customer experience officer, said in a statement. “We look forward to our customers being able to take advantage of the latest innovations from Wheels Up.”

 

 

 

 

Unmanned

uAvionix UAS Transponder Receives TSO FAA Certification

ping200X is the first FAA TSO Certified Drone Transponder, according to uAvionix. (uAvionix)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded technical standard order (TSO) certification to uAvionix for its Mode S ADS-B OUT unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) transponder, ping200X, according to an April 7 release.

“Certified avionics ensure the systems perform to the same high standards that have allowed aviation to remain the safest form of transportation for decades, “ Christian Ramsey, president of uAvionix, said in a statement. “This is even more important for systems like transponders and ADS-B which interact with other airspace users. Regulators and ANSPs demand the design assurance and quality assurance that a TSO offers to ensure safe separation of aircraft.”

The transponder weighs 50 grams and delivers 200 watts of transmit power while only using about 1.5 watts from the aircraft, according to the release. The ping200X is a Mode S transponder, ADS-B OUT, and an altitude encoder combined.

 

 

 

Embedded Systems

Abaco and CoreAVI Extend Partnership

Abaco Systems and CoreAVI have extended their partnership for flight-certifiable graphics. (CoreAVI)

Abaco Systems and CoreAVI have extended their partnership for flight-certifiable graphics processing with an agreement for a new processor will create a low-risk solution for safety-critical processors used in cockpit display, navigation, synthetic vision, and sensor function, according to an April 6 release.

“More and more, we see avionics suppliers making the switch to off-the-shelf solutions for flight-certifiable applications,” John Muller, chief growth officer at Abaco, said in a statement.  “As graphics systems are tasked with ever-increasing scope of functionality, bringing higher-performance hardware, software, and supporting certification artifacts is critical. Partnering with CoreAVI helps our customers expand their offering and get to market quicker.”

The agreement will allow CoreAVI’s AMD Embedded Radeon™ E9171 GPU, associated COTS-D hardware IP, and Vulkan graphics and compute capabilities on an embedded graphics processor produced by Abaco, according to the release.

“We’re excited to bring the E9171 GPU to our customers,” Pete Thompson, VP of product management at Abaco, said in a statement. “This roadmap upgrade to the E8860 improves performance and reduces power, all while allowing customers to leverage code from legacy OpenGL applications. Our customers count on us to bring the newest technology to market quickly. Our partnership with CoreAVI does exactly that.”

 

 

 

 

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UPS Purchases Beta’s eVTOL Aircraft

April 10th, 2021   •   Comments Off on UPS Purchases Beta’s eVTOL Aircraft   
UPS Purchases Beta’s eVTOL Aircraft

Beta’s ALIA-250 eVTOL uses a distributed direct-drive electric propulsion system, has a wingspan on 50 feet, and a range of 250 NM. The Vermont-based electric air taxi startup is supplying the ALIA-250 for UPS service to smaller and mid-sized markets. (UPS)

UPS is purchasing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Beta Technologies through its Flight Forward program and is expected to receive the first 10 aircraft by 2024, according to an April 7 release.

“This is all about innovation with a focus on returns for our business, our customers and the environment,” Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer, said in a statement. “These new aircraft will create operational efficiencies in our business, open possibilities for new services and serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce the emissions profile of our air and ground operation.”

The complete order could include up to 150 of Beta’s eVTOL aircraft, according to the release. UPS also announced they reserved Beta’s recharging station. Beta declined to provide further details on the purchase of the recharging station.

The complete order could include up to 150 of Beta’s eVTOL aircraft, according to the release. UPS also announced they reserved Beta’s recharging station. (UPS)

“This deal is a milestone for us as we continue building an electric-powered ecosystem,” a spokesperson from Beta told Avionics International. “We’re grateful to have a logistics service partner like UPS to help us accelerate innovation.”

According to reporting from CNBC the deal also includes an embedded staff member from UPS at Beta’s headquarters.

Beta’s ALIA-250 eVTOL uses a distributed direct-drive electric propulsion system, has a wingspan on 50 feet, and a range of 250 NM, according to Beta’s website. The aircraft has a 1,400-pound cargo capacity and zero operating emissions.

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Boeing Recommends Some Airlines Pause 737 MAX Operations to Address Electrical Issue

April 10th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Boeing Recommends Some Airlines Pause 737 MAX Operations to Address Electrical Issue   
Boeing Recommends Some Airlines Pause 737 MAX Operations to Address Electrical Issue

Boeing is recommending some airlines remove the 737 MAX from service to address an electrical issue. (Boeing)

Boeing on Thursday identified a potential electrical issue involving the 737 MAX and has recommended some airlines operating the aircraft, which recently re-entered service, temporarily pause those operations to address it.

“Boeing has recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations,” the company said in an April 9 statement.

The airplane manufacturer said the recommendation for removal from service is being made to “allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.” Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) both provided responses with limited information on the matter in reply to emailed inquiries from Avionics International.

“We are in contact directly with the impacted airlines and will provide additional information as it becomes available. Please note, this is not related to [maneuvering characteristics augmentation system] MCAS,” a representative for Boeing told Avionics in an emailed statement.

The FAA published a statement to its Twitter account advising any passengers impacted by the temporary removal of the aircraft from service should contact affected airlines about possible flight delays and cancellations.

“Boeing notified the FAA late Thursday that it is recommending that operators of certain Boeing 737 MAX airplanes temporarily remove them from service to address a manufacturing issue that could affect the operation of a backup power control unit. The FAA is in contact with the airlines and the manufacturer and will ensure the issue is addressed,” Ian Gregor, a public affairs specialist for the FAA told Avionics.

WestJet, the Calgary-based low-cost airline, has already removed one of the MAX jets within its operational fleet from service to address the electrical issue.

“Last night, WestJet was notified regarding a potential production issue with one of its 737 MAX aircraft and has removed the affected aircraft from service for subsequent inspection. Any maintenance, if necessary, will be completed before the aircraft returns to service,” a representative for WestJet told Avionics.

The Canadian airline has been operating the MAX since Jan. 21, and operates a total of 14 MAX aircraft according to the WestJet representative.

Boeing’s identification of the electrical power issue comes a week after the FAA granted type certification for the 737 MAX 8-200, a variant developed for Ryanair with capacity for up to 202 passengers and five crew members. EASA approved the 8-200 on Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines also recently completed the restructuring of its previous order for the MAX, making a firm commitment to Boeing for 100 aircraft, extending their 737 order book through 2031.

Boeing has not publicly identified any of the airlines it has contacted about the backup power issue. The FAA approved the MAX’s return to service in November.

The post Boeing Recommends Some Airlines Pause 737 MAX Operations to Address Electrical Issue appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Air Taxis Likely to Not Deploy in Early to Mid 2020s as Predicted, New Report Says

April 10th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Air Taxis Likely to Not Deploy in Early to Mid 2020s as Predicted, New Report Says   
Air Taxis Likely to Not Deploy in Early to Mid 2020s as Predicted, New Report Says

An illustration of downtown Atlanta, Georgia with air taxis in the skies. (NASA)

An illustration of downtown Atlanta, Georgia with air taxis in the skies. (NASA)

Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are still facing many technological, regulatory, and infrastructure hurdles and will likely not deploy in the early-to-mid 2020s as some have predicted, new research from PitchBook says.

PitchBook’s Mobility Analyst, Asad Hussain, writes in the report that the eVTOL industry will have to overcome issues such as battery density, manufacturing competition from high-volume automakers, lack of infrastructure, certification hurdles, and a possible pilot shortage.  However, the industry can be successful with the support of non-traditional investors funding research and development of these aircraft.

“While the flurry of SPAC-driven public market debuts in air mobility has created a peak of investor expectations, we believe mass eVTOL deployments in the early-to-mid 2020s are unlikely given large technological, regulatory, and infrastructure-related hurdles,” Hussain said. “Nonetheless, there are clear, long-term commercial use cases for passenger air mobility, and we are relatively positive on the long-term business prospects for well- capitalized leaders in the space such as Joby Aviation, Archer Aviation, and Volocopter; as well as enablement technologies from providers including Daedalean, Reliable Robotics, and PHM Technology.”

Hussain said the energy density of batteries will need to improve significantly for eVTOLs to be successful. Air taxi manufacturers will also have to contend with competition from automakers to secure the supply of these batteries.

A pilot shortage could also constrain growth in the eVTOL industry despite the focus by some on autonomous solutions, Hussain said. While in the long-term autonomous systems will help the industry by allowing non-certified pilots to fly aircraft, the technology is not advanced enough for this in the near future. Regulatory bodies have not yet come to a consensus about how to certify this new technology.

According to Hussain, the certification hurdles for eVTOL aircraft have also been underestimated. The report forecasts the cost for certification including design work and setting up production facilities to exceed $1 billion.

“Of the 100+ startups developing eVTOL technology, only Joby Aviation, Lilium, and Archer have raised enough to cross this threshold (as of March 2021),” Hussain said. “As this ecosystem develops, we believe dozens of smaller startups in the space will ultimately be forced to shutter their projects due to the high cost of certification.”

Air taxis will also require new infrastructure developments like vertiports, charging stations, and air traffic management systems representing another hurdle to adoption. While some companies have invested in this technology it has yet to be developed enough to warrant use in the early to mid-2020s.

“Despite these hurdles, we are optimistic about the industry over the long- term as eVTOL aircraft provide major advantages relative to helicopters, such as reduced noise levels,” Hussain said.

The report suggests the implementation of mandated model-based system engineering tools could be possible for future airworthiness rules. This could also provide safety benefits.

“Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) could provide a solution to these challenges by moving previously siloed workflows and data to centralized model-based platforms for systems engineering,” Hussain said. “MBSE solutions provided by companies such as Siemens and PHM Technology enable companies to accelerate product development for complex projects while reducing unexpected costs, as well as more cohesively integrate design, analysis, validation, and verification during the product development lifecycle. Startups that have made progress adopting these engineering systems may have an edge over competitors.”

According to the report, eVTOLs could reduce noise levels by 20dB compared to helicopters which could help in their adoption.

“Quieter aircraft should lead to increased routes opening closer to residential areas, significantly expanding the market for air mobility beyond existing helicopter routes,” Hussain said. “Additionally, eVTOL aircraft do not produce emissions, a factor that could speed adoption as governments seek ways to offset carbon emissions from conventional transportation solutions.”

Air taxis could also provide a cost advantage once scale is reached that could further speed adoption. According to the report, helicopters cost approximately $9 per mile where eVTOL manufacturers are estimating their costs to be between around $3 per mile.

“Uber Elevate, the urban air mobility division of Uber (which has since been acquired by Joby Aviation), focused on piloted air taxi flights to reach profitability, but forecast that 2030+ air mobility operations would decrease cost per passenger mile to that of existing ground ride-hailing operations (approximately $2.50 per mile),” Hussain said. “Air taxi startup Lilium has claimed that the cost of a trip from Manhattan to JFK Airport could be $70, or approximately $4.40 per mile. Joby Aviation estimates the operating cost of its aircraft will be $3.80 per mile for a 25-mile trip, significantly below the cost of a $9-per-mile helicopter trip.”

In 2025 the global air taxi passenger mobility market will grow to $1.5 billion in revenue, the report forecasts. By 2035 the industry’s predicted revenue will jump to $150.9 billion which is equivalent to about 19.4 percent of expected global airline revenue in 2021.

“Although the industry faces significant technological and regulatory hurdles, we believe nontraditional investors such as manufacturers and corporates with vested interests in shaping the evolution of the transportation industry will continue to fund R&D in the space, helping drive a new wave of innovation and reshaping the aviation industry,” Hussain said.

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Agility Prime Researches Electronic Parachute Powered by Machine Learning

April 9th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Agility Prime Researches Electronic Parachute Powered by Machine Learning   
Agility Prime Researches Electronic Parachute Powered by Machine Learning

Kentucky-based Aviation Safety Resources is developing ballistic parachutes for use in aircraft ranging from 60 lbs to 12,000 lbs. (ASR)

The Air Force’s Agility Prime program awarded a phase I small business technology transfer (STTR) research contract to Jump Aero and Caltech to create an electronic parachute powered by machine learning that would allow the pilot to recalibrate the flight controller in midair in the event of damage, the company announced on April 7.

“The electronic parachute is the name for the concept of implementing an adaptive/machine-learned control routine that would be impractical to certify for the traditional controller for use only in an emergency recovery mode — something that would be switched on by the pilot if there is reason to believe that the baseline flight controller is not properly controlling the aircraft (if, for example, the aircraft has been damaged in midair),” Carl Dietrich, founder and president of Jump Aero Incorporated, told Avionics International.

This technology was previously difficult to certify because of the need for deterministic proof of safety within these complex systems. The research was sparked when the Federal Aviation Administration certified an autonomous landing function for use in emergency situations which created a path for the possible certification of electronic parachute technology, according to Jump Aero.

The machine-learned neural network can be trained with non-linear behaviors that occur in an aircraft in the presence of substantial failures such those generated by a bird strike, Dietrich said. Once trained with these simulated failures, the controller could select the appropriate control laws.

“The neural network would learn new operating limits and effector gain mapping in the presence of these simulated failures,” Dietrich said. “The adaptive aspect of the controller would in effect select the appropriate pre-learned control laws that the DNN discovered through the training of the simulated failures.   The goal is to optimally map the original command structure of the baseline controller onto the new controller with the fundamental limitations of the new plant model — so the aircraft response would be as close as possible to what the pilot expects — thereby improving the probability of a safe landing.”

This technology is still in early-stage work, Dietrich said, however, Caltech has created similar adaptive controllers which could help in the development of the electronic parachute.

“This particular research could lead to the first application of an adaptive/ML controller to a piloted aircraft in the form of a recovery function (or ‘electronic parachute’) if it is carried forward through Phase III,” Dietrich said.

The electronic parachute could be trailed on Jump Aero’s electronic vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, JAI eVTOL, which is still within the preliminary design stage, Dietrich said. Jump Aero was launched in January 2020 as a solution for first responders.

“We are starting to test subsystems for the demonstrator and we are in the preliminary design stage of the full-scale aircraft,” Dietrich. “If we are awarded a Phase II STTR contract, we would expect to demonstrate this electronic parachute technology on a subscale demonstration aircraft where we can simulate failures and (hopefully) successful recovery at low cost/risk.”

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