What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 22, 2021

August 23rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 22, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 22, 2021

Check out the Aug. 22 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 

Ethiopian Airlines to Establish Boeing 767 Conversion Site in Addis Ababa

From right to left: Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, IAI’s Executive VP and General Manager of Aviation Group, Yossi Melamed (Alon Ron, IAI)

Ethiopian Airlines has signed a new agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Aviation Group to establish a conversion site for Boeing 767-300 passenger aircraft at the company’s maintenance center in Addis Ababa, according to an Aug. 19 press release.

The new site will become “the largest and most advanced in Africa,” according to the release. The conversion site is to provide solutions in the field of converting passenger aircraft to cargo configuration, aircraft maintenance and overhaul, staff training and guidance, as well as assistance in acquiring certification and licenses.

“In line with our Diversified Aviation Business Model of Vision 2025, we have been increasing our cargo capacity in fleet, ground service infrastructure and cargo connectivity network. Accordingly, we are partnering with IAI, one of the global technology leaders in the aerospace industry, in building a cargo conversion center in our MRO facilities in Addis Ababa Airport,” Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde Gebre Mariam said in the release. “The cargo conversion center will commence its first business with three Ethiopian Airlines owned B-767-300 aircraft. The cargo conversion center in ADD HUB airport will expand its services to all airlines in Africa and the wider region. We are very happy that we are able to collaborate with IAI to enable us to expand our cargo and logistics services, which is already the largest and leading cargo network in Africa. The capacity building will also help us expand our MRO services with cutting edge technology and knowledge transfer.”

Korean Air Focused on Cargo Operations as Passenger Demand Remains Low

Korean Air published its second quarter results on Aug. 13, with profits up 16 percent to KRW 1.9508 trillion ($1.7 million) from the same period a year ago.

The cargo business achieved a revenue of KRW 1.5108 trillion, the highest number in the airline’s history. Its strong performance can be attributed to the increase in company restocking demands in preparation for the economy’s recovery and rise in emergency supply shipments due a capacity shortage in the shipping industry,” the airline said in an Aug. 13 press release.

Check out Korean Air’s full results here

 

 

Alaska Airlines Exercises Options on 12 Additional Boeing 737s

Alaska Airlines is accelerating its fleet growth by exercising options early on 12 Boeing 737-9 aircraft, according to an Aug. 16 press release. The option aircraft are now firm commitments for 2023 and 2024. This additional commitment brings Alaska’s total firm 737-9 order to 93 aircraft, five of which are currently in service.

Alaska announced a restructured agreement with Boeing in December 2020 to acquire 68 total 737-9 aircraft through 2024, with options for another 52 deliveries between 2023 and 2026, according to the release. This year, the airline has exercised 25 of the options, including 13 planes in May.

“We are excited to accelerate Alaska’s growth, building on our solid financial foundation that enabled us to weather the pandemic,” Nat Pieper, Alaska Airlines senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances said in the release. “These aircraft are a prudent, long-term investment in our business that we can make while simultaneously maintaining our strong balance sheet.”

 

 

 

 

Europe Seeing Rebound in Domestic Airline Traffic to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Eurocontrol’s Director General shared the latest airline passenger traffic numbers in Europe on Monday Aug. 16.

According to the latest passenger traffic shared via Twitter by Eurocontrol Director General Eamonn Brennan, airline flight operations in European airspace were well above the the level of operations during the same week in 2019, prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Week 32 saw traffic at 70.5% of 2019 0.3% on the previous week; Friday was the busiest day this year at 25,934 flightsBased on airline schedules, we’re expecting numbers to head again more strongly in the last 2 weeks of Aug,” Brennan said on Twitter.

 

Military 

US Struggles with Afghanistan Airlift Operation as Chaos Ensues at Kabul Airport 

A pictured tweeted by the U.S. Air Mobility Command, shows Gen. Frank McKenzie, CENTCOM Commander, greeting American servicemembers and Afghan civilians on board a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster.

The United States military continues to struggle with a chaotic situation at Kabul International Airport, where they continue trying to airlift and evacuate Afghan workers and citizens while dealing with challenges presented by Taliban controlled checkpoints and paperwork.

During several press briefings held between Aug. 17 and Aug. 19, DoD press secretary John Kirby and top defense officials have explained how they’re trying to secure the airport, while executing airlift evacuation of U.S. citizens and more than 18,000 Afghan applicants for special immigrant visas to be granted for those Afghans’ aid to the U.S. and NATO as translators and in other jobs.

In an Aug. 18 press briefing, Kirby also commented on the status of U.S. weapons and equipment in Afghanistan.

“When it comes to U.S.-provided equipment that is still in Afghanistan and may not be in the hands of [Afghan National Security Forces] ANSF, there are several options that we have at our disposal to try to deal with that problem set. We don’t obviously want to see our equipment in the hands of those who would act against our interest or the interest of the Afghan people, and increase violence and insecurity inside Afghanistan. There are numerous policy choices that can be made, up to and including destruction, and what I would tell you at this point is those decisions about disposition of that level of equipment in Afghanistan haven’t been made yet,” Kirby said.

Check out some of the latest reporting from The Associated Press on the ongoing situation in Afghanistan here.

 

 

Department of Defense Activates Civil Reserve Air Fleet to Assist With Afghanistan Efforts

The U.S. Department of Defense is activating “Stage 1” of its Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) to support the Department of State in the evacuation of “U.S. citizens and personnel, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan,” according to an Aug. 22 press release.

This marks just the third CRAF activation in the history of the program, with the first occurring in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm in Aug. 1990 and the second for Operation Iraqi Freedom in Feb. 2002.

“The current activation is for 18 aircraft: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines. The Department does not anticipate a major impact to commercial flights from this activation,” the agency said in the release.

The CRAF aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, instead they will be used for the onward movement of passengers from the “temporary safe havens” where they’re currently stationed.

 

 

 

US Navy Awards $18 Million Contract for C-UAS HELWS

The U.S. Navy has awarded MZA Associates Corp. with an $18.6 million contract for a counter unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) High Energy Laser Weapon System (HELWS), the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

The system will need to be portable, compact, and low cost. It will also need to use available commercial components. MZA will design, develop, deliver, integrate, and test this system as part of the contract. This system is expected to be delivered by Aug. 17 2023 but work could extend through 2025. MZA will receive over $9 million at the time of the award for development, testing, and evaluation for fiscal 2020 research.

MZA operates out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and specializes in the development of advanced optical and control systems for HELWS, according to the company’s website.

 

 

North Warning System Modernization May Include Detection of Bombers, Cruise Missiles and Small UAS

A North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 Raptor flies next to a Russian Tu-95 bomber during an intercept in the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone on June 16, 2020. (NORAD)

The modernization of the U.S.-Canadian North Warning System (NWS) should include the ability to detect bombers, low-flying cruise missiles and small drones, U.S. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, the commander of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), said on Aug. 17.

A successor to the 1950s Distant Early Warning (DEW) line, NWS, first fielded in the late 1980s, consists of 25 Lockheed Martin [LMT] AN/FPS-117 long-range radars and 36 short-range AN/FPS-124 radars. NWS provides early warning of possible incursions into U.S. airspace and covers nearly 3,000 miles across North America from the Aleutian Islands in southwestern Alaska to Baffin Island in northeastern Canada.

NWS was designed to detect “bombers flying at 36,000 feet that had to fly over the homeland to drop a gravity weapon,” VanHerck said on Aug. 17 during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Ideally, we would like to go to an advanced system–over-the-horizon radar,” VanHerck said of NWS modernization. “The North Warning System is limited in its distance…which doesn’t allow us to see far enough out away from the homeland. There’s proven technology today that would give us domain awareness. I think it’s crucial, as we create new systems, that we don’t make them singularly focused. Any new systems that we create must be able to not only detect bombers, but cruise missiles and even small UAS, to be affordable and usable.”

 

 

 

Honeywell and InfiniDome Partner for GPS Protected Signals System 

Honeywell and InfiniDome have signed an agreement to develop a system to protect GPS signals for defense and commercial applications like commercial aircraft, urban air mobility vehicles, and unmanned aerial systems, the companies announced in an Aug. 16 press release. 

“Intentional GPS jamming and spoofing incidents are on the rise, and this partnership will enable a rapid solution to this critical industry need,” Matt Picchetti, vice president and general manager of Navigation & Sensors at Honeywell Aerospace, said in a statement. “This partnership will create world-class solutions that will help accelerate the future of flight, especially in urban areas.”

The system will be designed as a navigation platform that can handle GPS denied environments and will allow customers to increase their payloads by eliminating existing equipment meant to handle lost signals, according to the release.

“In combining Honeywell’s best-in-class navigation sensors with leading-edge GPS resilience technology from InfiniDome, we’re working to develop a first-of-its-kind holistic solution built on tightly integrated layers of protection for all uses of navigation for unmanned air and ground vehicles,” Omer Sharar, CEO of InfiniDome, said in the release. “InfiniDome is proud to be working collaboratively with Honeywell to bring about the next generation of GPS protection technology.”

The companies predict the solution will be commercially available in 2022. 

 

 

 

Navy and Boeing Conduct MQ-25 Test Refueling E-2D 

The MQ-25 completed a successful refueling of the command and control aircraft E-2D Hawkeye, Boeing announced in an Aug. 19 press release. 

The Navy and Boeing conducted the test on Aug. 18 with pilots from the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-20, according to the release. 

“Once operational the MQ-25 will refuel every receiver-capable platform, including E-2,” Capt. Chad Reed, the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager, said in a statement. “This flight keeps us on a fast track to getting the Stingray out to the fleet where its refueling capability will greatly increase the range and operational flexibility of the carrier air wing and strike group.”

This is the second refueling test the MQ-25 has completed. In June, the aircraft refueled a Navy Super Hornet. 

“It was another great flight showing that our MQ-25 design is performing to plan,” Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director, said in a statement. “These historic refueling flights provide an incredible amount of data we feed back into the MQ-25 digital models to ensure the aircraft we’re producing will be the Navy’s game-changer for the carrier air wing.”

 

Japan’s KC-46A Tanker Completes First Refueling Flight

Boeing completed a test refueling flight of the KC-46A tanker built for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) marking the first KC-46A for a non-U.S. customer refueling with another KC-46A, according to an Aug. 16 press release. 

“Refueling with the first Japan KC-46A is an important milestone for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force,” Jamie Burgess, KC-46 program manager, said in a statement. “KC-46A is the world’s most advanced air refueling aircraft and has already transferred more than 42 million gallons of fuel to other aircraft globally through its boom and drogue systems.”

Japan will be receiving its first KC-46A later this year, according to the release.  

 

 

 

Business & GA

Columbia Helicopters Gets Firefighting Contract in Turkey

Columbia Helicopter was awarded a contract from CMC Savunma Sanayi A.S. for two of its 234 Multi-Mission Chinooks for firefighting operations in Turkey, the company announced in an Aug. 17 press release. 

“This contract marks a significant milestone for Columbia Helicopters – our first time operating in Turkey and hopefully the beginning of a long-term partnership,” Olivia Wolfgram-Rubio, business development and marketing manager at Columbia Helicopters, said in a statement. “The 234 Multi-Mission Chinook delivers significant support in protecting life and property. We know it will be extremely successful in helping battle wildfires and protecting Turkish citizens now, and we hope, well into the future.”

The aircraft from this contract will use a 2,600 gallon Bambi Bucket for precision water and retardant drops, according to the release. Because the aircraft is certified under the civilian transport category standards, it can also carry internal cargo and passengers. 

 

 

 

 

 

eVTOLs

Airflow Exceeds $600M in Orders for eSTOL Aircraft 

In January, Airflow announced that they would be moving from sub-scale model testing to a new testing phase using a remodeled Cessna 210. (Airflow)

The aerospace company Airflow has received 11 orders for its electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft totaling over $600 million in orders, the company announced on Aug. 17.

Airflow has two eSTOL aircraft variations, a Model 100 and Model 200. Airflow’s Model 100 is able to carry four passengers or 800 lbs of cargo, only needs 150 feet to take off, and has a 250-mile range. The company’s Model 200 has a nine-passenger or 2,000 lb cargo payload, needs 250 feet to take off, and has a 500-mile range. Both of these aircraft are 100 percent carbon neutral.

 

Unmanned

ModalAI to Manufacture Qualcomm 5G Drone 

ModalAI will be manufacturing and distributing Qualcomm Technologies 5G AI-enabled drone platform, according to an Aug. 17 press release. 

Qualcomm’s drone platform, the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, is a developer platform that can be used to build drone and flight applications, according to the release. The platform allows for autonomous flight using 5G cellular technology. 

“Autonomous flight on the 5G network is here now – extending the flight path of drones to increase the value of a broad set of inspection capabilities,” Chad Sweet, CEO of ModalAI, said in a statement. “Better yet, the platform is open to everyone. Together, ModalAI and Qualcomm Technologies are advancing the adoption and commercialization of drone technology.” 

 

 

 

 

Space

Virgin Orbit Subsidiary Vox Space Names Mark Baird as President 

Retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Baird has been named president of Vox Space, Virgin Orbit subsidiary that provides launch services to the national security community.

Baird has held national security space positions including deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO); the director of Space Acquisition for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force; and vice commander of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. After retiring from the military, Baird served as Lockheed Martin’s principal director of strategy for its space and special programs. He spearheaded development of a roughly $50 billion mission architecture for a classified customer.

 

 

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 22, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Is the Electric Air Taxi Market Big Enough for eSTOLs and eVTOLs?

August 20th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Is the Electric Air Taxi Market Big Enough for eSTOLs and eVTOLs?   
Is the Electric Air Taxi Market Big Enough for eSTOLs and eVTOLs?

Jaunt Air Mobility is opening design and manufacturing operations in Canada. (Jaunt Air Mobility)

In the electric air taxi world, there are two aircraft designs that are emerging: electric ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The differences between these two aircraft center around takeoff however the technologies that enable their unique takeoff styles give each aircraft design different advantages and disadvantages in their flight characteristics. 

Experts in the industry say there is enough space in the industry for both eSTOL and eVTOL aircraft designs to be successful; different mission capabilities will decide if these aircraft are complementary or competitors.

“I’d like to say that in aircraft today and with electric aircraft in the future, there will be many types of aircraft, there will be many winners, and so I think there’s plenty of room in this market moving forward for both eVTOL and eSTOL,” Marc Ausman, CEO and co-founder of Airflow.Aero, said during a panel at AIAA’s Propulsion Energy Forum. “There’s areas where they overlap, and there’s areas where they’ll have different missions that they’ll each be successful in.”

While Ausman says he is a fan of both aircraft designs, he is a bigger fan of eSTOL. Airflow has is developing two eSTOL aircraft variations that will have ranges between 250 miles and 500 miles with payload capacities up to 2,000 lbs. These aircraft will only need between 150 and 250 feet to takeoff and land. 

Shown here, Electra’s ultra-short takeoff and landing aircraft can deliver nearly triple the payload capacity, an order of magnitude longer ranges, and less than half the operating costs. Electra is the most sustainable choice for advancing urban and regional air mobility. (Electra)

Electra.aero is also developing an eSTOL aircraft that uses a technique called blown lift. Electra’s eSTOL aircraft will be able to carry seven passengers and a pilot and will have a range of 500 miles. 

“Blown lift achieves the short takeoff and landing through highly controlled slow speed flight,” John Langford,” founder and CEO of Electra.aero, said during the panel. “It’s really the combination of the distributed electric propulsion, and the blown lift that we think is transformational in this…One of the big things that we have to kind of get our heads around is the idea that these are airplanes that have wings but don’t necessarily use runways. Sure they can use runways, but they’re not required to use runways.” 

The benefit to the eSTOL designs is they do not require the same amount of energy that vertical takeoffs allowing them to have greater range and payload capacity. 

“eVTOLs use electric propulsion to take off and land vertically – many of these concepts then transition from vertical flight to forward flight with a wing providing the lift once in cruise,” Ben Marchionna, director of technology and innovation at Electra.aero, told Aviation Today in June. “Vertical flight requires significantly more power, resulting in an enormous payload, range, and cost penalty. eSTOLs use electric propulsion and an aerodynamic technique called blown lift to takeoff over distances as short as 100 feet. This provides eSTOL aircraft access to many of the same urban air mobility markets.”

Ausman also said that the blown lift technique makes eSTOL aircraft highly maneuverable and allows for very powerful control movements. 

“I don’t know where this idea that you can’t maneuver eSTOL airplanes comes from,” Ausman said. “They are very highly maneuverable, and in fact, the blown lift works to your advantage in that…you get very powerful control moments, both from blowing the aerodynamic surfaces and also from thrust vectoring. You have a number of propellers and you can control the thrust from each so you get both the lift augmentation and the control.”

On the other side of the debate, eVTOLs take off vertically like a helicopter versus the short airplane-like takeoff of eSTOL aircraft. While eSTOL aircraft are able to take off from very short runways, eVTOLs only need enough space for the length of the aircraft, such as a helipad. 

Mark Moore, who co-founded Uber Elevate and is now the CEO of Whisper Aero, said he spent many years during his time at NASA designing eSTOL concepts. However, he now believes that the eVTOL design concept is the better route. 

“For years at NASA, I was pushing for eSTOL to make sense, and I came up with all sorts of crazy concepts and they’re crazy because it’s such a difficult design problem if you’re targeting 100-foot ground roll,” Moore said during the panel. “My opinion is, it’s way, way harder to achieve that with an eSTOL than it is to develop an eVTOL.” 

Moore said one of the issues he finds with eSTOL aircraft is the ability to create enough drag to hit really small runway targets. He also says the aircraft has to have an abort capability. 

“There’s not just a design problem, there’s huge operational challenges as well,” Moore said. “…You have to have an abort capability all the way until the wheels touchdown, and you’ve got to make sure that you don’t end up on the backside of the power curve as you reaccelerate to get out.” 

In January, Airflow announced that they would be moving from sub-scale model testing to a new testing phase using a remodeled Cessna 210. (Airflow)

While Ausman argued that eSTOLs do not have challenges with tight maneuvers, Moore disagreed. 

“You’ve got to worry about eSTOL, they don’t want to be doing tight turns,” Moore said. “You don’t want to be doing turns when you’re coming in really low and slow…eVTOL can do that all day because it’s pure powered lift, it’s not the dependent on the wing lift.” 

Wind could also cause issues with eSTOLs as they are attempting landings, Moore said. 

“The biggest problem is dealing with winds, right,” Moore said. “If you’re coming in at 30 miles per hour and you’ve got a tailwind, you just lost almost 50 percent of your lift, and so that’s a real challenge.” 

The eVTOL aircraft design could also provide for fewer noise emissions which will be important in urban environments. Moore said the propellers on eSTOL that are designed for high induced velocities to generate the extra lift for takeoff and landing usually have small diameter propellers that create noise that human ears are most adapted to hearing. This means that eVTOL can actually make more noise but at a different frequency that is less bothersome to the human ear. 

“Even though the eVTOL is making 10 times more thrust, it’s eight DB quieter, but because of the frequency that it’s making the noise because of the small diameter props, it sounds like it’s 20 to 30 DB,” Moore said. “…If you’re trying to get quiet, those mid-frequency to higher frequency noise are really bad where it’s like you’re paralyzed on the order of 20 DB. So you really don’t want to be making noise in that vocal range…because the human ear is optimized to hear those frequencies the best.” 

Jaunt Air Mobility is developing an eVTOL aircraft. Martin Peryea, CEO of Jaunt Air Mobility, said his team reconfigured their aircraft design to compare the capabilities of eVTOL versus eSTOL. 

“I had our team kind of look at reconfiguring this particular aircraft, the Jaunt Journey, into a short takeoff and landing aircraft,” Peryea said. “I think everybody realizes you can certainly get some performance benefit of running down a runway and taking off, especially with a main rotor system.”

They found that there were some added capabilities with eSTOL aircraft which made him believe that both of these aircraft designs have a place in the current market. 

“So you get about twice the capability out of an eSTOL aircraft, which is not surprising,” Peryea said. “You can trade some of that way, you know, for additional battery capability…We used a fairly short takeoff distance, we looked at a couple of different takeoff distances here, it doesn’t really move the needle, a whole lot in terms of the capability from the payload range perspective, I think, I think we also left it off at 75 feet in this particular case…So, there is a market, actually, in my opinion for both types of these aircraft here.” 

Peryea said he believes eVTOL aircraft will be better in low-speed and high wind conditions. However, the aircraft configuration will also play a big role. 

“From my perspective, in my opinion, the eVTOL aircraft, we’re gonna have better handling quality characteristics at low speed and high gust wind conditions than your short takeoff aircraft,” Peryea said. “You’ll have sufficient, you know, control power available to you, and it certainly is going to be dependent on the configuration of the aircraft.”  

The post Is the Electric Air Taxi Market Big Enough for eSTOLs and eVTOLs? appeared first on Aviation Today.

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How Could Drones and Air Taxis Help with Weather Predictions?

August 19th, 2021   •   Comments Off on How Could Drones and Air Taxis Help with Weather Predictions?   
How Could Drones and Air Taxis Help with Weather Predictions?

The University of Oklahoma is part of a team of universities to receive $5.2 million over four years to improve real-time weather forecasting of low-level winds and turbulence in rural and urban environments. (NASA)

While the development of advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft like drones and air taxis is being pitched as an advancement of logistical support to move cargo and people, a project from university researchers and NASA could allow these aircraft to create more accurate weather predictions. 

The University of Oklahoma is part of a team of universities to receive $5.2 million over four years to improve real-time weather forecasting of low-level winds and turbulence in rural and urban environments. 

“The real focus here is that in an urban environment, you can think about microclimates particularly when it relates to wind,” Dr. Jamey Jacob, director of Oklahoma State University’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute, told Avionics International

This would essentially create PIREPs or Pilot Reports for drones, Jacob said. 

The aircraft would carry sensors to take measurements of the surrounding conditions and then report them back to a traffic management system to provide drone and air taxi operators with weather data. This data could also be reported into a forecasting system to provide micro weather forecasts so that even parts of the population who are not using AAM vehicles can take advantage of it. 

“As drones are flying, they’re able to take measurements of these conditions and report them back to the unmanned traffic management network,” Jacob said. “But simultaneously, they can take this data and then report it back to a real-time forecasting system, and that real-time forecasting system can provide micro weather forecasts and updates about what you would expect to see for both urban air taxis and for drones flying in urban environments.” 

The thermodynamic sensors on the aircraft would measure pressure, temperature, and humidity. 

“Those are the three important things for the weather forecasting piece and then other sensors that measure wind,” Jacob said. “Those can be integrated sensors in the vehicle or those can actually be derived from the inertial measurement unit that you have onboard the aircraft as well.” 

This kind of weather forecasting would be helpful because current modeling is two-dimensional and not much weather forecasting is happening in these areas. 

“Our weather observations right now are very 2D,” Jacob said. “We take measurements on the ground, we fly weather balloons but they’re very limited in terms of what they see and how often they fly, and do we have radars that look down kind of projected on a plane. So we don’t really do three-dimensional weather observations, and both drones and urban air taxis really really open that up for us.” 

Using drones and air taxis like this further increases their use for the broader community and not just people directing using them. 

“It has broad societal impact, right, even if you don’t have deliveries by drones that you don’t fly in an urban air taxi, your weather forecasts will be improved and your weather alert system will be enhanced greatly by this will protect potentially saving life and property,” Jacob said. 

Jacob said he hopes that this capability could also improve severe weather forecasting. 

“Eventually we hope to be able to take the same type of system to improve severe weather forecasting, as well, which is going to become more important as we continue to have extreme weather events that end up having very very micro impacts on certain areas, whether it’s flash floods or icing conditions,” Jacob said. 

The team is still in the first year of the four-year project. They have completed pilot tests of the system with the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

The post How Could Drones and Air Taxis Help with Weather Predictions? appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Airflow Exceeds $600M in Orders for eSTOL Aircraft

August 19th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Airflow Exceeds $600M in Orders for eSTOL Aircraft   
Airflow Exceeds $600M in Orders for eSTOL Aircraft

In January, Airflow announced that they would be moving from sub-scale model testing to a new testing phase using a remodeled Cessna 210. (Airflow)

The aerospace company Airflow has received 11 orders for its electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft totaling over $600 million in orders, the company announced on Aug. 17. 

Airflow has two eSTOL aircraft variations, a Model 100 and Model 200. Airflow’s Model 100 is able to carry four passengers or 800 lbs of cargo, only needs 150 feet to take off, and has a 250-mile range. The company’s Model 200 has a nine-passenger or 2,000 lb cargo payload, needs 250 feet to take off, and has a 500-mile range. Both of these aircraft are 100 percent carbon neutral. 

Airflow also named former Embraer CEO Paulo Cesar Silva to its advisory board, according to the release. Silva will advise Airflow on financing, manufacturing, and a commercial launch strategy. 

“The future of aviation not only demands net-zero carbon emissions but also the ability to bring to market a much lower operating cost aircraft while meeting the needs of both passengers and operators,” Silva said in a statement. “The Airflow team has the right experience to effectively seize the opportunity of eSTOLs thereby changing the face of sub-regional transportation. I’m excited to work alongside Marc and the team and inform, through my own experience, a focus on customer needs and a compelling value proposition.”

Airflow’s eSTOL aircraft is predicted to enter service in 2025 and according to the company’s website, it will require no new infrastructure and fit within existing regulatory frameworks. 

“The interest that we’re seeing from airlines worldwide for realistic eSTOL capabilities is incredible. This means we’re able to offer cargo and passengers operators value from day one by using today’s infrastructure, regulations, and use cases. In fact, customers will be able to expand their existing networks using our next-gen aircraft,” Marc Ausman, Co-founder and CEO of Airflow, said in a statement. “With Paulo advising Airflow he will aid us in continuing to focus on our North Star which is a commitment to solving real-world customer needs.” 

The company’s eSTOL aircraft is able to land on short runways by using distributed electric propulsion providing control at slower airspeeds and a precision landing pilot assistance system, according to the company’s website. Airflow also uses an aerial operating system to manage aircraft in real-time. 

In January, Airflow announced that they would be moving from sub-scale model testing to a new testing phase using a remodeled Cessna 210. The Cessna aircraft will be transformed into an eSTOL aircraft with distributed electric propulsion. 

The post Airflow Exceeds $600M in Orders for eSTOL Aircraft appeared first on Aviation Today.

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CAAC Validates JetWave Connectivity System for Airbus A320s in China

August 18th, 2021   •   Comments Off on CAAC Validates JetWave Connectivity System for Airbus A320s in China   
CAAC Validates JetWave Connectivity System for Airbus A320s in China

Honeywell’s 757 demonstrator aircraft in 2019 completed ground and flight testing of the JetWave system in China that received STC validation from Chinese civil aviation regulators last week. (Honeywell)

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has approved a validation of Honeywell’s MCS-8420 JetWave satellite connectivity system for Airbus A320 aircraft.

A320s using the MCS-8420 system in the CAAC-controlled flight information region (FIR) will connect to China’s Ka-band satellite network, according to an Aug. 9 press release. The validation was one of the first issued by CAAC on a European European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for commercial aviation connectivity.

Honeywell originally developed the STC with Lufthansa Technik for Airbus A320s flying in Europe, using Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band service – GX Aviation. The total JetWave package includes a Multi-Channel Satellite (MCS) terminal, antenna controller, modem and router hardware, and two different versions of a tail-mounted antenna — the MCS-8000 for the business aviation market and the MCS-8200 for commercial air transport aircraft.

“In today’s society, the ability to stay connected during flight is becoming a common expectation. This makes the in-flight Wi-Fi service enabled by Honeywell JetWave Satellite Communication System an important differentiated competitive advantage,” Steven Lien, president of Honeywell Aerospace China, said in a statement. “We noticed that digitalization was mentioned many times in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The exploration of new development opportunities through digital transformation has now become the focus of many airlines. This new VSTC for JetWave will greatly enhance Honeywell’s support for China’s in-flight high-speed satellite communications. This is also another exciting achievement Honeywell has made in digitalization.

CAAC’s validation of the STC comes nearly two years after Honeywell’s Boeing 757 demonstrator aircraft equipped with the MCS-8420 completed ground and flight tests in China. Honeywell claims a speed of up to 180 Mbps for the system.

Validation was completed as a result of the China-EU Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the European Union. Technical Implementation Procedures (TIP) for Airworthiness and Environmental Certification, a specification of the BASA agreement, were employed by CAAC’s validation team in the process. TIP allows for “initial and subsequent validations in a defined process, and, therefore, predictable time frame,” according to Honeywell.

“This represents a milestone in the cooperation of CAAC and EASA in the field of commercial aviation connectivity, made possible by the China-EU Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA). Based on a very light design and more than 300 installations, we can support very fast installations in less than four days and high-maintenance inspection intervals; together offering very low and competitive operational costs to the airlines,” Lukas Bucher, Head of Connectivity Solutions at Lufthansa Technik, said in a statement.

The post CAAC Validates JetWave Connectivity System for Airbus A320s in China appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Embraer Studying Next Generation Turboprop Concept for Regional Airline Market

August 18th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Embraer Studying Next Generation Turboprop Concept for Regional Airline Market   
Embraer Studying Next Generation Turboprop Concept for Regional Airline Market

Embraer President Arjan Meijer tweeted a photo of the company’s conceptual design for a next-generation turboprop targeting the regional airline market on the same day Embraer published its second-quarter earnings results, noting that the “rear-mounted engines reduce cabin noise for a jet-like experience.” (Embraer)

Embraer is studying the development of a next-generation turboprop aircraft with rear-mounted engines and a “jet-like” passenger experience, according to comments made by their top engineering executive during a live webcast hosted by the Brazilian airframe manufacturer results on Aug. 13.

The next-generation turboprop design was one of several concepts and new sustainability goals outlined by Embraer during the webcast, which includes a goal of making their aircraft 100 percent compatible with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. Other goals include a 50 percent reduction in overall carbon emissions generated by their aircraft by 2040 and net zero emissions by 2050.

Luis Carlos Affonso, senior vice president of engineering, technology, and corporate strategy for Embraer, cautioned that the conceptual clean sheet regional turboprop aircraft has not been officially launched as a program yet. The company is still studying the concept and engaging potential partners and customers.

“Our proposal is to offer a high technology 70 to 90 seat turboprop with the same cross-section of the E-jets. Very comfortable, no middle seats and spacious overhead bins,” Affonso said. “The rear fuselage-mounted engines will provide a quiet cabin and allow jet bridge compatibility. With game-changing characteristics, this turboprop will replace the current 50-seat regional jets in very important markets.”

Affonso also discussed his belief that turboprops have effectively “disappeared” over the last two decades from new aircraft designs and development programs targeting regional airlines because passengers view them as too small, noisy, and uncomfortable.

“Our proposal will be a jet-like turboprop, with the only difference that it will use from 20 to 40 percent less fuel and emit up to 40 percent less carbon, so it will be an important airplane if we come to launch it,” Affonso said.

The rear engine-mounted turboprop was one of several next-generation designs discussed by Affonso, including an electric military transport aircraft concept called STOUT and an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that Embraer is targeting for its first flight of around 2025.

Embraer’s single-engine electric demonstrator aircraft performed its first flight a few days prior to their second-quarter earnings call and webcast. (Embraer)

Embraer is also researching the technical, economical, and supply chain aspects of designing a hydrogen-powered aircraft, with Affonso noting that their roadmap “considers a hydrogen-powered test vehicle first flight by 2025.”

Affonso also provided updates on the completion of the first flight of Embraer’s electric demonstrator aircraft several days prior to the webcast. Based on the Embraer single-engine EMB-203 Ipanema crop duster, the demonstrator aircraft uses an electric motor and controller supplied by WEG, a Brazilian supplier of electric motors, generators, and transformers.

“This testbed will help develop knowledge about batteries, electric motors, thermal management, electric control systems, high voltage handling, safety of flight that will then be applied to our future aircraft,” Affonso said.

Embraer reported a second-quarter net income of $40.5 million, its first profitable quarter since the first quarter of 2018. The company also provided its first delivery guidance since the start of the pandemic and expects to deliver 40 to 45 commercial aircraft and 90 to 95 executive jets for the year.

The post Embraer Studying Next Generation Turboprop Concept for Regional Airline Market appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Iris Automation and UAV Navigation Partner for Drone DAA and Autopilot System

August 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Iris Automation and UAV Navigation Partner for Drone DAA and Autopilot System   
Iris Automation and UAV Navigation Partner for Drone DAA and Autopilot System

The Casia Long Range Detect-and-Avoid system can be used on the UAS BVLOS flight. (Iris Automation)

Iris Automation and UAV Navigation are integrating their autopilot and detect and avoid (DAA) system to allow unmanned aircraft to find uncooperative aircraft in their airspace and autonomously take action to avoid them, according to an Aug. 16 press release. 

UAV Navigation will use Iris Automation’s Casia DAA software in its VECTOR autopilot systems to enable these operations, according to the release. 

“The pace of innovation around autonomous aerial vehicles is rapid as the industry recognizes the potential for creating value,” Carlos Lázaro, Head of the Commercial Department at UAV Navigation, said in a statement. “Integrating Iris Automation’s Casia detect and avoid technology into our VECTOR autopilot is another important step in the safety of autonomous flights for commercial operations. Our customers can now automatically command the drone to perform appropriate avoidance maneuvers, resuming their original flightpath once completed.”

Iris Automation recently updated its Casia software to improve performance, track fusion, and flight data uploads. Casia uses computer vision and artificial intelligence to enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight. It has previously been used by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Transport Canada.

“Partnering with UAV Navigation brings together two significant breakthroughs in safe, autonomous flight. Integrating autopilot systems with true detect and avoid, inclusive of uncooperative aircraft, is critical to enabling commercial operations at scale,” James Howard, co-founder and VP of Technology and Innovation at Iris Automation, said in a statement. “Given the wide deployment of UAV Navigation’s autopilot solution this is major progress in opening up the skies.”

VECTOR autopilots from UAV navigation allow aircraft to fly autonomously even in the case of lost remote-control datalinks. They can be used in rotary-wing and fixed-wing drones and VTOL aircraft. 

The post Iris Automation and UAV Navigation Partner for Drone DAA and Autopilot System appeared first on Aviation Today.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 15, 2021

August 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 15, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 15, 2021

Check out the Aug. 15 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 

JetBlue Launches Transatlantic Operations to London 

JetBlue launched its first Transatlantic New York to London service on Tuesday, Aug. 12, using an Airbus A321LR.

“For the first time in JetBlue’s 21-year history we are crossing the North Atlantic and competing in one of the busiest travel markets in the world, well-positioned to introduce our award-winning service and low fares to a new global audience that is ready for a fresh choice in transatlantic flying,” Robin Hayes, chief executive officer, JetBlue said in an Aug. 12 press release. “With JetBlue now connecting New York and London, travelers finally have the ability to enjoy low fares while also experiencing superior service. As the U.K. opens to travelers coming from America, our flights are well timed to meet the pent up demand for travel between our two countries. We look forward to welcoming U.K. travelers to the U.S. soon and launching service between Boston and London next year.”

The configuration for JetBlue’s new Airbus A321 Long Range (LR) aircraft includes 24 re-designed Mint suites and 114 core seats.

 

 

 

Amazon Air Launches Air Cargo Hub in Northern Kentucky

Amazon has launched its U.S.-based air cargo operations. (Amazon)

Amazon announced the beginning of Amazon Air Hub operations at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

After more than four years of planning and construction, the Amazon Air Hub will serve as the central hub for Amazon Air’s U.S. cargo network, according to an Aug. 11 press release.

“Wonderful communities and diverse teams like this are the heart and soul of our operations,” Vice President of Amazon Global Air Sarah Rhoads said in the release. “We’re excited to get rolling in Northern Kentucky, and we’re thrilled to employ thousands of fantastic people from the area in this next-generation, highly sophisticated facility that will connect our air cargo network for years to come.”

The 800,000-square-foot sortation building sits on an over 600-acre campus that features seven buildings, a new ramp for aircraft parking, and a multi-story vehicle parking structure. The sortation facility is equipped with the innovative use of robotics technology that helps move and sort packages—including robotic arms and mobile drive units that transport packages across the building—miles of interlinked conveyors, and ergonomic workstations.

 

 

Boeing 737 MAX in China for Test Flights

A FlightRadar screen shows the movement of the test 737 MAX aircraft on its return flight from China.

A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft performed a series of flights in China before departing the country this weekend, according to several aviation industry news sites and social media postings featuring screenshots from flight tracking applications such as FlightRadar 24.

“After only 1 day of demonstrating the  @BoeingAirplanes MAX 7 to the Chinese regulators, the aircraft is heading home again today. The first stop is Guam,” the commercial aviation news and insights website said in a tweet published to their Twitter account on Aug. 15.

 

 

 

 

FAA To Hold Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Airspace Meeting 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will hold a virtual public information meeting on its proposal to modify the airspace over Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania, according to an Aug. 12 press release. Under the proposed changes, existing flight paths would not change but the area where pilots are required to interact with FAA air traffic controllers would expand.

The airspace change is to better manage the complexity and volume of aviation activities in the area.

The meeting, which the FAA will conduct via Zoom and livestream on social media, will take place on Wednesday, August 18, from 6-8 p.m. Eastern Time.

 

 

SkyWest Announces Flying Agreement with Delta for 16 Embraer E175s

SkyWest announced an agreement with Delta Air Lines to purchase and operate 16 new E175 aircraft under a multi-year capacity purchase agreement, according to an Aug. 9 press release. These aircraft are scheduled to be placed into service beginning in the first half of 2022, and will be placed into service ratably through year-end 2022.

The aircraft will be purchased by SkyWest from Embraer and delivered new from the factory. SkyWest continues to be the largest owner/operator of the Embraer E175 aircraft in the world.

SkyWest expects the 16 new E175 aircraft will replace 16 SkyWest-owned or financed CRJ900s currently under its Delta contract, with expirations ranging from the second half of 2022 to early 2023.

 

 

 

 

US Airlines Split on Vaccine Mandates for Employees

United Airlines made headlines recently by announcing it would require all employees to become vaccinated, a policy also adopted by Hawaiian Airlines and Frontier, while Alaska, American and Southwest are not, according to a Aug. 13 article published by The Los Angeles Times.

“The vaccination policy split comes as air travel demand begins to climb almost to pre-pandemic levels. Domestic air bookings reached about half of pre-pandemic levels in March and has since climbed to 17% below those levels in early August, according to Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation’s air carriers,” according to the article.

 

 

 

Military 

To Lower Emissions, the US Military Focuses on Increasing Aircraft Efficiency 

As the commercial aviation industry increasingly shifts toward new technology to reach sustainability targets, the military is more focused on improving aircraft efficiency to increase sustainability rather than concentrating on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The mission of the Air Force is to fly, fight and win in the air, in space, and in cyberspace,” Troy Warshel, principal director and chief of staff at the Air Force Operational Energy (SAF/IEN), said during a panel at AIAA’s Propulsion Energy Forum on Aug. 9. “Nowhere in that mission description do you hear anything about energy efficiency or greenhouse gas production because, quite truthfully, our mission is to kill bad guys and break their toys and that’s what our focus has to be.”

While the Air Force’s mission is not focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Warshel said that the Air Force is “uniquely positioned” to make smart decisions about how it uses energy as the largest consumer of fuel in the federal government and the Department of Defense. He also acknowledges that just because the Air Force’s mission isn’t to be energy efficient does not mean it isn’t interested in it.

 

 

 

 

Lockheed Martin Completes Construction of New Advanced Manufacturing Facility in California 

Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility at the Skunk Works in Palmdale, California, will accommodate 450 employees. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin has has completed construction of an advanced manufacturing facility at its Palmdale, California, campus and headquarters to its Skunk Works division, according to an Aug. 10 press release.

The 215,000 square foot intelligent, flexible factory has digital foundations to incorporate smart manufacturing components, embrace the Internet of Things and deliver cutting edge solutions rapidly and affordably to support the United States and its allies. This is one of four transformational manufacturing facilities Lockheed Martin is opening in the U.S. this year, the company said.

 

 

 

Norway’s First P-8A Poseidon Performs Maiden Flight 

Norwegian Navy P8 YP151 Takeoff Renton WA

The first of five Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft for Norway performed its maiden flight on Aug. 9. The aircraft took off at 10:03 a.m. Pacific time and flew for 2 hours, 24 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet during the flight from Renton Municipal Airport to Boeing Field in Seattle, according to an Aug. 10 press release.

The first flight marks the next phase of the production cycle of this aircraft as it is moved to the Installation and Checkout facility, where mission systems will be installed and additional testing will take place before final delivery to the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) later this year.

“This inaugural flight is an important milestone for Norway, and the Boeing team remains committed to delivering the P-8 fleet to the NDMA on schedule,” Christian Thomsen, P-8 Europe program manager said in the release. “The P-8 is a capability that will help Norway improve anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and search-and-rescue missions, in addition to fostering valuable regional collaboration and interoperability with NATO nations.”

 

 

Business & GA 

Embraer Returns to Profit in Second Quarter


Embraer posted its first quarterly profit earnings during the second quarter of 2021, according to earnings published by the Brazilian aircraft maker on Friday, Aug. 13.

The company attributed its second quarter success partially to a rebound in air travel, with a second quarter net income of $40.5 million, while completing deliveries of 14 commercial jets and 20 executive jets.

“Given results over the first six months of 2021 that have been better than initial expectations, and improved visibility across business segments, Embraer is issuing financial and deliveries guidance for 2021 as follows: Commercial Aviation deliveries of 45-50 aircraft, Executive Aviation deliveries of 90-95 aircraft, Consolidated revenues in the range of $4.0 to $4.5 billion, Adjusted EBIT margin of 3.0% to 4.0%, and Adjusted EBITDA margin of 8.5% to 9.5%,” Embraer said in an Aug. 13 press release.

 

 

 

Vista Global Sees Demand for Private Flying Surge Above Pre-Pandemic Levels in First Half of 2021 

Vista Global – the parent company of VistaJet and XO – experienced record growth during the first six months of 2021, selling over 8,000 new annual subscription hours, an increase of 67 percent over 2020 and a 41 percent increase over the same period in 2019, according to an Aug. 9 press release.

The Group’s on-demand services also performed strongly during the period, with a year-on-year growth of 67 percent across all regions, and 55 percent compared to 2019. Demand for XO Deposit Members was also up 82 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

Regionally, the Middle East saw an increase of 153 percent in-flight hours operated by Vista, with North America and Europe registering 76 percent and 41 percent respectively.

“It has been an exceptional start to 2021 for Vista and we are making groundbreaking progress in all corners of the world in enhancing our position as the global pioneer within the business aviation industry,” Thomas Flohr, Vista’s Founder and Chairman said in the release. “Vista has seen a record first half of the year across all metrics and is seeing huge demand for our subscription and On-Demand based offerings. The surge in demand demonstrates how private aviation is the critical mobility solution, as sudden local restrictions continue to cause uncertainty for commercial fliers.”

 

 

Ampaire Completes Hybrid Electric Flight Demonstration in Scotland

Ampaire’s EEL aircraft completes its first hybrid electric flight in Scotland. (Ampaire)

Electric aircraft technology supplier Ampaire, a division of Surf Air Mobility, completed its first hybrid electric flights in Scotland on Aug. 12, crossing the Pentland Firth from Kirkwall Airport (KOI) on the Orkney Isles to regional airport Wick John O’Groats Airport (WIC) in the north of mainland Scotland.

The trials, the first to operate on a viable regional airline route, are part of the Sustainable Aviation Test Environment (SATE) project, which is being led by Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL). Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, SATE is based at Kirkwall Airport in Orkney, which is also home to the UK’s first operationally based low-carbon aviation test center.

Ampaire’s Electric EEL technology aircraft, a modified six-seat Cessna 337, runs on battery power and a conventional combustion engine.

 “Today’s flight to Wick went without a hitch, flying at 3500 feet and 120 miles per hour. The Electric EEL is easy to fly, flying a total of 5  hours here.  This EEL model, Ampaire’s second aircraft, has been flying for over a year, demonstrating the reliability and economy, as well as the potential to transform regional aviation,” Ampaire test pilot Justin Gillen said in a statement.

 

 

Kaman Aerospace Selected by Transcend Air to Build the Vy 400 VTOL Aircraft

Vy 400 VTOL.

Kaman Corporation  announced that its subsidiary, Kaman Aerospace Group, Inc., has been selected by Transcend Air Corporation to build the Vy 400 High Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) aircraft.

The turbine-powered Vy 400 travels is being developed to fly at cruising speeds of over 400 miles per hour, with an expected range of 450 miles. Kaman will build the aircraft at its facility in Jacksonville, Florida. Transcend has plans to certify the Vy 400 by 2025 with a propulsion system based on a 2,500-shp GE Aviation CT7-8 turboprop engine.

“Because of the Vy’s high speed, we can complete many more passenger trips per aircraft. The combination of that with VTOL is key to our revolutionary economics, and Kaman will be key to us scaling up production to meet the huge demand that our mass market fares will drive.”

 

 

eVTOLs 

Joby Aviation Goes Public 

The electric air taxi company Joby Aviation completed a merger with Reinvent Technology Partners (RTP) on Aug. 10 making it the first publicly traded electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) company on the market. The company had $1.6 billion cash on its balance sheet as of March 31 and this transaction values Joby at $4.5 billion enterprise value.

Joby will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Aug. 11 under JOBY for common stock and JOBY WS for warrants, according to an Aug. 10 release from the company. The company also showcased its aircraft to the public for the first time in New York.

“Aviation connects the world in critically important ways but today it does that at the expense of our planet,” JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby, said in a statement. “By taking Joby public we have the opportunity to drive a renaissance in aviation, making emissions-free flight a part of everyday life. This is our generation’s moonshot moment, and at Joby we’re proud to be leaning in.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space

SpaceX Buys Out Satellite IoT Startup Swarm Technologies

Swarm co-founders Ben Longmier and Sara Spangelo holding the Swarm Tile, and a Swarm satellite. (Swarm)

SpaceX is in the process of making its first acquisition of a satellite company. According to FCC filings from August 6, SpaceX has reached an agreement to buy satellite Internet of Things (IoT) startup Swarm Technologies.

The two companies have requested the FCC transfer Swarm’s Earth and space station licenses to SpaceX as Swarm will become a direct, wholly-owned subsidiary of SpaceX. The companies entered into an agreement on July 16. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 15, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Overair Releases New Details About its eVTOL Aircraft

August 13th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Overair Releases New Details About its eVTOL Aircraft   
Overair Releases New Details About its eVTOL Aircraft

Overair hopes to launch its eVTOL aircraft Butterfly in the U.S. and South Korea. (Overair)

The electric air taxi company Overair is breaking its silence on its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and debuting the design of Butterfly. 

Butterfly will be an all-electric aircraft with a range of over 100 miles and 200 mph top speed. It will have zero carbon emissions and has a robust design made to withstand challenging weather conditions. Its payload will be able to accommodate five passengers, a pilot, and cargo topping out at 1,100 pounds. 

Ben Tigner, CEO at Overair, told reporters during a call on Aug. 11 that Butterfly’s advantage lies in its propulsion system which features four large propulsors. The large disk area will allow for the aircraft to use less power in the hover phase making the aircraft highly efficient. This is why Overair has decided to go with the battery-only option versus a hybrid option like some others in the field with a similar range and payload capacity. Butterfly will also use a vectored thrust configuration to increase efficiency in hover and cruise flight. 

“Our fundamental technology advantage, the propulsion, that we bring to the party here is inherently more efficient,” Tigner said. “We get more thrust for less power, that’s why we’re able to go battery only, not needing the hybrid solution. So we have larger rotors, larger propulsors than most other people in the industry so we can generate the thrust unit for flight, using less kilowatts and less kilowatt-hours.” 

Butterfly will initially be piloted and then transition to autonomous flight in the future. (Overair)

The design of Butterfly was also intentional for noise emissions benefits, Tigner said. The large blade area minimizes pressure disturbances coming from the system generating less noise as the aircraft flies. 

“It’s also going to be very very quiet,” Tigner said. “We anticipated that will be the quietest eVTOL vehicle in the field, and that is based on the fact that it has the largest rotors in the field and we’re able to spin the rotors very slowly. Not only is the amount of sound, the intensity of the sounds generated by the propulsion system very low, but also the character of the sound is such that the frequency projected is at a place where the human ear is very insensitive. So it really should be an extraordinarily quiet aircraft, quieter than anything else that’s out there in the industry right now.” 

Overair’s eVTOL aircraft will also feature shaped blade tips that provide aerodynamic efficiency and low noise. 

Butterfly will initially deploy as a piloted aircraft but will transition to autonomous operations in the future, Tigner said. The aircraft is designed with a fly-by-wire system which will provide layers of autonomy that can be added to. 

“It’s full authority fly by wire system, the computer is flying the aircraft and the pilot is telling the computer what his or her desires are in terms of the trajectory of the aircraft,” Tigner said. “You can layer on autonomy system. On top of that, there will be sensors and communication that needs to be added to complete the system.” 

The flight controls were developed around simplified vehicle operations. Tigner said the goal is to have a smooth transition between the hover controls and the forward flight controls. 

The prototype of Butterfly is expected to take its first flight in 2022. (Overair)

“We’ve adopted an approach that really bites down on the notion of simplified vehicle operation where we’ve sort of adopted the view that you should have an interface…is a smooth transition between hover control and or flight control in a mode, similar to what you see on the F-35, you know, the unified command approach that defines how the sticks translate from hover controlling to into forward flight control,” Tigner said. “The fly by wire system, by virtue of the fact that it is full authority, has the ability to implement important envelope protections that prevent the vast majority of human error type accidents.” 

Safety was another key that Overair’s team focused on when designing Butterfly. Jim Orbon, program manager at Overair, said that their eVTOL can land with only two propellers operating. This is possible with the aircraft’s high level of redundancy. 

“We’ve actually designed this vehicle to sustain a safe flight and vertical landing with only two of the propellers operative,” Orbon said. “So in normal conditions, we have, you know, roughly 200 percent capacity to sustain the lift of the vehicle and it allows us unmatched levels of performance in a normal operating regime, but that choice to have that redundancy at the propulsion level gives us the confidence that we can implement a solution that has an extremely remote probability of loss of thrust.” 

The expectation from Overair is that their prototype will take its first flight next year and they hope to receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2025. Overair is planning to launch commercial operations in the U.S. and South Korea. 

The post Overair Releases New Details About its eVTOL Aircraft appeared first on Aviation Today.

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To Lower Emissions, the Military Focuses on Increasing Aircraft Efficiency

August 12th, 2021   •   Comments Off on To Lower Emissions, the Military Focuses on Increasing Aircraft Efficiency   
To Lower Emissions, the Military Focuses on Increasing Aircraft Efficiency

A KC-46 offloading fuel to a C-17 during a flight test. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

As the commercial aviation industry increasingly shifts towards new technology to reach sustainability targets, the military is more focused on improving aircraft efficiency to increase sustainability rather than concentrating on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

“The mission of the Air Force is to fly, fight and win in the air, in space, and in cyberspace,” Troy Warshel, principal director and chief of staff at the Air Force Operational Energy (SAF/IEN), said during a panel at AIAA’s Propulsion Energy Forum on Aug. 9. “Nowhere in that mission description do you hear anything about energy efficiency or greenhouse gas production because, quite truthfully, our mission is to kill bad guys and break their toys and that’s what our focus has to be.”  

While the Air Force’s mission is not focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Warshel said that the Air Force is “uniquely positioned” to make smart decisions about how it uses energy as the largest consumer of fuel in the federal government and the Department of Defense. He also acknowledges that just because the Air Force’s mission isn’t to be energy efficient does not mean it isn’t interested in it. 

“If one were to say that the Air Force is not interested in fuel efficiency, you probably have your head in the sand,” Warshel said. “I think for us, the other side of the fuel efficiency coin is combat capability, you know, if we can go longer, farther, faster, and accomplish the mission done through efficiency, that increasing combat capability is really what we’re looking for. The shiny edge of that coin is that there’s a greenhouse gas reduction capability.” 

Increasing the efficiency of these aircraft would not have a small impact. Warshel said if the Air Force increased the fuel efficiency of the C-17 fleet by just one percent, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than if the DoD’s entire fleet of non-tactical vehicles were made electric. 

When increasing energy efficiency, the Air Force is not looking to decrease combat capability by decreasing training. 

“We’re looking at energy efficiency, you know, in the realm of increasing combat capability, part of that is, is a training and education piece,” Warshel said. “We’ve seen some bad behavior in other countries where they were given greenhouse gas emission caps…and they basically parked airplanes or stop training or stop flying. And for us as an Air Force, we don’t think that’s an option, we still have to train, we still have to practice like we’re gonna fight.” 

Warshel said the Air Force is looking into software solutions to help deploy assets in a way that optimizes energy use. For example, where they previously planned a tanker schedule on a whiteboard, they are now enlisting help from Google. 

“Working with those guys, we were able to come up with the program, Jigsaw, that has a significant increase in tanker utilization,” Warshel said. “It decreased the number of tankers required in theater, it decreased planning time from 12 hours to about four hours to come up with a tanker plan, and it saved over $200 million just in reducing airborne assets.” 

There are also small changes that can be made to aircraft today to increase their efficiency. Warshel said a small piece of plastic on a C-17 could end up saving $10 million a year in reduced fuel consumption. 

“If we put a one percent drag reduction on a C-17 by basically gluing a little piece of plastic on the aft end of the aircraft, which we could do for about $3 million for the entire C-17 fleet, we would eventually end up saving $10 million a year in reduced fuel consumption,” Warshel said. “Just by that simple thing alone.” 

Most of the fuel the Air Forces uses goes toward transport aircraft. 

“The [global] commercial fleet was awarded 100 billion gallons in 2019, pre-COVID, the United States, 26 billion gallons, and of that the Air Force, the same year, 2 billion gallons, the Navy 600 million gallons,” Michael Winter, senior fellow for advanced technology at Pratt & Whitney and Raytheon Technologies Corporation, said during the panel. “Jet fuel comprised a little more than 80 percent of the Air Force’s energy budget and…60 percent of the fuel was consumed in transport aircraft.” 

It is important to analyze which aircraft are using the most fuel because the transport aircraft and tanker fleet use commercial engines and the commercial aviation industry is already committing to making its engines more sustainable to reach zero emissions goals. 

“What’s not often realized is that those fleets, the commercial side of the transport tanker fleet, they operate on commercial off-the-shelf engines, they’re not uniquely developed for the military,” Keith Numbers, technical advisor for propulsion of the engineering directorate at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, said during the panel. “So with that, I believe we in the Air Force are going to be followers of industry in terms of their commercial developments to reduce fuel burn emissions.” 

However, the military does not update its aircraft as often as the commercial industry does because they keep them in service for long periods of time. This gives them fewer chances to adopt the new technologies that might be coming out of the commercial industry. 

“The force does not operate our fleet to nearly the same extent in terms of flying hours as the commercial industry,” Numbers said. “As such, we tend to operate our engines for a much longer period of time in terms of years and service than the commercial industry typically does. So historically, what that means is our opportunity to refresh technology or those engines is much less often than commercial. So we’re going to be challenged to keep up with industry.” 

This also means that military aircraft that use future commercial engines will have to contend with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) which many commercial engine developers have already committed to designing their engines around. Current commercial engines are already permitted to operate with a 50 percent blend of SAF and Jet A. 

“We are subject to what commercial industry does with the sustainable fuels in the blending within the Jet A specification,” Numbers said. “That does pose new risks for us.” 

These risks include the special materials within various military aircraft that differ from commercial aircraft. There is also concern about how these fuels will react in very high altitude operations or under cold temperatures. Numbers said the augmenters and afterburners are also a risk with the use of SAF. 

In response to these concerns, the Air Force is drafting an airworthiness advisory for the 50 percent blend. 

“The Air Force is currently drafting an airworthiness advisory to address, specifically, the alcohol-to-jet form of alternative fuels with blends up to 50 percent,” Numbers aid. “We’ve already done that assessment for blends up to 30 percent, but we’re not sure what the risks are going to be as we preset blending up to 50 percent. That advisory is in a draft right now and should be forthcoming.” 

The Air Force is not the only branch looking to increase energy efficiency. The Navy and Marine Corps are also interested in increasing their efficiencies, Richard Kamin, senior scientific technical manager of energy and fuels at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, said during the panel. 

“Efficiency is the most important thing in our lives because our runway is so small and there’s no divert,” Kamin said. “So really, when you talk to sustainability in Navy and Marine Corps, we’ve been looking at that for a long time. We’ve been working on that issue, we just call our terms of success, a lot different.” 

While the Navy and Marine Corps do not consume as much fuel as the Air Force, their fuel is mostly used by tactical fighters. Kamin said that about 60 percent of their fuel is burned by F-18s and F-35s. 

“We do not have a big heavy transport consumption,” Kamin said. “So our challenge is a little greater, how do we stretch efficiency into those small packages.”  

The Navy and Marine Corps have been working with OEMs to develop new components for tactical aircraft engines to make them more efficient, Kamin said. They also have supported multiple science and technologies programs that are working on this issue. 

“We have demonstrated in a lot of our tactical systems, the capability for technologies that can increase our efficiency from 5 to 8 percent,” Kamin said. “Five to 8 percent of a fighter is huge.” 

They are also working to incorporate more simulator usage. 

“We’ve expanded our virtual training and simulator usage, the most efficient fuel saved is the gallon we never burn,” Kamin said. “That’s 100 percent greenhouse gas emissions savings…Yes, fighters, trainers, everyone has to fly, but what can we move to the simulated world?”

While the military has its own motivations when it comes to sustainability, the industry that supports it is having to contend with new regulations. Winter said that U.S. allies are requiring emissions information on aircraft platforms that they receive from foreign military sales. 

“As far as the importance of sustainability to military, I would submit to you that it’s important right now,” Winter said. “In terms of some of the foreign military campaigns that we are engaged in with our allies and our partners on some of these aircraft platforms, we are being asked for lifecycle analysis specifically focused on scope three, which is the emissions in the use phase, and these are being used as selection criteria for foreign military sales.” 

Winter cites Switzerland’s purchase of the F-35 where their citizens voted on the procurement in a referendum. During this vote, there were many articles in the press that focused on the sustainability of the aircraft.

The UK Ministry of Defence also recently published a rule that suppliers must have net 2050 zero-emissions goals in place to be able to compete in procurements. The company must also provide metrics and milestones to achieve these goals. The U.S. has also joined in this trend when President Biden released an executive order in May that would require companies to publicly disclose greenhouse gas emissions, the financial risk from climate, and science-based reduction targets with metrics and progress determination. 

“This is not a problem that’s going to go away…and so this is a real opportunity for us to partner on with government, public-private partnerships, to make the necessary investments in technology so that we can make progress and we can move forward towards a sustainable future for aviation,” Winter said. 

The post To Lower Emissions, the Military Focuses on Increasing Aircraft Efficiency appeared first on Aviation Today.

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