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Lufthansa Opts for Panasonic Avionics in Boeing 747-8 Cabin IFEC Upgrades

Lufthansa is adding cabin IFEC upgrades from Panasonic Avionics to its fleet of Boeing 747-8 jets. (Photo courtesy of Lufthansa)

Lufthansa is upgrading its Boeing 747-8 fleet with the NEXT in-flight entertainment (IFE) system supplied by Panasonic Avionics, according to a May 19 announcement between the two companies.

NEXT is the IFE system developed by Panasonic that provides airline passengers with access to in-flight Internet, live television, and other streaming content services while also giving airlines data and analytical insights about IFE content usage trends. Under the agreement confirmed in their new announcement, Panasonic has confirmed that Lufthansa is also renewing an existing agreement for connectivity services already deployed on other Lufthansa wide body model aircraft.

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Panasonic Avionics again,” Paul Estoppey, Head of Product Management Cabin at Lufthansa Group, said in a statement. “Our Boeing 747-8s are an integral part of our long-haul fleet, and we’re confident that this investment in Panasonic Avionics’ in-flight entertainment will be popular with our passengers.”

Panasonic will also provide mobile phone connectivity upgraded to “4G speeds” on Lufthansa’s 747-8 aircraft with their AeroMobile service.

The cabin IFE agreement is divided between the 747-8’s business class, which will be upgraded to 24-inch 4K screens with 10-inch control units and USB–A / USB-C, AC power, and wireless charging capabilities. In the premium economy class section, 16-inch 4K screens are being added, while 13-inch 4K screen upgrades will be added to the economy class.

“We are delighted to be partnering once again with Lufthansa with this upgrade of the passenger experience on their flagship long-haul fleet,” Ken Sain, CEO of Panasonic Avionics, said, commenting on the new Lufthansa-Panasonic agreement.

The Panasonic agreement on 747-8 cabin IFEC upgrades comes following another recent long-haul Boeing fleet investment made by Lufthansa to purchase seven new Boeing 787-9s, three Boeing 777 freighters, and seven Boeing 777-8Fs. The Panasonic cabin interior upgrades are being added to a total of 19 747-8s operated by Lufthansa and the first upgraded 747-8 cabin is expected to be ready for passenger-carrying flights by the summer of 2024.

The post Lufthansa Opts for Panasonic Avionics in Boeing 747-8 Cabin IFEC Upgrades appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Thales Targeting 2026 for PureFlyt FMS on Airbus A320, A330 and A350

The Thales PureFlyt flight management system, shown here under development at their facility in Toulouse, has been selected by Airbus for the A320, A330, and A350 jets. (Photo courtesy of Thales)

A selection of the PureFlyt system by Airbus for future production A320, A330, and A350 aircraft earlier this month gives Thales its first commercial air transport platform for its next generation flight management computer hardware and software (FMC).

PureFlyt is the flight management system (FMS) Thales first started developing in 2015, before publicly unveiling it during a 2019 media briefing. The core next generation functionality included in the PureFlyt computer is its direct connection to air traffic systems and cloud-based connectivity. Thales has also developed an algorithm within PureFlyt that constantly suggests optimal flight path changes to pilots based on searches of air traffic, weather, and other flight environment data through its native connection to off-board systems.

Yannick Assouad, executive vice president of Thales’ avionics division, provided follow up comments during a media briefing on the selection held shortly after the PureFlyt-Airbus announcement was released. She clarified how and where the company was looking to use artificial intelligence (AI) within PureFlyt.

“The system will be certified to the highest design assurance and safety level, and that safety level currently does not allow AI,” Assouad said. “We’re using AI on the open side of the FMS, the side handling non-safety critical applications, to compute optimized flight paths and suggest flight path changes to the pilot.”

Another image of PureFlyt at the Thales facility in Toulouse. (Photo courtesy of Thales)

Once certified, PureFlyt will become an equipment option for Airbus A320, A330, and A350 operators. Airbus also recently confirmed the selection of a next-generation commercial flight management system being developed by Honeywell Aerospace for the same three aircraft models.

Assouad said the selection was key for Thales, which is also providing a military helicopter version of its cloud-based connected FMS technology, FlytX, for the French military. In September, Thales announced it had begun flight testing FlytX in a modified Cabri helicopter, for a cockpit that has been selected by Airbus Helicopters and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip the Guépard, a future light joint helicopter, as well as by VR-Technologies for the future single-turbine light helicopter, VRT500.

As of March 31, the reported commercial aircraft order backlog for Airbus amounted to 7,023. Thales expects to achieve entry into service for PureFlyt across all three of the targeted Airbus commercial aircraft models by the end of 2026.

“So what is specific about this new FMS? It is open architecture,” Assouad said during the briefing. “Today on the Airbus platforms, the flight management system we supply is a very closed platform. This [Pureflyt] platform will ease the way pilots plan for their routes.”

Some of the other new innovations Thales is featuring on PureFlyt include initial 4D trajectory management, selectable optimized descent profiles, and the ability to communicate dynamic real-time changes to an aircraft’s flight path with air traffic controllers using traditional data link or airline operations center messaging.

Thales is one of several avionics manufacturers we’ve recently covered that are working on major upgrades to existing flight management computer designs or completely new next generation versions for a range of different air transport jets and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, including Collins Aerospace, Honeywell, Universal Avionics ,and GE Aviation.

According to Assouad, Thales expects to be ready to start flight testing PureFlyt with Airbus for its commercial airliners by 2025.

The post Thales Targeting 2026 for PureFlyt FMS on Airbus A320, A330 and A350 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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American Makes Microsoft Azure Preferred Cloud Provider for Airline Applications

The American Airlines Integrated Operations Center in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo courtesy of American Airlines)

American Airlines has selected Microsoft Azure as its new “preferred cloud platform” for airline applications such as airport taxiing decisions as well as storage and access to flight operational and other organizational data and information.

Microsoft Azure is American’s latest adoption of cloud computing, after previously engaging in a partnership with IBM that helped migrate several of its enterprise applications including passenger-facing services available on aa.com, their mobile app, and their airport kiosk application on the IBM Cloud Platform as a Service technology. Now, American envisions a future where Microsoft Azure makes it so that “every aspect of the customer experience and airline operations will be optimized using advanced analytics and other digital technologies.”

Maya Leibman, chief information officer for American Airlines, commented on the new partnership, stating that “with the power of Microsoft Azure, American can innovate and accelerate its technology transformation, giving our team members augmented tools to provide our customers an enhanced travel experience.”

Microsoft describes its Azure Global platform as a super-computing network of data centers, integrated cloud computing services, and algorithms that are provided to customers—such as American—through service level agreements. Based on these agreements, Microsoft runs enterprise level IT systems, services, and applications on its global network of virtual machines, edge computing,  deep learning algorithms, and other products that enable digital transformation.

In all, the Azure network has more than 200 physical data centers along with over 100,000 miles of fiber optic and sub-sea scale cabling. There are also 150 ground-based edge center locations within the network. A Feb. 2 press release announcing a global partnership between Teradata and Microsoft Azure also named American Airlines as one of the companies using Teradata Vantage on Azure—a software-as-a-service advanced analytics platform.

American is already working with Microsoft to leverage Azure’s AI, machine learning, and data analytics for gating decisions at the 136 different gates operated at its Dallas Fort Worth, Texas (DFW) airport hub. The goal is to augment some of the manual decisions made by gate planners with Azure’s ability to look at multiple data points simultaneously for the hundreds of American Airlines daily arrivals.

A new Azure-based “Operations Hub” will also become the new cloud-based host of American’s data warehouse.

The move makes American the latest major U.S.-based carrier to select a new preferred cloud services provider, following United’s selection of Amazon Web Services in November.

“As the airline industry continues to transform, building a digital technology foundation in the cloud will be essential for future resilience,” Judson Althoff, EVP and chief commercial officer, Microsoft, said in a statement. “Through our partnership, American Airlines is taking a forward-thinking, cloud-first approach to using data, AI and our collaboration platforms to reimagine not only its own operations, but the experiences of its employees and customers.”

The post American Makes Microsoft Azure Preferred Cloud Provider for Airline Applications appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Perspectives on eVTOL Certification from Honeywell, Jaunt, Archer, Joby

Avionics asked industry leaders Honeywell Aerospace, Jaunt Air Mobility, Archer Aviation, and Joby Aviation for their thoughts on the current certification process for eVTOL aircraft in the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Jaunt)

Manufacturers of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to establish a path to certification and make progress towards achieving certification for these new types of vehicles.

Jaunt Air Mobility plans to launch by 2026, while Archer Aviation expects to begin its eVTOL aircraft operations by the end of 2024. Joby Aviation has also outlined a launch date in 2024. Whether these objectives will be possible or not depends on the regulatory framework in place for advanced air mobility (AAM) systems.

Jia Xu, CTO and senior director of engineering and unmanned aerial systems/urban air mobility at Honeywell Aerospace, weighed in on the regulatory approach in the U.S. for certifying AAM aircraft and systems in an emailed statement to Avionics International. According to Xu, “The industry needs clarity and consistency to achieve safe operations at scale. If the intent is to create a more flexible, consistent and future-proof regulatory framework for certifying UAM vehicles then we are all for it.” 

Xu also cautioned against drawing conclusions too quickly about the impacts of any potential changes to existing FAA regulations. “Honeywell will continue to work with the FAA and vehicle developers to ensure that eVTOLs achieve the highest levels of safety,” he wrote. He also commented that Honeywell welcomes efforts made to standardize requirements for certification of urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft.

Jesse Crispino, Chief Operations Officer at Jaunt Air Mobility, explained that certification of their Journey eVTOL model is being pursued under the long-established Part 27/29 rotorcraft rules. Traditional rotorcraft, with a single main rotor lifting device, continue to be categorized as Part 27/29, he stated.

The requirements for training commercial-powered lift pilots in the Code of Federal Regulations are very specific, Crispino remarked, and are distinct from requirements for helicopter and airplane pilots. “If the FAA sticks with using the Powered Lift certification, specific training will be necessary for a number of eVTOLs,” he wrote in an emailed statement to Avionics.

Jaunt announced a partnership with Avports earlier this year to evaluate eVTOL integration into the existing ecosystem. eVTOL aircraft are evolving very rapidly to meet future demand for AAM services, and Jaunt’s Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Briceno, commented that the company takes a very realistic approach to planning and implementing initial operations. More than 90% of the key elements that Jaunt needs to begin operations are already in place, he noted.

A representative from Archer Aviation shared with Avionics that their timeline for certification remains unchanged. “Archer has worked closely with the FAA on the certification process,” the representative mentioned. 

“As a company pioneering a new form of transportation, we welcome the efforts of the FAA to provide a framework around the design and manufacture of an aircraft that is safe and approved for commercial use. We remain in constant communication and collaboration with the FAA and look forward to continuing our work with them towards certification of our production aircraft.”

Archer is one of only a handful of eVTOL developers that has received the Special Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA. One of the company’s recent achievements towards certification was its eVTOL’s first successful hover flight, which happened in December 2021. The company’s flight testing continues, and according to their Q1 2022 Letter to Shareholders, they are coordinating with the FAA to complete the G-2 Means of Compliance by the end of this year.

The founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, JoeBen Bevirt, offered his perspective on the topic during Joby’s first-quarter earnings conference call, “We share [the FAA’s] vision for reaching the next level of safety and efficiency,” said Bevirt. “We are in active conversations with them about the most expedient route to certifying our aircraft. All of the development work done by current applicants remain valid. They don’t expect any change of approach to add delays to type certification or operational approval. We’re not providing any change to our guidance and we remain focused on doing the important and necessary work to certify our aircraft.”

Joby’s team has achieved FAA acceptance for 80% of their means of compliance thus far, according to the Letter to Shareholders that was published last week. The company is now focused on manufacturing the tail and wing structural assemblies.

 

The post Perspectives on eVTOL Certification from Honeywell, Jaunt, Archer, Joby appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Urban Movement Labs Is Bringing Advanced Air Mobility to Los Angeles

Overair has joined the Urban Air Mobility Partnership, led by Urban Movement Labs, to advance UAM operations in Los Angeles. Other partners include Volocopter, Skyroads, and Helinet. (Photo, courtesy of Skyroads)

Overair, the company developing the Butterfly eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, and Urban Movement Labs have entered into a new partnership which was announced this week. Urban Movement Labs, or UML, is an organization based in Los Angeles seeking to define problems with transportation and explore solutions to these problems through collaboration with businesses and public sector partners. The organization leads a program called the Urban Air Mobility Partnership, which includes the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), Volocopter, Helinet, Skyroads, and now Overair.

Based in Santa Ana, California, Overair is now looking to bring its eVTOL vehicle to Los Angeles and build the necessary infrastructure for urban air mobility (UAM) services there. Overair is planning to begin commercial operations in 2026. Its Butterfly aircraft will be able to transport passengers or cargo at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, and a maximum distance of 100 miles.

Overair and UML aim to take a collaborative approach in implementing safe and sustainable UAM technology through engagement with the community, government, and industry. More specifically, Overair will evaluate the noise impact of eVTOL aircraft on communities, and the company will coordinate with other members of the Urban Air Mobility Partnership to develop plans for establishing UAM infrastructure in Los Angeles.

Overair will explore the applications for its Butterfly eVTOL aircraft in Los Angeles in partnership with UML. (Photo courtesy of Overair)

“The Los Angeles metro area can benefit greatly from advanced air mobility, given the increased travel times in Southern California on a daily basis,” explained Overair’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Tigner. “Working together with UML on planning efforts grounded in community engagement, we’re on the path to providing reliable, affordable, equitable, and sustainable transportation options to the city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas.”

The team at Urban Movement Labs is optimistic about the addition of Overair to their UAM Partnership. By leveraging Overair’s current technology, UML will have more opportunities to engage with the communities in Los Angeles and inform them regarding planned UAM operations, stated UML Executive Director Sam Morrissey.

Last week, Urban Movement Labs announced another company joining the UAM Partnership. Skyroads, developer of intelligent systems for scaling advanced air mobility, will collaborate with the City of Los Angeles in addition to UAM operators and OEMs to study applications for its systems. Skyroads has developed two solutions that could be key for the future UAM: the Automated Airspace Management and Vehicle Guidance Systems.

According to the announcement from UML, the technology offered by Skyroads will integrate safe drone and eVTOL operations into the urban airspace. Their Automated Airspace Management System is a new decentralized networking system for the intelligent infrastructure that will be required to ensure safety and efficiency in air traffic management, and especially in complex urban airspaces.

Achim Kostron, Chief Commercial Officer at Skyroads, commented on the new partnership: “New methods of multi-agency coordination need to be tested to bring all relevant stakeholders to the table and assure that all preconditions for this new transport mode are met. Jointly with UML, we are making sure this happens in a sustainable and socially beneficial way.” 

Yet another company joined UML in its UAM Partnership last month. Aviation operator Helinet will assist in exploring integration of new eVTOL technology into their operations in a way that reduces impact on the community. Helinet brings a wide range of expertise in chartered passenger travel, time-sensitive transportation of medical supplies, rapid parcel delivery, aerial firefighting, and filming from the sky. Helinet can also contribute knowledge of requirements for ground-based infrastructure—such as optimal capacities for electric charging stations. 

UML announced that Helinet joined as a new partner at the end of April. This partnership will explore how aviation operators could integrate new eVTOL technology into operations to reduce community impacts. (Photo courtesy of Helinet)

The Helinet team will be involved in testing advanced air mobility aircraft and exploration of potential routes. UML’s Sam Morrissey noted that the UAM Partnership will benefit from Helinet’s expertise, which will “inform policy development for both aerial operations and ground-based infrastructure needs,” he said. “Additionally, the social-focused use cases, such as transporting critically ill children to hospitals, organ delivery, and firefighting missions, represent a huge value to the partnership members.” 

The UAM Partnership was first announced by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at the end of 2020. “The Urban Air Mobility Partnership will make our city a force for cleaner skies, safer transportation, expanded prosperity, and stunning innovation, and provide a template for how other local governments can take this new technology to even greater heights,” Garcetti stated. The UAM Partnership initially began as a year-long project, but it continues to evolve as a key force in the advanced air mobility industry.

The post Urban Movement Labs Is Bringing Advanced Air Mobility to Los Angeles appeared first on Aviation Today.

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First-Quarter Updates from Archer, Joby, and Eve

The newly formed Eve Holding began trading on the New York Stock Exchange last week. Two eVTOL developers, Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation, released their financial results from the first quarter of 2022. (Photo, courtesy of Eve)

Last week, Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation released the details of their first-quarter financial results, and Eve Holding began trading on the New York Stock Exchange following their combination with Zanite Acquisition Corp. 

Eve, a subsidiary of Embraer and previously referred to as Eve Urban Air Mobility (UAM), was listed on the NYSE as EVEX on May 10. The business combination was first announced to the public at the end of 2021. 

The co-CEO André Stein believes that the UAM market has a potential value of $760 billion. “This transaction is a key enabler of our mission to become a leading player” in that market, he remarked. The company’s launch orders total about $5 billion, or 1,825 vehicles, from 19 customers, according to Eve. Those customers include Azorra Aviation, Falko Regional Aircraft, SkyWest, and Republic Airways. Eve expects deliveries to begin in 2026.

Although Embraer reported a net loss for Q1 2022, they are confident in Eve’s potential. Embraer’s president and CEO, Francisco Gomes Neto, said, “Eve is well positioned to be a global leader by delivering an effective and sustainable new mode of urban transportation. [Eve] plays a key role in our growth strategy driven by innovation and enterprise efficiency.” Eve also shared the gross proceeds generated from the closing of the business combination last week, which amounted to $377 million. These funds will go towards development and certification of Eve’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Joby Aviation, the California-based eVTOL developer with a target commercial launch of 2024, published details of their finances in Q1, including a net loss of $62.3 million and $94.3 million in operating expenses. Other details from the company’s Letter to Shareholders included progress in manufacturing most of the large composite parts for Joby’s first production-intent aircraft, and achieving FAA acceptance of 80% of their means of compliance so far. 

Based on data from NASA’s testing, Joby’s aircraft demonstrated the low noise targets the company set for itself. The eVTOL aircraft registered the equivalent of 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) from an altitude of 1640 feet (500 meters) at 100 knots airspeed, according to the company. (Photo courtesy of Joby)

Next, Joby’s focus for manufacturing is the tail and wing structural assemblies, and the company’s first design-intent Electric Propulsion Unit is undergoing testing for durability and performance. Joby also shared that NASA testing has confirmed that the acoustic profile of their eVTOL aircraft was in line with their original expectations. 

Archer Aviation also released their financial results for the first quarter of 2022. Net loss for Q1 was $59.2 million, and GAAP operating expenses were $65.3 million. Non-GAAP total operating expenses came in at $39.6 million for the quarter. In the Letter to Shareholders, CEO Adam Goldstein stated, “We plan to fly [our eVTOL aircraft] on a routine basis in the second half of this year and quickly progress through more and more advanced flight tests until the aircraft performs a full flight envelope test flight from hover through to wing-borne flight. We remain on-track to complete this first full ‘transition’ flight with Maker in the second half of 2022.”

“The Archer team remains singularly focused on our vision of getting to commercialization as expeditiously as possible.” – Archer’s CEO, Adam Goldstein (Photo courtesy of Archer)

Archer is currently working to complete the G-2 Means of Compliance with the FAA and expects to achieve this by the end of 2022. The company has also started detailed part design in addition to procuring long lead production tooling for their aircraft’s structure.

Archer’s strategic partnerships formed in the first quarter of this year include the Joint eVTOL Advisory Committee, a collaboration with United Airlines. Another important partnership resulted from Archer’s selection of Hexcel to supply the high-performance carbon fiber and resin systems needed to produce the Maker eVTOL aircraft.

The post First-Quarter Updates from Archer, Joby, and Eve appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Volocopter and Microsoft Collaborate to Develop Aerospace Cloud System

Volocopter and Microsoft are collaborating to develop an aerospace cloud system. Microsoft Azure will be used to enable VoloIQ as Volocopter’s digital platform for its UAM vehicles and ground infrastructure. (Photo, courtesy of Volocopter)

Urban air mobility (UAM) company Volocopter announced this week that they have entered a strategic collaboration with Microsoft, aimed at developing an aerospace cloud system in Microsoft Azure. If successful, Azure will enable Volocopter’s digital platform—VoloIQ—to provide flight and service support for VoloCity, VoloDrone, and VoloConnect, the three electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft models designed by Volocopter. VoloIQ will also be capable of supporting Volocopter’s vertiports, called VoloPorts, in real time.

Volocopter received design organization approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2019, and two years later the company received a Production Organization Approval in July 2021, allowing production of its eVTOL aircraft to begin. In September of last year, Volocopter revealed that they will also explore a U.S. launch of their UAM aircraft, facilitated by a new partnership with Los Angeles-based company Urban Movement Labs. 

The VoloIQ software will be used as Volocopter’s standard UAM operating system for its vehicles. The team plans to enable VoloIQ for a variety of functions, including monitoring weather conditions; booking and e-commerce; flight planning; vehicle data logging and analysis; commercial scheduling; and operational network planning. The structure of the VoloIQ software will also supply airspace digital twins. Utilizing Microsoft Cloud/Azure, Volocopter will be able to connect and fully integrate these various elements into one set of services, according to the company’s announcement.

Microsoft has collaborated with Volocopter since 2020, when the UAM company partnered with Lufthansa Industry to enable use of the VoloIQ for autonomous vehicles with Microsoft Azure.

One of the priorities in developing the VoloIQ platform, powered by Microsoft Azure, is to make Volocopter’s services both user-friendly and digitally accessible. VoloIQ also offers the potential to optimize management of the VoloPorts, specifically to make this infrastructure more cost-efficient and to lower maintenance requirements.

Pictured above is Volocopter’s full-scale testing prototype, the 2X, performing a flight test at Pontoise airfield in Paris. (Photo courtesy of Volocopter)

Alexander Oelling, Volocopter’s Chief Digital Officer, remarked in the company’s announcement this week on the selection of Microsoft Azure, “Having Microsoft on board as a project partner and investor is proof that the solutions Volocopter creates—like the VoloIQ—are pioneering and hold remarkable market potential.” 

Corporate VP of Cloud and AI at Microsoft, Uli Homann, shared that their team looks forward to collaborating with Volocopter and building the foundation for a commercial model of the aerospace cloud system. “From the newest technologies to regulation, creating solutions to seamlessly address the cloud computing requirements for supporting continued advancements in aviation is a complex endeavor,” Homann stated. “We certainly see the potential a secure, robust, and efficient cloud platform could offer aerospace and urban air mobility operators.”

Two months ago, Volocopter accomplished a significant milestone, becoming the first developer of eVTOL aircraft to conduct remotely piloted and crewed test flights in France. Volocopter’s 2X, the full-scale testing prototype, performed the crewed test flights on March 21 in Paris. The team evaluated the noise emissions of their aircraft and collected data that will inform the launch of UAM services in the region.

The post Volocopter and Microsoft Collaborate to Develop Aerospace Cloud System appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Wingcopter Receives FAA Airworthiness Criteria Approval

The FAA just gave Special Class Airworthiness Criteria approval to the Wingcopter 198 drone. (Photo courtesy of Wingcopter)

The delivery drone manufacturer, Wingcopter, just received the Special Class Airworthiness Criteria approval of its Wingcopter 198 unmanned aircraft from the Federal Aviation Administration. Tom Plümmer, co-founder and CEO of Wingcopter, remarked that this was a significant milestone for their team in the type certification process, and it was also important for the company’s efforts to expand internationally. “We are proud to be among the first delivery drone companies worldwide to ever get their Airworthiness Criteria approved by the FAA,” he stated in the announcement from Wingcopter.

Wingcopter has a growing network of partners for distribution of its delivery drone, including the ITOCHU Corporation, a Japanese general trading company. Along with investing in Wingcopter, ITOCHU signed an agreement with the drone manufacturer in March to join their Authorized Partnership Program. Synerjet Corp, a Latin American aviation company, is also an authorized partner of Wingcopter, and operates in several countries including Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Brazil, Chile, and Guatemala.

“We will set up delivery networks that span whole regions, allowing the instant and on-demand delivery of any kind of urgently needed goods,” CEO Tom Plümmer told Avionics earlier this year. An announcement in February made public the news of Wingcopter’s partnership with UAV del Peru, a subsidiary of UAV LATAM. Wingcopter will provide its cargo drones to enable delivery operations in Peru for commercial use cases as well as humanitarian efforts.

The all-electric 198 model was announced in April 2021. A highlighted feature of the autonomous aircraft is its capability to make “triple-drop” deliveries during a single flight. Wingcopter also noted that one single operator will be able to manage 10 of its drones at a time, rather than one operator needed per drone.

The FAA initially proposed airworthiness criteria for 10 drone companies back in November 2020. These companies all design fully-electric unmanned aircraft, including both fixed-wing and rotorcraft models, weighing between 5–89 pounds. Besides Wingcopter, the companies included: Amazon, 3D Robotics, Percepto, Airobotics, Flirtey, Flytrex, Matternet, Telegrid, and Zipline.

The proposed airworthiness criteria from the FAA included design and construction requirements, operating limitations, testing requirements, and a concept of operations, among numerous other criteria.

Wingcopter originally applied for the Special Class Type Certificate in March 2020. Following the FAA’s Special Class Airworthiness Criteria approval, Wingcopter will continue its efforts in developing the 198 drone to ensure that it meets the FAA’s requirements for certification. According to the company, “Once type-certified, Wingcopter will be able to fly conventional routes through airspace and over populated areas, ultimately providing the basis for scaling commercial drone delivery operations across the U.S.”

The post Wingcopter Receives FAA Airworthiness Criteria Approval appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Webinar: Need Safety? When Design Assurance is Required and When it’s Not

On Wednesday, May 18, at 2 PM ET, Wind River and Mercury Systems will host a live webinar discussing design assurance is required and when it is not in the process of developing safety critical avionics applications. 

 

Aircraft and autonomous platforms use systems with design assurance to ensure safety, enabling pilots to make accurate, split-second decisions and ensuring self-driving vehicles navigate appropriately and on-time.

Obviously, safety-critical applications require different levels of assurance; but applications that don’t traditionally require safety assurance may also greatly benefit from it.

Here a list of questions the experts from Wind River and Mercury Systems will attempt to answer during their webinar next week.

  • What is design assurance/safety and what are its security and reliability benefits?
  • Is safety needed? Use cases
  • Achieving Safety Requirements: Technology and Architecture
  • Enabling Future Autonomous Aircraft – UAM, AAM & others via AI/ML/Cloud

Join Alex Wilson, Director, A&D Industry Solutions at Wind River, and Yves Mathys, VP of product management at Mercury Systems, to learn more. FREE registration is available to watch live or on-demand here: Webinar Registration.

 

 

The post Webinar: Need Safety? When Design Assurance is Required and When it’s Not appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Southwest to Upgrade Anuvu IFC, Add Viasat to New 737s on Order

Southwest Airlines is upgrading the in-flight connectivity service and adding new USB power ports to the seats of its aircraft. (Photo, courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

Southwest Airlines has announced a new $2 billion investment into its current and future all-Boeing 737 fleet that includes upgrades to Anuvu’s next generation in-flight connectivity (IFC) network on some of its in-service aircraft, while all new orders will be equipped with Viasat’s Ka-band IFC service.

According a May 11 announcement from Southwest, starting in the fall, Viasat’s satellite antennas, modems, wireless access points, and other IFC enabling hardware and software will be factory installed on all new aircraft deliveries. Southwest’s 2021 annual report, published in February, shows that the Dallas, Texas-based low cost carrier has firm 394 outstanding orders for the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 8 aircraft.

The Viasat installations will enable both IFC and live television services.

“We’re investing in our onboard connectivity and bandwidth available to each Customer with upgraded technology that’s now installing across our existing fleet, a strategy to diversify our WiFi vendors on upcoming aircraft deliveries, and plugging Southwest customers into in-seat power to keep them charged while in the air,” Ryan Green, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Southwest Airlines, said in a statement.

Southwest has become Viasat’s latest in a series of airline in-flight Wi-Fi wins, after the company signed Delta Air Lines and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines last year, and new low-cost airline Breeze Airways in March.

“We admire Southwest Airlines’ deeply customer-centric vision. The overall passenger experience is enhanced by delivering connectivity inflight that is the same as the on the ground experience, from streaming your favorite video content to live television and accessing other internet-based applications during all phases of flight,” Don Buchman, Viasat’s vice president and general manager of commercial aviation, said in a statement. “We look forward to being a part of Southwest’s commitment to continually upping the bar.”

A Southwest Airlines 737 sits inside their new hangar in Houston, Texas. (Photo, courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

While Viasat’s Ka-band IFC will be added to the 737s Southwest has on order starting later this year, the airline will also be upgrading equipment on some of its existing fleet with “longstanding connectivity provider Anuvu’s latest-generation hardware capable of providing a significant improvement in speed and bandwidth up to 10 times the current hardware onboard.” Under a partnership with high throughput satellite manufacturer Astranis announced last year, Anuvu is launching a new constellation of “microGEO” satellites, with the first two of the total eight planned for the constellation scheduled to be launched early next year.

Plans are for the Anuvu latest-generation hardware to be onboard 50 in-service aircraft by the end of May, with a projected 350 aircraft upgraded by the end of October, according to Southwest.

Viasat will become the third IFC service provider to partner with Southwest, as the airline currently features both Anuvu and Panasonic Avionics connectivity onboard.

In addition to the IFC upgrades, Southwest plans to install the “latest-generation onboard USB A and USB C power ports” to every 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet beginning in early 2023.

“The ability to keep your devices charged while you are connected inflight is a request that we’ve heard consistently in ongoing conversations with our Customers,” Tony Roach, Vice President of Customer Experience and Customer Relations said in a statement. “With so much that our Customers love about doing business with Southwest, we’re constantly listening to our Employees and our Customers for improvement opportunities, and we’re excited to share some additional news and updates on this ongoing work.”

The post Southwest to Upgrade Anuvu IFC, Add Viasat to New 737s on Order appeared first on Aviation Today.

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