Aquiline Drones Corporation, based in Hartford, Connecticut, has become the first drone manufacturer in the U.S. to create its own insurance subsidiary (ADIC). Barry Alexander, Founder and CEO of Aquiline Drones (AD), stated in the company’s announcement, “Our goal is to introduce various aspects of safety at every level and opportunity in a UAV/drone operations environment, for every drone business or individual operator, in keeping them safe and compliant as well as protecting the interest of the general public.”
AD was established in January 2019 after four years in incubation. The recent creation of ADIC serves to meet the parent company’s various risk management needs and to help ensure AD’s profitability by providing tax advantages. With this insurance license, AD can assume the risk of all of its companies and insure its partners and affiliates. Additionally, this development allows AD to indemnify its product and service offerings as well as the products used by the company’s professional drone service providers across the country.
Benefits resulting from the newly formed captive insurance company include “writing insurance policies to cover multiple lines of commercial UAV/drone operations which are based on AD’s definitive risk mitigation and management protocols,” according to the press release. These operations range from drone manufacturing and safety training to cloud-connected drone operations.
In an interview conducted via email, Aquiline Drones founder Barry Alexander told Avionics International that the company is set to achieve several milestones in 2022. The first of their goals is “to establish the AD Drone and Cloud Technology Ecosystem as the national de facto standard for advanced commercial drone operations and UAV mission management applications.” Second, he expects Aquiline Drones’ IPO to take place by mid-summer. Third, by March, two strategic acquisitions that are currently underway will be announced. Another priority this year: “Making Aquiline Drones Indemnity Corporation the national standard for commercial drone liability insurance—products and services,” said Alexander.
AD announced a partnership in December 2020 with Drone Volt, a publicly-traded French drone manufacturer. Just a few months later, they acquired 50% of UAS manufacturer AerialTronics from Drone Volt, a $9 million purchase. AD next acquired ElluminAi Labs in September 2021 in order to support further development of the Spartacus AI framework. In the same month, the company announced a teaming agreement with AWARE—an incident response platform that enhances situational awareness in a crisis—“to enhance the ability to comprehensively respond to any emergency incident,” Alexander commented.
The most common applications for AD’s drones include search and rescue, law enforcement, asset inspections, fighting fires, and perimeter security, according to Alexander. In the coming years, he predicts “a more rapid adoption of drone services in areas and applications that have greater societal impacts such as life-saving scenarios and other areas where danger to man is minimized, such as first-responder services—i.e., law enforcement, firefighting, EMS, and search and rescue.”
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The FAA on Jan. 7 published a new list of the 50 U.S. airports that will have “buffer zones” around them once 5G C-band services come online later this month.
Identification of the airports is the latest policy update from the agency related to its ongoing efforts to establish a long-term solution that allows new 5G C-band wireless services and flight operations to safely co-exist throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). According to the statement published by the FAA, the list of airports was developed based on input from aviation industry leaders, and the traffic volume, number of low-visibility days on average, and geographic location were all determining factors in developing the list.
“The wireless companies agreed to turn off transmitters and make other adjustments near these airports for six months to minimize potential 5G interference with sensitive aircraft instruments used in low-visibility landings,” the FAA said in a statement published on its website.
Some of the largest and busiest airports in the U.S.—based on the latest available air traffic data—are included in the list. Dallas/Fort Worth International, Chicago O’Hare International, and Los Angeles International were among the airports with the highest amount of traffic listed—with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport being one of the most notable to be left off the list. Airports located in cities where 5G C-Band is not being deployed were left off the list, with the FAA naming Denver International and Ronald Regan Washington National Airport as some examples of areas where the new services are not being deployed.
In an emailed statement to Avionics International, a representative for the FAA said that the buffer zones will follow the guidance outlined by AT&T and Verizon on the fifth page of the letter sent to the agency to negotiate a new agreement.
Based on the guidance provided by the two companies in the letter, the buffer zones include “limit power radiated below the horizon to no more than 62 dBm/MHz” and “to limit radiated power for all of their 5G C-Band base stations directed skyward above the horizon to even lower levels.” Moreover, the buffer zones are three-dimensional, yielding lower measured power levels from 5G C-Band stations on all airport surfaces and up to 300 feet above airports and more than one mile from airport runways.
“AT&T and Verizon also agreed to limit radiated power from 5G base stations to even lower levels when those base stations are located in line with airport runways. This commitment can apply to base stations located as far as 1,000 feet from a runway,” the letter says.
Low visibility landings are still being permitted at the airports included in the list if they’re being performed by aircraft that have “an altimeter that has been proven to be accurate and reliable in the U.S. 5G C-band environment,” according to the FAA.
The list comes following several months of ongoing discussions between aviation and wireless industry/government leadership to address concerns raised by the FAA regarding the potential risk of signal interference issues that the operation of 5G C-band services could cause to radar and radio altimeters used by air transport category aircraft. Last week, AT&T and Verizon reached an agreement with the aviation industry to delay the planned Jan. 5 deployment date of its new 5G C-Band wireless network services.
Aircraft radar altimeters operate within 4.2–4.4 GHz, the lower half of which falls within the C-Band—a frequency range from 3.7–4.2 GHz where the combination of the range of signal transmissions and capacity are optimum. The 5G wireless networks scheduled to be switched on by AT&T and Verizon this month will occur within the 3.7–3.98 GHz frequency range, close to the altimeters, which has left aviation industry experts with concerns over signal interference issues. In December, the FAA published new airworthiness directives (ADs) that will prohibit certain types of advanced fixed and rotary wing landing procedures that rely on the use of radar altimeter data.
Separate from the list of identified airports, the FAA also published a new “5G and Aviation Safety” page to its website, providing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions it has been receiving in relation to the deployment of the new 5G networks. Among the answers given are an explanation of the differences between the 5G deployment that has already occurred in France and the mitigation strategy around airports employed by the French government compared to what the FAA is doing in the U.S.
“5G power levels are lower in France. In the U.S., even the planned temporary nationwide lower power levels will be 2.5x higher than in France,” according to the FAA’s new 5G page. “In France, the government required that antenna must be tilted downward to limit harmful interference. Similar restrictions do not apply to the U.S. deployment.”
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New York-based nonprofit NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance), which manages operations at the New York UAS Test Site, received authorization this week from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations in 35 miles of airspace. The designated airspace is within New York’s 50-mile drone corridor that connects the cities of Rome and Syracuse, NY. NUAIR’s long-term mission is to promote the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS).
NUAIR and the Test Site were first authorized for BVLOS in 2019 in a small airspace at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, NY. Local county executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. commented on the newest authorization in a press release this week, saying: “The one-of-a-kind testing, research and development that occurs here is elevating the entire industry. This latest FAA authorization will allow our 50-mile drone corridor to push the limits of what is possible.”
A ground-based surveillance system (GBSS) that is integrated throughout the 50-mile drone corridor allows NUAIR to monitor air traffic in order to quickly detect any intruder aircraft occurring.
Tony Basile, NUAIR’s chief of operations, looks forward to the nonprofit’s expanded ability to fly BVLOS, which he says will allow their team “to test more advanced, long-range flights and help us prove BVLOS operations can be done safely—the key component in realizing the true economic advantage of commercial drone operations.” Some of these operations will likely include medical and package deliveries.
In June 2021, a team completed a medical delivery via drone as part of a project to test the feasibility of such an operation. The NUAIR alliance collaborated with Virginia-based company DroneUp and SUNY Upstate Medical University to successfully deliver a COVID-19 test kit. While this was a significant achievement, some roadblocks to enabling routine medical deliveries via drone include the high cost of operating the drone, risk of exposure to biohazardous materials, and the need to receive FAA approval for specific drone models to make such deliveries.
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FAA Special Airworthiness Certification and U.S. Air Force Airworthiness Approval were both awarded to Joby Aviation for the company’s second pre-production prototype aircraft. The company achieved an initial (stage 2) signed G-1 in 2019 and went on to become the first eVTOL company to sign a G-1 (stage 4) certification basis with the FAA in 2020. After receiving these latest approvals for its second pre-production prototype, Joby will be able to ramp up flight testing in 2022 and continue working towards a commercial operations launch date in 2024.
Joby’s all-electric aircraft currently has a maximum range of 150 miles and can operate at a top speed of 200 mph. It has a four-passenger capacity in addition to a pilot. Later this month, the second pre-production aircraft will begin flying as part of the company’s contract with the US Air Force’s Agility Prime initiative. Over 1,000 test flights have already been completed in the last decade, and that number is expected to increase dramatically to achieve Joby’s goal of commencing passenger service in 2024.
Some of the company’s priorities with its eVTOL aircraft are sustainability, speed, and a low operating volume to minimize disturbance to communities. Joby shared a video demonstrating the low noise profile of its aircraft during flyover along with the statement, “We aim for our aircraft to blend into the background environment of communities in which we operate, enabling aerial ridesharing without any compromises.”
Joby’s aircraft achieved another milestone last year as the first to test with NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign. The first set of National Campaign tests are planned to occur in 2022 and will involve additional flight scenarios and vehicle partners. However, Joby’s flight tests with NASA occurred in September and focused primarily on collecting vehicle performance and acoustic data. The findings could be used by NASA to determine any gaps in current regulations.
Founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said in the press release, “Our 2021 flight test program delivered a wealth of information and experience to support our program. With two aircraft flying at the same time, we’ll be able to increase the speed of our learnings as planned, while continuing to fulfill the requirements of our Agility Prime contract.”
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Las Vegas-based low-cost airline Allegiant has signed an agreement with Boeing to purchase up to 50 new 737 MAX aircraft, including the 737-7 and 737-8-200 models.
According to a Jan. 5 press release, the fleet order includes options to purchase 50 additional 737 MAX aircraft as part of Allegiant’s ongoing fleet modernization efforts. The 737 MAX will be the first Boeing aircraft to be operated by Allegiant, an airline that became an all-Airbus A320 operator in 2018 after its final MD-88s were retired from service.
Maurice J. Gallagher, Jr., Allegiant’s chairman and CEO, described the Boeing fleet order as “opportunistic.”
“While the heart of our strategy continues to center on previously-owned aircraft, the infusion of up to 100 direct-from-the-manufacturer 737s will bring numerous benefits for the future—including flexibility for capacity growth and aircraft retirements, significant environmental benefits, and modern configuration and cabin features our customers will appreciate,” Gallagher said.
Boeing claims that the 737 models ordered by Allegiant will be capable of reducing the airline’s fuel use and carbon emissions by 20%. Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO, said the new Allegiant deal “further validates the economics of the 737 MAX family in the [ultra low cost carrier] ULCC market.”
During Allegiant’s third-quarter earnings call held in October 2021, Greg Anderson, the airline’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said they expect to place 19 additional Airbus A320neo aircraft into service in 2022.
Allegiant currently operates a fleet of 108 Airbus A319 and A320 airplanes.
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Last week, EHang, developer and manufacturer of autonomous aerial vehicles (AAVs), announced the launch of the 5G Intelligent Air Mobility Experience Center in partnership with Guangzhou Development District Communications Investment Group. The 21,500-square-foot center is located at the Innovation Park in Guangzhou, China—EHang’s first urban air mobility pilot city—and has a take-off and landing vertiport.
Founder and CEO of EHang, Huazhi Hu, stated in the press release, “We will use the world’s leading AAV technologies and command-and-control system to provide intelligent, comprehensive solutions for urban air mobility and smart city management in Guangzhou. We expect to build Guangzhou into a model city for UAM and have plans to extend it to more cities across the country and worldwide.”
EHang posted the flight demonstrated video featured below to its YouTube page upon announcing the launch of their new Experience Center.
The Experience Center will enable trial operations in Guangzhou of eVTOLs such as the EHang 216 and Falcon B in a variety of applications related to urban air mobility. An automatic parking garage, for example, will one day enable a seamless transfer from car to eVTOL and vice versa, according to EHang.
EHang’s unveiling of the new Experience Center comes following the reporting of its Q3 unaudited financial results last month, sharing total revenues of $2M USD—a 6.6% increase from Q2. According to the company’s announcement, they are undergoing a strategic transition from a model that is centered on product sales towards an operation platform-oriented model. While EHang sold and delivered three AAVs in Q2, that number grew to eight units for the third quarter.
EHang reached 20,000 autonomous trial flights on record in November 2021 and continues to work towards full certification for its EH 216 aircraft. As part of the “100 Air Mobility Routes Initiative,” there have been roughly 2,800 operational trial flights of the EH 216.
Another strategic partnership with EHang was announced in October 2021. Shenzhen Expressway, also a partner of the 100 Air Mobility Routes Initiative, will “join efforts with EHang to explore the innovative integration of AAV air mobility and expressway networks in smart city transportation,” according to the company’s website. The partnership will also analyze use cases such as road inspection, emergency rescue, and transportation of materials.
During the EU’s Gulf of Finland (GOF) 2.0 project in 2021, EHang demonstrated its AAV in a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight test and showcased the automated cargo delivery capabilities of its drone, the Falcon. This was the first instance of a passenger-grade AAV completing BVLOS trial flights in Estonia.
The latest update from EHang about the launch of the 5G Intelligent Air Mobility Experience Center also described an automatic guided vehicle parking garage that is integrated into the center. UAM routes in Guangzhou have already been mapped out and tested for smart city management services, aerial logistics, and passenger transportation.
Phoenix, Arizona-based operating systems and software supplier DDC-I, Inc., is supplying its DO-178 Deos multicore real time operating system (RTOS) to Honeywell Aerospace to serve as the host of the OEM’s Anthem cloud-native cockpit system.
Honeywell launched its first next-generation flight deck in over two decades during a media event in October, where it was revealed that Anthem’s launch customers include the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft under development by Lilium and Vertical Aerospace. According to a Dec. 21 press announcement from DDC-I, the “fine grain cache partitioning, binary modularity, and reusable certification evidence” elements of Deos as some of the key features that can be leveraged by Anthem.
The DDC-I RTOS supplier announcement is one of the first major updates revealed about the development and capabilities of Anthem since its launch. Honeywell’s RTOS Chief Engineer, Larry Miller, says that the Deos processors will provide the Anthem development team with the type of core-to-core contention capabilities that will allow his team to meet safety objectives “with deterministic operation while at the same time reducing the worst-case CPU utilization of our applications.”
“Deos boosts processing performance by implementing fine-grained cache partitioning in software rather than hardware, which gives us access to faster and more efficient processors. As a result, the Honeywell Anthem system enjoys a compelling advantage in throughput per watt over other competitive offerings. In addition, Deos’ capabilities promote software modularity and binary reuse, which reduces our verification and validation complexity and lowers our certification cost, thereby reducing the effort needed to re-apply Honeywell Anthem from one aircraft type to the next,” Miller said.
Anthem will be the latest Honeywell cockpit avionics system to feature Deos as its host operating system; the company has used Deos to host several of its other safety critical avionics systems. First certified to Design Assurance Level (DAL) A in the late 1990s, the Deos RTOS has been used to host DO-178 certifiable avionics software including functions such as air data computers, air data inertial reference units, cockpit video, displays and flight instrumentation, radios, traffic collision avoidance systems, and weather radar, among other systems.
Greg Rose, vice president, marketing and product management at DDC-I, said Honeywell’s selection of Deos is a result of its “advanced features like multicore capabilities that address CAST-32A objectives, low-jitter deterministic operation, and reusable certification evidence.”
During an October interview with Avionics International, ahead of the unveiling of Anthem, Vipul Gupta, vice president and general manager of Honeywell’s avionics division, said that the company expects to meet the 2023 and 2024 certification timelines for Anthem that Lilium and Vertical Aerospace are targeting in their eVTOL development programs.
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In statements released Monday, AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay their deployment of C-Band 5G wireless networks by another two weeks in an effort to address concerns over potential signal interference issues raised by U.S. aviation regulators and industry executives in recent years.
The latest delay will move the planned Jan. 5 deployment date of the two 5G C-Band services to Jan. 19, with both AT&T and Verizon also agreeing to adhere to operating their networks in a way that will mitigate potential aircraft radar altimeter issues near airports. AT&T and Verizon on Sunday sent a letter in response, rejecting the request for a further delay made by the Department of Transportation in a letter last week, before committing to the postponement in a new agreement.
“At Secretary Buttigieg’s request, we have voluntarily agreed to one additional two-week delay of our deployment of C-Band 5G services. We also remain committed to the six-month protection zone mitigations we outlined in our letter. We know aviation safety and 5G can co-exist and we are confident further collaboration and technical assessment will allay any issues,” an AT&T spokesperson told Avionics International in an emailed statement.
Aircraft radar altimeters operate within 4.2–4.4 GHz, the lower half of which falls within the C-Band—a frequency range from 3.7–4.2 GHz where the combination of the range of signal transmissions and capacity are optimum. The 5G wireless networks scheduled to be switched on by AT&T and Verizon this month will occur within the 3.7–3.98 GHz frequency range, close to the altimeters, which has left aviation industry experts with concerns over signal interference issues.
On modern commercial and military aircraft, radar altimeters are typically affixed to the bottom of the airframe and transmit radio frequency signals to the ground or terrain. The time that it takes for the signal to reach the ground and reflect back up to the aircraft is measured by the altimeter as its height above ground, updated on a regular basis, multiple times per second. Terrain avoidance and warning systems (TAWS), autoland functionality, and cabin pressurization systems also rely on data supplied by altimeters on the majority of modern air transport aircraft.
Last month, the FAA published new airworthiness directives (ADs) that will prohibit certain types of advanced fixed and rotary wing landing procedures that rely on the use of radar altimeter data. The directives, which would have become effective Jan. 5 under the original one-month delay agreed to by AT&T and Verizon, could be subject to change based on the results of collaboration by the two sides during the new two-week delay period.
As the FAA indicated in its Dec. 7 AD, while it has heard concerns from airlines, the FAA, and aircraft OEMs over the potential interference issues posed by the deployment of 5G in the C-Band, it has not yet been presented with data or information that shows altimeters are not susceptible to interference.
A statement published the FAA on Monday includes a letter documenting some of the terms included in the new deal established between the aviation industry and the two companies. Among the requests outlined by the FAA in the deal include a commitment by AT&T and Verizon to continue to work on establishing several long-term mitigation measures that would address potential interference issues posed by C-Band 5G stations located near airports.
One of the key elements of the deal between the two sides is identifying the geographical locations of C-Band 5G ground stations with a more in-depth understanding provided to the aviation industry regarding how the more powerful beam-forming signals of those stations will function within the C-Band spectrum.
Specifically, the agency is requesting “information on base station locations and operating characteristics planned for Q1 2022,” and that AT&T and Verizon “will continue to work with the FAA in good faith to provide it with complete and accurate information on these locations, to include accurate and complete details regarding expected site implementation dates during the quarter as well as accurate operational characteristics of these locations.”
According to the terms of the new agreement, aviation industry leadership will provide a list of 50 priority airports that will be subjected to the C-Band exclusion zones that were proposed in the Jan. 2 letter sent by AT&T and Verizon to the FAA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The letter, sent by John Stankey, the chief executive of AT&T, and Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s chief executive, notes that the perspective of the two wireless network providers is that the 220 megahertz distance between the C-Band 5G service that they will deploy in the future will not present harmful interference issues to aircraft radar altimeters.
The two companies ultimately committed to adopting the type of geographic exclusion zones that have been implemented in France where some C-Band 5G services have already been deployed.
“That approach—which is one of the most conservative in the world—would include extensive exclusion zones around the runways at certain airports. The effect would be to further reduce C -band signal levels by at least 10 times on the runway or during the last mile of final approach and the first mile after takeoff,” the letter, obtained and published by The New York Times, reads.
AT&T and Verizon also note in their letter that they were only made aware of the aviation industry’s concerns from potential C-Band 5G signal interference with aircraft radar altimeters last year. In an emailed statement to Avionics, a representative for the FAA said that the agency had been part of several aviation industry group efforts to work collaboratively with the FCC and wireless network providers on developing the type of mitigation and protection measures they’re currently discussing.
“In 2018, Boeing raised concerns and proposed a solution (see attached). Additionally, ICAO, the aviation arm of the United Nations, identified that any use of the bands near 4.2 to 4.4 GHz should be contingent upon Radio Altimeter Studies,” the representative said. “In 2020 ahead of the auction for 5G C-Band, the FAA again raised concerns and asked for a postponement to collaborate on a solution. The NTIA, the federal government coordinator on spectrum disputes, failed to put the 2020 letter into the FCC’s docket.”
Regarding the adoption of protection zones implemented in France for the use of C-Band 5G near airports, the FAA’s representative said that France uses spectrum for 5G that sits further away—in the 3.6-3.8 GHz range—from the 4.2-4.4 GHz spectrum used by radar altimeters.
Several aviation industry groups released statements acknowledging the new agreement, including Airlines for America (A4A), the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), with NBAA President Ed Bolen committing to serving as a real-time resource on the 5G deployment as more information becomes available.
While the Helicopter Association International (HAI) applauded the agreement, in a statement released Tuesday the group calls for the two sides of the deal to have more consideration for the impact of C-Band 5G deployment on heliports.
“The voluntary measures proposed by the wireless carriers would provide modest 5G limitations at the surface of public-use heliports, of which there are only 55 in the country. That number is dwarfed by the estimated 6,533 to 8,533 [Helicopter Air Ambulance] HAA landing sites in the United States, with more than 4,000 being private-use heliports colocated at hospitals,” the statement from HAI reads. “As regulators spend the next two weeks bridging the gap between the wireless industry’s voluntary measures and what is needed to maintain the safety and usability of the NAS, solutions for helicopter operators must be prioritized.”
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Numerous airlines made strides towards reducing carbon emissions and investing in next generation air transportation technologies in 2021. Several airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, GOL, and Japan Airlines have pre-ordered electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles from the company Vertical Aerospace.
Others, including Icelandair, United Airlines and JetBlue have entered partnerships dedicated to enabling and increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).
Many of these companies have also set ambitious goals for reducing their carbon footprints—in particular, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, and Widerøe. Here, Avionics International takes a look back at 10 airlines that invested in electric, hydrogen-powered, hybrid and other next generation Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)-driven technologies in 2021.
United Airlines, which invested in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace in July, made an announcement in December about a new investment in ZeroAvia, the hydrogen-electric aircraft engine company. The agreement brings the total investment in ZeroAvia up to $115 million, and it also includes a provision for United to purchase up to 100 of ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engines.
This recent investment marks another step towards achieving United Airlines’ goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 100% by the year 2050 without depending on traditional carbon offsets. United also became one of the first major international carriers to announce a future eVTOL purchase investment agreement in 2021 with Archer Aviation—the California-based startup that recently completed its first eVTOL hover flight test.
Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, also announced a partnership with ZeroAvia in 2021. In October, the companies agreed to collaborate in the development of a hydrogen-electric powertrain to fly a 76-seat regional aircraft.
Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines committed to a five-step plan for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. The company also formed Alaska Star Ventures LLC in October, which serves to advance enabling technologies for electric aircraft.
GOL, Brazil’s largest domestic airline, shared plans in September to launch an electric air taxi network after acquiring 250 of Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 aircraft from Dublin-based aircraft leasing company Avolon. The network, which will operate in Sao Paulo, is planned for a mid-2025 launch date once the VA-X4 eVTOL achieves civil aviation certification.
Japan Airlines acquired the rights to purchase up to 50 of Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft in a recent partnership with Avolon. Signed in October, the agreement will identify partnerships, customers, infrastructure requirements, and certification in order to begin commercial eVTOL operations in Japan by 2025. The airline will collaborate with both Avolon and Vertical to assist in achieving certification for the VA-X4.
In March, a partnership was announced between Norwegian airline Widerøe, Rolls-Royce, and Tecnam to launch a fully-electric passenger aircraft for the Scandinavian commuter aircraft market.
Norway has made a commitment to ensure that all domestic flights are zero-emission by the year 2040. Widerøe Zero, the company’s new air mobility business incubator division, entered into a new partnership with Embraer’s Eve Urban Air Mobility in November to develop an eVTOL concept of operations and explore possible applications for the aircraft.
Icelandair, aiming to fully decarbonize its domestic network, signed an LOI with Universal Hydrogen in July to develop green hydrogen for fueling aircraft. Universal Hydrogen is a California-based startup developing a fuel distribution system in addition to an aftermarket hydrogen conversion kit, which could be utilized in Icelandair’s fleet of De Havilland Canada DHC-8-200 aircraft.
The LOI may expand in the future to include partnering in coordination with Icelandic hydrogen producers and airports.
On Dec. 8, Connect Airlines—the Boston-based charter airline launched by Waltzing Matilda Aviation last year—signed an LOI to purchase 24 of Universal Hydrogen’s green hydrogen conversion kits. The order includes 12 total Dash 8-300 kits and purchase rights for 12 additional kits of other aircraft types.
The conversion kits consist of a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain compatible with Universal Hydrogen’s modular capsule technology. For these aircraft, Universal Hydrogen targets installation of its conversion kits by 2025 and will subsequently supply green hydrogen fuel to the Connect Airlines fleet under a long-term agreement.
Virgin Atlantic released a list in October describing the airline’s goals towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company hopes to achieve a 15% net reduction in total CO2 emissions by 2030 through improvements to operational efficiency, as well as sourcing 10% of fuel from SAF.
It also set a goal to achieve a 40% net reduction in total CO2 emissions by 2040. Virgin Atlantic also has pre-order options for Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 eVTOL.
In September, JetBlue Airways entered into a $1 billion agreement with bioenergy developer SG Preston to supply commercial flights with SAF at New York airports. Just two months earlier, JetBlue Airways announced a partnership with Joby Aviation and Signature Flight Support to create a system of aviation credits for the use of electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies.
This system enables players in the aviation industry to quickly adopt sustainable energy sources and will accelerate the commercialization of electric and hydrogen technologies. JetBlue’s target date for achieving net-zero carbon emissions is 2040. The airline also signed an agreement this year to purchase blended SAF to supply 5% of its fuel needs at LAX.
In a Dec. 21 press announcement, Embraer’s Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions and Republic Airways Holdings Inc., announced the signing of an LOI to purchase up to 200 of Eve’s eVTOL aircraft. The strategic relationship will also focus on developing eVTOL infrastructure throughout the Central and East Coast markets of the United States, with an initial focus on the Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. markets.
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With just a few days remaining in 2021, we take a look back at our 10 most-read articles of 2021, a year in which new display-driven avionics technologies and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) development programs advanced in various ways.
This list is compiled based on the use of a content analytics tool that analyzes new website visitors and page views for our website. Check out the list below.
During an unveiling event in October, Honeywell Aerospace launched its first-ever cloud native cockpit avionics system, “Anthem.” The new system replaces the traditional concept of an aircraft electronics bay with cloud-based data storage and display-centered computing and processing. Anthem has already been selected by Lilium, the Munich-based electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer, as the cockpit system for its 7-Seater Lilium Jet. Separately, Bristol, U.K.-based Vertical Aerospace will also use Anthem as the cockpit system for their VA-1X all-electric air taxi. Lilium expects to achieve type certification for the 7-Seater by 2023, while Vertical Aerospace is right behind them projecting a 2024 timeline for certification.
Airbus announced the new version of its CityAirbus electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for the urban air mobility market, CityAirbus NextGen, at its Pioneering Sustainable Aerospace Summit on Sept. 21. The new CityAirbus NextGen comes after years of development with the company’s demonstrator aircraft Vahana and CityAirbus. The NextGen version has a distributed propulsion system powered by eight electrical-powered propellers, a V-shaped tail, and fixed wings. It will have zero emissions and be capable of carrying four passengers.
Airbus plans to fly a prototype of the CityAirbus NextGen by 2023. They are also predicting certification by 2025.
In January, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense has awarded a £30 million contract to Spirit AeroSystems in Belfast to lead Project Mosquito which will design and manufacture a prototype for the UK’s first fleet of unmanned fighter aircraft, according to the Royal Air Force (RAF). The goal of Project Mosquito is to create a demonstrator for the RAF’s Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept with flight tests by the end of 2023.
While the aviation industry has found an environmentally sustainable technology in SAF, the technology to produce it is not yet economically sustainable. SAF currently costs four times as much as conventional jet fuel and it makes up less than one percent of fuel available in the market. In this article, we show what will be required to make the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) economically viable.
Dassault used a combination of augmented and virtual reality to unveil their new long-range business jet, Falcon 10X, during a May 6 program launch ceremony broadcasted from their hangar at Le Bourget.
Falcon 10X is Dassault’s direct competitor to the newest large-cabin jets from Gulfstream and Bombardier, the G700 and Global 7500. With a range of 7,500 nautical miles, it will become the first Dassault business jet to be powered by Rolls-Royce engines. Dassault executives and pilots gave an overview of the jet’s new design features using virtual reality to show what the real 10X will look like when it enters service, which the French aerospace and defense manufacturer expects to occur by the end of 2025.
Airbus is developing a new enhanced flight vision system (EFVS) for its A320 family of aircraft that will eventually be adapted to other models. Representatives from the aircraft manufacturer’s headquarters in Toulouse confirmed the development of the new system with Avionics International in this article from September.
Joby Aviation has agreed to G1 certification conditions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the company announced on Feb. 9. Since then, the program has advanced further along the certification path, as leadership from Joby explained during a third-quarter earnings call.
In August, Raytheon Technologies announced it would acquire FlightAware, which provides global flight tracking services and analytics to a range of customers including airlines, airports, and government.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on March 26 conducted the sixth flight test of the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie drone at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.–a demonstration that featured the launching of an Area-I ALTIUS-600 small unmanned aircraft system (SUAS) from the Valkyrie’s internal weapons bay in what AFRL said was the first opening of the Valkyrie’s weapons bay.
Our most-read article of 2021 covers Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer’s intention to develop a next-generation turboprop aircraft with rear-mounted engines and a “jet-like” passenger experience. The next-generation turboprop design was one of several concepts and new sustainability goals outlined by Embraer during an August webcast.
Along with the next-generation turboprop, Embraer has a goal of making its 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.
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