NASA and Longbow to Develop ConOps for VA Drone Corridor

May 20th, 2021   •   Comments Off on NASA and Longbow to Develop ConOps for VA Drone Corridor   
NASA and Longbow to Develop ConOps for VA Drone Corridor

NASA sky

NASA sky

A NASA rendering of a city whose airspace is filled with drones and passenger aircraft. (NASA)

NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) and the Longbow Group are collaborating on a concept of operations (ConOps) for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) unmanned aerial system (UAS) flight corridors in Virginia through the Space Act Agreement (SAA), the agency announced in a May 17 release.

The ConOps created by NASA and Longbow will support BVLOS operations from LaRC’s City Environment Range Testing for Autonomous Integrated Navigation (CERTAIN) and Longbow’s Unmanned Systems Research and Technology Center (USRTC) at Fort Monroe in Virginia, according to the release.

Besides the ConOps, the agreement will also include developing supporting infrastructure and data sharing requirements. According to the agency, possible research between the two partners could include UAS Traffic Management, supplemental data service, surveillance radars, meteorological systems, data networks, and data and command and control communications.

“NASA Langley is pleased to collaborate with LONGBOW to develop a ConOps for a beyond visual line-of-sight corridor and potential follow-on collaboration,” Lou Glaab, High Density Vertiplex (HDV) project tech lead. “When implemented, these efforts will enable the UAM ecosystem prototype assessment with longer, more complex flight routes, within the HDV subproject for AAM along with establishing operational credit for an array of advanced NASA technologies.”

The HDV project’s goal is to create an urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem with small UAS in place of large UAS and perform testing with the Federal Aviation Administration for BVLOS flights at LaRC, according to the release.

The city of Hampton, Virginia, Raytheon, and Hampton University will all contribute researchers and support for Longbow.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to support this project and work with the researchers at NASA Langley in collaboration with Hampton University, City of Hampton and Raytheon,” Marco Sterk, LONGBOW’s President and CEO, said in a statement. “It takes a community to build a community, and that is so true when it comes to developing a local self-supporting eco-system, involving industry, government and academia.”

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BETA Receives $368 Million in New Funding from Fidelity and Amazon

May 20th, 2021   •   Comments Off on BETA Receives $368 Million in New Funding from Fidelity and Amazon   
BETA Receives $368 Million in New Funding from Fidelity and Amazon

ALIA is a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion system with eight lifting motors used for vertical lift and two internal motors used for cruising. (BETA)

BETA Technologies received $368 million during a new funding round from new and returning investors who included Fidelity Management & Research Company, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and RedBird Capital, the company announced on March 18.

BETA is developing an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft called ALIA which uses a distributed direct-drive electric propulsion system, has a wingspan of 50 feet, and a range of 250 nautical miles, according to BETA’s website.

“We’re gratified for the confidence this diverse group of investors has placed in our team as we continue on our mission to transform how people and goods move about the world,” Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO, said in a statement. “These funds allow us to continue hiring the best talent, meet aggressive certification milestones, ramp up production of ALIA, and accelerate the rollout of an extensive high-speed universal charging infrastructure.”

Amazon’s investment in BETA through its Climate Pledge Fund follows the company’s goal of having over 100,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, according to a blog post from the company. Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund has also invested in other eVTOL companies like ZeroAvia.

“We support BETA Technologies’ mission to reshape air transportation through zero-emission aviation and are proud to invest in them through Amazon’s $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund,” Kara Hurst, vice president and head of worldwide sustainability at Amazon, said in the post. “The development of sustainable and decarbonizing technologies will help facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy and protect the planet for future generations.”

BETA said they will use the new funding to refine ALIA’s electric propulsion systems and controls and to construct manufacturing facilities while the company is working on gaining certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

This new funding follows a busy year of developments and partnerships from BETA starting with an interstate flight with ALIA from Plattsburgh, NY to South Burlington VT in March. In early April UPS purchased 10 of BETA’s eVTOL aircraft and later in the month BETA expanded into the passenger market with a partnership with Blade Urban Air Mobility. Then in May, ALIA received the first Air Force airworthiness approval for human flight in electric aircraft. BETA has also partnered with United Therapeutics to transport its synthetic organs for human transplant.

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Airbus Corporate Jets Teams with Latécoère to Develop Li-Fi In-flight Entertainment Monitor

May 19th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Airbus Corporate Jets Teams with Latécoère to Develop Li-Fi In-flight Entertainment Monitor   
Airbus Corporate Jets Teams with Latécoère to Develop Li-Fi In-flight Entertainment Monitor

Airbus Corporate Jets is bringing a new smart Li-Fi monitor to its business jet family. (Airbus Corporate Jets)

Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) announced a new partnership with Toulouse-based electronic wiring interconnection system (EWIS) supplier Latécoère Interconnection Systems to develop the aircraft manufacturer’s first Light Fidelity (Li-Fi) in-flight entertainment (IFE) monitor on the first day of the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition’s (EBACE) 2021 online forum. 

According to a May 17 press release, the two companies are developing the next generation “ACJ Smart Li-Fi Monitor,” with the goal of having it certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) before the end of the year. The monitor will usher in a new generation of cabin IFE technology for the business jet division of Airbus, as it will also feature Bluetooth, casting, mirroring, videoconferencing, and Wi-Fi all embedded inside a single screen without the need for an associated computing box or server. 

Latécoère Interconnection Systems, the EWIS division of parent company Latécoère group, has been gradually expanding tripling and testing of smart LiFI monitor technology for air transport jets in recent years, starting with its demonstration of a Li-FI IFE cabin mockup at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Shortly after that demonstration, the company signed a memorandum of understanding with Netherlands-based lighting supplier Signify and South Korean aerospace and defense manufacturer Hunted Technologies for the supply of Li-Fi data communications electronics and software. 

Now, the Airbus partnership gives Latécoère a new line-fit deal across every Airbus corporate jet type, with the exception of the new ACJ Two Twenty. The newest business jet version of tLatécoère  Airbus A220 will be approved for the new technology at a later date, Benoit Defforge, president of Airbus Corporate Jets, told Avionics International in an emailed statement. 

“Li-Fi stands for Light Fidelity and it is a wireless communication device which uses light to transmit data in a safe, cyber-secure, and agile way,” Defforge said.

Light from specialized LED bulbs serves as the data transmission medium for a Li-Fi system in the same way radios, modems and antennas transmit data in Wi-Fi systems, according to Latécoère’s description of the technology. 

“We did implement it on our Smart Li-Fi Monitor to be ready for the next generation of communication systems. As an integrated module, the Li-Fi equipment/module draws its power directly from the Smart LiFi Monitor. As it is a low power device, it does not need any specific power line coming from the aircraft,” Defforge said. 

Defforge said the Li-Fi IFE system will be a single monitor replacement as an upgrade on the existing family of Airbus corporate jets.

“All in all, the only IFEC element that needs to be replaced, in order to enable this upgrade, is the monitor currently installed in the cabin,” Defforge said. “It is an all-in-one equipment ready-to-use and integrates an intuitive, easy to use and fully customizable interface, a real 4K display and unique smart functionalities like: multiple connectivity devices, powerful processing, and a 2 Tb storage capacity. The Smart Li-Fi Monitor is an easy plug-and-play equipment that fits with all the existing IFEC solutions with no necessary removal.”

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Volocopter Debuts New Aircraft for Intra-City Missions

May 19th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Volocopter Debuts New Aircraft for Intra-City Missions   
Volocopter Debuts New Aircraft for Intra-City Missions

Volocopter’s VoloConnect will be one of two eVTOLs the company plans to release. (Volocopter)

Volocopter, the German urban air mobility (UAM) company, is releasing its second electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft design geared towards more passenger capacity and longer range flights to connect suburbs to cities, the company announced on May 17.

VoloConnect will be a four-seat aircraft that will use a hybrid lift and push design with six lifting electrical motors and rotors and two propulsive fans, according to Volocopter. It will have a max cruise speed of 250 kilometers per hour and a range of 100 kilometers with today’s battery technology.

VoloConnect will be more suited for longer-range flights carrying more passengers compared to Volocopter’s first eVTOL VoloCity. (Volocopter)

In comparison, VoloCity is designed for inner-city use and has a two-passenger capacity with a max cruise speed of around 100 kilometers per hour and 35 kilometers of range, according to Volocopter. VoloCity uses 18 rotors and nine lithium-ion batteries to power its flights. This aircraft was debuted by the company in 2019 and has already flown at an international airport in Helsinki and Singapore.

“VoloConnect embodies the next dimension of our mission to offer affordable, efficient, and sustainable flight mobility solutions for cities around the globe,” Florian Reuter, Volocopter CEO, said in a statement. “Leveraging customer insights from our existing VoloCity and VoloDrone, VoloConnect’s capacity to support longer missions and higher payloads serves another strong growing market demand.”

The certification for this aircraft will be under the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s special condition for VTOL enhanced 10-9. According to Volocopter, the VoloConnect has been two years in the making and the company has already filed multiple patents for its technology. Volocopter is expecting to achieve certification for VoloConnect in the next five years.

Volocopter’s UAM ecosystem includes two eVTOLs and a heavy-lift drone. (Volocopter)







VoloConnect will be added to Volocopter’s UAM ecosystem which includes VoloCity, an eVTOL, VoloDrone, a heavy-lift drone, and VoloIQ, a digital platform. Like other aircraft, VoloConnect will be integrated with VoloIQ.

“We are confident that this aircraft family, and the years of experience and leading innovation on which it’s founded, will pioneer the way for electric UAM services to launch commercially and internationally,” Reuter said.

Volocopter said they have already flown multiple scaled prototypes of VoloConnect and are working towards tests with full-scale prototypes.

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Global Eagle and Telesat Complete Network Simulation Milestone for LEO In-flight Connectivity Antenna

May 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Global Eagle and Telesat Complete Network Simulation Milestone for LEO In-flight Connectivity Antenna   
Global Eagle and Telesat Complete Network Simulation Milestone for LEO In-flight Connectivity Antenna

Global Eagle and Telesat completed a new milestone on their journey to enabling low earth orbit satellite in-flight connectivity. (Global Eagle Entertainment)

Engineers at California-based Global Eagle Entertainment recently completed network simulations evaluating the efficiency of their Ka-band in-flight connectivity terminal’s ability to operate over Telesat’s Lightspeed low-earth orbit (LEO) network. 

According to a May 10 press release, Telesat, the Canadian satellite communications company, used the network simulations to determine how Global Eagle’s Airconnect antenna could support in-flight applications like online gaming and cloud-hosted applications. The two companies have been working toward delivering aircraft connectivity from Telesat’s 300-satellite LEO network—which is on track to be ready for service by the end of 2023—since first establishing a partnership in 2018.

Testing in multi-orbit configurations reportedly achieved round-trip latency of 19 milliseconds (ms), compared to ”traditional geostationary satellite (GEO) networks which experience over 600ms of latency,” according to Global Eagle. 

“Achieving this critical milestone lays the foundation for the eventual certification of our Airconnect Ka solution on the Telesat Lightspeed constellation,” Mike Pigott, vice president of connectivity for Global Eagle said in the release. “Since 2018, our partnership with Telesat has demonstrated the smooth transition from existing GEO satellite networks to LEO satellites inflight. We now have the confidence to begin installations this year.”

Global Eagle currently uses the Airconnect antenna on Telesat’s existing GEO satellite network. The latest progress on the Global Eagle-Telesat aircraft LEO connectivity partnership comes less than a year after Global Eagle filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. In March, Global Eagle announced the addition of four new executives to its leadership team, including former SmartSky Networks Chief Commercial Officer Nancy Walker. 

Kate Santoro has been appointed the new Vice President, Legal & General Counsel, and Hope Groves as Vice President, Content Technology. Additionally, Estibaliz Asiain has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Commercial – Media & Content.

Telesat is one of the uniquely positioned global operators of satellites that has primarily been involved in providing IFC service through backhaul agreements with aviation service providers who make equipment and service available to operators. Their aviation service provider partnership list includes Global Eagle, Gogo, and Panasonic Avionics.

“With Global Eagle’s Ka terminal evolution, airlines can be confident that they are future-proofing their connectivity decisions today,” Telesat’s Erwin Hudson, vice president, LEO, said in a statement. “Collaborating with future-focused companies like Global Eagle will enable us to achieve our goal of transforming inflight connectivity with the Telesat Lightspeed network.”

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 16, 2021

May 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 16, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 16, 2021

Check out the May 16 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.



Delta Air Lines Tops JD Power’s North American Airline Rankings 

Delta Air Lines ranked highest among North American carriers in customer satisfaction according to a new J.D. Power Associates study. (Delta Air Lines)

Delta Air Lines achieved the highest passenger satisfaction ranking among North American carriers featured in a new J.D. Power Associates study published last week.

According to the study, this is the first time Delta, with a customer satisfaction score of 860,   has ranked highest in the study since 1995. Southwest Airlines ranked second at 856, followed by Alaska with 850. The consumer insights firm uses  eight factors (in alphabetical order): aircraft; baggage; boarding; check-in; cost and fees; flight crew; in-flight services; and reservation, to rank airline passenger satisfaction.

“The study measures passenger satisfaction among both business and leisure travelers and is based on responses from 2,309 passengers. Passengers needed to have flown on a major North America airline within the past month of completing a survey. The study was fielded from August 2020 through March 2021,” according to the study.

“The airline industry adapted to a most unusual year by simplifying ticketing processes, waiving change fees and baggage fees which were key to persuading people to fly during the pandemic,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power said in a May 12 press release. “Airline personnel rose to meet the challenges of a drastically altered travel environment. Maintaining that level of flexibility and recognition of individual passenger needs will be a strategic advantage for airlines that want to set themselves apart in passenger satisfaction as travel volumes start to recover.”



Alaska Airlines to Expand Fleet with New Boeing and Embraer Jets

Alaska Airlines is adding 30 new jets to its fleet to meet a projected return of passenger demand over the next year. (Alaska Airlines)

Alaska Airlines is exercising options on 13 new Boeing 737 MAX and 17 Embraer 175 jets in an effort to meet a projected return in demand for domestic travel over the next year, according to a May 12 press release.

“Alaska expects domestic travel to return to pre-COVID levels by the summer of 2022,” the airline said in the new release.

“Regional aircraft play a huge role in Alaska’s growing network,” said Nat Pieper, senior vice president of fleet, finance and alliances. “As our network expands, regional aircraft connect smaller communities to our larger hubs providing critical feed to assist in the development of new markets.”

The airline also announced a new nonstop service to Belize City, Belize, in Central America from the West Coast. Belize will be the fourth country Alaska flies to from its West Coast hubs, joining Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.



Munich Airport to Start Using Green Kerosene for Aircraft Refueling

(Munich Airport)

Aircraft landing and departing from Munich Airport in Germany will have new refueling options for “green kerosene” starting June 1, according to a May 6 press release.

“This means that sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) can now be delivered, stored and refueled at Munich Airport, provided they meet the relevant quality specifications for Jet-A1 aviation fuel. The tank farm, which is supplied with fuel by various oil companies on behalf of the airlines, is thus also permitted to receive deliveries of SAF blends, i.e. conventional paraffin with an admixture of renewable fuels,” according to the release.

The SAFs will be made available to airlines through a new fuel depot opening up at Munich Airport, to be operated by Skytanking Munich GmbH & Co. KG.

“By approving our refueling facilities for Sustainable Aviation Fuel, we are enabling airlines to reduce their CO2 emissions on flights from Munich by using sustainable aviation fuels,” Jost Lammers, CEO of Munich Airport, said in the release. “‘Green fuels’ have a key role to play on the way to a complete decarbonization of air transport. We expect the share of these sustainable fuels in total energy consumption in aviation to increase continuously in the coming years.”






Lockheed Martin and IFS Selected to Support U.S. Navy N-MRO

The U.S. Navy has chosen a Naval Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (N-MRO) solution from Lockheed Martin and IFS to complete a digital transformation of multiple legacy systems into a modernized logistics information system, according to a May 12 release.

“Our goal is to provide capabilities that create real value across the Navy’s complex, multi-site operations and optimize its mission-critical maintenance processes,” Reeves Valentine, Lockheed Martin Vice President of Enterprise Sustainment Solutions, said in a statement. “We want to empower Navy personnel with tools that are easy and effective to use with intuitive interfaces, streamlined workflows and timesaving, intelligent features. IFS distinguished itself by providing all of these capabilities through a single, commercial-off-the-shelf solution.”

The solution, Total Asset Readiness, uses artificial intelligence, digital twin capabilities, and predictive analytics for maintenance, repair, and overhaul of over 3,000 aircraft, ships, and land-based equipment, according to the release.

“We are proud to be part of N-MRO, which will set a new global standard for Total Asset Readiness and the way defense organizations manage asset maintenance and logistics, both ashore and afloat,” Scott Helmer, President of Aerospace & Defense at IFS, said in a statement. “A&D has been a key focus industry at IFS for decades and this landmark deal stands as testament to the success of our long-term strategy and determination. Working with Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy, we are already making great strides and look forward to a long and successful collaboration.”




New Ka-32A11M to Make Debut in July

The new Ka-32A11M from Russian Helicopters will make its debut at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in July. (Russian Helicopters)

The new Ka-32A11M from Russian Helicopters will make its debut at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in July, according to a May 12 press release.

The new aircraft will feature a new glass cockpit with an avionics system, VK-2500PS-02 engines, and a new fire extinguishing system, according to the release.

“Ka-32 is recognized all over the world as one of the best helicopters for firefighting work,” Andrey Boginsky, Director General of Russian Helicopters, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, even the best models need timely modernization. We have managed to preserve the outstanding flight performance of the model, supplementing it with modern avionics and a new, more efficient and multifunctional fire extinguishing system. A prototype of Ka-32A11M will be present at the MAKS-2021 air show and we are planning to start supplying the aircraft as early as next year.”


Tactical Aircraft Study May Offer Range of Future Fighter Options to U.S. Air Force 

The ongoing tactical aircraft (TACAIR) study by the U.S. Air Force, the Joint Staff, and the Pentagon office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) may offer a range of future fighter options for the U.S. Air Force to replace its F-16 fighters and neck down from the service’s seven current fighter types–the Lockheed Martin F-16, F-35A, and F-22 and the Boeing F-15C, F-15D, F-15E and A-10.

“I’m really looking for a window of options because the facts and assumptions based on threat will change over time, but I want to get us shaped in a direction because right now we have seven fighter fleets,” Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown told the McAleese and Associates’ FY2022 Defense Programs conference on May 12.

“My intent is to get down to about four,” he said. “With that four, what is the right mix? Really, a four plus one because we’re going to have the A-10 for a while, as we re-wing the A-10. I look at NGAD [Next Generation Air Dominance], F-35, which will be the cornerstone [of the future fighter fleet]; F-15EX; we will have F-16s for a while as well. It will be something that will replace the F-16, whether it’s additional F-35s or something else into the future. But I don’t need to make that decision today. That’s probably six, seven, eight years away. What we need to do is shaping the thought process and realize I can’t do this in one budget year. This is why the collaboration with Congress is so important. I’ve got to lay this out with some analysis and have a conversation of where we’re headed and then at the same time work with industry and internal to the building.”



Business & GA 

EBACE 2021 Goes Online in Place of Live Event This Week

Erik Lindbergh is the opening keynote speaker for the 2021 EBACE Connect. (EBACE)

The European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) returns to an online format for the second consecutive year as COVID-19 will again postpone Europe’s largest business aviation trade show.

On May 17, EBACE Connect will host online press conferences with Airbus Corporate Jets, Milano Prime and Volocopter among others.

Check out the full program schedule or register for the online program here.


NTSB Gives Update on Mid-Air Collision at Centennial Airport 


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a May 12 mid-air collision involving a Cirrus SR-22 airplane and a Swearingen Metroliner airplane near Centennial Airport, Denver. Federal officials say that there were no injuries in the collision, and have conducted interviews with both of the pilots involved.

Both aircraft were operating under Part 91 general aviation rules, according to NTSB. The Cirrus was on a local flight from Centennial and the Metroliner was repositioning from Salida, Colorado.

“We are working to understand how and why these planes collided,” said John Brannen, an air safety Investigator from the NTSB’s Central Region office said in a May 13 press release. “It is so fortunate that no one was injured in this collision.”

Wheels Up Gets New Chief Marketplace Officer

Hegde previously worked for Amazon and Airbnb and has more than two decades of experience in the technology and digital sector. (Wheels Up)

Wheels Up, a private aviation brand focused on making private air travel accessible, appointed Vinayak Hegde as its new chief marketplace officer, according to a May 11 press release.

Hegde previously worked for Amazon and Airbnb and has more than two decades of experience in the technology and digital sector, according to the release. In his new role at Wheels Up, Hegde will focus on strategy and execution of initiatives across the brand’s marketplace.

“I am thrilled to be joining Wheels Up during this pivotal time for the Company,” Hegde said in a statement. “Wheels Up is a pioneer in the private aviation industry in so many ways and I am looking forward to accelerating the marketplace growth and expanded adoption. The team has developed a strong foundation and together we will realize the vision of its potential.”



Demand for an In-Person Convention is Strong, NBAA Says

Gulfstream introduced the new G700 business jet during an NBAA 2019 opening ceremony at Henderson Executive Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the conference will return in October of this year. (NBAA)

The National Business and Aviation Association (NBAA) says demand for its upcoming convention, the 2021 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) is strong among exhibitors and attendees, according to a May 10 press release.

“NBAA-BACE 2021 is shaping up to be a special event,” Ed Bolen, association president and CEO, said in a statement. “Although a small number of companies are not participating in trade shows this year, we’re thrilled that nearly all the leading companies in business aviation will be at NBAA-BACE, some in a very big way.”

The event, which is scheduled for Oct. 12-14 in Las Vegas, NV, has almost sold out its exhibit floor, according to the release. NBAA also states that a recent survey showed 88 percent of attendees wanting to attend live events in the fall.

“NBAA-BACE will be a celebration of innovation, technology, sustainability, workforce development – essentially all-things business aviation,” Bolen said. “It will be a truly transformative week, as we come together to unite with each other and ignite the imagination.”




Sino Jet is the Asia Pacific’s Largest Fleet, Again

Asian Sky Media presents the 2020 Asia-Pacific Business Jet Fleet Report

The Asian Sky Group’s 2020 Fleet Report named Sino Jet as Asia’s largest business jet operator for the second year in a row, according to a May 7 press release.

Sino Jet’s fleet contains 47 business jets and grew in size despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the release.



Royal Mail Completes UK Firsts with Drone Tests

The Skyports drone on The Isles of Scilly. Photograph By Chris Gorman / Royal Mail

Royal Mail has started a trial of beyond visual line of sight autonomous drone flights between the UK mainland and the Isles of Scilly to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 test kits, and other mail, according to a May 10 press release. The trial also achieved another first by completely parcel deliveries across the Scillies.

“Two more major UK firsts is hugely significant for us, and we are incredibly proud to find ways to support the more remote and isolated communities we serve,” Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said. ‘This is part of our constant drive to incorporate the best and most innovative technologies into our network. We’ve seen a huge increase in parcel volumes since the start of the pandemic, and this is just one of the ways we are looking to support our postmen and postwomen in delivering fast and convenient services for all of our customers while reducing our carbon emissions.”

The trial will use Windracers Limited drones and the drone delivery arm of Skyports, according to the release.

“It’s been a privilege and an honor to serve the Isles of Scilly and Royal Mail’s customers and employees with our autonomous, 100kg over 1,000-kilometre, ULTRA UAV,” Charles Scales, Chief Executive Officer at Windracers, said in a statement. “The ULTRA platform was designed to supply and serve people in remote locations, whether to children in need of medical or food aid in a country as large as South Sudan, or to serve island communities within our home shores. This project has proven the efficiency and robustness of ULTRA, with each round trip being 211km and being completed in less than two hours. With our unique CAA permissions, this will be the first time a large, economic, load carrying UAV is used between the Isles of Scilly and mainland Cornwall in a month-long trial.”




FAA Begins Vantis Testing Stages

Vantis is the first statewide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) network. (Vantis UAS)

North Dakota’s statewide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) network, Vantis, will begin testing and validation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), who administers the network, according to a May 4 press release.

“Safety is always our number one priority,” Trevor Woods, director of safety for NPUASTS and Vantis, said in a statement. “Vantis is blazing a new trail in UAS operations, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

Vantis’ infrastructure will use radars, ADS-B receivers, and command and control radios to allow UAS to fly beyond visual line of sight within the network, according to the release.

“We work closely with the FAA on every step of this process,” Nicholas Flom, executive director of NPUASTS and Vantis, said in a statement. “It’s an ideal partnership because we have a shared goal of achieving BVLOS flights that are scalable, repeatable, and economically viable.”




Google Cloud Signs Deal with SpaceX to Connect with Starlink Satellites

Google Cloud has signed a deal with SpaceX to connect its Starlink internet constellation to Google’s cloud services. Under the deal Google announced Thursday, SpaceX will locate Starlink ground stations within Google data center properties and connect Starlink to Google Cloud’s infrastructure.

Google Cloud’s private network will support Starlink internet service to business and consumers. Google said that this combination will support public sector agencies and businesses working at the network edge, or those operating in rural or remote areas, to use cloud applications, or to cloud services like analytics, artificial intelligence, or machine learning.

“Applications and services running in the cloud can be transformative for organizations, whether they’re operating in a highly networked or remote environment,” commented Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of Infrastructure at Google Cloud. “We are delighted to partner with SpaceX to ensure that organizations with distributed footprints have seamless, secure, and fast access to the critical applications and services they need to keep their teams up and running.”

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Why Are Batteries a Problem for eVTOLs?

May 15th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Why Are Batteries a Problem for eVTOLs?   
Why Are Batteries a Problem for eVTOLs?

Electric Power Systems’ EPiC Module has a modular approach to the battery to allow for enhanced modularity and adaptability to different vehicles with different needs.

Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft have unique battery challenges that will require developers to change how they think about battery systems and the designs of electric vehicles, Michael Armstrong, chief technology officer at Electric Power Systems, said during a May 13 Vertical Flight Society Forum 77 panel.

“If we look across these different applications between advanced air mobility, Part 23 fixed-wing aircraft, and automotive, the battery needs are very, very different and that stems primarily from how that battery is being used,” Armstrong said.

The current battery cell technology best reflects needs to automotive applications, Armstrong said. This technology has low-rate charging and functions as an energy cell when discharging. The external thermal constraints are determined by environmental conditions and it has a low nominal depth of discharge.

EVTOL aircraft have unique battery challenges that will require developers to change how they think about battery systems and the designs of electric vehicles.

In comparison, eVTOLs require extremely fast charging capabilities and high-power cell discharging.

“I would say it’s an extremely fast charge on the order of 3C plus so being to be able to fully charge the battery within something like 20 minutes, and for a permission, something like five to six to seven to recoup say 10 to 15 percent of the energy,” Armstrong said. “It’s a very high-power cell. You have a very high-power requirement during takeoff and landing and the energy density targets are very, very aggressive.”

Electric aircraft batteries also require very careful thermal management because of high load conditions at the beginning and end of flights.

“The other challenge around this battery is it has to be very, very carefully thermally managed, especially with this mission that assesses a very high load at the front of the mission, and then at the end,” Armstrong said. “So you need to be able to manage the thermal energy generated by the battery itself during those high load conditions, but what’s interesting about this is the urban application for this technology is it’s not necessarily a very deep discharge so you can you can take advantage of that shallow discharge, but you’re taxing that battery significantly on every mission on every flight cycle thermally and in terms of power.”

Armstrong said to develop a battery to fit the unique needs of an eVTOL they needed to understand the relationship between battery performance and operator needs.

To develop a battery to fit the unique needs of an eVTOL, Electric Power Systems needed to understand the relationship between battery performance and operator needs.

“This is one of those moments where we’ve said, we need our aircraft customers, we need our aircraft integrators to think about boundaries in certain ways to enable an intelligent integration of our system within their within their product,” Armstrong said. “The real focus area is to look at the operator themselves and understand the relationship between the battery performance and what the operators needs are.”

As with other aircraft, size, weight, and power must be carefully balanced in an eVTOL. This means that they will require an energy-dense battery to be able to accommodate power requirements while still being light and small. This problem is why many manufacturers have chosen to go with a hybrid option to still have access to energy-dense fuel.

“Obviously, one of the big things that we think about is stored energy mass,” Armstrong said. “We have to be able to accommodate that battery and carry that in an air vehicle so we look at the cells energy density, but we also have to look at packaging and installation. We can have a cell that is extremely energy-dense, but if it requires additional packaging and requires additional installation overhead because of the unique aspects of that cell, it doesn’t mean that that battery is going to be lightweight. Additionally, we need to look at operational efficiency. How fast can I charge this battery? What type of range, do I get for a charge minute, and then because of that fast charge, how much utilization does that battery have within the operation of the vehicle.”

All of these aspects must be considered when generating the cost rate or how much energy is consumed per passenger mile. The cost per kilowatt hour is driven by the degradation to the cell which refers to the effect the charging itself does to degrade the use of the battery.

“Understanding which segments of the mission are adding the most degradation to the cell and what is charging itself doing to degrade the cell, the use of that battery, within the context of the operations that the vehicle has to go to, dictates the cost effectiveness of that of a certain chemistry within that vehicle.”

Electric Power Systems has done research on conventional battery technologies like lithium-ion and more advanced chemistries like lithium metal oxide or highly based silicon chemistries. They found that the more advanced chemistries still have a lot of challenges with cycle life, energy density, and feasibility.

“When we look at some of these advanced chemistries, we see that there are major penalties associated with cycle life, there are major penalties associated with charge rate, and there are major challenges associated with the installation of these within a battery to be able to contain and protect the system from these more volatile chemistries,” Armstrong said. “So, as we look through the future, we look at benchmarking existing technology and their progression that we see coming from our cell partners and through chemical builders like Purdue and ourselves, and then as well, looking at the future technology roadmaps and when we think that they become cost effective within the context of the operations.”

Lithium-ion battery cells can be damaged by battery thermal runaway which happens when the voltage of the cell and the temperature is not managed adequately, Armstrong said. This can be managed by keeping the battery in a safe region between the two factors.

Lithium-ion battery cells can be damaged by battery thermal runaway which happens when the voltage of the cell and the temperature is not managed adequately. (Electric Power Systems)

“The philosophy, generally, has been hey let’s keep the battery in the safe region, let’s not allow it to be exposed to this abuse and that’s done through a battery management system,” Armstrong said. “So we don’t allow the voltage to go too high, we don’t allow the voltage to go too low, we don’t allow the temperature to go too high or too low. The challenge is that battery management system is a leaky sieve. I would say there are intrinsic challenges that the battery management system cannot protect against and those include the manufacturing defects at the cell level, and potential dendritic load growth or things that would cause internal short circuits on the cell.”

To protect the aircraft from potential battery failures, manufacturers will have to put containment and propagation mechanisms in place to protect the battery from damaging itself and the vehicle structures, Armstrong said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a rule for battery safety, 311 A, however, Armstrong said there still needs to be a battery system-level approach to enforcing safety.

“The FAA has certified lithium-ion batteries in the past and they have rules to do so…however that framework was developed in the context of engine start, or AP start and so the magnitude of the energy stored and the voltages that we’re talking about with these types of battery systems are different,” Armstrong said. “However, the framework is a useful framework to get started.”

The post Why Are Batteries a Problem for eVTOLs? appeared first on Aviation Today.

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How is Canada Approaching Advanced Air Mobility?

May 14th, 2021   •   Comments Off on How is Canada Approaching Advanced Air Mobility?   
How is Canada Approaching Advanced Air Mobility?

The Canadian Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a nonprofit promoting the sustainable, beneficial use of eVTOL aircraft and drones throughout the Vancouver region, released a white paper exploring the path to Vancouver’s potential emergence as the first “Advanced Air Mobility [AAM] City in North America.” Pictured here, is a proposed concept for takeoffs and landings with larger eVTOL aircraft. (AAM)

One in five aircraft in Canada will be flying with zero emissions by 2040, JR Hammond, executive director of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), said during a panel at the Vertical Flight Society’s Forum 77 on May 12. Making this goal a reality will require collaboration between industry and regulatory bodies to make advanced air mobility (AAM) not only environmentally sustainable but also economically sustainable and accessible to everyone involved, industry professionals said.

“We are really playing that role in taking all of the work coming out of the drone or RPAS [remotely piloted aircraft systems] industry, transitioning into this vertical advanced mobility industry, and critically, having that technology, build and build on energy capacity as we move into the commercial aviation side,” Hammond said. “Our work on advanced mobility, yes, encompasses the retail side, but it’s critical for moving people, cargo, and the performing of various services within urban and regional areas that were previously not served or underserved by aviation, all with that thread of sustainability under zero-emission aviation.”

Part of making AAM sustainable is making sure that the demand for these technologies is inclusive, Teara Fraser, lead executive at Iskwew Air, said during the panel. Fraser said that when she started Iskwew Air she was conscious of the very diverse communities in Canada and focused on how aviation might be an answer to some of their unique challenges.

“When I started Iskwew Air, one of the things I really cared about and that I wanted to contribute to was ensuring that those communities could access food, medical supplies, and the services that they needed,” Fraser said. “So, I’m really curious and committed to exploring how can these emerging technologies uplift indigenous land, story, sovereignty, and stewardship. How can these technologies be used in service of people in service of community?”

Engaging communities that have not traditionally been served by these technologies will also help with the public acceptance challenge which has been cited as a barrier to AAM, Danny Sitnam, president and CEO of HeliJet, said.

“If we can protect communities, protect families, help rural and remote communities develop their own initiatives with these technologies, we are going to get tremendous acceptance,” Sitnam said. “We have to break the stereotypical situation that is around us once in a while where these technologies are for the rich and famous.”

AirJet Helicopter is developing an aircraft that uses compressed air to perform many mechanical functions making it less expensive and more reliable than traditional components, Clifford Dickman, co-founder of AirJet Helicopter, said. Dickman said the design and performance is comparable to a helicopter, however, the AirJet aircraft offers economic benefits by avoiding maintenance and repair expenses.

“There’s been no sacrifice in terms of performance, but the operating costs, clearly, are reduced, and at the same time everyone is striving towards having an environmentally friendly and low impact aircraft on the environment, both in terms of noise, and carbon footprint,” Dickman said. “I think the AirJet concept goes a long way towards achieving both.”

Sitnam said when thinking about AAM technologies it is important to operate on a cost per seat mile model. He said part of his thinking on this is investing in long-haul, high speed, high altitude hybrid technologies for connecting trunk routes and smaller lighter low altitude technologies to feed hubs to and from suburban destinations.

While some new AAM technologies are transformative for the aerospace industry, Sitnam said they should not try to “reinvent the wheel” for every aspect of operations.

“With these new technologies, I think a key component is not reinventing the wheel,” Sitnam said. “There’s a lot of infrastructure already in place that we need to take advantage of. Existing heliports, specifically say the Vancouver harbor heliport, is a huge economic driver for the city and the province, and they can accommodate future technologies, at some point in time. So, I think we need to look at rules and regulations today, of existing facilities, and see how we integrate the infrastructure that’s coming ahead without reinventing the wheel and building more infrastructure when there’s something already there.”

Craig Bloch-Hansen, project manager of RPAS Technical Standards at Transport Canada, said the regulator approach to these technologies is three-pronged and includes focuses on personnel, procedures, and products. To achieve their regulatory objects they will need to coordinate research and development and then work to advance to operational trials.

“Our challenge is to understand those technologies, understand the risks associated with them, and provide a regulatory framework, that really allows for industry to grow to become sustainable and to support technology innovation, sustainable development, and ultimately, supporting safety,” Bloch-Hansen said.

The operational trials will be important so regulatory agencies can explore how these new technologies can integrate into existing infrastructure while also making it more sustainable, Bloch-Hansen said.

“We’re also working with Canadian industry to define, test, and deploy new infrastructure to support operations,” Bloch-Hansen said. “We also see a need to expand those [existing infrastructure] to support efficiencies within our operations, and to find ways to continue to drive sustainable development, both economically and environmentally within the regulatory structure and with support of the operators nationally.”

The panelists also emphasized the sentiment that AAM is not something that is happening in the future but right now.

“Some people may think it is going to be in the future, maybe one day, maybe our children, no no no no,” Nicolas Chabee, vice president of marketing and sales at Pratt & Whitney Canada, said. “We are going to show that it’s actually coming today. There’s some technology that is available today. There are some resources that are already flying today. We all have the same objective to increase advanced mobility to make it more accessible and democratic.”

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 9, 2021

May 10th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 9, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 9, 2021

Check out the May 9 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.




Airbus Pays Tribute to Passing of Fly-By-Wire Visionary Bernard Ziegler

Bernard Ziegler, engineering pioneer for digital fly-by-wire control technology on Airbus aircraft, has passed at the age of 88. (Airbus)

Airbus published a May 5 press release paying tribute to the passing of Bernard Ziegler, at the age of 88. Ziegler, one of Airbus’ engineering pioneers, was instrumental in the introduction of the world’s first digital Fly-By-Wire (FBW) and side stick controls in a commercial passenger aircraft with the A320 in 1988, according to the release.

Born in 1933, in Boulogne sur Seine, Ziegler graduated from the French “Ecole Polytechnique” in 1954 and, later, from several engineering and flight training schools (Ecole Nationale de l’Air, Ecole de Chasse, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique, Ecole du Personnel Navigant Essais).

During the early 1960s he studied aeronautical engineering at ENSA (l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique) in Toulouse, which is now ISAE-SUPAERO. He then attended prestigious flight test pilot school EPNER, before taking up a career as a military test pilot.

His career at Airbus spanned four decades, where he helped the company to realize the full potential that digital FBW could bring, including flight envelope protection incorporated into the control software. Ziegler’s legacy lives on with digital FBW on all current generation Airbus aircraft.

Through his retirement in December 1997, Ziegler was Airbus Senior Vice President of Engineering.

Boeing Adds New 737 Passenger-to-Freighter Conversion Lines in Costa Rica 

Boeing will add two new 737 passenger to freighter conversion lines in Costa Rica. (Boeing)

Boeing is adding two new 737-800 Converted Freighter (BCF) conversion lines in Alajuela, Costa Rica, under a new partnership with local aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA).

The first of the new conversion lines is expected to open in early 2022, according to a May 5 press release, with the second anticipated to open later that year.

Currently, Boeing converts 737-800 passenger airplanes to freighters at three locations: Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services (BSAS) in Shanghai, China; Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company Limited (GAMECO) in Guangzhou, China; and Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd. (STAECO) in Jinan, China.

To date, the 737-800BCF has won more than 180 orders and commitments from 15 customers on four continents. In March, Boeing re-delivered the 50th 737-800BCF since entering into service in 2018.



Lufthansa Group Expands Long Haul Fleet with New Airbus A350, Boeing 787 Orders

Lufthansa is adding five new 787-9s to its long-haul fleet. (Lufthansa)

Lufthansa Group’s Executive has approved a new purchase 10 total long-haul aircraft: five Airbus A350-900s and five Boeing B787-9, according to a May 3 press release. These aircraft will be operated by Lufthansa.

The first Boeing 787-9 are scheduled to fly for Lufthansa as early as next winter, with others to follow in the first half of 2022, according to the release.

A computer-generated image of a Lufthansa Airbus A350-900. (Lufthansa Group)

The five newly ordered Airbus A350-900s will be delivered in 2027 and 2028. This brings the total number of firm orders for the A350-900 to 45 aircraft. The Lufthansa Group also agreed with Airbus on a re-structuring of planned deliveries.

“Even in these challenging times, we are continuing to invest in a more modern, more efficient and a lower emission Lufthansa Group fleet. At the same time, we are pushing ahead with the modernization of our long-haul fleet even faster than planned prior to the coronavirus pandemic due to anti-cyclical opportunities,” Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said in the release. “The new aircraft are the most modern of their kind. We want to further expand our global leadership role, among other things, with cutting-edge premium products and a state-of-the-art fleet – especially because we have a responsibility to the environment.”



IATA Highlights High Cost of COVID-19 Testing on Airlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) highlighted the high cost of COVID-19 testing in a May 4 press release, referencing statistics from a sampling of the costs of tests being used in some of the world’s largest passenger airline markets.

“An IATA sampling of costs for PCR tests (the test most frequently required by governments) in 16 countries showed wide variations by markets and within markets,” IATA said in the release. “Of the 15 markets where there is a cost for PCR testing to the individual. The average minimum cost for testing was $90. The average maximum cost for testing was $208.”

“As travel restrictions are lifted in domestic markets, we are seeing strong demand. The same can be expected in international markets. But that could be perilously compromised by testing costs—particularly PCR testing. Raising the cost of any product this significantly will stifle demand,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said in the release. “The impact will be greatest for short haul trips (up to 1,100 km), with average fares of $105, the tests will cost more than the flight. That’s not what you want to propose to travelers as we emerge from this crisis. Testing costs must be better managed. That’s critical if governments want to save tourism and transport jobs; and avoid limiting travel freedoms to the wealthy.”






Business & GA

Dassault Launches New Falcon 10X, Targets 2025 Entry into Service 

A computer-generated rendering of Dassault’s new Falcon 10X ultra long range business jet. (Dassault Aviation)

Dassault launched its all-new Falcon 10X business jet during a live ceremony broadcast from a hangar at Le Bourget Airport on May 6, targeting a 2025 entry into service.

The 10X will be powered by the Rolls Royce Pearl 10X engine, largest and most powerful version of the Pearl series, delivering more than 18,000 pounds of thrust. According to a May 6 press release, the 10X will be capable of flying nonstop from New York to Shanghai, Los Angeles to Sydney, Hong Kong to New York or Paris to Santiago with a 7,500 nautical mile range.

“The 10X is large enough to accommodate four cabin zones of equal length but owners can configure their cabin to create a truly customized interior, including for example, an expanded dining/conference area, a dedicated entertainment area with a large-screen monitor, a private stateroom with a queen-size bed or an enlarged master suite with a private stand-up shower,” Dassault said in the release.

Using augmented and virtual reality, Dassault gave a tour of a digital mockup of what the new 10X will look like, including the new flight deck, which features a single smart throttle that will serve as the primary power control, connecting both engines to the Digital Flight Control System (DFCS), according to Dassault.


Flexjet and Sentient Jet Parent Company Acquires Halo Aviation

Luxury fractional jet provider Flexjet and jet card provider Sentient Jet have a new sister company, Halo Aviation Ltd. (Halo), a U.K.-based helicopter transportation services operator. The transaction follows the acquisition earlier this year of Associated Aircraft Group (AAG), a U.S.-based executive Sikorsky helicopter operator.

“My vision is to strategically position each of our flight providers to become a leader in its market,” Kenneth C. Ricci, Principal, Directional Aviation, parent of OneSky Flight, said in a  May 7 press release. “Flexjet is the preeminent global fractional ownership company, Sentient Jet offers the industry’s leading jet card and FXAIR and PrivateFly have uniquely-positioned offerings in the on-demand charter space. Now, with the acquisition of Halo and AAG, we can add another market to that list: Vertical lift.”

Founded in 2009 by William Fanshawe and Therese Bewsey, Halo Aviation is a helicopter travel services provider with bases in the south of England, around London, in the Midlands and in the Channel Islands.







Intelsat’s Gogo Commercial Aviation Acquisition Pays Off in First Quarter Results

Intelsat turned in its first year-over-year double-digit revenue increase in at least eight years, thanks to contributions from its recently acquired Gogo Commercial Aviation business. The satellite operator’s first fiscal quarter 2021 revenues were $502.8 million — an increase of $43.9 million (0r 10 percent) from Q1 2020.

The operator also cut its total quarterly net losses from $218.8 million in Q1 2020 to $174.9 million for the three-month period that ended March 31.

Intelsat completed its $400 million cash acquisition of Gogo Commercial Aviation in December and transformed it into a business unit under its Network Services division, which delivered $214 million in Q1 revenue. This represents a 43 percent year-over-year increase for the division and makes Network Services Intelsat’s largest and most profitable business unit, surpassing the Media unit.

The satellite operator said the increase would have been even greater if not for certain mobility and enterprise contract terminations that happened during the quarter. The costs attributed to the Gogo Commercial Aviation acquisition itself also offset some of the overall company’s gains.




SkyFive Creates Independent Sister company to Develop 5G Air-to-Ground Connectivity in China

SkyFive, a Munich, Germany-based provider of air-to-ground connectivity, has established a new independent sister company, SkyFive In-flight Connectivity dedicated to developing a new IFC solution for the Chinese commercial passenger airline market.

“To fully cater for the needs of increasingly connected aircraft flying in the dense Chinese airspace, the government decided to leapfrog legacy satellite technologies and rely on 5G-based Air-to-Ground (ATG) communications to provide aerial broadband connectivity services. Airline passengers will experience high speed Internet in the aircraft cabin, and airlines will benefit from significantly improved operational efficiency, all delivered at a minimum cost per bit,” SkyFive said in a May 1 press release.

The creation of SkyFive Inflight Connectivity (Beijing) Co. Ltd. follows the earlier announcement of a partnership with Airbus to develop a 5G ATG solution for the Chinese market.




US Navy’s C-130s Get Upgrades

U.S. Marine Corps maintainers install Collins wheels and brakes on a C-130 at Navy Air Station New Orleans. (Collins)

The U.S. Navy’s fleet of C-130T and KC-130T aircraft has completed an upgrade of their wheels and brakes, according to a May 5 announcement from Collins Aerospace.

The new breaks will include Collins DURACARB carbon heat sink material allowing them to last for 2,000 landings per overhaul compared to 250 landings with the previous system, according to Collins. They can also handle higher energy.

“At Collins Aerospace, we’re committed to keeping our warfighters safe while delivering the most efficient solutions to our customers to help keep their aircraft in the air,” Ajay Mahajan, vice president, Landing Systems for Collins Aerospace, said in a statement. “And that is exactly what our bolt-less wheels and carbon brakes will do for the U.S. Navy.”

The new wheels will have a lock-ring design and higher fatigue life compared to previous models, according to Collins. They also contain fewer parts.


BETA’s eVTOL Receives First Air Force Airworthiness Approval for Human Flight in Electric Aircraft

ALIA is a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion system with eight lifting motors used for vertical lift and two internal motors used for cruising. (BETA)

After a year of testing BETA Technologies electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, ALIA, has received the first airworthiness approval for manned flight in an electric aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force announced on May 5.

BETA and the Air Force will sign a contract in June that allows the Air Force access to ALIA as well as their eVTOL simulators in Washington, D.C. and Springfield, Ohio. The airworthiness approval allows ALIA to fly in the Air Force’s AFWERX Agility Prime program, according to the Air Force.

“Achieving the first manned airworthiness authorization in the Agility Prime program is a key milestone,” Col. Nathan Diller, the director of AFWERX, said in a statement. “This not only unlocks the opportunity to begin Air Force directed manned flight tests, but it also shows the high level of maturity of this technology and the high level of maturity of Agility Prime partner companies like BETA.”

The airworthiness approval follows the military 516c standard, according to BETA. ALIA is a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion system with eight lifting motors used for vertical lift and two internal motors used for cruising, according to BETA. It is 7,000 pounds and has a 50-foot wingspan. BETA developed ALIA to be developed under Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification standard.


B-1Bs Resume Flight After April Grounding for Fuel Leak

A B-1B Lancer is prepared for retirement at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., on Feb. 16. The Air Force has said that the planned divestment of 17 B-1B aircraft will help sustain the remaining fleet of 45 B-1s and save funds to direct toward the new B-21 bomber (U.S. Air Force)

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers by Boeing began a resumption of flights on May 3rd after a safety stand-down by Gen. Timothy Ray, the head of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), on Apr. 20th.

“Individual B-1B aircraft will return to flight as inspections and maintenance directed during the stand-down are completed on each aircraft,” AFGSC said on May 6th. The Apr. 20th grounding of the B-1B fleet followed an Apr. 8th “ground emergency” involving one B-1B at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., per AFGSC. While taxiing to the aircraft parking area at 3:45 p.m. that day, maintenance crews saw fuel leaking from the plane and notified the aircrew.

Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington, the commander of 8th Air Force, said in a statement that the B-1Bs “are still safe to fly and we are confident that this stand-down has resulted in increased safety within the B-1B fleet.”




D3 Technologies Partners with CAAM

D3 is developing an automated deep-tech air traffic control system for UAM for automated flight. (D3 Technologies)

D3 Technologies, the German urban air mobility (UAM) startup, is partnering with the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) to implement urban air traffic control in Canada, according to a May 6 press release from the company.

D3 is developing an automated deep-tech air traffic control system for UAM for automated flight.

“We highly value the opportunity to incorporate Air Traffic Control best practices and the forward-thinking of Advanced Air Mobility in a current, revenue-generating project that will demonstrate proof of concept to regulators such as Nav Canada and unlock future use cases,” Achim Kostron, CCO D3 Technologies, said in a statement. “The interdisciplinary partner models put together by CAAM will accelerate AAM worldwide! We are excited to be part of this progress and to enable regulators to evaluate the options of future urban air traffic control.”





FAA Adds More Space Launch Activity Areas

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi onboard, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

The Federal Aviation Administration is adding more space launch activity areas to its navigation charts in an effort to increase pilot safety and airspace awareness, the agency announced in a May 5 release.

The agency is predicting that space launches and reentries could exceed 50 this year compared to 41 last year.

Space activity areas currently exist in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.







Jaunt Expands Operations in Canada and Appoints New President

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

Jaunt Air Mobility is opening design and manufacturing operations in Canada and has appointed Eric Côté to head its Canadian operations, the company announced on May 6.

“Our announcement today to locate our design and manufacturing operations to Canada aligns with our certification path and commercialization strategy,” Martin Peryea, CEO of Jaunt Air Mobility, said in a statement. “Canada and Québec offer a wide range of opportunities stemming from a long history in the aerospace industry, including an experienced workforce and global suppliers. Canada’s aerospace industry is known for export, and we intend to capitalize on that reach. Canada is a global leader in developing and promoting clean technology and this is aligned with our core values.”

Côté has over 15 years of aerospace experience and was most recently leading the Soucy Group, a worldwide engineering and manufacturing organization in defense, power sports, industrial, and agricultural sectors.

“Jaunt Air Mobility is developing a new generation of aircraft that will meet the growing demand for faster urban and regional travel,” Côté said in a statement. “The Jaunt Journey will meet the highest safety standards and eliminate Green House Gases (GHG) emissions. One aircraft can eliminate the equivalent of 95 cars of GHG in congested city driving conditions. The aircraft will offer a solution for urban air mobility, cargo delivery, medical transport, and humanitarian aid.”



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Space-based ADS-B Gives Eurocontrol Six Hour Preview of Flights Entering European Airspace

May 8th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Space-based ADS-B Gives Eurocontrol Six Hour Preview of Flights Entering European Airspace   
Space-based ADS-B Gives Eurocontrol Six Hour Preview of Flights Entering European Airspace

Eurocontrol has started integrating Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data into its flow management system for European airspace. (Eurocontrol)

Eurocontrol has started integrating Aireon’s space-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data into its enhanced tactical flow management system (EFTMS), a capability the agency expects will drastically improve predictability for air traffic operations throughout European airspace.

Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data is now providing real-time surveillance data to the EFTMS under a 10-year agreement signed with Eurocontrol last year. Eurocontrol sees the injection of space-based ADS-B as a key element of its broader efforts to transition to a new “integrated Network Management (iNM) system” that will help establish a new digital services-based architecture for air traffic management in Europe.

A software upgrade to the ETFMS last year allowed it to start using Asterix Cat 21, a surveillance data format that gives Aireon the ability to tailor the data fed to the system only on flights that are designed to land within or fly over the European region. According to a May 6 press release published by Eurocontrol, the Aireon system provides coverage for all 41 Eurocontrol member states, as well as Israel and Morocco.

Eurocontrol’s ability to process the space-based data and then use it to optimize flow management in collaboration with Europe’s individual air navigation service providers (ANSPs) could significantly improve the ability of airlines and airports to meet scheduled arrival and departure times. Prior to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on passenger demand and flight operations in 2020, between 2018 and 2019 Eurocontrol recorded a record number of flight delays, primarily due to record numbers of flights being operated at the time and the segmented way in which air traffic is managed in the region.

“We have the data from six hours before entry into the NM area. So, our flight plans are updated in real-time with these data, which allows us to increase our capacity,” Daniela Gheorghe, network operations manager for Eurocontrol said in a video covering the space-based ADS-B announcement. “According to the studies, we expect at least a 20 percent improvement in predictability, which will allow us to be able to do better planning when traffic will ramp up.”

Air traffic controllers in Europe have also increased their flexibility in accommodating schedule and flight plan changes when a disruption of traffic awareness or other unexpected disruptions of traffic over a large area occurs with the surveillance upgrade. The integration of space-based ADS-B data into EFTMS will also give controllers the ability to receive more information about swaths of airspace that exist outside of their direct area of responsibility.

“Eurocontrol has demonstrated exemplary leadership in the deployment and operation of innovative technology and services. They are the first provider to use space-based ADS-B for flow management,” Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon said in a statement. “We are confident that space-based ADS-B data, provided from well-beyond the EU borders and shared with the Member States, will facilitate worldwide gains in efficiency and environmental sustainability, while also reducing delays for customers.”

Integration of space-based ADS-B into EFTMS comes two years after Aireon became the first-ever company to be certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a provider of aircraft surveillance-as-a-service. That designation allows Aireon to provide space-based ADS-B surveillance for any European ANSP.

With the ADS-B integration into EFTMS complete, Eurocontrol can now move on to the next steps it has outlined in iNM development, including plans to select contractors for the system next month, before developing an initial pilot concept to demonstrate its ability to interface with legacy ATM systems used throughout the region.

“Once the pandemic is contained and air traffic resumes, it will be crucial that we have an air traffic management system in place that can adapt quickly to varying traffic demand in the safest, most sustainable and efficient manner,” Eamonn Brennan, director general of Eurocontrol said in a statement. “The integration of space-based ADS-B marks a significant milestone for building the ATM system of the future which will benefit all aviation stakeholders.”


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