Airbus will lead development in Spain for the New Generation Fighter (NGF) and be the prime contractor in the low observability domain of the European Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Program, according to a Dec. 9 announcement from Airbus its Trade Media Briefing. The announcement follows Spain’s official onboarding in the Joint Concept Study and Phase 1A of FCAS.
“With the official signature of the Spain industry contracts, all 3 partner nations and their industries are fully on-boarded on #FCAS which will be the largest European defense collaborative programme for the 21st century,” Bruno Fichefeux, head of the FCAS Program, said during the briefing according to a tweet posted by Airbus.
FCAS, the European combat system of systems, is under development by Thales, Indra Sistemas, and Dassault Aviation and includes development of the NGF, remote carrier, combat cloud, engine, sensors, low observability, and inter-consistency and Simlab.
In 2021, the preliminary and critical design review of FCAS and remote carrier demonstrators will be completed, and the build will begin. Fichefeux said the NGF aircraft flight physical demonstration will happen between 2026 and 2027 along with demonstrations of the engine, unmanned remote carrier, combat cloud and connectivity, sensors, low observability technology, and simulation lab environment. The first capability demonstrations and operational capabilities will occur in 2030 and NGWS and FCAS will be fully operational in 2040.
“This signature builds on Airbus’ acknowledged role as the aerospace and defense prime contractor in Spain and ensures we can support Spain’s best interests by contributing our proven design, industrial and technical capabilities, as well as our experience in successful sovereign European programs,” Alberto Gutiérrez, President of Airbus Spain, said in a press statement published by Airbus.
The Spanish Ministry of Defense announced the integration of Spanish companies into the research, development, and technological demonstrations of the European Next Generation Weapons System (NGWS) and FCAS on Dec. 7. The NGWS and FCAS were declared a State program because of their strategic importance in ensuring armed forces capabilities and boosting development in the defense industrial sector, according to the release.
Airbus is also building a trainer jet program for the Spanish Air Force that has the growth potential to the future trainer aircraft of the FCAS and NGF. The company is also participating in the German FCAS project.
During the media briefing, Airbus announced the completion of the Innovations for FCAS (I4 FCAS) initiative pilot phase which was funded by the German Ministry of Defense and launched in April. The pilot phase included the whole range of FCAS elements bringing together 18 innovative players for 14 projects and aimed at involving non-traditional defense players in FCAS.
“The initiative shows that FCAS does not compare with previous larger defense projects. By implementing young and innovative players, some of whom have never been in touch with the defense sector, we ensure to leverage all competencies available for a game-changing high-tech program such as FCAS,” Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defense and Space, said in a press statement. “It will also foster technological spill-overs between the military and civil worlds. It is our ambition to continue the initiative in 2021 and beyond and make it a cornerstone of our FCAS innovation strategy.”
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Uber Technologies is making a $75 million investment in Joby Aviation that includes the acquisition of Uber’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) company, Uber Elevate, according to a Dec. 8 press release. Joby Aviation is developing an eVTOL aircraft set to operate in 2023.
The $75 million investment will be added to a previously undisclosed $50 million investment from Uber in January 2020 for Joby’s Series C financing round, according to the release. Joby Aviation’s total funding will now stand at $820 million with the new investment by Uber.
“We were proud to partner with Uber Elevate last year and we’re even prouder to be welcoming them into the Joby team today, while deepening our cooperation with Uber,” JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation said in a press statement. “The team at Uber Elevate has not only played an important role in our industry, they have also developed a remarkable set of software tools that build on more than a decade of experience enabling on-demand mobility. These tools and new team members will be invaluable to us as we accelerate our plans for commercial launch.”
According to the release, Joby Aviation and Uber will create integration between ground and air travel for future customers by integrating their respective services into each other’s apps.
“Advanced air mobility has the potential to be exponentially positive for the environment and future generations,” Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, said in a press statement. “This deal allows us to deepen our partnership with Joby, the clear leader in this field, to accelerate the path to market for these technologies. We’re excited for their transformational mobility solution to become available to the millions of customers who rely on our platform.”
Joby Aviation and Uber are not new partners. In Dec. 2019, they signed a multi-year partnership to launch an urban air taxi service with Joby supplying electric air taxis and Uber providing support services, skyport infrastructure, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces for deployment in 2023.
Uber also sold its self-driving unit to Silicon Valley startup, Aurora, yesterday.
The board of directors of the Paris Air Show and the French Aerospace Industries Association (GIFAS) have canceled the scheduled June 21-27, 2021 event due to COVID-19 concerns, the organizations said on Dec. 7.
“In light of the uncertainty linked to the current COVID-19 health crisis, the Paris Air Show organization has made the decision to cancel the 2021 edition of the show,” the organizers said. “Together with the Board of Directors of the GIFAS (French Aerospace Industries Association), the Board of Directors of the Paris Air Show has taken this inevitable decision in response to the international health crisis and the large number of visitors that this popular show attracts. This reasonable decision was agreed upon unanimously by the Paris Air Show Board members in the context of a crisis that has had an unprecedented impact on the aerospace industry.”
The 2021 show was to be the 54th since its establishment in 1909. Canceled during the years of World War I and World War II, the show has been held in each odd year since 1949. The June 2019 show featured 2,453 exhibitors from 49 countries and 140 aircraft, including the Boeing KC-46 tanker and the Embraer Praetor 600 business jet.
The organizers said that they will hold the next Paris Air Show in June, 2023. Exhibitors who had planned on a 2021 show “will receive a full refund of all sums already paid and the Paris Air Show will take full financial responsibility for this decision,” the International Paris Air Show said.
Patrick Daher, chairman of the International Paris Air Show and the Daher Group, said that the organization has “already started work to ensure that the 2023 edition celebrates the resurgence of the aerospace industry on an international scale.”
The post 2021 Paris Air Show Canceled Due to COVID-19 Concerns appeared first on Aviation Today.
There is little argument in the aviation industry about the need to create more sustainable aircraft, however, how and when to achieve zero emissions is still up for debate. During a Dec. 8 Global Symposium on the Implementation of Innovation in Aviation virtual panel hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), industry professionals focused on alternative fuel sources like hydrogen, efficient air traffic management, and cooperative governing bodies as pathways to zero emissions aircraft.
“Business as usual will not get us to decarbonization path required science and by society,” Jane Hupe, deputy director of environment at ICAO, said in a taped address. “Aircraft today is 70 percent more quiet and 80 percent more fuel-efficient than in the 1960s, showcasing how the aviation sector has undergone spectacular innovation over time. But the fundamentals have stayed the same.”
This constant evolution of the existing technologies will continue to be needed, but only the introduction of radical disruptive revolutionary innovation will be able to deliver the inspiring levels of decarbonization required in order to respond to the evolving consumer demands and regulations, according to Hupe. “Long term commitments are essential for the construct of decarbonization pathways but should not shadow the need to act now,” she said.
A key to lowering emissions is finding alternative fuel sources. SkyNRG, a global leader for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), has been working on this aspect of the zero-emissions equation for 10 years. Their mission is to make SAF the new global standard, Charlotte Hardenbol, head of programs and solutions at SkyNRG, said during the panel.
SkyNRG started by increasing small demonstration-scale projects and now has continuous volumes being produced daily, Hardenbol said. However, the production quantities they are hitting now will need to be increased by at least 85 percent to meet ICAO’s 2050 targets.
“To actually reach our global climate targets, we need to build production capacity for SAF fast,” Hardenbol said. “If you look at the ICAO 2050 targets for a 50 percent carbon reduction versus 2005, for instance, that would mean that we would need to produce around 265 million tons of SAF by 2050. To give you a sense of perspective, we’re around 100, maybe 200,000 tons in 2019. So, for us to reach that, we would need to build 500 sustainable aviation fuel production facilities at a scale of 500,000 tons until 2050. And that will need a lot of innovation for new technologies to scale and a lot of funding.”
Companies like Airbus and ZeroAvia are looking to hydrogen as a clean alternative fuel source. Simone Rauer, head of aviation environmental roadmap for corporate affairs at Airbus, said hydrogen is the most promising alternative fuel source because it is produced from renewable energy and other countries are also interested in investing in it.
In September, Airbus unveiled its ZEROe zero-emission commercial aircraft concepts. Rauer said Airbus is exploring technologies like hydrogen fuel cells, hydrogen combustion, modified gas turbine engines, and cryogenic storage of hydrogen insulated tanks for these concepts. In the next four to five years, Airbus will have technology demonstrators and in 2025 they will make a decision about what sources of power to pursue with a focus on developing a full-scale prototype in the late 2020s.
“While we’re focusing really on CO2 emissions for this whole holistic decarbonization approach, as a priority, we do not forget about the reduction of other emissions and environmental aspects of the lifecycle of an aircraft,” Rauer said. “This is also the case for hydrogen technologies by, for example, considering their CO2 reduction potential all along the lifecycle.”
ZeroAvia already completed a test flight of its hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft this September. Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia, said they will have their first commercial offering of the aircraft in 2023 which will feature 10-20 seats with a 500-mile range.
“We use hydrogen as the primary fuel to propel the aircraft, but we do not burn it in the engines, instead, we convert it to electricity using hydrogen fuel cells and then use that electricity to run the electric motors that in turn, turn the propulsor,” Miftakhov said. “In our first aircraft that we’re putting on the market, this will be propellers and then we move to the larger engine or blade driving fans.”
ZeroAvia also produces the infrastructure for the hydrogen fueling process. Miftakhov said this part is essential because the majority of hydrogen today is produced by fossil fuel sources which would defeat the purpose of building a zero-emissions aircraft. ZeroAvia has built fueling infrastructure at Cranfield University in the UK that is 50 percent renewable and hopes to make it 100 percent renewable.
While zero-emissions aircraft and SAF are the ultimate goals for CO2 reduction, these are long term projects that will take years to fully implement. Benjamin Binet, vice president of strategy of airspace mobility solutions at Thales, said the aviation industry needs to also focus on what they can do now to lower emissions.
“Why do we need to act now, now as in December 2020? It’s because if we want to reach those targets long term, we need to do things as early as 2021,” Binet said. “I mean those low carbon aircraft are fantastic, but once again, we’re talking 2035…so we need to find optimization before.”
Thales has launched a green aviation innovation initiative to decrease emissions by 10 percent by 2023. Binet said one way to do this is to create a continuous improvement cycle consisting of evaluation, experimentation, exploration, and large-scale deployment of new technologies. An important aspect of this would be a “smart green meter” which would help create transparency across the industry and with customers about the environmental footprints of each actor.
Thales is also looking at optimization with operations like different routes or procedures that can have a direct impact on climate.
“What we want to do here is we want to define the procedures and invent the tools in order to have a direct impact on climate,” Binet said. “So how do we do that? …What we do is we sit together with the people in charge, so the people acting, the users. We sit with the pilot, air operations, and traffic controllers, we look at the current procedures, we invent together, we write together the operations, how we could optimize the operations in terms of the climate impact.”
However, to fully meet ICAO’s 2050 goals, a few companies cannot be acting alone. There needs to be collaborative bodies to guide initiatives, which is why the UK Jet Zero Council was created. The UK Jet Zero Council brings together senior-level representation in the government, industry, and academia to provide advice on the government’s ambitions for clean aviation.
“In 2018, the UK became the first developed country to commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050, and whilst that’s the kind of great things for the UK is kind of credentials around climate change, it’s a challenge for me and my team because most of the modeling suggests that the aviation sector will be the highest residual is for carbon by 2050,” Darryl Abelscroft, head of aviation decarbonization strategy for the UK government’s Department of Transportation, said during the webinar.
While COVID-19 has had devastating impacts on the commercial aviation industry, Abelscroft said it presents an opportunity to innovate with new technologies while understanding the needs of the sector in the coming years.
“The focus in the UK at the moment is on restarting and recovery of the aviation sector but that does present an opportunity,” Abelscroft said. “That partnership working allows us to put a real emphasis on understanding where the sector needs to get to by 2030, 2040, 2050, but to get there we need innovation, we need the real new technologies that can cut carbon out of the sector. Many other sectors that are trying to decarbonize have the technologies already it’s about delivering but that’s not the case here. We need to collaborate and accelerate innovation if we’re going to deliver so we can achieve where we need to get to.”
Abelscroft said achieving net zero emissions by 2050 will be a prize not only for the environment but also for the economies of countries who lead the way with these technologies.
The post How Is the Aviation Industry Moving Towards Future Net Zero Emissions Goals? appeared first on Aviation Today.
The military-grade unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by the Department of Defense (DoD) and other U.S. federal agencies, Vesper, and its Vision Ground Control Station (GCS) will become available to commercial customers for the first time, Vantage Robotics, the UAV’s manufacturer announced on Dec. 8. Vesper has capabilities like stealth and low-light cameras, endurance, portability, and a modular design.
“We’re incredibly proud to introduce Vesper, our elite small EO/IR drone with unequaled endurance, zoom, stealth, and low-light capabilities,” Tobin Fisher, Vantage’s CEO and co-founder, told Avionics International in an email. “After years of development and rigorous testing by the U.S. Department of Defense, Vesper is now ready for the most challenging reconnaissance missions. We look forward to significantly increasing capabilities for our U.S. government customers as well as select first responders, security, and inspections customers.”
Some of the commercial or civilian uses envisioned by Vantage for Vesper include facilities management, inspections of secure infrastructures, private security, wildlife management, oceanographic research and law enforcement. Vesper will become available for commercial purchase on Jan. 15, 2021.
According to Vantage, the Vesper has a flight time of 50 minutes and is able to reach speeds up to 45 mph and becomes unseen as well as inaudible at 50 meters. The gimbal can be swapped, and it also features two battery and rotor set options.
Operators control the drone using a 7-inch 1080p daylight viewable screen that has a four-hour battery life.
Through its partnership with the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Blue sUAS Project, the Vesper was approved to fly in national and DoD airspace, according to Vantage. DoD secure user authentication, AES-256 encryption on communications and stored data, and bonded construction to prevent tampering are among the security features implemented into its systems architecture.
“Following months of cyber penetration testing and supply chain analysis, the US. Air Force granted Vesper and Vision GCS an ATO (Authority to Operate), further supported by redundant testing conducted by the Department of Defense’s Digital Defense Service,” Vantage said in a press statement.
The post Vesper Military Drone Now Available to Commercial Operators appeared first on Aviation Today.
Check out the Dec. 6 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.
Ryanair, one of the largest low cost airlines in Europe, has placed an order for 75 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The new order comes two weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the grounded MAX fleet for return to service in U.S. airspace.
“Ryanair’s board and people are confident that our customers will love these new aircraft. Passengers will enjoy the new interiors, more generous leg room, lower fuel consumption and quieter noise performance. And, most of all, our customers will love the lower fares, which these aircraft will enable Ryanair to offer starting in 2021 and for the next decade, as Ryanair leads the recovery of Europe’s aviation and tourism industries,” said Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary.
O’Leary and Ryanair leaders joined the Boeing team for a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. Both companies acknowledged COVID-19’s impacts on air traffic in the near-term, but expressed confidence in the resilience and strength of the passenger demand over the long term.
“As soon as the COVID-19 virus recedes – and it likely will in 2021 with the rollout of multiple effective vaccines – Ryanair and our partner airports across Europe will – with these environmentally efficient aircraft – rapidly restore flights and schedules, recover lost traffic and help the nations of Europe recover their tourism industries, and get young people back to work across the cities, beaches and ski resorts of the European Union,” O’Leary said.
Honeywell introduced its fourth-generation Combined Hydrocarbon Ozone Catalyst (CHOC4) which is a new catalyst designed to eliminate “smell-in-cabin” events or volatile organic compounds (VCOs) in “bleed air,” according to a Dec. 1 press release.
VCOs enter the cabin from the engines and auxiliary power units for air-conditioning and pressurization. The air can contain VCOs because of fumes or particles from jet fuel, hydraulic oils or deicing fluid and causes unwanted odors in the cabin, according to the release.
“Severe smell-in-cabin incidents can cost airlines up to $50 million per year in flight disruptions and unscheduled maintenance,” said Tom Hart, vice president and general manager, air and thermal systems at Honeywell Aerospace. “CHOC4 reduces VOCs from the engines and bleed air supply, thereby reducing the severity and frequency of these incidents.”
ThinKom Solutions is supplying its ThinAir Ka2517 aero satellite antennas to GDC Technics, the company revealed in a Dec. 4 press release. The Ka2517 antenna will be used to enable Inmarsat’s GX Aviation broadband satellite in-flight connectivity (IFC) solutions, including the new GX+ North American IFC service announced by Inmarsat and Hughes Network Systems earlier this year.
The Ka2517 antenna is based on ThinKom’s Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Stub (VICTS) technology. VICTS antennas have been used for 18 million operational hours on more than 1,550 commercial aircraft.
GDC’s next-generation IFC terminals with ThinKom’s antennas have received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) on Boeing 737-700 aircraft. GDC has planned for more STCs in early 2021 for the Airbus A320 family, additional 737 models, and Boeing 787/777 aircraft.
“The Ka2517 antenna fully complies with new regulatory requirements, including WRC-19 EISM and ITU Article 22, ensuring non-interference with terrestrial 5G cellular networks or with Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites when being used on Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO networks),” said Bill Milroy, chairman and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of ThinKom Solutions. “It also offers the switching speeds and agility to interoperate seamlessly with new multi-layered GEO, Highly-Elliptical Orbit (HEO) and NGSO satellite networks.”
Gogo released a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) upgrade for business aviation, Gogo Vision 360, which offers unlimited streaming of on-demand movies, TV, news, digital magazines, and a new 3D moving map, according to a Dec. 2 press release. Gogo Vision 360 is available with an AVANCE 4.2 software upgrade and comes in three package options and price ranges.
“Gogo Vision has become an essential part of the inflight experience for many of our passengers and operators,” Sergio Aguirre, Gogo’s president, said in a press statement. “Passengers want to be productive during their flights, but they also need downtime. The addition of a new 3D moving map will provide a new interactive experience for passengers that we’re excited to offer. Vision 360 is an important next step in our commitment to deliver the best in-flight connectivity and entertainment experience to business aviation.”
The 3D moving map is a partnership with FlightPath3D that offers an interactive experience with high-resolution satellite imagery, according to the release. It provides information about landmarks and attractions while showing real-time flight data like ground speed, altitude, and heading.
Gogo Vision 360 automatically updates every month through Gogo Cloudport or Gogo Cloud locations.
The Spanish Air Force (SpAF) received the final two MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and a Ground Control Station (GCS) on Nov. 23 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), according to a Nov. 30 press release. The program is the first MQ-9A Block 5 acquisition by an international partner.
The MQ-9A Block 5 received an Airworthiness Military Type Certificate after completing acceptance test procedures (ATP) at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility before being delivered to the SpAF. This marks the first time Spain has issued an Airworthiness Military Type Certificate for the MQ-9A Block 5, according to the release.
“We are proud of our partnership with the Spanish Air Force,” Tommy Dunehew, vice president of International Strategic Development for GA-ASI, said in a press statement. “We appreciate the confidence the Spanish authorities have shown in the MQ-9 by issuing this type certificate and we look forward to seeing the system successfully operate in support of the country´s national Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) requirements.”
The delivery completes the Foreign Military Sales acquisition between the U.S. and Spain for four aircraft and three GCSs, according to the release.
The Department of Defense (DoD) released a Request for Information (RFI) for industry sources for Aerial Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (AISR) payloads for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) platform made by General Atomics for the Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) environment.
AISR payloads for the Gray Eagle include synthetic aperture radar (SAR), moving target indicator (MTI), electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), air launched effects (ALE), and radar warning receiver (RWR), according to the contract opportunity.
The contract opportunity also provided information about Gray Eagle’s concept of operations (CONOPS) within JADO stating the UASs need to fly in an integrated air defense systems (IDAS)-rich environment while delivering sensing capabilities. According to the RFI, the Gray Eagle flies racetrack patterns tangential to the IADS threat with a range of 80 km.
Adding to its existing portfolio of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), FLIR Systems Inc. [FLIR] has acquired Altavian Inc., a developer and manufacturer of small fixed-wing and quadcopter drones.
The acquisition also gives FLIR a spot on the Defense Department’s Blue sUAS program, which was created to provide trusted suppliers of small drones for military and federal agencies to acquire as the federal government turns away from purchasing the ubiquitous commercial drones manufactured by China’s DJI.
Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Altavian is based in Gainesville, Fla., and has more than 40 employees. The company manufactures Group 1 UAS, which typically weigh less than 20 pounds.
FLIR, through several acquisitions dating back to 2016, has carved out positions in small UAS and unmanned ground robotic vehicles. In the small UAS space, the company offers the palm-sized Black Hornet nano-UAS, which looks like a miniature helicopter and is used by U.S. and allied militaries.
Check out the full story as first published in Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics International.
EmbraerX, a subsidiary of Embraer, released a concept of operations (CONOPS) for urban air mobility (UAM) in Melbourne, Australia using Airservices’, Australia’s civil air navigation service provider, sophisticated simulation technology, according to a Dec. 1 press release.
While EmbraerX completed the CONOPS, Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions, the new EmbraerX spin-off, will continue the partnership with Airservices to develop UAM solutions.
“This CONOPS proposes a safe method for allowing the UAM industry in Australia to scale,” David Rottblatt, project leader for EmbraerX’s Urban Air Traffic Management and appointed to be the future Vice President of Business Development for Eve, said. “Following this first critical step, we will start gathering feedback from industry stakeholders and the community to further inform how we can co-create this exciting future.”
The simulation uses Melbourne as a model for UAM in Australia to analyze how existing air traffic management can be utilized while also preparing for new technologies, according to the release. The use of Airservices simulation technology allows the CONOPS to have a scientific basis.
Universal Trip Support will be providing free trip feasibility and consulting services to general aviation operators classified as humanitarian COVID-19 vaccine delivery flights through June 30, 2021 the Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. announced in a Dec. 2 press release.
Even if the mission does not end up flying, the fees will be waived on feasibility assessments, research, and consultation services for any private aircraft classified as a humanitarian COVID-19 vaccine delivery flight, according to the release.
“In the early months of the pandemic, the world needed PPE, masks and tests,” said Universal Chairman Greg Evans. “Many flight departments answered the call for help, and we were proud to donate our services in support of so many of those missions. Now that we have several approved vaccines, the business aviation industry will undoubtedly play an important role in helping deliver them where they are needed most. We want to use our expertise in global aviation restrictions and logistics to help ensure these life-saving missions can happen and are a success.”
Abaco Systems embedded systems health monitoring software suite is getting an upgrade, Health Toolkit 2.0, according to a Dec. 2 press release. The new upgrade features enhance the systems capability and extensibility, provides integration with Abaco Deployed Test components, and offers a “Database connector” feature to subscribe and store health data.
Health Toolkit 2.0 collects voltage, temperature, memory usage, CPU/GPU/disk utilization, BIT and BIT information and publishes the data for analysis, according to the release.
“Interoperability is at the heart of Health toolkit’s core design: not only between HW in the same chassis but also between software at different layers,” John Muller, Chief Growth Officer at Abaco Systems, said in a press statement. “Furthermore, great attention has been given to the software portability across multiple future roadmap products. The concept of “adopt & enhance” not only preserves the same software quality across the product portfolio but speeds up the validation as well. From the R&D phase through deployment, Health Toolkit gives users the valuable information they need to make informed decisions quickly.”
Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) completed another successful test flight campaign during November in Arizona focusing on aircraft agility, control, and operations, according to a Dec. 3 press release. The campaign tested the Zephyr’s ability to fly at lower altitudes than previous test flights and included a new software control system and specific flight test instruments.
The test flight resulted in demonstrating a more resilient and capable aircraft, according to the release. During the flight, Zephyr completed take-off, climb, cruise, upgraded flight control, and descent phases.
“Having proven stratospheric flight, we continue to further mature the operational system with the objective to be more flexible and robust in order to meet our customer needs,” Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus, said in a press statement. “The outcome of this campaign is a valuable contribution to the full flight program next year.”
Zephyr is a solar-electric, stratospheric unmanned aerial system (UAS) that uses the sun’s rays as solar power, according to the release. It used this ability during a July 2018 test flight where it flew in the stratosphere for almost 26 days claiming the longest flight duration an aircraft has ever made without refueling.
On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, we feature an airline cast study that was one of the sessions on our Connected Aviation Intelligence two-day live program this week. If you missed Connected Aviation Intelligence, register to watch it on demand for free here.
Daniel Barcenas, vice president, safety, security, and quality assurance for low-cost Mexican airline Viva Aerobus, discusses the software and connectivity upgrades they have invested in to improve the way they download and analyze aircraft data on a per-flight basis. Barcenas also gives some perspective on the importance of using connectivity to monitor the health of their fleet as they have returned to 100 percent of their pre-COVID-19 flight operations schedule.
The post PODCAST: Viva Aerobus VP of Safety and Security Talks Connected Aircraft Data Analysis appeared first on Aviation Today.
Over-the-air testing is underway for NXTCOMM’s disruptive new electronically steered antenna (ESA) technology with flight testing expected to begin next year, the wireless connectivity company’s co-founder and CEO David Horton told Avionics International during a recent interview.
In June, NXTCOMM introduced AeroMax, it’s new flat-panel satellite antenna that the company believes could disrupt multiple mobility markets with its modular design. On October 28, NXTCOMM signed a capacity agreement with Eutelsat Communications to use their E117WA satellite for over the air testing.
Horton said he expects AeroMax production to begin next year.
“Over the air testing is ongoing, and it’s really around our sub arrays and configurations that support multiple form factors for multiple end-users,” Horton said. “We’ll most likely be into low rate initial production by the end of Q2 2021, and then full-rate production in the second half of 2021. We are finalizing a few things including setting up production, workstations, assembly testing all of the things that we as antenna people have to do in order to satisfy the [Federal Aviation Administration] FAA certification and [Federal Communications Commission] FCC’s licensing requirements.”
Horton further explained how NXTCOMM plans to disrupt the IFC antenna market, by pointing to the unique design their antenna will feature. Developed using the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) patented fragmented aperture has already demonstrated its ability to provide satellite connectivity to military aircraft.
Whether vehicle or aircraft-mounted, AeroMax features no moving parts and offers dynamic instantaneous bandwidth utilizing the full two gigahertz on the face of the antenna or the side that faces satellites. Described by Horton as a “lego,” manufactured as a printed circuit board that can be modified on an aircraft by aircraft basis.
The antenna is being developed as both an ARINC 791 retrofit drop-in configuration and as a forward-fit antenna to in-production aircraft.
“Our Lego is a small form factor printed circuit board that is roughly 25 by 25 centimeters. In essence, what we’re able to do is take that one Lego and when a customer says they need the performance of the antenna to feature X-amount of throughput, we scale the number of Legos needed to enable that together and productize that,” Horton said.
“We don’t need to go back to the drawing board to re-design antennas every time a customer wants an antenna,” he added.
According to NXTCOMM’s Oct. 28 press release, under their satellite capacity leasing agreement with Eutelsat, they will also “offer satellite capacity to customers seeking a differentiated connectivity experience not available from existing service providers.”
“We know that there are many customers that would maybe like a solution such as ours to be turnkey. In the event that we receive such a customer request, we’ll have to take that on a case by case basis,” Horton said. “Right now, however, it’s a little early for us to be discussing a potential business model with regards to satellite capacity.”
NXTCOMM’s antenna technology is being developed at its 10,000-square-foot production facility in Cherokee County, Georgia. The company also intends to “introduce other products and services to comms-on-the-move markets in the next year” and will add 50 full-time positions, half of which will be specialized engineering roles, in the next 18 months, according to a June 29 press release.
Over the next few months, NXTCOMM will shift its focus to ongoing testing. “I mean, it’s one of those things where you just continually test the product and really truly understand the nuances of what electronically scan versus mechanical or, or hybrid solutions are all about,” he said. “But the testing will be ongoing for quite a while.”
The post NXTCOMM CEO Talks New Eutelsat Agreement and Electronically Steered Antenna Testing appeared first on Aviation Today.
During the Connected Aviation Intelligence program Brit Wanick, vice president of digital solutions at SmartSky, spoke about SmoothSky, the company’s new real-time turbulence data service for business aviation. SmoothSky helps operators improve safety, efficiency, and user experience during flights.
“The goal, ideally, is that you’d have a dynamic map with you much like we have a Waze in the car today,” Wanick said. “We know when we’re going to come upon an accident, and we can make adjustments. We need something similar in the airspace and that begins with having objective data to be able to work with and a key element of that objective data is real-time turbulence and the ability to display in the cockpit so that we can take action, and have that action be based on real-time objective observations that are occurring so that we can get from point A to point B safely.”
SmoothSky uses the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Turbulence Aware Program crowdsourced anonymized data and then the data is put into SmartSky’s Skytelligence, which is their web platform for trusted information sharing in the aviation ecosystem, Wanick said. The data is then transferred through application programming interfaces to web-based aviation apps used by pilots, operations centers, and managers.
Turbulence Aware is a tool created by IATA that uses an algorithm developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) capable of collecting turbulence parameters from aircraft systems and sensors, aggregating that data and making it available in a raw format to participating airlines. Now, SmartSky is bringing the same capabilities to business aviation operators.
“So, our enrichment of it is to put it in a format that is most usable by the ecosystem of participants that we expect would need it, everything from a pilot to a web developer to a dispatcher,” Wanick said.
Wanick said SmartSky did not produce its own application for SmoothSky because there are already many options on the market, and they found the best approach to be formatting the information so that it can be used with applications users already had like an electronic flight bag (EFB) flight planning or weather awareness app.
SmoothSky is intended to be a real-time program, Wanick said. If turbulence is detected in an area, the program will report at one-minute intervals, if there is not turbulence detected, the program will report every 15-20 minutes. SmartSky was able to generate data, process the algorithm, and put the data in a display in less than five minutes during their Turbulence Aware testing process.
“If you had a trajectory path management capability that we’re able to pull into turbulence data and make adjustments, it’d be a lot like Waze, right,” Wanick said. “There’s an accident up ahead, in this case, there’s turbulence up ahead, on my plan path has now been reported, I want to make a change. It can provide alternatives you’d help provide a smooth ride throughout the event, allows you to essentially take advantage of better planning and arrival times.”
Wanick said SmoothSky will not only make flights safer by allowing route adjustments to avoid turbulence and severe weather, but it will improve operations by reducing potential aircraft damage and saving fuel with improved routing. It can also improve passengers’ onboard experience.
To make sure they had adequate coverage data for business aviation SmartSky coordinated with IATA to map standard flights on the East Coast, West Coast, and cross-country for turbulence reporting over the last year, Wanick said. His team also used various flight levels to gain a full scope of the data and coverage area
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Honeywell Aerospace is focusing on supporting new and next generation business aircraft by innovating with propulsion and avionics systems, Mike Madsen, the president and CEO of Honeywell Aerospace, said. Madsen discussed the current climate of business aviation and a long-range forecast for the industry as well as Honeywell’s plans to address both topics during a Dec. 2 webinar.
Madsen said Honeywell will continue to upgrade the HTF engine family and create an entirely new engine centerline for larger and super midsize aircraft.
“We’re working on product improvement upgrades and technology assertions for the HTF 7000 series engines,” Madsen said. “We are also working on a new centerline engine that I will just say will be larger than the HTF engine and more to come on that. You know when you’re in the engine business, you never get out of the game. You’re constantly investing in these products. They have a long life, but they do need to be refreshed occasionally and we do see this general migration toward larger aircraft and the need and desire to be able to do with a mid-size airplane or a super mid-sized airplane what today can only be done with a large or ultra-long range aircraft.”
In terms of advanced avionics developments, Honeywell will be working on open software architecture flexibility and interconnectivity, Madsen said. This would be something similar to what the military is doing with the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE).
“The way we’re thinking about this is to think about core features that are tied to our fundamental aircraft performance and safety features, those things being sort of hard-coded but functionality, that’s tailorable wrapped around that,” Madsen said. “We want to make that available to the operators and to the airframers. It gives them a chance to make the aircraft a bit more be-spoke to that brand, or even to the operator that owns the aircraft. We think that’s going to be absolutely required in going forward.”
Another area where Honeywell sees interest is in connected offerings like satellite connectivity for cockpit and maintenance applications. He said the connected maintenance plans would be offered in conjunction with maintenance service plans already offered.
Among the connected aircraft applications under development are methods for automatically downloading engine data, Wi-Fi auto-billing and continuous engine health diagnostics, according to Madsen.
“Honeywell has introduced in a cell maintenance service plan for each for its HTF family of engines that now includes the new cell system and the components. This is for the Lombardi A Challenger 300 aircraft, the Challenger 350 aircraft, Gulfstream G280, and the Embraer Legacy 450/500 aircraft. And there are different options there I think you’ll see those kinds of things, all-inclusive maintenance plans,” Madsen said.
In 2021 Honeywell will also introduce a new lightweight micro-power unit mechanical system for smaller business aircraft that do not come equipped with an auxiliary power unit (APU), and they will also be releasing updates to their RDR 7000 weather radar system. The avionics maker will also be developing new compact fly by wire systems not only for business and general aviation, Urban Air Mobility (UAM), and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The impact of COVID-19 is likely to still have consequences on the business aviation industry through 2022, however, in five years Madsen said he sees the industry growing again. The five-year purchase plans Honeywell is tracking for aircraft have been largely unchanged, he said.
“We’re expecting some strong growth, really growth in every segment, but the strongest segments for growth over the next 10 years will we expect to see in the super midsize and large cabin aircraft, Madsen said. “I think it’s an evolving situation, the buyers of super midsize and large cabin aircraft continue to rate operating costs, direct operating cost, and cabin size, either first and second or vice versa.”
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