Do Safety Regulators Want Parachutes On Passenger Air Taxis?

June 18th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Do Safety Regulators Want Parachutes On Passenger Air Taxis?   
Do Safety Regulators Want Parachutes On Passenger Air Taxis?


EASA’s regulatory approach to air taxis all but precludes the use of non-steerable parachutes. Is that the best approach, and will other regulators follow suit? Photo: Vertical Aerospace’s Seraph.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has told a major air taxi manufacturer that it would be penalized for including a non-steerable ballistic parachute in their design, according to Larry Williams, CEO of Aviation Safety Resources, a manufacturer of recovery systems working with clients in the air taxi space.

In the document EASA published May 25 detailing the means by which air taxi manufacturers can achieve type certification for their aircraft, the regulatory agency makes clear it does not view non-steerable parachutes as helpful in achieving safety standards because they do not enable a controlled emergency landing.

“A controlled emergency landing should be performed under control; in particular it should be possible to steer the aircraft towards a touchdown area with the remaining lift/thrust units,” the means-of-compliance document states. “Therefore this objective cannot be met by the use of non-steerable parachutes.”

A catastrophic failure event due to aircraft system failure must have a probability of occurrence lower than one in 10-9 — or one in a billion — for person-carrying air taxis flying above populated areas, according to the final page of the special condition-VTOL published by EASA in July 2019.

For a failure condition to be classified below ‘catastrophic,’ EASA will require air taxis to be able to perform a controlled emergency landing. In line with this policy, EASA has told a major European manufacturer that the deployment of a non-steerable recovery system will be considered a catastrophic failure event, according to Williams, whose company manufactures recovery systems for a wide variety of aircraft.

“[The company] had decided internally that they wanted to have a recovery system onboard the vehicle,” Williams told Avionics. “As they prepared their certification plan for EASA, when it came to the recovery system, EASA has apparently taken this position that not only would they not be allowed to have any credit for having a recovery system on board, but in fact there was a negative, basically a penalty, if they put a recovery system on board.”

“It is unconscionable to me that EASA would take a position that would discourage the inclusion of any safety system that provides an advanced level of safety … in particular in this VTOL environment, you don’t have any forward speed to give you options if something devastating were to happen,” Williams said, adding that his company is in conversations with multiple other European air taxi developers interested in putting a recovery system on their vehicle.

Reached for comment, EASA did not address conversations with specific manufacturers, but confirmed that non-steerable parachutes do not meet its requirements for safe flight conditions.

Kentucky-based Aviation Safety Resources is developing ballistic parachutes for use in aircraft ranging from 60 lbs to 12,000 lbs. (ASR)

“Controllability and maneuverability are considered basic elements in the protection of those on board or on the ground,” a representative for EASA told Avionics. “This needs to be ensured by basic system design. Any further capability could be demonstrated in addition.”

With the Federal Aviation Administration and Transport Canada have not yet issued rulings on the inclusion of parachutes in air taxi designs, developers are divided on whether to include them. As of 2018, Joby Aviation said their design included a parachute, as did Airbus’ Vahana demonstrator. Volocopter’s VoloCity and Bell’s Nexus 4EX do not.

Uber’s Mark Moore told Avionics last year he encourages vehicle partners — of which there are eight announced to date — to consider ballistic parachutes as part of a multi-layered safety approach.

“In fact, we’re actively working with industry and the FAA for manufacturers to receive certification credit for advanced safety systems,” Moore said at the time.

EASA’s approach is to focus on meeting higher safety standards for air taxis, equivalent with commercial airliners. Though a non-steerable ballistic parachute like the one developed by Aviation Safety Resources could significantly reduce the speed and energy of a malfunctioning aircraft, even at altitudes as low as 100 feet, it will still produce an uncontrolled emergency landing.

The regulatory agency is open to considering steerable parachutes, which Williams said his company plans to develop as a second-generation version of its current ballistic offering for VTOL and experimental aircraft. More clarity from EASA and other regulators may be needed, however, on what level of mobility must be supplied in order for a recovery system to be considered “steerable.”

“Active systems could also be acceptable if their reliability is commensurate with their criticality,” EASA’s SC-VTOL means-of-compliance document states. “The operational context in which the aircraft is certified should be taken into account when defining the controlled emergency landing: The capability to steer the aircraft should be evaluated based on the gliding distance.”

Jaunt Air Mobility’s air taxi design, a combination fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter, uses proprietary slowed-rotor technology acquired from Carter Aviation to reduce reliance on the aircraft’s main rotor, resulting in significant noise and safety benefits — and no need for a parachute, according to the company.

“I personally believe EASA is taking the correct approach relative to requiring that the aircraft have a fundamental level of safety equivalent to 10-9 — any other alternative means, like ballistic chutes, don’t offer a level of safety that can be inherently designed into the aircraft,” said Martin Peryea, chief technology officer for Jaunt, told Avionics.

Peryea, who previously spent 33 years at Bell including as chief engineer on the company’s 525 program, explained Jaunt’s approach results in an aircraft with no height/velocity restrictions for successful autorotation, unlike most helicopters.

“No matter where we are in our flight path — takeoff, descent, or cruise — we always make sure we have enough stored energy in the rotor where you could actually fly the aircraft without electric propulsion power,” Peryea said. “If you’re 1,000 feet above the ground in our aircraft, you have about 5 square miles of area in which you could glide down in a controllable manner and land. And you can land at zero forward velocity, unlike a helicopter, which comes down at a relatively high forward airspeed.”

Jaunt and over 250 other air taxi projects are part of a technological revolution in the labs and hangars of aerospace companies around the world, with billions invested in this new potential system of aerial transportation and plans by Uber to commercialize it as soon as 2023.

Meanwhile, the industry is facing two of its most challenging public-facing crises since the dawn of the jet age. Between the highly-public investigation of the twin Boeing 737 Max crashes last year and the aircraft’s certification process, as well as concerns around travel in confined spaces amidst a pandemic, it isn’t clear what measures airlines and regulators will have to take to regain the public trust they had just two years ago — or if that will even be possible.

For air taxis to gain public approval amidst this environment of increased scrutiny, regulators and manufacturers will have to convince the public they are safe — both for passengers and those on the ground.

And safety concerns much more than aircraft system failures, which account for a small percentage of accidents in various operational contexts. More than 70 percent of fatal accidents are attributed to operator error, as Jacek Kawecki, vehicle components lead at Uber Elevate, told Avionics earlier this year.

Uber’s approach to air taxi safety emphasizes reducing the various types of operator error, including through much greater use of autonomy than normally seen in helicopter operations. Much like self-driving cars, air taxi operators will need to convince regulators and the public that removing the human from the loop can improve safety.

A survey conducted by the University of Michigan found nearly 80 percent of respondents believe it to be “extremely or very important” for air taxis to have parachutes.

That statistic may be more telling of public ignorance to aerospace safety and awareness of parachutes than the role they should play in air taxi safety — though their use has saved hundreds of lives in general aviation — but it nevertheless reveals the difficult road ahead for air taxi enthusiasts to convince the public this technology is ready for prime-time.

And when the first high-profile accident occurs, with footage of a multi-rotor aircraft falling out of the sky in a populated environment — the entire industry may wish it had a parachute.

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Former Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO to Take Lead at GE Aviation

June 17th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Former Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO to Take Lead at GE Aviation   
Former Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO to Take Lead at GE Aviation

Former Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO John Slattery is taking over as president and CEO of GE Aviation for David Joyce, pictured here, who is retiring after 40 years with the company. Photo: GE Aviation

On the same day Embraer took steps to reintegrate its commercial aviation business after plans to merge with Boeing fell through, John Slattery, former CEO of the Brazilian airplane maker’s commercial division, is leaving to take over as president and CEO of GE Aviation.

In April, Boeing terminated an agreement that would have purchased 80 percent of Embraer’s commercial aircraft business, a percentage that will now be reintegrated with the rest of the company. Along with the restructuring, Arjan Meier will take over as president and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation for Slattery immediately.

The 47-year old Meier previously had served as chief commercial officer of Embraer Commercial Aviation since January 2017, after joining the company a year earlier as the vice president of commercial aviation for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia. Prior to joining Embraer, he worked in executive roles with the KLM group.

“He has the energy, international experience, and skillset to lead our commercial aviation business at this unique moment,” Embraer CEO Francisco Gomes Neto said.

Embraer reported a 20 percent decline in first quarter net revenues compared to the same period a year ago, due to a significant drop in the number of commercial aircraft deliveries. Commercial aviation revenues halved from $281 million last year to $140 million, while defense revenues fell from $179 million last year to $149 million this year, and business jet revenues grew from $117 million last year to $130 million this year.

Despite reintegrating the commercial aircraft business into the rest of the company, Neto confirmed during the first quarter earnings call that Embraer is looking for new partners to replace Boeing in what would have created a $4.2 billion joint venture for the development of commercial aircraft and sales of the Embraer-developed C-390 multi-mission medium cargo and transport plane. Embraer is still undergoing arbitration with Boeing over the cancelled agreement.

Slattery is taking over leadership for GE Aviation after David Joyce, vice chair of GE and president and CEO of GE Aviation, announced his retirement after 40 years with the company. Joyce helped GE turn aviation into one of its leading verticals, “doubling its revenue from $16.5 billion to $33 billion, growing total backlog from $26 billion to more than $270 billion, and industrializing advanced technologies across both commercial and military applications,” according to GE Aviation.

The former Embraer executive is to start the new position on July 13 and will assume the role of president and CEO beginning Sept. 1, 2020. Joyce will continue to serve as a strategic advisor through 2021.

“I have long considered GE Aviation to be the leading aviation franchise in the world, and I am humbled to take the helm from David and lead this talented team forward,” Slattery said. “This is a time of unprecedented change in the aerospace industry yet also an opportunity to reimagine the future of flight and how we can best serve our customers.”

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Should Airlines Standardize Pre-flight Testing for COVID-19?

June 17th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Should Airlines Standardize Pre-flight Testing for COVID-19?   
Should Airlines Standardize Pre-flight Testing for COVID-19?

IATA is advocating the use of saliva swabs for pre-flight testing of passengers for COVID-19. Airports and airlines are trying different approaches to testing right now, including the use of thermal image screening at Heathrow International Airport, pictured here. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Airlines are slowly starting to operate more flights as regulators in different regions of the world begin to relax travel restrictions and introduce new guidelines. But do operators need a standardized approach to pre-flight COVID-19 testing to make the process more efficient and help restore confidence in passengers that they can safely fly during the pandemic?

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) daily publishing of the number of travelers moving through U.S. airports this year compared to 2019 hit a COVID-19 pandemic high on June 14, with 544,046 passengers making their way to airplane — still a ways off from the more than 2 million passengers recorded on the same day a year ago, but a vast improvement from the pandemic low of just under 88,000 recorded on Apr. 14. On Monday, most countries in Europe followed the European Union’s guidelines for reopening borders to inter-European travel, with plans to reopen to international travel at a later date.

EasyJet and Lufthansa-owned Brussels Airlines restarted operations this week as European internal borders reopened. Others including Air France, British Airways and Wizz Air are also increasing the number of flights they operate. Regulators in China and the U.S. have also reached a mutual agreement to allow airlines such as Delta and United to start resuming flights to the region.

But as more travelers start to fill airport lounges and aircraft cabins, the industry is still trying to figure out the best method for testing passengers prior to getting onboard. On Tuesday June 16, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) published new guidance on COVID-19 testing for air travel, with the agency advocating for the use of tests that are accurate, fast and can be performed hundreds of times per hour at busy airports.

Dr. David Powell, medical advisor for IATA, provided some updates on how airlines can achieve their recommended guidelines for COVID-19 testing moving forward during the organization’s weekly pandemic media briefing.

United Airlines added a self-assessment to its pre-flight boarding process within its mobile app. Photo: United Airlines

“We know that we’ve been looking at testing to facilitate air transport really in two areas. One is can we make the fight itself self safer by testing prior to flight and the second area is can we use testing to reduce the chance of importing somebody whose infectious on an international flight,” Powell said.

Other considerations for airlines include who will administer the test and verify the results, considering most airlines do not have medical experts on staff and readily available to perform such testing at airports. IATA believes the verification and testing should be managed by a public health agency, therapeutic agency or scientific agency.

Some airlines and airports have already adopted their own measures for testing for COVID-19 related symptoms, in place of the type of testing outlined by Powell. Heathrow Airport is actively trialing the use of UV sanitation, facial recognition thermal screening technology and contactless security procedures. In Terminal 2, the airport is using camera detection systems that are capable of monitoring the temperatures of multiple people as they move through the airport.

Emirates, in partnership with the Dubai Health Authority, has been performing COVID-19 blood testing on certain flights at Dubai Airport, while Etihad Airways partnered with Elenium Automation to trial new technology which allows self-service devices at airports to be used to help identify travelers with medical conditions, potentially including the early stages of COVID-19. United Airlines has integrated a new “Ready-to-fly” checklist in its mobile application, that features a “health self-assessment” as part of its check-in process.

IATA’s Powell describes the Real-time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) as the “gold standard” he is recommending for airlines to adopt in a way that is administered by medical experts. The current standard process for a PCR test involves a swab going through the nose and down into the back of the throat, although Powell believes less invasive versions are becoming available that could be administered by airlines.

“There are some tests being developed which will hopefully be able to use a saliva sample instead, because that’s much easier, you can put a little swab in the mouth and take it out again and you also don’t need a trained health care worker to administer that test,” Powell said.

When asked whether the development of an industry-wide pre-flight testing standard could help, Powell explained the positives and negatives associated with developing such a standard.

“It’s certainly likely that widespread testing would increase [passenger] confidence, but it comes at a cost, in terms of the price, the delay, imperfect reliability and the discomfort of it all. Nothing in COVID-19 is perfect,” he said.

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NTSB Calls on OEMs to Equip Turbine Helicopters with Flight Data, Image Recorders

June 17th, 2020   •   Comments Off on NTSB Calls on OEMs to Equip Turbine Helicopters with Flight Data, Image Recorders   
NTSB Calls on OEMs to Equip Turbine Helicopters with Flight Data, Image Recorders

The BendixKing AeroCorder 100 Flight Data Recorder weighs 4.5 pounds and is an option for use on helicopters. Photo: BendixKing

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling on helicopter builders to equip turbine-powered rotorcraft with crash-resistant flight data recorders and crash-protected image recorders to provide data, audio and images to improve crash investigations.

In a safety recommendation report issued on June 2, the NTSB asked Airbus Helicopters, Bell, Leonardo, MD Helicopters, Robinson Helicopter Company, and Sikorsky to embed such systems on their helicopters.

The NTSB said that “the Federal Aviation Administration has not implemented a series of NTSB recommendations made in 2013 and 2015.”

“Those recommendations were issued after NTSB investigators found the lack of recorded data hindered their understanding of several crashes that could have serious flight safety implications,” according to the NTSB.

The NTSB’s call follows an urging by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., last June for all helicopters to be equipped with “black boxes” in the wake of a fatal crash in midtown Manhattan of an Agusta A109E helicopter that did not feature a flight data recorder.

While helicopters meeting specific criteria established by the FAA are required to have crash-resistant systems to record flight data and cockpit audio, none are currently required to have an image recording capability, the NTSB said.

Despite the lack of action from the FAA, some helicopter operators have equipped their aircraft with recording systems, including image recording capability, even though they are not required to do so.

“The more information we have, the better we can understand not only the circumstances of a crash, but what can be done to prevent future accidents,” Dana Schulze, the director of the NTSB Office of Aviation Safety, said in a statement. “We are asking that currently available recording technology be put to use in a way that will improve aviation safety.”

The NTSB cited seven helicopter investigations between 2011 and 2017 in which the lack of access to recorded data impeded their ability to identify and address potential safety issues.

Although the FAA has declined to mandate recorders on those helicopters not already required to have them, the agency said that it has encouraged operators since 2005 to install the equipment on a voluntary basis.  For its part, however, the NTSB said that turbine-powered helicopters in 86 percent of 185 accidents that NTSB investigated between 2005 and 2017 had no recording equipment installed and that the FAA actions have thus been ineffective.

In addition to asking manufacturers to install crash-resistant recorders on newly built helicopters, the NTSB also asked them to provide a means to retrofit their helicopters with crash-resistant systems capable of recording flight data, cockpit audio and images on their helicopters not already so equipped.

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Honeywell Creates New Business Unit for Drones and Urban Air Mobility

June 16th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Honeywell Creates New Business Unit for Drones and Urban Air Mobility   
Honeywell Creates New Business Unit for Drones and Urban Air Mobility

Honeywell has created a new business unit to provide hardware and software to the drone and urban air mobility industries, an opportunity it believes will represent $120 billion by 2030. (Uber Elevate, design by Corgan)

Honeywell has created a new business unit dedicated to unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and urban air mobility (UAM), the company announced, with dedicated engineering and sales resources, valuing the hardware and software market for such systems at $120 billion by 2030.

“Urban Air Mobility and Unmanned Aerial Systems will play an increasing role in the future of aerospace, with potential applications in all-electric urban air taxi vehicles, hybrid-electric unmanned cargo drones, optionally piloted airplanes, delivery drones and everything in between,” said Mike Madsen, president and CEO of Honeywell Aerospace.

Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager for the new business unit, said Honeywell expects the hardware and software market for UAM, drone cargo delivery and other drone applications to reach $120 billion by 2030, with Honeywell’s market opportunity about 20 percent of that.

Honeywell UAM will “develop new products and services uniquely for these markets,” according to Honeywell, and act as a systems integrator for existing Honeywell products and services that could be used by the UAS and UAM industries. Offerings will include avionics, electric and hybrid-electric propulsion and thermal management, flight services and ground operations services. The business unit has hundreds of employees with many engineers.

Honeywell’s compact fly-by-wire system, developed with air taxis in mind. (Honeywell)

At last year’s Uber Elevate summit, Honeywell unveiled a compact version of its fly-by-wire system for use on air taxis. The company has been selected to provide various sub-systems to a number of air taxi OEMs, including Volocopter, Vertical Aerospace, Jaunt Air Mobility, Pipistrel and Eviation. Honeywell is also pursuing customers in the drone package delivery industry, though it has not yet announced any relationships.

Honyewell also signed an agreement with Denso to collaborate on electric and hybrid powertrains for urban air mobility aircraft.

In November of last year, Honeywell partnered with and invested in Swiss autonomy startup, with Honeywell Ventures contributing an undisclosed sum to the startup’s $12 million fundraising to date. Honeywell will work with Daedalean to procure the flight testing and data necessary for the company’s rapid development and certification of flight control software, and provide its autopilot solutions for both general aviation and electric vertical takeoff and landing airframes.

“We’re not trying to bet on who’s going to have the best drone,” said Murray Grainger, head of Honeywell Ventures. “We want to sell to everyone’s drones.”

Honeywell Ventures has also invested in California-based AirMap, a leading provider of unmanned traffic management (UTM) and fleet management solutions for enterprise drone use.

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Satellite Connectivity to Enable New ’Pop-Up UTM’ Service for Drones

June 13th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Satellite Connectivity to Enable New ’Pop-Up UTM’ Service for Drones   
Satellite Connectivity to Enable New ’Pop-Up UTM’ Service for Drones

A new collaborative partnership will leverage Inmarsat’s L-band connectivity and Altitude Angel’s unmanned traffic management operating system to enable ‘Pop-Up UTM.’ Photo: Altitude Angel

Inmarsat and Altitude Angel are collaborating on a new approach to surveillance that they describe as ‘Pop-Up UTM’ (Unmanned Traffic Management), which could serve as a catalyst for enabling more beyond visual line of sight operations for commercial and civilian drones in the near future.

Initially focusing on emergency services drone operators that need satellite connectivity in human relief or aid related efforts, the concept will primarily leverage Inmarsat’s L-band satellite safety services networks to enable command and control of multiple drones at once. Anthony Spoucer, senior director of UAVs and UTM for Inmarsat, told Avionics that the collaboration is enabled by the use of drones equipped with small L-band antennas that use the same air traffic control frequencies as commercial airliners.

“Two of our partners, Honeywell and Cobham, provide satellite L-band antennas and satcom data units that weigh close to 1 kilogram, and can sit on UAVs using the same network and frequencies for air traffic control that are used by commercial air transport operators. We will then back integrate that position reporting, which runs on our network, into Altitude Angel, so they can then see the position and location of the UAV as well as communicate with the pilot,” Spoucer said.

Once drone operators file their flight plan with Altitude Angel, the flight plan is then submitted to the responsible air navigation service provider (ANSP) for approval. That would provide the type of strategic and tactical de-confliction between drone operators and manned aircraft that is necessary to enable more BVLOS drone operations, Spoucer said. The next steps are to start modifying individual drones with the necessary antennas and satellite data units.

Cobham describes it as UAV 200, one of the antennas referenced by Spoucer, as being capable of delivering Inmarsat Class 4 services, up to 200kbps data and connectivity to enable BVLOS real time visual feedback from video captured by UAVs. The company states that up 1080p HD video can be streamed over Inmarsat’s network using the UAV 200.

Cobham’s UAV 200 antenna can enable L-band connectivity BVLOS drone operations. Photo: Cobham

British commercial drone operators currently use Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM operating system to file flight plans with NATS. Through the NATS Airspace User Portal, commercial drone operators can request permission to fly airspace that is usually restricted, with help from GurdianUTM.

The Pop-Up UTM partnership between the two U.K.-based companies comes several months after the Civil Aviation Authority published its first 11-page BVLOS guidance for obtaining permission to fly in commercial airspace or beyond line of sight of the operator. Current BVLOS flights in U.K. airspace are limited to special exemptions, although the regulator has provided a baseline understanding of what is required to normalize BVLOS in the future.

“From a pop-up UTM perspective, we will start with blue light type services where, for example, you would established controlled airspace around a search and rescue site within a couple hours of notice. Our L-band network has global coverage, so once we have the location, we can work with Altitude Angel to provide the type of surveillance and airspace de-confliction needs necessary,” Spoucer said.

This is the type of surveillance picture provided remotely to drone operators by Altitude Angel. Photo: Altitude Angel

A key goal is to allow multiple emergency service drones to be operated remotely and without the need for ground-based communications infrastructure. Regions where terrestrial communications networks are not accessible are also a target for the new partnership.

Phil Binks, head of air traffic management for Altitude Angel, recently told Avionics that he welcomes the possible introduction of avionics mandates for the commercial drones that are already using their UTM platform.

“The ability to almost instantly ‘pop-up’ safe, secure and fully operational UTM platforms in any environment, at any time, will give first responders, blue light services and aid organizations a valuable new tool that could save countless lives,” Binks said.

Spoucer said that the data and experience from enabling pop-up UTM for emergency services operators will provide an blueprint for leveraging more of their satellite connectivity for commercial drones, a targeted segment of the industry for Inmarsat, in the near future.

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Duncan Aviation, Gogo Add AVANCE Installation Options for Business Aircraft

June 13th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Duncan Aviation, Gogo Add AVANCE Installation Options for Business Aircraft   
Duncan Aviation, Gogo Add AVANCE Installation Options for Business Aircraft

Duncan Aviation and Gogo Business Aviation are partnering to offer additional options for business operators to install the Gogo AVANCE L3 Wi-Fi system and the Gogo AVANCE Smart Cabin System (Duncan Aviation Photo)

Duncan Aviation said earlier this month that it is partnering with Gogo to offer new installation options for the Gogo AVANCE L3 Wi-Fi system and the Gogo AVANCE Smart Cabin System (SCS).

The new options, afforded through Duncan Aviation’s amending of three Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for the Gogo AVANCE L5 Wi-Fi system, will allow business aviation operators to install the Gogo AVANCE L3 Wi-Fi system or a standalone SCS in more than a dozen aircraft models, including the Gulfstream GIV and GIV-X and the Bombardier Challenger 300, 250, 604, 605, and 650, according to Duncan Aviation.

The Nebraska-based company, which bills itself as the largest family-owned maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in the world, said that amended STCs for the Gogo AVANCE L3 Wi-Fi system will include the installation of the single air card Line Replacement Unit (LRU) and mounting tray and will cover all other existing architecture for the AVANCE L3, including the Wi-Fi and terrestrial modem antennas. The amended STCs will also cover design changes for the installation of the Gogo AVANCE SCS.

Gogo’s AVANCE L3

David Salvador, vice president of aftermarket sales for Gogo Business Aviation, said in a statement that the added STCs Duncan Aviation is developing for Gogo AVANCE L3 and SCS, “will greatly benefit our mutual business aviation customers.”

Duncan Aviation said that the built-in cybersecurity of the AVANCE L3 allows business passengers to “connect safely and securely” to their companies’ Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) “to meet deadlines, send and receive important email, and access information on the Web” and to access onboard news and entertainment with no connection needed using Gogo Vision, which is built into the L3 system. AVANCE L3 also provides pilots with real-time information on popular pilot applications, Duncan Aviation said.

SCS allows passengers to make voice calls, view in-flight maps and destination weather reports, and access entertainment with Gogo Vision enabled.

Shawn Carraher, Duncan Aviation’s manager of engineering and certification business development, said in a statement that L3 and SCS are “cost-effective options for customers who want the reliability and functionality of Gogo’s AVANCE system but don’t yet need the speed of the L5 Wi-Fi system.”

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Pipistrel Receives First EASA Certification for an Electric Aircraft. Who’s Next?

June 13th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Pipistrel Receives First EASA Certification for an Electric Aircraft. Who’s Next?   
Pipistrel Receives First EASA Certification for an Electric Aircraft. Who’s Next?

On June 10, Pipistrel’s Velis Electro received the first type certification for an electric aircraft from EASA, a major milestone for electric aviation. (Pipistrel)

Pipistrel’s two-seat Velis Electro was awarded type certification by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on June 10, the first electric aircraft in the world to do so.

Derived from the Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer’s Virus SW 128, the Velis Electro is designed to be a trainer aircraft, with 1,230 lbs maximum takeoff weight, 100 mph cruise speed and 50 minutes of endurance plus reserves. It’s powered by Pipsitrel’s E-811-268MVLC electric engine, which was certified by EASA on May 18.

“The type certification of the Pipistrel Velis Electro is the first step towards the commercial use of electric aircraft, which is needed to make emission-free aviation feasible. It is considerably quieter than other aeroplanes and produces no combustion gases at all,” said Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Aircraft. “It confirms and provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that the Type Certificate of electric engines and aeroplanes is possible.”

According to Pipistrel, the Velis Electro’s built-in continuous health and monitoring system enhances its reliability, allowing the airplane to have “more than double the lifespan of powertrain elements in comparison to the previous generation of electric aeroplanes.”

The cockpit of Pipistrel’s Velis Electro. Photo: Pipistrel

“It should also be noted that this innovative product was, despite the many challenging aspects, certified in less than 3 years, showing the excellent work performed by Pipistrel and the EASA teams,” said Dominique Roland, head of the general aviation department at EASA. “Finally, it is worth mentioning that the certification team was composed of EASA staff, but included experts from the Swiss and French authorities, in order to prepare and facilitate the entry into service of the Velis Electro in these two countries.”

Pipistrel plans to deliver 31 Velis Electros in 2020 to customers in seven different countries.

AlpinAirPlanes, the Switzerland-based launch customer, plans to initially distribute 12 aircraft on 10 airfields across the country.

According to Pipistrel, one battery pack is located in the nose of and the second behind the cabin. This ensures redundancy of the power source: in case of battery failure, the malfunctioning battery would get automatically disconnected from the system. A single battery is capable of standalone operation and has enough power capability to support climbing and continuation of flight. Photo: Pipistrel

“Each base will be equipped with 150 m2 of photovoltaic panels, producing electricity for 12,000 flight hours per year on the Velis Electro,” said Marc Corpataux of AlpinAirPlanes. “We are happy to offer the most environmentally friendly training possible.”

Pipistrel’s achievement is a significant milestone for electric aviation. In the United States, Bye Aerospace was targeting type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration for its two-seat eFlyer 2 by late 2021, though that timeline is likely to slip due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The eFlyer 2 is also intended for use as a training aircraft, though at least one company — Quantum XYZ — intends to use it for regional airline services.

And last month, magniX and AeroTEC successfully flew an all-electric Cessna 208B Grand Caravan for 30 minutes. MagniX hopes to receive FAA certification for its 750-hp Magni500 propulsion system by the end of 2021 as well.

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HALO Sensor Advances IoT Concept of Wireless Cabin Air Quality Monitoring

June 13th, 2020   •   Comments Off on HALO Sensor Advances IoT Concept of Wireless Cabin Air Quality Monitoring   
HALO Sensor Advances IoT Concept of Wireless Cabin Air Quality Monitoring

L2 Aviation is working on a ruggedized version of IPVideo Corp.’s HALO IoT smart sensor for commercial airline cabins. Photo: L2 Aviation

L2 Aviation and IPVideo Corp. introduced a patent-pending HALO smart air quality monitoring system designed to provide an Internet of Things (IoT) approach to cabin air quality monitoring during a June 9 webinar.

The two companies have partnered in an effort to ruggedize and integrate HALO into aircraft cabins to help airlines not only monitor cabin air quality, but also gather empirical data about it.  introduced HALO during a June 9 webinar.

“There’s nothing in an airplane today installed or portable that can capture what is truly in cabin air and all areas of fuselage, flight deck to the labs to the galleys and cargo areas,” Lebovitz said. “What if we could show what was floating around to include the really bad elements?”

IPVideo Corp., the Bay Shore, New York-based provider of HALO, describes the IoT sensor as an environmental monitoring tool designed to measure changes in air quality by the micron. The company’s website shows how public schools have started adopting HALO in recent years as a method for identifying vape with web-based dashboard monitoring of the HALOs located in areas throughout buildings.

Both companies believe that by installing multiple HALO sensors throughout an aircraft, airlines can start to improve the way that they digitally monitor changes in cabin air quality. IPVideo Corp. President David Antar said the company hopes some of the use cases of HALO by organizations on the ground can be transferred to airplanes.

“An interesting thing with HALO and how it’s being used right now with COVID-19 is a lot of commercial buildings are implementing this to be able to determine when a building has been sanitized. Given what we’ve been hearing a lot about the airline industry doing the same thing and being able to fog and disinfect the airplanes, this would be a way to get a confirmation that it was properly sanitized. It will give you the chemical concentrations and amount of time they existed on that airplane,” Antar said.

The IoT aspect of technology was also described by Antar’s colleague – Frank Jacovino, vice president of product development for IPVideo Corp., based on how each sensor is connected to the HALO cloud. How the company sees this working on an airplane is to have each sensor feed data points to the cloud for each flight, enabling airline maintenance technicians to view the visual signatures associated with different occurrences such as as smoke or fume events with a focus on those that could lead to diversions.

L2 showed what a sample configuration for four HALO sensors installed within an aircraft could look like. Photo: L2 Aviation

Jacovino said trending data from the HALO cloud could be used to identify and prevent such occurrences.

“We can start combining maintenance information, fume events and using artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques to see where the correlations are. Think about the power of deep learning and AI, combining millions of data points over five HALOs that are located throughout an airplane. We know when the airplane took off, we know when there’s a fume event, if we apply intelligence to this, now we can start identifying the causes of these events and actually start to come up with ways of preventing them,” Jacovino said.

Data recorded by HALO can also be recorded and stored on the HALO sensor itself, and alerts on severe air quality levels could be transmitted via in-flight Wi-Fi, according to Jacovino.

Several airlines have published new videos and infographics to their websites describing how they’re improving the way they disinfect aircraft in between flights. As an example, on June 10, Delta Air Lines announced it has established a new global cleanliness division, a few weeks after it started using electrostatic spraying to disinfect airplanes in between flights. Emirates in March, published a press release showing how it would enhance cleaning procedures with a focus on aircraft that transported a passenger with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Others, such as JetBlue have even published videos showing how their aircraft are equipped with have High-Efficiency-Particulate Arrestors (HEPA) filters and more advanced air recirculation systems designed to keep cabin air cleaner. Airbus A220 Chief Engineer ___ recently explained how HEPA filters work on one of the manufacturer’s newest airliners, which includes functionality for pilots to control the level of fresh air being recirculated throughout the cabin.

However, airline travelers could still be cautious as travel and social distancing restrictions begin to ease getting back on airplanes, especially considering the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) specifically points to seating configurations as a possible culprit.

“Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19,” CDC’s guidance reads.

L2 and IPVideo are focusing on how the air circulation systems work on older aircraft, some of which do not feature HEPA filters or the type of advanced cabin air systems featured on newer planes

“We researched and validated a variety of air flow options in typical aircraft like a 737, and looked at airplanes that are 15 years old, or those delivered 15 years ago. As some of you may know, about half of the cabin air flow is often recirculated in a lot of these older generation aircraft. Whereas 787 has a dedicated system, it’s all fresh air, not part of the bleed air system, and you get high powered fans blowing air in to pressurize the aircraft – for a lot of pre-787 era aircraft we’re recirculating the air. The typical passenger doesn’t know that,” Lebovitz said.

A carry on version of HALO developed by L2 to collect baseline cabin air quality data. Photo: L2 Aviation

An overview of a sample configuration on an aircraft provided by L2 showed the use of four HALO units that take advantage of the mix manifold design of most modern aircraft that helps manage the way inlets bring circulate fresh air across different zones of an aircraft cabin. The sample configuration places HALO units

“We’re looking at putting HALO units on each one of the inlets as it goes to different zones in the cabin,” he said.

A basic cabin air quality monitoring control panel is also in development for aircraft as part of the full HALO wireless system, designed to give pilots basic alerts when needed. An initial carry on version of HALO that can be used in a trial run in passenger carrying cabins was also unveiled during the webinar. The kits are designed to collect baseline cabin air quality data and the L2-IPVideo team does have several candidates considering trial runs, Lebovitz said. No actual in-flight testing of the kits has been performed yet.

Lebovitz said the goal is to achieve design assurance level D certification for HALO by early next year.

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Avionics Receivers Will Need to Process L5 and L1 Signals for GPS III

June 12th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Avionics Receivers Will Need to Process L5 and L1 Signals for GPS III   
Avionics Receivers Will Need to Process L5 and L1 Signals for GPS III

GPS III satellites are to feature improved accuracy, service life, and anti-jamming capabilities. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Aircraft will need to have avionics receivers able to process the legacy L1 signal and the most recent L5 signal to take advantage of the precision location advances in the Global Positioning System III and GPS III Follow-On (GPS IIIF) satellites.

L5, the third signal for GPS satellites, operates at 1176 MHz and is used on GPS II satellites, but will become fully operational with GPS III and IIIF satellites.

GPS III and IIIF satellites are to feature better resiliency, greater accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability for military users.

The L5 signal “is going to be enabled as the fully operational [GPS] signal in the near future,” Sai Kalyanaraman, a technical fellow at Collins Aerospace, said during a June 10 GPS Innovation Alliance webinar, GPS III: Unleashing the Next Generation of GPS. “GPS L5 is a signal that we need in the avionics receiver equipment. Right alongside, they’re looking for the GPS signal’s physical FOC [full operational capability]. Receiver equipment has to take advantage of that and perform signal processing with both GPS L1 and L5 signals. This is going to help enable the performance of global LPV 200 [localizer performance with vertical guidance at 200 feet AGL], a terminology that’s essentially equal to a CAT I landing approach. If you look at safety of flight applications, today we have landing across the U.S. that’s equal to CAT I approaches, even at small airstrips without any substantial ground based infrastructure.”

Aircraft equipped with the L5 signal compatible receivers will be able to perform “seamless global operations with GPS L1 and L5, and the goal is to be able to perform landing worldwide with positions equal to CAT I,” Kalyanaraman said.

The GPS Innovation Alliance includes Lockheed Martin, the alliance’s newest member and the builder of the GPS satellites; John Deere, Garmin, Trimble, and Collins Aerospace, as well as 11 national organizations in the alliance’s affiliates program. The alliance aims to heighten the awareness of the benefits of GPS technology, and Lockheed Martin is acting as the voice of the GPS industry in Washington, D.C.

Lockheed Martin’s first two GPS III satellites became operational on-orbit in January and April 2020. The GPS constellation has 31 satellites.

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