Joby Completes Longest eVTOL Test Flight to Date

July 30th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Joby Completes Longest eVTOL Test Flight to Date   
Joby Completes Longest eVTOL Test Flight to Date

Joby’s eVTOL aircraft completed its longest test flight yet with an 150 mile flight. (Joby)

The electric air taxi company Joby Aero completed its longest test flight to date of its full-scale prototype aircraft flying over 150 miles on a single charge of the company’s lithium-ion batteries, the company announced on July 27. 

“We’ve achieved something that many thought impossible with today’s battery technology,”  JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby, said in a statement.  “By doing so we’ve taken the first step towards making convenient, emissions-free air travel between places like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Houston and Austin, or Los Angeles and San Diego an everyday reality.”

The flight lasted for one hour and 17 minutes and was completed on a circuit at the company’s flight base in Big Sur, California. Joby’s chief test pilot Justin Paines completed a vertical takeoff and then forward flight on the circuit completing 11 laps in total. 

“We’ve been building up to this for several months now, flying progressively longer sorties,” Paines said in a statement. “As we’ve extended the range, we’ve been able to identify modifications to the aircraft that improve efficiency and, for the final few tests, we were able to upgrade the landing gear on our prototype aircraft to one with a drag profile more representative of what we expect to see on our production aircraft.” 

The aircraft uses commercially available lithium-ion batteries, an 811 NMC cathode, and a graphite anode cell, according to the release. In an email to Aviation Today, a representative from the company said the aircraft still had reserves following the flight but could not reveal the amount. 

Joby wants to launch its eVTOL aircraft commercially in 2024. (Joby)

“Since the day I joined Joby four years ago, we’ve worked hard to maximize the energy efficiency of this aircraft and prove what we have always known to be possible with today’s battery technology,” Jon Wagner, head of powertrain and electronics at Joby, said in a statement. “With the right cell chemistry and a lot of hard work across the entire engineering team, we’ve been able to create a remarkably efficient aircraft that can make the most of today’s commercially available batteries.”

The company could not share details on the charging time for this flight but said their goal is to be able to charge the aircraft in the time it takes to unload and load passengers. 

Joby’s eVTOL uses fly-by-wire technology to simplify operations and reduce pilot workload. 

“The Joby aircraft is unlike the complex controls in a helicopter, which require a pilot’s hands and feet,” a representative from the company said via an emailed statement. “We’ve incorporated unified controls which means the pilot only has to manage one directional controller and one acceleration controller. There are no rudder pedals and if the pilot lets go entirely, the aircraft stabilizes on its own. If the pilot selects the ‘decelerate to hover shortcut button, the aircraft automatically brings itself into a hover over the landing zone. Finally, ‘automated envelope protection’ mitigates pilot error by inhibiting commands that exceed safe operating limits.” 

Joby has agreed to a G-1 certification basis with the Federal Aviation Administration for type certification of its aircraft which it hopes to receive by 2023 to prepare for a commercial launch in 2024. The company has also announced on July 29 that it will be seeking a Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate that will allow its aircraft to operate in cities and communities in the U.S. 

“We’re excited to reach this milestone on the path toward becoming the first eVTOL airline in the world,” Joby’s head of air operations Bonny Simi said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with the FAA as we prepare to welcome passengers to a new kind of air travel — one that is environmentally friendly, quiet enough to operate close to cities and communities, and will save people valuable time.” 

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Boeing Awaits FAA Decision on Requirements for In-Service 787s

July 30th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Boeing Awaits FAA Decision on Requirements for In-Service 787s   
Boeing Awaits FAA Decision on Requirements for In-Service 787s

Boeing is awaiting a decision from the FAA that would potentially require modifications to in-service 787s, such as the Singapore Airlines 787-10 pictured here, related to a manufacturing flaw that has temporarily lowered the aircraft type’s production rate and delivery schedule. (Boeing)

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told investors Wednesday during the company’s second-quarter earnings call that any decision related to a requirement for in-service 787s to be modified—after a manufacturing flaw was recently discovered on some undelivered Dreamliners—will be left up to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The second quarter was the first profitable one for Boeing since the beginning of 2020, with sales increasing to $17 billion, up from $11.8 billion during the same period a year ago driven by more commercial aircraft deliveries. Boeing’s commercial airplanes business posted $6 billion in sales, up 268 percent as aircraft deliveries nearly tripled to 79 planes, and a $472 million operating loss versus a $2.8 billion loss a year ago.

On July 13, Boeing temporarily lowered the production rate of the 787 and stopped delivering the aircraft due to small gaps identified in the forward pressure bulkhead. The company’s chief executive answered several analyst questions concerning their progress in resolving the manufacturing flaw.

“That’s a determination that has to be made with the FAA, and most of this in light of the fact that the safety margins on the structural elements of our airplanes is huge. So, it’s not the world’s easiest set of analyses to go through and our teams have taken their shot at it. They go through the FAA in great detail. And so, I don’t really know the answer to that,” Calhoun said, responding to an analyst question about whether a retrofit will be necessary for in-service 787s. “But the ideal for all of us is to just incorporate it into ongoing maintenance schedules of the airlines. So that is that’s our hope and desire and sort of anyway, but I’m going to leave it to the FAA and our ultimate conclusions between those two teams as to just what happens on that front.”

There are 100 total 787s currently in Boeing’s undelivered inventory, according to Calhoun. The company expects to deliver fewer than half of those this year.

“We’re progressing through these inspections and rework, including the additional work we shared earlier this month. We continue to engage in detailed discussions with the FAA on verification methodologies for the 787. And based on our assessment of the time required, we’re reprioritizing production resources for a few weeks to support the inspection and rework,” Calhoun said.

In an emailed statement to Avionics International, the FAA confirmed that it was made aware of a manufacturing quality issue near the nose of certain 787s in Boeing’s undelivered inventory. The agency also says that the issue poses no immediate threat to flight safety, however, it is still determining whether some modifications should be made on 787s that are already in service.

Calhoun also stressed that while Boeing is working with the FAA on verification methodologies for 787 fuselages, the identification of the manufacturing flaw and decision to stop deliveries was internally driven by safety protocols and some of the identified components not meeting the company’s design tolerances.

“This is not the FAA getting tough on Boeing. This is Boeing getting tough on Boeing,” Calhoun said. “How do you do it? Well, you have teams inside our suppliers working on process control development understanding of exactly why that spec is necessary and where it is. And on our side, we start putting disciplines in place that make it clear to those supply chains that we’re not going to keep our line running. If we get one that isn’t right. That’s a little bit of what’s going on here.”

Boeing expects the 787 production rate to gradually return to five per month, with the timing of the rate increase dependent on their progress with production stability and delivering the aircraft still in inventory.

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Air Force Could Be Using Air Taxis in 2023

July 30th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Air Force Could Be Using Air Taxis in 2023   
Air Force Could Be Using Air Taxis in 2023

U.S. Air Force leadership watched a manned demonstration of LIFT Aircraft’s single-seat HEXA, one of fifteen companies contracted through Agility Prime’s Air Race to Certification. (Kenneth Swartz / eVTOL.news)

The U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program has been investing in the development of electric air taxis and could have one of these aircraft in use by 2023, Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX director, said during AUVSI’s virtual Unmanned Systems Defense 2021 keynote on July 28. 

“We’re looking at a variety of different use cases so that by 2023, we are positioned to bring this capability to an operational capability in our Department of the Air Force,” Diller said. 

Since Agility Prime was launched in April of 2020, the program has awarded military airworthiness certificates and over 200 small business technology transfer contracts. 

A LIFT Aircraft electronic vertical takeoff and landing aircraft sits on a trailer at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Texas, March 24, 2021. The eVTOL was transported from Ohio to Texas by the 79th Rescue Squadron as part of an ongoing relationship between industry partners and Air Force units that are working together to develop emerging technologies in support of tomorrow’s fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)

In December of 2020, Agility Prime awarded the first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) military airworthiness to Joby Aviation, now Joby Aero. Now, four companies—Joby, Lift, Beta Technologies, and Kitty Hawk—all have military airworthiness certificates. Diller said these certificates help to reduce regulatory risk and allow the military to compensate companies for test flights. 

“We’re looking to help the regulatory risk reduction and we’ve been able to show that just over the last year, with four of our aircraft going through our Air Force airworthiness processes,” Diller said. “We had first Joby followed by Lift, Beta, and most recently Kitty Hawk…These early flight test opportunities, early airworthiness, also gives us an opportunity to pay companies for directed government flight test, so in the near term helping to reduce that financial risk by these early adoption opportunities, early contracts, for the companies that are out there.” 

Agility Prime awarded Beta’s ALIA eVTOL aircraft the first electric aircraft airworthiness certificate for manned flight in May of 2021. 

An Air Force pararescue jump (PJ) expert evaluates how to load a simulated injured survivor or “Rescue Randy” into Kitty Hawk’s Heaviside vehicle as part of a personnel rescue scenario. The event demonstrated dual-use capability for civil and government applications. (Kitty Hawk)

“Achieving the first manned airworthiness authorization in the Agility Prime program is a key milestone,” Diller said in a statement in May. “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 program also conducted its first operational exercise in May with an experiment with Kitty Hawk looking at medical evacuation uses for these aircraft. 

“In just May of this year, working with Kitty Hawk, and looking with our operators to see what would it look like to do medical evacuation with vehicles like this, [to] provide first responders with these vehicles and seeing, they’re really are true dual-use capability,” Diller said. “Seeing that something that is compliant, that supports Americans with disabilities, also is very helpful for a downed pilot.” 

These aircraft will allow the Air Force to conduct operations without the necessity of a runway, Diller said. The Air Force is also interested in investing in these platforms to develop autonomy and electric technologies. 

“In the department Air Force, we are indeed interested in being able to conduct operations away from the runway, and in order to do that, we’ve looked at a variety of vertical takeoff and landing concepts and like the commercial sector,” Diller said. “We are very excited about the potential for reduced operations and sustainment costs, opportunities for large economies of scale in production to make a relatively low-cost vertical takeoff and landing platform, opportunities for simplified vehicle operations or autonomy that would allow near term of reduced risk to life through augmentation for pilots and potentially, eventually but potentially, not having to have those pilots necessarily in the aircraft at all. How can we help lead that autonomy industry? We’re very excited about electrification and everything that electrification has to offer.” 

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Lilium Announces New Partnership to Manufacture Batteries for its eVTOL Aircraft

July 29th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Lilium Announces New Partnership to Manufacture Batteries for its eVTOL Aircraft   
Lilium Announces New Partnership to Manufacture Batteries for its eVTOL Aircraft

Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet is designed for regional air mobility and will have ranges between 40 kilometers and 200 kilometers. (Lilium)

The German electric air taxi company Lilium announced a new partnership with battery manufacturer CUSTOMCELLS to provide batteries for Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet, the company said in a July 28 press release. 

This partnership will allow for the industrialized production of lithium-ion batteries for Lilium’s air taxi operations. CUSTOMCELLS will use Lilium’s licensed technology to produce batteries for the 7-Seater Jet at its Tübingen location, according to the release. CUSTOMCELLS will work with an equipment manufacturer, Manz AG, on this effort. 

“With their extensive experience of designing and producing customized high-performance Li-Ion batteries for automotive and aviation applications, CUSTOMCELLS is an ideal partner to manufacture aerospace-quality battery cells for our jet,” Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO of Lilium, said in a statement. “They have already set up manufacturing of silicon anode batteries for several of their customers. We are excited to be working alongside another next-generation company like CUSTOMCELLS.”

CUSTOMCELLS announced a recent partnership with Porsche to produce silicon-anode batteries, according to the release. 

“On the basis of flexible manufacturing concepts, CUSTOMCELLS guarantees high-tech solutions for special applications and tailor-made production of electrodes, electrolytes and battery cells with an outstanding quality and traceability approach, depending on the customer’s requirements profile,” Leopold König, co-founder and CEO of CUSTOMCELLS, said in a statement. “This partnership will bring two leading German innovators together and underlines the strength of the German manufacturing and tech ecosystem.”

Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet is designed for regional air mobility and will have ranges between 40 kilometers and 200 kilometers. The aircraft will use a distributed propulsion system with 36 embedded ducted fans. Lilium is partnering with Honeywell for avionics and flight control systems for the 7-Seater Jet. 

The 7-Seater Jet will operate in Europe and the U.S. Lilium has a partnership with Luxaviation Group to build out an eVTOL network in Europe and has announced plans to develop up to 14 vertiports in Florida. Lilium is expecting to certify its aircraft in 2024. 

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Avidyne Uses Daedalean AI Software in New PilotEye Vision System

July 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Avidyne Uses Daedalean AI Software in New PilotEye Vision System   
Avidyne Uses Daedalean AI Software in New PilotEye Vision System

Avidyne and Daedalean are bringing a new artificial intelligence-based cockpit vision system, PilotEye, to the general aviation aircraft market. (Daedalean)

A new cockpit vision system featuring artificial intelligence-based software from Daedalean, PilotEye, was introduced by Avidyne on July 26, the first day of the 2021 Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) 2021 AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

PilotEye is the first avionics system Avidyne is bringing to the general aviation aircraft market in partnership with Daedalean, the Switzerland-based company that has been working on developing certifiable artificial intelligence software for safety-critical communications, navigation, and surveillance applications. The two companies first started experimenting with flight testing of their neural network software on a Cessna 180 in 2019, and are now ready to prepare PilotEye for certification.

“Through this symbiotic partnership, we are combining the industry-leading artificial intelligence neural network software and certification methodology pioneered by Daedalean, with the proven hardware design, manufacturing and certification expertise here at Avidyne,” Avidyne President, Dan Schwinn said in a July 26 press release.

Daedalean has been working with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency in recent years on a number of initiatives designed to explain key machine learning software design, development, and verification methods for the use of neural networks in avionics systems. Their most recent effort, Concepts of Design Assurance for Neural Networks (CoDANN) II outlines a new W-shaped model—in place of the traditional V-model— for the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning-enabled avionics hardware and software.

Neural networks are a sub-class of systems within the overall field of machine learning. Experts define neural networks as a computational model, consisting of learning algorithms that function similar to the way neurons within the human brain communicate through synapses to help enable normal bodily functions.

NVIDIA, known for supplying computers for autonomous cars and drones, defines the term as “a biologically inspired computational model that is patterned after the network of neurons present in the human brain” and “can also be thought of as learning algorithms that model the input-output relationship.”

A neural network can be trained to understand the data that it is continuously fed or input, and can then process and generate intelligent decisions or answers to complex problems that engineers have designed the neural network to solve or output.

Daedalean’s neural network functions by taking high-resolution video input extracted in real-time by high-resolution cameras and sends it through a Convolutional Neural Network, which determines whether the images captured by the cameras are part of cooperative or uncooperative traffic. The system can also be used to identify safe landing areas if the pilot encounters an emergency situation.

“Leveraging advanced AI technologies, these solutions will initially include visual-spectrum camera-based systems for visual positioning and traffic detection, hazard avoidance, and landing guidance, as well as providing the data that pilots need for quicker and more-accurate land-anywhere decision-making assistance in the event of emergency,” Avidyne’s Schwinn said.

An overview of the avionics systems architecture for PilotEye provided by Avidyne. (Avidyne)

A March 3 blog post from Daedalean further explains their approach to developing an artificial intelligence-based vision system capable of replicating pilot eyesight, by architecting the system to function in the same way a pilot learns how to fly under visual flight rules.

“Our camera can be mounted under the aircraft, and the neural network can deduce its own position from how the image changes over time. And, separately, it can also recognize static landmarks, such as some unique skyscrapers that constitute the skyline of a city, certain characteristic mountain tops by their shape, or specific lakes and coastlines,” Maria Pirson, a content writer for Daedalean writes in the post.

Avidyne expects to announce pricing and availability for PilotEye “later this year” and will provide more updates about the new technology over the next few months. The two companies have not announced an official timeline yet for regulatory certification and entry into service.

“Certification of safety-critical AI-based systems is a paradigm shift in aviation,” Luuk van Dijk, Daedalean’s founder and CEO said in a statement.  “We are excited to be partnered with Avidyne, who will certify, manufacture, and be the first provider in the aviation market of AI-based safety solutions powered by Daedalean AI software.”

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NASA Awards Electra.aero STTR Contract for eSTOL Aircraft

July 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on NASA Awards Electra.aero STTR Contract for eSTOL Aircraft   
NASA Awards Electra.aero STTR Contract for eSTOL Aircraft

Shown here, Electra’s ultra-short takeoff and landing aircraft can deliver nearly triple the payload capacity, an order of magnitude longer ranges, and less than half the operating costs. Electra is the most sustainable choice for advancing urban and regional air mobility. (Electra)

Electra.aero has received a $125,000 small business technology transfer (STTR) contract from NASA to mature its electric ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft, the company announced in a July 27 press release. 

The contract was secured with the partnership of Electra.aero and Dr. Alejandra Uranga, a Gabilan Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. The two partners will work on computational models of distributed electric propulsion, Ben Marchionna, director of technology and innovation at Electra.aero, told Avionics International

“This contract will be focused on the development of low-order computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models of blown lift aerodynamics from wing-propulsor interactions – i.e., distributed electric propulsion,” Marchionna said. “The models will help improve the accuracy and precision of performance estimates and speed up design trades.”

Uranga said currently available models have not been validated against full-scale vehicles and the methods developed in these models will help Electra.aero when designing its vehicle. 

“Even the best CFD-based blown lift and distributed electric propulsion models today lack validation against full-scale vehicles for these unique configurations,” Uranga said in a statement. “Current computational methods can predict some limited blown lift flow fields in three dimensions, but the large eSTOL design space compared to conventional aircraft means that fast, trusted, low-order methods are needed to rapidly evaluate design choices. This contract will help us develop those methods.”

Electra.aero’s aircraft will differ from other electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft because it uses electric propulsion and a technique called blown lift to takeoff over very short distances. The eSTOL aircraft Electra.aero is developing will be able to takeoff and land in less than 150 feet. 

“eVTOLs use electric propulsion to takeoff and land vertically – many of these concepts then transition from vertical flight to forward flight with a wing providing the lift once in cruise,” Marchionna said during an interview earlier this year. “Vertical flight requires significantly more power, resulting in an enormous payload, range, and cost penalty. eSTOLs use electric propulsion and an aerodynamic technique called blown lift to takeoff over distances as short as 100 feet. This provides eSTOL aircraft access to many of the same urban air mobility markets.”

The blown lift technology pushes air over the aircraft’s wings and then moves it downward. 

“Blown lift is an aerodynamic technique that tricks the wing into thinking it’s much larger than it really is,” Marchionna said. “Propellers are typically used for thrust and the wing is used to generate lift. Blown lift uses the propellers to also blow significant amounts of air over large wing flaps that deflect the air downwards. This can be done very efficiently across the entire span of the wing with distributed electric propulsion systems. The technique has been used for nearly 75 years, with extensive research, flight testing, and operations by NASA and the USAF in the 1960s and 70s, but the advent of distributed electric propulsion now makes blown lift practical again.”

Electra.aero received a $1.5 million investment from the Air Force’s Agility Prime in June to develop this technology.  

The company is currently building its technology demonstrator that will complete ground testing later this year, Marchionna said. The aircraft is expected to begin flight testing in 2022 and receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration under Part 23 regulations in 2026. 

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Icelandair Ready to Activate Viasat In-flight Connectivity on 737 MAX-9s

July 27th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Icelandair Ready to Activate Viasat In-flight Connectivity on 737 MAX-9s   
Icelandair Ready to Activate Viasat In-flight Connectivity on 737 MAX-9s

EASA issued a supplemental type certificate last month allowing Icelandair to activate Viasat in-flight internet on its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX-9s, following the rollout of the service on their 737 MAX-8s in March. (Viasat)

Icelandair is ready to start rolling out Viasat in-flight connectivity (IFC) service across its fleet of 737 MAX-9 aircraft, following a supplemental type certificate (STC) issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the aircraft type last month.

According to a July 19 blog post from Viasat, their satellite antennas, modems, wireless access points and other IFC enabling hardware and software were installed on Icelandair’s 737 MAX-9 aircraft earlier this year, however it was deactivated pending an STC from EASA. The same IFC service launched on the airline’s 737 MAX-8 aircraft in March 2021.

“Over Europe, this network includes the KA-SAT satellite and could include others like Avanti’s Hylas constellation in the future. When traveling over the US, Iceland and the Atlantic Ocean, the aircraft will connect with several other Viasat satellites, including ViaSat-2,” Icelandair said in a July 19 blog post on their website.

Viasat’s access to the Hylas constellation referenced by Icelandair is the result of a partnership announced June 3 with U.K.-based satellite operator Avanti Communications. The new agreement is designed to augment Viasat’s KA-SAT satellite coverage and capacity and will initially be leveraged to serve new mobility customers in the region. Viasat plans to leverage Avanti’s HYLAS 4 and HYLAS 2 satellites beginning in October 2021.

Icelandair became the first airline to start offering Viasat IFC on flights over the Atlantic Ocean from a 2017 agreement reached between the two companies. By activating the satellite system on the 737 MAX-9, the airline now features connectivity across every aircraft model within its fleet.

The Boeing 757s and 767s operated by Icelandair feature IFC from Global Eagle Entertainment, resulting from a 2016 investment by the airline. Passengers are charged €6 for Wi-Fi access on Icelandair’s European routes, and €12 for flights to North American destinations.

EASA’s approval of Viasat IFC on Icelandair’s 737 MAX-9 aircraft comes following the launch of the same service launching on KLM’s 737-800 aircraft in April.

Icelandair expects all Viasat-enabled aircraft to be installed by April 2022.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 25, 2021

July 26th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 25, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 25, 2021

Check out the July 25 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.

Commercial 

 

American Airlines Sees Strong Recovery From Pandemic Lows in Second Quarter

American Airlines reported its second quarter financial results last week, posting a “second-quarter net loss of $1.1 billion” excluding special items, according to a July 22 press release.

We’ve flown more customers than any other airline in the second quarter. Our team safely transported more than 44 million passengers on nearly 470,000 flights. It’s more than five times the number of passengers we carried in the second quarter of 2020 and more than two-and-a-half times the number of flights,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said during the airline’s second quarter earnings call. “We’ve ramped up the operation dramatically in response to customer demand, and our operational performance continues to improve as we grow in scale.”

 

 

United Airlines Sees Demand Recover Faster Than Expected in Second Quarter

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said the Chicago-based international carrier saw both leisure and business air travel demand recover at faster rates than they expected during their second quarter earnings call last week.

United posted its second-quarter 2021 financial results on July 20, with an adjusted net loss of $1.3 billion. Despite the loss, the company expects continued gains as more businesses return by end of summer and into 2022, with a full recovery in demand anticipated by 2023, according to a July 20 press release.

“If I was going to briefly summarize where things stand right now, I’d say the demand is recovering even faster than we had hoped domestically, both leisure and business demand. And internationally we see the exact same pattern every time new borders are reopened,” Kirby said during the earnings call. “And while the US isn’t yet opened to Europeans the data and science, including the demonstrated safety of air travel, similar vaccination and case rate and similar level of variance in Europe and the US support an opening and we expect it to happen at some point. And when the borders do open, we expect to see the same robust hockey stick increase in demand that we’ve already seen domestically.”

Last month, United placed its largest ever order for a combined 270 commercial jets, including 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s, and 70 Airbus A321neos.

 

 

 

Air Canada CEO Sees Positive Signs of Recovery for Remainder of 2021

Air Canada reported its second quarter 2021 financial results last week, posting an “operating loss of $1.13 billion compared to an operating loss of $1.55 billion in the second quarter of 2020,” according to a July 23 press release.

The airline also reported a net cash burn of $6.36 million per day during the second quarter, and reached a deal in April that will provide up to $4.7 billion in government-backed aid. Canada is re-opening cross-border travel to fully vaccinated U.S. tourists starting Aug. 9, following a 16-month ban forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are seeing steadily increasing bookings for the domestic, trans-border and Atlantic markets and to sun destinations for the coming winter. In fact for the next winter sun travel, future bookings during some weeks in June, were ahead of the same period in 2019 that hard to remember time before COVID-19,” Air Canada CEO Mike Rousseau said during the airline’s earnings call. “We are certainly pleased to see vaccination rates increasing and in more recent announcements of the soon easing of travel restrictions in Canada. We can now optimistically say that we are turning a corner and we expect to soon see correlated financial improvements.”

 

 

Airbus Delivers First A350 From Completion Center in China 

Airbus delivered the first A350 from its widebody completion center in Tianjin, China to China Eastern Airlines. (Airbus)

Airbus has delivered the first A350 from its wide-body completion & delivery centre in Tianjin (C&DC), China, taking additional steps in the expansion of its global footprint and long-term strategic partnership with China, according to a July 21 press release.

The A350-900 aircraft was delivered to China Eastern Airlines, the largest Airbus operator in Asia and second largest in the world.

Located at the same site as the Airbus Tianjin A320 Family Final Assembly Line and the Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre, the widebody C&DC covers the aircraft completion activities, including cabin installation, aircraft painting and production flight test, as well as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery.

“I’m proud that Airbus successfully extended the capability of the widebody C&DC in Tianjin to the A350, the latest new generation aircraft, at such a difficult time of global aviation,” George Xu, Airbus Executive Vice President and Airbus China CEO said in the release. “This is a new milestone in the long-term cooperation between China and Airbus, which further demonstrates Airbus’ commitment to the country.”

 

 

 

Universal Hydrogen and Deutsche Aircraft Join Forces to Develop Zero Emissions Aircraft 

A new partnership between Universal Hydrogen and Deutsche Aircraft is aiming to advance the decarbonization of aviation by integrating Universal Hydrogen’s modular capsule technology into the Dornier 328 program, according to a July 21 release. 

“We see hydrogen as the only realistic approach for aviation to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement,” Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen, said in a statement. “We are tackling the biggest obstacle to near-term hydrogen adoption: its delivery and distribution to airports and aircraft globally without costly infrastructure. This partnership with Deutsche Aircraft will accelerate our shared goal to put aviation on a trajectory toward true zero carbon emissions.”

The project will study the size and integration of the modular capsule technology for hydrogen, aircraft weight and balance, hydrogen cost, mission performance, and the hydrogen logistics network, according to the release. 

“Deutsche Aircraft is committed to enter the new era of climate-neutral aviation. Partnering with companies that share our passion for climate-friendly design like Universal Hydrogen allow us to accelerate our vision for decarbonization,” Martin Nüsseler, chief technology officer for Deutsche Aircraft, said in a statement. “We are excited to leverage Universal Hydrogen’s technical expertise to assess the safe and affordable use of hydrogen onboard our aircraft as part of our journey to zero emissions.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Military 

NATO Conducting Competition for Risk Reduction and Feasibility Studies on AWACS Replacement

The 14 NATO AWACS planes received glass cockpits between 2016 and 2019 (NATO)

NATO is conducting a competition for three risk reduction and feasibility studies under its Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) program to replace 14 Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft when they leave service in 2035.

In March last year, six companies or industry teams delivered AFSC concept studies to the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA)–Airbus Defence and Space; Boeing and Indra Sistemas, Inmarsat, Leonardo, and Thales; General Atomics; L3Harris and Meta Mission Data, Deloitte Consulting, Hensoldt Sensors, IBM, Musketeer Solutions, Synergeticon and Videns; Lockheed Martin; and an MDA Systems and General Dynamics team.

NSPA said this month that it has identified “three high-level conceptual approaches…for further analysis through three separate Risk Reduction and Feasibility Studies (RRFS).” Through a competition for those three studies, “industry will further develop the proposed AFSC concepts and demonstrate their technical and operational feasibility for 2035 and beyond,” NSPA said.

NATO said it is not wedded solely to an airborne approach for AFSC. AWACS “could be replaced with different combinations of systems in the air, land, space, or even in the cyber domain,” NSPA said.

 

 

Bell Begins Building UH-1Y Again For Helicopters Headed To Czech Republic

UH-1Y assembly. (Bell)

Bell said Monday July 19 it has officially restarted production of the UH-1Y Venom as it looks to build the platform for planned deliveries to the Czech Republic, the first international customer for the attack helicopter.

The company noted Crestview Aerospace has finished manufacturing the first of eight UH-1Y cabins, which will then head to the Bell’s production facility in Amarillo, Texas, for final assembly.

“Crestview Aerospace is honored and grateful for the opportunity to team with Bell on the continued production of the UH-1Y cabin for the first international customer,” Paul Kohlmeier, Crestview Aerospace’s senior vice president for strategy and business development, said in a statement. “Crestview continues to build in the same high quality and reliability into the international Venom helicopters that underpin the aircraft currently operated by the United States Marine Corps around the world.”

Business & GA 

Gulfstream Surpasses 500 In-flight Connectivity Service Installations 

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. on July 21 announced it has surpassed 500 installations of the Inmarsat Jet ConneX in-flight connectivity platform on large-cabin aircraft.

Jet ConneX is powered by Inmarsat’s global Ka-band satellite network, providing in-flight internet coverage that supports video streaming and file sharing among other connected applications. Certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, it transmits at speeds of approximately 20 megabits per second. Its coverage is worldwide and reliable over land and water through all phases of flight, with extended coverage over the polar regions coming soon, according to a July 21 press release.

“We are delighted to celebrate the 500th installation of our Jet ConneX in-flight broadband solution on Gulfstream aircraft and proud of their continued trust in Inmarsat,” Kai Tang, head of business and general aviation, Inmarsat said in the release. “This milestone is a testament to the Inmarsat ecosystem of partners and our joint commitment to delivering the highest standard of global connectivity to Gulfstream and their customers, for whom only the most reliable and consistent customer experience is acceptable. We look forward to building on this momentum and working side-by-side with Gulfstream on the next 500 installations and beyond.”

 

 

 

Single-Engine Beechcraft Denali Joins the Turboprop Product Line Up 

Textron Aviation’s single-engine Beechcraft Denali will now be part of the company’s turboprop product lineup along with the twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 260 and King Air 360/360ER, according to a July 21 press release. 

“The Beechcraft Denali represents our continued strategy to invest in clean-sheet and current products in both our Beechcraft and Cessna iconic brands. Beechcraft turboprops are renowned for their versatility and reliability, and the single-engine Denali is a perfect complement to this legendary family of products,” Ron Draper, Textron Aviation’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Pilots and passengers will appreciate the aircraft for its enhanced capabilities, innovative technology and all-around passenger comfort.”

The Beechcraft Denali, which was previously called the Cessna Denali, is predicted to take its first flight this year, according to the release. The aircraft will feature a payload of 1,100 pounds and have a range of 1,600 nautical miles. 

“We continue to receive interest around the world from turboprop and piston owners of competing aircraft, who are looking to move into an aircraft with greater performance and enhanced passenger experience,” Lannie O’Bannion, senior vice president of Global Sales and Flight Operations, said in a statement. “The Denali will offer an outstanding combination of lower operating costs and technological advancements, along with the widest and most comfortable cabin in its segment. And all of it is backed by the most extensive global network of factory-direct service centers in the industry.” 

 

EAA AirVenture Live Convention Returns to Oshkosh

The Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual air show, AirVenture, is returning to its live in-person format in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this week.

AirVenture 2021 is scheduled for July 26 to Aug. 1. EAA will not be live-streaming the event this year, although the organization published links to third-party streams of the event. Check out more information about EAA here.

 

eVTOLs

Archer Wins Round 1 as Wisk Promises to Fight On

Archer’s demonstrator eVTOL aircraft, Maker, will begin test flights this year. (Archer)

Wisk’s request for a preliminary injunction against Archer Aviation was denied by a San Francisco judge on July 22, according to a statement from the company. This injunction was filed in an ongoing legal battle between the two companies in which Wisk is accusing Archer of stealing Wisk’s proprietary intellectual property.

“The record makes it clear that Wisk has provided no evidence—not a single document, not a single witness—that Archer ever received or used any Wisk trade secret,” Archer’s Deputy General Counsel, Eric Lentell said in a statement. “Wisk’s charges of massive theft are based entirely on conspiracy theories and outright misrepresentations of the actual record.”

In another July 22 statement from Wisk, the company claims that the preliminary relief has no bearing on the outcome of the case and does not exonerate Archer. Wisk also cited the judge in the case saying the company “has many reasons that make it suspect there is a problem here” and acknowledged “arguable indications of misappropriation” by Archer.

A date for the trial has not yet been set.  

 

 

 

Joby Announces New Additions to Board Ahead of Merger 

Joby Aero has announced its Board of Directors ahead of its planned merger with Reinvent Technology Partners, according to a July 23 release. 

“We are incredibly humbled to have been able to assemble such a remarkable and diverse group of world-class leaders to guide and support Joby as we plan to enter the public market,” JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby, said in a statement. 

Since December 2020, Joby has appointed Aicha Evans and James Kuffner to its board, according to the statement. Evans is CEO of Zoox and Kuffner is CEO and representative director of Woven Planet Holdings and member of the board of directors and operating officer of Toyota Motor Corporation. 

Once the merger has closed, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder and co-lead director of Reinvent Technology Partners; Halimah Delaine Prado, general counsel at Google; and Laura Wright, former CFO at Southwest Airlines, will be joining the board. 

 

 

 

 

 

Space 

Blue Origin Sends Jeff Bezos & Crew into Space on New Shepard’s First Crewed Mission

Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket carrying Jeff Bezos and crew, just moments after liftoff.

Blue Origin successfully launched its founder, Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aerospace pioneer Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen into space at 9:13 a.m. EDT July 20 on its New Shepard rocket. Blue Origin also recovered the rocket’s reusable booster. The entire mission lasted 10 minutes and 20 seconds from launch to capsule touchdown.

The success of the New Shepard’s first crewed mission is a major milestone for both the company and for commercial space travel as a whole.

The New Shepard rocket took off from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site carrying its four passengers on an approximately three-and-a-half-minute ride above the Karman Line (100 kilometers above Earth). Once in space, Bezos and crew could be heard cheering and admiring the view as they floated in microgravity.

The New Shepard’s booster returned safely to its recovery launch pad a little more than seven minutes after launch.

 

 

 

 

 

Unmanned

Air Force Awards $15.9 Million to AeroVironment for Puma 3 AE and Raven UAS 

AeroVironment received two firm-fixed-price orders for over $15.9 million from the U.S. Air Force for its Puma 3 AE unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and Raven UAS, according to a July 22 press release. 

“The combat-proven Puma 3 AE and Raven are versatile, rugged and reliable tactical unmanned aircraft systems designed to provide the United States Air Force Security Forces with the enhanced situational awareness and mission effectiveness they require when safeguarding bases,” Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for small UAS, said in a statement. 

The Puma 3 AE UAS can be used for land and maritime operations and provides extended flight times and high level imaging, according to the release. The Raven system can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions at low altitudes. It can also provide real-time video and infrared imagery. 

AeroVironment has already delivered the Puma 3AE UAS to the Air Force and the Raven UAS are expected to be delivered by November of this year, according to the release. 

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 25, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Public Acceptance or Public Tolerance? Industry Experts Talk AAM Community Integration

July 24th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Public Acceptance or Public Tolerance? Industry Experts Talk AAM Community Integration   
Public Acceptance or Public Tolerance? Industry Experts Talk AAM Community Integration

As communities discuss how to prepare for urban air mobility, it’s unclear whether the FAA will have authority over most vertiports. (The Beck Group/Uber Elevate)

Electric air taxis are speeding towards their certification and commercial debuts. While there has been lots of attention on the design and capabilities of these aircraft themself, there has been less attention to how the industry plans to actually integrate these aircraft into communities. 

“We can all collectively figure out the safety aspects of AAM [advanced air mobility], and that work is well underway,  however, if we don’t integrate this new form of aviation smartly into existing cities and existing regions, then we may not have accomplished very much,” Scott Gore, program manager for strategic engagement in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) unmanned aircraft systems integration office, said during a panel discussion at the Vertical Flight Society’s Electric Aircraft Symposium on July 20. 

Industry experts on the panel explained how the air taxi industry should be thinking about integrating these new aircraft into communities and provided information on how they can effectively gain public acceptance. 

Adam Cohen, a mobility futures researcher and consultant at the University of California at Berkeley, said there are three layers to public acceptance: the institution and public sector perspective, the non-user perspective, and the user perspective. The institutional and public sector impact relates to how organizations prepare for AAM and what community impacts may exist. The non-user perspective is how people in the community who are not using this new technology are impacted and the user perspective is about what benefits these vehicles can provide end users over other mobility alternatives. 

Cohen said all of these perspectives should take into account equity. 

“I think it’s really important to mention that the role of equity really kind of has the ability to kind of impact the adoption of the services and perceptions from each one of these different perspectives,” Cohen said. “We know that AAM has a variety of potential opportunities, such as bridging really important gaps in the transportation network, whether it be spatial, topographical, or even the build environment. It could potentially reduce the mismatch between jobs and housing.” 

The integration of AAM into communities should start with city planning, Adrienne Lindgren, Hyundai Air Mobility lead for state and local partnerships, said. Lindgren said planning is a political process that involves integrating stakeholders into the growth and development of a town or city. 

“I think it has a lot of direct relevance to us as sort of advocates for the AAM industry,” Lindgren said. “It is a huge barrier beyond certification, it is not necessarily even a part of that planning process. Aviation in general tends to have a slightly more distinct planning process…..Additionally, city planning is in many ways the gatekeeper to city operations, where the public has the most amount of influence they take the planners, take their constituents very seriously, and the public takes their ability to participate in the planning process quite seriously.” 

City planning will not only be necessary for integration into communities but also for public acceptance, Lindgren said.  

“Part of the other reason that we want to engage with planning processes is because I believe it is deeply linked to public acceptance,” Lindgren said. “So unlike other transportation technologies of the last 10 years, where we went from a dock-less model, UAM will require fixed location infrastructure and location-based decision making. Part of what that does is it triggers the public process. The planning process is generally wrapped around the public, and all those stakeholders are wrapped around it in some form or fashion.” 

In order to integrate AAM into communities, stakeholders need to hold demonstrations and evaluations to gauge public and institutional readiness, Cohen said. 

“A lot more work is really needed to be done to integrate AAM into local and regional transportation planning,” Cohen said. “In particular, we need to very quickly deploy demonstrations and evaluations to prepare the public for readiness or institutional readiness as well to assist the public sector in evaluating requirements and policies that either support or impede the development of AAM to understand the impacts and validate the technical institutional and policy feasibility of various deployment use cases.” 

However, before stakeholders can start building infrastructure for these aircraft, the FAA will have to provide guidance for vertiports. Gore said this information should be released within the next year. 

“We do have existing guidance for heliports, although, given the unique aspects of AAM aircraft, vertiports are going to be somewhat different than traditional heliports. Such things as electric charging and electrical storage systems, for example. So we have a lot of research ongoing. We hope to publish interim guidance within the next 12 months.” 

Lindgren said it is also important to think about public acceptance as building support instead of tolerance. 

“I think we have to stop looking at public acceptance as sort of an exercise that we have to go through to get people to tolerate the industry and think about how we build support,” Lindgren said. “I think the overall planning process and implementation of land will be much more successful if we can reposition that conversation around how do we best reach the people that we aspire to serve and the communities that we aspire to serve and start reframing that as communities, versus a sort of a headache that we have to get through.” 

The post Public Acceptance or Public Tolerance? Industry Experts Talk AAM Community Integration appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: Advanced Aviation Team Founder Talks a Different Side of Flying Private

July 23rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Advanced Aviation Team Founder Talks a Different Side of Flying Private   
PODCAST: Advanced Aviation Team Founder Talks a Different Side of Flying Private

Gregg Brunson-Pitts, founder and president of Advanced Aviation Team, is the guest on this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Gregg Brunson-Pitts, president of Advanced Aviation Team joins as the guest to discuss providing on-demand private jet brokerage services to a different type of clientele.

Advanced Aviation Team was first established by Brunson-Pitts and co-founder Peter Newell in 2015, specializing in serving as a private jet broker to presidential candidates. Most recently, the company was the exclusive air travel provider for the Biden/Harris 2020 campaign with over 1,130 flights.

Gregg began his career in the White House in 2003, under President George W. Bush, eventually becoming Director of the White House Travel Office. He also discusses how private flying trends changed during the pandemic, charter brokers versus app-based on-demand services, and whether he thinks Advanced Aviation Team and its competitors will continue seeing first-time private aviation users as the industry emerges from the impact of COVID-19.

Have suggestions or topics we should focus on in the next episode? Email the host, Woodrow Bellamy at wbellamy@accessintel.com, or drop him a line on Twitter @WbellamyIIIAC.

Listen to this episode below, or check it out on iTunes or Google Play If you like the show, subscribe on your favorite podcast app to get new episodes as soon as they’re released.

The post PODCAST: Advanced Aviation Team Founder Talks a Different Side of Flying Private appeared first on Aviation Today.

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