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Cloud-Based Flight Management Systems for Next Generation Aircraft

GE Aviation, SmartSky Networks, and Mosaic ATM have collaborated since January to connect cloud-based flight management systems (FMS) with airborne FMS. Pictured above are Brit Wanick of SmartSky Networks, Todd Kilbourne of Mosaic ATM, and Gary Goz of GE Aviation sharing their progress at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit this week.

GE Aviation, SmartSky Networks, and Mosaic ATM have been working together since January to connect cloud-based flight management systems (FMS) with airborne FMS. At the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit last week, representatives from each company revealed the progress made through this collaboration and what they expect to achieve in the coming months.

The teams from GE, SmartSky, and Mosaic are currently finishing the experimental plan and software development, which should be completed within the next two to three months, according to Todd Kilbourne, Senior Program Manager, Mosaic ATM. In August, they expect to begin simulations of the use cases for trajectory negotiation at SmartSky’s lab in Virginia. Following the successful completion of these simulations, a flight test will be conducted to validate the results.

“We’ve set it up so we can implement this digital twin on three aircraft in a simulated lab. We’ll have one aircraft for the flight test and two simulated aircraft that have this digital twin concept in the simulation lab, and we’ll see how all that works together,” Kilbourne said.

In 2023, the collaboration may begin exploring additional use cases beyond trajectory negotiation like conflict detection and continuous descent arrivals. With the digital twin concept, said SmartSky’s Britton Wanick, VP Marketing & Partnerships, “we’re able to take a cloud-based FMS and have information from the airborne FMS, but also have access to a lot more [data] and share it across the entire ecosystem to address a variety of different use cases.” 

These efforts are part of a NASA Innovation Award. Phase I of the project included SmartSky and Mosaic; GE Aviation joined as a partner for Phase II, which will continue until the end of 2023.

“We brought in GE Aviation because they have a modular functional FMS that is very compatible for this project,” explained Kilbourne. “It had an onboard component but also a component that could be easily hosted on the cloud.”

Mosaic, an air traffic modernization and optimization company, is building extensions to the cloud that will add functionality and is also creating interfaces to simulations of an air traffic management (ATM) system and an airline operations system. 

In joining Mosaic and SmartSky for Phase II of this project, GE Aviation’s team made it a priority to enable offboarding of capabilities and reduce reliance on the computer onboard the aircraft. One of the problems in the aviation industry is that computing power installed on an aircraft rapidly becomes outdated, remarked Gary Goz, Navigation Systems Product Director at GE Aviation. “We want to add new capability and new functionalities to the flight management system; we’re constantly adding new capabilities, [but] we run out of computing resources very quickly,” he said.

Addressing this issue involves considering what safety-critical pieces are required to be onboard. Goz mentioned flight planning as an example of an area where efficiency can be improved. Pilots carry electronic flight bags (EFBs) onboard to use for finding optimal flight plans, but the information they are using isn’t available to the avionics system. “We’re striving to connect data that’s available outside avionics into the avionics themselves, and being able to use that technology outside of the avionics system,” he explained.

GE already has the capability to simulate the FMS on the ground—a digital twin version, essentially—and their current focus is linking onboard systems with the simulated system. 

There is aircraft data that is only available to the aircraft, including optimal trajectory models, Kilbourne added. Synchronizing that data with a cloud-based digital twin version would result in a more accurate model. The high-resolution weather data, air traffic constraints, and other information that is only available on the ground will enable automation systems to provide more accurate trajectory predictions.

“The ground automation systems involved in air traffic control, air traffic management, and flight operations all use different customized trajectory models for calculations. I’ve been working on these for over 25 years and constantly hear things like, ‘I wish we had more information from the aircraft,’” said Kilbourne.

Providing more information from the aircraft to air traffic control would improve the ability to deconflict routes, Gary Goz stated. This information includes fuel levels, aircraft weight, and performance characteristics, which are not currently available to air traffic control. By offboarding the ability to optimize routes and deconflict traffic, he added, aircraft will be able to avoid common problems like holding patterns and entering congested areas. 

“The ground automation systems involved in air traffic control, air traffic management, and flight operations all use different customized trajectory models for calculations. I’ve been working on these for over 25 years and constantly hear things like, ‘I wish we had more information from the aircraft.’” – Todd Kilbourne, Mosaic ATM (Photo courtesy of SmartSky Networks)

Goz noted that for the GE Aviation team, the concept of a cloud-based FMS is part of a larger envisioned ecosystem. Such an ecosystem includes connected flight management systems solutions like providing the pilot’s EFB with the same interaction and data that are provided to the digital twin on the ground or in the cloud. When you have these components stitched together, Goz said—”The cloud, connected FMS, ATC—you have all the same data at your fingertips to be able to make decisions about trajectories and deconfliction.”

There is the potential for increased risk when enabling such capabilities, he commented. Cybersecurity is a key issue that the team has taken into account from the start.

Advanced air mobility (AAM) is an emerging space of interest for GE’s Aviation division, Goz noted. “There’s a need there,” he said. “It’s still very fluid. Things are starting to solidify in some areas, especially around how we manage traffic. This technology could grow quickly once you’ve proven it out in that space you could advance it.”

Mosaic’s Kilbourne is also confident that the cloud FMS technology and architecture will transfer to AAM. Although the space is slightly different from commercial and business aviation, there is compatibility in AAM with the developments that Mosaic, GE, and SmartSky are working on.

“The FAA doesn’t necessarily control the traffic in some of these UAM corridors,” Kilbourne said. “They have regulatory oversight, but there will be centers where the service providers that oversee these UAM airspaces will handle operations for flights within their control.”

In addition to the progress made in collaboration with GE and SmartSky, Todd Kilbourne shared that Mosaic ATM has been awarded a new Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I from NASA to collaborate with a university partner. The focus of this project is creation of a toolkit for urban air mobility (UAM) communications management. The first component of the toolkit is a path loss prediction tool using a machine learning (ML) model, which will be trained using data from ray tracing software. 

“We’re also going to develop an architecture for UAM comm that would be a robust architecture, could combine satellite communication, ground communication, and even air-to-air communication. [Our] recommendations could move the industry forward in designing a useful, robust architecture for UAM,” he shared.

The post Cloud-Based Flight Management Systems for Next Generation Aircraft appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: What’s Next for EFBs in Airline Operations with Collins Aerospace

Jon Merritt, VSL, Flight Deck and EFB Applications, Collins Aerospace, is the guest on this episode.

On this episode of the Connected Aviation Intelligence Podcast, Jon Merritt, VSL Flight Deck and Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Applications, Collins Aerospace, joins to explain how the use of EFBs are evolving for airline pilots.

On June 1, Collins launched its new FlightHub Electronic Flight Folder with access to new fuel savings application. Merritt, who is the former director of flight operations technology for United Airlines, discusses the importance of establishing a strategy when it comes to the adoption and operation of new EFB apps.

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. Also, check out the agenda for the 2022 Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit just posted to our event website!

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.

This episode is sponsored by Collins Aerospace

The post PODCAST: What’s Next for EFBs in Airline Operations with Collins Aerospace appeared first on Aviation Today.

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The FAA Moves to Zero Trust Strategy for Preventing Cyber Attacks

“There are a lot of new types of issues and challenges that cyber is presenting, and definitely changing the way that we need to do business. And that’s across the entire life cycle of any system or service. We are adapting and trying to be as flexible as we can.” – Luci Holemans of the FAA, pictured delivering a keynote presentation at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit this week.

Luci Holemans, ATO Cybersecurity Group Manager at the Federal Aviation Administration, spoke about what initiatives the FAA is taking to promote cybersecurity at the 2022 Connected Aviation Intelligence (CAI) Summit in Reston, Virginia, this week. One key change is a shift to a Zero Trust architecture and focusing less on network-based perimeters as a cybersecurity strategy.

Like other U.S. federal agencies, the FAA as part of the broader U.S. Department of Transportation has been tasked with transitioning to a Zero Trust cybersecurity architecture under an executive order issued last year, although has been transitioning to this approach since 2020 when it was discussed during the 2020 FAA Cybersecurity Symposium. A basic premise of the Zero Trust architecture approach to cyber securing air traffic systems or critical infrastructure and assets managed across any industry is to assume networks are compromised and focus on the defense of a given application’s data.

The FAA is exploring multiple strategies to stay ahead of a constantly changing environment and to maintain continued safety and resiliency. It’s necessary, Holemans said, to take into account not only the cloud technologies embedded into this ecosystem, but also unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and a commercial space that is taking off. 

To ensure strong defenses, Holemans said, cyber needs to be integrated into our connected technology, and there must be collaboration between the government, industry, and academia. The cybersecurity environment is so dynamic that it is difficult to keep up with new challenges without collaboration, she said. 

Cybersecurity has to be addressed from the start. This means considering the necessary requirements with any new system or service, and making sure that these requirements are embedded early on rather than after the system is deployed. “With legacy systems,” Holemans added, “we ensure that we put those cyber requirements and solutions in place to maintain safety.”

New cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities are identified on a daily basis. Dealing with this environment, then, needs to include a flexible and efficient approach to finding and establishing solutions.

“Acquisition, especially in a government environment, is typically pretty slow,” she noted. “We can’t take years to address cyber issues that emerge on a day-to-day basis. How do we change acquisition processes and shorten that time frame to deploy a solution?” To meet the needs of today’s cybersecurity environment, a five- to ten-year-long timeline of acquisition no longer suffices; a six-month turnaround time would be more appropriate, Holemans said.

The FAA’s objective is to maintain both safety and resiliency from an aviation standpoint. “We are looking at cyber events 24/7, and have resources dedicated to identifying events that could potentially be cyber related—anything perceived as a system failure, or a service issue,” she remarked. “We are trying to stay on top of new policies that are coming out, new executive orders.”

For recent cybersecurity threats like JetBrains or SolarWinds, the reaction needs to be even quicker than a six-month timeline. When these new vulnerabilities and threats arise, they need to be addressed within weeks, not months. Taking immediate action can be a challenge in the aviation industry, however, says Holemans.

“We don’t change things quickly—and with good reason. You want to test things out before putting anything into the operational environment. At the same time, we try to stay ahead of [these threats].”

There are more threats cropping up now than ever before in the current dynamic landscape of cybersecurity. Technological capabilities like 5G and the evolving Internet of Things (IoT) have led to increasingly sophisticated, malicious cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure and a wider range of potential threat actors. 

“It really widens the scope in terms of who is able to potentially do an attack, who else can then take advantage of those new technologies,” Holemans explained. “But we’re also using those same technologies to overcome these challenges.”

“We can’t take years to address cyber issues that emerge on a day-to-day basis. How do we change acquisition processes and shorten that time frame to deploy a solution?” – Luci Holemans (Photo courtesy of the FAA)

The FAA is changing its cybersecurity defense strategy to depend less on network-based perimeters. Holemans shared that the agency is moving towards a Zero Trust architecture that includes authentication and segmentation of users and resources in a network as well as monitoring activity within the network. This strategy of Zero Trust aims to reduce an intruder’s ability to enter the operational environment. If an intruder does get through, Holemans said, the impact on other systems and services is significantly limited. 

The Zero Trust strategy includes considering all requests as if they originated from an open network before verifying them. All devices and users undergo dynamic evaluation based on trust scoring. Within the Zero Trust architecture, perimeter boundaries are not eliminated but rather reduced in size. The strategy uses real-time intelligence and analytics that will enable the FAA to promptly address any anomalies.

The FAA is also evaluating multiple enterprise cybersecurity capabilities in order to protect mission critical systems. These capabilities include managed enterprise security monitoring, security enterprise asset management, centralized National Airspace System (NAS) software security management, and managed enterprise security protections.

The NAS software security management provides centralized capability for security patch and protection updates. Holemans explained further: “Instead of having the different systems and programs take something that’s been developed and putting it into an operational environment, we’ve created an environment within the operational area that allows those systems and services to get those new pieces of software where it’s already been tested and checked for any kind of malware.”

Holemans also touched on the FAA’s intentions for ensuring cybersecurity with UAS, an area that is growing rapidly. The agency is still working to determine the best way to incorporate unmanned systems into daily operations in the NAS, she said. “It is more industry driven, but as UAS becomes another target, we are trying to understand how to incorporate those pieces of information into the operational environment. We are involved in some of the requirements for UAS, but in terms of monitoring it, registrations, [the FAA is] still on the outside of that.”

The post The FAA Moves to Zero Trust Strategy for Preventing Cyber Attacks appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Honeywell and DENSO Are Developing a Motor for Lilium’s eVTOL Aircraft

Honeywell and DENSO Corporation are working together to develop an electric motor for Lilium’s vertical take-off and landing aircraft. This collaboration is a continuation of a 10-year-long alliance agreement signed last year to design and develop electric propulsion systems, as well as joint research that started in 2019. Honeywell has also been working with Lilium for nearly two years to create a solution for the Lilium Jet. 

Pictured above is the Lilium Jet eVTOL aircraft. “It’s really about creating Aerospace 2.0, or Aviation 2.0,” said Taylor Alberstadt, Honeywell’s Global Sales and Marketing Lead of the UAS/UAM group, discussing the alliance with DENSO to create an e-motor. “A new way to move people or cargo. And the heart of that is doing it in a more sustainable way.”

Taylor Alberstadt, Global Sales and Marketing Lead of Honeywell’s UAS/UAM group, noted that this is a 50/50 partnership with automotive components manufacturer DENSO. “It is truly a coming together of two equal industry giants,” he told Avionics International in an interview. 

The e-motor is designed with Lilium’s unique needs in mind, and it weighs less than 4 kilograms while providing 100 kilowatts of electric power. As far as their timeline for development, Alberstadt says, “We are in lockstep with Lilium’s program milestones, and as they talk about the evolution of their program and entry into service, the development and work that we’re doing for the Lilium Jet is in line with their schedule.”

Pictured above is a prototype of the rotor.

Stator prototype. (Photos courtesy of DENSO)

A key part of Honeywell’s mission is to help their OEM partners come to market—and in some cases to create the market. The Honeywell team works to provide content across a vehicle, “whether that’s avionics with our new Anthem cockpit, actuation, flight controls, electric propulsion, power distribution, turbomachinery, or hybrid-electric vehicles,” said Alberstadt. It is not simply integration of avionics products or propulsion systems that provides value; it’s integration of the entire vehicle.

The UAM/UAS group at Honeywell was established several years ago to enable consolidation and alignment of Honeywell Aerospace’s products for the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry. This organizational change illuminated necessary changes to Honeywell’s existing product line, explained Alberstadt, and also revealed opportunities for creating entirely new products. One example is the compact IntuVue RDR-84K radar system, designed specifically for the AAM market. He noted that the exclusive focus on AAM “gives us the ability to be more nimble, to act like a startup, and leverage the legacy, the process, the heritage, and the funding.”

DENSO has an extensive history in electrification, and has also demonstrated high levels of automation in mass production, Alberstadt observed. Honeywell brings expertise in certification and certified software development along with its legacy in aerospace and relationships with many players in the AAM market. 

Honeywell’s decision to collaborate with DENSO was informed by the realization that the AAM industry would not look exactly like either traditional aerospace or the automotive space but an overlap of the two areas. “We thought about the Honeywell portfolio and how we wanted to be a major player across the entire vehicle,” remarked Alberstadt. “We recognized that from an electric propulsion point of view, there were areas where we could complement our existing technology with that of a partner.” 

The production volumes that will be required for the emerging AAM industry “are not reflective of what aerospace is typically comfortable producing,” Alberstadt explained. DENSO’s capacity for automating mass production of high-quality products—for example, production lines that make upwards of 20,000 products a month—made it Honeywell’s number one choice for this collaboration.  

In the next six to eight weeks, Honeywell expects to report on the progress and updates from a program in collaboration with DENSO that started in April 2021. The two companies have developed an understanding of the diversity of designs for AAM vehicles in order to identify a core set of requirements, which will inform the design of an electric propulsion system. They expect the end result to be a product that can be integrated into several vehicles, according to Alberstadt.

The post Honeywell and DENSO Are Developing a Motor for Lilium’s eVTOL Aircraft appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Walmart to Expand Drone Delivery to 4 Million U.S. Households in 2022

Walmart and DroneUp are expanding their drone delivery services to 34 sites in 6 states. Pictured above is a drone flying above one of the first hubs in operation, located in Bentonville, Arkansas. (Photo courtesy of DroneUp)

DroneUp announced this week that its delivery operations with Walmart will expand to 34 sites by the end of the year. The delivery network will include Arizona, Florida, Texas, Utah, and Virginia, in addition to Arkansas, giving access to drone delivery services to 4 million households in the U.S.

Founder and CEO of DroneUp, Tom Walker, described this as the largest rollout of drone delivery services in the United States. “It’s also going to be an opportunity to drive further user adoption by moving into new communities, and also being able to leverage the platforms that we’ll be using in those hubs to support the local communities through additional drone services,” he told Avionics International.

DroneUp and Walmart first launched drone delivery services in Arkansas in November 2021. They are currently operating out of locations in Farmington and Bentonville and have completed several hundred deliveries so far. A third location in Rogers, Arkansas, is opening in a few weeks, Walker said. Additional hubs will be located in Dallas Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, and Richmond. 

“We’re excited about demonstrating both the safety and efficiency of drone delivery,” Tom Walker commented. “More importantly, it’s about giving consumers the opportunity to experience it.”

The current regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration limit operations of the drone delivery service to existing within visual line of sight, or a range of about a mile. Walker has observed significant interest from policymakers across the board to allow for operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and enable the industry to scale.

“At some point, regulators have to acknowledge that we’re operating safely—not just us, but as an industry. We’re very confident that the regulatory environment is going to enable longer-range operations,” Walker said.

John Vernon, DroneUp’s Chief Technology Officer, has been involved in recent conversations and meetings with the FAA related to enabling BVLOS. The company is optimistic that they will be able to extend the range of operations soon.

Vernon spoke to what the future holds for drone technology and for DroneUp in particular. “The technology is constantly evolving,” he remarked. “We expect things to go further faster, very quickly, which is part of the reason why we’ve adopted the approach to the market that we have. We want to stay nimble and be able to make adjustments as technology evolves.”

In the last five years, drone capabilities and those of other unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have increased drastically. Vernon views the challenge of a quickly changing environment as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. 

“There’s certainly an appetite for allowing for BVLOS and further flight operations” in multiple categories, he said. “I think being able to quantify risk is also impacted by time. Most of the data that has been produced by the industry is limited; there’s a lot of hypotheticals being put out.” Vernon shared that he looks forward to producing meaningful data as DroneUp continues to operate and scale their operations.

In addition to its partnership with Walmart, DroneUp also announced a major acquisition last year. DroneUp officially acquired AirMap and its UAS Traffic Management (UTM) service in December. AirMap’s platform works well for last-mile drone delivery services, benefitting DroneUp as they increase operations to serve 4 million households this year.

The post Walmart to Expand Drone Delivery to 4 Million U.S. Households in 2022 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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The FAA Confirms Changes to Regulatory Approach for Powered-Lift Certification

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed this week that it is changing its regulatory approach for certifying operation of powered-lift aircraft as well as changing the certification requirements for the pilots operating these types of vehicles. (Photo courtesy of Archer Aviation)

In a statement to Avionics International this week, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that it will be modifying its regulatory approach for certification of powered-lift operations and the pilots that operate these aircraft. In the short-term, the FAA plans to use its “special class” process in 14 CFR 21.17(b) to type certificate powered-lift aircraft, in order to address the unique features of emerging powered-lift models.

This type certification will use the performance-based airworthiness standards found in Part 23 of the FAA regulations. The Part 23 rule was revised in 2016 to update airworthiness standards for small airplanes; the agency had stated its intent to use the new Part 23 for “unique airplanes” based on their view that the former Part 23 did not account for airplanes with new technology, such as electric propulsion systems. In the 2016 update to Part 23, the FAA also decided that it did not intend to continue using 21.17(b) for unique category airplanes.

Now, more than five years after the 2016 rewrite, the FAA has elected to use 21.17(b) for the growing category of powered-lift vehicles. “The change is part of the agency’s efforts to safely and efficiently integrate new types of aircraft into the nation’s aerospace system, while providing a simpler pathway for applicants to obtain the necessary FAA approvals,” according to the statement from the agency.

Existing FAA regulations were designed with traditional airplanes and helicopters in mind. “These regulations did not anticipate the need to train pilots to operate powered-lift, which take off in helicopter mode, transition into airplane mode for flying, and then transition back to helicopter mode for landing,” explained the FAA representative. According to the agency, its main priority is to ensure the safety of those operating aircraft.

This, of course, includes verifying the safety of new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The changes to the regulatory approach involve accommodations for eVTOL pilot training and certification, which the FAA believes will provide an improved, and more predictable, framework.

“Our process for certifying the aircraft themselves remains unchanged,” the FAA stated. “All of the development work done by current applicants remains valid and the changes in our regulatory approach should not delay their projects.”

The agency’s long-term plan is continuous development of its regulations for powered-lift as new eVTOL designs emerge. “As this segment of the industry continues to grow, we look forward to certifying innovative new technologies that meet the safety standards that the public expects and deserves,” according to the FAA’s statement. “Rulemaking will eventually be required to comprehensively include powered-lift in the FAA’s regulatory framework.”

In response to the FAA’s decision, Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the nonprofit Vertical Flight Society, said, “The eVTOL industry is continuing to consult with the FAA, and is looking forward to refining the best path forward for certificating eVTOL—as well as electric short- and conventional-takeoff and landing (eSTOL/eCTOL)—aircraft.”

“International recognition of airworthiness for eVTOL aircraft is also a major consideration for US manufacturers,” he added, “to facilitate sales and operations of FAA-certificated aircraft in other countries.”

We reached out to some of the U.S. companies in the advanced air mobility industry last week for their perspective on these potential changes. “Honeywell welcomes any efforts to standardize and harmonize UAM certification standards,” commented Jia Xu, CTO and Senior Director of Engineering, Unmanned Aerial Systems/Urban Air Mobility at Honeywell Aerospace. “The industry needs clarity and consistency to achieve safe operations at scale.”

A representative from Archer Aviation commented that they “currently do not anticipate the latest planned changes having any material impact on our certification timelines. We welcome the efforts of the FAA to provide a framework around the design and manufacture of an aircraft that is safe and approved for commercial use.”

Some eVTOL aircraft will be unaffected by any changes in regulatory approach for powered-lift vehicles. Jaunt Air Mobility is pursuing certification under Part 27/29 rotorcraft rules as a company developing a traditional rotorcraft, with a single main rotor lifting device. “The CFRs are very specific about the training requirements for commercial-powered lift pilots. They are different than airplane and helicopter requirements,” stated Jesse Crispino, COO at Jaunt.

During the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call, Joby Aviation CEO and founder JoeBen Bevirt remarked: “Joby has a 10-year history of working with the FAA under leadership from both sides of the aisle, and under the guidance of a number of different FAA administrators. We share their vision for reaching the next level of safety and efficiency, and we support them in their goal of demonstrating global leadership in how new customers and technologies can be safely integrated into the aviation system.”

The post The FAA Confirms Changes to Regulatory Approach for Powered-Lift Certification appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Bombardier Keeps Vision Flight Deck in Launch of New Global 8000 Jet

Bombardier will feature the Vision flight deck in its newly launched Global 8000 business jet. (Photo courtesy of Bombardier.)

Bombardier will feature the latest upgraded version of the Collins Aerospace-supplied Vision flight deck, in the Global 8000 business jet, launched this week at the 2022 European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Vision flight deck is the Collins Pro Line Fusion flight deck, which has been adopted by Bombardier within different configurations for various Global and Challenger models, including the recently launched Challenger 3500. Bombardier’s Global 8000 brochure shows the latest configuration of the Vision flight deck includes a fly-by-wire system with four large cockpit displays and side stick controls. Enhanced and synthetic vision systems are also among the navigation features of the new Global 8000 cockpit.

Side stick controls are one of the navigation features of the new Global 8000 business jet.

Bombardier also describes the Global 8000 as the aviation industry’s “only true four-zone cabin business jet.”

During an EBACE launch ceremony introducing the Global 8000, Bombardier CEO Éric Martel highlighted the company’s Smart Link Plus health monitoring capabilities featured on the new jet. Smart Link Plus is a health monitoring unit designed to enable a more streamlined process for acquiring and sharing flight data between aircraft systems and maintenance technicians. The technology is also featured as standard line-fit equipment on Global 7500s and other new in-production Bombardier jets as well.

“We’re expanding our digital services too; customers of the Global 8000 will have access to the most transformative service feature on the market today, Bombardier’s Smart Link Plus connected aircraft program,” Martel said. “It’s the digital evolution of services that lets our operators stay connected to the aircraft at all times, this smart technology can identify and troubleshoot problems in real time. By the time an aircraft lands, the maintenance team is already aware of the issue and can be waiting on the ground with a solution.”

A computer-generated image of the Global 8000 (Photo courtesy of Bombardier)

Global 8000 is powered by GE’s Passport engines, has a top speed of Mach 0.94, and has enough seating for up to 19 passengers.

Martel said Bombardier completed several flight tests where the Global 8000 broke the sound barrier last year, confirmed using a NASA F/A-18 chase plane. The Global 8000 “repeatably achieved speeds in excess of Mach 1.015,” according to the company.

Martel also described Bombardier as having undergone tremendous change since the last EBACE convention, held in 2019 in Geneva, after two years of COVID restrictions postponed the event.

“Bombardier is a different company than we were last time we were here. We’re purely focused on business jets, and we positioned our portfolio to meet the growing demand we’re seeing in the industry,” Martel said. “We’ve built a solid backlog and significantly streamlined our balance sheet, we’re investing in our portfolio, our service network is growing, and our facilities are busier than ever.”

The post Bombardier Keeps Vision Flight Deck in Launch of New Global 8000 Jet appeared first on Aviation Today.

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ZeroAvia Partners with MHIRJ to Certify Hydrogen-Electric Powertrain for Regional Jets

ZeroAvia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MHI RJ Aviation Group at the end of 2021. As part of the new agreement that was recently announced, MHIRJ will support ZeroAvia’s pursuit of certification for its hydrogen-electric powertrain. (Photo courtesy of ZeroAvia)

ZeroAvia, a startup developing hydrogen-powered engine technology for commercial aviation, expanded its existing agreement with MHI RJ Aviation Group. Both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the end of 2021. As part of the new agreement, MHIRJ will provide engineering services and aircraft integration in support of ZeroAvia’s pursuit of certification for its hydrogen-electric powertrain to retrofit onto regional jets. MHIRJ also brings its OEM experience to facilitate the certification process for ZeroAvia.

ZeroAvia plans to enter its ZA600, 600kW powertrain into service in 2024 and is progressing towards certification of the powertrain for 10- to 20-passenger aircraft. The team is also developing a 2–5MW modular powertrain, the ZA2000, to support turboprops with 40 to 80 seats. “The key in both of these systems is to deliver a system to meet certification requirements,” a representative for ZeroAvia told Avionics International in an emailed statement. “This will require a good deal of collaborative work with regulators including the CAA, EASA, and FAA.”

One of the team’s main objectives is to advance their UK testing program—supported by Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Innovate UK through the ATI Programme, and the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS).

Later on, the focus will be on performing flight tests in the U.S. with a short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft to explore the capabilities of the ZA600 powertrain. Learnings from this type of flight testing will serve to enhance the research and development program, explained the representative from ZeroAvia. “There are engineering challenges such as optimizing the weight of the system, but we have clear timelines for all of these to hit our planned certification targets,” the ZeroAvia representative added.

The hydrogen-electric powertrain from ZeroAvia converts hydrogen into electricity using hydrogen fuel cell power generation. The technology is unique “because it represents the most practical and scalable technology to tackle the full climate change impact of commercial flight,” shared the representative from ZeroAvia. “[It] is, to date, the only technology demonstrated in commercial-scale aircraft. Compared to existing combustion engines, it offers zero-emission flight and lower operating costs (particularly as clean hydrogen costs fall). The fuel cell system also delivers the range and payload that are necessary for commercial aviation, which battery-electric systems cannot deliver.”

ZeroAvia announced in April that they entered into a partnership with hydrogen fueling company ZEV Station. The signed MOU entailed collaboration to develop an initial regional airport project that will demonstrate the potential of hydrogen-electric propulsion systems. “There is enormous potential for airports to act as hydrogen hubs precisely because there will be significant demand,” remarked ZeroAvia’s VP of Infrastructure, Arnab Chatterjee.

Another big announcement from ZeroAvia came last December, when they published the news that United Airlines and Alaska Air Group had invested a total of $35 million into the company. According to the announcement, United could purchase up to 100 of the engines from ZeroAvia and expects to integrate them into United Express aircraft beginning in 2028.

The post ZeroAvia Partners with MHIRJ to Certify Hydrogen-Electric Powertrain for Regional Jets appeared first on Aviation Today.

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WingXpand Debuts Compact Drone Featuring Expandable Wings

The drone created by company WingXpand has a 7-foot wingspan, which offers increased capabilities, and the vehicle can be assembled and deployed within two minutes. (Photo courtesy of WingXpand)

The drone model from WingXpand, which debuted at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL event in April, features a 7-foot wingspan. The wings are expandable, so the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) can collapse into a size small enough to fit into a backpack. The drone was also featured at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference 2022 (SOFIC) last week.

The company WingXpand, was co-founded by James Barbieri and Michelle Madaras. Barbieri, WingXpand’s CEO, gave some insights into their UAS and plans for the future in an interview with Avionics. The fixed-wing drone was just launched to the public, and the team is currently working with clients on test flights, said Barbieri. They plan to start delivery of the UAS in the third quarter of this year.

The WingXpand drone is capable of flying for over 2 hours, or a distance of more than 1,000 acres. “It can carry about ten times as much payload as some of the smaller quadcopters and more consumer-grade types of drones prevalent in the market today,” Barbieri noted.

Use cases for the UAS range from the oil and gas industry and agriculture sector to public safety and defense operations. “There are also a lot of use cases for our military,” he added. “For our customers that need to fly for a longer period of time, it is the most powerful drone system that can fit in the smallest possible footprint.”

As the team performs test flights with clients and anticipates starting unit deliveries later this year, they do not foresee any significant challenges or obstacles, Barbieri said. “We have already validated our patented expandable wing technology in test flights.”

The WingXpand UAS is designed with advanced sensors and edge AI to provide real-time insights. (Photo courtesy of WingXpand)

In the future, Barbieri envisions that fixed-wing drones in particular will become more commonplace in the market. “We actually believe that for commercial professionals and our defense customers, these will be the systems of preference in five years,” he explained. This is because fixed-wing drones that look similar to airplanes are uniquely capable of flying long distances and carrying heavier payloads, in comparison to multi-rotor, quadcopter, or multicopter drone systems. 

Barbieri theorizes that the demand for fixed-wing drones like those developed by WingXpand will continue to increase in response to regulations from the FAA. “We’re really excited to be part of the industry in that journey, and a lot of that is going to be spurred into much higher rates of growth when we do see the FAA and regulatory environment continue to mature and refine some of the regulations that will make beyond-line-of-sight drone operations more commonplace in the national airspace.”

“When that happens,” he continued, “there’s going to be a much bigger need to have more powerful systems that have the capabilities out-of-the-box to fly substantially longer and carry more pro tools to make operators have an easy and useful experience.”

The entire drone system can be assembled and deployed in less than two minutes, according to Barbieri. He also stressed that WingXpand prioritizes open systems architecture and modular payload design. For their clients, payload could be a high-resolution camera, electro-optical infrareds (EO/IR), or a multi-spectral camera for those in the agricultural industry to assess plant health. The modular payload design offers benefits for government customers, he added, because they are not locked into a certain set of requirements.

The WingXpand drone also offers an onboard “Edge AI” computer that enables real-time object detection. It can alert the user based on certain criteria. “This allows an operator, such as a public safety official, to focus on the job as opposed to staring at a video feed,” Barbieri explained. “Having the powerful computer onboard for real-time calculations makes our clients’ lives easier.”

Last month, we published an interview with another drone company’s CEO—Fatema Hamdani of Kraus Hamdani Aerospace. Their drone, the K1000ULE, is also a fixed-wing drone and is fully electric. The “ULE” stands for Ultra Long Endurance; the UAS has successfully performed a 26-hour-long nonstop flight. A priority for Kraus Hamdani is to enable scaling up, and in particular the altitude capability of their drone. Hamdani noted that the K1000 has been flown more than 20,000 feet above sea level.

We also recently covered Manna Drone Delivery’s plan to launch commercial operations in early April. The head of U.S. operations, Andrew Patton, shared that their system’s software and hardware is “simple but robust,” and that Manna’s focus is low-cost deliveries for the direct-to-backyard use case.

The post WingXpand Debuts Compact Drone Featuring Expandable Wings appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Gogo Business Aviation to Launch LEO Broadband Service With OneWeb Network

Gogo’s business aviation unveiled its new antenna for the business aviation LEO broadband service the company is launching with OneWeb. (Photo, courtesy of Gogo Business Aviation)

Gogo Business Aviation is launching a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) broadband service for business aviation using the OneWeb network and an antenna designed by Hughes Network Systems. The company said in a Monday announcement this is the first LEO service for business aviation.

It uses the Hughes electronically steerable antenna (ESA) the company debuted earlier this year for fixed and mobile connectivity. The LEO service will include a fuselage-mounted unit with an integrated antenna, modem, power supply and RF converter. Gogo said that existing customers of its Avance service will only have to install the antenna.

The service will allow Avance L3 and L5 customers in North America to combine capacity from OneWeb’s LEO satellite network with Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG) network.

Gogo said the antenna assembly is small enough for business aircraft from super light jets and large turboprops to ultra long-range jets. Gogo serves the business aviation market, after Intelsat purchased its Commercial Aviation segment in 2020.

In March, during SATELLITE 2022, Hughes unveiled a prototype of the new ESA, designed for the OneWeb LEO constellation.  John Corrigan, senior vice president of engineering, demonstrated how the new antenna connects and hands off the signal from one orbiting satellite to the next to enable in-flight internet service.

“We’ve designed the system to reduce costs by simplifying the installation,” said Sergio Aguirre, Gogo Business Aviation’s president and COO. “We have long delivered affordable, high-quality connectivity to aircraft owners in North America, and now we want to bring those same benefits to all aircraft owners in the rest of the world.”

Gogo said the LEO service will offer low-latency connectivity that will allow for data-heavy streaming like video conferencing, live TV, and streaming TikTok.

The service will be available soon after the OneWeb network is fully launched and commercially available.

“Our agreement with Gogo Business Aviation represents a leap forward for business aviation connectivity,” said Ben Griffin, vice president of Mobility at OneWeb. “By harnessing the power of our LEO constellation to deliver robust, consistent, and reliable global coverage, OneWeb and Gogo will be able to offer an unmatched experience to business jet operators and passengers worldwide.”

 

This article was first published by Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics International, it has been edited. 

The post Gogo Business Aviation to Launch LEO Broadband Service With OneWeb Network appeared first on Aviation Today.

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