Avionics for Boeing FARA Design Provide Significant Autonomy, Company Says

March 4th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Avionics for Boeing FARA Design Provide Significant Autonomy, Company Says   
Avionics for Boeing FARA Design Provide Significant Autonomy, Company Says

Boeing unveiled its design for the U.S. Army Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition on March 3. The design is to feature touch screen displays, a reconfigurable cockpit, and flexible avionics, Boeing said. Photo: Boeing

Boeing unveiled its six-bladed main rotor/rear propulsor, single engine, tandem seating design for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) on March 3, a blueprint that also features a “state-of-the-art cockpit with a reconfigurable large area display and autonomous capabilities,” the company said.

Up until March 3, Boeing had been mum on its FARA design, as company officials said that they did not want to give a leg up to other FARA competitors.

“Boeing FARA is designed for interoperability within the ecosystem of all-joint domain operations,” Boeing wrote in an email to Avionics International when asked to specify such autonomous capabilities. “Advanced virtual modeling informed the design of the Boeing FARA Pilot Vehicle Interface (PVI) that minimizes crew workload and provides cognitive decision aiding to enable supervised autonomy. Boeing has also demonstrated the ability to supervise advanced teaming with unmanned air systems and surrogate ALEs [air-launched effects] from the FARA PVI.”

This month may mark a key milestone in the competition, as the Army is to winnow the field from five competitors to two. The latter are to participate in a fly-off, likely in 2022 or 2023, and the Army hopes to field the first FARA aircraft in 2028.

Boeing described its FARA design as having a “modern, intuitive and reconfigurable cockpit equipped with flexible avionics, autonomous capabilities and a reconfigurable large area display with touch screen capabilities for simplicity and ease of navigation.”

Boeing declined to specify how the FARA design’s avionics are flexible, “due to competition sensitivities,” and the company declined to name its avionics and other suppliers for the FARA design when asked by Avionics on March 3.

Up until March 3, Boeing had been mum on its FARA design, as company officials said that they did not want to give a leg up to other FARA competitors.

The Army describes FARA as a “knife fighter” helicopter that will fill the gap left by retiring the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. The service said that FARA “will be capable of achieving and sustaining overmatch against potential competitors and enduring asymmetric threats by closing or mitigating gaps in Army aviation attack and reconnaissance.”

In January, 2019, Boeing completed a series of six wind tunnel tests on a 30 percent scale model of an AH-64E Block II compound helicopter, which the company says it could field by the end of 2028. The compound Apache, which Boeing funded with internal research and development funding, could boost Apache capabilities and increase its speed to keep up with whatever design the Army selects for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft.

The AH-64E Block II compound helicopter would feature a wing and a rear propulsor, increase aircraft speed to 185 knots, increase payload to 5,900 pounds hover out of ground effect (HOGE) on takeoff, and increase range to 460 nm.

Like the compound Apache, the Boeing FARA design has a rear propulsor, but otherwise the designs appear dissimilar.

The AH-64E has a maximum gross weight of 23,000 pounds, while the Army is seeking a less costly, 14,000 pound helicopter for FARA.


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At Ohio Air Taxi Symposium, Policy Seen as Far Behind Technology

March 4th, 2020   •   Comments Off on At Ohio Air Taxi Symposium, Policy Seen as Far Behind Technology   
At Ohio Air Taxi Symposium, Policy Seen as Far Behind Technology

At a symposium in Columbus, Ohio, local leaders discussed the state’s strategy for supporting urban air mobility development and operation. (Photo: Rex Alexander)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Home to a number of leading aerospace research centers and suppliers, Ohio is taking steps to ensure it will be on the leading edge of the low-altitude urban air mobility (UAM) revolution, including medical and cargo delivery by drone as well as passenger transport.

At the Ohio UAM conference in Columbus last week, leaders touted the state’s long history as the birthplace of aviation — with plenty of good-natured jabs at North Carolina — as well as more recent projects in unmanned aviation and smart mobility.

In 2016, Columbus beat out 77 cities nationwide in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Smart City Challenge, winning $40 million in funding to build a city-wide operating system, data collection and management system, smart mobility hubs, multi-modal trip planning and common payment system and more. Two years later, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered the formation of DriveOhio, an initiative within the state DOT to organize and accelerate smart and connected vehicle projects statewide.

The governor’s order also created sister effort FlyOhio, an effort to “make Ohio airspace among the first in the nation ready to fly beyond line of sight,” according to the Ohio UAS Center’s website.

“We’re forming that strategic plan for the state of Ohio, and how Ohio is going to deal with the advances in aviation, and how we’re going to promote that research and development,” said Fred Judson, director of the DriveOhio UAS Center.

Working with the Dayton-based Air Force Research Lab, the UAS Center developed SkyVision, an asset located at Springfield-Beckley Airport that is used to manage a 200-square-mile parcel of unrestricted airspace between 1,000 to 10,000 feet above ground level (AGL), enabling drone flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and providing deconfliction services to unmanned and manned aircraft.

In conjunction with The Ohio State University (OSU) and many other partners, the UAS Center also developed the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, a 35-mile stretch of highway used for autonomous ground and air vehicle testing. Three radars installed along the corridor enable safe BVLOS flight and airspace management up to 2,000 feet AGL.

One planned effort is a similar air corridor following I-71, connecting hundreds of miles of highway between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, and “using that as a blueprint to continue development for the whole state,” according to Judson.

“We’re hoping to have statewide deployment for unmanned traffic management by 2022,” Judson said. “For urban air mobility, we’re hoping to enable limited operations along that I-71 corridor for urban and regional air mobility by 2021, with full operations by 2023.”

Early use cases for UAM in Ohio are likely to include medical delivery, where the transport of relatively lightweight packages often costs thousands and speed can be critical. UPS Flight Forward, which in October was awarded a Standard Part 135 air carrier certificate by the FAA for drone delivery, hasn’t announced specific plans in Ohio but is rapidly expanding from its initial partnership with WakeMed hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“That certificate allows us to fly aircraft with the capability of up to 7,500 lbs of payload capacity,” said Edgar Valdez, HR and regulatory strategy at UPS Flight Forward. “If there’s an aircraft like that out there, we’ll fly it. We have the customers and we have the demand.”

Alice Cummings, co-founder and chief operating officer of VyrtX, a startup testing unmanned aircraft as an option for organ and tissue transport, said it was an easy decision to incorporate the company in Ohio, given the large market for medical delivery and the state’s numerous initiatives to integrate UAM, including the I-71 corridor.

“From our perspective, here in Ohio we have the revenue-generating capabilities,” Cummings said. “I’m calling out Cleveland and Columbus particularly because of OSU, because of the Cleveland Clinic; we have the early adopters ready to go and wanting to have this technology … We’re willing to rely on Ohio and Ohio’s administration because they’re just as gung-ho as we are on this.”

As for passenger UAM, Ohio’s major cities — for example Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, along the proposed I-71 corridor — weren’t large enough to be captured by a market study conducted by Nexa Advisors last year. The study looked at 74 metropolitan areas Nexa believes are capable of supporting a profitable UAM ecosystem, based on factors including existing infrastructure, congestion, public transportation solutions and per capita income.

Michael Dyment, managing partner at Nexa Advisors, believes smaller cities should flourish with regional air mobility, and pointed to the firm’s analysis of Syracuse, New York — population ~140,000 — as an example.

“We found that Syracuse doesn’t have any congestion problems worth solving with eVTOLs, but they do have regional mobility problems,” Dyment told Avionics International. “A lot of people go from Syracuse to Albany, and that’s an example of a route that airlines will never accommodate because it’s short and there’s not enough volume. But it’s viable for eVTOL aircraft, and that may be a better use for smaller cities than tackling congestion.”

However, none of these UAM use cases can materialize without regulatory progress, which Rex Alexander, infrastructure advisor at the Vertical Flight Society, said is about “two and a half years behind the technology” at this point, with many questions remaining on what kind of authority and oversight the FAA will have over locally-operated infrastructure.

Representatives from Ohio’s many civil and military aerospace research and development organizations see that as a challenge to participate in solving.

“I think the threshold issue remains, from a regulatory or policy standpoint, can we get the FAA comfortable with the risk profile of this industry?” said Robert Tanner, executive director of the Ohio Federal Research Network. “Until you can demonstrate to the FAA that this is safe and you’ve thought through all the scenarios, they’ll continue to step back and watch.

“I think Ohio is actually uniquely positioned to help do that,” Tanner added. “My mission is to show the FAA how we’ve thought through these issues, to help them with that risk analysis, so that we can begin to have mainstream operations. We can demonstrate that through research that occurs here in Ohio.”

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Space-based ADS-B is Coming to Eurocontrol’s Tactical Flow Management System

March 4th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Space-based ADS-B is Coming to Eurocontrol’s Tactical Flow Management System   
Space-based ADS-B is Coming to Eurocontrol’s Tactical Flow Management System

Eurocontrol is integrating Aireon’s space-based ADS-B surveillance data into its enhanced tactical flow management system under a new 10-year agreement. Photo: Eurocontrol

Under a new 10-year agreement, Eurocontrol will integrate Aireon’s space-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data into its enhanced tactical flow management (EFTMS) and a new system known as iNM that is currently in development.

Hosted on payloads within the Iridium NEXT 66-satellite constellation, Aireon’s space-based ADS-B system first went live in April 2019, and the company has since continued to pick up new surveillance data agreements with Brazil, Central America and India, along with air navigation service providers (ANSPs) in other regions.

By integrating space-based ADS-B into its ETFMS system, Eurocontrol will improve its trajectory predictions and ability to predict air traffic patterns and flows coming into and leaving European airspace.

“The next release of Eurocontrol’s enhanced tactical flow management system (ETFMS) will be amended to allow it to be able to use the standard Asterix Cat 21, a surveillance data format Aireon already provides,” Jonathan Astill, Aireon’s vice president of air traffic flow management services, told Avionics International. “Now, when Aireon receives Eurocontrol data, Aireon is able to tailor the data feed to share only that data that relates to traffic destined to land within or fly over the European region.”

Last year, Aireon became the first-ever company to be certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a provider of aircraft surveillance-as-a-service. That designation allows Aireon to provide space-based ADS-B surveillance for any European ANSP.

Once space-based ADS-B integration into EFTMS is complete, Eurocontrol will significantly improve its ability to see aircraft arriving, departing and crossing over Europe’s 4.4 million square miles of airspace. Eamon Brennan, director general of Eurocontrol, told Avionics that the biggest noticeable difference for their controllers and network planning efforts will be the ability to receive data from outside of their direct area of responsibility.

A graphic of Aireon's space-based ADS-B system. (Aireon)

A graphic of how Aireon’s space-based ADS-B system works. Photo: Aireon

“The integration of space-based ADS-B data will maximize the predictability of traffic mainly in areas in the periphery of Europe,” Brennan said. “Whereas the traffic predictability in the core areas of Europe is high, there is still a significant lack of predictability in the periphery, due to lack of accurate position data for the inbound traffic. This leads to reduced capacities in the peripheral centers as capacity buffers have to be maintained to cope with this uncertainty. The use of space-based ADS-B data over a large area including airspace outside Europe will improve traffic predictability, reduce uncertainty and consequently enhance traffic demand and slot allocation calculations.”

Specific areas of Europe that will benefit from the increased surveillance data referenced by Brennan include Athens, Greece; Barcelona, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal and Warsaw, Poland among others. The biggest benefits to be realized by airspace users such as commercial airlines or military operators, according to Brennan, will be the ability for controllers to have more flexibility in accommodating schedule and flight plan changes when a crisis such as disruption of traffic awareness over a large area occurs.

Space-based ADS-B data will also be integrated into a new system called iNM, which Eurocontrol is developing to provide management of all future updates to its “operational systems and digital infrastructure.”

“The iNM is the new generation of the Network Manager systems,” Brennan said. “This is planned to be developed incrementally in the course of the next years. Integration of space-based ADS-B data in ETFMS is foreseen to take place in the course of 2020. The relevant iNM system functionality will be developed in parallel and will be in place later this decade, in a way which be transparent with regards to the operational use of the data.”

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GPMS Foresight HUMS a Big Benefit for Power Line Inspection Helos, Duke Energy Says

March 4th, 2020   •   Comments Off on GPMS Foresight HUMS a Big Benefit for Power Line Inspection Helos, Duke Energy Says   
GPMS Foresight HUMS a Big Benefit for Power Line Inspection Helos, Duke Energy Says

Duke Energy said that it has used the Green Power Mountain Systems (GPMS) Foresight HUMS to keep its Bell 407 helicopters flying safely and to reduce maintenance costs for the helicopters. Photo: GPMS

During patrol season from March to June and September to November, North Carolina-based Duke Energy uses four Bell 407 helicopters flying four and a half to six and a half hours daily to monitor the safety and performance of 32,000 miles of power lines across Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. The company also uses the rotorcraft to inspect gas pipelines in Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

To keep the 407 helicopters safely running and cut maintenance costs, Duke Energy has relied on the Foresight health usage and monitoring system (HUMS) by Vermont-based Green Power Mountain Systems (GPMS).

Last June, Duke Energy selected the Foresight HUMS for its Bell 407 helicopters after a nine-month field trial.

“We see it [Foresight] as a big advantage to have, both on the flight side and the maintenance side,” Troy Snow, a senior helicopter technician with Duke Energy Aviation, told Avionics International in a recent telephone interview. “The maintenance side is pretty obvious. As an energy company, our motto is safety first. We put a very high value on safety. As far as return on investment, that’s our main thing. That’ s the reason they’re on our aircraft. Secondarily, being able to see what’s coming in the future is important so we can plan for that [maintenance] downtime. One time, we found a [faulty] accessory drive bearing on the main gearbox, which drives the oil pump. HUMS alerted us to that.”

Foresight helps Duke Energy avoid unscheduled downtime and forced landings of its 407s, Snow said.

“The biggest advantage is it’s compact,” Snow said of Foresight. “There’s less cabling and less weight, and it has a very small control unit that can be mounted anywhere you need to put it.”

Foresight has helped Duke Energy conduct engine power trend monitoring without the need for charts and, through flight tracking, to prove to government authorities that the company has done the required power line inspections, Snow said.

In 2017, the FAA granted GPMS a supplemental type certificate (STC) for installation and operation of Foresight on Bell 407 helicopters, and GPMS said it recently received an STC for the Bell 407 GXi helicopter.

For Part 27 light helicopters, Foresight weighs less than 9 pounds, while the system weighs about 20 pounds for medium and heavy helicopters that are categorized under Part 29, significantly less than the 100 pounds of traditional HUMS technologies, GPMS said.

Snow said that Duke Energy is to receive two Bell 429 helicopters by the end of the year and is working with GPMS to develop HUMS for those aircraft.

While HUMS has traditionally been affordable only for heavier helicopters, GPMS views the commercial light helicopter market as one that can benefit greatly from Foresight, as the company said it has developed an architecture that has cut the cost of HUMS in half from $100,000 to $120,000 to $50,000 to $80,000, a reduction in cost that makes HUMS affordable for the 85 percent or more of the 20,000 commercial helicopters worldwide that lack HUMS.


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Making the Case for Managing Avionics Product Obsolescence Sustainably

February 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Making the Case for Managing Avionics Product Obsolescence Sustainably   
Making the Case for Managing Avionics Product Obsolescence Sustainably

In service since the late 1970’s, the A10 Thunderbolt is still a vital aircraft of the U.S. Air Force defense strategy. Supporting legacy sustainment by providing extended life-cycle repairs for the POWERCORE VME-695 and POWERCORE-6604E embedded boards originally by Force Computers for L3. Obsolescence issues faced by commercial and military operators are a major challenge that the embedded systems supply chain is still grappling with when it comes to avionics upgrades, replacements and repairs. Photo: Staff Sgt. Angela Ruiz, U.S. Air Force.

Product obsolescence is not new to aviation, and neither are the costs and inefficiencies caused by this issue. Yet some industry experts say too often, the avionics industry fails to take a strategic view on how to manage obsolescence as a business process.

“We need to stop treating obsolescence like an exception; it’s a fact of life,” Ethan Plotkin, CEO of GDCA, Inc., told Avionics International. “We need to shift obsolescence from this big crisis and scramble to just another manageable business process.”

Speaking to OEM suppliers at the Embedded Tech Trends forum in Atlanta this past January, Plotkin noted that across industries companies are spending too many resources trying to address the market challenge of older, obsolete products. He cited the 80/20 principle that his company finds that 80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of a company’s SKUs while only 20 percent of net profit goes toward obsolescence issues.

Ethan Plotkin, pictured here giving a presentation during the 2020 Embedded Tech Trends event in January, is the CEO of GDCA, a certified FAA Repair Station that repairs and manufactures boards plagued by obsolescence issues and offers a broad range of solution options for sustaining long lasting aerospace and defense equipment.

In 2018, airlines spent $75.9 billion on maintenance, repair and operations for their products while obsolete or damaged spares cost airlines over $3.6 billion, according to Frost & Sullivan’s 2019 report, Navigating through Operational Turbulence.

Dayton, Ohio-based product support solutions provider ONEIL & Associates helps aerospace, commercial, and DoD customers maximize the life of their equipment using big data analytics to analyze and predict parts breakdowns proactively.  The company’s technology used in commercial aerospace is being evaluated by the Air Force as part of the DoD’s SBIR program.

Bruce Joiner, director of business development for U.S. Air Force at ONEIL & Associates has witnessed the obsolescence issues that defense acquisition officials have had to deal with in recent years.

“Maintaining legacy systems is a big problem within the Air Force and across the DoD. The original OEMs may have the tooling for a lot of those components, but they are no longer in the business of producing them. We see these impacts in the commercial aerospace sector as well,” Joiner said.

In Joyner’s experience there is never a diminishing parts issue until there is a failure, “the higher rate of failure, the faster or more intense the diminishing parts issues are revealed,” he said.

“The best way aviation companies can manage this challenge is to shift their expectations from crisis management to a solution for sustainment,” Plotkins said, noting that companies can re-think how they go about planning for demand of aging product lines. A typical practice to offer a “last time buy of obsolete components” is not a long-term solution.

One thing is clear: the need for aftermarket parts in aerospace is not going away. The global commercial aircraft aftermarket parts market size is estimated to reach over $51 billion by 2026, according to Market Study Report’s latest study on this issue. Plotkin notes that “a large percentage of that $50 billion is and will continue to be obsolete electronics.”

GDCA, which provides proactive obsolescence management for embedded computers, is hearing more from aviation customers, especially in defense, of the struggles to keep up with the fast pace of electronics obsolescence, especially in large procurements.  Many companies aren’t aware of third-party legacy manufacturers such as GDCA, ES Components, xsmicro and eComp.

Using Predictive Analytics to Get in Front of Obsolescence

Upgrading and recertifying avionics equipment is a costly proposition.  ONEIL’s Joiner agrees, which is why the Air Force and other military branches are beginning to use AI to predict when parts may need to be replaced and to plan ahead using service life management solutions. The company uses condition-based maintenance analytics to allow them to look down range and give them and suppliers lead time to respond to aging electronics and other parts caused by vibration, corrosion and other contributing factors.

“The DoD manages legacy systems that have been in use well beyond their lifecycle. Airframe components and system component failure is just a natural part of the aging process,” notes Joiner, citing the B-52, C-130 and the F-15 as examples of aircraft that continue to be maintained for multiple decades beyond their intended life.

Staff Sgt. Jason Hurst references a technical order while inspecting a C-17 Globemaster III engine April 15, 2011, during a biannual home station check at March Air Reserve Base, Calif. Sergeant Hurst is a crew chief assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 452nd Maintenance Squadron. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Val Gempis

Plotkin said component issues can occur in defense, medical, and transportation applications while a system is still in design phase. Without the original COTS IP, such programs face critical downtime, redesign and recertification.

Even as the aviation sector relies on COTS components and feels the effects of the fast pace of processor and component obsolescence, awareness of real options to tackle obsolescence in a sustainable way eludes many companies.

Obsolescence Pushing Some to Return to In-house Development

One troubling trend he’s noted is companies not liking that they can’t own their own Intellectual Property (IP), rejecting commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components right out of the gate in favor of building their own electronics inhouse. Plotkin says turning away from COTS – technology that allowed industries to get to market faster and cheaper while focusing on what they do best – is the wrong approach.

“You can build airplanes; you can build computers. I’m not sure you want to try to build both,” he cautions.

Plotkin said he’s seen the pendulum swing toward in-house engineering within both medical device and semiconductor manufacturing but that the same component obsolescence issues remain. “They have armies of electronics engineers who have control over the design but they find it is harder for them to sustain those products than it was for commercial COTS OEMs,” he says.

Companies often will invest significantly in pre-stocking components for future needs, which creates another problem.

Navy Used GDCA for Seahawk Helicopter Circuit Card Assembly 

As a legacy equipment manufacturer that proactively manages obsolescence in embedded computers, GDCA has helped the aviation sector address the challenge of early part and component obsolescence. For example, it consulted with the U.S. Navy when the MH-60 Seahawk helicopter procurement stalled because of a shortage of a critical circuit card assembly that controlled a weapon system on the aircraft.

“The primes were putting pressure on Curtiss-Wright, the OEM supplier, to do another build. Despite some heroic efforts, they couldn’t build enough – they were facing $5M to $10M in non-recurring engineering costs for what was a 50-card order, which doesn’t make sense. They transferred the technology to us and we were able to solve the obsolescence issue, re-start the production line and crank out the order to the Navy to get them through the acquisition,” recalls Plotkin.

Experts agree that the entire supply chain serving aerospace across the commercial and defense sectors will need to embrace proactive solutions if they hope to manage the continual challenge of product obsolescence.

“We owe it to our suppliers and system owners to provide as much lead time and information as possible for them to design products that are built with longevity, quality and technology in mind for today’s environment,” concludes Joiner.

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PODCAST: Talking IFEC With Virgin Atlantic’s Mark Cheyney

February 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Talking IFEC With Virgin Atlantic’s Mark Cheyney   
PODCAST: Talking IFEC With Virgin Atlantic’s Mark Cheyney

Mark Cheyney, Virgin Atlantic’s head of in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) development, joined the GCA podcast to discuss the airline’s IFEC approach.

In this episode of the Global Connected Aircraft podcast, we spoke with Mark Cheyney, Virgin Atlantic’s head of in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) development, for a look at how the airline’s use of connectivity continues to evolve.

Cheyney explained Virgin’s perspective on business models for passenger access, how and why the airline uses multiple IFEC service providers, and how many in-flight internet sessions passengers have used on their new A350 this year through Inmarsat’s GX Aviation broadband solution.

Listen to this episode below, or check it out on iTunes. 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. Collins is dedicated to tackling the toughest challenges facing the aviation industry. Their products and services link touchpoints across aviation — including airlines, passengers and airports.

Don’t forget to check out www.gcasummit.com for more information on the Global Connected Aircraft Summit, coming up June 2-3 in Denver, Colorado.

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EASA and FAA to Issue Further Guidance on Multicore Certification This Year

February 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on EASA and FAA to Issue Further Guidance on Multicore Certification This Year   
EASA and FAA to Issue Further Guidance on Multicore Certification This Year

In January, Mercury Systems, Inc. unveiled its CIOE-1390 multi-core processor module for helicopters and urban air mobility vehicles (Mercury Systems, Inc. Photo)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are to issue further guidance on the certification of airborne systems with avionics multicore processors this year, according to EASA.

Such guidance, to be put out as a joint EASA Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and FAA Advisory Circular (AC), follows other counsel issued in recent years, including a EASA generic Certification Review Item Multicore Processor (CRI MCP) that applies to projects where two or more cores are activated. The CAST-32A position paper published in 2016 by a group of civil aviation regulatory officials from Asia, Europe, North and South America known as the Certification Authorities Software Team (CAST), has also provided guidance on how companies can earn certification for avionics that feature multicore processing.

However, the guidance to be published later this year will provide insight from EASA and FAA on industry advancements that have addressed challenges to certifying multicore systems outlined by CAST-32A.

“EASA is working together with the FAA on an adaptation of the multicore generic CRI into a common AMC/AC material (AMC 20-193), that aims to be published and available on the EASA website, later this year,” EASA wrote in a Feb. 21st email to Avionics International.

Heightened aircraft performance requirements and the dearth of single core processors have led to the demand for MCPs, but gauging how many avionics MCPs are certified and in use is a hard task.

Neither EASA nor the FAA could or would specify which airborne systems carry MCPs, nor how many MCPs are certified and in use. The agencies said that the release of such data is either unavailable or would infringe on business proprietary related information.

“EASA has certified aircraft with some installed systems or equipment containing multicore processors,” EASA wrote in its email to Avionics. “From the very first usage of multicore processor in a product (aircraft or engine), EASA has issued a Certification Review Item (CRI) that evolved to a generic CRI MCP. This CRI addresses the specific challenges of usage of multicore processors in a safety critical application, and is raised on each certification program where a multicore device is used.”

“Currently most industry stakeholders using multicore processors choose to enable a limited number of cores, though the device would contain more,” EASA said. “Advanced capabilities like dynamic allocation are not usually used, and there is a high caution on the management of interferences between shared resources as emphasized by the EASA CRI.”

EASA declined to release the generic CRI MCP. “CRIs are confidential, as they refer to a specific project and therefore cannot be shared,” EASA wrote in its email to Avionics. “For the same reason, we cannot confirm exactly when the generic MCP CRI applying to two or more cores was generated, as this could indicate which project led to this.”

This is a multifunction cockpit display developed by Collins Aerospace, the MFD-4068 multicore platform display running VxWorks 653 on a T2080 processor. This display is currently in the final certification review stage by the FAA. Photo: Collins Aerospace

The FAA wrote in an email to Avionics that “airborne systems and equipment containing multicore processors have already been approved in multiple applications.”

“The FAA and EASA have a harmonized position to address these areas,” according to the FAA. “Since January 2016, the organizations have been applying this position using project-specific issue papers.”

The Multi-Core for Avionics (MCFA) working group, founded in 2008 by NXP, an Eindhoven, Netherlands-based semiconductor company, has been key in advancing the use of MCPs for DAL A-certified avionics. MCFA includes  “System on a Chip” (SoC) designers, ecosystem software partners, and avionics system developers working to migrate avionics from federated architectures built on single core processors to integrated modular architectures using multicore systems on chips.

In January, Mercury Systems, Inc.  unveiled its EnsembleSeries™ CIOE-1390 module for helicopters and urban air mobility vehicles. The company said that the CIOE-1390 is “the industry’s first commercially-available compute module with Intel® Atom® multicore processors and embedded BuiltSAFE™ technology for flight safety certification.”

“The FAA and EASA have never done a multicore certification with an Intel processor,” Ike Song, vice president of Mercury’s Mission Systems group, told Avionics International in a phone interview. “It’s just a matter of comfort level. I think it will get easier going forward. There has been and will be a lot of oversight, given what happened with the 737 MAX.”

In addition to the commercial, civil and urban air mobility markets, marquee military programs, such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, are eyeing MCPs.

Last December, San Jose-based Lynx Software Technologies said that the F-35 program office had chosen the company’s LYNX MOSA.ic framework to help upgrade the F-35’s mission system avionics under the F-35 program’s Technology Refresh 3 effort. Will Keegan, the chief technology officer of Lynx Software Technologies, said that the LYNX MOSA.ic framework “lowers the cost, effort and risk of multicore certification compared with traditional SMP RTOS [Symmetric Multi-Processing Real-Time Operating System] approaches.”

L3Harris has been developing a new, F-35 Integrated Core Processor (ICP), which is to go aboard F-35s starting with Lot 15 in 2023. Lockheed Martin built the legacy ICP at a facility in Eagan, Minn. which closed in 2012. Avionics work done there has moved to the company’s Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) division in Owego, N.Y.

The new, L3Harris ICP “is based on advanced open systems architecture and COTS technology, which pave the way for system upgrades to the F-35 well into the future,” Bryant Henson, president of L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems’ mission avionics sector, wrote in an email to Avionics. “Much of the F-35’s sensor and ISR capabilities will be made possible by the ICP. The new processor will increase by 25-times the collection of data from the aircraft’s sophisticated sensor suite to identify enemy radar and EW [electronic warfare] emissions that will provide the pilot with 360-degree situational awareness of threats and then prioritize and recommend to the pilot how to counter or negate the threat.”



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Vistara to Become India’s First Airline to Feature In-flight Internet

February 29th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Vistara to Become India’s First Airline to Feature In-flight Internet   
Vistara to Become India’s First Airline to Feature In-flight Internet

Soon, Vistara Airlines’ cabin experience will feature in-flight Internet access for passengers. Photo: Vistara

A partnership agreement between Panasonic Avionics and Tata Group subsidiary Nelco Limited is set to make Vistara India’s first domestic airline to offer in-flight Internet access to passengers.

The agreement between Panasonic, its subsidiary ITC Global allows the company to begin offering in-flight connectivity services in India through Nelco’s Department of Telecommunications license for In-flight Maritime Connectivity in accordance with the Flight and Maritime Connectivity regulations first established by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in 2018. Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines,

During an appearance on CNBC, Vistara Chief Operating Officer Vinod Kannan confirmed the carrier’s plans to take deliveries of new Airbus A321s and Boeing 787s over the next few months that will be its first to feature IFEC from Panasonic.

“We’re taking delivery of the first aircraft in February, the second one comes in March and as part of the features available on the aircraft we have teamed up with Panasonic to have in-flight connectivity on the flights. This is a function of regulatory approval, which has progressed very fast and we’re now in discussions with Panasonic on the commercial terms because we need to come up with the price plan and the scope of the service,” Kannan said.

India’s government first established terms for companies to start applying for licenses to provide in-flight broadband services in December 2018. Panasonic has been working with Nelco on the deployment of both aviation and maritime connectivity for Indian operators since March 2019.

Vistara will look to leverage its notoriety from becoming the first connected airline in India to continue to fuel its growth in passenger traffic and fleet size over the last year. Since March 2019, the carrier is on track to have taken delivery of more than 20 new aircraft, growing its fleet size to 42.

In August, Vistara started operating its first flights outside of India, on routes to destinations in Dubai, Singapore and Thailand. On Jan. 9, 2020 Vistara celebrated its five-year anniversary.

Nelco, a Tata subsidiary and provider of telecommunications services across several industries in India, added “Aero In Flight Communication” to its services portfolio in 2018. Here, Nelco provides an overview of how in-flight connectivity services in India will work.

Nelco’s Whitepaper on Future of In-Flight Communication for Indian Aviation Sector describes how in December 2018, “the Government of India came up with forward looking policy for In-Flight and Maritime Communication (IFMC) framework, allowing usage of Satcom services over Indian skies and waters. The new license has made it possible for aircrafts to maintain the connectivity they need while flying over Indian skies.”

The two entities have been “integrating networks to enable connectivity services using bandwidth from Indian satellites landing in Nelco’s teleport in Mumbai, India,” according to statement issued by Panasonic. Vistara’s connected aircraft fleet will join over 700 aircraft operated by 30 other airlines using connectivity from Panasonic’s GSAT 14 satellite.

Panasonic lists its subsidiary AeroMobile, Nelco and “local telecoms organizations” among its partners involved in the effort to bring IFC to airlines headquartered in India.

Global Connected Aircraft Podcast logo Want to hear more on aircraft connectivity applications? Check out the Global Connected Aircraft Podcast, where Avionics editor-in-chief Woodrow Bellamy III interviews airlines and industry influencers on how they’re applying connectivity solutions.

“Becoming the first satellite communications provider to offer services over India is a major milestone for Panasonic,” Ken Sain, CEO of Panasonic Avionics said of the agreement with Nelco.

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Airbus, Intelsat Join Tech Companies to Form HAPS Alliance

February 28th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Airbus, Intelsat Join Tech Companies to Form HAPS Alliance   
Airbus, Intelsat Join Tech Companies to Form HAPS Alliance

A group of aviation and technology companies have formed a new partnership called the “HAPS Alliance,” which will promote the use of high altitude vehicles, such as the Airbus ZEPHYR pictured here, operating in Earth’s stratosphere to provide connectivity to underserved regions. Photo: Airbus

A group of telecommunications, technology, aviation, and aerospace companies including Airbus Defense and Space and Softbank Corp., announced a new partnership called the HAPS Alliance, to promote the use of high altitude vehicles in the Earth’s stratosphere with the goal of eliminating the digital divide. HAPSMobile, Loon, AeroVironment, Airbus Defense and Space, Bharti Airtel Limited, China Telecom Corporation, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Intelsat, Nokia Corporation, SoftBank Corp., and Telefónica have all committed to joining the alliance, which was originally an initiative from HAPSMobile and Loon.

As part of the Alliance, member companies plan to collectively advocate for High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) business development, build a cooperative HAPS ecosystem, develop common product specifications, and promote the standardization of HAPS network interoperability. The Alliance also plans to advocate for the adoption of a of global spectrum standardization for High Altitude IMT Base Stations within the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and to influence emerging commercial standards, including 3GPP Non-Terrestrial Networks.

The Alliance said that HAPS are a promising solution to expand mobile coverage because they operate in the stratosphere, which is above ground infrastructure, but below satellites, allowing for near ubiquitous coverage that avoids ground clutter and significant latency issues.

Airbus Defense and Space CEO Dirk Hoke sees major potential for the use of HAPS technology in the future.

“HAPS systems fill a capability gap between satellites and UAVs, being complementary to each other as part of a constantly growing market. Working across industry to create a HAPS ecosystem is the next logical step in the evolution of the HAPS market. Having an aircraft which is flight proven is just the first step, having an ecosystem in which it can operate with common standards will bring us even closer to delivering HAPS services from the stratosphere to unlock potential around the world,” Hoke said.

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Textron Aviation Expects Strong Aftermarket Demand for Garmin G5000 Avionics Suite

February 28th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Textron Aviation Expects Strong Aftermarket Demand for Garmin G5000 Avionics Suite   
Textron Aviation Expects Strong Aftermarket Demand for Garmin G5000 Avionics Suite

Textron Aviation said that is expecting strong aftermarket demand for retrofits of the Garmin G5000 avionics suite, pictured here, for Citation Excel and XLS business jets. Photo: Garmin

Textron Aviation is expecting strong demand this year among its customers for the Garmin G5000 avionics suite.

“We’re anticipating the Garmin G5000 upgrade for Citation Excel/XLS business jets to be the most popular aftermarket avionics request in 2020,” the company wrote in a Feb. 26 email to Avionics International. “The Citation Excel and XLS family continues to be one of the world’s most popular business jets, and a retrofit offers owners and operators the latest in satellite-based navigation capabilities, digital flight management tools, current and future NextGen operational support, and graphical display technologies for enhanced situational awareness.”

Production Citation Excel and Citation XLS jets are equipped with the Honeywell Primus 1000 avionics suite.

Last July, Textron announced that it had received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Supplemental Type Certification for G5000 retrofits for the Citation Excel and XLS business jets.

The G5000 integrated flight deck for the Citation Excel and Citation XLS features three landscape-oriented displays with split-screen capability, intuitive touchscreen controllers, and geo-referenced Garmin SafeTaxi airport diagrams, according to Textron Aviation. As a new feature for the Citation Excel, a G5000 emergency descent mode and is enabled by the autopilot in the event of a loss in aircraft pressurization, the company said. Additionally, operators gain access to more airports and lower approach minimums throughout the world as the G5000 has PBN/RNP 0.3 with LPV/APV approach capability.

Textron’s latest and largest business jets, the Cessna Citation Sovereign, Latitude, and Longitude, come equipped with the Garmin G5000 avionics suite.

“The explosion in avionics capabilities is introducing more integration in cockpits and greater situational awareness for pilots and making airplanes way safer,” Ron Draper, the CEO of Textron Aviation told Avionics last week after a round table to discuss the General Aviation Manufacturers Association State of the Industry 2020 report.

While Garmin revenues from Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (Out) transponder sales will likely decline in the second half of this year, Garmin is expecting strong aftermarket demand to offset that decrease.

“2019 was an extraordinary year for our aviation segment,” Cliff Pemble, the CEO of Garmin Ltd. said during an investors call on Feb. 19 to discuss the company’s fourth quarter earnings for 2019. “ADS-B was a significant contributor to growth, but, on a combined basis, other categories contributed even more. We experienced growth in aftermarket systems, as customers recognized the strong value proposition of modern cockpit electronics. We also experienced growth in OEM systems, driven by popular new aircraft and from increasing demand for trainer aircraft.”

Garmin reported that fourth quarter revenues for its aviation segment grew 22 percent over last year – $193 million in fourth quarter sales for 2019, compared to $158 million in fourth quarter revenues in 2018.

At the end of last year, the FAA reported more than 118,000 U.S. airplanes out of 160,000 had ADS-B (Out). “So ideally, that would mean there’s something over 40,000 aircraft that could be left to equip,” Pemble said on Feb. 19. “We don’t think that all of those will be. Some of those are probably airplanes that maybe aren’t in the best shape and might be scrapped.”

As of Feb. 1, the FAA reported nearly 125,000 U.S. aircraft equipped with ADS-B (Out).


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