What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 26, 2020

July 27th, 2020   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 26, 2020   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 26, 2020

Commercial Aviation

FAA to Open Public Comment Period on 737 MAX

The FAA is planning on issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for an Airworthiness Directive (AD) affecting the Boeing 737 MAX “in the near future,” the agency said in a July 21 statement published on its website.

A 45-day public comment period is being planned along with the NPRM to allow for feedback on proposed design changes and crew procedures that have been established in response to the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines.

According to the FAA, a number of key steps remain to eventually return the MAX to passenger carrying service, including a final review by the the FAA’s Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB). Both boards are tasked with reviewing proposed training for flight crews.

The FAA will also publish a final FSB report after the close of the public comment period, and will work with their multi-agency technical advisory board to review Boeing’s final design documentation as well. Next, the agency will issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) and a final Airworthiness Directive (AD) to operators providing final corrective actions needed prior to re-entering the aircraft into service.

Finally, the FAA will rescind the grounding order and review and approve new training programs for 737 MAX operators.

DHL Express Adds Boeing 767-300 Converted Freighters to Fleet

DHL Express is adding four new Boeing 767-300 passenger to freighter converted aircraft. (Boeing)

DHL Express is adding four 767-300 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF) as part of the company’s efforts to continue modernizing and growing its fleet.

The aircraft are converted from passenger to freighter configuration by Boeing to feature virtually the same cargo capability as the 767-300F production freighter with approximately 50 tonnes structural payload at a range of 3,000 nautical miles and 412,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight.

“We are excited to introduce additional Boeing 767 freighters to the DHL Express air network,” explains Geoff Kehr, senior vice president, Global Air Fleet Management, DHL Express. “We have operated the 767-300F model across our global fleet for many years and look forward to continue investing in the platform by adding more 767-300BCFs. The freighter type offers a proven versatility and we appreciate the opportunity to further enhance efficiency while simultaneously improving our environmental footprint. This brings us closer to our Strategy 2025 goals.”

Embraer Rolls Out Passenger-to-Cargo Aircraft Conversion Strategy

Embraer’s new cargo conversion package has been rolled out for its 120s, ERJ 145s and E2 jets. (Embraer)

Embraer has developed a new passenger-to-cargo aircraft conversion package for its line of commercial aircraft. With fewer commercial flights which carry both passengers and freight, the Brazilian OEM wanted to give airlines more space for cargo.

“Embraer’s engineers rose to the challenge when our customers asked them if they could find a way for their Embraer airplanes to carry more cargo payload,” said Embraer Services and Support CEO Johann Bordais. “Today, customers can choose from a portfolio of solutions to carry cargo in the cabins of their Embraer 120s, Embraer 145 Regional Jet (ERJ), and E-Jets.”

ANAC, Brazil’s civil aviation regulatory authority, has granted exemption for the carriage of additional freight on Embraer passenger aircraft. Embraer published Technical Dispositions for the ERJ 145 and E-Jets families of commercial jets, including the E-Jets E2s, which explain how to accommodate cabin freight. A service bulletin has also become available for the 120.

In addition to placing small packages in overhead bins and stowage compartments, cargo items can be placed on each seat, subject to certain restrictions. The payload capacity is significantly increased by the changes. For example, a fully loaded 96-seat E190 can carry 6,720 lbs of cabin freight in addition to under floor cargo. A 118-seat E195 can carry 8,260 lbs.



Panasonic Avionics to Supply Connectivity for Air Tanzania A220s

Air Tanzania has selected Panasonic Avionics’ (Panasonic) inflight entertainment (IFE) connectivity system to enhance the passenger experience onboard its Airbus A220 aircraft.

The airline has equipped two of its A220s with Panasonic’s eX1 IFE solution which is specifically designed for narrowbody aircraft. Each seat will feature elegant full HD seatback monitors, complete with touch displays and handsets, and an intuitive, personalized interface. Passengers will have access to USB and laptop charging power points at every seat.

Air Tanzania’s A220s will also be equipped with Panasonic’s in-flight Wi-Fi service.

The announcement marks the extension of Panasonic’s relationship with Air Tanzania following the airline’s selection of its inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions for two of its Boeing 787 aircraft and two Airbus A220s in 2018.

“The installation of Panasonic’s systems allow ATCL operations to adjust to the new market realities. With highly-standardized facilities, Air Tanzania will expand its geographic reach by merging with other partners—especially foreign ones,” said Eng. Ladislaus Matindi, CEO & Managing Director of Air Tanzania.

In-flight Wi-Fi Now Free to Deutsche Telekom Mobile Users on Lufthansa Flights

Deutsche Telekom mobile users now have free access to in-flight Wi-Fi on short and medium haul flights operated by Lufthansa, Austria Airlines and Eurowings.

European short and medium haul flights operated by Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines now feature access to Wi-Fi free of charge to Deutsche Telekom mobile network users in the region.

Deutsche Telekom describes the initiative, which first became available on flights in April as the “Inflight Europa Flat.”

“According to a Bitkom survey, every other German would like to surf the Internet free of charge on board of an airplane,” said Hagen Rickmann, Board Member Business Customers at Telekom Deutschland GmbH. “We are now responding to this request and expanding our Wi-Fi offering on the plane. From now on, private customers can also surf free of charge on European flights of the Lufthansa Group.”

The offer applies not only to Deutsche Telekom customers, but also to private and business customers of Magyar Telekom, Hrvatski Telekom, Slovak Telekom and T-Mobile Czech Republic.


Lockheed Martin Delivers Strong Second Quarter, Raises Outlook

(Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin on July 21 posted double-digit percentage gains to its top and bottom lines in the second quarter driven by strong operating results across its business segments and the company raised guidance for sales, earnings and cash for 2020.

From the time COVID-19 was declared a pandemic through the end of June, Lockheed Martin accelerated $1.3 billion in payments to its suppliers to minimize supply chain disruptions. These funds came from accelerated progress payments made by the Defense Department and from cash on hand, the company said.

Net income climbed nearly 13 percent to $1.6 billion up from $1.4 billion a year ago. The only dent in the company’s earnings was a $96 million (34 cents EPS) non-cash charge related to a decision to an agreement to sell its interest in the Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Center joint venture. Lockheed Martin said it is selling its stake for $307 million.

Sales in the quarter rose more than 12 percent to $16.2 billion from $14.4 billion a year ago. All four of Lockheed Martin’s business segments contributed to the top line increases, led by the Aeronautics segment, which benefited from F-35 production, development and sustainment, and classified development contracts. The Aeronautics segment, which Lockheed Martin officials said during the company’s first quarter earnings call in April is the most susceptible to supply chain disruptions from the pandemic, instituted a rotational facility plan for the F-35 production line that is allowing production to continue while social distancing and deep cleaning practices are in effect, James Taiclet, the company’s new president and CEO, said during an analyst call.

GE Aviation to Supply Team Tempest with Avionics and Electrical Power

GE Aviation’s UK division has signed a new collaboration agreement to work on the future combat air concepts and underpinning technologies across Team Tempest.

At the 2018 Farnborough International Air Show, the Tempest was confirmed as a concept model for a sixth generation fighter jet that will eventually replace the Royal Air Force (RAF) fleet of Eurofighter Typhoons.

Team Tempest will be focused on four specific technology areas in developing the sixth-generation jet and the broader air combat strategy. These areas include combat air systems and integration led by BAE Systems and advanced power and propulsion systems headed up by Rolls Royce. MBDA will take the lead on advanced weapon systems, while Leonardo was previously announced as overseeing development of advanced sensors and electronics.

GE Aviation in the UK will work on open architecture and infrastructure for electrical power and avionics systems.

“We are honored to be a part of Team Tempest. Our specialism in high-voltage interfaces, along with deep domain experience across defense platforms, will help bring a solid base of expertise to the team,” Added Paul Laity, vice president European Avionics at GE Aviation, “We are ready to help reimagine the interaction between human and machine, enable use of the full spectrum of data to assure the information advantage.”

Astronics to Develop Electric Systems for Bell V280 and 360 Invictus

Under a newly awarded contract, Astronics will advance its CorePower airframe electrical generation and power distribution systems to support the two aircraft being offered by Bell for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programs.

Bell was recently selected for the competitive demonstration and risk reduction phase on the FLRAA program, which is intended to replace the UH-60 Blackhawk in the Army’s fleet. Bell’s candidate aircraft for the FLRAA program is the V-280 Valor. Astronics has been selected by Bell to develop the electrical power generation, conversion, and distribution system for the V-280. The development program is expected to be executed over the next 18 to 24 months.

Bell was also awarded a competitive prototype contract for the FARA program, which is the planned replacement for the OH-58D Kiowa in the Army’s fleet. The Bell model in the FARA program is the 360 Invictus. Again, Bell selected Astronics to develop the aircraft’s electrical power generation and distribution system.

Electric Aviation

Skyborne Airline Academy Orders 10 Bye Aerospace eFlyers

Bye Aerospace announced that Skyborne Airline Academy has completed purchase deposits for six eFlyer 2 and four eFlyer 4 all-electric airplanes to be added to its current fleet of UK-based training aircraft. That places Bye Aerospace’s order book at 360 eFlyer units.

“We are radically redefining every aspect of airline pilot training, and that includes incorporating all-electric aircraft into our fleet as we invest in the latest technology for our trainees and staff,” said Lee Woodward, Skyborne CEO. “The eFlyer family of aircraft are great for the environment, economical to operate and have the right blend of avionic technology and handling characteristics required to train our future airline pilots.

Bye Aerospace is developing the FAA FAR 23-certified family of all-electric eFlyer general aviation aircraft, starting with the two-seat eFlyer 2, for the professional flight training mission and the four-seat eFlyer 4 for air-taxi and advanced training uses.

“A significant reduction in global carbon emissions is the goal for most socially responsible organizations in our industry, and with the help of Bye Aerospace, we aim to lead the way in the UK,” Woodward said. “It’s vital for the next generation that we invest in measures to make flying more sustainable. Electric is the future of aviation.”

BAE Systems to Design Fly-by-Wire Flight Controls for Electric Aviation

BAE is expanding its presence in the electric aviation market by developing smaller, lighter fly-by-wire flight control systems for hybrid and all-electric aircraft. According to a press release, the company’s latest computers send precise commands every few milliseconds to more than 40 electronic controllers distributed throughout the aircraft, and are 40 percent smaller and lighter than they were just five years ago.

BAE Systems introduced fly-by-wire technology to military aircraft nearly five decades ago with both the F-16 and F-18, which flew with the company’s systems in the mid-1970s. Just a few years later, BAE introduced the technology on a commercial aircraft and by 1994, it had designed the first complete commercial fly-by-wire system for the 777. Most recently, BAE’s flight controls have enabled the first flights of the AW-609, B525 Relentless, and 777X.

“Overall, our fly-by-wire systems have flown on more than 50 different aircraft and accumulated more than 150 billion flight hours,” the company stated in a press release. “That means that every second of every day, an aircraft takes off and lands safely because of our flight-critical systems.”

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Defining the Market for Air Taxis: Short Urban Hops, or Longer-Range Transport?

July 27th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Defining the Market for Air Taxis: Short Urban Hops, or Longer-Range Transport?   
Defining the Market for Air Taxis: Short Urban Hops, or Longer-Range Transport?

Roland Berger estimates 160,000 air taxis will be operational by 2050, but the vast majority of the revenue to be made will be from longer, scheduled flights, rather than intra-city taxi service. (Roland Berger)

For all the hype surrounding high-speed urban air taxis, Munich, Germany-based consultancy Roland Berger believes that shorter distance, on-demand urban use case accounts for just 10 percent of the potential market for these vehicles.

Roland Berger is the opposite of bearish on electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs). The firm estimates 160,000 vehicles will be in use by 2050, creating a transportation market worth $80 billion annually. Those vehicles will be almost evenly split between short-range, on-demand city taxi service, scheduled airport shuttle service and longer-range, inter-city transportation.

But only 10 percent of that revenue will come from on-demand city taxi service, mostly due to higher prices and greater numbers of passengers, according to Manfred Hader, co-head of Roland Berger’s aerospace and defense practice. Airport shuttle services will make up 50 percent of that market, with the remaining 40 percent captured by regional or inter-city transportation, which Roland Berger defined as scheduled flights between 30 and 155 miles.

The consultancy’s analysis fits closely with the strategy pursued by German air taxi startup Lilium, which aims to bring its four-passenger electric air taxi into service by 2025. Lilium is eyeing distances between 12 and 180 miles, with routes in the middle of that range showing the most opportunity to fill transportation gaps and save customers a significant amount of time.

“With a range of up to 300km (186 miles), we’ll be able to focus on connecting entire regions with high-speed transport, rather than trying to persuade you that we’re quicker than a crosstown journey on an underground train or bike,” the company wrote in a recent blog post. “In fact, contrary to the idea of ‘urban air taxis’ we think there will only ever be a handful of routes in our network that are shorter than 20km (12 miles).”

eVTOL air taxi services will create an $80 billion market globally by 2050, Roland Berger estimates. (Roland Berger)

Uber’s focus, however, continues to be on the short-range city mission, optimizing multi-modal transportation with its car service and greater integration with existing public transportation.

“You don’t need very long ranges, in fact they won’t be used that much,” Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, said during a recent discussion hosted by the Farnborough Airshow. “Effectively what you need to be able to do is operate continuously around short missions for some period of high-demand window … and the batteries that exist today can do that, and they can do that in a way that makes sense economically.”

Uber’s target market may also include much of what Roland Berger defines as airport shuttle service, since the consultancy defines both city taxi and airport shuttle mission as between 9 to 30 miles.

Bell, one of Uber’s vehicle partners, notably pivoted from an initial hybrid-electric design with up to 150 miles of estimated range to an all-electric design with just 60 miles of range. The company explained the move in part by citing a re-evaluation of use cases presented by potential customers, though the downsides of a hybrid propulsion system may have played a part in that analysis as well.

“We came into this thinking it’d be close between hybrid and electric, for the mission of urban/semi-urban on-demand where we see the bulk of the demand, and that potentially hybrid would prove to be the better near-term approach,” Allison said, explaining Uber’s decision to make its ecosystem all-electric.

“As we’ve done more analysis on this, we’ve come to the conclusion that all-electric … has a number of benefits outside of just the aircraft. “You don’t have to have liquid fuel on top of potential sites for infrastructure, you don’t have to have any concerns about getting fuel to a refueling point, in terms of many of the places that would have high utilization.”

All of the market opportunities for eVTOLs will develop slowly, according to Roland Berger’s analysis, with just 7,000 passenger eVTOLs creating a $1 billion market in 2030.

“As we go down the learning curve and the scale of services increases, we will see the transition to a premium public transportation means where UAM services will be comparable to taxi services in terms of cost and price,” Hader said, noting that the speed at which the industry is able to move down that learning and price curve — thereby providing services to a larger portion of society — will be critical to public acceptance.

Michael Dyment, managing partner at Nexa Advisors and a prominent investor in aviation infrastructure, is taking a city-by-city approach to evaluating early use cases, but agreed that airport shuttle services are likely to be a major use case for eVTOLs.

“Some cities don’t have a need for on-demand air taxi the way it’s visualized by, say, Uber Elevate. Others do,” Dyment told Avionics. “As an early use case example, for the Greater London area in the UK it is regional/suburban travel (Oxford-Cambridge, Stevenage-Gatwick).”

Gary Cutts, director of UK Research and Innovation’s Future Flight Challenge, said the government-funded effort to bring about widespread use of new aircraft is as much focused on developing use cases with either strong market interest or social value as it is the vehicles and enabling technologies.

“I don’t find it clear yet [what those use cases are],” Cutts said. “Is the most important use in rural areas, where there are some very interesting places that are very hard to reach, and there’s a huge appetite to connect them? Is it your classic within-the-city electric air taxi?”

“But when you look at the very short-range variance of that, the alternative is still pretty compelling,” Cutts added. “It’s kind of hard to make the case … the economics are possibly not so compelling. I think that the one that may take off is the use case that’s somewhere in between urban air mobility and a small sub-regional market, connecting people into cities.”

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PODCAST: XOJET Vice President Talks Flying Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 25th, 2020   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: XOJET Vice President Talks Flying Through the COVID-19 Pandemic   
PODCAST: XOJET Vice President Talks Flying Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

XOJET Vice President of Flight Operations Tyler Stubblefield joins this episode of the Global Connected Aircraft Podcast. (Kevin Fiscus)

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, we’re joined by Tyler Stubblefield, vice president of flight operations for XOJET.

Stubblefield provides some perspective on how business aviation operators such as XOJET have seen new interest in private air travel amid the drastic changes to the way commercial airlines operate due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. XOJET has also adjusted cleaning processes and logistics for arriving at a fixed based operator (FBO) airport and chartering a flight.

According to Stubblefield, the membership-based private aviation operator also recently switched its headquarters from California to Florida and has not grounded any aircraft or removed any pilots from service in an effort to remain ready for what they feel will be a nearer term recovery in business jet travel demand.

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

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

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Global Eagle Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

July 24th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Global Eagle Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy   
Global Eagle Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Global Eagle said in a July 22 announcement that it has agreed upon a “stalking horse” asset purchase agreement, and its assets will be acquired for $675 million by a group of approximately 90 percent of its loan holders. (Global Eagle)

Global Eagle has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to facilitate a sale of its assets to a group of loan holders. The company, which provides In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) to airlines and connectivity to the maritime market, has been hit as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected travel.

The company said this will not impact it’s operations, and CEO Joshua Marks positioned the move as setting up Global Eagle for “long-term success.”

“We expect to emerge from this process with a stronger balance sheet, significantly reduced debt and substantial liquidity, well-positioned to continue supporting our global customers into the future,” Marks said. “We remain steadfast in our belief that our airline, cruise line and other customers will recover from COVID-19 and generate significant long-term demand for our services.”

Global Eagle said in a Wednesday announcement that it has agreed upon a “stalking horse” asset purchase agreement, and its assets will be acquired for $675 million by a group of approximately 90 percent of its loan holders, led by lenders managed by Apollo Global Management, Inc., Eaton Vance Management, Arbour Lane Capital Management, L.P., Sound Point Capital Management, Mudrick Capital Management, and certain funds and accounts under management by BlackRock Financial Management, Inc.

Global Eagle plans to obtain $80 million in debtor-in-possession financing from and expects this financing to provide liquidity to support its operations during the sale process.

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.

Jeffrey Rosen, managing director with the Credit business segment of Apollo commented: “Global Eagle is a market leader in delivering in-flight and at-sea passenger experiences with entertainment, content and connectivity. While the company reports that it has been impacted in recent months by COVID-19, we believe it benefits from a blue-chip customer base, industry-leading partnerships, and an innovative platform built through years of strategic investments in technology. We believe Global Eagle’s services will continue to be core to the passenger experience over the long term.”

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Oxis Energy and Texas Aircraft to Build eColt with Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

July 24th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Oxis Energy and Texas Aircraft to Build eColt with Lithium-Sulfur Batteries   
Oxis Energy and Texas Aircraft to Build eColt with Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

Oxis Energy will collaborate with Texas Aircraft to develop an all-electric version of its light sport Colt S-LSA aircraft using lithium-sulfur batteries. (Texas Aircraft)

Oxis Energy will collaborate with Texas Aircraft to develop an all-electric version of its light sport Colt S-LSA aircraft, the two companies announced this week.

The aircraft, to be manufactured in Brazil, will be marketed as an eco-friendly trainer — similar to Pipistrel’s recently-certified Velis Electro and Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer 2 — as well as a means of regional transportation throughout Brazil. Using Oxis’ lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery technology, the eColt is projected to have a flight time in excess of two hours and a range exceeding 200 nm.

“The opportunity to be at the forefront of the transformation Brazil’s private aviation to all-electric power is an amazing opportunity,” said Matheus Grande, CEO of Texas Aircraft Manufacturing. “With its wide cabin and exceptionally pilot-friendly flight characteristics, the eColt is going to be a fantastic airplane for flight training and personal transportation in Brazil and around the world.”

Oxis claims one benefit to the use of Li-S batteries over lithium-ion is safety, as sulfur is a non-conductive metal. The company’s 90 kilowatt-hour battery system is 40 percent lighter than current Li-Ion battery packs used for aviation, according to Oxis, with an energy density of 400 Wh/kG. For comparison, Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, recently described current Li-Ion battery technology during a virtual webinar hosted by the Farnborough Air Show as reaching 260 Wh/kG.

However, many other electric aviation companies have expressed concern about Li-S batteries, citing significantly shorter cycle life and the need for frequent replacement — an expensive proposition.

The cycle life performance of Oxis’ batteries is up to 200-300 cycles and the company’s development strategy is “centred around improving this figure through the development of advanced lithium metal anodes and a new class of stable electrolyte,” a company representative told Avionics.

“Charge rates are approximately 5 hours today depending on the energy remaining in the battery. Therefore, for a quick turnaround, swappable batteries are a good solution today. We expect charge times to reduce to an hour in the next 3 years,” the representative added.

Design, development and all of the aircraft’s key airframe and power component manufacturing will take place in Brazil. The Li-S battery cells made at Oxis’ factory in Juiz de Fora, the powertrain will be supplied by WEG of Jaraguá do Sul, and the battery management system will be provided by AKAER Group of São José dos Campos.

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Uber Elevate Adds Hidden Level as Sensor, Airspace Awareness Partner

July 23rd, 2020   •   Comments Off on Uber Elevate Adds Hidden Level as Sensor, Airspace Awareness Partner   
Uber Elevate Adds Hidden Level as Sensor, Airspace Awareness Partner

Hidden Level joined the Uber Elevate ecosystem as a provider of advanced sensors and airspace monitoring capabilities.

Uber Elevate added sensor and data processing company Hidden Level to its ecosystem to further its development of safe, reliable low-altitude operations in the national airspace.

Through the non-exclusive partnership, Uber intends to access data from Hidden Level’s custom-built sensors, placed strategically around cities, as a supplemental data source for its Elevate Cloud Services suite of technologies that will undergird its future network of scalable urban airspace operations.

“Our partnership with Hidden Level seeks to enhance our ability to demonstrate the ways in which Uber Air will meet industry safety standards, and we look forward to collaboration in the years ahead,” said Tom Prevot, director of airspace systems at Uber Elevate.

Founded in 2018, Hidden Level is a venture-backed company seeking to install, operate and maintain its proprietary sensor infrastructure in metropolitan areas through a data-as-a-service model that will help enable drone delivery, urban air mobility, airspace security and other similar services by detecting and tracking cooperative and noncooperative airspace traffic. The company raised $3.6 million in seed funding in November 2019, according to Crunchbase.

Founders Gary Domincos, Jeffrey Cole and Kevin Nasman previously worked on a number of commercial and military sensor projects, including the development of Gryphon Sensors’ R1400, counter-UAS systems of systems, and ground moving target indicator (GMTI) radar technology, among other projects. Hidden Level has also participated in standards development through RTCA SC-228 — creating minimum performance standards for UAS around detect-and-avoid and command-and-control — as well as ASTM’s working group on remote ID.

“From our lessons learned, we have built world-class sensors with tremendous detection and tracking capability at long range,” a representative for Hidden Level told Avionics. “Depending on the metropolitan topography, on the order of 15 installation sites can cover up to 170 square miles.”

Hidden Level is engaged on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot programs on beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) linear infrastructure inspection and airport drone security. Members of the company have also worked with NASA on early unmanned traffic management (UTM) concept development, safety cases and technical capability exercises.

Like other airspace service providers, Hidden Level is closely watching how regulators intend for UAM and other low-altitude operations to integrate into the airspace. The FAA recently released its first draft of a UAM concept-of-operations, which suggests evolving current helicopter routes into “UAM Corridors” that can define an evolving set of performance and equipage requirements to support higher tempo operations over time.

“Hidden Level operates as an SDSP under the FAA’s proposed CONOPS, providing our airspace data to [UAM service providers] and UAM operators such as Uber,” a company representative told Avionics. “We want to ensure that corridors that are approved for flights remain clear of non-cooperative airspace participants, but if they do appear contingencies can be best planned given the comprehensive picture from Hidden Level’s Airspace Monitoring Service. Other cooperative aircraft can also be checked against to ensure that their positional reports reflect their actual position in the sky, providing a safety net for potential off-nominal activity.”

Hidden Level is currently working through testing, active rollout and planning with early customers and partners in metropolitan areas on both the east and west coasts of the United States, with public announcement slated for later this year.

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South Korea’s Aero K Partners with Skytrac on A320 Cellular Connectivity

July 22nd, 2020   •   Comments Off on South Korea’s Aero K Partners with Skytrac on A320 Cellular Connectivity   
South Korea’s Aero K Partners with Skytrac on A320 Cellular Connectivity

Aero K, a South Korean startup low cost carrier, has partnered with Skytrac Systems to add cellular connectivity to its fleet of Airbus A320s. (Aero K)

Aero K Airlines, a low-cost startup carrier based in South Korea, has entered into a partnership with Skytrac Systems to enable global mobile data coverage to its fleet of Airbus A320s operated on domestic and international flights.

The airline is the final stages of obtaining an aircraft operating certificate with plans to begin domestic flights from Cheongju International Airport next month. Under the partnership, Aero K’s fleet is being equipped with Skytrac’s Dynamic Air Link 200 (DAL-200) wireless communications and data technology that provides cellular data coverage in more than 200 countries.

“Our goal is to become the leading airline in Northeast Asia, and that means investing in our pilots and infrastructure so we can optimize efficiencies right out of the gate,” said Aero K Airlines Chief Operating Officer Stuart Cross. “We are pleased to select SKYTRAC due to their position as a market leader in intelligent connectivity.”

Cellular data service on Aero K’s A320s will be enabled by Skytrac’s partnership with GigSky, first announced in a Jan. 29 press release. That partnership integrated enterprise level SIM card technology provided by GigSky into the purchase of data plans sold by Skytrac to give operators the ability to improve data sharing across their fleet.

The service will also auto-select the best performing national mobile network based on where Aero K aircraft are operating.

When the GigSky partnership was announced, Ruben Stepin, director of GADSS and airline business development for Skytrac, described it as a “a significant development as instead of operators utilizing and expensing personal or local SIM cards, an organization can now manage all their SIMs from one location, using one supplier and one giant pool of data for seamless global data connectivity.”

Aero K pilots will also use Skytrac’s mobile data coverage for pre- and post-flight electronic flight bag (EFB) cockpit connectivity. Flight crews can also use tablet devices to access flight plans, weather reports, eTechLogs and charting map updates using the new cellular data service, Skytrac said.

Skytrac’s partnership with Aero K is one of the latest digital investments by the airline, after announcing its decision to adopt Comply365’s operational content management platform to manage operational manuals and creating of analytics reports. The Aero K partnership is the latest new airline adoption announced by Skytrac in recent weeks, after confirming another new airline, Quebec-based OWG, will use its satcom technology for a fleet of Boeing 737-400s.

Operations for Aero K are scheduled to launch despite the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) projection that Asia Pacific region airlines are expected to be the hardest hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on an air travel. IATA is projecting global revenue losses for the airline industry to total $84.3 billion for 2020, with the Asia Pacific region expected to collectively account for $29 billion of that.

The region’s airlines will see passenger demand drop by 53.8 percent this year, while capacity is projected to be reduced by 39.2 percent, according to IATA.

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EASA Proposes Risk-Based Airworthiness Standards for Light Unmanned Aircraft

July 22nd, 2020   •   Comments Off on EASA Proposes Risk-Based Airworthiness Standards for Light Unmanned Aircraft   
EASA Proposes Risk-Based Airworthiness Standards for Light Unmanned Aircraft

EASA released a proposed special condition for certifying unmanned aircraft intended for use in medium- and high-risk applications, such as drone delivery flights over populated areas. (Wingcopter/UPS)

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) released a proposed special condition for certifying unmanned aircraft intended for use in medium- and high-risk applications, such as drone delivery flights over populated areas.

The proposed certification approach, SC-Light UAS, would apply to all drones with a maximum takeoff weight of up to 1,322 pounds (600 kg), not intended to transport humans, and operated either via remote pilot or autonomously — defined as operating without a remote pilot being able to intervene. The special condition is open for public comment until September 30.

The document also applies to drone operations defined as “specific” — the middle of three risk-based categories under the EU’s risk-based framework: open, specific, and certified. Rulemaking on the certified category, likely to include carrying dangerous goods or human passengers, is ongoing.

“This proposal forms part of EASA’s wider initiative to ensure drones can be operated safely and acceptably, particularly in areas which are densely occupied by people and moving or static objects,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said.

The proposed special condition, similar to one released last year for passenger-carrying VTOL aircraft, uses objective airworthiness standards in lieu of a prescriptive approach and takes into account variations in operational risk — an approach that industry has lauded as more fitting for a rapidly-evolving industry segment with wide variation in designs and applications.

“Until today, the certification basis of UAS has been either derived from manned aircraft CS integrated with Special Conditions to address specific UAS aspects, or defined with Special Conditions based on documentation developed and published by JARUS (joint authorities on rulemaking for unmanned air systems),” EASA authors wrote in the special condition. “In both cases the approach has been prescriptive. Objective based CS are deemed more appropriate for UAS.”

Safety objectives for the special condition were calculated based on an assessment of a probable urban scenario in 2035, created by the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR-JU)’s Drone Outlook Study, taking into account the projected number of flight hours flown by drones in European cities, urban population density, and representative products and operational assumptions.

“With no occupant on-board, the risk inherent to any UAS operation is strictly dependent on the characteristics of the operational volume, and of the adjacent ones which the UA might inadvertently enter,” the special condition states, adding that every UAS certification application will be linked to a detailed definition of operational volume, along with buffers, adjacent volumes, and air and ground risks.

For example, the acceptable quantitative probability of various failure conditions is presented based on population density in the operational area, with higher safety requirements defined for flight “over assemblies of people” rather than “in a populated environment.”

EASA’s SC-Light UAS proposes different safety objectives based on the aircraft’s intended operating environment, (EASA)

The proposed special condition does allow for the use of strategic and impact mitigations as part of the certification process, the former intended to reduce the number of people at risk on the ground and the latter to reduce either the area affected by a crash or the energy transmitted on impact.

In other words, parachutes or energy-absorbing designs will be taken into account when evaluating an unmanned aircraft’s failure conditions — unlike EASA’s means-of-compliance for its special condition for passenger-carrying VTOL aircraft released earlier this year.

“We are thrilled to see that EASA is recognizing the advantage of a whole airframe recovery parachute system and recognized how it can reduce the energy transmitted in a crash to a very low level,” Larry Williams, chief executive officer of ballistic parachute-maker Aviation Safety Resources, told Avionics. “Applying the benefit of a recovery system toward safety objectives as a means of compliance is a logical, time-proven mitigation strategy.  ASR is currently working with many OEMs that not only appreciate the importance of an on-board recovery system as a means of compliance but understand the public’s awareness and outright demand for this increased level of safety.”

EASA’s authors note that the SC-Light UAS is based on certification standards produced by JARUS, as well as previous EASA special conditions for remotely piloted aircraft (SC-RPAS) and VTOLs (SC-VTOL).

Michael Blades, vice president of aerospace, defense and security at Frost & Sullivan, told Avionics this document is EASA’s “answer to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 23, Amendment 64,” through which the U.S. regulator created flexible, performance-based standards for light aircraft meant to accommodate a wide variety of new designs.

“EASA points out that these standards are for the specific category and not the certified category, which likely means there will be even stricter standards to conduct certain operations,” Blades wrote in an email. “This looks good for cargo UAS operations, in my opinion, because it seems they will require less strict standards — rightfully so — than passenger-carrying UAS.”

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FIA Connect 2020: Mannarino Unveils Disruptive New Aerospace Real Time Operating System

July 22nd, 2020   •   Comments Off on FIA Connect 2020: Mannarino Unveils Disruptive New Aerospace Real Time Operating System   
FIA Connect 2020: Mannarino Unveils Disruptive New Aerospace Real Time Operating System

Mannarino Systems & Software, a Canadian supplier of safety critical aircraft software, unveiled its new M-RTOS real time operating system during an opening session of the Farnborough International Airshow-hosted FIA Connect 2020. (Mannarino Systems & Software)

Mannarino Systems & Software unveiled its disruptive new real time operating system (RTOS), M-RTOS, Monday July 20, during an FIA Connect 2020 spotlight session hosted by the Farnborough International Airshow.

M-RTOS, according to the Quebec-based supplier of safety critical airborne software and systems, has the potential to lower the cost of ownership for an RTOS over the lifecycle of an aircraft system by 50 to 70 percent. The company says that it has priced it as a reusable product across multiple microprocessors and categorized the cost of ownership based on the criticality of the Design Assurance Level (DAL) required by the application that M-RTOS is supporting.

An RTOS is used in aerospace electronics to serve as the interface between the hardware/ microprocessor and the application software that controls associated aircraft functionality.

The way that Mannarino has introduced M-RTOS is also under a major cost advantage, as a $10 million development investment from Lockheed Martin several years ago completely offset all development costs.

“The $10 million invested into Mannarino by Lockheed Martin was used to develop the M-RTOS. This initial investment to develop the product does not need to be recovered financially speaking,” Mario Iacobelli, engineering project manager for Mannarino told Avionics International. “So our business model has been structured based on recovering the incremental costs of customizing the M-RTOS to our customers’ needs.”

Lockheed’s investment was awarded in 2017 under an Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy agreement signed with Mannarino. The offset investment was in direct support of Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) obligations associated with Canada’s purchase and in-Service Support maintenance, and support of 17 CC-130J Super Hercules aircraft, which were delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 2010, according to an April 2017 press release published by Lockheed covering the award.

Mannarino told Avionics via emailed statements and web-based presentations that the driving force behind the development of the new M-RTOS was the lack of what they felt was an operating system specifically supporting the unique requirements of modern aircraft, which can feature hundreds of individual computers and systems with their own requirements.

Where M-RTOS poses the potential to disrupt the business models for aerospace safety critical software development is within the economics it brings to cost of ownership and product lifecycle. In a completely new buying approach, it is being offered on a fixed annual subscription basis ranging from 1 to 7 years. Additionally, the company stresses that there are no run-time license limitations or quarterly reporting required on the number of units shipped. They have also eliminated the royalty payments that they say are common among the real time operating systems that are available to the aerospace industry today.

Mannarino’s Tracer is a feature within the Workbench that allows users to visualize the entire system execution / behavior and
identify hard to reproduce errors. (Mannarino Systems & Software)

“This fundamental change offers opportunities to leverage savings across multiple end-use products and even an entire product portfolio that use the same microprocessor. This compounds savings even further. Some competitors also ask that royalty payments be made for each instance of the RTOS within a system. For example, if your system uses two of the same microprocessor, then each instance of the RTOS that is embedded in the microprocessor requires a royalty payment,” Iacobelli said.

Iacobelli also provided some perspective on the factors that have been increasing the cost of developing safety critical aircraft software over the last several decades within his FIA Connect presentation. In one slide, he showed how since the 1970s, the size of aerospace software on aircraft systems has doubled every five years. A chart showing software lines of code growth referenced that a 1980s built Boeing 737 featured 470,000 lines of code, while the in-service Boeing 787 features 14 million lines of code.

Mannarino’s first M-RTOS customer is MicroPilot, a Canadian provider of unmanned aircraft autopilot software. MicroPilot is using M-RTOS to support a Texas Instrument supplied ARM-based microcontroller as the core element of their autopilot system. Since the micro controller selected by MicroPilot did not feature a memory management unit, Mannarino claims that the “market leaders couldn’t support the processor.”

On the traditional manned air transport side of aerospace, the company also sees M-RTOS as ideal for supporting federated line replaceable units and unique aircraft systems like a landing gear, steering, or engine controllers.

“An emerging market we see is the certifiable COTS hardware. The M-RTOS also works very favorably for these types of aerospace manufacturers like Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, Abaco Systems. The COTS hardware are typically OS agnostic which means as aerospace companies look to use certifiable COTS hardware, they have the freedom to choose the RTOS that best fits their overall aircraft needs. Having an affordable option with the commercial approach to help minimize overall aircraft cost we believe will be looked upon quite favorably,” Iacobelli said.

Along with the introduction of M-RTOS, the company also describes its new Mannarino Workbench as an associated development enabler. Workbench includes a modeling tool that uses graphical user interfaces to configure M-RTOS to different partitions. The Tracer featured within Workbench also enables visualization of overall system execution and behavior.

John Mannarino, president and founder of Mannarino Systems, participated in an opening question and answer session for the company’s FIA Connect spotlight where he helped to demystify some of the functionality within aircraft systems that M-RTOS is designed to support.

“Generally for software on any system on an aircraft, there’s many layers of software that are required to actually get the computer to do the right thing and control the aircraft correctly,” Mannarino said. “There’s a boot loader that’s very low level that boots up the computer. There’s an operating system which really is the brain that controls all the apps and interfaces with the hardware to do the low level processing required, and then there’s higher level application software that knows how to control an engine, knows how to transfer fuel, and knows how to form navigation functions.”

Beyond the introduction of M-RTOS, the company is also actively in partnership with several Quebec universities researching how the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to reduce multi-core processor interference. There are also ongoing discussions with one aircraft and one avionics manufacturer – both are still unnamed –  to learn about their progress with multicore processor development.

Mannarino also discussed why the cost of next generation safety critical aircraft software development has been skyrocketing in recent years as well.

“Everything needs an operating system, which is fantastic from a manufacturing perspective, because I can sell it to many folks. But we also recognize it as a core element that is required for every system and we’re trying to take that core element and our financial advantage and give a revolutionary product to the industry,” Mannarino said. “The industry is tired of paying way too much for an operating system and tired of being neglected as well. Aerospace, as we were talking about it today is a critical industry, but it’s not the highest volume industry for electronics and software. So the current market leaders in these areas for RTOS sometimes don’t treat their aerospace customers the way aerospace customers deserve to be treated.”

The post FIA Connect 2020: Mannarino Unveils Disruptive New Aerospace Real Time Operating System appeared first on Aviation Today.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 19, 2020

July 20th, 2020   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 19, 2020   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 19, 2020

Check out the July 19 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the top headlines and stories across various segments of the global aerospace industry that you should be aware of for the week ahead.

Commercial Aviation

At the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow, a concept of the Tempest sixth generation fighter jet concept aircraft was on display. (Leonardo)

Farnborough International Airshow Goes to All Digital Experience This Week

The 2020 Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) is presenting an all digital webcast experience this week in place of its bi-annual live gathering at Farnborough International Airport.

In 2018, there were 80,000 visitors from 96 countries at FIA, which should mean a large online participation this week as the airshow has planned for five days of keynote speeches, presentations and networking opportunities. Topics featured on the agenda include space exploration, real time operating systems, sixth generation fighter jet technology and several sessions dedicated to the future of sustainability in aviation.

FIA is providing free registration for the event via its website here.

Boeing Announces Second Quarter Aircraft Deliveries 

In a July 14 press release, Boeing announced its major program deliveries for the second quarter, that included 20 commercial aircraft deliveries. That brings the total number of commercial aircraft delivered year to date for Boeing to 70.

Our commercial airplane deliveries in the second quarter reflect the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our customers and our operations that included a shutdown of our commercial airplane production for several weeks. We have and will continue to work with our customers on specific timing and adjustment to deliveries,” said Greg Smith, Boeing executive vice president of Enterprise Operations, chief financial officer and interim leader of Communications. 


Business Aviation

Stratos Aircraft Achieves First Flight of 716X

Stratos Aircraft achieved the first flight of its 716X six seater jet. Photo: Stratos Aircraft

Stratos Aircraft announced the first flight of its Stratos 716X model – registration N716X. The flight lasted 22 minutes, according to a July 10 press release published by the company.

The Stratos 716X is a “multi-role” VLJ (Very Light Jet) designed to seat six people to support personal, business, and air taxi use.

Flown by test pilot Sean VanHatten, the Stratos 716X is a spacious six-place jet with generous space for baggage. The all-carbon airframe, single-engine jet is designed to cruise at 400 knots. The first flight was a full power takeoff and climb to 13,500 ft. A series of maneuvers were then conducted to evaluate handling characteristics. The flight is the first of an extensive flight test program that will span the next several months, according to Stratos Aircraft.

The 716X is 4.5 ft longer, and has a wider cabin, than the 714 Proof of Concept (PoC) aircraft introduced at Oshkosh in 2017. The all-carbon-fiber 716X features trailing link gear, is powered by a Pratt & Whitney JT15D-5 turbofan, and is configured with dual G3X screens, GTN 750 MFD, integrated Garmin Autopilot, dual standby attitude indicators, custom switch panels, fully automated pressurization system, and air conditioning.

Embedded Avionics

VersaLogic Has a New Embedded Computing System with Error Correcting Memory


VersaLogic Corp. has released a new compact and rugged embedded computing system with error correcting (ECC) memory. This is VersaLogic’s eighth product family released in the popular Embedded Processing Unit format.

Named “Owl”, this new computer features error correcting memory combined with Intel®’s latest 5th generation Apollo Lake processors (dual or quad core). The Owl also includes TPM 2.0 hardware security, on-board power conditioning, Mini PCIe expansion sockets, and analog input ports, along with standard USB and Ethernet I/O ports.

On-board I/O includes dual Gigabit Ethernet, one USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, eight analog inputs, eight digital I/O ports, and four serial ports. A SATA interface, eMMC Flash, mSATA slot, and a microSD socket provide a range of data storage options, according to the company.

Microchip Expands Transient Voltage Suppressor Portfolio

Microchip Technology introduced its newly-expanded portfolio of Transient Voltage Suppressor (TVS) vertical arrays – the MDA3KP Transient Voltage Suppressor (TVS), a 3 kW diode family of more than 25 products with different screening levels, polarities and qualification standards.

Microchip’s MDA3KP TVS diode array family provides an integrated multi-diode solution. These voltage-clamping devices provide fast-reacting Avalanche Breakdown Diode (ABD) features that divert excess current around sensitive components to protect them from electrical overstress, the company said in a press release.

“Digital controls, logic and diagnostic system circuit blocks require highly reliable, secure current and power protection to ensure operations in extreme environments,” said Leon Gross, vice president of Microchip’s Discrete Product Group business unit. “This diode family also addresses the challenges system designers face with a more efficient vertical construction and requirement for less board space than other devices.”

Unmanned systems

Skydio Raises $100 Million, Releases New Hardware/Software

Skydio X2

Skydio, a U.S.-based developer of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for recreation, commercial and military use, closed $100 million in Series C funding, bringing its total funds raised to $170 million.

Known primarily for its industry-leading autonomy systems and producing high-quality video footage of recreational activities, Skydio also has contracts with the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and Drug Enforcement Agency. It’s one of a few domestic companies the Pentagon is hoping will be able to provide secure, affordable small drones after the DoD acted to ban the use of Chinese-made DJI drones due to data security concerns.

Last May, Skydio was one of six companies the Army chose, through the Defense Innovation unit, to develop short-range reconnaissance (SRR) platforms. The other five are Altavian, Teal Drones, Lumenier, Vantage Robotics and Parrot.

Alongside the fundraise, Skydio announced a new family of drones it calls X2, available in enterprise and military configurations. The military version meets the Army’s SRR requirements, pairing Skydio’s autonomous navigation technology with a ruggedized airframe, folding arms, a thermal camera and up to 35 minutes of flight time.

The Pentagon recently announced $13.4 million in awards to UAS and related technology developers through the Defense Production Act Title III, as part of the national response to COVID-19. Skydio received $4 million to continue work on their flight controller hardware and software and data link.

As policymakers continue to voice concerns about Chinese-made DJI drones and data-harvesting, Skydio is well-positioned to capture a significant share of the enterprise and military market looking to move away from foreign UAS.

Honeywell Offers New GPS-Denied Navigation System

Honeywell is introducing HGuide n380, a new inertial navigation system that communicates position, orientation and velocity of an object even if GPS signals are unavailable. This version is developed to offer a smaller, lighter, lower-priced version of similar systems, for use on smaller, more weight-constrained aircraft.

“We recognized a need for a small, high-performance inertial navigation system in areas like 3D mapping, surveying and other applications where space is at a premium and performance cannot be compromised,” said Chris Lund, offering management senior director, Navigation and Sensors, Honeywell Aerospace. “We responded by developing the HGuide n380 inertial navigation system, which provides our customers with proven, cost effective inertial sensor technology, created for aerospace applications, but that can be integrated into almost any architecture.”

This new inertial navigation system is composed of Honeywell’s HGuide i300 inertial measurement unit (IMU), a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver and Honeywell’s proprietary sensor fusion software, which is based on the algorithms used for navigation on millions of aircraft every day. Inputs from these components are fused together to determine position, orientation and velocity to deliver critical navigation information even in areas where a satellite signal is degraded or altogether unavailable, such as canyons, bridges, tunnels, mountains, parking garages or dense forests.

Urban Air Mobility

Lilium Selects Toray Industries As Carbon Fiber Composite Supplier

German air taxi developer Lilium, which is working to certify its five-seat, all-electric, vertical takeoff and landing Lilium Jet, is partnering with Toray Industries to supply high-performance carbon fiber composite for production of future technology demonstrators and eventual manufacturing of its aircraft.

“Securing this supply agreement marks an important step in the maturity of our supply chain and in our preparations for serial production,” commented Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO at Lilium.

The agreement also paves the way for further collaboration between the two companies, both in the provision of other high-performance materials and the establishment of research and development partnerships.

Lilium, which expects to begin commercial operations in 2025, recently added Bailie Gifford as a shareholder and brought its total funds raised to date up to $375 million.

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 19, 2020 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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