Honeywell is developing a new turbogenerator that will run on biofuel for hybrid-electric aircraft and is said to be 2.5 times more powerful than their previously developed models, according to a March 8 release.
“There is an inherent need for electric and hybrid-electric power as the urban air mobility segment takes shape and unmanned aerial vehicles enter service,” Stephane Fymat, vice president and general manager for Unmanned Aerial Systems and Urban Air Mobility at Honeywell Aerospace, said in a press statement. “Our turbogenerators provide a safe, lightweight package to serve these burgeoning segments, and we’re designing our solutions to meet the unique needs of customers developing aerial vehicles of the future.”
The turbogenerator, which has not yet been given an official name, will utilize Honeywell’s 1-Megawatt generator and HGT1700 auxiliary power unit.
“The turbogenerator will be a fully integrated design which includes the HGT1700 APU power section being integrated to the high-efficiency 1 MW generator through a gearbox designed specifically for this application,” Taylor Alberstadt, senior director of Power Systems Business Development at Honeywell Aerospace, told Avionics International in an email. “The gearbox will drive the turbomachine accessories like the fuel control and lubrication system.”
Alberstadt said the turbogenerator could be used to power a variety of different electric motors or even recharge batteries onboard or on the ground. It will have a max continuous power of 1 megawatt at sea-level standard and its range will vary depending on aircraft.
The turbogenerator will run on Faradair Aerospace’s Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA) as part of a December memorandum, according to the release. Honeywell is also looking at using the product on Honeywell aircraft and other customer development programs, Alberstadt said.
“A turbogenerator is a greener, quieter power source and provides the opportunity to support a distributed electric propulsion architecture being investigated by the majority of VTOL customers which is a safer means of propulsion,” Alberstadt said.
The post Honeywell is Developing a New Clean Energy Turbogenerator appeared first on Aviation Today.
Rolls-Royce is building an electrical power system for Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the company announced in a March 9 press release. The electrical propulsion system will include Rolls-Royce’s 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units and power distribution and monitoring system.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Vertical Aerospace for the electrical technology that will power their pioneering eVTOL aircraft,” Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, said in a press statement. “This exciting opportunity demonstrates our ambitions to be a leading supplier of sustainable complete power systems for the new Urban Air Mobility market which has the potential to transform the way that people and freight move from city to city.”
Vertical Aerospace released new aircraft names to reflect passenger capacity earlier this week, a representative from the company told Avionics International. The VA-X1 now refers to their proof of concept aircraft that had a one-passenger capacity. The VA-X4 is the companies newest prototype with the ability to carry four passengers.
The VA-X4 will conduct flight testing this year with remotely piloted demonstrator flights beginning in September, according to a representative from the company. The first test flights will use a different propulsion system from the system being developed by Rolls-Royce but the final certified aircraft will use Rolls-Royce’s system.
“We are excited to collaborate with Rolls-Royce, bringing onboard a hugely experienced team with deep expertise and cutting-edge electrical technologies to power our pioneering eVTOL aircraft,” Michael Cervenka, CEO of Vertical Aerospace, said in a statement. “This collaboration builds on our existing partnerships and Vertical is well-positioned to develop the world’s leading eVTOL aircraft, certified to the highest CAA and EASA safety standards being set globally.”
The VA-X4 will can cruise at speeds up to 120 miles and a range of 200 miles per hour, according to the company’s website.
This partnership reflects previous statements about Vertical Aerospace’s intentions to lean on experienced partners in the field.
“One of the approaches we’re taking in our program is that we’re not going to have a high degree of vertical integration like some of the other companies in this industry seems to be going for,” Tim Williams, chief engineer at Vertical Aerospace, said in a January webinar. “Our intention is to partner with some of the big names out there, some of the names that have the pedigrees in terms of safety analysis, safety management, supply chain management, and those sort of things. And we will be at any integrator, keeping up our cost down and utilizing their knowledge base.”
The post Rolls-Royce to Build Electric Propulsion System for Vertical Aerospace appeared first on Aviation Today.
When it comes to future growth markets, In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) is seen as a vital market for satellites, despite the issues aviation has had over the last year. There are high hopes that once the COVID-19 pandemic eases, the aviation market will see an upsurge, accompanied by strong demand for satellite bandwidth to fuel airline business cases for IFC.
While most airlines have an IFC strategy of some kind, certain airlines stand out. Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, has always been one of the pioneers when it comes to IFC. The company has around 270 planes in its fleet and between 2019 and 2020 flew around 56 million passengers. The airline is one of the blue-chip contracts when it looks to deal in IFC solutions.
Patrick Brannelly, Emirates’ vice president of Customer Experience: Service Delivery: IFE, Connectivity & Onboard Retail, is the very definition of an IFC influencer. When he speaks about IFC, the industry listens. Brannelly says while the airline industry, in particular, has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Emirates is bullish that airlines will return to profitability within a couple of years.
“There is an inherent desire for people to get moving again and go visit friends, family, and business colleagues and get the world turning. I don’t think you can stop that,” he says. “We are very bullish that it will rebound. That is buoyed by all of these initiatives like travel corridors, new protocols that everybody has taken in terms of hygiene, and then the vaccines when they come along. That will give people assurances and certainty.”
Satellite is an obvious connectivity solution for airlines as most airlines fly over oceans beyond the reach of terrestrial networks. However, with many players in the market, and solutions over different frequency bands, the choices are not straightforward for airlines. Brannelly is quite outspoken on this issue and says that a couple of years ago the marketing to airlines was “confusing.” This is a significant statement because if an expert like Brannelly is confused, it’s likely many others are confused as well.
“We are airline people, not telecoms people. That confusion about what was important, whether it was bandwidth or maximum capacity from the satellite, these were not necessarily the right things to be looking at. Now as I look to the future, connectivity from space to the ground is growing every year. But, to connect to an aircraft, it involves quite a lot of technical integration, which does not happen overnight,” he says.
He looks at the issues when putting new antennas on aircraft. In order to launch a new antenna on an aircraft, five years could be considered fast to do antenna swap-outs. He admits that airlines like Emirates don’t swap from one antenna system to another overnight. “What airlines are looking for is availability, coverage, reliability, etc.,” he says.
On the question of preferred bands and frequencies, Brannelly thinks Geostationary Orbit (GEO) is very good for airlines, but Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) could be beneficial with its polar coverage. He admits that he does not think speed is necessarily the most critical thing unless people think it will be used to watch movies. Brannelly does not believe this is a good use of satellite capacity.
“Will we have LEOs on the plane in 50 years’ time? I think we will, the question is how quickly it happens between now and then. But, for example, we could find out there a whole heap of technical issues around LEOs, as we’ve experienced every time we’ve introduced new systems,” Brannelly says.
Brannelly also points to changing demand from ground-based customers for each of these satellite systems, which is very different and can change rapidly. He believes LEO demand could be saturated by a ground client, and that GEOs are more attractive long-term right now to airlines such as Emirates.
“We don’t necessarily need lower latency. Latency is not vital to aircraft unless you are playing PlayStation games. Latency could still be an issue with LEOs and MEOs [Medium-Earth Orbit]. It is nice to have all the options, but it takes a long time for an airline to adopt an option,” he says.
He says it is feasible for Emirates to be using some kind of LEO solution at some point in the 2020s.
“Most of the commitments five years out are done. It is simpler sometimes to extend, then go to a new technology. Everything is possible. A lot of it is driven by economics. It is very expensive to switch out technology and equipment. Is it worth spending $300,000 switching out an aircraft, when it is only doing 40-60 flights a month and in service for 12 years? The economics have to work,” he says.
It seems clear it would take a seismic shift for Emirates to consider a LEO solution, and Brannelly admits the airline is much more likely to stay on a GEO-based solution. He points to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress, which he believes is going to transform the experience on Emirates, and that will come with the Boeing 777x in the next couple of years. He believes the key question is how much a solution transforms the customer experience. Customers don’t need megabits per second to use WhatsApp, and if that is 90 percent of the traffic, then airlines don’t need huge layers of capacity.
“If people are downloading 4K Netflix content to their device before a flight, they won’t need more satellite in the next ten years,” he says. “The data on LEOs is also not infinitely cheaper. It is a complex mix. You need the right coverage for your airline. We need very global coverage for our network. The price of data is important, as well as the price of integrating systems on the aircraft, and the demand and the likelihood that passengers will pay for it. Revenues in the connectivity business this year are massively depleted as there are fewer passengers.”
Right now, Emirates has a 100 percent connected fleet. All of its 777s are on Ku-band, as well as many of its A380s. The company is retrofitting its A380s from Swift Broadband to Ku-band. It has invested in upgrading all its aircraft to High Throughput Satellite [HTS] with Panasonic. The challenge Emirates faces is that many passengers think in-flight data is free, but it is still premium.
“The 777x will arrive with Inmarsat GX, which should be another step up. It is all about being the best in class. That is what Emirates has always strived for. We strive for our customers to have the best customer experience possible,” Brannelly says.
One of the big questions with COVID having such a profound impact on the aviation market is whether customers will ultimately pay for connectivity going forward. Will it become the expectation, and how do airlines justify such an investment? Brannelly says the jury is still out on airlines’ ability to provide unlimited free Wi-Fi across the board.
“Some of these new satellite technologies are providing ‘all-you-can-eat’ packages which will enable that, versus the ‘pay-per-megabyte’ options. You see this even in your personal behavior. Unlimited data is now pretty common on more mobile phones, whereas a few years ago, people were buying megabyte packages. The models of how the airlines get the money back are all changing, but the demand is there. We have to work out how to keep funding it,” he says.
Brannelly admits there have been surprises in changing user behavior over the last few months, and the volume of data and connections on short flights has doubled on some routes.
“I didn’t think it would go up so much,” he says. “There is a great desire to be constantly connected right now. Whether that lasts long term, I don’t know. I think it will.”
For Emirates, it is all about evolving and making the consumer experience better, regardless of the connectivity mode the airline uses to achieve that. Only recently, the airline rolled out the ability for passengers to view onboard menus via the Wi-Fi portal, as well as in its app. Brannelly believes its connected airline app is the future and anyone traveling without this app is “missing a trick.” Emirates aims to enhance the amount of control a passenger can have on a personal device. More and more in the future, Brannelly believes passengers will make purchases onboard on their own devices.
He cites the example of in-flight retail, which has bounced back strong, helped by the ability to get credit card approvals in-flight. Emirates is now doing millions of dollars in sales and upgrades each month. Airline connectivity has also enabled options for the crew, who have a chat program to chat with engineers for troubleshooting.
“Cabin crews are increasingly in a live environment now and there are a lot of positive opportunities to exploit,” he says.
While 2020 was undoubtedly a unique year, it also saw a significant deal in the IFC sector. Intelsat managed to secure a deal to acquire Gogo while in Chapter 11, giving the company an enhanced presence as a vertically integrated player in the IFC area. Brannelly believes vertical integration typically helps airlines, as they are very low-margin businesses. Removing the middle-man (while he carefully says he does not see Gogo as a middle-man) does help increase supply chain efficiency.
“I think part of this merger activity is the realization that In-Flight Connectivity is growing in importance. When connectivity started in the early 2000s, people were talking about it being a multi-billion dollar business, but that took a while to manifest. I think the future is looking very much more like that, and this is driving these corporate moves. It is tough to make money in connectivity, but vertical integration reduces costs,” he says.
He adds: “I am sure there are some creative or financial benefits in the background we are not aware of, but in the long-term, I think it is a smart move.”
Brannelly also believes more industry consolidation is coming in this market.
“Warren Buffett said ‘When the tide goes out, you see who is swimming naked.’ We have seen a bit of that this year,” he says. “I think the industry consolidation isn’t over and more changes are coming. It will resolve to a good place with two to three dominant, quality players. How that chess game will play out with all the vendors and technology is yet to be seen.”
Editorial Note: This article was first published in the March 2021 edition of Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics International. It has been edited. Click here to view the original version.
The post Emirates VP of Customer Experience Talks Future of In-Flight Connectivity appeared first on Aviation Today.
Check out the March 7 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.
Lufthansa Group plans on reducing its total in-service fleet by 650 aircraft over the next two years, the German airline said in its annual report published on March 4.
“Last year, the number of employees fell by around 28,000. In Germany, a further 10,000 jobs will be reduced or the corresponding personnel costs will have to be compensated. The Group fleet will be reduced to 650 aircraft in 2023,” the airline says in the report.
Carsten Spohr, CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said the group is also considering whether all aircraft within its fleet that are 25 years or older will remain grounded permanently. Spohr expects passenger travel demand to start picking back up in the second half of 2021.
“From the summer onwards, we expect demand to pick up again as soon as restrictive travel limits are reduced by a further roll-out of tests and vaccines. We are prepared to offer up to 70 percent of our pre-crisis capacity again in the short term as demand increases,” Spohr said.
The National Transportation Safety Board published an investigative update Friday for its ongoing investigation of the Feb. 20, 2021, United Airlines Flight 328 engine failure.
UAL flight 328 experienced a failure of the right Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport, Denver. There were no injuries reported, and the airplane sustained minor damage, NTSB said in the release.
Facts gathered to date in the investigation, and provided in the update, include:
The full investigative update is available here.
American Express Ventures made a strategic investment in Boom Supersonic, the company announced in a March 4 press release. Boom is developing the supersonic commercial airliner Overture.
“We’re proud that Amex Ventures shares our commitment to making the world more accessible by bringing sustainable supersonic travel to passengers everywhere,” Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO, said in a statement. “2021 is a pivotal year for Boom. As we prepare to fly our supersonic demonstrator, XB-1, we are also accelerating Overture development.”
Overture will run on 100 percent sustainable fuel and have a 65 to 68 seat capacity, according to Boom. The company predicts it will begin commercial flights by 2029.
“Boom is building a supersonic passenger aircraft that will make travel faster and more sustainable,” Harshul Sanghi, Global Head of Amex Ventures, said in a statement. “Travel has been a key part of American Express’ heritage and it remains an integral part of our Card Members’ lifestyles. We are excited to support Boom’s development and invest in the future of travel.”
In a March 5 press statement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a recent discussion with U.S. President Joe Biden lead to the two sides agreeing to suspend tariffs imposed in the ongoing Airbus and Boeing trade dispute for an initial period of four months.
“As a symbol of this fresh start, President Biden and I agreed to suspend all our tariffs imposed in the context of the Airbus-Boeing disputes, both on aircraft and non-aircraft products, for an initial period of 4 months,” von der Leyen said in a pair of tweets acknowledging the call with Biden.
“We both committed to focus on resolving our aircraft disputes, based on the work our respective trade representatives,” von der Leyen said in the press statement.
Urban Air Mobility (UAM) company Volocopter raised €200 in Series D funding, the company announced in a March 3 press release.
“Volocopter is ahead of the curve in the UAM industry, and we have the achievements to prove it,” Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, said in a statement. “No other electric air taxi company has publicly performed as many flights in cities around the world, with full regulatory approval, as Volocopter has. Our VoloCity is the fifth generation of Volocopter aircraft and has a strong path to being the first certified electric air taxi for cities. Volocopter already has the extensive partnerships necessary to set up the UAM ecosystem for launching both our company and the industry into commercial operations. We are called the pioneers of UAM for a reason, and we plan to keep that title.”
The new funding brings Volocopter’s total raised capital to €322 million, according to the release. The funding will be used to advance the company’s air taxi certification and accelerate the launch of its first commercial routes.
Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the first taxiing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ all-electric aircraft, the company said in a March 1 press release.
For the first time, the plane powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500hp [400kw] electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology, according to Rolls Royce. The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing. The first flight is planned for the Spring and when at full power the combination of electrical powertrain and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300mph.
Rolls Royce is using the aircraft as a research and development platform for next electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.
“For the first time, the plane propelled itself forward using the power from an advanced battery and propulsion system that is ground-breaking in terms of electrical technology. This system and the capabilities being developed will help position Rolls-Royce as a technology leader offering power systems to the Urban Air Mobility market,” Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said in a press statement.
BAE Systems said on March 2 that it has begun low-rate initial production of the company’s Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) for Boeing [BA] F-15Es under a $58 million subcontract from Boeing.
Last Dec. 31, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $189.2 million contract for “government furnished property repair as well as acquisition of Group A and B kits, support equipment, mod line standup, technical orders and interim contractor support efforts for the LRIP of the EPAWSS systems.”
The Air Force tasked Boeing with EPAWSS integration on the F-15E and BAE Systems with developing the system under a 2015 contract, and the service finished the first round of EPAWSS testing in 2019. EPAWSS is to replace the F-15’s Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) self-protection suite, a 1970s-era system which is “functionally obsolete” and costly to sustain, the Air Force has said.
The Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) said Thursday it has canceled this year’s Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit.
The in-person event was scheduled for April 21 to 23 in Nashville, Tenn. As recently as last week, the organization was still considering holding the event, saying it would make a final decision by March 8.
On Thursday, the association told exhibitors that the final decision was made after Army officials notified event organizers the service would not be able to support the conference based on a health risk assessment with the ongoing pandemic.
“We are cancelling the Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit based on this decision, as we depend on the Army for our key speakers and leader attendance, aircraft displays, and general attendance,” Ret. Maj, Gen. Jeff Schloesser, president of AAAA, said in a statement. “Be safe, be careful, and we hope to see you at future AAAA events as conditions allow.”
Core Avionics & Industrial Inc. (CoreAVI) announced new safety-critical software and hardware based on the 11th Gen Intel Core processor, the company announced in a March 2 press release. CoreAVI’s platform will provide safety-critical cockpit displays, mission computing, and safe autonomous systems.
With this new software and hardware, customers will be able to achieve RTCA DO-178C and DO-254 DALA, ISO 26262 ASIL D and IEC 61508 SIL three safety certifications, according to the release.
“We are excited to announce this partnership with Intel to bring to market a true safety critical compute and graphics platform based on Intel’s latest Core processor,” Dan Joncas, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at CoreAVI, said in a statement. “This partnership ensures that our customers are able to harness the full performance of Intel’s latest generation of graphics and compute processing capabilities coupled with rigorous safety certification that spans multiple markets and applications.”
Through Intel and CoreAVI’s partnership, CoreAVI will be provided with access to technical data, Intel Airworthiness Evidence Package, and Functional Safety essential Design Package for the processor, according to the release.
“Avionics applications continue to demand the highest levels of performance and safety capabilities that are being met more frequently with multi-core processors,“ Tony Franklin, General Manager of Federal and Aerospace IoT Markets at Intel Corporation, said in a statement. “With our 11th Gen Core processor, we provide compelling compute performance together with the Intel Airworthiness Evidence Package, which provides safety artifacts to enable and simplify the certification of safety-critical avionics systems.”
Gulfstream’s G280 has met the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new Stage 5 standards for noise limits for subsonic aircraft, the company announced in a March 4 press release.
“The Gulfstream team continues its commitment to the future of the G280 program, ensuring adherence to the most stringent standards, whether for safety, performance or noise emissions,” Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream, said in a statement. “Aircraft noise abatement goals are vital to ensuring the livelihood of the aviation and aerospace industries and demonstrating our efforts to be good neighbors to those who live or work near airfields, airports or flight paths.”
SpaceX successfully launched another 60 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center early Thursday. This is the 20th batch of satellites that SpaceX has put into orbit since the project began and the 5th successful launch since the beginning of the year.
This particular mission, designated “Starlink L17,” was supposed to be the 17th Starlink launch, but was pushed back behind its scheduled 18th and 19th launches due to weather issues and delays associated with its droneship recovery system. This was SpaceX’s third attempt at launching Starlink L17, after two delays in February.
The new satellites will join now more than 1,000 Starlink satellites operating in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). While SpaceX said that it could provide global coverage with about 1,200 satellites, the company plans to launch up to 30,000 satellites for the complete constellation. SpaceX Founder Elon Musk said he hopes to take the Starlink business public once the company has enough subscribers to push it into positive cash flow territory.
Telesat reported its 2020 financial results on Thursday, with a 10 percent decline in revenue compared to the prior year, and forecasted a $356 billion total addressable market (TAM) for its business in the future with the Lightspeed constellation.
For the year, Telesat reported consolidated revenue of $820 million Canadian dollars ($648 million). The company cited a variety of factors that contributed to the revenue decrease, but CEO Dan Goldberg said on Thursday’s investor call that roughly 60% of the decline was due to the non-renewal of North American Direct-to-Home (DTH) customer Shaw Direct and the completion the amortization of WildBlue prepayment. Other factors include lower revenue on short-term services provided to other satellite operators and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Telesat customers serving aeronautical and maritime markets.
Wavestream’s In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) high-power transceiver, the AeroStream 40Ku, has been successfully tested by Global Eagle Entertainment, achieving DO-160G certification. Wavestream is a subsidiary of Gilat Satellite Networks, which announced Wednesday that production units are planned to be shipped for usage in commercial aircraft, starting in the second quarter of 2021.
Wavestream’s AeroStream 40Ku transceiver is designed for high reliability, with a field-reported mean time before failure of greater than 30,000 flight hours. Wavestream said the high-power transceiver incorporates Gallium Nitride technology and enables more return bandwidth from the plane back to the satellite than previous generations.
Mike Pigott, executive vice president of Connectivity at Global Eagle said this certification extends the company’s lead in Ku-band IFC. “Wavestream ensured that the unit is both backwards compatible with traditional modems and is future-proof to operate with the next generation of satellite modem technologies,” he commented.
Will Roper, the former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics, is joining drone maker Volansi’s board of directors, the company announced on March 3. Roper will assist Volansi with its strategy, operations, and growth in the defense market.
Under Roper, the Air Force made strides in encouraging innovation within the defense market and opening opportunities for commercial companies through initiatives like AFWERX and Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) reform. Roper heavily advocated for Agility Prime, a project from AFWERX focused on electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
“Volansi is exactly the kind of company I was hoping would come work in the Air Force,” Roper told Avionics International. “[They have] huge potential to change the world in a big way.”
Volansi creates vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that have payload capabilities ranging from 10 to 200 pounds and a range of 50 to 500 miles, Hannan Parvizian, Volansi CEO and co-Founder, told Avionics. Their UAV serves both commercial and government applications with use cases like tactical aerial resupply, medical deliveries, and disaster relief.
“If you look at Volansi’s solution offering we have a family of systems approach,” Hannan said. “So we have aircraft that have on the small end, 10 pounds of payload and then scale that up to 200 pounds of payload. We started with a 20 series, which has 20 pounds of payload, and have now worked our way up to the larger platforms…We’ll be announcing more details around that later this year so we have some really exciting product launches to announce that are going to service our DoD customers and enterprise customers alike.”
Roper hopes to advise Volansi about which military missions will be the most impactful and how to use those missions to gain credibility to commercialize their technology, he said.
“The Air Force is very good at certifying new technologies as safe to use,” Roper said. “So, having the Air Force mission isn’t just good for the Air Force, it will be very good for domestic regulators, who will be able to use that to make decisions about opening up domestic airspace to the same kind of delivery. It’s exactly the thing I hoped would happen in the Air Force and if Volansi really knocks it out of the park and changes the world because of the way they’re able to deliver supplies and says working with the military was a critical component of that, other companies in future will follow the same path and it’ll start bringing the .com and .mil ecosystems back together again.”
Gaining a military certification allows companies to operate within Department of Defense (DoD) ranges, which Volansi has been able to do, Hannan said. They are also working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to gain commercial certification.
“We’ve been working on ranges for two and a half years now, and will continue to expand that envelope and bring that same data at the end of the day to our commercial certification process, which is going to be hugely impactful and expedite that by quite a bit,” Hannan said.
Roper said part of his role on the board will be advising Hannan and Volansi about which opportunities to go after.
“Not all opportunities are the same,” Roper said. “So which ones are the best to go after for commercial success.”
One of these opportunities is proving a service to operators, Roper said.
“I think there’s a wonderful opportunity to provide things as a service to operators in the field, delivery as a service, resupply as a service, medical as a service,” Roper said. “So I think those are really interesting opportunities because it doesn’t put the government into purchasing anything or sustaining anything.”
Volansi’s UAVs are mostly focused on logistics use cases.
“Logistics is the backbone of the United States military,” Roper said. “It’s never in the limelight but it is the differentiator between whether you can just fly an airplane in an airshow or whether you can fly it halfway around the world and sustain its operations there for years.”
While developing technology for commercial and defense customers Volansi found a lot of commonalities between their problems and therefore Volansi’s solutions, Hannan said.
“We see a lot of synergies in the problem set,” Hannan said. “At Volansi, fundamentally, we’re developing a solution to solve customers’ problems, and it turns out, everyone, both commercial or government, needs to move supplies and matter from one point to the other. So it’s not necessarily that the government use cases are vastly different than a commercial use case. They are very similar…The only nuances are maybe, is how to integrate with an existing infrastructure on the DoD side versus how do you integrate with existing infrastructure on the commercial side, but those are minor nuances and details but fundamentally the solution itself is 80 percent of the same.”
The post Former Air Force Acquisition Secretary Will Roper Joins Volansi appeared first on Aviation Today.
AeroMobil conducted successful flight tests for its flying car including achieving top and stall speeds, take off ability within 1,300 feet and climb rate of over 1,200 feet per minute, the company announced in March 4. The flight tests are the next step to meeting CS23 requirements from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
AeroMobil began applying for an EASA type certification in December 2018, Patrick Hessel, CEO of AeroMobile, told Avionics International via email. The CS23 requirements are based off amendment five of the general aviation regulation with special conditions for using automotive components and systems.
“When designing AeroMobil 4.0 we gave careful consideration to the regulatory framework and felt it was critically important that our flying car could work within existing regulatory frameworks rather than be entirely disruptive,” Hessel said. “Many of the new electric Vertical-Take-Off-And-Landing (VTOL) models will require a complete or partial re-working of today’s regulations and we want to build a flying car that our customers have the freedom to use as soon as possible. We welcome the opportunity to use the latest regulations, which changed the certification requirements from prescriptive rules-based approach to one based on safety performance. It means we can use some of the automotive features to demonstrate how safe AeroMobil 4.0 is as an aeroplane for occupant safety and how we have introduced safety innovations in areas such as stall and spin.”
AeroMobil is also seeking certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. where it will be certified using Part 23 requirements. Because AeroMobil is also a car, it will also be certified under the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval in the M1 category and under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S.
The AeroMobil is a two-seat vehicle and aircraft for personal and private transportation, Hessel said. The company will unveil a four-seat version in 2025 with a range of 700 miles that will support a regional mobility service.
“AeroMobil uses standard flight controls as any other general aviation aircraft,” Hessel said. “Our aim is to make AeroMobil familiar to pilots right from the beginning. In our cockpit, there is a transformative steering wheel/flight yoke, rudder pedals, and hand-operated throttle. Currently, we use Garmin avionics systems, but we are open to explore options in the future according to customer requirements.”
Hessel said AeroMobil will be commercially available in 2023.
“The successful performance of The AeroMobil in passing these critical governmental certification tests brings the commercialization of a new luxury supercar, equally at home in the air or on the road one step closer to reality,” Hessel said. “When it comes to market in 2023, it will be the coolest thing on four wheels ever commercialized, providing unlimited freedom of travel.”
The post AeroMobil Marks Milestone Toward Certification with Flight Tests appeared first on Aviation Today.
The Air Force is investing in LiquidPiston’s X-Engine technology to create a hybrid-electric propulsion system to power emerging technologies like unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and orbs, the company announced on March 4.
The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract worth $150,000 was awarded through AFWERX to support Agility Prime, a program developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for commercial and military use.
UAS and eVTOLs are being developed with battery-powered propulsion systems which have limited their range of flight. The X-Engine technology would use fuel to power a generator and charge the aircraft’s batteries extending its flight time and range, according to the company.
“Today’s solutions for power and energy are held back by a lack of technological innovation; gasoline engines are inefficient, diesel engines are big and heavy, and while the world wants to go electric, batteries lack significantly compared to the energy density of fuel,” Alec Shkolnik, CEO and co-founder of LiquidPiston, said in a statement. “The X-Engine solves these challenges, and with this contract, we look forward to showcasing the value a hybrid-electric configuration can bring to unmanned flight.”
The X-Engine runs on JP-8, diesel, and other heavy fuels but is 30 percent more fuel-efficient than a diesel engine, according to LiquidPiston. It is also five to 10 times smaller and lighter than a diesel engine and is two to four times more fuel-efficient than a small turbine.
The Army also awarded LiquidPiston a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract in December 2020 to develop the X-Engine platform for small tactical generators.
“Our work with the Air Force demonstrates the versatility and utility of our X-Engine across the Department of Defense including our ongoing work with the US Army,” Shkolnik said.
The post Air Force Looks to Hybrid Electric Solution for eVTOL and UAS Energy Concerns appeared first on Aviation Today.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected five airports to test unmanned aircraft system (UAS) detection and mitigation systems that will create future standards for countering UAS (C-UAS) use at airports, the agency announced in a March 1 press release.
The airports selected by the FAA include Atlantic City International Airport, Syracuse Hancock International Airport, Rickenbacker International Airport, Huntsville International Airport, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The FAA plans to test over 10 systems at these airports beginning at the end of the year and extending through 2023. The FAA declined to provide further details about which technologies would be tested.
A contract opportunity from May 2020 requests whitepapers for technology that can detect UAS within a five-mile radius from the air operations area and technology that offer mitigation capability for UAS.
“UAS detection system refers to a system of device capable of lawfully and safely detecting, identifying, monitoring, or tracking an unmanned aircraft of unmanned aircraft system,” the opportunity states. “UAS detection systems may be integrated into or be linked to counter-UAS system, but, themselves, do not provide the capability to disable, disrupt, seize control, or otherwise directly interfere with UAS operations.”
The opportunity says mitigation may use C-UAS systems but is not reliant on them and could use alternate technology.
These tests will result in the implementation of UAS detection and mitigation systems at airports meant to ensure safety for manned aircraft, according to the FAA. This effort is part of the FAA’s Airport UAS Detection and Mitigation Research Program.
The post 5 Airports Selected by FAA for Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems appeared first on Aviation Today.
The Loyal Wingman completed a successful test flight, Boeing Australia announced in a March 1 press release. The Loyal Wingman is an uncrewed aircraft developed by Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) that will use artificial intelligence (AI) as the foundation for the Airpower Teaming System (ATS).
“The Loyal Wingman’s first flight is a major step in this long-term, significant project for the Air Force and Boeing Australia, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the successful test,” Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF Head of Air Force Capability, said in a press statement. “The Loyal Wingman project is a pathfinder for the integration of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to create smart human-machine teams.”
The Loyal Wingman completed a low-speed taxi in Oct. 2020 and is one of three prototypes for the ATS which could be used for tactical warning missions. The unmanned aircraft will fly independently or in support of manned aircraft using a sensor package to support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, according to Boeing’s website.
“The heart of this program is autonomous systems being part of a manned-unmanned team approach,” Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, chief of RAAF, said in a March 1 video released by Boeing. “So it’s how we work with other aircraft, be that a Super Hornet, an F-35, or a Wedgetail.”
During the test flight, the Loyal Wingman autonomously took off and completed a pre-determined route which involved varying speeds and altitudes, according to the release.
Other Loyal Wingman prototypes will also complete test flights later this year, according to Boeing.
The Loyal Wingman is the first military aircraft in over 50 years to be designed and manufactured in Australia.
“It’s a milestone for Australia, for the Boeing Company, and for the Royal Australian Air Force,” Brendan Nelson, president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand, and South Pacific, said in Boeing’s March 1 video. “We have conceived, designed, built, and now flown the first military aircraft in half a century.”
HyPoint has unveiled the first operable prototype version of its turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell system, as the Menlo Park, California-based green energy startup prepares to support validation and testing of its system for a variety of aircraft types and powertrain configurations.
Testing has shown that HyPoint’s turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell system will be able to achieve up to 2,000 watts per kilogram of specific power. Dr. Alex Ivanenko, founder and CEO of HyPoint, told Avionics International that their technology has drawn interest from a wide range of aircraft developers from electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) jet makers to other startups developing hydrogen powertrains for turboprop aircraft.
Ivanenko said the length of an electric aircraft flight the full-scale version of their fuel cell system can support will depend on a number of different factors.
“It depends on configurations, we’re looking at a range from two hours to six hours, and we can provide different configurations. Flight time is really a question of hydrogen storage. What kind of hydrogen storage would you like to use? If it’s a gaseous form or liquid form, for example, you’ll be able to support a longer or shorter flight,” Ivanenko said.
Among the testing that has already been done by HyPoint on the prototype, they have demonstrated the ability to generate up to 1,500 watt-hours per kilogram of energy density. Thermal management in the fuel cell system is achieved by using bipolar plates and corrosion-resistant coating.
A technical white paper published by HyPoint explaining the design of their turbo air-cooled system says that the idea behind their approach is to circulate high-pressure air through a fuel cell stack, or a bundle of fuel cells, and to recirculate the exhaust air. By re-distributing exhaust air across fuel cell stack inlets, they’re able to save energy that would otherwise be spent by the system on compressing fresh air.
“As long as the air contains sufficient oxygen it can be reused,” the white paper notes.
HyPoint also announced that it will begin work with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to further test and validate its hydrogen fuel cell technology. NREL’s hydrogen and fuel cell research and development focuses on developing, integrating, and demonstrating hydrogen production and delivery, hydrogen storage, and fuel cell technologies for transportation, stationary, and portable applications.
“We generate electricity from hydrogen,” Ivanenko said. “Our fuel cell system uses a chemical reaction to transform the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity.”
In December 2020, HyPoint was named a winner of NASA’s iTech Initiative, in which inventive technologies were ranked based on criteria that included technical viability, likely impact on future space exploration, benefits to humanity, and commercialization potential. The startup also claims that its high-temperature (HTPEM) fuel cell system is “three times lighter” than comparable low-temperature (LTPEM) fuel cell systems.
One partner that HyPoint is working with, ZeroAvia, completed a hydrogen-electric aircraft flight in September 2020 and went on to raise $21.4 million from Amazon, Shell, and a Bill Gates-backed fund.
“The reality is that hydrogen fuel cells are the technological driver behind e-aircraft and we are working closely with the team at HyPoint to test their systems for potential integration into future ZeroAvia aircraft,” Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia said in a March 2 press release.
Ivanenko said that the main customers HyPoint will be targeting moving forward include aircraft designers, manufacturers, and powertrain OEMs among others. HyPoint expects the system will be ready for testing at the beginning of 2022 and commercialized in 2023, at a price point of between $100-500 per kilowatt (if mass-produced).
“This functional prototype brings us one step closer to our vision of delivering efficient and cost-effective zero-carbon emission fuel cell technology to the aviation industry,” Ivanenko said. “This year, we’re going to build a full-scale version of the system, and prepare for commercialization in different markets.”
The post HyPoint CEO Talks New Hydrogen Fuel Cell Operable Prototype for Electric Aircraft appeared first on Aviation Today.