During the Connected Aviation Intelligence program Brit Wanick, vice president of digital solutions at SmartSky, spoke about SmoothSky, the company’s new real-time turbulence data service for business aviation. SmoothSky helps operators improve safety, efficiency, and user experience during flights.
“The goal, ideally, is that you’d have a dynamic map with you much like we have a Waze in the car today,” Wanick said. “We know when we’re going to come upon an accident, and we can make adjustments. We need something similar in the airspace and that begins with having objective data to be able to work with and a key element of that objective data is real-time turbulence and the ability to display in the cockpit so that we can take action, and have that action be based on real-time objective observations that are occurring so that we can get from point A to point B safely.”
SmoothSky uses the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Turbulence Aware Program crowdsourced anonymized data and then the data is put into SmartSky’s Skytelligence, which is their web platform for trusted information sharing in the aviation ecosystem, Wanick said. The data is then transferred through application programming interfaces to web-based aviation apps used by pilots, operations centers, and managers.
Turbulence Aware is a tool created by IATA that uses an algorithm developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) capable of collecting turbulence parameters from aircraft systems and sensors, aggregating that data and making it available in a raw format to participating airlines. Now, SmartSky is bringing the same capabilities to business aviation operators.
“So, our enrichment of it is to put it in a format that is most usable by the ecosystem of participants that we expect would need it, everything from a pilot to a web developer to a dispatcher,” Wanick said.
Wanick said SmartSky did not produce its own application for SmoothSky because there are already many options on the market, and they found the best approach to be formatting the information so that it can be used with applications users already had like an electronic flight bag (EFB) flight planning or weather awareness app.
SmoothSky is intended to be a real-time program, Wanick said. If turbulence is detected in an area, the program will report at one-minute intervals, if there is not turbulence detected, the program will report every 15-20 minutes. SmartSky was able to generate data, process the algorithm, and put the data in a display in less than five minutes during their Turbulence Aware testing process.
“If you had a trajectory path management capability that we’re able to pull into turbulence data and make adjustments, it’d be a lot like Waze, right,” Wanick said. “There’s an accident up ahead, in this case, there’s turbulence up ahead, on my plan path has now been reported, I want to make a change. It can provide alternatives you’d help provide a smooth ride throughout the event, allows you to essentially take advantage of better planning and arrival times.”
Wanick said SmoothSky will not only make flights safer by allowing route adjustments to avoid turbulence and severe weather, but it will improve operations by reducing potential aircraft damage and saving fuel with improved routing. It can also improve passengers’ onboard experience.
To make sure they had adequate coverage data for business aviation SmartSky coordinated with IATA to map standard flights on the East Coast, West Coast, and cross-country for turbulence reporting over the last year, Wanick said. His team also used various flight levels to gain a full scope of the data and coverage area
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Honeywell Aerospace is focusing on supporting new and next generation business aircraft by innovating with propulsion and avionics systems, Mike Madsen, the president and CEO of Honeywell Aerospace, said. Madsen discussed the current climate of business aviation and a long-range forecast for the industry as well as Honeywell’s plans to address both topics during a Dec. 2 webinar.
Madsen said Honeywell will continue to upgrade the HTF engine family and create an entirely new engine centerline for larger and super midsize aircraft.
“We’re working on product improvement upgrades and technology assertions for the HTF 7000 series engines,” Madsen said. “We are also working on a new centerline engine that I will just say will be larger than the HTF engine and more to come on that. You know when you’re in the engine business, you never get out of the game. You’re constantly investing in these products. They have a long life, but they do need to be refreshed occasionally and we do see this general migration toward larger aircraft and the need and desire to be able to do with a mid-size airplane or a super mid-sized airplane what today can only be done with a large or ultra-long range aircraft.”
In terms of advanced avionics developments, Honeywell will be working on open software architecture flexibility and interconnectivity, Madsen said. This would be something similar to what the military is doing with the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE).
“The way we’re thinking about this is to think about core features that are tied to our fundamental aircraft performance and safety features, those things being sort of hard-coded but functionality, that’s tailorable wrapped around that,” Madsen said. “We want to make that available to the operators and to the airframers. It gives them a chance to make the aircraft a bit more be-spoke to that brand, or even to the operator that owns the aircraft. We think that’s going to be absolutely required in going forward.”
Another area where Honeywell sees interest is in connected offerings like satellite connectivity for cockpit and maintenance applications. He said the connected maintenance plans would be offered in conjunction with maintenance service plans already offered.
Among the connected aircraft applications under development are methods for automatically downloading engine data, Wi-Fi auto-billing and continuous engine health diagnostics, according to Madsen.
“Honeywell has introduced in a cell maintenance service plan for each for its HTF family of engines that now includes the new cell system and the components. This is for the Lombardi A Challenger 300 aircraft, the Challenger 350 aircraft, Gulfstream G280, and the Embraer Legacy 450/500 aircraft. And there are different options there I think you’ll see those kinds of things, all-inclusive maintenance plans,” Madsen said.
In 2021 Honeywell will also introduce a new lightweight micro-power unit mechanical system for smaller business aircraft that do not come equipped with an auxiliary power unit (APU), and they will also be releasing updates to their RDR 7000 weather radar system. The avionics maker will also be developing new compact fly by wire systems not only for business and general aviation, Urban Air Mobility (UAM), and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The impact of COVID-19 is likely to still have consequences on the business aviation industry through 2022, however, in five years Madsen said he sees the industry growing again. The five-year purchase plans Honeywell is tracking for aircraft have been largely unchanged, he said.
“We’re expecting some strong growth, really growth in every segment, but the strongest segments for growth over the next 10 years will we expect to see in the super midsize and large cabin aircraft, Madsen said. “I think it’s an evolving situation, the buyers of super midsize and large cabin aircraft continue to rate operating costs, direct operating cost, and cabin size, either first and second or vice versa.”
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The first successful test flight of a compact, advanced 4-axis helicopter autopilot system that will be used on Airbus AS350 and H125 helicopters was completed by Thales and StandardAero, according to a Nov. 30 press release. The compact autopilot is an intuitive automatic flight control system that will reduce pilot workload and improve safety.
The successful flight test of the Thales/StandardAero compact autopilot is a key milestone in the Supplemental Type Certification (STC) process. The autopilot is expected to be on the market by mid-2021.
“This state-of-the-art, 4-axis autopilot system has been designed as a straightforward retrofit and provides pilots with a simplified operation that will help reduce wear and tear on the helicopter while making flying in normal and adverse conditions much easier and safer for the crew and passengers,” Elvis Moniz, vice president of product development for StandardAero’s Helicopters business unit, said in a press statement. “Moreover, with the increase in EMS flying and recent CFIT related helicopter accidents, anything that can help pilots navigate more safely is of paramount interest.”
The 4-axis autopilot system reduces accidents by providing stability augmentation, attitude retention, and flight director modes, according to the release. The Advanced Control Management Systems improves flight handling qualities to ADS33 level 1 performance, Maria Mellouli, a media relations spokesperson for Thales, told Avionics International.
Melloui said the system has several automatic modes, approach to hover, all cruise modes, hover (VHLD), and position hold (PHLD) with radio-alt. The autopilot’s control panel feature also functions as a data concentrator by dispatching intelligence out of the linear actuators towards the compact autopilot system (CAPS) components.
“This product combines Thales’ Autopilot experience, based on billions of flight hours accumulated and outstanding customer satisfaction, with StandardAero’s extensive aftermarket capabilities in aircraft modification and certification,” Jean-Paul Ebanga, vice president of flight avionics activities at Thales, said in a press statement. “We aim to bring a user-friendly solution offering an unparalleled level of safety and reliability to the light helicopter market.”
The 4-axis autopilot system does not need a main flight control computer which allows the system weight to be greatly reduced, Mellouli said.
“In a nutshell, what makes our Compact AutoPilot System unique is its compact and light weight (no dedicated flight control computer needed), its high level of integrity and availability but beyond technical features it makes piloting simple and intuitive, reducing pilot workload,” Mellouli said.
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Gogo will shift its in-flight connectivity (IFC) focus to business aviation after completing the $400 million sale of its commercial aviation segment to Intelsat on Dec. 1.
Under their new structure, Chicago-based Gogo will continue to operate as a publicly traded company, focused on leveraging its air to ground (ATG) network and “proprietary spectrum to serve the business aviation market,” according to a Dec. 1 press release. North American business aviation operator usage of Gogo’s network has not recovered completely, however that segment of their customer base was able to restore 80 percent of its 2019 flight activity and in-flight Internet usage during the third quarter of 2020.
“In our third quarter earnings, we announced there were 5,577 aircraft flying today using the Gogo air-to-ground network – which today includes more than 1,500 aircraft flying with either Gogo AVANCE L5 or L3. We also announced we have 4,737 aircraft with satellite connectivity installed (primarily L-band),” a representative told Avionics International in an emailed statement.
Business aviation has been a quarter-by-quarter story for Gogo this year, as the company experienced 940 account suspensions and more than 750 service plan downgrades in March and April, which CEO Oakleigh Thorne described as the period where they “bottomed out” prior to an upswing in business aviation IFC service activations between April and September.
Next generation connectivity plans for Gogo’s business aviation division are centered around its 5G network deployment, scheduled to become available in 2021. Gogo describes its 5G service as a combination of unlicensed 2.4GHz spectrum and beamforming technology in a new ATG network.
The 5G service will be enabled by a new antenna, modem and one additional line replaceable unit, according to Gogo. Satellite connectivity will remain an option for Gogo’s business aviation operators as well.
“We want to really invest in order to develop 5G and other new products to continue to strengthen the franchise,” Gogo CEO Oakleigh Thorne said during the company’s Nov. 9 third quarter earnings call.
“Gogo AVANCE L5 and Gogo 2Ku (satellite) provide streaming video service, and there are more than 1,000 AVANCE L5 systems installed and flying today,” Gogo’s representative said. “Additionally, AVANCE L5 is a line-fit option on more than 24 different makes and models at six aircraft OEMs, and more than 50 aircraft models are covered by full equipment STCs that have been developed by Gogo’s aftermarket channel.”
A number of personnel changes will occur along with the sale of the commercial aviation business to Intelsat. John Wade, president of Gogo’s Commercial Aviation division will remain in that position, as the CA business keeps the legacy branding with “Gogo, an Intelsat Company.”
Jon Cobin has been named Intelsat’s Chief Strategy Officer, leading the company’s corporate strategy and business development efforts. Cobin joins Intelsat from Gogo, where he served most recently as Chief Strategy Officer.
According to Intelsat, the satellite company will now be providing broadband connectivity for nine of the “top 20 global airlines and an installed base of more than 3,000 commercial aircraft are now part of Intelsat’s portfolio of services,” the company said in a Dec. 1 press release.
“The completion of the sale of our CA business to Intelsat marks the beginning of a new chapter for Gogo; we are a leader in business aviation and now turn our singular focus toward serving that attractive market,” Thorne said in a statement. “Our business aviation division has proven resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the number of business aircraft online today has nearly returned to January levels.”
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The British Army received its first two Boeing Apache AH-64E helicopters from the U.S. government on Nov. 26. The delivery is the result of a $2.3 billion deal that was first announced by the United Kingdom’s (UK) Ministry of Defense in July 2016, and includes a total of 50 Apache attack helicopters which will be replacing their Apache AH Mark 1 fleet retiring in 2024.
The Apache Attack helicopters were delivered to Wattisham Flying Station and will be maintained and serviced by the 7 Aviation Support Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (7 Avn Spt Bn REME), according to a press release published by the British Army.
“While there is still some way to go before the Army’s modernized Attack Helicopter capability reaches full operational status, the arrival of the first Apache E Model in the UK is a major program milestone that has been achieved despite the impact of COVID-19,” Brigadier Steve Hussey, Head of Capability Air Maneuver, said in a press statement.
The Apache AH-64E’s will be equipped with Modernized Day-Side Assembly (M-DSA) to improve their ability to find and distinguish targets in full color and Fire Control Radar (FCR) software and targeting modes to increase range performance and utility in the Maritime domain and assist in counter unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) detection, according to a spokesperson from the Army. They will also use Link-16 and Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT) to increase situational awareness on the battlefield, enhance interoperability, and extend the Apache’s range.
“The arrival of the first Apache E Model Attack Helicopter to be delivered to the British Army over the next two years marks the beginning of a significant uplift in capability to enhance the Army’s contribution across the spectrum of military operations,” Maj Gen Jez Bennett, Director Capability, said in a press statement. “From supporting hostage rescue missions, to countering an adversaries’ anti-access, area denial platforms, the Apache E outstrips the outgoing Mark 1 aircraft by increased platform digitalization, improved weapons and avionics, and the ability to use the latest and future technology to enable teaming with semi-autonomous systems such as UASs.”
The British Army will also use System Level Embedded Diagnostics (SLED) to increase aircraft availability, improve engineering support, and reduce downtime, according to a spokesperson.
The Apache AH-64E will fly for the first time in the UK in July 2021 and will focus on trial activity and developing techniques to transition from the Mark 1 to E-model before full-rate conversion training.
“Bringing a new aircraft into service, especially one as impressive as the AH-64E is an exciting prospect that doesn’t happen every day,” Artificer Sergeant Major Brian Slinn, 7 Avn Spt Bn REME, said in a press statement. “The REME personnel from 7 Bn and 3 Regt AAC [3 Regiment Army Air Corps] understandably are chomping at the bit to finally get the process underway.”
The full Air System Safety Case will be tested before the Apache AH-64E’s first flight and will include quality assurance and airworthiness tasks by the 7 Bn, certification by the U.K. Military Aviation Authority, and assurance of aircraft documentation, simulators, training, and instructors, according to the release.
“As the Aviation Brigade grows towards its own Full Operating Capability in 2023, AH-64E will team with Wildcat and provide the backbone of its capability,” Brigadier Paul Tedman CBE, Commander 1 Aviation Brigade, said. “The next few years represent hugely exciting times for the Joint Helicopter Command and the Brigade.”
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Embraer is partnering with EDP, a Brazilian private energy company, to advance aviation energy storage and battery charging with an all-electric prototype aircraft, the EMB-203 Ipanema, set to take flight in 2021 using EDP’s energy storage and battery charging technologies, according to a Nov. 20 press release.
The partnership will look at how high voltage batteries can be used in electric propulsion systems for small aircraft. They will also research weight, efficiency and power quality, thermal control and management, cycling loading and unloading, and operational safety.
“EDP aims to lead the energy transition to a low carbon economy,” Miguel Setas, president of EDP in Brazil, said in a press statement. “Our partnership with Embraer in the development of the company’s first 100% electric demonstrator aircraft represents a new frontier for our investment in electric mobility, which helps to position Brazil as a leading player in this market.”
Embraer initially partnered with WEG in May of 2019 with a proposal for the development of this technology, according to the press release. In August of 2019 Embraer unveiled the EMB-203 Ipanema which used WEG’s electric motor and controller. The project was then developed with the goal of maturing electric and energy storing technologies for future uses. EDP has pledged to electrify its whole fleet by 2030 and develop new commercial solutions to promote energy transition.
“EDP aims to lead the energy transition to a low carbon economy,” Miguel Setas, president of EDP in Brazil, said in a press statement. “Our partnership with Embraer in the development of the company’s first 100% electric demonstrator aircraft represents a new frontier for our investment in electric mobility, which helps to position Brazil as a leading player in this market.”
The testing has been done at Embraer’s facilities in Botucau, which is in São Paulo, but the first flight will be at Embraer’s Gavião Peixoto unit.
The U.S. subsidiary of Embraer, EmbraerX, partnered with Elroy Air in January to certify a hybrid vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft for unmanned cargo delivery.
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U.S. Army rotary-wing aircraft like the CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache, and UH-60 Black Hawk are getting a new real-time operating system (RTOS). The Army has selected Green Hills Software INTEGRITY-178 Time-Variant Unified Multi-Processing (tuMP) RTOS for its Improved Data Modem (IDM-401) program.
The INTEGRITY-178 tuMP RTOS can run more applications than previous software because it is DO-178C DAL A compliant and able to utilize all of its processor cores, not just a single core, according to a Nov. 12 press release. DO-178C DAL A is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved airworthiness certification for aircraft software.
“In order to run applications on multiple processor cores simultaneously, any safety-critical system needs to show that the execution of an application running on one core cannot affect the operation of execution of another application running on a different core,” Richard Jaenicke, director of marketing for safety and security-critical products at Green Hills Software, told Avionics International. “One of the biggest challenges to that happens when an application tries to access a shared resource, such as system memory, when a second application has that resource already in use.”
The resource contention that is caused by two applications attempting to access the same resource can result in safety issues and have an impact on application execution time, Jaenicke said.
“We have seen cases where the execution time can take up to 7 times longer with an interfering application running on just one other core, and up to 12 times longer with two interfering cores,” Jaenicke said.
The IDM functions as an Internet controller and gateway to the tactical Internet and fire support Internet for Army aviation platforms. It is also capable of connecting U.S. military aviation systems to ground platforms and facilitates situational awareness, sensor, and command and control data.
“As the integrated C2 and situational awareness (SA) solution, the IDM hosts Force Battle Command Brigade and Below-Air (FBCB2-Air) and processes Air Force Applications Program Development (AFAPD), Variable Message Format (VMF), and Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) messages,” Jaenicke said.
The AFATDS is a fire support C2 system used by the Army and Marine Corps that provides planning, coordinating, controlling, and executing fires and effects, according to Raytheon, the company that manufactures the AFATDS. The AFATDS also uses sensors and situational data to prioritize targets and perform attack analysis.
The IDM-401 program supports open systems architecture (OSA) like Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) and is used to connect multiple radios and rapidly transfer data on rotary-wing aircraft, according to the release.
“The software upgrade with the INTEGRITY-178 tuMP RTOS enables a certified, open system, multicore processing operating environment,” Jaenicke said. “With that upgrade, the IDM-401 can host multiple, simultaneous safety-critical applications of mixed safety criticality. Potential applications for the additional processor cores may include increased interoperability, mission command, radio control, Aviation Survivability Equipment (ASE) training, and weather.”
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The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Nov. 24 published its proposed airworthiness directive (AD) with software and wiring modifications that would allow Boeing’s 737 MAX to return to passenger-carrying service in Europe.
EASA’s proposed AD includes a 28-day comment period and follows the guidelines featured in the Nov. 18 publishing of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) AD along with two key differences from the U.S.-based agency’s version. 737 MAX aircraft have been grounded both by EASA and by individual European Union state civil aviation authorities – who will also need to individually approve the aircraft’s return to service in some cases – since Mar. 12, 2019, following separate Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air accidents that had a total loss of 346 passengers and flight onboard.
As part of its participation in the Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB), EASA’s proposed AD is nearly a replica of the FAA’s directive, with two exceptions. Pilots are permitted by EASA “explicitly” to intervene and stop a “stick shaker from continuing to vibrate once it has been erroneously activated by the system to prevent this distracting the crew,” the agency writes in the AD.
Airlines operating EASA-registered MAX aircraft will also be prohibited from using the aircraft’s autopilot on high-precision Required Navigation Performance – Authorization Required (RNP AR) approaches. RNP AR is an advanced Performance Based Navigation (PBN) approach procedure that requires prior authorization from a civil aviation authority. It enables an aircraft to fly a predetermined path between waypoints by placing an aircraft’s airport approach on a curved, precise path where the descent and positioning are constantly augmented by satellite-based navigation signals.
In the AD, EASA officials said they included this provision “in order to eliminate the identified risk after a single failure of an AOA sensor during some RNP-AR approaches.”
“We did our own test flights and completed these in September. EASA has carried out an independent, objective assessment of the proposed design changes to the aircraft which take account of the entire flight control system and the human interface between the pilot and the machine,” a representative for EASA told Avionics International in an emailed statement.
Throughout the proposed 19-page AD, EASA also highlights where certain provisions correspond to the FAA’s AD and those that include changes. One of the return to flight operations requirements for European carriers includes software installation verifications and testing, implementation of a new flight manual with minimum equipment list changes, and an angle of attack (AoA) sensor system test.
There is also a requirement for an operational readiness flight and a requirement for airlines operating “Group 2” aircraft to install colored cap buttons on the circuit breakers of the stall warning system stick shaker.
In the directive, 737 MAX aircraft operated by European airlines are separated into two groups. “Group 1” includes those aircraft identified by line number in a June 12 Boeing service bulletin while “Group 2” includes all others not identified in that bulletin.
Some of the airlines operating the MAX in Europe include Air Italy, Icelandair, Norwegian, and LOT Polish Airlines, among others. Boeing’s total outstanding 737 MAX order backlog currently stands at 3,365 aircraft.
A preliminary safety directive with a 28-day comment period has also been published by EASA alongside the AD. Non-European airlines that are holders of EASA third-country operator (TCO) authorization are to abide by the guidelines featured in the separate safety directive, according to the agency.
“EASA’s review of the 737 MAX began with the MCAS but went far beyond,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said in a Nov. 24 press release.
“We took a decision early on to review the entire flight control system and gradually broadened our assessment to include all aspects of design which could influence how the flight controls operated,” he added. “This led, for example, to a deeper study of the wiring installation, which resulted in a change that is now also mandated in the Proposed Airworthiness Directive. We also pushed the aircraft to its limits during flight tests, assessed the behavior of the aircraft in failure scenarios, and could confirm that the aircraft is stable and has no tendency to pitch-up even without the MCAS.”
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Ten unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) received airworthiness criteria for certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the next step towards integrating small UAS into the national airspace, according to a Nov. 23 press release.
The UAS given special class aircraft criteria for airworthiness certification are all electric, range from five to 89 pounds, and include fixed-wing and rotorcraft. The 10 applicants recognized by the FAA include 3D Robotics, Airobotics, Amazon, Flirtey, Flytrex, Matternet, Percepto, Telegrid, Wingcopter, and Zipline.
“The development of airworthy, durable, and reliable unmanned aircraft is a crucial step forward for this innovative sector,” Dr. Michael C. Romanowski, director of Aircraft Certification Service Policy and Innovation, said in a press statement. “Type certification will help increase both public and regulatory confidence in drone technology as operations become more advanced.”
The criteria released by the FAA for UAS is unlike traditional type certification because it certifies the system by looking at performance and risk calibration, Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics, told Avionics International.
“What it really means is rather than certifying every nut and bolt and component, let’s just treat the system as a system and say look if you say the system does X, prove it does X, build up enough statistical power over thousands of flights that we’re confident that it really does X, then we don’t really care what’s inside it,” Anderson said. “Drones are essentially using off the shelf parts and you can’t control the entire supply chain the way an aerospace company would and so what it allows us to do is to sort of treat these vehicles like what they really are which is consumer electronic devices that update very quickly and innovate very quickly.”
Anderson said this will allow UAS manufacturers to operate on a smartphone innovation cycle instead of the traditional aviation certification timeframe which can take years. This will allow new versions of a UAS to come out without having to re-certify it every time.
“Basically, drones operate on a kind of a smartphone-like innovation cycle. So, every six months a new version comes out and they have a lifespan of about two to three years. It’s very different from traditional aviation and what that says for performance-based is, hey you know if you need to switch out your nuts and bolts and change one motor for another as long as it’s not a critical part, go for it. You don’t have to re-certify. And that allows us to basically be the drone companies that we really are, which is fast and innovative without a huge regulatory burden.”
The released criteria are just the next step in certification and do not indicate that these companies have achieved airworthiness certification by the FAA. The public has 30 days to comment on the applicant’s criteria and then the FAA will publish a final draft of the airworthiness criteria. The applicants will then prove they meet requirements before being certified.
Anderson worked with the FAA on the criteria and ran the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) process that goes alongside these requirements.
“The way regulations work is that the government says what they want and then they turn to industry to say how to achieve it,” Anderson said. “So, in this case, the FAA gave the performances they want, and they turn to ASTM to define how to do the tests necessary to satisfy that.”
The airworthiness criteria released by the FAA include general requirements like a concept of operations; design and construction requirements such as control stations, software, and cyber security; operating limitations and information like flight manuals and instructions for continued airworthiness; and testing requirements such as durability and reliability.
Anderson said this step in the process is about recognizing that the process has started and that companies have defined the designs of their unmanned aircraft. While 3D Robotics and other companies have already completed demonstrations, some will need to complete those before moving to the production certificate.
“It’s one thing to certify that a vehicle is airworthy, it is another thing to certify that all your vehicles are airworthy,” Anderson said. “A production certificate is where we all are, most of us are, right now and that hopefully will be done with that by Q1 but only then can we actually start to take advantage of the permissions afforded by type certification and that’s when it gets exciting, that’s when we can do the stuff we really care about.”
The things these companies will be able to do once getting a production certificate include beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and night flying. Anderson said, most importantly, they can start looking at the pilot to aircraft ratio.
“It’s crazy, I’ve been in this industry now for almost 13 years and we still haven’t achieved drones,” Anderson said. “We haven’t really achieved autonomy. It is still one operator on the ground and a vehicle in the air and guys might as well be flying it for all the efficiencies we’ve achieved. It’s only once you can amplify or extend human abilities to one operator and 10s or hundreds of thousands of vehicles operating autonomously that’s when you achieve the vision that we’ve all had in mind for drones all along.”
Anderson said 3D Robotics has a one pilot to 20 UAS ratio in its plan.
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Check out the Nov. 22 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.
Southwest Airlines is estimating that the Boeing 737 MAX, which was approved by the FAA to return to passenger carrying service on Nov. 18, will re-enter its flight operational fleet by the second quarter of 2021.
The Texas-based carrier’s CEO Gary Kelly published a letter to passengers about its return to service, explaining the next steps.
“Southwest is in receipt of the FAA’s directive regarding flight control software updates and additional Pilot training related to the MAX, and we are ready to meet each requirement. There is much work to be done before our MAX aircraft will resume service, which we estimate will likely take place no sooner than the second quarter of 2021,” Kelly said.
Before returning the aircraft to service, every Southwest pilot will complete additional required flight training in one of their nine 737 MAX simulators and will complete additional FAA-required computer-based training covering MAX procedures, according to Southwest Airlines. Southwest will also require active pilots to re-take their original 737 MAX computer-based differences training.
Additionally, Southwest will conduct multiple readiness flights on each of the 34 MAX aircraft in their fleet according to Kelly.
“At Southwest, we only operate Boeing 737s, and our Pilots are highly trained and experienced at flying the aircraft. In fact, before the 737 MAX was grounded, Southwest Pilots flew almost 40,000 flights on the aircraft, which is more than 89,000 flight hours. Now, we’ll approach returning the MAX to service with the same commitment to training that we’ve employed for almost 50 years coupled with an uncompromising and unwavering commitment to Safety,” Kelley said.
Check out a video from Southwest’s VP of air operations, Alan Kasher, with more information about pilot training that must occur prior to the 737 MAX returning to service.
AVTECH Sweden is offering a new optimization service that they say can save hundreds of tons of fuel per month with little investment. AVTECH’s services optimize flight paths and upload small amounts of data to onboard equipment, according to a Nov. 18 press release.
“By optimizing the different phases of a flight, we can easily avoid unnecessary use of the engines, which means fuel savings,” Stig Patey, Norwegian airline pilot and project manager, said in a press statement. “Just by flying smarter, we have counted an average fuel saving of 22 kg per flight in the descent phase and about 1.6 % in the cruise phase.”
Norwegian Airlines has used AVTECH’s services to optimize the climb, cruise, and descent phases for aircraft, according to the release.
“The savings we have achieved is good business for us and good news for the environment”, Patey said in the release. “The best thing is that we did not have to invest in any new onboard equipment to achieve the reductions, since all calculations are delivered as a service individually to all aircraft.”
Lockheed Martin submitted a proposal to the Swiss government for an F-35 package that includes 40 F-35A aircraft, a sustainment solution with autonomy requirements, and a training program, according to a Nov. 19 press release.
“We are confident that our F-35 offer is the best and most affordable solution for the Swiss NFA competition,” Greg Ulmer, F-35 Program vice president and general manager, said in a press statement. “We are offering the only 5th generation fighter at the cost of 4th generation aircraft while offering Switzerland an aircraft that will protect Swiss sovereignty for decades to come.”
Included in the package is the option to have Lockheed Martin assemble four aircraft in Switzerland to give their Air Force an understanding of the airframe and a six-month spares package to make sure they can conduct autonomous operations. The agreement would use the F-35 Global Support Solution.
Lockheed Martin will be integrating Magnetic Anomaly Detection-Extended Role (MAD-XR) systems on six Navy MH-60R helicopters as part of a new subcontract announced with CAE. The integration will give the MH-60R the ability to detect submarines and could be used for navigation in a GPS-denied environment, CAE told Avionics International.
The integration will be completed by Lockheed Martin under phase one of the contract by 2023.
“Over the past several years we have conducted several trials with the U.S. Navy to confirm the capabilities of the MAD-XR system on the MH-60R helicopter,” Thomas M. Kane, director of naval helicopter programs at Lockheed Martin, said in a press statement. “Adding this to the MH-60R’s sensor suite will further advance the capabilities of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare helicopter.”
The MAD-XR is mounted on the tail area of the aircraft and can sense changes in the Earth’s magnetic field by using highly sensitive magnetometers. It can detect anomalies up to 1,200 meters and then provides the submarine location in lateral and vertical separation at the closest point of approach, according to CAE.
“The integration of our MAD-XR system on the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R helicopter is testament to its powerful magnetic detection abilities,” Daniel Gelston, group president of defense and security at CAE, said in a press statement. “The MAD-XR system can provide defense forces with enhanced capabilities for operational missions such as submarine detection and search and rescue.”
The MAD-XR is a smaller version of the CAE AIMS AN/ASQ 508 MAD system with reduced size and weight but the same capabilities. The MAD-XR weighs about 2.25 kilograms compared to the 27 kilograms AN/ASQ 508A and can generate 30W of continuous power. Because of its small size and weight, the MAD-XR can be used on small aircraft and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
While this contract only integrates the MAD-XR system on six MH-60R helicopters, there is a plan to integrate the system on more of the U.S. Navy fleet as well as with partner nations like Australia, a representative from CAE said.
Viasat is making moves to strengthen its European position in the broadband market. The satellite operator announced Thursday it is purchasing the remaining 51 percent share of Euro Broadband Infrastructure(EBI), the wholesale broadband services business created in partnership with Eutelsat Communications in 2016. EBI operates the KA SAT satellite and provides fixed and mobile broadband services on a wholesale basis in the European and Mediterranean markets.
Viasat is requiring the remaining 51 percent for $166 million (140 million euro). The transaction may be adjusted up or down by $24 million (20 million euro) two years after closing depending on performance metrics.
Viasat said this wholesale business will add to its retail broadband in select European countries, and its In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) service in Europe, providing a foundation for growth ahead of the launch of the ViaSat-3 global constellation. The second ViaSat-3 class satellite, which will cover Europe, Middle East and Africa, is targeted for launch in 2022.
Check out the full article as first published in Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics International.
Skytrac Systems is partnering with Scandinavian Avionics, the company recently revealed. The partnership’s goal is to increase market share for Skytrac’s broadband and midband satcom terminals. The new terminals aim to provide operators with increased capabilities and bandwidth up to 704 kbps.
Scandinavian Avionics provides turn-key avionics solutions for civil and military aircraft, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), as well as Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) and Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) support. This partnership will enable Skytrac to explore segments such as unmanned, military, helicopters, and business aviation.
“We’re very interested to explore the SDL-350 and ISAT-200A-08 SATCOM systems,” said Michael Truelsen, CEO of Scandinavian Avionics. “We believe there is a strong market for Iridium Certus to compete with the legacy satellite systems, and we have great expectations for Iridium Certus from our customers as well. In general the entire product range within Skytrac’s portfolio fits very well with our current capabilities and offerings, and we share the mindset of Skytrac; providing solutions, rather than products for our customers.”
XTI Aircraft Company and VerdeGo Aero are partnering to develop an autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, the XTI TriFan 200. The TriFan 200 will have a payload of 500lbs and range of 200 nautical miles, according to a Nov. 19 press release.
According to the release, the XTI TriFan 200 will be used in logistic operations enabling cargo delivery in congested urban areas. It can also be used in remote locations for longer-range transportation or military logistics missions.
“The TriFan 200 aircraft will open up a significant new market for XTI to address the needs of cargo and logistics operators globally,” Robert LaBelle, CEO of XTI Aircraft, said in a press statement. “We are excited to be partnered with VerdeGo to leverage their experience with hybrid powertrains combined with our experience from the TriFan 600 program to create an efficient, economical, profitable VTOL aircraft for fleet operators worldwide.”
The XTI TriFan 200 will use VerdeGo’s 180KW generator and high-power battery pack which will allow it to reduce emissions and fuel burn by 35 percent, according to the release. This will also make the aircraft more profitable by reducing operating costs by 40 percent compared to conventional turbine powertrains, according to the release.
“XTI’s TriFan 200 is an outstanding application for VerdeGo’s hybrid powertrain systems and we are excited to support XTI as an early customer,” Eric Bartsch, CEO and Co-founder of VerdeGo Aero, said in a press statement. “XTI’s goals to provide its customers with reliable, high-performance cargo aircraft are ideally matched with the efficiency and low operating cost of VerdeGo’s diesel hybrid powertrains.”
Turboprop, business jet, and helicopter deliveries have declined in the first nine months of 2020 from 2019 but piston airplane deliveries have increased slightly according to the new General Aviation Manufacturers Associate (GAMA) report on general aviation aircraft shipments and billings.
“While the industry has shown its resilience, it will likely once again face stiff headwinds from the resurgent pandemic, especially given that many European countries have once again gone into lockdown without a common pan-European policy enabling general and business aviation travel across national borders,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said in a press statement. “Despite these significant challenges, it continues to be our dedicated workforce that enables our industry to persevere through the recovery process.”
Total airplane shipping decreased by 12.6 percent and helicopter shipping decreased 16.2 percent compared to 2019. The biggest decrease occurred in turboprops which saw a 27 percent decline. Piston airplanes, which had a 1.4 percent increase from 2019, were the only aircraft to not show a decline.
The IDU-680 and IDU-450 electronic flight instrument systems (EFIS) from Genesys Aerosystems now have supplemental type certification for Airbus AS350/355 helicopters, according to a Nov. 17 press release.
Both EFIS displays use air data, attitude, and heading reference systems (ADAHRS) and GPS satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) for precision aircraft operations. They also come with 3D synthetic vision, highway-in the sky (HITS) navigation, geo-referenced Hover Vector, and graphical flight management system, according to the release.
“The AS350 and AS355 are highly utilized, and operators depend on them to be ready when they need them,” Jamie Luster, director of sales and marketing with Genesys Aerosystems, said in a press release. “This avionics upgrade not only adds capabilities of a modern EFIS but removes the weak link in the panel, mechanical gyros.”