Volocopter Explores LA Launch with New Urban Movement Labs Partnership

September 18th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Volocopter Explores LA Launch with New Urban Movement Labs Partnership   
Volocopter Explores LA Launch with New Urban Movement Labs Partnership

Volocopter is exploring launching its eVTOL aircraft in Los Angeles with a new partnership. (Volocopter)

The German urban air mobility company (UAM) Volocopter announced a new partnership with Urban Movement Labs that will allow the company to explore launching its UAM vehicles in the U.S. market, the company announced on Sept. 15. 

Volocopter will also attend the CoMotion in Los Angeles to educate the public on their UAM vehicles. 

“Our partnership with Urban Movement Labs is a great entryway into the US with our innovative UAM services,” Christian Bauer, CCO at Volocopter, said in a statement. “By leading the conversation about urban air mobility with broad stakeholders in Los Angeles, Volocopter can strategically identify and address how our services can benefit cities in the country. More importantly, we are also gaining real insights into living transportation ecosystems in the US to build the best complimentary service to other modes of transportation for our future passengers.”

Urban Movement Labs is collaborating with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) on the Urban Air Mobility Partnership which intends to identify challenges and solutions for integrating UAM into the city. 

“We are executing a community-first strategy to engage with community-based organizations and inform a policy framework that will guide the development of UAM infrastructure in the City of Los Angeles,” Sam Morrissey, Executive Director at Urban Movement Labs, said in a statement. “Through our partnership with Volocopter we can explore specific pilot projects to advance a future UAM network that reflects what we hear from Angelenos and establishes standards for future UAM operation.”

The new partnership between Volocopter and Urban Movement Labs will give Volocopter insight when creating a policy framework to launch its UAM vehicles in Los Angeles. 

Volocopter is developing a UAM ecosystem that includes an inter-city air taxi, VoloCity, a heavy-lift drone, VoloDrone, and an intra-city air taxi, VoloConnect. The company is working on concurrent certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which would allow the company to launch in both markets. Volocopter recently received a prerequisite approval from EASA to begin producing its electric air taxi which took its first public flight in France at the Paris Air Forum. 

The post Volocopter Explores LA Launch with New Urban Movement Labs Partnership appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Archer and Lilium to Become Publicly Traded

September 16th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Archer and Lilium to Become Publicly Traded   
Archer and Lilium to Become Publicly Traded

The 7-Seater Jet is an updated version of Lilium’s 5-Seater aircraft and carries six passengers and one pilot. (Lilium)

Two electric aircraft companies, Lilium and Archer Aviation, have announced completed business mergers resulting in the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft companies becoming public. 

Joby Aviation became the first publicly traded eVTOL company last month after a completed merger with Reinvent Technology Partners. Lilium and Archer will become the second and third eVTOL companies to go public. 

Lilium, the German eVTOL maker, announced its completed business combination with Qell Acquisition Corp on Sept 14. Qell’s shareholders approved the transaction on Sept. 10 and the company will begin trading on the Nasdaq as of Sept. 15. 

“In 2015 with the clear vision that the decarbonization of aviation is inevitable, we set out to build a team and product that would radically transform the way the world moves,” Daniel Wiegand, Co-Founder and CEO of Lilium, said in a statement. “Six years and five generations of technology demonstrator aircraft later, we’re closer than ever to this goal. Today’s milestone will bring us even closer to launching our service in 2024 and making sustainable, high-speed regional air travel a reality to communities around the world.”

Archer’s demonstrator eVTOL aircraft, Maker, will begin test flights this year. (Archer)

Archer, the Silicon Valley company developing Maker, announced its completed merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. will close on Sept. 16, according to a Sept. 14 announcement. The company will begin trading on the New York Stock exchange on Sept. 17. 

Joby, Lilium, and Archer are all anticipating launching their eVTOL aircraft in 2024 following certification. All three companies are planning to certify their aircraft with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Lilium is also planning on certifying its 7-Seater Jet with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Joby and Archer have both received G-1 certification basis from the FAA. 

The business mergers will bring these companies large amounts of funds on their path to certification and commercial launch. Lilium will receive about $584 million in gross proceeds resulting from its business combination with Qell, and Archer’s merger will garner the company $857.6 million in gross proceeds. 

The post Archer and Lilium to Become Publicly Traded appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Engineer Guest Post: Four Best Practices for Quality Assurance of Safety Critical Software in Aviation

September 16th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Engineer Guest Post: Four Best Practices for Quality Assurance of Safety Critical Software in Aviation   
Engineer Guest Post: Four Best Practices for Quality Assurance of Safety Critical Software in Aviation

A comparison of the A330neo and A350 provided by Airbus.

Editorial note: If you’re interested in contributing an original opinion piece to be published by Avionics International, check out our guest submission guidelines.

 

Software can be found in every corner of the aviation industry, and it’s a critical component of anything related to safety in the cockpit from monitors and displays to navigation and communication systems. On an airplane, anything software-related that is not part of the passenger entertainment system has to meet specific safety regulations and must be certified according to DO-178C — Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification — before it goes aboard an airplane. DO-178C is recognized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and its European equivalents. The guideline also covers other aviation-related devices, such as drones.

The four-step process to attain DO-178C certification involves four Stages of Involvement (SOIs), beginning with a lot of documents and forms to fill out in SOI1. In SOI2, companies must have their software coding and architecture verified, and in SOI3, the software must be tested. SOI4 is the completion stage, in which a company is required to show all the evidence that its software has passed all the tests and that every other stage of the process was completed correctly.

The certification process can take up to 10 years or more, depending on the complexity of a system and how many subsystems it has. Along the path to meet DO-178C, there are some best practices that manufacturers can keep in mind to ease the process.

 

Best Practice 1: Understand the safety-critical level of the software being certified

 

Of course, not all software has to meet the same level of safety requirements. There are four Design Assurance Levels (DALs) that specify how critical a piece of software is in relation to the safety of the airplane, from the least critical (DAL D) up to the most critical (DAL A).

One example of DAL D would be an ice-breaking system for drones. When a drone is at a very high altitude, it can get ice on its wings, so there’s a system that breaks the ice. This kind of a system is not considered critical because the drone doesn’t have any passengers, and it won’t crash but rather make an emergency landing if there is too much ice on the wings.

Higher-level systems like maps and displays fall under DAL B, while DAL A level software includes navigation systems. The higher you go up the safety-critical ladder, the more tests there are and the more rules to follow regarding development. All this also influences the length of time it takes to get the software certified and the cost of the process.

 

Best Practice 2: Automation streamlines the testing process

 

As one would expect, the rules for achieving DO-178C certification are very strict. Therefore, it’s difficult to find faster or easier ways of going through the process. That said, advances in automation for testing, along with automated tools, have allowed for more expedient testing and for continuous testing as well. Every tool used in the process must also be certified, so being able to cut the necessary testing time is crucial to getting a software or system into the marketplace faster.

With manual testing, it could take several months to test just one version of software for a system. If one line of code is changed, testing has to start all over again. Automation has sped the testing process up so that it now takes only several hours to test one version.

 

Best Practice 3: Expect constant retesting

 

No matter how small of a change something might seem, the fact is, it could lead to 100 different requirements that need to be changed. And each of those changes will require software to be retested. Requests for changes can come from anywhere.

Sometimes the pilots or the airlines themselves will request a change, such as altering the font in all the apps. If the font is changed — even to increase or decrease the size by a fraction of a point — this will necessitate retesting all the maps, because the new font size creates an entirely different image on the screens. Changing the size of the displays? Be prepared to retest the entire system.

Some changes are inevitable. Hardware gets old and has to be replaced. This happens a lot in the aviation industry. When it does, the software has to be updated, and this requires everything to be tested all over again. If software that has been tested for use in one aircraft is put on a different plane, or is being adapted from a smaller drone for use with a larger drone, this also means retesting the software in its new platform.

 

Best Practice 4: Ensure the traceability of the certification process

 

As with the testing of the safety of anything — from pharmaceuticals to aviation software — the test must be thoroughly transparent and examinable. An auditor should be able to trace the testing of the system from end to end. Therefore, a developer must ensure the traceability of its software from the code, to the requirement, to the verification, to the test, all the way through the process. An auditor must be able to see exactly what was done and how at every stage of the certification process.

A simple certification takes about two years. That’s the minimum. Going through the process, developers need to follow the guidelines closely and keep traceability tight and manageable. Testing must be repeated until the system meets the DO-178C standard, otherwise it won’t go onto the airplane or the drone.

Whether your software is safety critical or not, changes to the code will eventually be necessary, whether due to inevitable technological evolution, necessary hardware upgrades or customer change requests. These code changes will need to be tested, no matter how small or insignificant they seem. This level of deliberate, time-consuming testing is indispensable when considering the inherent life or death stakes within aviation and aircraft technology.

 

 

Eli Dvash is Senior Manager of the Safety & Aviation Software, Defense Division, for Qualitest Group. Eli has an extensive background in testing; prior to aviation software, he managed the hardware division at Qualitest Group, specializing in electromagnetic radiation testing, environmental testing, and materials testing. 

 

 

 

The post Engineer Guest Post: Four Best Practices for Quality Assurance of Safety Critical Software in Aviation appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Bombardier’s New Challenger 3500 Features Autothrottle, Smart Link Plus and Voice Activated Cabin System

September 15th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Bombardier’s New Challenger 3500 Features Autothrottle, Smart Link Plus and Voice Activated Cabin System   
Bombardier’s New Challenger 3500 Features Autothrottle, Smart Link Plus and Voice Activated Cabin System

Bombardier revealed its latest Challenger 3500 super mid-sized business jet during a virtual launch event on Sept. 14. (Bombardier)

Bombardier unveiled the new Challenger 3500 super-midsized business jet during a Sept. 14 virtual launch event, where the Canadian business jet maker provided details on some of the new model’s standard avionics systems to include autothrottle, enhanced vision, and Smart Link Plus.

The 3500 is the latest aircraft model to join the Challenger family, with a range of 3,400 nm, seating for up to 10 passengers, and a top speed of Mach 0.83. Bombardier also included several cockpit and cabin electronics advancements on the latest Challenger that were first debuted on the Global 7500.

According to cockpit system details released by Bombardier, the Challenger 3500 will feature a standard autothrottle system, four cockpit display screens, synthetic vision, and a dual flight management system with Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach. There is also a Head-up Display (HUD) with Enhanced Vision System (EVS) cockpit option featured on the 3500.

Smart Link Plus is an all-in-one avionics computer consisting of a remote data concentrator, an airborne data loader, quick access recorder, and cabin/flight deck server that is installed in the Challenger’s electric equipment bay to enable the transmission of aircraft data in real-time. Supplied to Bombardier by GE Aviation, the Smart Link Plus box collects, stores and transmits aircraft data such as in-flight fault notifications or engine parameters, and also enables automatic transfer of full flight data to an operator’s cloud or ground-based data storage systems on the ground.

The Challenger 3500 joins the Global 7500 as the only two business jets manufactured by Bombardier to feature Smart Link Plus free-of-charge, while the company is still providing free aftermarket Smart Link upgrades to operators of legacy Challengers and Learjets at authorized service centers.

“Its flight deck has more baseline features than any of its competitors,” Bombardier CEO Eric Martel said during the virtual launch event. “All the features of the Challenger 350 cockpit plus a standard autothrottle system.”

Bombardier released this mockup of what the Challenger 3500 cockpit will look like. (Bombardier)

Pilots will also have access to what Bombardier describes as an “eco app” developed by SITA that is designed to “specifically optimize flight plans and reduce fuel burn” by using SITA’s existing eWAS Pilot with OptiFlight. SITA describes its EFB Weather Awareness Solution (eWAS) as a cloud-hosted tablet application that gives pilots access to turbulence alerting, areas of icing, and other flight environment conditions. On the Challenger 3500, the eWAS app will use data captured from the Smart Link Plus system.

Some of the cabin technologies that launched on the Global 7500 are also being transferred to the Challenger 3500, including a voice-controlled cabin management system for lighting, sound and temperature, wireless charging pads, and standard 24-inch 4K displays. Martel also described the cabin’s “audio sweet spot,” a feature also transferred from the Global 7500 cabin.

“Our immersive sound system offers an audio sweet spot that lets passengers center the sound of their precise location in the cabin,” Martel said.

Challenger 3500 operators flying in North America, North Atlantic, and European airspace will have access to Ka-band in-flight connectivity, while those in the continental U.S. and parts of Canada will also have the option to select 4G air-to-ground IFC, according to cabin specifications released by Bombardier.

“The cabin features the only 24-inch 4K monitors in its class. And available connectivity options to stream content, join a video conference, or watch a live sports event,” Martel said.

With an eye toward being increasingly transparent about achieving sustainability goals, the Challenger 3500 is the second full aircraft that Bombardier will mark with Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)—a third-party verification method of disclosing environmental performance data, such as CO2 emissions, noise and fuel burn over the course of aircraft’s product lifecycle. Challenger 3500’s flight testing campaign will also be carbon neutral, achieved through the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel and the purchase of carbon offsets.

Bombardier expects its newest business jet to be ready for entry into service by the second half of 2022. Les Goldberg, CEO of Entertainment Technology Partners, was confirmed as the launch partner of the 3500 during the virtual launch event.

The post Bombardier’s New Challenger 3500 Features Autothrottle, Smart Link Plus and Voice Activated Cabin System appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Thales Starts Flight Testing Cloud-Native FlytX Avionics Suite

September 14th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Thales Starts Flight Testing Cloud-Native FlytX Avionics Suite   
Thales Starts Flight Testing Cloud-Native FlytX Avionics Suite

Thales is using this modified Cabri helicopter to test a prototype version of its next generation cloud-native FlytX avionics suite. (Thales) 

Thales recently began the earliest stages of a flight testing campaign of what the Toulouse-based avionics maker describes as its first “cloud-native” avionics suite, FlytX, using a modified Cabri helicopter.

The Cabri’s flight testing campaign is using a single-screen version of FlytX to help develop the next generation avionics system that has already been selected by Airbus Helicopters and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to equip the Guépard, a future light joint helicopter, as well as by VR-Technologies for the future single-turbine light helicopter, VRT500.  In emailed comments to Avionics International, a representative for Thales based in Toulouse confirmed the company is taking a two-step approach to developing what will become their first avionics computing systems that are natively connected to external aviation systems.

FlytX is the avionics suite first unveiled by Thales in 2019 as a modular touchscreen-centric system built on the concept of virtualizing communications, navigation and surveillance systems by giving them native or embedded data sharing access to cloud and ground-based aviation systems. Computing and processing for FlytX is embedded directly into the one-to-four display configuration of the system, eliminating the need for separate avionics computers—as the display is now the computer.

“Indeed FlytX is a cloud-native avionics suite. Today, thanks to FlytX, the pilot is able to display and interact with his connected [Electronic Flight Bag] EFB directly on the avionics screen,” a representative for Thales said in an emailed statement to Avionics. “In a second step, FlytX will be directly connected in a cyber-secured way to external systems in order to use data from the open world in the cockpit itself.”

Another major focus within the development of FlytX is keep its architecture customizable, crew-centric and natively collected to a digital cloud where data for specific aircraft types and routes are available on a per-flight basis.

Thales was unable to provide a cockpit photo of the FlytX screen, however, this previously released computer generated mockup shows what it could eventually look like in the future. (Thales)

On the Cabri flight-testing campaign, Thales is using a 15-inch FlytX screen that is connected to the helicopter’s sensors and navigation systems, feeding data and information back to the display’s embedded processing system. Flight testing instrumentation connected to the display has been modified to simulate the configuration of a larger helicopter, such as the Guépard, Thales confirmed.

A team of engineers and pilots assigned to the Cabri flight testing campaign have been tasked with making “short-loop adjustments to improve the performance and maturity of the system before its integration on these first customer programmes,” according to a Sept. 6 press release. One of the key objectives of the flight tests is to validate the core native cloud computing elements of FlytX.

“The open world function is indeed being assessed,” the representative for Thales said.

The single-screen version of FlytX being flight-tested in the Cabri replicates what will be featured on the VRT500, which is projected to enter into service by 2023. Thales is also pursuing the adaptation of FlytX to fixed-wing aircraft in the near future.

“This is part of the FlytX roadmap,” the company said via email. “We have engaged discussion with aircraft manufacturers to introduce all the benefits of latest generation suite for fixed wing aircraft.”

The post Thales Starts Flight Testing Cloud-Native FlytX Avionics Suite appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: Pratt & Whitney Continues Digitally Transforming Engine Health Management for Airlines

September 11th, 2021   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Pratt & Whitney Continues Digitally Transforming Engine Health Management for Airlines   
PODCAST: Pratt & Whitney Continues Digitally Transforming Engine Health Management for Airlines

Arun Srinivasan is the associate director for strategy and engine health management for Pratt & Whitney.

On this episode of the Connected Aviation Intelligence podcast, we feature a discussion with Pratt & Whitney focusing on how the company continues to invest in new data analytics solutions, cloud computing and software that is digitally transforming the way commercial airlines track the health of their engines.

This is our first episode under the new Connected Aviation Intelligence  name, we have changed the name simply to reflect the name change of our associated annual live event, the Global Connected Aircraft Summit, which undertook the name change to Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit earlier this year.

Our guest on this episode is Arun Srinivasan, who is the associate director for strategy and engine health management for Pratt & Whitney. He provides some perspective on their recent partnership with Teledyne to improve engine and flight data sharing between airlines and OEMs as well as other ways they’re improving the digital methods available to airlines to track the health of their engines.

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

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

The post PODCAST: Pratt & Whitney Continues Digitally Transforming Engine Health Management for Airlines appeared first on Aviation Today.

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BAE Systems Looks to Tackle Power Management Solutions for Air Taxis

September 10th, 2021   •   Comments Off on BAE Systems Looks to Tackle Power Management Solutions for Air Taxis   
BAE Systems Looks to Tackle Power Management Solutions for Air Taxis

BAE Systems is developing a power management system for eVTOL aircraft. (BAE Systems)

The electrification of aircraft has caused the aviation industry to take an interest in battery technology. While many other industries are also transitioning to battery power in an attempt to be more sustainable, electric aircraft will require very different requirements and regulations. 

BAE Systems is developing energy storage and management solutions for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. 

“Our main focus, I’d say, on battery technology and energy storage would be on high-reliability high-integrity energy storage for flight-critical applications like primary power for the eVTOL aircraft or air taxis,” Justin McClellan, Business Development Lead for Aircraft Electrification at BAE Systems Controls and Avionics Solutions, told Aviation Today. “We’re also working on energy storage systems for small regional aircraft, fixed-wing aircraft, and also for eventual use on larger single-aisle aircraft like Boeing 737 equivalents down the road. So, doing a lot in that space. Of course, associated with that battery technology is also the management technology to keep that system operating safely, detecting faults, and ensuring safe operation, and then that kind of ties in with the flight control system, which would be managing how that power is used such as various distributed propulsion systems on eVTOL.” 

In a question and answer session, McClellan shared his expertise on battery technology for eVTOL aircraft, challenges the industry could face in the coming years, and what solutions BAE Systems is providing for power management. 

 

Aviation Today: What are the requirements for eVTOL batteries and how do they differ from other electric vehicles like cars? 

McClellan: People don’t realize that your battery on an aircraft is quite different than what you’d maybe put in an electric car and then of course very different from what’s in any cell phone and besides being lithium-ion, that’s kind of the only similarity. 

I’d say the main difference in eVTOL aircraft is you need a lot of power to lift that aircraft. You can imagine, you can push your car, right, if you’re standing behind it and you ran out of gas or something or electricity you can push your car, but try and lift that car; it’s a lot harder. So the amount of power required to do that is quite high and so the batteries tend to be biased towards delivering that power, while staying cool. That’s very different than an electric car where in an electric car everyone wants range…The range is really what sells electric cars, and so, it’s not the instantaneous power but how much energy you store in that battery and energy of course is power over a period of time. You can drive your car with that sort of modest power output for a longer period of time, whereas an eVTOL aircraft might draw a lot of power for a 20 minute very short flight.

BAE is incorporating its power management technology with the flight control system (BAE Systems) 

 

It’s interesting that you talk about the management technology and also the flight control system and how that relates to the battery technology. Can you expand on that a little bit because I think they’ve all been talked about separately, but the connections have not been discussed as much. 

McClellan: It’s an interesting one and it gets a little bit technical. You can imagine that when you start to pull power out of the battery, there’s really a range that you’re supposed to use the battery, we’ll call it full to empty, really what it is is it’s a voltage range. That top voltage is associated with being full and a lower voltage associated with being empty, and as you pull power from the battery the voltage will drop and as you pull more power you’ll start to drag that voltage down. So you can imagine that at the end of the flight, when the battery is getting closer to empty…if you go into a hover, for example, where now you’re really relying on the power of the aircraft to keep you in the air there’s no aerodynamic lift associated with the wings or anything like that, you’re going to be pushing that voltage level down and it becomes a very closely tied with the flight control system to make sure that the aircraft is stable but you’re not pulling too much power you’re effectively you’re limiting the envelope, such that you don’t hit a lower voltage limit that forces the battery to have to either be damaged or have a circuit breaker trigger or have something that would start to cause a fault on the battery. Then, of course, in a situation where you need to maybe push it for an emergency situation, having that fault or having that circuit breaker trigger happen gracefully is another very important piece of the control architecture on the battery. 

 

I think one main thing that I’ve been hearing in the industry—not surprisingly from some companies that are going for a more hybrid option—is that current battery technology is not advanced enough for these kinds of aircraft. Is there any truth to that? Is battery technology advanced enough for eVTOLs? 

McClellan: There’s so many different aircraft types out there…My background is actually aerospace engineering, so I sort of like to take a look at the aircraft from an aerodynamic efficiency point of view, and then you also have to look at the mission they’re trying to perform and that will basically point to how much energy or battery they need. 

When I look at some of the designs that have no wings, that are 100 percent rotor designs—I don’t want to mention too many names—but those are obviously going to be higher power draw aircraft that are going to have shorter ranges and therefore have to put more pressure on the battery. Then look at other aircraft that are very reminiscent of an airplane with maybe tilting rotors or that use other types of lifts that augment their powered lift and see those things as being more efficient so they’re going to get some range. So it really kind of comes down to that mix of the aerodynamic design and the mission that you’re trying to perform, and then matching that to the battery that you need. 

I do think that there’s a lot of missions that can be performed with these various vehicles, long-range is obviously the challenge and so inter-city, obviously, very doable. Even shorter, 100-mile type missions seem very feasible for some of the more efficient aircraft, and there’s definitely a market for that…I think that there’s going to be a lot of missions like that, that can be performed using today’s battery technology, and it’s just going to get better as the technology improves. 

 

In aviation, there’s always the size, weight, and power equation and obviously batteries they’re not the lightest technology, as of right now. As these aircraft are developed what kind of advances need to happen with battery technology to add to those size, weight, and power requirements? 

McClellan: From our perspective, the aviation industry is not going to be really thriving with technology in the cells themselves. Automotive, mobile devices, are the real big consumers of batteries and that’s where the R&D is going. Aviation is really going to be just a consumer of what’s available from these suppliers. I think, from an aviation point of view, having a stable supplier with a large enough production that’s going to help you get certified is very important. 

Now when you start talking about how those batteries are implemented, I think that’s where the technology needs to be focused on. So the algorithms that are going to be predicting the degradation, predicting when there might be problems with the battery, I think that’s a huge piece of technology and IP that a lot of companies including BAE are focused on. 

I’d say also on the issue of thermal runaway, batteries coming off the assembly line and in such large quantities that are in a large battery pack, you can’t guarantee that one of those batteries is not going to have a problem and overheat and go into thermal runaway. So figuring out ways to contain that, to manage that, maybe to predict that type of thermal event, and not allow it to propagate to the entire aircraft is another key piece of technology development and IP that BAE and others are focused on in the space. I’d say those are kind of the two that I would highlight and they’re really focused around safety and fault mitigation. 

 

That brings up kind of an important equation, there’s going to be a lot of companies and industries in the next few years, vying for batteries and the newest and the best production capabilities. Do you think there will be an issue with eVTOLs gaining access to the number of batteries they would need to conduct large-scale operations? 

McClellan: I don’t think that the quantities are going to be a problem. I think about, like a Tesla factory, they’re making and using way more batteries than we ever will. I think the challenge becomes getting approval to use those cells. In some cases, the cell manufacturers may not want to go through the process of approving a battery for an aircraft. They may not want the liability of their battery being on an aircraft. They may not want to have the consistency of production, which might be required from an FAA certification point of view, meaning they might want to make an adjustment every year in the formulation of that battery and meanwhile that means that you’ve got to take your battery back to get re-certified. So I think that the challenge is really getting the approval and getting a stable supplier, more than the quantity. The quantities are there, they’re available and automotive is really driving that now. 

 

Do you think there are any misconceptions about battery technology for eVTOLs.

McClellan: I think there’s definitely a couple. The first is that from our perspective, that, for example, you don’t have to have a safety strategy, you don’t have to worry about that thermal runaway, that you can land quickly or you can delay a fire or anything like that. I think we’ve seen with the 787 battery fires that happened and some of the Samsung cell phone fires and even some of the Tesla battery fires, these things come from some of the smartest companies in the world and so it’s not something that you can just ignore in aviation, it’s got to be something that you plan for with an appropriate safety strategy. One misconception is that, oh yeah we’ll work around it, we’ll land, we’ll contain it, people need to have an appropriate response to the thermal runaway problem. 

I’d say the second one is that there’s some miracle battery chemistry out there that’s the magic battery chemistry for aviation. Really it’s like I said, it’s that power versus energy thing. There’s no sort of miracle chemistry that does both. It’s a spectrum you go left to right, and you probably need to be somewhere in the middle to make it work on an aircraft. So I don’t know if chasing the perfect battery chemistry at the cell level, makes a lot of sense at that point then, who’s going to build that for you, right. Unless you’re buying that battery from a production of a big factory somewhere, are you going to build a factory to build it? So I just think commercial cells are probably the best bet, as opposed to sort of this oh we’re gonna define the miracle chemistry, and then we’re going to build a factory to build it and it’s going to be our secret sauce. 

 

Is BAE working with any specific companies on developing battery technology? 

McClellan: We are working with a lot of companies that are going to be using our technology. I wouldn’t say we’ve got sort of deep collaborations on the technology, but we have been selected for several aircraft. Jaunt [Air Mobility] is one of the big ones that’s in the public right now. We’re talking with a lot of others from everything ranging from small startups to automotive to traditional aerospace companies…Some of those customers are mainly focused on flight control with us, some of them are focused on energy storage, some are focused on both with us, but our focus was on creating a battery solution that’s very modular and can kind of scale in several directions to meet the needs of different types of aircraft and uses a standard format cell that allows us to have a clear upgrade path as new cell technology comes along so we can just certify that new cell. We don’t have to certify the entire pack and module architecture. So that’s kind of our philosophy on the battery side.

McClellan said BAE is testing its technology on a hybrid fixed-wing aircraft next year and its eVTOL module will be ready at the end of 2022 or early 2023. 

The post BAE Systems Looks to Tackle Power Management Solutions for Air Taxis appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Archer Moves Toward Certification with G-1 Issue Paper from FAA

September 10th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Archer Moves Toward Certification with G-1 Issue Paper from FAA   
Archer Moves Toward Certification with G-1 Issue Paper from FAA

Archer’s demonstrator eVTOL aircraft, Maker, will begin test flights this year. (Archer)

The electric aircraft developer Archer Aviation has received a G-1 issue paper from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) laying out a certification basis for its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and marking an important milestone on the path to type certification. 

The G-1 issue paper provides Archer with airworthiness and environmental requirements for the certification of its eVTOL aircraft. According to a Sept. 7 press release from the company, Archer is certifying its electric aircraft in line with the FAA standard 14 C.F.R. Part 23. Archer told Aviation Today that the environmental requirements within the G-1 include elements like noise parameters.

“We’re certainly proud to have hit this historic milestone for Archer. Obtaining the G-1 Certification Basis is a significant step forward towards Archer’s and the eVTOL industry’s goal of changing how people will move around urban environments,” Archer’s Head of Certification Eric Wright said in a statement. “This is an exciting time to be a part of the aviation industry as we work to electrify the skies, and we look forward to continuing to partner with the FAA on revolutionizing aircraft transportation.”

Archer emphasized a “certification first” approach to the development of its aircraft. 

“We understand that, as a company seeking to create a never-before-seen transportation solution, questions of safety and airworthiness will be paramount,” a representative for Archer told Aviation Today. “As such, it’s critical that we work closely with the FAA to demonstrate that our aircraft meets all standards and benchmarks necessary for commercial flight. This collaborative relationship ensures that we explore all avenues to ensure that our aircraft is made as safe as possible. ‘Certification first’ embodies our commitment to building an aircraft that can be validated and approved for commercial use so we can go on to realize our goal of transforming urban mobility.”

Now that Archer has received the G-1 issue paper, the company will focus on how to comply with the requirements in the G-1 which is laid out in the G-2 issue paper. According to Archer, the company has been working with the FAA on the G-2 issue paper since earlier this year. Following the G-2 issue paper, Archer will have to show that its design is in compliance with the requirements before receiving type certification. 

“Certification continues to be the shining light at the end of our design and development tunnel,” Brett Adcock, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer, said in a statement. “While there is still significant work ahead of us, we now have a basis agreed upon with the FAA that will allow us to better focus our efforts on our goal of obtaining certification on an efficient timeline.”

While its aircraft has not yet taken its first flight, Archer says it is still confident in its 2024 launch date. The company supports this claim with milestones like a $1 billion deal with United Airlines, city partnerships with Miami and Los Angeles, an infrastructure partnership with REEF Technology, it’s Prime Radiant technology, and a partnership with Stellantis.

“With the FAA having now approved our G-1 Certification Basis, we’re continuing to build on this year’s momentum and advance toward upcoming certification and airworthiness milestones,” a company representative said.

In June, Archer revealed its demonstrator aircraft, Maker, which is smaller than its proposed commercial eVTOL with a four-passenger design. Maker, which Wright described as a “stepping stone in the path to certification, is anticipated to make its first flight later this year.  

Archer recently announced a collaboration with the Air Force and AFWERX Agility Prime to share data on upcoming flight tests. This data will help provide the Air Force with information on future uses of these aircraft. 

The post Archer Moves Toward Certification with G-1 Issue Paper from FAA appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Panasonic Avionics, ThinKom Partner to Develop Next Generation Ku-band Antenna

September 9th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Panasonic Avionics, ThinKom Partner to Develop Next Generation Ku-band Antenna   
Panasonic Avionics, ThinKom Partner to Develop Next Generation Ku-band Antenna

Panasonic Avionics and Thinkom Solutions Inc. will develop a next-generation Ku-band antenna under a partnership announced Sept. 7. (ThinKom)

Panasonic Avionics has established a new partnership with ThinKom Solutions, Inc. to develop a new, next-generation Ku-band in-flight connectivity (IFC) antenna, the two companies announced Sept. 7

Under the new partnership, the two connectivity suppliers will develop a next-generation version of ThinKom’s existing Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Sub (VICTS) antenna that will include “support for both LEO (low earth orbit) and GEO (geostationary orbit) satellite networks,” according to Panasonic. The antenna will be available for line-fit and retrofit installations, the two companies said.

“Our new antenna offering with ThinKom is an integral part of our network and will allow airlines to access both current and future satellite constellations,” Jeff Sare, Vice President of IFC Solutions at Panasonic Avionics, said in a statement.

Panasonic’s ThinKom antenna development partnership comes following a series of recent in-flight entertainment and connectivity-related milestone achievements for the company. These include the launch of a new flat-rate IFC business model for airlines last week, and the entry into service of the first Cathay Pacific operated full cabin 4K IFE screens on a new fleet of Airbus A321neos.

On a recent China Eastern Airlines flight MU5105, passengers saw average speeds up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to the aircraft, with peak speeds reaching 200 Mbps.

ThinKom’s VICTS technology is the antenna enabler for Intelsat’s—formerly Gogo—commercial aviation IFC system. VICTS is “comprised of layers of lightweight discs rotating around a single axis to steer the beam and control polarization,” according to ThinKom’s website.

Both companies will begin the partnership with a significant number of airlines already using their IFC technologies, as Panasonic Avionics now counts 2,300 aircraft connected to its satellite network.

“This agreement with Panasonic Avionics is an important validation of our VICTS phased array antennas, which are designed to seamlessly roam on both LEO and GEO networks, delivering unparalleled flexibility and resiliency to ensure the highest level of bandwidth services and availability to airline customers,” stated Mark Silk, President of ThinKom Solutions, Inc.

“The combination of our VICTS technology and Panasonic Avionics’ experience and commitment to in-flight entertainment and connectivity provides an extremely compelling value proposition to commercial airlines, both today and in the future.”

The post Panasonic Avionics, ThinKom Partner to Develop Next Generation Ku-band Antenna appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Chevron, Delta, and Google Team Up for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Project at LAX

September 9th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Chevron, Delta, and Google Team Up for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Project at LAX   
Chevron, Delta, and Google Team Up for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Project at LAX

Chevron, Delta Air Lines, and Google have signed an agreement to test and track sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and its emissions at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the companies announced on Sept. 7. 

SAF is created from renewable feedstocks and is said to reduce emissions by up to 80 percent when compared to fossil fuels. SAF has caught the attention of many in the aviation industry because of its “drop-in” characteristics that allow a blend of SAF and Jet A to be used with no aircraft modifications. 

In the new effort at LAX, Chevron will be creating a SAF test batch at its El Segundo Refinery and selling the product to Delta who will use it in its fleet at LAX, according to the companies. 

“As aviation continues to define a more sustainable future, understanding the environmental impacts of our operations will be paramount as we look to mitigate climate change,” Amelia DeLuca, Delta’s managing director of Sustainability, said in a statement. “On top of being the first carbon neutral airline on a global basis, we’ve pledged to replace 10 percent of our jet fuel with SAF by 2030. This partnership has the potential to help us achieve that goal while providing important data and analytics that demonstrate the environmental integrity of our commitment.”

This project will then track and analyze emissions data from Chevron and Delta with help from Google Cloud, according to the companies. This is meant to be an effort to increase transparency. 

“This MOU builds on our previously announced effort to be the first refiner in the U.S. to ratably co-process biofeedstocks in an FCC through a capital-efficient investment program,” said Andy Walz, president of Americas Fuels & Lubricants for Chevron. “The data sharing and transparency component of this partnership will help us better understand the emissions from sustainable aviation fuel production and delivery, supporting our goal to advance lower carbon fuels.”

The airline industry wants to have two billion gallons of SAF in the market by 2030. While many companies are looking towards SAF as a large contributor to meet sustainability goals, there is currently very little supply in the market to actually meet these expectations. The small supply of SAF in the market has in turn makes the fuels economically unsustainable because of their high price compared to traditional fuels. 

“Right now, the cost of sustainable aviation fuel on its own without any incentives, if you will, would cost maybe four or five times that of existing petroleum fuels and that’s not sustainable for the industry,” Valerie Reed, the acting director of the bioenergy technologies office at the Department of Energy’s Office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, told Aviation Today in August

To meet these large sustainability goals using SAF, there will need to be the infrastructure to process and distribute large amounts of these fuels. Companies like Chevron have the advantage of having the industrial capabilities already in place. Neste, a renewable and circular solutions company, has already proven that traditional factories can be converted for this work. 

“In the form of proof of concept, Neste has accomplished it…We’re using a conventional refinery, we retooled the conventional refinery, we use common transportation and logistics such as pipelines, marine transportation, and even road transportation, where applicable,” Chris Cooper, VP of Renewable Aviation at Neste, told Aviation Today in August. “We also use infrastructure such as terminals or blending facilities that we need and common pipelines.” 

The post Chevron, Delta, and Google Team Up for Sustainable Aviation Fuel Project at LAX appeared first on Aviation Today.

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