Check out the July 4 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.
United Airlines placed the largest combined order in the Chicago-based air carrier’s history for 270 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
The order includes 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s, and 70 Airbus A321neos, with a “new signature interior that includes seat-back entertainment in every seat,” according to a June 29 press release.
“Our United Next vision will revolutionize the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network. At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending and commerce.”
A Boeing 737-200 air cargo aircraft operated by Transair made an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean near Kalaeloa, Hawaii, on Friday, according to a July 2 press release published by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard described it as an all-cargo inter island “transport plane” operated by Hawaiian air cargo carrier Transair, that made an emergency landing “2 miles south of Kalaeloa.”
“Both people aboard were rescued by an Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and Honolulu Fire Department rescue boat and brought to The Queen’s Medical Center. They are reported to be in stable condition at this time,” according to the release.
“NTSB sending team of 7 investigators for investigation of Friday’s crash of a Transair Boeing 737-200 cargo airplane in the waters off the island of Oahu near Honolulu,” the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) tweeted on Friday.
The Boeing Company on June 30 named Brian West as their new executive vice president and chief financial officer effective August 27, 2021.
In the new role, West will lead all aspects of Boeing’s financial strategy, performance, reporting and long-range business planning. He will also oversee the company’s business transformation efforts and will have executive responsibility for the company’s global financing arm, Boeing Capital Corporation.
West joins Boeing following a diverse career in senior financial and operational roles spanning several industries, including aerospace, manufacturing, infrastructure, healthcare and information services, among others, according to the release. He has served as the chief financial officer of Refinitiv since 2018, and was previously CFO and executive vice president of Operations for Oscar Health Insurance, as well as CFO and COO of Nielsen. Prior to Nielsen, West spent 16 years at General Electric, where he served as CFO of GE Aviation and CFO of GE Engine Services, according to Boeing.
“Brian is the ideal executive to serve as Boeing’s next CFO given his significant financial management and long-term strategic planning experience in complex global organizations across the aerospace, manufacturing and services industries,” Boeing President and CEO Calhoun said in the release. “I have had the pleasure of working with Brian previously, and he is an exceptional leader whose broad operational expertise and commitment to transparency with stakeholders will advance our efforts as we continue our focus on safety and quality, improving our performance and transforming our company for the future.”
Grazia Vittadini served her last day Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Airbus this week, releasing a video message discussing her departure on LinkedIn.
Vittadini’s departure comes after more than 19 years with the company, and is part of several leadership changes first announced by the company in April.
ZeroAvia is beginning the next phase of its hydrogen-electric aircraft research and development project by dedicating two twin-engine 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft for HyFlyer II program, according to a June 29 release.
The two aircraft will come from the UK and the U.S. and were previously used for regional flights, according to the release.
“We are eager and ready to begin testing our hydrogen-electric powertrain technology on a larger commercial-size aircraft and grateful to our investors and grant funders for their continued support of our vision for sustainable aviation,” Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO at ZeroAvia, said in a statement “Various projections indicate that aviation may account for over 25 percent of human-induced climate effects by 2050. We are on the path to helping reverse that trend, first with our successful 6-seater testing and now with the R&D for our 19-seater, and the kick-off of our 50+ seat program. Hydrogen is the only practical solution for true climate-neutral flight, and it will become a commercial reality much sooner than many predict.”
ZeroAvia also received $13 million in funding for its 50+ seat engine development program from AP Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, SGH Capital, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, SYSTEMIQ, and Horizons Ventures, according to the release.
“We are delighted to welcome ZeroAvia to our existing portfolio of hydrogen-related technologies,” Kevin Eggers, Partner at AP Ventures, said in a statement. “We have been impressed with the progress that ZeroAvia has made over the last 24 months—technically, operationally, and commercially. Furthermore, we have become increasingly confident about the significant role of hydrogen in decarbonizing aviation. We believe that ZeroAvia will pioneer the development of hydrogen-electric powertrains for the aviation space.”
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. on July 1 announced it has delivered the final commercial G550 aircraft type to an international customer, further increasing the worldwide fleet of more than 600 total G550s already in service. The delivery took place June 30.
The G550 first entered service in 2003 as the launch platform for Gulfstream’s PlaneView flight deck. It was also certified with Enhanced Vision System — now known as Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS) — as a standard feature, leading the way for subsequent aircraft to incorporate the pilot safety tool in their array of offerings.
“For nearly two decades, the G550 has been exceeding customer expectations,” Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream, said in a July 1 press release. “The G550 set a new standard for performance and reliability and continues to outperform and impress with its wide-ranging capabilities. Given our vast G550 fleet in service, we look forward to continuing to support all G550 customers around the world with Gulfstream Customer Support’s extensive network.”
Bombardier has received a firm order for 10 aircraft from an existing customer. The Canadian business jet OEM is keeping the order mix undisclosed at this time, according to a June 30 press release.
This agreement represents a total value of $451.8 million U.S., according to current list prices.
“We are filled with pride as we announce the year’s largest business jet order,” Éric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier said in the release. “Our portfolio ideally responds to the growing interest in private aviation, with spacious, high-performing aircraft that are designed to offer the best passenger experience in terms of convenience, comfort, air quality and a smooth ride.”
Embraer delivered the first limited-edition Phenom 300E aircraft—part of the Duet collaboration with Porsche—to an undisclosed customer based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, according to a June 30 press release.The aircraft was delivered at Embraer’s global customer center in Melbourne, Florida.
The collaboration pairs the limited edition Phenom 300E with the Porsche 911 Turbo S.
“We designed Duet in collaboration with Porsche to introduce a seamless travel experience for those wanting to arrive in something totally original, while holding true to our vision of delivering the ultimate experience in business aviation,” Michael Amalfitano, President & CEO, Embraer Executive Jets said in the release. “The Phenom 300E is already the best-selling light jet in the world, and we continue to push the boundaries to provide even more value and bring new experiences to our customers.”
The F-35 Lightning II from Lockheed Martin was chosen by the Swiss Federal Council for its new fighter aircraft competition, according to a June 30 release.
“We are honored to be selected by Switzerland and look forward to partnering with the Swiss government, public, air force and industry to deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft,” Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager of the F-35 Program, said in a statement. “With the selection, Switzerland will become the 15th nation to join the F-35 program of record, joining several European nations in further strengthening global airpower and security.”
Germany’s Ministry of Defense signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) on June 30 to procure five Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
According to the German Ministry of Defense, the Bundreswehr, the deal is worth about 1.1 billion Euros or $1.3 billion. This agreement came after the German parliament formally approved the procurement of the five aircraft on June 24.
Boeing said this order will make Germany the eighth customer for the P-8A after the U.S., Australia, India., New Zealand, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
“Boeing is honored to provide Germany with the world’s most capable maritime surveillance aircraft. We will continue to work with the U.S. government, the German government and industry to establish a robust sustainment package that will ensure the German Navy’s P-8A fleet is mission ready,” Michael Hostetter, Boeing Defense, Space and Security vice president in Germany, said in a statement.
Naval Air Systems Command awarded Lockheed Martin a not-to-exceed $1.8 billion un-definitized contract action (UCA) on June 30 to procure recurring logistics services for delivered F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
The Defense of Department announcement said these services cover delivered F-35s in support of the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy as well as non-U.S. DoD participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers.
The department said services will include “ground maintenance activities, action request resolution, depot activation activities, automatic logistics information system operations and maintenance, reliability, maintainability and health management implementation and support, supply chain management and activities to provide and support pilot and maintainer initial training.”
Work will largely occur in Fort Worth, Texas (61 percent); Orlando, Florida (24 percent); and Greenville, S.C. (8 percent) and is expected to be finished in December 2021.
Virgin Orbit has kicked off commercial service with a successful LauncherOne mission on Wednesday, June 30.
As part of Virgin Orbit’s air-launch system, carrier aircraft Cosmic Girl took off from a flight runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 6:50 a.m. PDT. Cosmic Girl, a modified Boeing 747, dropped the rocket at 7:47 a.m. PDT, when it had reached about 45,000 feet in altitude.
LauncherOne separated cleanly and ignited its first stage engine, then completed stage separation. Satellites for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), SatRevolution and the Royal Netherlands Air Force, were successfully deployed to 500 km Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).
The mission deployed three cubesats for the DoD as part of the Space Test Program’s (STP) Rapid Agile Launch (RALI) Initiative. This launch was awarded to Virgin Orbit subsidiary VOX Space by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
The mission also carried the Netherland’s first military satellite, a cubesat for Royal Netherlands Air Force called BRIK II, built and integrated by Innovative Solutions in Space. Polish space company SatRevolution launched its first two optical satellites STORK-4 and STORK-5 of the company’s planned 14-satellite constellation on the mission as well.
Volocopter has created a proof of concept for its electric cargo drone, VoloDrone, with the help of its logistics partner DB Schenker, according to a July 1 press release.
During a joint static proof of concept (PoC) at Messe Stuttgart, the two companies tested logistic operations including personnel, payloads, automated ground vehicles, and VoloDrones, according to the release.
“By developing a blueprint for VoloDrone operations, Volocopter is leading the way into the next dimension of transport logistics with tangible and operational data backing our service claims,” Christian Bauer, Volocopter CCO, said in a statement. “Our work with DB Schenker shows that they are a great investor, a valuable partner, and an enabler for our commercial VoloDrone operations.”
The VoloDrones were simulated within a logistics network by studying ground processes, testing the automated supply of the drone through autonomous vehicles, and conducted pre-flight cargo checks, according to the release.
“The VoloDrone unlocks new possibilities for the logistics industry, and it represents a key element for DB Schenker’s innovation and sustainability roadmap for logistics,” Erik Wirsing, global head of innovation at DB Schenker, said in a statement. “Volocopter’s leadership in this emerging urban air mobility industry is most evident in their practical solutions, their customer-centric approach, and their commitment to bring UAM to life.”
Zipline, the drone logistics company, announced $250 million in new funding in a June 30 release. The company is now valued at $2.75 billion.
According to the release, Zipline will use the new funding to advance its autonomy platform, aircraft, fulfillment system, and operations. They will also use the funds to expand into new industries and geographies.
“At Zipline, our mission is to create the first logistics company that serves all humans equally. Around the world, our partners are reimagining how patients access care with fast, reliable on-demand delivery,” Keller Rinaudo, founder and CEO at Zipline, said in a statement. “Together, we have completed hundreds of thousands of deliveries of blood, medicines and vaccines, and today Zipline makes a commercial delivery every four minutes. In the past year, we have seen major growth in every market, including the U.S., and we’re continuing to build on our proven track record and technology to bring instant logistics to more partners, communities and people.”
American Robotics will be joining the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), the company announced in a June 29 press release.
The FAA BVLOS ARC will study how drones are used in BVLOS cases and send recommendations to the FAA on what rules should be created.
“American Robotics is excited to participate in pushing forward BVLOS regulations alongside the FAA to develop safe integration of UAS into our National Airspace System,” Reese Mozer, co-founder and CEO of American Robotics, said in a statement. “Our groundbreaking FAA approval in January 2021 was an important and significant step forward for the commercial drone community as a whole. We look forward to sharing our insights with the broader commercial drone community, and the FAA, and providing commercial users better access to the data and insights that are only accessible through an automated drone solution.”
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) said they were committed to making aviation safer and more sustainable during a virtual meeting, last week according to a June 30 press release.
“We’ve proven we can accomplish more, with better results, when we work together,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. “President Biden made this clear on his trip to Europe earlier this month. He reaffirmed the primacy of the U.S.-European alliance. The bonds we have forged through NATO and countless other areas continue to serve the interests of both sides. And nowhere is that more true than our relationship in aviation safety and sustainability.”
FAA and DG MOVE officials discussed areas for more safety cooperation, sustainable aviation fuels, more efficient operations, air traffic management, more efficient engine designs, and airframe and propulsion technologies, according to the release.
“The EU-U.S. aviation partnership is a cornerstone of international aviation and has proven to be very beneficial for both sides over the years,” Henrik Hololei, Director General of DG MOVE, in a statement. “However, it is important to look ahead and continue to build on this strong, mutually beneficial, and future-oriented partnership. Today, we jointly confirmed our very close cooperation on aviation safety. Importantly, we also agreed that the reduction of emissions is the license to grow for the aviation sector and shared our commitment for the decarbonization of air transport. Together, we will help the sector build back better.”
Airlines have set ambitious emissions goals leaving the industry and its customers wondering how exactly they plan on making these statements a reality. Alaska Air Group GEO Ben Minicucci laid out a short- and long-term plan with a five-point strategy that he thinks will achieve zero emissions.
“Net-zero at 2040, it really is an aggressive goal,” Minicucci said during a June 30 Washington Post Live event. “When we discussed this with our board, one of the things they wanted to make sure is that we had a real articulate plan in terms of how to get there. So, our plan is really twofold. We have a short-term plan. We have a long-term plan. The long-term plan is 2040 It’s a five-point strategy.”
Alaska Air Group has already started on this plan by renewing their fleet with the purchases of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, Minicucci said.
“The first one is about renewing our fleet,” Minicucci said. “We have a huge Boeing order, 120 MAXs, that are replacing our older Airbus airplanes and as each one comes in, there’s a 25 percent improvement by seat mile in terms of emissions. So, a new fleet is the first strategy.”
The second part of the plan involves improving efficiency across all the aspects of operations from taxiing to the runway to route planning. Alaska is partnering with Flyaway to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to reduce emissions by planning more efficient flights.
“Operational efficiency is a big one for us, a culture of efficiency,” Minicucci said. “So, this is everything; how you operate the airplane on the ground, using ground support equipment, taxiing from the gate to the runway using a single-engine taxi. One of the cool things that we just implemented using artificial intelligence and machine learning by partnering with a Silicon Valley company called Flyaway, is how you actually plan the route of an airplane from one city to another, think of it as Waze in the sky, and it’s already helped us save track miles in the sky and reduce how much gas we burn which reduces emissions.”
The most impactful solution in the long-term plan includes utilizing more sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), Minicucci said.
“The third, which is a big one, is sustainable aviation fuels,” Minicucci said. “This is probably the biggest enabler to get to 2040. There is a lot of work being done with the government on a SAF blender’s tax benefit and there’s a lot being done with industry to increase the amount of sustainable aviation fuel. So this will be a huge one, something that we all have to work out because it will have the largest impact.”
The SAF blenders tax benefit was introduced in May and would establish a $1.50 per gallon tax credit for airlines who used SAF that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent. A blend of 50 percent SAF has been approved for aircraft in service today with zero modifications to any hardware.
While SAF could have the largest impact on airline emissions, it is not currently readily available, and it is very pricy. Minicucci said SAF is currently about two to three times the cost of jet fuel. The industry will have to find ways to increase the production of SAF to make more of it available for use and lower its price.
“This is not something that’s going to happen in a year or two years, but you can see in a decade, in 15-20 years, that the cost of sustainable fuels could be on par with jet fuel and this is when it makes sense,” Minicucci said. “Right now, if we were going to go purely sustainable fuels, all our profits will be wiped out. So right now, it’s not possible, but setting that ambitious goal, and I think that’s what industries do, they set ambitious goals, they get people to come together smart minds to figure out how to get past these constraints that are out there and get to a better place.”
Minicucci said transformative technologies like electric aircraft are also included in the plan.
“The one I’m excited about is innovative technology, you know, hybrid electric airplanes,” Minicucci said. “This is something that’s progressing at a rapid pace. It started with smaller airplanes, but you could see in 10, 15, 20 years that some regional airplanes could be powered by hybrid electric airplanes, so that’s an exciting one to look at.”
Minicucci said this could even include air taxis or electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
“I think that technology is here, the question is does it make sense for an airline to have…Today that’s not possible with the technology that’s there because batteries are simply too heavy, but I think you’ll see a progression of this technology from a handful of seats and then to maybe over 10 to 20 to 30 to 40 to 50 over the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years as the technology improves…There’s just a lot of smart minds out there working on this and we just need a breakthrough in terms of the weight and the energy of batteries versus jet fuel,” Minicucci said.
The last strategy of the long-term plan is really there in case the other four strategies don’t work out, Minicucci said.
“The fifth piece of our strategy is carbon offsets,” Minicucci said. This is something we would use as a last resort, but there’s some interesting technology on carbon offsets like carbon sequestration that we got to get smarter about.”
Alaska has also set short-term goals and is getting its employees involved by offering a bonus if those goals are met.
“In the meantime, I talked about a short-term goal, in the next five years we want to be the most fuel-efficient airline in the country and we’re getting all our employees involved. One of the things we’re doing is we have a bonus program that we give out every year based on goals that we set and we have a carbon goal established for this year. For all employees of Alaska Airlines, 10 percent of our bonus is based on achieving carbon goals. So, we’re putting our money where our mouth is and making sure all 22,000 employees of Alaska Air Group are involved in being part of this strategy of being net-zero by 2040.”
The post Alaska Air Group CEO Details Path to Zero Emissions by 2040 appeared first on Aviation Today.
Joby Aviation wants to launch its electric air taxi in just three short years which could make it one of the first in the industry to do so. During a “Revolution.Aero” webinar on June 30, Eric Allison, head of product at Joby, provided some insight on Joby’s certification, manufacturing, and launch plans as the company moves closer toward this feat.
The first and arguably most challenging hurdle is certification. Joby Aviation has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to gain certification for its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and announced in February that they had agreed to G1 certification conditions with the agency. These conditions detail the requirements that Joby’s aircraft must meet to be certified. Allison now said the type certificate could come as soon as 2023.
Allison said Joby was encouraged by comments made by FAA administrator Steve Dickson during a House of Representatives appropriations committee testimony where he said he expects the first eVTOL type certificates to be awarded in 2023.
“We’ve been working through the means of compliance, just a lot of work to be done, and working through that with the FAA,” Allison said. “We were really excited to see that Steve Dixon, who is the administrator of FAA, testified before the House Appropriations Committee that he expects the first eVTOL to get the type of certificate in 2023 in the US and that fits our timeline and so we’re really, really excited about that.”
Joby has been doing a lot of its own flight testing, which Allison said was going well but would not provide more details on. They are also working with the Air Force’s Agility Prime program and NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility National Campaign which will begin flight tests later this year.
Allison said Joby has completed the assembly of its second full-size production prototype test aircraft.
“Obviously, we’ve been flight testing a lot,” Allison said. “We have aircraft in flight testing and that’s going really well. We’ve been posting some clips here and there about that and not going to go into too many details today about it, but it’s been going great. We’ve been working on our production capabilities [and] completed assembly of our second full-size test aircraft production prototype.”
Assuming Joby receives type certification under its 2023 timeline, it will start initial operations in the beginning of 2024, Allison said. These operations will start in a few small markets and build out a network and service from there.
“The vision that we have is that we will start to really focus on a small number of launch markets where we’ll be able to invest in and start to build out the network and the service,” Allison said. “Then we envision going deep in these markets and really developing out the scale of the network as we build out the service.”
Joby’s partnership with Uber will help fuel this effort. In December 2020, Joby acquired Uber Elevate and a $75 million investment from Uber Technologies. One of the ways Joby is leveraging this partnership is using Elevate’s on-demand modeling to find hotspots of demand, Allison said.
“We’ve done a bunch of surveys, thousands of surveys, frankly, at Elevate and brought all that with us to Joby that’s now fueling this market simulation capability that we have that lets us get insight, I think pretty unique insights, into the infrastructure locations,” Allison said. “Where are the right hotspots, you know, even sometimes a mile or two in different directions can make a really big difference and so it helps us to identify where those hotspots of demand are and then that helps us, in turn, drive partnerships.”
Joby’s service will also be available in the Uber app as part of this partnership, Allison said.
“We will have this relationship with Uber where we will appear in the Uber app, Uber will provide the multimodal connectivity in the ground side in the Joby app as well and so can have a bi-directional integration of this,” Allison said. “We’re really excited about that because it helps us de-risk our go to market, incredibly, because we have this giant demand funnel that will be able to bring demand into the service immediately on day one.”
Allison said Joby is focused on launch markets in the U.S. before exploring markets internationally.
“We’re really focused on our initial launch markets in the U.S. because we’re working with FAA for the initial type certification of the vehicle, that’s kind of the essential kind of linchpin of being able to launch this type of a service,” Allison said. “Certainly, we’re paying attention to other markets outside of the U.S. We think that there’s many fantastic markets around the world that could benefit from this service and so we’ll stay tuned, and we’ll see how things develop.”
Joby is partnering with Toyota for manufacturing operations.
“One of the things that we think is really key is that we have an incredible partner in Toyota, who’s one of our major investors and one of the best manufacturers in the entire world,” Allison said. “We have gleaned a lot of information from them in terms of the different approaches and they’re just a fantastic partner in this that we think is going to be a real key differentiator for us as we are able to build out our manufacturing capability and go to market.”
Allison said Joby is vertically integrating its manufacturing process so that it aligns closely with the aircraft’s engineering.
“We are taking a pretty vertically integrated approach, and so we are making sure that we were able to produce the key things that need to be produced in a tightly coupled way with our engineering,” Allison said. “So, we are investing in the right processes and the right approaches to manufacturer aircraft.”
The post How is Joby Preparing for a 2024 Launch of its Electric Air Taxi appeared first on Aviation Today.
GE Digital has become the newest member of the Aviation Digital Alliance, a partnership first established in 2019 to combine the aircraft systems expertise of the maintenance division of Delta Air Lines with the flight data collection and cloud computing services of the Airbus Skywise platform.
Now, the addition of GE Digital will double both the number of analytics algorithms as well as the number of aircraft parts that can be monitored by Skywise. During a June 30 media call, leadership from Airbus, Delta Tech Ops, and GE Digital explained how the expansion of the Alliance will improve their collective ability to predict when critical aircraft parts and components are about to fail and potentially cause an un-scheduled airline delay.
“The first initial project we’re working on with Delta and GE is about predictive maintenance, monitoring the health of the aircraft, monitoring the messages generated by the aircraft, and collecting all the data generated to predict failure. The engine of this solution is the collection of analytics, of knowledge that will predict and anticipate the failure mode of the equipment,” Lionel Rouby, senior vice president, customer services innovation digital solutions at Airbus said during the media call. “The first advantage of being together with Delta and GE is that we all have our own set of analytics available that we have delivered on our own and thanks to the Alliance we’re putting all of them together, enlarging the coverage of the failure mode, enabling eventually a real nose to tail coverage of the aircraft.”
Skywise, the aviation data platform launched by Airbus in 2017, provides the key digital infrastructure to the Alliance, as it provides a singular access point to data analytics that combine multiple sources into one secure cloud-based platform, including work orders, spares consumption, components data, aircraft/fleet configuration, onboard sensor data and flight schedules. Rouby said that the cloud computing infrastructure for the servers utilized by Skywise are based in Ireland, and today contain a total of 15 petabytes, or 15 million total gigabytes of flight operational data points about individual in-service Airbus aircraft parts, systems, and engines.
While Skywise and the broader Digital Alliance platform with Delta TechOps and GE Digital collects data about other aircraft, licensing agreements with airlines keeps Airbus from accessing data about non-Airbus aircraft.
“We used to say that data analysts used to spend 80 percent of his time looking for the data and 20 percent of his time analyzing the data. With Skywise it is just the opposite,” Rouby said. “We as the Digital Alliance provide a solution that will use Skywise as the source of data, and do the job for the airline of analyzing the data to predict the part failure and to provide the information as a turnkey solution that does not require any type of data analyst or data scientist competence for the airline.”
As a show of commitment to the growth of the Digital Alliance, Airbus has set-up a dedicated team of data scientists, customer experience designers and software developers based in Atlanta to work with Delta TechOps.
GE Digital’s addition to the Alliance will along with it bring some of well-known flight data applications such as FlightPulse, which combines airline-specific fleet data with pilot historical trend data to give pilots the ability to improve fuel efficiency and risk management by accessing their own individualized efficiency metrics and trends on a per-flight basis.
In April, Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (LAS) Cargo, a Colombia-based domestic air freight carrier, signed a new five-year contract with GE Digital for an electronic Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA) program or eFOQA as GE describes it. According to GE, their eFOQA technology analyzes flight data recorder data and actively tracks safety metrics to alert flight departments of possible risks. Several tasks in the FOQA process that previously would have been performed by humans, including data ingestion, error correction, and statistical reporting are automated by eFOQA.
Using GE Digital’s Event Measurement System (EMS), a flight data platform, operators can access both safety and fuel analytics to identify and quantify specific opportunities to reduce fuel consumption. The eFOQA platform utilizes EMS to gather, cleanse, and process data.
Andrew Coleman, Senior Vice President & General Manager Aviation Software at GE Digital said that the combination of their fault-finding analytics with the data collection capabilities of Skywise and the in-service maintenance expertise of Delta, airlines using their services can permanently eliminate unscheduled maintenance delays.
“We have identified a series of [Air Transport Association] ATA Chapters, things we know across fleets in the world that tend to break and how do we get ahead of these things to start tracking and monitoring versus finding out about them when it’s already too late driving that delay or that cancellations,” Coleman said.
According to Coleman some of the specific ATA Chapters that the Alliance is focused on developing predictive maintenance algorithms around include “ATA 21, which covers air conditioning and pressurization, ATA 27 which covers flight controls, ATA 28 for fuel systems, and ATA 29 for hydraulics components,” among others, he said.
“Imagine going to the airport, looking at the departure board and only seeing the words on-time or early. The word cancellation or unplanned maintenance is a word we’re going to put in the past,” Coleman said. “When you think about any innovation that’s taken place in our industry, most of it has been around physics and the mechanical, but we believe for the next 100 years of aviation the majority of the innovation will be building and bridging all the great things that have happened mechanically into the digital world.”
Airbus currently supports 140 total airlines on the Skywise data platform. Delta Tech Ops, in addition to being the maintenance division of Delta Air Lines, also separately distributes digital aviation maintenance expertise and services to 150 different aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) providers globally.
Don Mitacek, Senior Vice President, Delta TechOps, said that the Digital Alliance can work with non-Airbus aircraft types and airlines outside of Delta through service level agreements about data sharing and analytics.
Mitacek said that Delta TechOps provides the type of knowledge of aircraft maintenance history and repairs that cannot always be captured by an algorithm.
“In the early days of this we brought consultants in and they would come up with algorithms that would say on the third Tuesday of every month the [engine’s constant speed drive] CSD is going to go out. The statistics were valid, however, it wasn’t valid for reality and that’s where you’re putting some real operator knowledge with smart data scientists and analytics that is amazing,” Mitacek said. “Any time we take a component off of an airplane for predictive maintenance, we run it through the shop and test it for that problem and if we don’t find that problem we go back to say where in our analytics did we go wrong? And we continue to refine those predictive measures to get them better and better and better.”
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United Airlines has placed its largest ever order for a combined 270 Airbus and Boeing commercial jets and committed to equipping every new aircraft type joining its fleet with seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens.
The order includes 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s, and 70 Airbus A321neos, with a “new signature interior that includes seat-back entertainment in every seat,” according to a June 29 press release. During a question and answer session with analysts at the “United Next” investor event, Andrew Nocella, Chief Commercial Officer, United Airlines, said that the international carrier sees higher net promoter scores (NPS) on aircraft that feature seatback IFE screens versus those that do not.
“In particular the seatback IFE, we have a number of aircraft with this, we can tell our NPS scores are off the chart when we offer this type of product, our customer satisfaction is off the charts when we offer seatback IFE. Everything about the experience of flying on an aircraft with seatback TV is better. The food is better on our aircraft with seatback TVs, literally, the food is better, and it’s a halo effect that comes with occupying the time of our customers while they’re flying a three to five or six-hour journey. It’s really important.”
The decision to keep the seatback IFE screens by United comes as some airlines have decided to drop them in favor of centering their in-flight passenger experience strategies around connecting passenger mobile devices. Most low-cost carriers, including newly launched Avelo Airlines, whose VP of guest experience says they’re considering future IFC investment, have opted to eliminate them in new aircraft orders.
Southwest Airlines has never equipped its Boeing 737 fleet with seatback IFE screens, and American Airlines has removed seatback IFE screens from the majority of its domestic fleet as well.
“There’s some other airlines out there that do offer seatbacks and there’s many airlines that don’t. But when you combine our global network, this product, these seatbacks, we really are in the process of differentiating our product. It’s not just for the people that sit upfront, there’s a seatback monitor at every seat,” Nocella said. “When we’re competing on the low end or the high end we’re often an elevated product, and our belief is this is going to allow us to differentiate, better segment our revenue, and make sure we generate the most revenue we can from this new aircraft.”
United’s new order will upgrade 100 percent of its existing mainline narrow-body aircraft fleet by 2025, as the airline expects to add more than 500 new narrowbody aircraft by then. In 2023 alone, United expects to be on a schedule where a new narrowbody aircraft is added to its fleet every three days.
Nocella said that the airline has also invested in digital aircraft maintenance technologies that allow its technicians to wirelessly clear an aircraft on the ground for takeoff.
“When there is a mechanical problem on the aircraft, our mechanics carry iPads, they can request the parts from those iPads and they can clear the flight to depart from those iPads, whereas it used to be the logbook and all the paper going back and forth, you could see the mechanic going in and out of the aircraft, and you’re saying when are we going to leave? If you fly United today you just don’t see that anymore. Expect a lot more and our digital team is just so energized to deliver these products as well,” Nocella said.
The order for 270 new aircraft comes following United’s recent commitment to purchase 15 total supersonic jets being developed by Boom Supersonic, and several months after United made another major investment in future aircraft technology through a partnership with Archer Aviation for its Maker electric air taxi.
“By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we’ll combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kerby said in a statement. “At the same time, this move underscores the critical role United plays in fueling the broader U.S. economy – we expect the addition of these new aircraft will have a significant economic impact on the communities we serve in terms of job creation, traveler spending, and commerce.”
The post United Airlines Commits to Seatback IFE Screens in Record Airbus, Boeing Jet Order appeared first on Aviation Today.
The Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act could create an interagency working group of over 10 departments and agencies to advance advanced air mobility (AAM) efforts like safety, infrastructure, and federal investment in the United States, but first, Congress must pass it.
The bill was first introduced as H.R. 1339 in the House by Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) in February of this year. It now sits in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s subcommittee on aviation. The bill was also introduced in the Senate as S.516 in March by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and was passed through the commerce committee in May.
The bill is now headed toward the Senate floor where legislators are hoping it will be ‘hotlined’ and passed onto the House of Representatives, Katie Kentfield, a legislative correspondent for Moran who specializes in transportation aviation and technology issues, said during a Revolution.Aero Global 2021 panel discussion on June 29.
“In mid-May, it successfully passed out of commerce by voice vote, unanimously, so we are hopeful that it will pass similarly on the Senate floor and be hotlined there,” Kentfield said. “So, if a bill hotlines that means that no member within the U.S. Senate would object to his passage, and then, in this case, would be picked up by the House of Representatives. We’re hoping that they’ll pick it up as well and move this effort forward.”
The interagency group created by the bill would be led by the Secretary of Transportation and they would review and put forth recommendations for AAM aircraft. Besides other agencies and departments, it would also incorporate manufacturers, operators, air carriers, airports, first responders, training and maintenance providers, energy providers, and state and local officials.
“It would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to establish a working group with other federal agencies that would plan for the advancement of operating AAM aircraft,” Kentfield said. “This working group but also be tasked to review and make recommendations for the federal role in the AAM sector. Beyond the initial critical stage of aircraft certification and operation, it would focus on economic and workforce opportunities.”
The bill states that it would further U.S. leadership on AAM, grow new transportation options, amplify economic activity and jobs, advance environmental sustainability and new technologies, and support emergency preparedness.
Industry has also expressed support for the bill.
“The industry wants to go here,” Ed Bolen, president and CEO of NBAA, said. “We recognize that we’ve always been about on-demand air mobility…Through the years that’s meant lots of changes in technology from radial engines to piston engines to jet engines from fixed-wing rotor wing, aluminum, composite, whatever it is, it’s what technologies can we use to get people where they need to be when they need to be, that on-demand air mobility. I think what you’re seeing is that the industry has been embracing this idea for quite a while. There’s been a relatively clear vision, a lot of brilliant passionate people, and now we’re seeing a lot of capital flowing into the industry so you have all the elements to be able to move forward.”
Bolen said the government is signaling to the industry that what they are doing is important to the nation’s transportation system.
“What we’re seeing in the introduction of Senator Moran’s bill is that we are effectively reaching out to the government and what they are saying to us is, yes, we recognize this is an important part of our future, it’s an important part of our economic engine, our transportation system, our world leadership in civil aviation, and they’re embracing it,” Bolen said.
While the industry is eager to advance this technology, they also realize they will need to be regulated in order to progress safely, Bolen said.
“The companion legislation in the House is really all about is the government beginning to say, we recognize that there is a lot of potential here and we want to help realize that potential, but we want to do it safely and appropriately,” Bolen said. “That’s where NBAA and other groups are working closely with the government itself to try to make sure that there’s broad-based understanding on what we’re trying to do and how we can do it safely and, again, get people where they need to be when they need to be there.”
The departments and agencies that would be part of the working group include the Department of Transportation, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Labor and the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“I think one of the important reasons by making certain that this is an interagency working group that incorporates up to 10 agencies, and even more if the Secretary of the Department of Transportation sees fit, is to make certain that we’re doing our role within the federal government to make sure that we can help this industry advance,” Kentfield said. “We don’t want to be a hindrance whatsoever. So, if we can get the ball rolling now and have those conversations with industry folks and stakeholders of this industry, then I think we’re better off long term.”
If passed, the bill would create this working group within 120 days and complete a report no more than a year later to examine how AAM will mature, its physical and digital security and safety requirements, infrastructure, benefits, and other factors limiting the full potential of the industry.
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Recreational drone pilots will now be required to complete a safety test to fly in the national airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved 16 organizations to provide this test which is known as the Recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems Safety Test (TRUST), the agency announced on June 22.
“These organizations are key to making this test widely available and easily accessible to recreational drone pilots,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. “We need pilots of all aircraft, including those who operate recreational drones, to have the training and knowledge needed to operate safely in the nation’s airspace.”
TRUST was created as a requirement of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 which requires pilots to take a test to operate in the national airspace.
“Passing The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) is required for recreational drone pilots operating under 49 U.S.C. Section 44809,” the FAA told Avionics International via email. “The test is online and free to take. The FAA will continue to use the Compliance Program to address instances of non-compliance.”
The Pilot Institute is one of the 16 organizations authorized by the FAA to administer TRUST. Greg Reverdiau, co-founder and lead instructor at the Pilot Institute, told Avionics that the test takes about 30 minutes, however, he has seen people do it in 10 to 15 minutes. The course includes reading and four quizzes with a total of 23 questions.
“TRUST is about 30 minutes,” Reverdiau said. “We’ve seen people do it in a lot less than that—10-15 minutes it looks like seems to be the average. It’s a bunch of reading on the platform that we created and then it’s 23 questions in quizzes, there’s four quizzes throughout the entire thing, and you can be done in about 15 to 30 minutes.”
Through TRUST drone pilots will learn information pertaining to regulation, airspace approvals, and pilot fitness, Reverdiau said.
“It’s primarily providing information about the regulation, so what can you do, what can’t you do with your drone; its airspace and basically figuring out if there’s an airport near you, what do you need to do, can you fly, how do you get approval to fly in that airspace; and then it’s information about the pilot themselves, so are you fit to fly, have you had alcohol, all the things that pertain to the pilot performance,” Reverdiau said.
Once a pilot completes TRUST, they will be given a certificate to provides to authorities when flying. This certificate does not expire.
“There was no requirement for recreational flyers to retake the test,” the FAA said. “The FAA may update the test content in the future and will encourage recreational flyers to retake the test if updated content is created.”
Reverdiau said he thinks of TRUST as more of a training than a test.
“I wish the FAA would call this a training rather than a test,” Reverdiau said. “The T in TRUST at the very end stands for test; it’s really about training. They wanted people to get trained more than just taking a test. So, they’ve been trying to make this as accessible as possible, which is why it’s free, which is why it’s pretty short.”
The FAA said they made the test free to make the test widely available.
“The FAA recognizes that recreational drone flying is a popular hobby and wants to make sure that there are no barriers that would prevent anyone from taking the test,” the FAA said.
Reverdiau said his program alone received over 4,000 users after only being available for 48 hours and is now up to 13,000. He also received feedback from people who completed TRUST and said they were not aware of some of the regulations they were required to follow.
“The one thing I was surprised and happy about is we’ve seen a lot of comments from people saying, I didn’t know I couldn’t do that, and to me that’s the biggest one because this is all about training, it’s all about educating people, and it’s working…I believe that the vast majority of people that get a drone have no idea what they’re supposed to do with it and I think this is going to help with filling that gap,” Reverdiau said.
The other organizations approved by the FAA to provide TRUST include the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the Boy Scouts of America, Chippewa Valley Technical College, Community College of Allegheny County–West Hills Center, CrossFlight Sky Solutions LLC, Drone Launch Academy LLC, Drone U, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), HSU Educational Foundation, Lake Area Technical College, Proctorio Incorporated, Tactical Aviation, UAV Coach, University of Arizona Global Campus, and Volatus Aerospace Corp.
The post Drone Pilots Now Need FAA’s TRUST to Fly in the NAS appeared first on Aviation Today.
Leonardo DRS said on June 24 that it has received a subcontract from Cubic Corp. to deliver more than 150 internal subsystems (IS) of the P5 Combat Training System (P5CTS) for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter’s Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) system.
The two new lots of IS will go on P5CTS for U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and allied nation F-35s.
Leonardo DRS said that it has delivered more than 779 of its P5CTS internal subsystems for the F-35 to provide training “to counter and keep ahead of growing global adversarial threats.”
The U.S. Air Force has been looking to correct cybersecurity shortfalls in P5CTS pods on older F-16 and F-15 fighters through a System Security Upgrade (SSU). The SSU will replace the P5CTS Data Guard Processor with a National Security Agency-certified Type 1 encryption device to improve cyber protection of the P5CTS Airborne Subsystem’s data-link.
The older F-16s and F-15s have a wing-mounted flight training airborne subsystem (AS) pod, and the cybersecurity remedy will likely be important for secure data exchange between those aircraft, other fourth-generation aircraft, and the F-35s, which carry the IS–an internal version of the system.
“Leonardo DRS’ unmatched ability to integrate ACMI systems onto fighter aircraft, either externally in pods, or internally in the F-35 continues to provide the warfighter the information they need to maximize the value of their training for current and future combat,” Leonardo DRS Airborne and Intelligence Systems Vice President Larry Ezell said in a June 22 press release.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio has said that the SSU “will require the production of field installable retrofit kits for the AS and integrate the SSU modification into the overall P5CTS architecture.” For SSU, the Air Force is to buy up to 1,015 SSU AS kits.
In an April SSU pre-solicitation and subsequent request for proposals (RFP), AFLCMC said that “a security upgrade” for P5CTS “must be completed.”
“Headquarters Air Combat Command requires implementation of an encrypted P5CTS data link to a) protect tactics and training methods and b) allow 4th generation aircraft to engage the F-35 during training missions,” per AFLCMC.
Responses to the RFP are due by June 25. For SSU, AFLCMC said in the RFP that it wants “a shop-replaceable retrofit kit to replace the obsolete Data Guard Processor (DGP) in the Airborne Subsystem (AS)/pods that consists of a Data Security Module (DSM), and a P5 AS modified End Cap (MEC), interface cable(s) and associated hardware.”
“The DSM shall encrypt data through a National Security Agency (NSA) certified Type 1 encryptor and provide a NSA certified control interface that enables or restricts the access or transfer of information between security domains,” per AFLCMC. “The P5CTS AS currently transmits unencrypted Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) over-the-air. Department of Defense’s Risk Management Framework requires that classified and CUI information be encrypted. Accordingly, the P5CTS must remedy the obsolescence concern and noted deficiencies to enable continued operations through at least 2030.”
AFLCMC has said that it intends to award a firm fixed price, six-year contract for SSU.
During training sorties, wing-mounted P5CTS pods for non-stealth aircraft–and the internal F-35 system–are to display the live-air picture, record mission data, aid weapons engagements, and relay time, space, and position information among aircraft.
Last September, the Air Force awarded Cubic a $193.3 million contract to continue support through September 2027 for almost 1,000 P5CTS Airborne Subsystems and range infrastructure at more than 20 Air Force bases and training ranges, as well as support for the use of P5CTS by allied countries, including the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, Egypt, Morocco, and Singapore.
The Air Force Armaments Directorate at Eglin AFB, Fla., said in April that the service has 947 P5CTS pods that it can use on 4th generation fighter aircraft, including the Air Force F-15, F-16, and A-10 aircraft and the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Last September, Cubic said that it expected to deliver 250 AS to the Air Force and international customers this year.
Cubic has said that all F-35s have the P5 IS for the provision of encrypted ACMI for U.S. and allied forces to train on a common ACMI platform.
Cubic received the initial P5CTS contract in 2003 and delivered its first wing-mounted P5CTS pods for Air Force F-16s in 2006.
The Navy and Air Force created their “Top Gun” and Tactical Fighter Weapons School, respectively, in response to aircrew training shortfalls the services said they saw during the Vietnam War, including shortfalls presented in the Navy’s Ault Report in 1968.
Now the services may move out on a new air combat training system.
While the Air Force uses P5CTS, the Navy and Marine Corps have used the Cubic Corp. Tactical Combat Training System (TCTS).
“Both systems are becoming obsolescent as air platforms, simulators, and computer modeling of air operations all become more sophisticated,” Leonardo DRS said. “As a result, there are limits on their abilities to conduct the kind of exercises of joint forces that would be the norm in current and future real-world conflicts.”
Last summer, the Air Force joined the Department of the Navy effort to field follow-on training systems, based upon the Navy’s TCTS Increment II system by Collins Aerospace and Leonardo. The Air Force system is to be called P6CTS.
Check out the June 27 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.
Korean Air, South Korea’s largest airline, is getting further involved in the space sector. The airline will develop common bulkhead propellant tanks for small satellite launch vehicles as part of the Ministry of Science and ICT’s ‘Space Pioneer’ project. Korean Air announced the collaboration in a June 24 press release.
The common bulkhead propellant tank will combine fuel and oxidizer tanks into a single tank using the latest metal welding and insulation technology. The airline said this new technology will increase the competitiveness of the small satellite launch vehicle market in Korea, as it will reduce the number of satellite launch vehicle parts, simplify structures, decrease vehicle weights by 30 percent, and cut down production costs.
Korean Air has been involved in space projects for almost a decade now. In 2012, Korean Air developed and assembled Korea’s first space launch vehicle, Naro (KSLV-1), and the company has core technology capabilities such as aircraft system integration and aircraft structure development.
“The small satellite launch vehicle market is expected to grow rapidly worldwide. SpaceX has already launched 1,000 400-kg satellites and plans to launch up to 12,000 more in the future. Global IT companies such as Amazon and Facebook are also planning to launch hundreds of small- and medium-sized satellites,” Korean Air said in the release. “On June 23, 20 engineers and officials from Korean Air, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, and NDT Engineering & Aerospace gathered at the Korean Air R&D Center in Daejeon to discuss development plans, a future roadmap, and the scope of cooperation.”
As the global travel industry is returning to prior levels of activity, Lufthansa is strengthening its long-haul flying from Munich Airport and will again offer first class on selected routes. This means, Lufthansa is temporarily reactivating five Airbus A340-600 aircraft with four flight classes, according to a June 25 press release.
Commencing in summer 2022, the A340-600 will fly from Munich primarily to in North American and Asian destinations, according to Lufthansa. The decision to reactivate these aircraft is due to growing premium demand, for business as well as leisure travel.
“In late summer 2023, the first Airbus A350-900, offering First Class, will join the fleet and take off from Munich, bolstering the premium offering at Lufthansa’s 5-star hub,” Lufthansa said in the release.
American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights last weekend due to staffing shortages, maintenance and other issues, according to a June 20 report published by CNBC.
“About 6% of the airline’s mainline schedule, or 190 flights, were canceled Sunday, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. The airline said that equaled about 3% of its total flights, including those operated by regional carriers. An internal company list, which was viewed by CNBC, showed about half of those were because of unavailable flight crews. On Saturday, about 4% of its mainline schedule, or 123 flights, were canceled and 106 on Monday, FlightAware showed,” according to CNBC.
Bell said Thursday it is retiring its V-280 Valor tiltrotor technology demonstrator from active flight testing, after reaching 214 flight hours and a max speed of 305 knots, as it readies for the Army’s official Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program of record.
The announcement arrives as the Army is set to release its Request for Proposals for FLRAA production this summer, with a contract to be awarded in late fiscal year 2022 to either Bell or a Sikorsky-Boeing team offering the Defiant X platform.
“We have come a long way since we started our journey eight years ago. We made commitments, we safely executed our program on time, and we validated our performance claims and the accuracy of our digital models through flight demonstrations. Ultimately, the Army doesn’t send warfighters into battle riding in the back of digital models and so we thought it was important to bring that physical proof,” Ryan Ehinger, Bell’s FLRAA program director, said in a statement.
Both Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing are currently participating in the FLRAA’s Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) Phase II effort for the Black Hawk replacement program to further refine their proposals, which will include completing both air vehicle and weapons systems preliminary design reviews.
The State Department has approved three sales totaling $2.6 billion in F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles, and Sidewinder missiles to the Philippines.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the possible sales on Thursday.
The largest sale is $2.43 billion for 10 F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft and two F-16D Block 70/72 aircraft along with associated equipment including 15 each F100-PW-229EEP or F110-GE-129D engines; Improved Programmable Display Generators; AN/APG-83 Advanced Electronically Scanned Array Scalable Agile Beam Radars; Modular Mission Computers 7000AH; and LN-260 Embedded GPS/INS with SAASM and PPS.
The sale also includes 24 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles AIM-120C-7/C-8 or equivalent; 48 LAU-129 missile launchers; three KMU-572 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition tail kits; six Mk-82 500lb bombs; six Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP) or Litening ATP; 15 M61A1 Vulcan Anti-Aircraft 20mm guns and several other sensors, ammunition types and associated equipment and logistical support services.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has certified uAvionix Corporation’s micro-transponder, RT-2087/ZPX-A, though the Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System Identification Friend or Foe Program Office (AIMS PO), according to a June 23 release from the company.
The ZPX-A is suited for DoD classification Group 1 and 2 unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV), according to the release. The transponder is certified with AIMS 17-1000 performance specification and will allow aircraft to fly in worldwide airspaces with civil transponder modes 3/A, C, S, and extended squitter (ES) ADS-B OUT.
Jet It and JetClub, two sister companies that operate unique new fractional ownership models in North America and Europe, have become the launch customers for Bye Aerospace’s all-electric twin-turboprop, the eFlyer 800.
First unveiled by the Colorado-based electric aircraft maker in April, the eFlyer 800 is being developed to feature a 500 nm range with an operational ceiling of 35,000 feet and 320-knot cruise speed. It will use two wing-mounted electric motors with dual redundant motor windings and quad-redundant battery packs.
Jet It, the North Carolina-based private aviation operator, and JetClub, their sister company serving Europe and Asia Pacific destinations, have signed a purchase agreement for a fleet of eFlyer 800 and four eFlyer 4 aircraft. Launched in 2018 by Glenn Gonzales, with expansions to Canada, Europe, and Asia through the partnership with JetClub, Jet It uses days rather than hours to sell shares of HondaJet Elite aircraft, allowing owners to only pay for the direct operating costs of the aircraft.
The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) hosted its 64th annual international convention and trade show last week in Dallas, Texas. According to a June 22 press release, nearly 1,500 avionics manufacturers, repair stations, installers and others converged on the at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.
Virgin Galactic received an update to their existing commercial space transportation operator license that will allow “the spaceline to fly customers to space,” according to a June 25 press release.
The adjustment to Virgin Galactic’s operator’s license, which the Company has held since 2016, marks the first time the FAA has licensed a spaceline to fly customers. It is further validation of the Company’s methodical testing program, which has met the verification and validation criteria required by the FAA.
“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight test objectives. The flight performed flawlessly, and the results demonstrate the safety and elegance of our flight system,” Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said in the release. “Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer.”
On June 25, SpaceX is to launch a Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) first satellite missions–Mandrake II, the Laser Interconnect Networking Communications System (LINCS), and Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET).
The SDA missions involve two Astro Orbital-built Mandrake II cube satellites with an SA Photonics payload, two General Atomics LINCS microsatellites to demonstrate space-to-air communications with an MQ-9 Reaper drone, and a Loft Orbital satellite carrying the POET payload, which is to demonstrate a low-latency “battle management capability” in space.
“The more processing that we can move into space, the better off we’re going to be,” an SDA official said on June 22. “POET is going to give us the first opportunity to actually do that… so we’re really looking forward to getting some data out of this.”
The Astro Digital satellites have been part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack program, started in 2018 to show how the military could benefit from low Earth orbit satellites and mesh satellite networks.
SpaceX’s Transporter 2 mission launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. will carry dozens of rideshare satellites in what the company says is its second dedicated rideshare mission. SDA said that its missions will “gather data on optical communication terminal (OCT) performance and processing in low-Earth orbit (LEO), proving out a core capability required for SDA’s future development efforts.”
“Optical links between space, air, and ground assets offer significantly higher data rates and lower latency when compared to conventional radio frequency links, and demonstrate a pathway of getting real-time data to warfighter,” the agency said.
Hyundai Motor Group’s Urban Air Mobility Division and ANRA Technologies have formed a new partnership to develop an operating environment for the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry, according to a June 23 press release.
ANRA provides end-to-end drone operations and traffic management solutions for unmanned system operators, according to the release. ANRA will help Hyundai create a concept of operations (ConOps) for integrating AAM vehicles into the existing airspace.
“ANRA’s SmartSkies family of airspace management solutions have been proven worldwide and provide the critical support required for complex AAM operations at scale,” Amit Ganjoo, founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies, said in a statement. “We take a long-term view in everything we do as a company and are looking forward to integrating our advanced technologies with the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group’s AAM ecosystem and sharing our knowledge and experience to ensure the success of our partnership and help move our industry safely forward.”
According to the release, this partnership is the first in a series of ATM partnerships from Hyundai.
“We are pleased to partner with ANRA Technologies to begin building toward the safe and efficient integration of AAM into existing airspace,” Pamela Cohn, chief operating officer at Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, said in a statement. “As an emerging mobility solution, it is critical diverse parties work together to co-create the AAM ecosystem, including its necessary digital and physical infrastructure. ANRA brings a unique background of operational history in the drone services sector that will help define the operating environment for all AAM vehicles.”
The National Aviation Research and Technology Park (NARTP) conducted an exercise to test how unmanned and manned aircraft could work together during an emergency response scenario, the agency announced in a June 23 release.
American Aerospace Technologies (AATI) managed the drill which included manned aircraft like helicopters and unmanned aircraft such as drones, according to the release. The exercise included private companies and local, state, and federal agencies.
“Unmanned aircraft are a post-disaster force multiplier,” David Yoel, AATI CEO, said in a statement. “In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, UAS can provide critical information to first responders, accelerating response while increasing the safety and effectiveness of first responders. The goal of the 2021 South Jersey Emergency Response Exercise is to begin to develop an air operations coordination and approval process that enables UAS and conventional aircraft to operate concurrently – without adding risk to conventional aircraft operations, potentially accelerating response and recovery by days.”
The air traffic control (ATC) app made by Altitude Angel, GoDrone, completed a successful test where it gave ATC instructions to drone pilots through its interface with Air Traffic Control The Netherlands (LVNL), according to a June 25 press release.
“The success of this test is an important milestone for us,” Jurgen van Avermaete, general manager of procedures at LVNL, said in a statement. “By succeeding in this test, LVNL has delivered the next step towards safe air traffic control for manned and unmanned flights in the same airspace. In controlled airspace, this also means providing air traffic control to drone operators. This is a challenging task which we are addressing in close cooperation with our Dutch Drone Delta partners. We are not there yet, but today’s success shows that we are on the right track.”
The drone uses a UTM system via KPN’s 4G/5G network to transmit data, according to the release. This system was also tested during the exercise.
“The success of the trials are a clear demonstration of how, through collaboration, drones can successfully and safely be integrated in to controlled airspace, opening up a multitude of use cases for UAVs across a broad spectrum of industries,” Chris Forster, Altitude Angel Chief Operating Officer, said. “We’re very much looking forward to working with LVNL on the next exciting phase in the development of the GuardianUTM O/S powered GoDrone which in-turn will enable the Dutch drone economy.”
Volocopter’s VC200-2 drone was awarded the first design verification certificate from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to operate its aircraft for a specific usage, the agency announced in a June 24 press release.
Volocopter applied for the certificate on May 21 after EASA released guidelines for the design verification of drones on April 8, according to the release. The certificate allows Volocopter to operate its drone in a delimited low-risk area even if that area is located close to a higher risk area.
“The short time needed to issue the design verification report demonstrates that EASA is able to develop flexible tools that are adapted to the risk of the drone operation and to the needs of the market,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said in a statement. “In the medium term this will be a winning concept for our stakeholders as it is efficient for all parties. We expect to process a large number of applications for design verification in the coming months.”
GE Aviation and Safran recently unveiled a new development program focused on sustainable technologies for a next-generation CFM engine. During an appearance on EUROCONTROL’s Aviation StraightTalk Live, GE Aviation President and CEO John Slattery described why sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) were essential to making a sustainable aviation engine and what obstacles need to be overcome to increase their use.
“We announced RISE, which stands for revolutionary innovation for sustainable engines,” Slattery said. “It’s a development program that we will look at over 300 different technologies that we will develop. Eventually, that will manifest into an engine that will enter into service sometime in the mid-2030s, but a lot of those technologies…that we will be developing through the RISE program will probably end up feathering a lot of those technologies into our current engines and even engines that we may even introduce before 2030.”
Some of the technologies that will be part of RISE include hybrid-electric engines, SAF, and hydrogen. The RISE program is focused on reducing emissions and one way to do that is to change the type of fuel the engine is burning, Slattery said.
“What people get confused about is the difference between CO2 emissions and the fuel burn,” Slattery said. “If we can change the type of fuel that goes into the engine, we can reduce those emissions a lot more than the initial 20 percent we’re talking about.”
A big advantage to using SAF is that aircraft today do not need to be modified in any way to use a 50 percent blend of SAF. The current in-production engines developed by GE Aviation are certified to operate with a blend of up to a 50 percent blend of SAF.
To be able to use 100 percent SAF, some modifications to the aircraft engine will be necessary, but these modifications will be small, Slattery said.
“We’re working with regulators around the world to define what the standard is, the definition and the standard of what defines 100 percent SAF,” Slattery said. “When we get to agreeing that standard, there will be some small hardware modifications required on the engine but actually nothing meaningful, some work with the tubes and the ducks. The viscosity of SAF is different to the properties of kerosene, K1, but very doable.”
The problem is aircraft are not even using the 50 percent blend that is approved today. In reality, SAF accounted for less than one percent of the fuel used by airlines, according to 2019 data from IATA. The reason for this is there is not enough supply in the market yet. Slattery said if SAF were to be flown on the entire Air France KLM fleet for example, they would burn the world’s supply of SAF in one day.
“The big issue is getting availability of SAF… so the challenge on us is to create a stable demand so that industry can rally around and create the availability of SAF so that airlines can then get it at a more economical price,” Slattery said.
Slattery said he does think there is demand from airlines for SAF, however, regulators and policymakers may need to create incentives for generating SAF.
“I know the airlines want to do it…but the regulators, the policymakers, they may need to play a role here,” Slattery said. “As they look around encouraging incentives to help people generate SAF and SAF can come from a multitude of sources, including synthetic SAFs. If we bring up the supply, the price will come down and that supply-demand equation will help bring the price down, but regulators are also looking at potentially regulating the percentage of SAF that would need to be used onboard an aircraft.”
After lowering the price, the industry will also have to create a structure to make SAF more user-friendly, Slattery said.
“We do need an eco-structure to make it more user friendly to get SAF to the airports to actually generate SAF, to distill and refined SAF,” Slattery said. “We feel comfortable that it is all doable. Certainly, the refining parts of it is very doable. Frankly, with the current footprint of refineries that are out there today refining oil can very easily move over to SAF.”
There is also pressure from airline passengers about lowering emissions when they are flying which could also contribute to a demand for technologies like SAF, Slattery said.
“The travelers of the future, the passengers, who we are all here ultimately to serve, they want to know what their carbon emission per mile is going to be in the future,” Slattery said.
If GE were to reduce emissions by 20 percent on narrow-body aircraft types flying with its engines today, it would be equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road, Slattery said. However, the goal of the RISE program is to cut emissions by using a hybrid-electric engine with an open fan architecture and the capability to burn 100 percent SAF or hydrogen fuel.
“To get to that nirvana of carbon-free emissions, zero carbon-free flight, we’re going to need to have improved fuels,” Slattery said. “We’re going to need to have sustainable aviation fuels in a volume that will make sense for the operators around the world and then we need to stay on that path to get to ultimately to find a way to burn green hydrogen.”
Slattery said the aviation industry’s growth is dependent on adopting and developing these new technologies to drive down emissions.
“We’re at an inflection point in our industry,” Slattery said. “We need to win the right to continue to grow and that’s going to be rooted, in my humble opinion, in our commitment to drive down CO2 emissions.”
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