FAA Asks for Budget Increase for Unmanned Traffic, Sustainability and Safety Oversight

June 4th, 2021   •   Comments Off on FAA Asks for Budget Increase for Unmanned Traffic, Sustainability and Safety Oversight   
FAA Asks for Budget Increase for Unmanned Traffic, Sustainability and Safety Oversight

FAA headquarters in Washington DC. (U.S. Department of Transportation)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requesting a budget increase for fiscal year (FY) 2022 as it seeks to update its air traffic control system, make investments in safety and next-generation systems, and address the impact of aviation on climate change.

The budget request was released on May 28 and totals $18.5 billion, a 2.7 percent increase from FY 2021, with $11.4 billion for safety operations including $17.4 million for aviation safety oversight, $1 billion to update FAA facilities including the air traffic control system, and $88.5 million to reduce the impact of climate change including a new aviation climate research program.

“This funding level allows the FAA to make continued investments to safeguard the most complex airspace in the world,” the budget request states. “It also allows the FAA to future proof the nation’s airspace by continuing the deployment of NextGen technologies as well as safely and securely integrating new entrants such as unmanned aircraft systems and commercial space. In addition, the budget request supports our ongoing efforts to address the impacts aviation has on our environment and climate by overcoming barriers to the development of sustainable aviation fuels and accelerating the maturation of technologies to reduce noise, emissions and fuel burn from new commercial aircraft and engines.”

The budget request shows an increase in funding for research and development activities totaling $258.5 million, which is $60.5 million more than FY 2021.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) investments

The FAA is requesting a total of over $100 million in funding for UAS research, development, and integration.

“As the pace of UAS integration accelerates and the number of users increases, FAA resources constrain our ability to review and grant airspace access requests, proactively respond to external stakeholder concerns, and implement the security requirements from the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act,” the document states. “To address these critical rulemaking efforts such as Remote Identification, the FAA is requesting an increase to enhance our analysis of data collected from all FAA partnerships, which is needed to ensure the safe and successful integration of UAS.”

The request includes $23.1 million and 46 full-time permanent (FTP) and 23 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees to be divided between Aviation Safety (AVS), Security and Hazardous Materials Safety (ASH), and Air Traffic Organization (ATO). This funding will help to manage the implementation of rules, legislation, and policy like Remote ID and UAS traffic Management, improve outreach and support to UAS stakeholders, and expand partnerships with state, local, and tribal governments.

The FAA is requesting $31.3 million for UAS implementation which includes $2.9 million for an FAA Drone Zone. The FAA Drone Zone is a cloud-based information technology platform that includes a UAS registration system, Part 107 authorizations and optional waivers, and UAS accident reporting.

As part of the FAA’s NextGen budget request, the agency wants $24 million for UAS concept validation and requirements development, UAS flight information management, and urban air mobility.

“These projects will allow integration of UAS operations into the national airspace system without impact to manned aircraft operations or creating disruptions or delays,” the request states. “The program will identify industry’s innovation work that can be leveraged in public-private partnerships. These projects support expanded operational opportunities while ensuring that national airspace operations will continue to remain as safe as they are today.”

These projects will tackle issues like beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights, airborne collision avoidance systems, developing a concept of operations for integrated UAS traffic management and air traffic management operations, and creating a flight information management system prototype for UAS traffic management operations.

In FY 2022, $4 million in funding is also requested for urban air mobility operations like airspace designs, rules, and procedures.

The FAA also wants over $22 million for a UAS research program to study UAS in the national airspace and develop regulatory standards. This research would develop and validate detect and avoid systems, command and control link performance, and pilot and visual observer training and qualifications.

“This research program focuses on the technical and regulatory challenges the FAA must overcome to safely integrate these new concepts and technologies into the NAS. Integrating UAS potentially affects the entire NAS due to various sizes of UAS, a wide range of maximum takeoff weights, large performance disparities compared to existing certificated aircraft, and varying capabilities to operate in all classes of airspace,” the document states.

Climate Change Investments

The FAA’s budget request reflects support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation to reach the 2030 and 2050 U.S. climate change goals.

The FAA’s NextGen budget request includes $33.4 million for funding to support the Continuous Lower Energy, Emission and Noise (CLEEN) program and the Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT) which will work to develop new aircraft and engine technologies and advance sustainable aviation fuels.

“Technologies developed by this program will result in a fleet of aircraft that have lower noise, use less fuel, and produce fewer emissions,” the document states. “This program also provides test data, analyses, and methodologies to support the development and deployment of sustainable aviation fuels. Funds from this program ensure novel jet fuels are drop-in compatible with today’s fleet of aircraft and are certified as being safe for use. They also ensure that sustainable aviation fuels, produced from renewable and waste feedstocks, and lower carbon aviation fuels, produced from fossil feedstocks, are appropriately credited under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).”

The FAA will use this funding to test and approve at least one alternative jet fuel type per year and identify which SAF could be used at greater than 50 percent blend levels.

The FAA also wants to create an Aviation Climate Research (ACR) program which would work with the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate in the Department of Energy. The FAA is requesting $50 million for this program which would look not only at SAF but electric propulsion and other transformative technologies.

“These investments will enhance and accelerate research in the areas of sustainable aviation fuels for jet engines, unleaded fuel alternatives for piston-engine aircraft, and alternate aircraft technologies including electric propulsion,” the document states. “More specifically, the program will support the development of sustainable aviation fuels that could be used in jet engines without blending with conventional petroleum-based jet fuel, evaluate aviation fuel supply chains to reduce the cost to produce sustainable aviation fuels and maximize their environmental benefits, and accelerate the identification of safe alternatives to leaded aviation fuel.”

Research on aircraft technologies and fuels related to the environment is also receiving over $33 million in the FAA’s research, engineering, and development request.

The FAA’s budget request reflects an effort to tackle all environmental impacts of aviation including noise. The FAA wants over $20 million to support this mission which would include developing international standards for subsonic and supersonic aircraft and providing support for the development of noise certification standards for UAS and advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles.

“Noise and emissions generated by aircraft represent considerable challenges to the growth of aviation. Environmental impacts, especially aircraft noise, are often the number one cause of opposition to airport capacity expansion and airspace redesign,” the document states. “Concerns about the impacts of aircraft emissions on climate change could limit the growth of international aviation. Further, in some areas of the country, air quality is of concern. These challenges are anticipated to grow with increased use of the national air space for evolving operations, specifically unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles, civil supersonic aircraft, and commercial space vehicles.”

Other Big Priorities

The FAA wants to allocate $17.4 million and 81 FTE employees to review the FAA’s aircraft certification process after the Boeing 737 MAX investigation. This funding will support the response to the 2021 Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act.

“The FAA continues to implement the recommendations and support activities that directly relate to the Boeing 737 MAX investigation and reviews…Responding to the 2021 Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act, the FAA is establishing an Ombudsman organization, as well as designating an Office of Investigations and Professional Responsibility to ensure proper execution of the investigative process,” the document states.

The FAA is predicting an uptick in commercial space transport activities in FY 2022 and is requesting over $32 million to support this mission.

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Joby Moves Forward on eVTOL Infrastructure with New Partnership to Build Skyports

June 3rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on Joby Moves Forward on eVTOL Infrastructure with New Partnership to Build Skyports   
Joby Moves Forward on eVTOL Infrastructure with New Partnership to Build Skyports

Joby Aviation has secured an infrastructure partner to develop takeoff and landing sites for its aircraft—pictured in flight here—in REEF Technology. (Joby Aviation)

Joby Aviation announced a new partnership that will give the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft maker exclusive access to rooftop infrastructure in key metropolitan areas in the U.S. to build skyports for its aircraft, the company announced in a June 2 press release.

Joby is partnering with parking garage operator, REEF Technology, and real estate company, Neighborhood Property Group (NPG) to build skyport infrastructure for its aircraft, according to the release.

“This is a landmark deal on Joby’s path to building a transformational ridesharing service in our skies,” JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby Aviation, said in the release. “NPG and REEF have an unbeatable network of sites across the U.S., and we’re excited to be working with them to identify sites that will become the backbone of our future service. Parking structures are ideal locations for us as they allow us to deliver our customers as close to their destination as possible, while minimizing any local impact and reducing the need for building new infrastructure.”

The agreement will give Joby the opportunity to secure long-term leases on rooftops within NPG and REEF’s network of parking garages through a period of exclusivity, according to the release. According to Joby, its eVTOL aircraft will launch in 2024.

(Joby Aviation)

“With our focus on transforming urban spaces into community hubs that enable the future of mobility, aerial ridesharing is a compelling opportunity for us to decarbonize travel and make better use of structures such as parking garages,” Philippe Saint-Just, co-founder of REEF, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to work with Joby to bring this transformational electric aerial mobility to life, and to help realize its potential for cities and their neighborhoods.”

According to Joby parking garages will be ideal for skyport locations because of their proximity to popular locations, size, obstruction-free approach and departure paths, and ability to host mobility hubs.

In February, Joby announced that it had agreed to G-1 certification conditions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The aircraft will be certified under the FAA’s Part 23 requirements with special conditions detailed in the G-1 to account for the unique characteristics of the aircraft.

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Garmin to Make G5000 Avionics Air Transport Debut on D328eco

June 2nd, 2021   •   Comments Off on Garmin to Make G5000 Avionics Air Transport Debut on D328eco   
Garmin to Make G5000 Avionics Air Transport Debut on D328eco

Deutsche Aircraft, the newly formed German aircraft OEM partnership between Dornier and the German government, has selected Garmin’s G5000 flight deck to make its air transport avionics debut on the D328eco. (Deutsche Aircraft)

Deutsche Aircraft, the Munich-based aircraft manufacturer that launched operations in December, has selected Garmin’s G5000 flight deck to make its air transport market debut on the D328eco aircraft.

The D328eco is being developed as a next-generation clean energy variant of the Dornier 328 (D328) to be sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) compatible and powered by Pratt & Whitney PW127S engines. The German government first announced Deutsche Aircraft’s D328eco in December, in partnership with the D328 type certificate holder, Dornier.

Garmin will supply its G5000 flight deck for the D328eco, a selection that the two companies claim is the “first time a new flight deck is fitted into a below 50-seat regional aircraft category since the beginning of the 21st century,” according to a June 1 press release.

Deutsche Aircraft launched its D328eco program in December. (Deutsche Aircraft)

“We are thrilled having Garmin join our D328eco program and offer the first newly designed flight deck for a sub 70 seater regional aircraft in this century,” Dave Jackson, Deutsche Aircraft managing director said in the release. “The new D328eco Companion flight deck, based on Garmin’s G5000 proven capabilities, will set the standards for the future of this segment.”

Currently, within its preliminary design review phase, Deutsche Aircraft has so far only released computer-generated mockups and drawings of what the D328eco will eventually look like when complete. Their selection of Garmin will integrate the G5000 into the D328eco’s Companion flight deck.

“The new Companion flight deck has been designed whilst keeping in mind all requirements and expectations of the market allowing total control of how we have designed it. Its functionalities really make Deutsche Aircraft’s innovative vision a reality.” Jackson said. “The new D328eco CompanionTM flight deck features a significant leap in enabling pilots to successfully complete their mission, whether it is flying commercial passengers or special operations.”

Deutsche Aircraft is establishing a final assembly line for the D328eco at Leipzig Halle Airport and plans to introduce the new 50-seat regional airliner by 2025.

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Eve Urban Air Mobility finds Launch Partner in Halo

June 2nd, 2021   •   Comments Off on Eve Urban Air Mobility finds Launch Partner in Halo   
Eve Urban Air Mobility finds Launch Partner in Halo

Eve is an independent company backed by Embraer’s expertise and was the first company to spinoff from EmbraerX.

Eve Urban Air Mobility and Halo, a helicopter provider in the U.S. and U.K., have formed a partnership to develop urban air mobility (UAM) products and services in the U.S. and U.K, according to a June 1 press release.

Eve is an independent company backed by Embraer and was the first company to spin off from EmbraerX.

In the U.K., Halo operates a fleet of Agusta/Leonardo AW109 and AW169 helicopters via charter, card and fractional ownership programs, while also providing helicopter charter and maintenance services from its bases located throughout the northeastern region of the U.S. Last month, Halo was acquired by Directional Aviation’s OneSky Flight, parent of global private jet travel provider Flexjet, to serve as a platform for their official entrance into the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) market.

Now, with Eve, the company has a vehicle development partner to support their entrance into UAM.

“This partnership is an important step for Eve to assume its position as a global leader in the UAM industry,” Andre Stein, President & CEO of Eve Urban Air Mobility, said in a statement. “We are ready to build the future of mobility with our partners in an extremely collaborative way. Halo is aligned with our mission to create comprehensive Urban Air Mobility solutions and this order marks an important milestone for Eve in key markets. We are confident that this mutually beneficial relationship will have a positive impact for many future users and enable both companies to grow their businesses exponentially.”

Halo will receive 200 of Eve’s eVTOL aircraft through the partnership, according to the release. Eve has not released details on its eVTOL. EmbraerX debuted its eVTOL concept in June 2019.

“We believe Eve has designed an aircraft that is well-prepared for not only initial certification but also has a proven track record of production,” Kenneth C. Ricci, Principal of Directional Aviation, an investment fund of which Halo is part of, said in a statement. “The outstanding lineage of aircraft design, certification and production that Embraer brings to this aircraft positions Eve with significant advantages in the competitive landscape. And our background as operators has taught us that product support is absolutely vital to the overall success of new programs. The relationship between Embraer and Eve will create one of the most successful global product support infrastructures in the industry. Finally, the work that Eve and Embraer have completed around their traffic management system is just one more example of how uniquely positioned Eve is to help us deliver on our vision.”

The partnership will also include work on Eve’s Urban Air Traffic Management system, fleet operations, and Eve’s UAM product offers, according to the release.

Eve is also partnering with Airservices Australia and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on a concept of operations for UAM.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 30, 2021

May 31st, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 30, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 30, 2021

Check out the May 30 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.



Airbus Gives Update on Production Plans

Airbus expects to ramp up its production rate for its A320 family, including the A320neo pictured here. (Airbus)

Airbus provided suppliers with a production update on its aircraft in anticipation that the commercial aircraft market recovery will hit pre-pandemic levels in 2023 and 2025 and be led by the single-aisle segment, according to a May 27 press release.

For the A320 family, Airbus is expecting a production rate of 45 aircraft per month in Q4 of 2021 and is asking suppliers to enable a scenario of rate 70 by Q1 of 2024, according to the release. The A220 and A350 families’ rates are currently around five aircraft per month and will rise to six in early 2022. The A330 family production rate remains at two per month.

“The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO, said in a statement. “The message to our supplier community provides visibility to the entire industrial ecosystem to secure the necessary capabilities and be ready when market conditions call for it. In parallel, we are transforming our industrial system by optimizing our aerostructures set-up and modernizing our A320 Family production facilities. All these actions are set in motion to prepare our future.”

Honeywell, Curtiss-Wright 25-Hour Flight Data Recorder Certified by EASA

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the 25-hour Flight Data Recorder (FDR), HCR-25, made by Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright for the air transport market. (Curtiss-Wright)

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the 25-hour Flight Data Recorder (FDR), HCR-25, made by Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright for the air transport market, the company announced in a May 26 press release.

“The partnership of Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright continues our shared legacy as pioneers and innovators of crash-protected recorders, with both companies taking leadership roles in providing flight recorders to the industry for over 60 years,” Chris Wiltsey, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions division, said in a statement. “We are proud to work closely with Honeywell to bring extended operation and greater survivability for flight data recorders to the aviation market, enhancing these critical technologies with next-generation features such as real time streaming connectivity and new levels of performance.”

The FDR is based on Curtiss-Wright’s Fortress technology and goes beyond the requirements of each of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defined flight recorder types while adding real time data streaming support, according to the release. Certification of the HCR-25 FDR variant follows the EASA TSO certification issued for the HCR-25 cockpit voice recorder (CVR) in January.

“The new regulatory requirement provided a great opportunity to strengthen our recorder technology and provide our customers with solutions that fit their needs,” Amanda King, vice president and general manager of Connected Secure Solutions at Honeywell Aerospace, said in a press statement. “We worked alongside Curtiss-Wright to design and develop a new generation of recorders that leverages our full hardware and software expertise to meet the 25-hour requirement, and identify the right information and make it available to accident investigation agencies when it’s most needed.”






Delta Expands Viasat In-flight Connectivity Order to More than 230 Additional Aircraft

Delta Air Lines is expanding its January order for Viasat in-flight connectivity (IFC) to more than 230 aircraft within its domestic fleet, according to a May 26 press release.

Under this expansion, select aircraft from Delta Air Lines’ Airbus 321neo, Airbus 220-300, Boeing 737-800, Airbus 320ceo and Airbus 319 fleets will be retrofitted with Viasat’s Ka-band satellite technology, according to the release.

“A single Viasat high-capacity Ka-band satellite antenna will power IFC while simultaneously providing live TV access to the seatback screens,” the company said in the release.

This new aircraft award is in addition to the more than 300 Delta aircraft already announced in January 2021.






US Air Force Proposes Divestments of 201 Aircraft, Big Increases for GBSD, NGAD  

The U.S. Air Force fiscal 2022 budget request proposes the retirement of 201 aircraft to help pay for $28.8 billion in requested research and development (R&D) funding—a $2.2 billion increase over the fiscal 2021 enacted level.

While the Air Force procurement budget has been billions of dollars more than the service R&D budgets in the past, fiscal 2022 marks the third consecutive year that the Air Force has asked for more in base R&D dollars than base procurement dollars. In fiscal 2022, the U.S. Air Force acquisition request, not including the U.S. Space Force, is $22.9 billion—$5.9 billion less than the R&D request.

The proposed Air Force fiscal 2022 aircraft divestments, including the retirements of 48 Boeing F-15C/Ds, 42 A-10s, 18 KC-135s, 14 KC-10s, 47 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds and eight C-130Hs, 20 Northrop Grumman Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawk drones and four Joint STARS aircraft, would save nearly $1.4 billion, the Air Force said.

The service wants to position itself to face Russia and China while sustaining its capacity for engagements with less technologically advanced potential adversaries.

The Air Force requests more than $1.5 billion for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program–a $623 million increase from the fiscal 2021 enacted amount—and more than $2.5 billion for the Northrop Grumman Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD)—$1.1 billion more than funded in fiscal 2021—to replace the Boeing Minuteman III ICBMs. The service also proposes $3.3 billion for the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber in fiscal 2022, an increase of $474 million—including $30 million more in R&D to prepare for B-21 initial production, and $3.2 billion in procurement for 14 Boeing KC-46 tankers to bring the total number of planes to 71.




Hurricane Hunters Get a Software Update

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters” aerial reconnaissance weather officer (ARWO) and loadmaster/dropsonde operator stations are getting hardware and software upgrades to increase their capabilities, according to a May 25 release.

“This upgrade on the ARWO pallet and in regards to the hardware, software and development, to include replacing the monitors to keep up with the new information and data processing, are vital to keeping us up-to-date with the weather community,” Tech. Sgt. Michael Gehl, 403rd MXS meteorology technician, said in a statement. “We work hand-in-hand with engineers and developers from the 580th (Software Engineering Squadron) and (Air Force Reserve Command) for testing and developing any of the equipment that the weather community requests.”

The Hurricane Hunters fly a special WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft into storms to gather weather information, according to the release.

“The (Meteorology Equipment Technician) shop is in the middle of a system upgrade, specifically on the ARWO station,” Maj. Tobi Baker, 53rd WRS ARWO, said in a statement. “It’s a major overhaul because the hardware and software that we use is specialized and a lot of the programs and components are made in-house.”

One of the main upgrades is updating the computer operating systems from Windows XP to Windows 10, according to the release.

“To give you a sense of time, the computers on the ARWO pallet were brand new in 2005 and now they’re all being updated to the current technology,” Master Sgt. Alexander Mitchell, 403rd MXS MET noncommissioned officer in charge, said in a statement. “Originally we were in the middle of upgrading from XP to Windows 7, but due to Air Force’s Windows 10 compliance, it delayed us in testing and implementing that software and hardware in 2018.”







SpaceX Launches 4 Starlink Missions in 1 Month, Expands Service to Belgium, Netherlands 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches 60 Starlink satellites on May 26. (SpaceX)

SpaceX launched a batch of 60 Starlink satellites on Wednesday afternoon, and announced that Starlink service is now available in Belgium and the Netherlands. This was the 13th dedicated Starlink mission of 2021, and the fourth Starlink mission for the month of May.

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 2:59 p.m. ET. The satellites were successfully deployed about 1 hour and four minutes into the mission. The first stage booster successfully touched down on a drone ship in the ocean about eight and a half minutes into the mission. In addition, this was the first-ever mission in which SpaceX flew a fairing half for the fifth time.

During the launch webcast on May 26, Youmei Zhou, a Dragon propulsion engineer, said that SpaceX was expanding Starlink’s broadband internet beta service to Belgium and the Netherlands. Service is now available in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and several locations around Europe.

“To date, over half a million people have placed an order or put down a deposit for Starlink. With every launch, we get closer to connecting more people across the world,” Zhou said.




Lockheed Martin and General Motors Partner for Next-Gen Rover

A new generation of lunar rovers under development by Lockheed Martin and GM could be used by Artemis astronauts to extend and enhance the exploration of the surface of the Moon. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin and General Motors will be partnering to develop a next-generation lunar rover to transport astronauts on the surface of the moon for NASA’s Artemis program, according to a May 26 release.

“This alliance brings together powerhouse innovation from both companies to make a transformative class of vehicles,” Rick Ambrose, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space, said in the release. “Surface mobility is critical to enable and sustain long-term exploration of the lunar surface. These next-generation rovers will dramatically extend the range of astronauts as they perform high-priority science investigation on the Moon that will ultimately impact humanity’s understanding of our place in the solar system.”

Lockheed Martin will lead the team and brings experience from its work on spacecraft like NASA’s Orion, according to the release. GM will share its expertise on battery-electric technologies and propulsion systems as well as autonomous technology.

“General Motors made history by applying advanced technologies and engineering to support the Lunar Rover Vehicle that the Apollo 15 astronauts drove on the Moon,” Alan Wexler, senior vice president of Innovation and Growth at General Motors, said in a statement. “Working together with Lockheed Martin and their deep-space exploration expertise, we plan to support American astronauts on the Moon once again.”







Inmarsat Invests in UAV Growth With 2 Executive Appointments 

Jon Holmes, left; and Mark ter Hove, right. (Inmarsat)

Inmarsat continues to refresh its senior management team with new two high-profile appointments to target the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market. Inmarsat announced in a May 27 press release it has appointed Jon Holmes as senior director of UAV Technology and Mark ter Hove as senior manager of European Market Development. The company said Holmes and ter Hove will drive Inmarsat’s plan to be the leading connectivity partner in what it sees as a burgeoning sector.

Inmarsat cited a 2019 report by the Teal Group “World Civil Unmanned Aerial Systems 2019 Market Profile & Forecast,” which forecasts the number of UAVs flying in airspace to increase tenfold from 1.1 million to 10 million by 2027, with impacts on emergency services, disaster relief and surveillance, cargo delivery, inspection, and urban transport. Inmarsat entered the commercial UAV market in 2020.

Holmes will be responsible for creating Inmarsat’s roadmap for UAV products and services, working with customers, partners, and internal stakeholders. ter Hove will be responsible for evaluating customer and market opportunities in Europe to reinforce Inmarsat as the leading provider of connectivity products and services in the field of UAV BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations.


Thales Partners with Airspace Link for UAS ATM System

Thales and Airspace Link formed a new partnership to integrate ground risk data from state and local governments into unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) air traffic management (ATM) system, according to a May 27 press release.

“We envision a future where manned and unmanned aviation operate together seamlessly,” Jean Ferré, Vice President of Airspace Mobility Solutions at Thales, said in a statement. “Thales’ investment and partnership with Airspace Link is an important step forward toward this reality.”

The information will include the location of schools, power lines and firework displays, according to the release.

The two companies have previously worked together on Vantis, the state-wide UAS network in North Dakota.







EHang Adds Long-Range eVTOL

The VT-30 is made for inter-city transportation with a range of 300 km and up to 100 minutes of flight time. (EHang)

EHang announced a new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL), VT-30, for long range flights, according to a May 26 press release.

The VT-30 is made for inter-city transportation with a range of 300 km and up to 100 minutes of flight time, according to the release.

“Our passenger-grade AAV EH216 is already fully equipped to travel in the cities with its lightweighted and streamlined structure, and the launch of the VT-30 provides a powerful complement to the inter-city air traffic network by meeting needs for covering longer distance,” Huazhi Hu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang, said in a statement. “Moving forward, these two product series will be used as core development for a service-oriented operations strategy to improve the safety, duration and capacity for carrying both passengers and goods. We will work continuously to obtain regulatory certification for our various AAV products, including the VT-30, and provide a more convenient and efficient public urban air mobility operational services.”







FAA Downgrades Mexico to Category 2

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it would downgrade Mexico’s rating to Category 2 after an assessment of its civil aviation authority found that the government of Mexico does not meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards, the agency announced in a May 25 press release.

This rating change will prevent Mexican carriers from creating any new services or routes but allows them to continue any existing service in the United States, according to the release. The rating change will also mean that U.S. airlines can no longer market and sell tickets with their names on them to Mexican-operated flights and Mexican airline flights to the U.S. will also be under heightened scrutiny.


FAA is Looking to Fund Environmental Projects at Airports

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is looking for airports to participate in the Environmental Mitigation Pilot Program which will fund six projects with positive environmental impacts, the agency announced in a May 25 press release.

The program is looking for projects that will reduce or mitigate aviation impacts on noise and air or water quality at or within five miles of an airport, according to the announcement. Airports have until July 9 to submit an application and be considered. The cost of each project cannot exceed $2.5 million and it must be completed within 24 months, according to the release.

The FAA will be choosing six projects in 2022 and 2023 that provide the largest environmental benefits.




FAA Rules on Airport Solar Panels

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a final policy requiring airports to measure visual impacts of solar projects, according to a May 26 release. Projects including solar panels have become more common as the aviation industry seeks to invest in this technology for environmental and economic benefits.

The policy is aimed at ensuring that solar panels do not create a hazardous glare for pilots and air traffic control personnel, and it applies to solar energy systems at public airports that have accepted federal assistance, according to the release.

The policy states that airports must file a Notice of Proposed Construction including a statement that the project will not cause any visual impact instead of submitting an ocular analysis to the FAA, according to the statement.





Boeing to Pay $17 Million in Penalties

Boeing 737 Max production line at the Renton Factory. (Boeing)

The Boeing Company will pay at least $17 million under a settlement agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the 737 MAX cases, according to a May 27 press release.

“The FAA found that the Chicago-based manufacturer installed equipment on 759 Boeing 737 MAX and NG aircraft containing sensors that were not approved for that equipment; submitted approximately 178 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for airworthiness certification when the aircraft potentially had nonconforming slat tracks installed; and improperly marked those slat tracks,” the agency said in the release.




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PODCAST: Alton Aviation Analyst Talks Asia Pacific Region Airlines, COVID and Connectivity

May 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Alton Aviation Analyst Talks Asia Pacific Region Airlines, COVID and Connectivity   
PODCAST: Alton Aviation Analyst Talks Asia Pacific Region Airlines, COVID and Connectivity

Joshua Ng, an analyst with Alton Aviation Consultancy, is the guest on this episode.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Joshua Ng, director of Alton Aviation Consultancy joins to provide some perspective on the state of the commercial airline industry in the Asia Pacific region, among other topics.

Alton Aviation Consultancy is an independent advisory firm that has advised some of the world’s largest airlines, aircraft manufacturers and investors throughout Asia, the U.S. and Europe. You may have seen analysis from Alton in publications like Bloomberg or The Business Times for example.

Joshua discussed how some airlines in the Asia Pacific region are adjusting to the impact of COVID-19 on passenger air travel demand and the status of the air cargo market as well.

Based on his observation and consulting with airlines and others across the aviation industry in the region, he also discusses some of the new in-flight services such as ancillary revenue services that airlines could enable with connectivity in the near future.

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.

FREE REGISTRATION: Connected Aviation Intelligence webcast, June 8-10, 2021 – https://www.gcasummit.com/agenda/

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Lilium Gets Support to Build Airline Operations in Europe

May 27th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Lilium Gets Support to Build Airline Operations in Europe   
Lilium Gets Support to Build Airline Operations in Europe

A rendering of the 7-Seater eVTOL jet which shows the 36 ducted fans. (Lilium)

Lilium announced a new partnership with Luxaviation Group to support its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) operations in Europe, the company announced in a May 20 press release.

“We are proud to be working alongside Luxaviation Group, a leading operator in the aviation sector with a track record in offering an innovative and customer-focused service, to build out the Lilium network in Europe,” Remo Gerber, chief operating officer at Lilium, said in a statement. “This marks a key milestone as we prepare for launch, and we look forward to working together to provide an exceptional airline service for our passengers.”

Through the partnership, Luxaviation Group will be responsible for airline operations of Lilium’s 7-Seater Jet including securing approvals and managing pilots, according to the release. The companies will also work together on the development of the customer experience on Lilium’s eVTOL. Lilium has planned its commercial launch for 2024.

“Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft will fundamentally change the way we travel, and the Lilium network is poised to be at the forefront of this sea change in aviation,” Patrick Hansen, group CEO at Luxaviation Group, said in a statement.

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

Lilium released design architecture details for the 7-Seater Jet earlier this year. While it will have hover capabilities, Lilium focused on creating efficient cruise flight when designing the jet because of its intended use for regional air mobility connecting two different cities versus points within a city. It will have a range of 200 kilometers at speeds up to 300 kph and use forward canards, main wings, and a distributed propulsion system providing vectored thrust to fly.

“We are very pleased to have been selected by Lilium to be their partner in aircraft operations,” Christophe Lapierre, head of strategy of Luxaviation Group, said in a statement. “As an early believer in advanced air mobility, we look forward to bringing our experience and credentials to the partnership with Lilium and building out a service that will truly feel like a first of its kind.”

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EASA Releases First Study on Citizens’ Acceptance of UAM

May 27th, 2021   •   Comments Off on EASA Releases First Study on Citizens’ Acceptance of UAM   
EASA Releases First Study on Citizens’ Acceptance of UAM

Volocopter received the first company-wide approval from EASA to design eVTOL aircraft. (Photo: Volocoter)

Industry is undoubtedly excited about the prospect of urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft like drones and air taxis entering service in the next three to five years, however, these vehicles must also be accepted by everyday citizens whose lives they will be impacting. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published the results of a new study showing that the majority of European Union citizens surveyed welcomed UAM vehicles but showed reservations about safety, environment, noise, and security concerns.

“As a result of this study, for the first time, EASA and the EU have insights into what the general public in Europe thinks about this entirely new development in the field of aviation,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said. “For EASA as a regulator this information is crucial. It will allow us to set up the rules and regulations for this area in a way that is aligned with the expectations and perceptions of citizens.”

EASA’s study included an online quantitative survey of 4,000 EU citizens in six urban areas, over 40 qualitative interviews, and a noise simulation test.

The vast majority of respondents were positive about UAM. (EASA)

“The study was conducted in six European cities, which offer the conditions for potential deployment of urban air mobility operations,” Ky said. “In order to select these cities, a detailed market analysis was conducted based on six use cases which are likely to come first…The most viable cities for each of these use cases were determined. This was done based on a KPI system individually set up for each use case, showing then for which city the respective use case is most viable. This helped to create a shortlist of 15 cities for each use case, resulting in a total of 90 cities. Finally, based off this short list of 90 cities, six cities were selected for a survey with the intent to cover all major European regions, different city archetypes and cultures.”

The study found that 83 percent of respondents had positive feelings about introducing UAM vehicles into the airspace. The results did not show any major deviation between the respondents of the different cities or according to age or household composition.

“The results also show that a large share of the population would also be interested to use UAM services: 64 percent of the respondents would be interested in using drone delivery and 49 percent would be interested in using an air taxi. 43 percent would be interested in using both, 71 percent are likely to make use of at least one service,” the study states.

Emergency use cases are expected to be most useful. (EASA)

Respondents showed strong support for using UAM vehicles in cases of public interest like medical or emergency transport. The study showed transporting an injured person to the hospital as the most important use case supported by 41 percent of respondents and drone delivery of medical supplies to hospitals as the second most important. Transporting emergency medical personnel and disaster management using drones were also in the top four use cases ranked by respondents.

“This indicates that use cases that are in general public interest, notably in the health and safety domains, would be better accepted than those fulfilling private and individual needs, such as sightseeing,” the study states. “Respondents confirmed however, that medical/emergency should meet the same safety or security standards as other use cases.”

The use of drones for delivery purposes garnered less support. The uses of drones to deliver heavy cargo over long distances came in fifth when ranked by respondents with 25 percent support.

Using UAM vehicles to transport passengers garnered the least support from respondents with all use cases receiving 10 percent or less support.

“While people transport only comes third in terms of importance, looking within the rankings of the different use cases, people favor longer connections so connecting more remote areas to in inner city connections,” Ky said. “So, people see more value in connecting remote areas within the transport use cases.”

Improved response time is clearly perceived as top benefit. (EASA)

The study showed that EU citizens expect UAM vehicles to provide faster, cleaner, and extended transportation. Respondents expected improved response times in emergencies to be the largest benefit with reduction of traffic jams ranked second and reduction of local emissions ranked third.

“71 percent of participants expected an improved response time in case of an emergency as major benefit,” according to the study. “The reduction of traffic jams ranked second (51 percent) on average, closely followed by an expected reduction of local emissions (48 percent). Better connection to remote areas (41 percent), and the creation of new jobs (32 percent) represented other perceived benefits.”

Respondents had similar concerns about delivery drones and air taxis. (EASA)

While respondents showed acceptance of UAM vehicles, they are still concerned about their safety, security, and environmental issues.

“We asked people to rank the concerns differentiated between drones and air taxis so we can identify differences,” Ky said. “We see, overall, the important concerns are all the same, but we see slight differences between drones and air taxis. For air taxis, safety, noise, and environmental concerns rank roughly the same. Obviously slightly different answers for drones. We can see, firstly, that noise is less important for drones. This is most likely as air taxis are larger and people expect more noise from air taxis than from drones. But what we can also see is that the security concern is around 10 percent higher for drones, which is also most likely as drones are unmanned and are controlled via a cyber link versus air taxis, I initially expect it to be manned and are more associated with regular aviation traffic.”

Respondents expect existing aviation safety levels to be the benchmark for UAM safety assessments. Simplified trade-off analysis found that respondents’ acceptance could be improved by 56 percent for drones and 49 percent for air taxis by implementing the highest levels of safety, noise, and visual pollution.

“We also found out that safety is really important, and that the existing safety standards are the benchmark for European citizens…But this only shows one part of the picture, when actually asking people in personal interviews, people responded that they sometimes forgot to mention safety because they just take it for granted, and when explicitly asking them about the safety level, they all clearly stated, unanimously, that they would expect the same levels of safety as every any existing aviation vehicles today,” Ky said.

Result comparison between familiar sound and Urban Air Mobility vehicle sounds at same maximum noise level. (EASA)


Noise perception at different distances. (EASA)

During the noise portion of the study, 20 participants were exposed to vehicle sounds played on top of a typic city background noise of about 55 dBA. Respondents were able to separate the noise from air taxis and drones from the sounds of helicopters, aircraft, motorbikes, and buses and showed a higher level of annoyance for UAM vehicles.

“People react very differently to urban air mobility noises,” Ky said. “With new urban air mobility sounds you can see that the reaction is much more averse. People are more annoyed by urban air mobility noises at the same sound level, but then when we look at reducing the sound by increasing the distance, you can see at around 65 dBA, the urban air mobility vehicle reaches around the same annoyance level as a bus or motorbike in a city.”

EASA will use the results of this study to create an impact assessment and regulatory proposal for UAM in Europe in 2022.

“In order to support public acceptance, urban air mobility introduction should be done gradually starting with pilot projects and routes to enable citizens to experience this new technology first and allow them to familiarize over time,” Ky said. “Use cases in the public interest such as emergency transport should clearly come first, as people see the largest benefits, and they could also then adopt gradually, which can foster acceptance for sustainable at scale operation. At the city level, services must be affordable for a large share of the public and well-integrated with the public transport infrastructure.”

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Connect Airlines to Join Growing Number of Q400 Operators Using FLYHT AI Services and Connectivity

May 26th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Connect Airlines to Join Growing Number of Q400 Operators Using FLYHT AI Services and Connectivity   
Connect Airlines to Join Growing Number of Q400 Operators Using FLYHT AI Services and Connectivity

Connect Airlines is adding FLYHT’s AFIRS satcom box and new AI Services capability to its fleet of Q400s. (Connect Airlines)

Connect Airlines, the new Toronto-based scheduled air carrier, will become the latest Q400 operator to modify its fleet with connectivity and intelligence services supplied by Calgary-based avionics manufacturer FLYHT Aerospace Solutions.

Under a new five year agreement announced in a May 4 press release, Connect Airlines is adding FLYHT’s Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) and Actionable Intelligence (“AI”) services to its fleet of DHC-8-Q400 turboprop aircraft. AFIRS is a satellite communications computer that provides Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) over Iridium messaging capability. The system also uses a a proprietary software known as the embedded launching application to determine what information an operator wants to capture about its aircraft’s performance.

FLYHT describes its new AI services platform as initially enabling voice and text communications, engine and airframe exceedances, situational display and automatic movement messages. Future services for the AI platform are also in development, to include “fuel management, turn and airport apron operations, integrated flight plan and emissions tracking,” according to FLYHT.

“They’ll be utilizing the built in AFIRS Quick Access Recorder (QAR) to record all data to satisfy a [flight data monitoring] FDM program, including future upgrade to our wireless QAR functionality to automate the post flight download of QAR data via LTE/5G accordingly,” Derek Taylor, VP of sales and marketing for FLYHT told Avionics International in an emailed statement.

Connect will also leverage AFIRS to gain real-time insight into arrival information and gate turn management, while also sending real-time engine take-off and stable cruise reports to the aircraft’s engine OEM for trending purposes, according to Taylor.
There are also future upgrades in development for the initial electronic flight bag applications that the AFIRS system will support on Connect’s fleet of Q400s.

“Initial use cases include two-way text messaging between crew and OCC/MCC, METAR/TAF/NOTAM weather reports, with future capabilities including an [aircraft interface device/aircraft data interface device function] AID/ADIF for aircraft data such as GPS, fuel, etc. to be fed to iPads to integrate to various iPad applications for increased operational awareness and efficiencies – ultimately maximizing in the investments of the iPad use cases,” Taylor said.

Taylor said Connect Airlines is the latest Q400 fleet operator to join a growing number of others using AFIRS on the turboprop aircraft, including Air Niugini, Air Iceland, Congo Airways, Jambojet, Air Tanzania and Voyageur Airways. Launched by Boston-based charter operator Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA) last month, Connect Airlines is focused on flight operations that will connect Toronto Bill Bishop City Airport with airports in the northeast and midwestern U.S.

“After an exhaustive review of alternatives, we chose FLYHT because it provided our flight crew and operations team the technology, data, and analytics to operate a highly efficient and reliable airline, right out of the box,” David Marcontell, COO of Connect Airlines, said in a statement.
Connect Airlines will begin scheduled operations in October.

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eVTOL Certification: Where Are They Now and the Challenges that Still Lie Ahead

May 25th, 2021   •   Comments Off on eVTOL Certification: Where Are They Now and the Challenges that Still Lie Ahead   
eVTOL Certification: Where Are They Now and the Challenges that Still Lie Ahead

Joby Aviation received the first military airworthiness for an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle from the AFWERX Agility Prime program. (Joby Aviation)

There are questions about how realistic the predictions are concerning the commercial launch of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the next three to four years. While there are many factors that will determine if these timelines prove accurate, certification from regulatory bodies will be the deciding factor.

At a panel discussion during the Vertical Flight Society’s Forum 77 on May 13, experts from regulatory bodies and eVTOL manufacturers provided an update about the path eVTOL aircraft could take to achieve certification and what challenges still lie ahead.

One reason some people may be skeptical about how quickly eVTOL manufacturers are attempting to certify their aircraft is that the process is moving significantly faster than previously done in the industry.

“It took the airline industry almost 100 years to get to the level of safety, utility, and efficiency they have today and we’re trying to do it in about one-tenth of that time,” Lowell Foster, director of global innovation and engineering at GAMA, said.

Foster said the aspects of developing an aircraft must be done in parallel with each other instead of one at a time.

“We’re going to have to do everything in parallel. It’s a pretty big challenge, right,” Foster said. “Historically, you would certify the aircraft and would go through the pilot training, then you’d figure out how to operate it, and the infrastructure would follow. We don’t have that luxury today. We really need to be able to start operating these vehicles, as soon as they’re PC’d [part certified] which means we’ve got to work the training and the operations concurrently with certification. Furthermore, you know, if, we get these vehicles ready to fly and we don’t have the infrastructure, aerospace operations could be severely limited. So, it really is important we look at all these different aspects from a parallel approach.”

Several eVTOL aircraft manufacturers are currently coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to find a path to certification. While eVTOL aircraft are unique, they also have aspects that allow them to take advantage of previous certifications.

“All the VTOL projects are using performance-based requirements in their cert. [certification] bases, which is a big benefit because it lets the authorities leverage means to compliance for all kinds of new technology and innovation,” Foster said. “The other good thing is that almost two-thirds of the existing means of compliance are already applicable. We are only looking at new areas for about a third of that.”

Archer Aviation’s eVTOL aircraft will use a blend of current FAA Part 23, 27, 33, 35, and 36 requirements, Eric Wright, head of certification at Archer, said. The areas where the aircraft differs from available certification requirements include unique aircraft configurations, electric distributed propulsion, energy storage and distribution systems, high voltage architecture, fly-by-wire flight control systems, advanced or automated systems, crashworthiness requirements, and noise standards.

“How are we dealing with these issues? Essentially these additional certification considerations are being dealt with by issue papers, for the most part, with all of these new and novel topics essentially being addressed through presentation of design application of standards and then regulatory collaboration,” Wright said. “There are white papers to bring up the understanding of the regulator with detailed system descriptions, and so the regulators get a good understanding of what those systems do and what other systems they talk to.”

Wright said there has been good progress with special conditions and provided the example of provisions under the FAA’s Part 41 for electric propulsion.

Archer Aviation’s eVTOL aircraft will use a blend of current FAA Part 23, 27, 33, 35, and 36 requirements. (Archer Aviation)

EASA is working on special condition VTOL (SC VTOL) means of compliance (MOC) to certify eVTOL aircraft. This process began in 2019 and is currently in phase three, David Solar, SC-VTOL lead at EASA, said. In the first two phases, the MOC addressed fly-by-wire systems, validation loads for structures, and design requirements. In phase three, which will be presented to the public later this year, Eurocae standards will be released as well as operational aspects including the development of the first EASA qualified virtual reality simulators.

One path that eVTOL manufacturers, like Joby Aviation, are choosing to take involves creating an aircraft that needs minimal exemption to currently available certifications.

“We have chosen a path that fits through the type certification path with minimal need for exemption, through the flight pilot training and qualification path through the operational path and into the airspace integration path,” Greg Bowles, head of government affairs at Joby Aviation, said.

Bowles said this thought process led them to decide to include a pilot onboard instead of building a fully autonomous aircraft like some other companies.

“Having a pilot onboard allows us to take advantage of the existing air traffic control system, the voice communication path, it allows us to use the pilot’s traditional skills for detect and avoid,” Bowles said. “There are a whole number of technologies that aren’t actually needed to mature yet with a pilot on board.”

Joby has also classified its eVTOL with the FAA as an airplane that can take off and land vertically, Bowles said.

“So, if you think of something like an F-35, that’s an airplane,” Bowles said. “We would look at that and not say that’s a rotorcraft vehicle, we would look at that and say, oh, that’s an airplane, and it can also perform vertically.”

While these achievements mean the certification process for eVTOL aircraft is moving forward, experts expressed there are still hurdles before they can reach the finish line.

Near-term challenges could include the use of fossil fuel certification approaches for electric propulsion aircraft, Foster said.

“We’re still seeing the use of the fossil fuel mentality when we approach electric propulsion,” Foster said. “…The concern here is that we may miss an electric specific safety issue because we’re so focused on legacy.”

Another problem could be regulatory agencies’ tendency to be too conservative when considering new technologies, Foster said.

“The general tendency is for authorities to approach new technology from an absolute versus relative safety perspective,” Foster said. “…The problem with the tendency to lockstep to absolute safety is, it can present a disincentive to putting new safety devices on aircraft because of the additional costs and the additional timeframe that might be there and uncertainty too.”

Creating a certification for the use of automation could also prove to be an obstacle.

“The extensive use of automation for not just flight controls but for distributed electric propulsion and also where we’re replacing traditional pilot tasks with automation the complexity level is very high and we may need a new approach here instead of just the traditional Part 25/29 legacy approach,” Foster said. “As we get into higher levels of automation, we really have the potential to make aircraft a lot safer and maybe more human error tolerant too. We probably need to be looking at a new approach to systems or maybe a new architecture to really leverage that and so we don’t want to get too locked into legacy approaches develop in the 70s.”

Bowles said all the new technological developments might be a challenge as companies are developing.

“We get very excited right now in aviation because we’re in such a technological change,” Bowles said. “And as this evolution is happening, there are going to be infinite opportunities, and frankly that’s why there’s so much excitement around the world for this space. But the good news is we don’t want to lose sight of the path that’s right in front of us that we can execute on in the short term and how that evolves into all those different directions.”

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