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NASA Collaboration Sets Out to Define the Future of Air Travel

NASA’s “Sky for All” effort invites collaboration from stakeholders to develop a vision for the future of aviation. Pictured is an illustration of an advanced subsonic aircraft with an Electrified Aircraft Propulsion system. (Photo: NASA)

NASA is now seeking input from various stakeholders in the aviation community to establish a definition for the future of air travel. NASA aims to collaborate in defining what urban air mobility and other types of air travel will look like in 2050—and beyond—in this shared vision, called “Sky for All.” NASA’s Shawn Engelland, the “Sky for All” lead, and Kurt Swieringa, deputy manager for technology of the Air Traffic Management – eXploration project, offered some insights on objectives for the “Sky for All” initiative in an interview with Avionics.

Engelland emphasized the importance of community input in assembling the “Sky for All” vision: “The team was given the mandate to develop a community-supported vision for the future aviation system circa 2045–2050; we were asked to not constrain that vision, and to think big in picturing that future aviation system.” From the beginning, he said, the team knew that significant community input would be necessary in order to encourage their continued support once this vision becomes reality. Engelland described their approach as co-development with the community, including all stakeholders, from those who fly to those that manufacture aircraft. “We’ve been deliberate in trying to structure the vision development efforts to get that community input throughout the process.” The NASA team put together an initial version of the vision based on their understanding of the direction of the aviation industry, incorporating input from previous efforts. Now, the focus is on producing iterations of the vision with community input. “We are getting some really good input from the community,” Engelland shared, “[but] we’re pretty early in the process so we don’t have specific investment strategies to point to.” 

Kurt Swieringa added, “The benefit of this community co-development vision is that it helps us define what that end state looks like at the middle of next century, and it allows us to go through the process of connecting the dots from where we are today to what we need to do to get to that future vision.”

The “Sky for All” vision will incorporate ideas from numerous stakeholders into what future aircraft will look like and what operations they will perform. (Photo: NASA Illustration)

One of the things driving the collaboration to develop a “Sky for All” vision is the expectation that in the future, air traffic will increase in both volume and diversity of applications, and there will be increasing diversity of vehicle types. Engelland explained, “If you think of the increasing complexity and diversity of operations, we think it’s going to be really important to have safety thoroughly embedded into the system from the outside,” and that will likely require innovative approaches to integrating safety. The team at NASA also envisions automation playing a bigger role in the future. “The increase in volume, and increase in diversity and complexity kind of demands automation. But automation needs to be applied intelligently and in a way that maintains safety,” he said.

Considering the systems and interactions between components in looking towards the future will be incredibly important, commented Swieringa. “I think what we’re going to see in the future aviation system is much more effective communication of digital data, and the ability to use that data to make decisions that improve the efficiency of operations, such as reducing fuel use and increasing sustainability, but also enabling increased density.” 

Once the vision for the future of aviation is defined, some of NASA’s objectives are to identify barriers to achieving that vision, to develop the research questions that will need to be answered, and determine what new capabilities must be created, while keeping safety a top priority. Engelland stated that the transition to fully digital information sharing, and designing a “system of systems” with ubiquitous data sharing, is a key area of capability that needs to be determined. 

Swieringa added, “We’re really looking at how these technologies can be brought together and progress to enable a series of use cases.” This includes things like air taxi services as well as publicly beneficial use cases such as firefighting, emergency evacuation, and medical transportation.

The “Sky for All” initiative was created to bring together the numerous research initiatives already taking place and to develop an understanding of the aviation system that exists in the mid-century future. The NASA team is working in coordination with their colleagues at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who have been pursuing an initiative called “Charting Aviation’s Future: Operations in an Info-Centric National Airspace System (NAS).” This effort focuses specifically on the future of air travel up until the year 2035, in comparison to NASA’s focus on the mid-century timeframe. Shawn Engelland mentioned that NASA and the FAA are in frequent communication to ensure that there is alignment between what the two organizations are envisioning for the future.

NASA first held a soft launch for the “Sky for All” effort in December of 2021 in which they sought input from about 200 stakeholders. Those invited to this initial round of collaboration included traditional flight operators, developers of new aircraft, and manufacturers, including vehicle manufacturers and providers of system solutions like air traffic management systems. The purpose of seeking input in the initial round, according to Kurt Swieringa, was that “we wanted to make sure we tested our processes for receiving data, synthesizing it, and incorporating it into the ‘Sky for All’ vision before we opened it up to a broad audience.” With the recent announcement from NASA, said Engelland, “we’re now welcoming input from anyone who has thoughts to share about the future aviation system.”

The post NASA Collaboration Sets Out to Define the Future of Air Travel appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Combat Mission Flight Test Demonstrates Manned-Unmanned Teaming Technology From BAE Systems

BAE Systems and the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office successfully performed a flight test that demonstrated use of advanced manned-unmanned teaming technology in completing a combat mission. (Photo: BAE Systems)

In conjunction with the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office, defense and aerospace company BAE Systems performed a successful flight test demonstrating advanced manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) technology. The test took place at a Department of Defense flight test range and involved real mission sensors on a manned military fighter aircraft and multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Together, the UAVs autonomously executed tactics to complete a combat mission, and BAE Systems’ Human Machine Interface was utilized by the aviator to monitor the progress of the mission.

The main objective of this flight test was to demonstrate “collaborative mission execution in an operationally representative environment,” according to the company’s announcement. Vice President and General Manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems, Ehtisham Siddiqui, stated: “The development of autonomous technology is crucial to protect our warfighters against emerging threats. This flight test demonstrates our team’s commitment to accelerate the deployment of reliable and innovative manned-unmanned teaming solutions for mission success.”

In December 2021, BAE Systems entered into a joint study with Embraer’s Defense & Security team; the study set out to explore defense applications for the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft produced by Eve, a subsidiary of Embraer. Engineers from BAE Systems’ Air sector would coordinate with their counterparts at Embraer to research the possibility of using a defense variant of Eve’s eVTOL for applications such as transporting personnel, surveillance, and disaster relief.

Earlier in 2021, the BAE Systems-Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) team was awarded a contract from the Air Force to provide a prototype for the next-generation open architecture signals intelligence technology. This contract continued the Air Force’s Global High-altitude Open-system Sensor Technology (GHOST) program in addition to BAE Systems’ developments in adaptive signals intelligence products.

BAE Systems’ Human Machine Interface, which was used in this recent flight test, “was developed through extensive virtual and constructive simulation testing with assistance from pilots and electronic warfare officers,” according to BAE Systems. The company has two decades of experience in developing autonomous flight control systems which informed their development of the MUM-T technology used in the flight test. The underlying algorithms of the MUM-T suite “enable decentralized autonomous decision-making at the tactical edge, allowing the architecture to be easily adapted for new missions and incorporate future technology,” the announcement revealed. 

Beyond performing the recent flight test, the DOD and BAE Systems will continue to work together for subsequent flight tests, and BAE Systems will invest in additional capabilities in order to increase the operational readiness of its MUM-T technology. In the next phase, flight tests will serve to demonstrate MUM-T integration on another manned aircraft type plus another unmanned platform in the execution of a different mission.

The post Combat Mission Flight Test Demonstrates Manned-Unmanned Teaming Technology From BAE Systems appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Aviation Consultant Alan Lim Talks Advanced Air Mobility in Asia Pacific

Alan Lim from Alton Aviation Consultancy discussed his perspective on the eVTOL market in Asia Pacific and the development of AAM in the region. (Photo: Alton Aviation)

Alan Lim, the Engagement Manager for Alton Aviation Consultancy, shared his perspective on advanced air mobility (AAM) development in the Asia-Pacific region during a recent interview with Avionics International. Lim is an experienced aviation professional who previously worked for Singapore Airlines as a pioneer member of the airline’s Business Transformation team. Lim offers multiple insights into the unique advantages and challenges of integrating AAM in Asia Pacific, and he also discusses some of the key players in the world of AAM. 

The four developments that Lim sees as critical to the AAM industry and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles are aircraft certification, infrastructure, commercial viability, and technology. Certification of eVTOLs and other AAM vehicles is happening in the next few years, Lim said. “We’ll especially see some of the cities in Asia Pacific trying to get to the forefront of this and bringing aircraft to market as soon as possible.” 

As far as infrastructure, “What we see is that a lot of different companies in the space are trying to work with different partners to get the necessary vertiport infrastructure into place and utilize existing airports. As eVTOLs get certified, the infrastructure has to come as well,” Lim explained. Skyports, he mentioned, announced during the recent Singapore Airshow that they are going to work with local authorities to explore the possibility of using the Seletar Aerospace Park in Singapore as an AAM hub for the region. 

There are numerous companies and organizations working with regulators to develop a concept of operations for AAM in the Asia-Pacific region and in particular for eVTOL aircraft manufacturing to become a viable, sustainable business model. Some of the components necessary for a concept of operations are route planning, flight operations, safety management, and sales and marketing, according to Lim.

The fourth area of key development that Lim described was technological advancement. There are various startups constantly releasing new designs for AAM, including improvements to battery technology and electric propulsion technology. Developments in AAM technology along with the other three areas previously mentioned “will be critical to making AAM a reality and helping OEMs get their vehicles to market,” Lim said.

Alan Lim named Volocopter as one of the more prolific AAM companies advancing eVTOL services in Asia Pacific. Volocopter has a memorandum of understanding in place with Skyports to develop infrastructure for air taxis, and the company is working towards a 2024 launch date. Volocopter recently announced that it plans to begin by offering tourist flights, and eventually “to connect to other cities in the region, for example, in Indonesia, or even Malaysia,” said Lim. It will likely be one of the first AAM OEMs to commercially launch services in Singapore. “Two other regions with similar plans to launch AAM services are South Korea and Japan,” he added. 

Three other companies with competitive strategies for AAM in Asia Pacific are EHang, Eve Mobility (a subsidiary of Embraer), and Vertical Aerospace. EHang, a Chinese company, has received orders to provide aircraft for sightseeing and charter flights. Similarly, Eve has received orders for aircraft intended for tourist operations in Australia, with a goal of beginning flights in 2025–2026, Lim remarked. “Vertical Aerospace has received orders from AirAsia and Japan Airlines for about 100 aircraft each, and that has put them at the forefront with the number of orders they have gotten from customers, he said.

According to Alan Lim, the key players in the eVTOL space in Asia Pacific are Volocopter, EHang, Eve Air Mobility, and Vertical Aerospace. (Photo: Alton Aviation)

There are both unique challenges as well as advantages of bringing AAM to the Asia-Pacific markets. “The region is home to most of the globe’s busiest and congested cities like Tokyo, Seoul, Manila, Beijing, et cetera.” Asia Pacific is well positioned for use cases targeted by the OEMs—particularly urban air mobility and air taxis making short trips. In addition, regulators in Singapore, Australia, Japan, and South Korea are all very supportive of AAM development and are interested in cooperation with their North American counterparts to determine certification for different types of aircraft as well as necessary regulations and infrastructure to support operations. Since Singapore doesn’t have urban congestion to the same degree as other countries in the region, it can be used “as a showcase for some of these new concepts and technologies, for tour operations, and as a testbed for intra-regional operations, which is the next step for AAM operations.”

A key difference between Asia Pacific and North America is the prevalence of private airport infrastructure and helicopters. Use of helicopters is not as widespread in Asia-Pacific countries as it is in the U.S., or in Europe. Lim remarked, “There are challenges around finding suitable locations for infrastructure, [such as] to house vertiports. The ideal scenario is placing vertiports on the rooftops of skyscrapers in a city, but it’s not always that simple: Is the rooftop of that building suited for vertiport operations, for example?” There is a need to find suitable locations and then build the necessary infrastructure. 

“From a regulatory standpoint,” Lim said, “Asia Pacific as a whole is a relatively diversified region with many different countries, regulators with different viewpoints, and communities with varying acceptance of AAM and eVTOLs. For any operator looking at cross-border operations, this is one of the unique challenges they will have to navigate.”

The post Aviation Consultant Alan Lim Talks Advanced Air Mobility in Asia Pacific appeared first on Aviation Today.

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FAA’s Latest 5G Airworthiness Directive Revises Landing Requirements for Most 737s

The FAA has issued a new airworthiness directive requiring flight manual changes for thousands of U.S.-registered Boeing 737s, including the 737-800 pictured here. (Boeing)

A new airworthiness directive (AD) published by the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday identifies hazardous interference from 5G C-Band wireless broadband operations that could prevent radio altimeters on most Boeing 737s from performing their intended function.

The latest 5G C-Band directive requires operators of all 737s—except for Model 737-200 and -200C series airplanes equipped with a certain flight control system— to revise their airplane flight manual (AFM) to incorporate specific operating procedures for instrument landing system (ILS) approaches, speedbrake deployment, go-arounds, and missed approaches, when in the presence of 5G C-Band interference. FAA officials issued the AD after receiving new data reported by Boeing over the last month, as the aircraft manufacturer has been continuously evaluating and testing the impact of 5G C-band on its aircraft and subsequently issuing updates to customers about their latest findings.

Based on data reported by Boeing, the agency determined that the -200 and -200C series equipped with the SP-77 flight control system are not susceptible to 5G C-Band interference. The AD attributes this exception to the SP-77’s lack of autoland and flare modes, two of the main functions impacted by the interference on the other models that will require an AFM revision under the new directive.

An estimated 2,442 U.S.-registered aircraft are affected by the AD and the AFM revision will cost 737 operators a combined $207,570, according to the directive.

“The FAA determined anomalies due to 5G C-Band interference may affect multiple other airplane systems using radio altimeter data, regardless of the approach type or weather. These anomalies may not be evident until very low altitudes,” FAA notes in the AD. “Impacted systems include, but are not limited to, autopilot flight director system; autothrottle system; flight controls; flight instruments; traffic alert and collision avoidance system (TCAS); ground proximity warning system (GPWS); and configuration warnings.”

Among the effects on the systems identified as those that rely on radio altimeter data, there is a possibility that the autopilot could disconnect during approaches that use ILS or Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) procedures. Data reported to the FAA by Boeing also showed that 737 model autothrottles “may retard to idle prematurely in the flare.” Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and radio altitude-based alerts may also become unavailable due to 5G C-Band interference.

The directive is the latest issued by the AD targeting 737 models, after publishing a directive last month that revised landing requirements on 737 MAX aircraft. Directives have also been issued regarding landing requirements for the Boeing 747-8, 757, 767 and 777.

“The AD does not apply to landings at airports where the FAA determined the aircraft radio altimeters are safe and reliable in the 5G C-band environment,” the FAA said in a Feb. 23 statement. “It also does not apply to airports where 5G isn’t deployed.”

The post FAA’s Latest 5G Airworthiness Directive Revises Landing Requirements for Most 737s appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Iris Automation Receives FAA Approval for Drone Flight Beyond Visual Line of Sight in Nevada

The FAA recently granted approval to Iris Automation for beginning beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone flights in Nevada. (Photo: Iris Automation / The City of Reno Fire Department)

Avionics technology company Iris Automation has been granted approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for flying automated drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in an unpopulated area near the city of Reno, Nevada. The City of Reno was one of nine lead participants that worked with the FAA during the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, which concluded in Oct. 2020.

The FAA immediately resumed its work in partnership with the City of Reno as part of a new program called BEYOND, building off of the groundwork established during the UAS Integration Pilot Program. Primarily, BEYOND aims to address the challenges associated with UAS integration. The collaboration with Iris Automation serves, in part, to improve rescue response times during the Reno Fire Department’s river rescue operations. The expectation, according to the City of Reno, is that “utilizing UAS will have a significant positive impact on saving the lives of victims and reduce the resources required to conduct these operations.”

FAA approval was awarded to Iris Automation for the company to utilize the Casia X, its advanced detect-and-avoid (DAA) technology, and explore its ability to increase safety in rescue operations. The Casia system is capable of operating onboard an aircraft as well as in a ground-based configuration. According to the announcement from Iris, “onboard sensors like Casia X, combined with carefully designed concepts of operation, provide a cost-effective and scalable solution, enabling high levels of safety.” In coordination with the FAA, Iris has worked to develop its DAA technology to mitigate risks of aircraft collisions and to facilitate integration of unmanned aircraft into the airspace.

Of the 41 water rescues performed by the Reno Fire Department each year, 85% of them occur on the Truckee River downtown, and 10% occur in the dark. Rescue operations in water are already extremely dangerous both for the victims and for the rescue team, but in moving water like a river, the level of danger is even higher. This is where a UAS aircraft could help—enabling the BVLOS capacity for rescue operations means that fewer fire department staff members will be put into dangerous situations, according to the Reno Fire Department. “Drones allow us to launch into flight safely at a moment’s notice, with new and more effective approaches to making our downtown river corridor safer while also saving time and money,” said Reno’s Fire Chief, Dave Cochran. He hopes that this FAA approval for BVLOS drone operations will make it easier for other fire departments and public agencies to incorporate UAS into their operations.

Iris Automation’s Casia X detect-and-avoid technology may increase safety for the Reno Fire Department during search-and-rescue operations. (Photo: Iris)

By participating in the BEYOND program and collaborating with the FAA, the City of Reno engages with a variety of both public and industry stakeholders, and it has the opportunity to establish safety and performance standards for BVLOS operation. “The BEYOND program,” commented Iris CEO Jon Damush, “is an important example of constructive government and industry cooperation, and a testament to the forward-thinking leadership of the City of Reno. We’re thrilled to work side by side with the FAA and our home city, delivering our technology to enhance the daily lives of our community and beyond.”

UAV Navigation and Iris Automation started a partnership in August last year to augment the Casia X system with UAV Navigation’s VECTOR autopilot system and enable advanced DAA operations for autonomous aircraft. The Casia software, which utilizes artificial intelligence and computer vision for BVLOS operations, had recently been improved in performance and flight data uploads. The VECTOR autopilot system adds the ability for aircraft to avoid collisions when remote-control datalinks may be lost.

A few weeks after the partnership with UAV Navigation was announced, Iris entered into an agreement with Swoop Aero in order to create a BVLOS drone navigation system that would be incorporated onto Swoop Aero’s FAA-certified Kite aircraft. Iris’s CEO Jon Damush remarked in the announcement, “Demand for these use cases is highest in regions with stringent air safety standards, and avoiding mid-air collisions is the most important aspect of reducing air-risk.”

The post Iris Automation Receives FAA Approval for Drone Flight Beyond Visual Line of Sight in Nevada appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Wisk and City of Long Beach Partner to Study Economic Impact of Advanced Air Mobility

Wisk and the City of Long Beach have joined in a two-year partnership to determine the economic impact of advanced air mobility (AAM) operations in Long Beach and other areas. (Photo: Wisk)

Wisk Aero, an advanced air mobility (AAM) company, just announced a partnership with the Long Beach Economic Partnership to conduct a study on the economic impact of AAM operations in Southern California. Over the next two years, Wisk and the City of Long Beach will coordinate in bringing together local government, business, and community leaders in a working group focused on autonomous flight and the implementation of AAM in Long Beach.

The working group will initiate research into four components of AAM integration, according to Wisk:

  1. Analysis of economic impact and workforce development
  2. Community acceptance and outreach
  3. Integration of autonomous AAM into city transportation plans
  4. Federal and state government funding opportunities

To explore the economic impact of AAM operations, both Wisk and the Long Beach Economic Partnership (LBEP) will support the Cal State Long Beach Office of Economic Research in conducting the study and expect to have results later in 2022. “Autonomous, all-electric AAM represents the next revolution in commercial aviation and promises significant economic benefits with minimal environmental impact,” remarked Randal Hernandez, co-chair of the working group who has served as chair of the Long Beach Economic Partnership and was previously chairman of the City’s Economic Development Commission.

Pictured above is Wisk’s sixth-generation eVTOL aircraft. (Photo: Wisk)

Wisk’s CEO, Gary Gysin, remarked that Long Beach is an ideal choice for integrating electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft due to its location in Los Angeles and the role that the growing aerospace industry has played in Long Beach’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 2.7% of employment in Long Beach comes from the aerospace industry, and those jobs have increased at least 48% since 2018, according to Seiji Steimetz, the chair of economics at Cal State Long Beach.

Robert Garcia, Mayor of the City of Long Beach, agrees that aerospace innovation is particularly strong there. “We have produced some of the world’s most modern aircraft, are leading in the space economy, and will now be home to new technologies in Advanced Air Mobility,” he said in the press release from Wisk.

Long Beach is an ideal location for integrating advanced air mobility operations, in part because of existing infrastructure such as the Long Beach Airport. (Photo: Wisk)

Last month, Wisk received a $450 million investment from Boeing, intended to assist Wisk in development of its self-piloted eVTOL aircraft in addition to scaling up manufacturing. To date, Wisk has received support in developing its eVTOL and advancing AAM through partnerships with Blade Urban Air Mobility, Kittyhawk, and NASA. Part of Wisk’s goal in advancing AAM is to leverage infrastructure that already exists, such as airports that can be repurposed as vertiports and stations for charging electric aircraft. For Wisk, a key feature of the City of Long Beach is its airport—specifically its accessibility as well as its proximity to lots of industrial space.

The post Wisk and City of Long Beach Partner to Study Economic Impact of Advanced Air Mobility appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Airbus and CFM International to Test Hydrogen-Powered Passport Engine on Modified A380

The Airbus A380 testbed will be used for the company’s new hydrogen demonstration program in partnership with CFM International. (Photo: Airbus)

In an agreement with CFM International, Airbus is beginning a hydrogen demonstration program, with the first flights taking place in the next five years. CFM International—a joint company between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE—will modify a GE Passport turbofan to enable the combustor, fuel system, and control system to operate on hydrogen. Both Airbus and CFM are committed to pursuing net-zero carbon emissions for the aviation industry by 2050.

Airbus and CFM will collaborate in testing the direct combustion engine fueled by hydrogen, according to the announcement from Airbus, both via ground and flight tests. They expect the engine to enter into service on a zero-emission aircraft by 2035. Airbus is providing the A380 flying testbed for testing the hydrogen combustion engine in cruise mode. The company’s facilities in France and Germany will supply liquid hydrogen tanks. Airbus will also oversee flight testing in addition to determining the requirements of the hydrogen propulsion system.

Airbus Chief Technical Officer Sabine Klauke remarked in the company’s press release that the partnership agreement with CFM is the biggest step Airbus has taken to accelerate hydrogen-powered flight since they revealed their ZEROe concepts in 2020. Airbus introduced its ZEROe demonstrator, the A380 MSN1, this week. The aircraft will carry four liquid hydrogen tanks and the hydrogen combustion engine will be mounted on the rear fuselage.

Before the flight test is conducted with the A380 platform, CFM will perform a ground test program with the GE engine. The GE Passport turbofan’s advantages for the hydrogen demonstration program include its size, advanced turbomachinery, and fuel flow capability.  (Photo: GE)

Exploring the capabilities of hydrogen combustion is one of CFM International’s key areas of focus, having launched the Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines (RISE) Technology Demonstration Program in June 2021. The goals of the RISE program include “reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 20% compared to today’s most efficient engines, as well as ensuring compatibility with alternative energy sources like Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and hydrogen to provide even further sustainability benefits,” according to a whitepaper released by the company

“Bringing together the collective capabilities and experience of CFM, our parent companies, and Airbus, we really do have the dream team in place to successfully demonstrate a hydrogen propulsion system,” commented Gaël Méheust, CFM’s CEO and president

The ZEROe demonstrator aircraft has the hydrogen combustion engine mounted on the rear fuselage. (Photo: Airbus)

In addition to entering a hydrogen-fueled aircraft into service by 2035, another goal for Airbus in working towards decarbonization of the aviation industry is to use 100% SAF for fueling all operations by the year 2030. Already the company’s final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, uses SAF for delivering all aircraft produced at the facility. And, in demonstration of the company’s commitment to zero-emission flight, Airbus signed the Global SAF Declaration last week, along with Singapore Airlines, Rolls-Royce, and Safran. This declaration calls members of the industry to join efforts to increase production and use of SAF in the next 10 years.

(Photo: Airbus)

At the Airbus annual press conference last week, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury remarked that the hydrogen power industry is accelerating rapidly. “We are very committed to entering into service in 2035 the first hydrogen [aircraft], and we are investing a significant amount of money to be ready for that time frame.” He shared that, while there is positive momentum around hydrogen-powered aircraft, the infrastructure for producing, transporting, and distributing green hydrogen first needs to be developed and put in place.

Faury also sees a lot of momentum in the eVTOL industry. Necessary developments include technology advancements, certification, and regulatory frameworks for operation before the market is structured enough to become profitable. “We are investing at Airbus, and we see many others investing a lot of money into that segment. There is still a lot of work to be done before we come to real commercial operations,” he stated, estimating that this will take place in the second half of this decade. “There might be some attrition compared to what we see today [in terms of] the number of companies working on eVTOLs—a smaller number of concepts will make it to the market.”

“It makes a lot of sense for us to be part of the eVTOL ecosystem,” Faury explained. “We like the fact that eVTOLs rely on electric flight. All that we do for electric flying will be used for other products, and in particular for commercial aviation at a later stage.”

The post Airbus and CFM International to Test Hydrogen-Powered Passport Engine on Modified A380 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: A New Cloud-Native Cockpit Approach to Flying with Honeywell Anthem

This episode is sponsored by Honeywell Aerospace. HoneywellAnthem.com 

On this episode of the Connected Aviation Intelligence Podcast, Jason Bialek, Honeywell Anthem Product Line Director, and Jed Johnson, a Pilatus PC-12 and PC-24 pilot, discuss Honeywell’s new cloud-native Anthem flight deck.

Honeywell first launched its new cloud-native Anthem flight deck during an unveiling ceremony in October. Lilium, the Munich-based electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer, has announced Anthem as the cockpit system for its 7-Seater Lilium Jet. Separately, Bristol, U.K.-based Vertical Aerospace will also use Anthem as the cockpit system for their VA-1X all-electric air taxi.

Bialek and Johnson provide an overview of how this new all-touchscreen connected flight deck could transform the way pilots fly while giving some insight on their current stage of development for Anthem in 2022.

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. Also, check out the agenda for the 2022 Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit just posted to our event website!

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

 

The post PODCAST: A New Cloud-Native Cockpit Approach to Flying with Honeywell Anthem appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Rolls-Royce, Safran, Airbus, and Singapore Airlines Sign Declaration to Advance Use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

The Global SAF Declaration was signed last week by Singapore Airlines, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Safran, indicating their commitment to the advancement of sustainable aviation fuel. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

At the Singapore Airshow last week, four entities signed the Global SAF Declaration in a demonstration of their commitment to promoting and accelerating sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production and consumption. Singapore Airlines was the first airline to join in the declaration; it is also open to all aviation and aerospace organizations. Rolls-Royce, Safran, and Airbus are the other signing parties. For the aviation industry, increasing SAF utilization is a key component in working towards decarbonization.

Antony Szafranek, SVP Americas for Rolls-Royce, emphasized his company’s role in the pursuit of net-zero emissions by 2050 and the importance of SAF in reaching that target. ”The most powerful way of getting to net-zero,” he told Avionics International, “is playing our role to help facilitate and stimulate demand, help remove barriers that we can control, and encourage dialogue across the value chain,” as well as ensuring the availability of competitively-priced SAF. Rolls-Royce is dedicated to ensuring that all new products will be compatible with net-zero operation by 2030, with the longer-term goal of compatibility for all products by 2050.

SAF has the potential to contribute roughly 65% of the necessary reductions in emissions for the global aviation industry to achieve net-zero by 2050, according to the International Air Transport Association. Currently, however, aircraft are certified to operate on no more than 50% SAF combined with conventional jet fuel. Rolls-Royce announced in October of last year that all of its Trent engines would be compatible with 100% SAF by the year 2023. It has completed test flights with its Trent XWB and Pearl engines, and the team partnered with Boeing and World Energy to carry out a test flight of the 747 Flying Testbed aircraft using a Trent 1000 engine fueled by 100% SAF, along with three engines using conventional jet fuel. Szafranek remarked that they are in the process of testing their engines in order to ensure that aircraft performance is maintained while running on SAF.

“There is a place for gas turbine technology, especially for longer-range missions,” Szafranek explained. “Our latest engine is 15% more efficient than earlier generations. That continuous improvement has always been in our DNA.” He added that their latest technology demonstrator will likely deliver efficiency improvements in the range of 25%. The UltraFan engine, he said, is due to be completed with its building phase and undergoing ground testing by this summer. “We’re anticipating a requirement for the technology in [the Ultra Fan] around the 2030s; the UltraFan entering into service will depend on aircraft manufacturers’ requirements.” The team at Rolls-Royce will take notes on the research and development that goes into the UltraFan engine and roll back improvements into the existing generations of engines.

Szafranek envisions a future for gas turbine technology up to 2050, and integrating SAF will be a key part of that journey. He expects that other airlines will join in signing the Global SAF Declaration in the coming weeks and months, and the team at Rolls-Royce is engaged in dialogues with multiple airlines to share strategies for achieving decarbonization.

Eric Dalbiès—Chief Technology Officer of Safran, commented on the company’s participation in the press release, saying, “[We are] fully committed to deliver disruptive innovation for decarbonisation, with ultra-efficient engines and 100 % sustainable aviation fuels capability, in order to enable the ambitious energy transition required in the aviation sector.”

Chief Technical Officer of Airbus, Sabine Klauke, also remarked in the press release that Airbus aircraft will be certified to fly with 100% SAF by 2030. “The challenge is to further increase and encourage the uptake of SAF globally as well as incentives and long-term policies that encourage SAF use. The Declaration will support exactly that, and Airbus is inviting further players in the industry to join the initiative.”

The full Global SAF Declaration concludes by saying, “Each of us is committed to continue working with existing industry bodies (e.g., ATAG, ICAO and CORSIA, etc.), existing SAF initiatives (e.g., Fuelling Flight Project, Business Aviation Coalition for SAF, WEF Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition, etc.) and with governmental initiatives (e.g., the EU Green New Deal, ReFuelEU Aviation, etc.) to make the widespread and rapid adoption of SAFs a reality.”

The post Rolls-Royce, Safran, Airbus, and Singapore Airlines Sign Declaration to Advance Use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Bell’s Unmanned APT Aircraft Demonstrates Ground-Based Detect-and-Avoid Flight

Bell and NASA partnered in completing a flight demonstration with Bell’s APT aircraft to show its ground-based detect-and-avoid capabilities. (Photo: Bell)

Bell Textron recently shared the news that their unmanned Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) aircraft successfully completed a demonstration of ground-based detect-and-avoid (DAA) flight. A subsidiary of Textron Inc., Bell was the first company to certify a commercial helicopter and is now focusing on advanced air mobility (AAM) developments. This DAA flight demonstration was part of an extension of Bell’s Systems Integration and Operationalization (SIO) project in partnership with NASA.

NASA has also partnered on SIO projects with American Aerospace Technology Incorporated (AATI) and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), Inc. with the goal of advancing commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations. The three partners—Bell, GA-ASI, and AATI—are also working towards FAA type certification for the APT.

Bell’s original NASA SIO project aimed to facilitate flight through complex airspace, said Matt Holvey, Director of Intelligent Systems at Bell, in an interview with Avionics International. With the recent extension of the SIO project, he explained, “We wanted to explore the feasibility of ground-based monitoring, a ground-based surveillance system, and how that might work with the onboard systems as part of an AAM ecosystem.”

The APT flight served as a research exercise for Bell and NASA to explore aspects of advanced air mobility. (Photo: Bell)

They considered a couple of options for a ground-based monitoring solution: a big monolithic radar like at a large airport, or a low-cost distributed approach to radar such as a corridor with a series of radar arrays placed along it. The team at Bell chose the latter option for testing the feasibility of building out ground-based infrastructure that had the potential to scale up in a future AAM ecosystem, said Holvey. At the corridor, they have 15 total low-cost Echodyne radar with three or four radar per array.

According to the company’s announcement, the DAA demonstration was focused on executing a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) mission in complex airspace while using DAA technology to detect any intruders. The mission utilized Bell’s 429 commercial helicopter in addition to the APT aircraft. Additionally, the Bell 429 incorporated Bell’s QuantiFLYTM system—an aircraft communication unit—to enable fully automatic flight data monitoring and recording.

Holvey remarked that one of the most important takeaways was that they had demonstrated “the ability to track an aircraft with a smaller radar signature or radar profile through the airspace,” as well as learning how to validate the effectiveness of tracking the APT aircraft.

Before performing the detect-and-avoid flight with the APT aircraft, Bell utilized Microsoft’s AirSim to observe a simulated flight. (Photo: Bell)

Although the demonstration was a contract between Bell and NASA, they worked closely with Hillwood Development Company and utilized Hillwood/AllianceTexas’ Mobility Innovation Zone (MIZ) as a testing environment. “Hillwood also provided multiple sites for radar setup, and testing was conducted at the AllianceTexas Flight Test Center,” according to Bell’s announcement.

The team at Bell also partnered with Microsoft in order to simulate the flight through the corridor. “We used Microsoft’s AirSim, a simulation environment for autonomous systems,” Holvey said. “We modeled out that corridor in a virtual environment—a digital twin of the real world—and simulated flying our aircraft through that space. We checked if the simulated radar could have full line of sight of the aircraft; were there ever any gaps in coverage as the APT flew through that corridor space?” Running the simulation helped Bell to drive down costs and drive up repeatability of similar deployments.

All of the radar monitoring the APT vehicle’s flight fed into a single operator dashboard. “We had the operator and flight engineers monitoring the radar while performing normal vehicle operations,” Holvey said. They also had weather data flowing in to the dashboard to overlay different conditions such as wind and rain, in addition to ADS-B data that was pulled in. Holvey explained that the demonstration was a “research exercise for the entire ecosystem” which helped Bell and its partners to better understand the future of AAM and what type of surveillance developments will be needed.

The post Bell’s Unmanned APT Aircraft Demonstrates Ground-Based Detect-and-Avoid Flight appeared first on Aviation Today.

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