Preliminary Design Review for F-35 Full Motion Video Data Link Upcoming

October 14th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Preliminary Design Review for F-35 Full Motion Video Data Link Upcoming   
Preliminary Design Review for F-35 Full Motion Video Data Link Upcoming

An upcoming preliminary design review (PDR) will evaluate the use of a full motion video data link for the F-35. (Lockheed Martin)

A preliminary design review (PDR) of a Full Motion Video Data Link (FMVDL) for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is planned before the end of the year, according to the company.

“Overall FMVDL development, including aircraft installation, is progressing per plan to field in 2024,” per Lockheed Martin.

In June last year, Lockheed Martin awarded Cubic Mission Systems a contract to provide FMVDL for the F-35 to give Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) full-motion video and thus better situational awareness for improved targeting and fewer chances of fratricide and collateral damage.

The F-35 is to receive enhanced close air support (CAS) capabilities through the Block 4 software upgrade program, which the Government Accountability Office estimated will cost $10.5 billion.

While the aging Air Force A-10 provides the bulk of close air support, the service has not prioritized a follow-on to the A-10. Last year, under the Light Attack Aircraft experiment, the Air Force chose to buy several Embraer–Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) A-29 Super Tucano aircraft and Textron AT-6 Wolverine turboprops.

In the absence of an Air Force charge toward an A-10 successor, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has stepped in. The DoD fiscal 2021 budget request includes $106 million for SOCOM’s armed overwatch program for armed reconnaissance, strike coordination and reconnaissance, and airborne forward air control. The program is to be a three-phased competition culminating in a live-fly demonstration next month.

Likely competitors for armed overwatch include Embraer-SNC, Textron, Air Tractor, and Leidos, which plans to offer the Bronco II multi-mission aircraft in a team with Paramount Group USA and Vertex Aerospace.

The command plans to examine the offerings ahead of a potential downselect to the demonstration phase next month and could award up to four contracts of $4 million ahead of a tentative production contract. SOCOM could procure up to 75 aircraft between the next five to seven years. In addition, SOCOM has said that it would also consider unmanned systems although they may be more expensive to operate than SOCOM is seeking.

SOCOM “has an operational need and requirement for light attack aircraft for combat mission advisor support,” and congressional legislators “expect the secretary of the Air Force in coordination with the commander of USSOCOM to consider options to synchronize and leverage Light Attack Aircraft experiments efforts to accelerate the procurement or development of aircraft for supporting the Combat Air Advisor mission requirements,” according to the report on the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, P.L. 116-92.

Since August last year, the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) has not responded to email questions on requirements for FMVDL, the compatibility of F-35 avionics with the L3Harris Full-Motion Video Extension Unified Relay (FEURY) system and the L3Harris Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) system carried by JTACs for the exchange of full-motion video. ROVER is compatible with targeting pods, such as the Northrop Grumman Litening and Lockheed Martin Sniper. The JPO has said that draft responses to the questions are under security review.

This article was first published on Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics, it has been edited. View the full original version here.

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Collins Aerospace to Develop Future Vertical Lift Digital Backbone

October 14th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Collins Aerospace to Develop Future Vertical Lift Digital Backbone   
Collins Aerospace to Develop Future Vertical Lift Digital Backbone

The SB>DEFIANT produced by Sikorsky-Boeing is one of two aircraft selected for further testing under the JMR-TD program, a precursor to the Army’s Future Vertical Lift effort. (Boeing)

Collins Aerospace is looking to develop a digital backbone for the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programs. While the modular open systems approach (MOSA) provides standards for creating open systems, it does not cover integration challenges, which the digital backbone would hope to do.

During an Oct. 13 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) webinar, Harold Tiedeman, chief engineer for FVL at Collins Aerospace, presented solutions the company has created for gaps left by MOSA.

“The U.S. Army has that term, digital backbone, which is kind of confusing because when you hear digital you kind of think about digital communications and the Internet,” Tiedeman said. “And really what the Army’s after here is a concept that covers all aspects of an aircraft infrastructure as needed to digitally enable the air vehicle mission systems on mobile Army aircraft.”

Tiedeman said the Army’s goal is to be able to update aircraft without going back to the manufacturer, however industry is still attempting to establish common standards.

“The goal of the digital backbone is to increase the speed in which these capabilities can be put on the aircraft, qualify, and return to service the warfighter,” Tiedeman said. “The Army wants to make these kinds of changes quickly and without upsetting that initial aircraft certification or qualification.”

Collins is looking at four main areas to include in the digital background: mechanical, thermal, power, and data infrastructure.

Tiedeman said Collins is looking to move away from the use of centralized circuit breakers and point to point wiring on the power management side of its digital backbone. Instead, they would use decentralized electronic circuit breakers around aircraft nodal points.

“Traditionally on an aircraft, you’ll have very little flexibility when it comes to installing new equipment because what you have is a centrally installed set of circuit breakers and wiring,” Tiedeman said. “If you want to modify that it usually is pretty expensive…What we’re recommending is that you use kind of a decentralized set of electronic circuit breakers.”

The digital backbone would address energy storage. Most OEM aircraft account for growth, however, this can result in excessive size and cost. Collins is looking at addressing this by using a high energy storage module (HESM). The HESM would provide supplementary power to filter power surges and minimize impacts to the aircraft.

“What it does is filter the mission systems power protecting those critical air vehicle systems,” Tiedeman said. “This also allows the generators to be designed to less than worst-case and provide a scalable source of power that’s supplemental to those main generators and that can be modified much easier when you’re modifying a mission system.”

The thermal management system has static airflow configurations that make integrating new equipment challenging. Collins is recommending an active thermal management system (ATMS) that would adjust the cooling output by using feedback from the thermal management system and exit temperature monitoring.

“If you want to make changes to the equipment installed on an aircraft, it usually involves some fairly extensive modifications to install plumbing, which makes it very difficult to do those kinds of things in the field,” Tiedeman said. “When you make a field pipe upgrade, it makes more sense to use more of an active thermal management system that has some centralized environmental controls but localized cooling—I call it total cooling—that can be modified and changed as you’re changing equipment.”

The digital backbone would look to the commercial aircraft industry as an example for line-replacement unit (LRU) size and mounting standards. The current LRU installation is time-consuming and expensive. They are different for every aircraft and are not uniform in size. By looking to the commercial aircraft industry, Collins hopes to define standards for manufactures to provide flexibility.

Tiedeman described the Army’s vision for data distribution as grand.

“What they want is that all data is available on the digital backbone to every possible consumer of that data,” Tiedeman said.

This would include data from the air vehicle, mission equipment, sensors, and any intermediate process data. The network would have to be scalable to account for changes in aircraft mission systems.

Collins would create a network to move data through diverse functions and serve as a centralized communications channel. They would then use adaptors to bridge legacy data systems to the new digital background. Collins is looking at different technologies for data distribution with the digital backbone like standard ethernet, time-triggered protocol, ARINC 664, and time-sensitive ethernet.

In terms of data isolation, the digital backbone would require all systems to have a high degree of data sharing.

“For example, things like aircraft altitude, navigation, pulse, position, velocity, timing need to be shared between the primary flight systems and things like fight controls, and that also has to be shared with the mission payloads or the payloads themselves and for additional data processing,” Tiedeman said. “So on these aircraft, we can’t really afford to have separate sensors for air vehicle mission systems.”

Tiedeman said the information he shared was a snapshot of where Collins Aerospace is with the digital backbone. Many of the concepts are still being worked on and Collins is working with the Army’s combat capability development command on a program called integrated mission equipment to do further research and further develop these concepts.

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ATSG Expands Omni Air Connectivity Upgrades to ABX Air and ATI Fleet

October 14th, 2020   •   Comments Off on ATSG Expands Omni Air Connectivity Upgrades to ABX Air and ATI Fleet   
ATSG Expands Omni Air Connectivity Upgrades to ABX Air and ATI Fleet

ABX Air, Air Transport International and Omni Air International are adding connectivity upgrades to their fleet of Boeing charter and freighter aircraft. (ATSG Inc.)

Air Transport Services Group Inc. (ATSG), the world’s largest owner and operator of Boeing 767 converted freighter aircraft, is expanding a suite of wireless connectivity upgrades to three of its airline subsidiaries.

According to an Oct. 7 press release, ATSG will be adding some onboard avionics modifications and adopting mobile and ground-based software supplied by Teledyne Controls to Boeing aircraft operated by ABX Air, Air Transport International (ATI), and Omni Air International. Among the connectivity technology being adopted by the three carriers includes Teledyne’s GroundLink Comm+ system, Loadstar Server Enterprise, and enhanced Airborne Data Loader (eADL).

Omni Air has already added the GroundLink Comm+ system to its fleet, and will eventually add the LSE and eADL technology as well. Teledyne describes GroundLink Comm+ as a system capable of supporting real-time data streaming, cabin and flight crew connectivity, wireless distribution of field-loadable software parts, and automated flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) data downloads. Using the system, the data is automatically transferred to ground stations for immediate processing and analysis, without the need for manual retrieval.

Upgrading to the GroundLink Comm+ system also enables airlines to use aircraft communication, addressing and reporting system (ACARS) over Internet Protocol (IP).

Teledyne’s AID+, pictured here, is part of the suite of connectivity upgrades being added to the ATSG Inc. subsidiary airlines’ fleet. (Teledyne Controls

“Our subsidiary Omni Air International’s success with Teledyne’s [flight operations quality assurance] FOQA process and GroundLink Comm+ system made the decision to expand our Teledyne partnership easy,” said Ed Koharik, chief operating officer of ATSG. “Our continued investment in service improvements demonstrates our commitment to improve our industry-leading performance and exceed customers’ expectations.”

Another key upgrade coming to the ATSG subsidiary carriers is the GroundLink AID+, an aircraft interface device (AID) that gives airlines a wireless access point they can use to connect their pilot and flight crew tablets to the GroundLink Comm+. This can enable on-ground 3G/4G/LTE Internet Protocol (IP) connectivity for updating Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) and crew devices, while also providing interfaces to aircraft data and communications systems such as the flight management system, according to Teledyne.

Wilmington, Ohio-based air cargo operator ABX Air operates a total of eight Boeing 767-300s and also has 12 in-service 767-200s as well. ATI, also based in Wilmington has the same fleet structure as ABX, while also operating some Boeing 757-200 freighters. In comparison, Tulsa Oklahoma-based Omni Air International, the only non-cargo operator of the three, operates charter flights with its fleet of 767-200/300ERs and 777-200ERs.

“We appreciate the trust that ATSG has put in Teledyne Controls and we are very happy to be a part of their forward-looking vision,” says George Bobb, president of Teledyne Controls. “The integrated approach ATSG is taking with our GroundLink wireless solutions will deliver significant operational benefits.”

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – October 11, 2020

October 12th, 2020   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – October 11, 2020   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – October 11, 2020

Check out the Oct. 11 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.


Supersonic Air Travel Takes Another Step Towards Independence

Boom Supersonic CEO Blake Scholl did an online rollout of the company’s X-B1 demonstrator on Oct. 7. (Boom Supersonic)

Boom Supersonic, a commercial aerospace company, unveiled the XB-1, a supersonic demonstrator, according to an Oct. 7 press release. XB-1 is the first independently developed supersonic jet.

Built with a carbon-composite airframe and standing 71-feet-long, the XB-1 is designed for the stress of a supersonic flight. It uses three J85-15 General Electric engines producing 12,000 pounds of thrust.

“Boom continues to make progress towards our founding mission—making the world dramatically more accessible,” Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO, said. “XB-1 is an important milestone towards the development of our commercial airliner, Overture, making sustainable supersonic flight mainstream and fostering human connection.”

XB-1 will be tested in a 100 percent carbon-neutral flight program and is expected to fly in 2021.

Boom is developing a supersonic commercial jet, Overture, which is expected to roll out in 2025. XB-1 will demonstrate technologies that will be used for Overture. The Denver, Colorado-based company expects to start flight testing the XB-1 next year.

British Airways Last Boeing 747s Fly for the Last Time

British Airways’ remaining two Boeing 747 aircraft based at Heathrow taxied for take off for the last time on Oct. 8. (British Airways)

British Airways’ remaining two Boeing 747 aircraft based at Heathrow taxied for take off for the last time on Oct. 8, according to a press release published by the airline.

To commemorate the occasion, the two aircraft took to the skies one after the other from runway 27R. Once in the air, G-CIVY circled back over the southerly runway in a farewell to its home before heading to St. Athan where the aircraft will be retired.

G-CIVB, painted in the airline’s historic Negus livery and G-CIVY, in its current Chatham Dockyard livery, are going to be retiring in the UK at Kemble and St. Athan, respectively. Between the two aircraft they have flown 104 million miles in their 47 years of service.


Leonardo and ENAV Join Forces

Leonardo and ENAV are partnering to bring helicopter operators products and services in the advanced navigation field. (Leonardo)

Italian aerospace and defense manufacturer Leonardo is partnering with Italy’s air navigation service provider ENAV to bring helicopter operators products and services in the advanced instrument and navigation field, according to an Oct. 6 press release.

Both companies signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) in Italy. Leonardo and ENAV will use this partnership to develop solutions, procedures, and navigation standards for helicopter operations.

“With this initiative, we confirm our commitment to contribute to Italy’s growth and competitiveness by strengthening a critical infrastructure like our sky as well as the systems and rules regulating its use,” Alessandro Profumo, Chief Executive Officer of Leonardo, said in a statement. “We do this by introducing innovation, digitalization and procedures which will come closer and closer to the future ‘urban air mobility’ scenarios, thanks to the continuous modernization in the field of integration with our expertise in helicopters and the relevant flight safety enabling technologies, air traffic control systems and space technologies. An integrated solution delivering benefits for mobility, safety, environment protection and services for the communities. Italy, with its industrial and technological excellence, confirms its contribution to the efforts made by Europe in this sector with programmes like SESAR and can become a benchmark at an international level.”

Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) procedures, which are carried out by advanced satellite navigation, are used by both Leonardo and ENAV.

“We’re proud of this agreement which shows aviation industry’s ability to create synergies aimed at helping our sector grow and contributing to modernize systems which make flight more efficient and safer,” Paolo Simioni, Chief Executive Officer of ENAV, said in a statement. “Airspace is a prime infrastructure for the Italian and international economy growth. Therefore, we’re investing in technological innovation which must also be sustainable and support the environment. Leonardo and ENAV are two strategic players for the technological and infrastructural development of this sector and this partnership provides further evidence of the technological excellent and quality of ENAV’s people. I’m confident that this collaboration will provide both partners with a competitive advantage in the international market.”

CCX Technologies Expands to New Jersey

CCX Technologies is opening a new office in New Jersey to serve its U.S. customers, according to an Oct. 7 press release. CCX Technologies provides solutions for avionics OEMs and aircraft maintainers.

CCX Technologies will be able to use the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceability to calibrate equipment such as the T-RX Avionics Radio and Pulse Tester. The new office will also provide a space for an advanced technology lab and serve as a hub for inventory management activities.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to get the support they need, whether it’s for our cybersecurity solutions or T-RX Avionics Testers,” Chris Bartlett, president of CCX Technologies, said in the release. “In this unprecedented period, where cross-border travel is difficult, establishing a local presence is an important step that will allow us to deliver the highest possible level of support to our growing U.S. customer base.”

The new office is conveniently located at George Walker Field (KSMQ) in Bedminster. The location was chosen because of its proximity to the airport and access to aircraft.


Elbit Systems Awarded $50M for ANVIS HUD

Army pilots use the ANVIS HUD system, which is a display that connects to the pilot’s helmet. The display features altitude, speed, and heading. (Elbit Systems of America)

Elbit Systems of America was awarded a five-year firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) award for the Aviators’ Night Vision Imaging System/Head-Up Display system (ANVIS HUD), according to an Oct. 7 press release. The $50 million contract was awarded on behalf of the Army by the Defense Logistics Agency.

Army pilots use the ANVIS HUD system, which is a display that connects to the pilot’s helmet. The display features altitude, speed, and heading. Allowing the pilot to see the display on their helmets prevents them from having to look down or inside the cockpit while flying.

Elbit Systems of America’s displays are used on pilots’ helmets in the UH-60, CH-47, and AH-64 fleets.


US Navy Establishing First MQ-25A Stingray UAV Squadron In 2021

Boeing and the U.S. Navy conduct the first test flight of the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler test asset, T-1 on Sept. 19, 2019. (Boeing)

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) directed the establishment of the first MQ-25A carrier aerial refueling unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron to occur next year, ahead of initial vehicle deliveries.

This squadron, Unmanned Carrier Launched Multi-Role Squadron -10 (VUQ-10), is set to be established by Oct. 1, 2021.

According to an internal OPNAV notice dated Aug. 20, VUQ-10 will be based at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., and will support the program of record timeline, milestones, and operational requirements “to support timely delivery of MQ-25A air vehicle operators to the fleet.”

The pre-establishment date is set for FY 2022, which begins in October 2021. The notice said this pre-establishment date is needed to allow personnel time to attain advanced qualification before aircraft delivery.



ZipAir to Install Panasonic Avionics IFC on Boeing 787s

Japanese Airlines (JAL) subsidiary ZipAir is adding in-flight connectivity (IFC) supplied by Panasonic Avionics to its fleet of Boeing 787s, according to an Oct. 8 press release.

ZipAir, launched in 2018, describes itself as a low cost carrier that is looking to define the “New Basic Airline,” and currently operates two 787s transferred from JAL. According to Panasonic, the Tokyo-based carrier’s IFC will be enabled by a “new satellite modem featuring bandwidth up to 20 times greater than previously available.”

“By making the most of in-flight Wi-Fi services provided by Panasonic Avionics, we hope to become an airline that gives customers the freedom to spend time on the plane in their own personal way and that makes flight time feel short,” said Shingo Nishida, president of ZipAir.

AeroVironment Completes Stratospheric Test Flight with Sunglider Solar HAPS

AeroVironment completed a 20-hour test flight of the Sunglider solar-powered high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) at stratospheric altitude while maintaining broadband mobile communication. (HAPS Mobile)

AeroVironment, an aerospace and defense company, completed a 20-hour test flight of the Sunglider solar-powered high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) at stratospheric altitude while maintaining broadband mobile communication, according to an Oct. 8 press release.

The test flight took place 62,500 feet above Spaceport America in New Mexico on Sept. 21. Teams in Tokyo, Spaceport America, and Silicon valley were successfully linked by broadband communications using an LTE payload developed by Alphabet’s Loon lLC and HAPSMobile, who funds the development and testing of Sunglider, during the flight.

“In less than three years AeroVironment and HAPSMobile have made incredible progress, developing two Sunglider solar HAPS unmanned aircraft and performing five consecutive flight demonstrations, culminating in this latest significant milestone,” Wahid Nawabi, president and chief executive officer of AeroVironment, said in the release. “Reaching stratospheric altitude, maintaining continuous flight for more than 20 hours, achieving key test objectives and demonstrating seamless broadband communication illustrate the tremendous potential HAPS technology offers to expand connectivity globally.

The Sunglider was also able to successfully test propulsion, power systems, flight control, navigation, and datalink integrity during the flight.


DOJ Changes Foreign-UAS Policy

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced two new policy revisions on foreign-made unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), according to an Oct. 8 press release. The new policy guidelines focus on public safety and security concerns.

The revised policy addresses cybersecurity and data privacy by blocking foreign governments who the DOJ has identified as “vulnerable to extrajudicial direction” from providing funds to purchase or operate UAS, according to the release.

“This policy change helps ensure that our partners can use these valuable tools to support their law enforcement and public safety missions, without compromising information technology systems or sensitive law enforcement or privacy information,” OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan said in a statement.

The OJP is also requiring the chief executive officer of the applicant’s jurisdiction who requests funds for UAS to certify in writing that they will be responsible for risks posed by malware, improper data collection, or electronic hacking. They must also certify that they will secure communications and data collected by the UAS.

“We take seriously concerns about the use of foreign-made UAS and the potential for related data compromise,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said in the release.  “It is paramount that funding recipients take effective measures to safeguard sensitive information and the public’s privacy and civil liberties while operating these systems in a safe and secure manner.”


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Live Testing, Passenger Data and Simulation Show Low Risk of In-flight COVID-19 Transmission

October 10th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Live Testing, Passenger Data and Simulation Show Low Risk of In-flight COVID-19 Transmission   
Live Testing, Passenger Data and Simulation Show Low Risk of In-flight COVID-19 Transmission

New studies completed separately by Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer used live testing and digital modeling of aircraft cabin airflow to show how low the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in an aircraft cabin actually is. (Airbus)

Among the 1.2 billion passengers that have traveled with commercial airlines since the beginning of 2020, there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 reported where transmission occurred in-flight, new data published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has found.

Data collected by IATA was released during a media briefing Thursday, Oct. 8 alongside presentations given by engineering leadership at Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer. Through the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and real-live testing of passengers coughing in cabins and even airborne human safe viruses, the three companies released the most in-depth data and research on the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 coronavirus in-flight to date.

“The risk of a passenger contracting COVID-19 while onboard appears very low. With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travelers, that’s one case for every 27 million travelers,” Dr. David Powell, IATA’s medical advisor said during the briefing. “We recognize that this may be an underestimate but even if 90 percent of the cases were unreported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travelers. We think these figures are extremely reassuring. Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings inflight became widespread.”

IATA collected the number of times a passenger was thought to have transmitted COVID-19 while in-flight, based on reported data since the beginning of 2020. (IATA)

The industry’s three largest commercial aircraft manufacturers used CFD to model how passengers wearing masks or not wearing them, breathing, coughing and talking can spread molecules through an aircraft cabin while in-flight. While all three used separate assumptions, methodologies, and criteria, they all came to a similar conclusion establishing credible evidence for the low risk an airline passenger faces on an average flight.

Although airlines and manufacturers continue to promote the effectiveness of High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, the downward flow of air and high rates of air exchange that occur in cabins, passengers still express concerns over the ability of airlines to keep cabin environments safe from the risk of COVID-19 transitions. A survey of passengers that traveled during the month of June showed that 50 percent of passengers believe cabin air is as clean as a hospital, while another 50 percent say that they perceive cabin air as being dangerous.

All segments of the commercial air transportation industry have been trying to demonstrate that aircraft cabin environments are safer in some ways than the office buildings, bars, and restaurants that travelers frequent in their everyday lives.

Bruno Fargeon, former head of modeling, simulation, and engineering who took over as the project lead for the Airbus “Keep Trust in Air Travel” initiative said the Toulouse-based manufacturer used CFD to collect 50 million data points about how virus-sized microns and particles can flow through an aircraft cabin, including the airspeed, direction and temperature for each of the data points collected at “1,000 times per second.”

Airbus shows how airflow in a cabin helps to eliminate the spread of molecules transmitted in an aircraft cabin. (Airbus)

When asked how social distancing can be achieved in the aircraft cabin and whether airlines should eliminate the middle seat, Fargeon said the airflow and HEPA filters combined with mask-wearing can eliminate most of the risk associated with in-flight transmission of COVID-19.

“The social distance onboard the aircraft cannot be measured by taking a six-foot measurement. The social distance onboard the aircraft is ensured by the airflow washing away particles and droplets, and clearly, that’s the best protection that you can get today on board an aircraft,” Fargeon said. “The recommendations that are given today in bars and restaurants are places where the ventilation cannot be compared to the degree that you can find into an aircraft. That’s what makes the big difference between an aircraft environment and a classic ground environment.”

CFD modeling also allowed Fargeon’s engineering team to study scenarios where an A320 full of passengers are all wearing masks, some are wearing masks and others are wearing them incorrectly. His team also considered how leakages in cloth masks could allow molecules to escape, while still reaching the conclusion that the top-down airflow and air recirculation system is enough to counter the leakage.

Airbus also has studied some of the proposals of third party suppliers considering the use of curtains or physical plexiglass barriers between seats, finding that they could present more hazards than benefits.

“We do not recommend to use them. Either they’re very small and are not going to protect or they’re large and if they’re large they will distract the flow and disrupt the flow,” Fargeon said.

“They also pose extra challenges, they need to be cleaned, and properly cleaned, and also in aircraft, there are still some emergency recommendations and procedures that we have to respect. With these kind of devices, they also pose some other safety problems in terms of evacuation, they could also pose some other safety problems in terms of fire propagation into the aircraft, so all in all the benefit that it would bring is zero,” he added.

IATA’s data collection and the results of the cabin simulations align with the low numbers of reported in-flight reported in a peer-reviewed study by Freedman and Wilder-Smith in the Journal of Travel Medicine. That study also points to the extra layer of protection provided by passengers wearing masks as well.

All three companies admitted that there is still some risk involved with the possibility of transmitting the virus in-flight. HEPA filters, airflow, and mask-wearing still leave the possibility of a small number of particles emitted by one passenger who could have COVID-19 and not know it still reaching another passenger also seated in the cabin. But they believe that the education they’re providing to passengers and being as transparent as possible about how virus-sized microns flow through a cabin while in-flight shows how the low the risk actually is.

None of the live testing performed by Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer involved the actual simulation of a person who has COVID-19 coughing or breathing openly in-flight. Instead, they used smoke and other methods of studying how microns and molecules are eliminated by the airflow and recirculation that already occurs in cabins today.

Boeing provided an overview of how it is studying molecule movement through an aircraft cabin. (Boeing)

“We’ve actually done testing using MS-2 which is a live virus that is human safe,” said Dan Freeman, the chief engineer for Boeing’s Confident Travel Initiative. “We’ve done a whole variety of things, we’ve done testing with virus-sized particles, we’ve done testing with human safe viruses, in order to make sure that we completely understand the environment.”

Freeman said that Boeing’s analysis also showed that when a cough occurs in a single-aisle aircraft like the 737, their computational simulations and live testing showed that all of the measurable cough particles are eliminated about 90 seconds after the cough occurs. Boeing also found that larger droplets emitted by a person’s cough will drop out of the air faster because they’re heavier, while the “aerosol sized molecules” are the hardest to track and eliminate through airflow alone.

Embraer Senior Vice President of Engineer, Technology, and Strategy Luis Carlos Affonso said that the Brazilian manufacturer saw similar results to the studies performed by Airbus and Boeing. Their CFD and live testing also showed the difference between the risk of molecules generated by a cough reaching the breathing zone of other passengers is about 0.13 percent without a mask and 0.02 percent while wearing one.

“The human need to travel, to connect, and to see our loved ones has not disappeared. In fact, at times like this, we need our families and friends even more,” Affonso said. “Our message today is that because of the technology and procedures in place, you can fly safely – all the research demonstrates this. In fact, the cabin of a commercial aircraft is one of the safer spaces available anywhere during this pandemic.”

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In a First for the DoD, Kubernetes Installed on U-2 Dragon Lady

October 10th, 2020   •   Comments Off on In a First for the DoD, Kubernetes Installed on U-2 Dragon Lady   
In a First for the DoD, Kubernetes Installed on U-2 Dragon Lady

A U-2 Dragon Lady equipped with a U-2 Federal Lab-developed open software architecture orchestrated by Kubernetes parks on the flight line Sept. 22, 2020, at Beale Air Force Base, California.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Luis A. Ruiz-Vazquez)

For the first time, Kubernetes, an open-source container-orchestration system for automating computer application deployment, scaling, and management, was used on an operational major weapons system in the Department of Defense (DoD). The U-2 Federal Laboratory used Kubernetes during a September U-2 Dragon Lady test flight, the Air Force confirmed in an Oct. 6 press release.

During the test flight, which took place at Beale Air Force Base in California, the flight computers on the U-2 were able to use Kubernetes to run advanced machine learning algorithms without any impact on the aircraft’s flight or mission systems.

“The successful combination of the U-2’s legacy computer system with the modern Kubernetes software was a critical milestone for the development of software containerization on existing Air Force weapon systems,” Nicolas Chaillan, the Air Force Chief Software Officer, said in the release.

Kubernetes, which was designed by Google and now maintained by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, uses a container-centric management environment that powers computing, networking, and storage. It also allows for the deployment of complex microservice-based applications with complete automation, according to the Air Force.

The U-2 Federal Laboratory promotes “edge development,” developing new software integration on operational systems in a bounded, safe environment, and brings vertical integration to the aircraft bringing together the warfighter, developer, and acquirer. It is a 15 U.S.C. compliant organization and is approved by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish the 20th Laboratory Accreditation Program in the federal government.

“Given the tremendous value demonstrated by their accomplishments, Air Combat Command is building upon the U-2 Fed Lab construct to establish and accredit this process across the enterprise,” Dr. John Matyjas, Command Chief Scientist, said in the release.  “We look to unleash the power of digital engineering and agile software development to seize the opportunity for rapid evolution of the technical stack; ultimately enabling the unprecedented delivery of capabilities by compressing the time to field advanced technologies at a speed relevant to the warfighter.”

The DoD will use Kubernetes to gather available computing power needed for advanced systems and software and use it on military weapons systems, according to the release. Kubernetes is also used on the F-16

“I’m incredibly proud of the U-2 Federal Lab and our Recce Town Airmen that made flying Kubernetes on the U-2 possible,” Col. Heather Fox, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander, said. “This is a milestone achievement that paves the way for rapid experimentation as we continuously work to bring the future faster and increase battlespace awareness for our Airmen. The integration of Kubernetes onto the U-2 capitalizes on the aircraft’s high-altitude line of sight and makes it even more survivable in a contested environment.  We look forward to working with other platforms across the DoD to export this incredible capability.”

The U-2, which is regularly flown at altitudes over 70,000 feet, collects surveillance and reconnaissance through high-resolution, broad-area synoptic coverage using an optical bar camera that still uses traditional film. It also uses an electro-optical infrared camera, advanced synthetic aperture radar, signals intelligence, and network-centric communication to collect intelligence, which it can transmit in near-real-time.

While this is the first time Kubernetes was used on an operational weapons system, Kubernetes is not new to military aircraft, in 2019 the Air Force put Kubernetes on an F-16 to demonstrate DevSecOps capabilities.  Then in June 2020, Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, then posted on LinkedIn that Kubernetes was being used on the B-21 stealth bomber.

In April, Lockheed Martin received a $50 million contract to give the U-2 an upgraded avionics system, Avionics Tech Refresh (ATR), which uses Open Mission Systems (OMS). This upgrade will be completed and tested in 2022.

The post In a First for the DoD, Kubernetes Installed on U-2 Dragon Lady appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: FAA’s Peter Skaves Talks Aircraft Systems Information Security Protection

October 10th, 2020   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: FAA’s Peter Skaves Talks Aircraft Systems Information Security Protection   
PODCAST: FAA’s Peter Skaves Talks Aircraft Systems Information Security Protection

Peter Skaves is the chief scientist and technical advisor for advanced avionics for the Federal Aviation Administration.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Peter Skaves, chief scientist and technical advisor for advanced avionics for the Federal Aviation Administration gives some of the agency’s latest guidance on how commercial airlines can protect connected systems onboard.

The episode features the presentation Skaves gave during the recent Global Connected Aircraft Summit’s Cabin Chats 2020 program that took place Sept. 22-24. You can view all of the sessions from Cabin Chats on-demand for free here with email registration.

Skaves has been with the FAA for 29 years, publishing numerous white papers on issues such as aircraft systems information security protection, systems safety, and development assurance processes, software, electronic flight bag, communication systems, and Technical Standard Orders (TSO) for security consideration.

“We believe that the greatest threat is the exploitation of aircraft electronic access points via public networks such as the internet or counterfeit computer integrated circuits,” Skaves said during the presentation.

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

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

The post PODCAST: FAA’s Peter Skaves Talks Aircraft Systems Information Security Protection appeared first on Aviation Today.

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B1-B Systems Engineer Explains How IBS Makes Future Bomber Upgrades Easier

October 9th, 2020   •   Comments Off on B1-B Systems Engineer Explains How IBS Makes Future Bomber Upgrades Easier   
B1-B Systems Engineer Explains How IBS Makes Future Bomber Upgrades Easier

A modification that began as three separate cockpit upgrades before eventually becoming one, the International Battle Station (IBS), was completed on a fleet of 60 U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers in late September. (U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force’s B-1B bombers  have an all-new Integrated Battle Station (IBS) equipped with a fully-integrated data link (FIDL), vertical situational display upgrade (VSDU), and improved central integrated test system (CITS). 

The IBS modification, which started in 2012, was announced as completed in a Sept. 24 press release. The cockpit upgrade included four new displays for the pilot and copilot, six new displays for the weapons systems operators, and new control equipment for the flight crew, Dan Ruder, B-1 systems engineering manager at Boeing told Avionics International

“The primary capabilities that Integrated Battle Station brings is downlink capability, which is line of sight Link 16 data connection and then a UHF satellite radio using J-link or joint range extension application protocol for beyond line of sight downlink capability,” Ruder said.

IBS provides flight crews a significant improvement in situational awareness and allows the display of onboard aircraft sensor data to be used in new color formats that overlay on a moving map and present data to the flight crew in an intuitive manner. The primary flight displays for the pilot and co-pilot were also updated. 

“All aircraft outfitted with the Integrated Battle Station modification enhancements provide the four members of the aircraft with much greater ’battlefield‘ awareness of surrounding threats whether those threats are air-to-air or ground-to-air, and provides a much faster capability to execute both defensive and offensive maneuvers needed in any conflict,” Rodney Shepard, director of the 567th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said in a statement.

A central integrated test system is also included in the IBS modification, which Ruder explains as a diagnostic system that allows operators or maintainers to monitor over 9,000 parameters on the aircraft all the way from higher temperature hydraulic pressures to the status of the aircraft’s communication, navigation and surveillance systems. 

U.S. Air Force Maj. Shane Garner, 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron, completes a flight in the first newly upgraded operational B-1B Lancer Jan. 21, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Ebensberger/Released)

The IBS modification was installed on 60 B-1Bs and took a total of eight years and 1,0505,000 hours of planned labor, according to the Air Force. IBS also saved the Air Force a total of 987 aircraft availability days.

“Boeing provided the kits and the kits contained about 16,000 parts per kit,” Scot Oathout, bombers program director at Boeing, told Avionics. “Out of those 16,000 parts, there were like 37 new or modified line replaceable units. There were over 19,000 new and modified wire segments or wire harnesses.”

Originally pitched as three separate modifications, FIDL, VSDU, and CITS, the IBS modification was instead completed as a singular upgrade.  

The B-1 was originally developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the B-52s, canceled in 1977, and then revived by the Reagan administration in 1981. The B-1 is a long-range, multi-role heavy bomber and it is best known for its large conventional payload of 75,000 pounds. While it only flew less than one percent of combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom, it delivered 43 percent of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) used, according to the Air Force. 

The B-1 has transformed many times before, originally starting as a nuclear penetrating bomber, its nuclear mission was eliminated in 1994 and then converted to a conventional mission profile in 2007 with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty. 

Ruder, who was has watched the B-1 transform while working on it for over 35 years, said the IBS modification ensures the B-1 can grow into future capabilities. 

“With IBS that has even enhanced the capability of aircraft greatly with that deadly capability and the situational awareness the aircraft and really put the infrastructure into the aircraft, so that we can now do even additional missions, let’s say like hypersonic weapons carriage missions or those long-range strike missions,” Ruder said. “The IBS pretty much put that infrastructure in place to be able to allow us to grow that aircraft for future capability.”

The multimission B-1B “Lancer” bomber can deliver an extraordinary quantity and diversity of weapons anywhere in the world within hours. (Boeing)

The IBS modification also makes further improvements to the B-1 easier giving the aircraft increased computational and processing power. 

“We put additional processors into the aircraft with multiple single-board computers inside those processors,” Ruder said. “We increased the computational power of the aircraft significantly with the IBS upgrade. Also, it went from what I would call a federated system to a distributed network so if you put an Ethernet network on the aircraft that makes incorporating new capabilities into the airplane much easier. We have much more processing power and of course, we upgraded to a more modern software code. We went to primarily C++.”

Ruder said they are currently working on long-range strike missions capabilities and hypersonic weapon integration for the B-1 with the new IBS modifications. 

“We are focused on long-range strike missions and hypersonic weapon integration, which is the right thing really the future for the platform is to be that global strike aircraft with hypersonic capability on the aircraft,” Ruder said. 


The post B1-B Systems Engineer Explains How IBS Makes Future Bomber Upgrades Easier appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Boeing Projects Hardship for Commercial and Stability for Defense

October 7th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Boeing Projects Hardship for Commercial and Stability for Defense   
Boeing Projects Hardship for Commercial and Stability for Defense

The 2020 BMO projects hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue in the commercial sector with its defense market remaining stable. (Boeing)

The 2020 Boeing Market Outlook (BMO) and 2020 Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) was released projecting continued challenges for the commercial aviation and service markets and stability for the global defense and government service markets, according to an Oct. 6 press release

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant hardship for airlines, who have seen a 90 percent decline in passenger traffic in 2020. The new BMO projects a $2 billion decline from last year’s projection with a total market value of $8.5 trillion over the next decade. Last year the total market value was $8.7 trillion. 

The commercial aviation sectors were hit hardest with projected demand for commercial airplanes down 11 percent from last year. However, the forecast for commercial and government services through 2029 offers a $3 trillion market opportunity, according to the BMO. This opportunity focuses on digital solutions to adjust to market demand. 

“Commercial aviation is facing historic challenges this year, significantly affecting near- and medium-term demand for airplanes and services,” said Darren Hulst, vice president of Commercial Marketing at Boeing. “Yet history has also proven air travel to be resilient time and again. The current disruption will inform airline fleet strategies long into the future, as airlines focus on building versatile fleets, networks and business model innovations that deliver the most capability and greatest efficiency at the lowest risk for sustainable growth.”

The CMO predicts that the widebody airplane market will suffer long-term effects from the pandemic while the single-aisle airplanes, like the 737 MAX, will recover quicker. Operators are expected to need 32,270 new single-aisle airplanes in the next 20 years. The widebody demand sits at 7,480 new passenger planes by 2039. 

The CMO projects growth in passenger traffic and air cargo demand, each increasing 4 percent annually. 

The defense and military sectors could provide Boeing with a $2.6 trillion market opportunity, according to the BMO. 

“While this year has been unprecedented in terms of its disruption to our industry, we believe that aerospace and defense will overcome these near-term challenges, return to stability and emerge with strength,” Boeing Chief Strategy Officer, Marc Allen, said.

Boeing’s defense and space market is boosted by the national and international demand for military aircraft, autonomous systems, satellites, and spacecraft, 40 percent of which are expected to be sold outside the U.S. 

Aviation services are still expected to be in demand with the served market for commercial services valued at $1.6 trillion and government services valued at $1.4 trillion. 

The post Boeing Projects Hardship for Commercial and Stability for Defense appeared first on Aviation Today.

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AerSale Nears Certification for Boeing 737 Wearable Display System

October 7th, 2020   •   Comments Off on AerSale Nears Certification for Boeing 737 Wearable Display System   
AerSale Nears Certification for Boeing 737 Wearable Display System

AerSale is nearing completion of its flight testing of a head wearable enhanced flight vision system, AerAware. (AerSale)

AerSale expects to achieve Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification for a head-worn display enhanced flight vision system (EFVS), AerAware, for the Boeing 737-800 NG by the end of the year.

The Florida-based aircraft leasing, aftermarket parts, and modification provider first partnered with Universal Avionics in April 2019 to develop a supplemental type certificate (STC) for Universal’s SkyLens wearable head-up display (HUD) on the Airbus A320. Now, AerSale is nearing the completion of its flight testing of AerAware on a modified 737-800 NG, anticipating STC approval from the FAA by the fourth quarter and follow-on approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) next year.

AerAware is described by AerSale as combining real-time aircraft systems data, advanced multispectral camera imaging, and synthetic vision onto a head wearable display. A key aspect of the wearable display is its ability to provide pilots with required visual approach and landing references earlier in the airport landing approach process.

“This enables pilots to descend below published natural vision instrument approach minimums,” and “allows aircraft dispatch ‘to and from’ airports when visibility is well below published natural vision instrument approach minimums,” according to a Sept. 29 AerSale press release.

Modification of the 737-800 NG to enable the initial flight test evaluation of AerAware included a new radome to accommodate the camera installation, system wiring, connectors, and mounting hardware in equipment bays and flight deck.

AerSale Engineered Solutions Division President Iso Nezaj believes that the new STC could open more interest in the use of wearable HUD technology by commercial airline pilots. Previous adoption of the technology has primarily been limited to military aircraft operations.

“The successful integration of Universal’s ClearVision EFVS into AerSale’s AerAware product brings a superior advanced system available as a retrofit to existing commercial aircraft,” Nezaj said in a statement. “The quality and content of the imagery seen by the pilot wearing our HWD is second to none. Our technology integrates military-grade hardware onto existing commercial aircraft and will be a preferred EFVS solution in the large existing addressable commercial fleet market.”

The company is also hoping the FAA’s December 2016 EFVS rule – FAR 91.176 – permitting operators to use the technology to achieve lower landing minima will also inspire more commercial airline interest as well.

“We were ecstatic to partner with Universal to provide our engineering and modification expertise to install ClearVision EFVS into commercial aircraft,” AerSale CEO Nicolas Finazzo, said. “We immediately recognized that the Universal EFVS technology was superior to anything else that was available and decided to include virtually all commercial aircraft platforms in our STC development process.”

The post AerSale Nears Certification for Boeing 737 Wearable Display System appeared first on Aviation Today.

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