The goal of the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) technical standards is to make military aircraft platforms more interoperable, affordable, and quickly upgradeable. Boeing, the Army, AdaCore, and Presagis came together during the Accelerating Avionics Design & Testing through FACE Conformance webinar to discuss how each of their technologies was able to be integrated within each other’s platforms using the FACE Technical Standards to create improved military avionics systems.
Boeing is using the FACE Technical Standards on platforms like FARA and FLRAA mission systems, advanced Apache, ARINC 661 Cockpit Display System, and its Flight Deck Software which features the Geospatial Embedded Mapping Software (GEMS) and User Experience (UX) Flight Deck framework, Mark Moody, technical fellow at Boeing, said during the panel. Because Boeing is using the FACE Technical Standards in these platforms, other FACE conformant technology can be easily integrated.
“The Boeing avionics flight deck demonstration would not be possible without our partners,” Moody said. “AdaCore has provided their GNATPro development suite, Boeing is providing the UX Crew Systems framework and GEMS digital map, Presagis is providing the ARINC-661 CDS [Cockpit Display System], RTI is providing the FACE TSS [Transport Services Segment], U.S. Army DEVCOM is providing ARINC 661 user applications.”
The Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) is leveraging UHPO’s Crew Mission Systems (CMS) engine-indicating and crew-alerting system (EICAS) and fuel monitoring capability to integrate into Boeing’s Flight Deck Software in a display window. By using FACE Technical Standards, they only had to make one change to the code to do this, however, they are hoping to get to a point where no changes are necessary.
“This integration was successful due to ARINC 661 and the FACE Technical Standard,” Chris Edwards, the lead systems engineer for CMS at DEVCOM, said. “The applications we developed support the FACE 2.1 Technical Standard and for this demonstration, the only code modification that was necessary was a couple of constants in our iCast page due to the change in screen size. The rest of the CMS software was simply recompiled as it relates to the latest RTI DDS software.”
The integration of these technologies reduced costs for Boeing and also allowed them to focus on content creation innovation for workload reduction using GPU computing and machine learning, Moody said.
AdaCore, a software tools company, supplies the GNAT Pro Ada Development Environment used to implement Boeing’s GEMs code, Benjamin Brosgol, a member of the senior technical staff at AdaCore and the vice-chair of the FACE Consortium’s technical working group, said. The GNAT Pro Ada Development Environment is a toolset for designing, implementing, and maintaining applications that require high reliability and maintainability, such as military aircraft.
“The Ada language and AdaCore’s static analysis tools help catch errors and vulnerabilities early, which cuts cost,” Brosgol said. “More specifically in a FACE context we have several Ada runtime libraries that have been part of DO-178C certified airborne systems, and which implement the safety and security capability sets defined in the FACE technical standard. And one of our static analysis tools is a coding standard checker, which can verify that a customer’s FACE software stays within the constraints of these Ada capability sets.”
Presagis’ ARINC 661 CDS allows Boeing and Army DEVCOM to share a single display using ARINC 661 compliant user applications, OpenGL, and legacy applications, Matt Jackson, the technical product manager at Presagis, said. The Presagis software tools are used to create layer definition files which control the layout of the user applications on the display.
Creating an open architecture standard for avionics systems will change the way companies build and upgrade avionics systems making aircraft easier to develop and maintain.
“The FACE approach is, first of all, it starts with a technical standard that defines a common operating environment designed to promote portability and create software product lines across the military aviation domain,” Chip Downing, senior market development director at RTI, said. “What that means that we can create different types of software application levels or below that grow across aircraft platforms. We’re breaking the model of using one set of software for one type of aircraft, you can now move this between aircraft, whether that’s manned or unmanned.”
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Shortly after British Airways announced a new partnership with hydrogen-powered aircraft startup ZeroAvia, Amazon joined a number of new investors backing their plan to develop a 19-seat zero-emission turboprop by 2023.
California-based ZeroAvia completed a series of test flights earlier this year with a Piper Malibu Mirage turboprop modified with a 300-kilowatt (kW) battery electric power system along with a customized cockpit display and computer. In a Dec. 16 press release, ZeroAvia confirmed $21.4 million in a new Series A round of funding lead by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Ecosystem Integrity Fund.
Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Horizons Ventures, Shell Ventures, and Summa Equity have also joined as follow-on investors. In addition, the U.K. government committed to $16.3 million in non-dilutive funding through its Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Program designed to increase the nation’s competitiveness in civil aerospace.
“Our most recent milestone achievements are closing the gap for the airline industry to begin its transition away from fossil fuels. In fact, over ten forward-looking airlines are now gearing up to implement our powertrains when they are ready in 2023,” Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia said in the release. “Both aviation and the financial markets are waking up to the idea that hydrogen is the only meaningful path towards large-scale, zero-emission commercial flight. Powering a 100-seat plane on hydrogen is not out of the question.”
According to ZeroAvia, the new funding will contribute to the next phase of their research and development to test a certification-ready version of their ZA-600 powertrain that is capable of 10-20 seat aircraft up to 500 miles. The new investors come following ZeroAvia’s completion of the U.K.’s first ever electric-powered flight of a commercial-scale aircraft in June, and the first hydrogen-fueled commercial-grade aircraft flight using their Piper M-class six-seater turboprop in September.
Both flights occurred at Cranfield Airport, where ZeroAvia’s research and development facility is located along with hydrogen production and refueling infrastructure created to offer a prototype of what a future hydrogen airport refueling system will look like.
“Amazon created The Climate Pledge Fund to support the development of technologies and services that will enable Amazon and other companies to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement ten years early—achieving net zero carbon by 2040,” said Kara Hurst, VP Worldwide Sustainability, Amazon. “ZeroAvia’s zero-emission aviation powertrain has real potential to help decarbonize the aviation sector, and we hope this investment will further accelerate the pace of innovation to enable zero-emission air transport at scale.”
The British Airways partnership with ZeroAvia is part of the International Airline Group’s (IAG) Hangar 51 technology accelerator program that is working to provide startups with the opportunity to develop future technologies that can be tested in real-world scenarios. Under the partnership, ZeroAvia’s team will work remotely alongside mentors and experts from the airline to address challenges associated with integrating fossil fuels and zero-emission hydrogen into their future fleet.
“British Airways is committed to a sustainable future and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In the short-term this means improving our operational efficiency and introducing carbon offset and removal projects, while in the medium to longer-term we’re investing in the development of sustainable aviation fuel and looking at how we can help accelerate the growth of new technologies such as zero-emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft,” Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, said in a Dec. 12 press release.
In 2021, ZeroAvia expects to further demonstrate the credibility of its technology at longer ranges with larger aircraft. Beyond 2023, by 2027 ZeroAvia wants to have power plans in service capable of powering commercial flights of over 500-miles operated by aircraft with up to 100 seats.
The post Amazon, British Airways Among New Companies Partnering and Investing with ZeroAvia appeared first on Aviation Today.
Last month, Lockheed Martin demonstrated distributed processing using Kubernetes aboard the U.S. Air Force U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, as the company continues to develop a U-2 Open Mission Systems (OMS) computer, the company said on Dec. 14.
“The demonstration is a critical steppingstone toward creating a DevSecOps [development, security, and operations] environment to enable the delivery of enhanced software capability to airborne assets in real-time,” the company said.
“The U-2 flew a Kubernetes cloud that connected in-flight to a ground node, extending the U-2’s network-of-networks connectivity,” per Lockheed Martin. “Air Force OMS-compliant datalink gateway software services onboard the U-2 and in the ground node within the Kubernetes cloud disseminated sensor data, dynamically bridging datalinks across assets. This distributed processing approach allows the cloud computing technology to scale up for advanced mission processing based on the unique needs of the battlespace.”
Jeff Babione, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, said in a statement that the demonstration “not only advances the deployment pipeline for in-flight software upgrades but also operationally extends the computational resources for mission execution” and that “this additional capability makes it possible for the warfighter to quickly adapt to changing threat environments without costly or time-consuming system upgrades.”
In April, Lockheed Martin received a $50 million contract to give the U-2 an upgraded avionics system, Avionics Tech Refresh (ATR), which uses OMS. This upgrade will be completed and tested in 2022.
The Kubernetes cloud configuration, demonstrated during the OpenAirKube demo in late August, “was flown on the U-2 via an Enterprise Open System Architecture Mission Computer (EMC2),” Lockheed Martin said. EMC2 is to be a stepping stone toward the U-2’s OMS computer.
Nicholas Chaillan, Air Force’s first Chief Software Officer since 2018, has said that before he helped establish the DoD DevSecOps reference design, the Pentagon had been using “Waterfall” software methodologies that led to the slow fielding of software–once every three to 10 years.
In October, Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper said that the service had, for the first time, updated software code on a U-2 in flight.
The two in-flight software updates involved a “docker containment generating log files” and “improved target recognition algorithms,” Roper said.
The U-2 Federal Laboratory at Beale AFB, Calif., used a Sandia Labs Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Automatic Target Recognition software package for the U-2’s EO/IR sensor during the flight, the Air Force said. Because of the “docker containment,” the EO/IR software could not affect other software on the plane during the flight.
The Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC) at Langley AFB, Va., has been testing a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) that uses open-source container-orchestration systems, such as the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) Kubernetes, originally designed by Google, for improving cybersecurity through the automation of computer application deployment, scaling, and management.
This article was first published in Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics International, check out the full story here.
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Global navies are closer to having a tactical unmanned aerial system (UAS) with autonomous takeoff and landing (ATOL) approaches after Airbus completed a test for its VSR700 program using its automatic flight control system (AFCS) to land the aircraft on a moving platform without pilot assistance. The AFCS will now complete sea trials with the Système de Drone Aérien pour la Marine (SDAM) for the French Navy.
The big achievement of this test flight was landing the UAS on the moving platform which simulated landing on a moving ship deck. This was achieved using Airbus’ DeckFinder system, which uses sensors to position the helicopter relative to the ship deck, high-performance sensors on the aircraft to monitor the ship position and attitudes, and a communication system, which transmitted data between the AFCS and ground control station, Laurence Petiard, head of communications at Airbus Helicopters, told Avionics International.
“A primary challenge for any naval drone is to approach ships in heavy seas as its landing pad moves toward or away from it, on rolling swells that reduce or lengthen the relative distance,” Nicolas Delmas, head of the VSR700 program, said in a press statement. “Flying in such conditions, the difference of a few centimeters can determine the fate of an entire mission.”
The aircraft landed on the DeckMotion Simulator, a moving pad mounted on a trailer, proved by Airbus Defense and Space, according to Airbus. DeckFinder communicated with the DeckMotion Simulator through sensors to determine the landing position.
“DeckFinder transmits the platform’s position in real-time to the OPV’s automatic pilot with a very high level of accuracy, which cannot be achieved with classical positioning equipment like a GPS. This accuracy is crucial to achieving the final phase of the approach and the landing on a moving reference like a ship deck to enable the landing,” says Delmas.
The VSR700 system flies completely autonomously with no human action, however, a ground operator can send “high level” commands to the drone that would modify the pre-defined navigation route or trigger the take-off and landing maneuvers, Petiard said.
“The automatization has required deep analysis to enable a system to perform complex maneuvers which are normally achieved by a human being (piloting strategy),” Petiard said. “As a consequence, the existing helicopter system including the various navigation sensors, and the software architecture have been widely reworked to improve its performance while ensuring the maximum level of safety of the autonomous flight.”
The VSR700 is made for vertical takeoff and landing UAVs (VUAV) in the 500 to 1,000 kg class and will be stationed onboard frigates and destroyers with manned helicopters completing security missions, search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, and intelligence surveillance target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR), according to Airbus. It is designed to carry loads made up of high capability sensors.
“The objective of the SDAM is to complement and extend the operational capacities of the French Navy,” Petiard said. “…the SDAM will complement the operational asset of the manned helicopter on French Navy ships while allowing them to preserve the potential of manned helicopters by limiting their use to missions where the presence of human pilots is mandatory. Also, the benefit of the SDAM is to be able to replace manned helicopters for some dull, dangerous, or dirty missions, for which modern highly valuable and expensive platforms with their crews are not ideal.”
The post How the Airbus VSR700 Drone is Moving Closer to Autonomously Landing on Navy Ships appeared first on Aviation Today.
Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) technical standards, a common backbone architecture for sensors on embedded systems, are evolving as the consortium behind their development gets closer to starting its certification process. During a Dec. 3 webinar, experts from Elma Electronic, Pentek, and Kontron discussed the changes that have been made to SOSA and the status of the certification process which could be up and running by next summer.
There are two key documents that will help define the SOSA Conformance Certification Process: the Conformance Policy, which will outline the policies and process of the SOSA Conformance Certification Program, and the Conformance Certification Guide, which will help suppliers who want to certify products within the program.
The Conformance Policy will be published early next year with the Conformance Guide coming in the second quarter of 2021, Mark Littlefield, vertical product manager for defense at Kontron, said. Revision 1.0 will then be publicly released in May with the certification program starting shortly after.
“Acquisition authorities like the US government and the Defense Department are going to specify that they want SOSA conformant product for their systems for some systems, not every defense system out there is going to want this but there are some that’s going to,” Littlefield said. “They want some assurance that the components that are being chosen for that system in fact meet the standard.”
SOSA is one of four open system standards that was mentioned in association with the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) memorandum signed by Air Force, Army and Navy officials in January 2019. The standard uses VITA’s OpenVPX architecture to allow the design and implementation of high-speed, high-power switched fabric-based systems that are capable of integrating single board computers into sensor platforms.
What that could mean for flight control systems in the future is the easier introduction of new capabilities that only require the slotting in and out of cards with new capabilities on existing systems, rather than the type of massive re-wiring and hardware replacement that typically takes years to complete across defense aircraft programs.
The certification process will involve a third party verification authority who will check the sensor component for approved criteria, Littlefield said. The certification will last for three years and can be renewed after. Littlefield said the cost has not been defined yet.
However, before the Conformance Policy is published the technical standards are still being updated with new requirements.
The use of refined slot profiles will now be required in SOSA, Ken Grob, director of embedded computing architectures at Elma Electronic, said during the webinar. They must support the commonly used slot profiles in SOSA: primary payload, secondary payload, central switch, timing slot, and I/O intensive SBC.
The backplane, which is needed to receive and interconnect SOSA Plug-In Cards (PIC) and power supplies, will need to be updated to support 25 Gb/s of ethernet instead of 10 and have 3U and 6U Plug-Ins instead of only 3U, according to Grob.
“What happened is as the speeds increase that needed to be supported relative to the interconnect and protocols,” Grob said. “This is because of the bandwidth needs for the applications.”
The standards will require a new high-density VITA 67 radio frequency (RF) and optical input/output (I/O), Rodger Hosking, vice president of Pentek, Inc., said during the panel. This will eliminate the front panel I/O connections making maintenance easier and improving reliability. The coaxial, optical, and mixed optical RF will also support a growing vendor base and products.
“The nice thing about this is that it allows a single backplane to be designed by some, let’s say Elma, that then can be reconfigured based on the inserts that go into these apertures to support different kinds of RF and optical IO as required without having to incur the cost of designing a new backboard on a new backplane, to be able to accept that new standard,” Hosking said.
The SOSA technical standards will help increase the effectiveness and cost savings in military aircraft avionics. Because these avionics systems are traditionally a collection of sub-systems, making any changes to them was limited to replacing the entire sub-system, Hosking told Avionics International in an emailed statement.
“SOSA offers significant solutions to this traditional methodology,” Hosking said. “First of all, the internal electronics, software, and packaging must be based on open standard architectures, notably OpenVPX. Upgrading a SOSA system can mean keeping the existing sub-system, but replacing one SOSA-compliant plug-in card with another to add new device technology, higher performance levels, faster computing power, and higher signal and data bandwidths. Secondly, SOSA limits the number of different plug-in card types to a very small sub-set of OpenVPX profiles, enhancing interchangeability across vendors and function. Finally, smaller companies can participate in the SOSA vendor community to offer competitive solutions shortly after new technology components become available.”
By using the SOSA technical standards on technology like an electronic warfare radar countermeasure upgrade to a fighter jet, new innovations are able to keep pace with the continuous advancements in radar technology. Being able to replace a SOSA board with a new board with required capabilities will be a major benefit because it will allow upgrades to be made in far less time, Hosking said.
The post SOSA Technical Standards Coming in Summer 2021 with New Updates appeared first on Aviation Today.
Check out the Dec. 13 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.
On Wednesday Dec. 9, SpaceX executed its most extensive test of its Starship rocket to date, demonstrating a landing flip maneuver before the rocket returned to the launch pad in a fiery crash.
During the high altitude test, the Starship prototype (SN8) took off from SpaceX’s launch pad in Cameron County, Texas at 5:45 p.m. ET. SpaceX reported that SN8 successfully ascended, transitioned propellant, and performed its landing flip maneuver, demonstrating flap control to reach the landing point. The test took place after a scrub on Tuesday.
The test was streamed live on YouTube, showing the rocket flip onto its side at about 4:40 after liftoff, while the flaps adjusted. The rocket then reoriented itself about 6:30 into the mission before crashing back onto the launch pad ten seconds later.
According to NASASpaceFlight, the goal was for the rocket to reach 12.5 km in altitude after originally targeting 20 km and then reducing it to 15 km. SpaceX has not confirmed what altitude SN8 reached. Previous Starship tests have been hops of 150 m or less.
Read the full story in Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics International.
JetBlue Airways completed its first test flight of Airbus’ A220-300 at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, Airbus announced in a Dec. 9 press release. The airline’s first A220 aircraft debuted this fall featuring a brand new tail fin livery called “Hops” designed by JetBlue.
The aircraft will be outfitted with a single-class cabin configuration and carry passengers on many short trips together as part of a larger journey, commonly referred to as “hopping,” according to JetBlue.
JetBlue has ordered a total of 70 Airbus A220s that will be delivered to their New York hub before the end of the year, according to the release. The A220 is advantageous because of the flexibility offered by its range and seating capacity.
The A220 has a 50 percent reduced noise footprint and burns 25 percent less fuel burn per seat making it the quietest and cleanest aircraft in its category, according to the release. It also has 50 percent lower NOx emissions than industry standards.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Air Traffic Management – eXploration (ATM-X) is requesting information for the integration of large unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for cargo operations, according to a new contracting opportunity. The request for information (RFI) states a need for a comprehensive concept of operations for UAS cargo operations.
NASA ATM-X wants to have a complete system to demonstrate for cargo UAS in 2025, according to the RFI. The RFI looks to learn about industry investment, understand the challenges, and help determine a partnership strategy with the industry for cargo UAS.
Through the RFI, NASA wants to determine how to efficiently partner with the industry and obtain information about the current technological capabilities of cargo UAS. They would also want to know fiscal rough orders of magnitude (ROM) and if the industry can meet its timeline for research and development.
Lockheed Martin is working with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to develop a new fighter plane for the Japanese Air Force which will replace Japan’s F-2 fleet, Reuters reported on Dec. 11. MHI was awarded the primary contractor for the new aircraft by Japan’s Ministry of Defense in October.
The new fighter jet is expected to be released in the 2030s and is projected to cost around $40 billion.
Lockheed Martin had also worked with MHI to develop the F-2.
The Boeing Co., General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., and Kratos Unmanned aerial Systems Inc received contracts from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center for missionized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototypes for the Skyborg Vanguard program, the Air Force announced on Dec. 10. By May 2021, the prototypes will be delivered to the Air Force for initial flight testing with the intention of experiments beginning in July 2021.
The Skyborg Vanguard program aims to integrate autonomous UAVs with open systems that can fly in teaming missions with manned aircraft, according to the release.
“This award is a major step forward for our game-changing Skyborg capability — this award supporting our operational experimentation is truly where concepts become realities. We will experiment to prove out this technology and to do that we will aggressively test and fly to get this capability into the hands of our warfighters,” Brig. Gen. Dale White, Program Executive Officer for Fighters and Advanced Aircraft, said in a press statement.
The contract amounts varied with Boeing receiving $25,784,180, General Atomics receiving $14,317,933, and Kratos receiving $37,771,577.
The B-1B Lancer completed a test flight at Holloman Air Force Base on Dec. 4 where it conducted an external weapon release demonstration launching an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile from an external pylon underneath the fuselage, according to a Dec. 9 press release published by the U.S. Air Force.
“The Air Force Test Center is enthusiastically teaming with the Air Force Global Strike Command to enable greater flexibility in bomber payloads,” Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, Air Force Test Center commander, said in a press statement. “Demonstration of B-1B external carriage reflects the potential to keep weapon systems in the fight with increased combat capability.”
The internal bomb bay was initially modified in 2019 with “box drop” ground tests occurring in October of this year, according to the release. In November the B-1B conducted a captive carry flight.
“AFTC has a long history of certifying external carriage weapons. While this type of testing is far from routine, our testers are the best in the world at managing operational and technical risk to deliver increased combat capability,” Azzano said. “I’m confident our multi-discipline teams will meet the requirements for future stores—including hypersonic weapons—while increasing operational flexibility of the bomber fleet.”
Boeing and the U.S. Navy completed a 2.5-hour test flight of the MQ-25T1 with the Cobham aerial refueling store (ARS) taking the next step towards the development of an unmanned aerial refueler, Boeing announced in a Dec. 9 press release.
The ARS was mounted under the wing to test the aircraft’s aerodynamics, according to the release. The ARS used during the test flight is also used on the F/A-18.
“Having a test asset flying with an ARS gets us one big step closer in our evaluation of how MQ-25 will fulfill its primary mission in the fleet – aerial refueling,” said Capt. Chad Reed, the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. “T1 will continue to yield valuable early insights as we begin flying with F/A-18s and conduct deck handling testing aboard a carrier.”
Lilium, the Munich-based aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) for regional air mobility, announced today an industry-first partnership with Lufthansa Aviation Training (LAT, member of the Lufthansa Group). Together, Lilium and Lufthansa Aviation Training will develop a tailor made Pilot Sourcing and Training program to qualify pilots to fly the Lilium Jet.
The first phase of this innovative program consists of bespoke Lilium type rating training certification for qualified commercial pilots. It will harness technologies including Mixed and Virtual Reality (MR/VR) opening possibilities to recreate the program worldwide and enabling a stable pipeline of qualified pilots to support the growth of the company and the industry.
“Opening a new professional segment for pilots of the future is a challenge we have long been excited to undertake and Lufthansa Aviation Training is the perfect partner. Their insights, experience and dedication to forward-thinking training concepts ensure that our pilots will be selected and trained to the highest calibre, an industry standard which we will establish through this partnership,” Remo Gerber, Chief Operating Officer, Lilium said, commenting on the new partnership.
D3 Technologies, Munich-based urban air mobility (UAM) startup creating an integrated traffic management system, received 2.9 million euros in investments completing its Seed II funding round and allowing it to build its first pilot application in 2021, the company announced on Dec. 9.
D3 Technologies integrated traffic management system will assist in integrating air taxis into the national airspace as the UAM market grows. The ground station, communications solution, and onboard blue box will be installed into test regions in 2022, according to the release.
“For urban air traffic to be able to carry passengers, a paradigm shift in air traffic management is needed,” Corvin Huber, D3 Technologies CEO, said in a press statement. “With D3 Technologies, we are developing a rule-based method for handling man-carrying urban traffic, suggesting a system architecture that follows the required rules, and making a suggestion for means of compliance. In 2021, with the help of our partners, we will lay the foundation for air taxis to take off.”
Companies who invested in the Seed II funding stage include Vector Venture Capital GmbH, the lead investor, SEK Ventures GmbH, EIT KIC Urban Mobility, and Mutschler Ventures AG, according to the release.
“We share the belief of the D3 aviation engineers: In 10 to 15 years, there will be so much traffic over urban areas that solutions as defined today will not be sufficient,” Uwe Gerlinger, Managing Director of Vector Venture Capital GmbH, said in a press statement. “We believe that a highly automated traffic management system is necessary to enable aircraft of the future to share a rather small and crowded airspace. We are investing in D3 because the start-up sees the bigger picture.”
On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, we feature my question and answer session with Nick Van der Meer, Chief Operating Officer of VistaJet from the recent Connected Aviation Intelligence two-day live program that can be viewed on-demand here.
Van der Meer discusses the deployment status and schedule for VistaJet’s new in-flight connectivity technology, LuxStream, across their global fleet of private jets. Vista Global – the parent company of VistaJet and XO – became the launch customer for LuxStream in September 2019, bringing in-flight Internet speeds of up to 25 Mbps in the United States and 15Mbps globally via SES’s managed Ku-band satellite network exclusively to business aviation operators.
The current VistaJet fleet includes 60 aircraft based in Malta with 29 total Global 6000s and the remaining spread across Challenger 850s, 605s, and 350s. In the U.S. they have a fleet of Global 5000s and eight Challenger 350s along with the XO fleet of Citation Xs and Challenger 300s.
The post PODCAST: VistaJet COO Talks Latest Connectivity and COVID-19 Updates appeared first on Aviation Today.
Airbus has committed to equipping all of its in-production aircraft types with line-fit emergency locator technology (ELT) inspired by a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulatory mandate related to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Under a new agreement with Paris, France-based aircraft ELT manufacturer Orolia, Ultima-DT will be installed on a standard basis on all Airbus commercial aircraft programs, including the A220, A320 family, A330, and A350 according to a Dec. 9 press release.
The technology will be installed on Airbus aircraft as part of a single source, multi-year program contract awarded to Orolia. As per the (ICAO) Autonomous Distress Tracking (ADT) mandate was birthed as part of its Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) initiative and European Union mandate, all new aircraft delivered from January 2023 shall be able to autonomously report their location anywhere in the world and determine the end of flight location to help rescue teams rapidly locate the aircraft and recover flight recorders.
“We are extremely proud to be selected by Airbus to provide with the world’s first aircraft manufacturer compliance with the latest safety regulations. A single-source, multi-year program selection for the delivery of mandatory equipment is a testimonial to our innovation capabilities, the reliability of Orolia as a critical equipment manufacturer, and our know-how in terms of large and complex program management,” Orolia CEO Jean-Yves Courtois said in the release.
Developed after the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, it was to occur on or after January 21, 2021. To comply with the mandate, aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of over 27,000 kg (60,000 lbs.) with an airworthiness certificate issued would have to autonomously transmit position information once every minute or less when an aircraft is in distress.
ICAO first adopted Amendment 39 to Annex 6 of its normal aircraft tracking standards and recommended practices (SARPs) in November 2015. The SARPs require operators to track aircraft operating under normal flight conditions every 15 minutes with an optional abnormal-event tracking capability. A separate ADT requirement – the one Orolia’s technology will fulfill on Airbus airliners – was included in ICAO’s standards amendment and has been implemented on a nation-by-nation basis by individual civil aviation regulatory agencies.
Following a two-year postponement, the standard for the distress tracking element of GADSS will now be applicable as of January 2023 for new-build aircraft. Following a survey by ICAO on preparedness, the agency’s Air Navigation Commission recommended this postponement to 2023, which was approved by the ICAO Council this year.
That gives Airbus enough time to integrate the adoption of Orolia’s Ultima-DT into their production schedules. The April 2019 edition of Avionics International featured an overview of Orolia’s lithium-ion battery-powered with an internal antenna capable of transmitting 406 and 121.5 MHz signals. The antenna also has embedded global navigation satellite system reception and Orolia also provides a separate ADT module that gets installed within the aircraft’s cockpit control panel.
When Ultima-DT’s tracking module captures a distress signal or condition and transmits it to the ELT, a distress message can be remitted to air traffic controllers, search and rescue agencies, and the aircraft operator’s ground-based personnel. The module’s signaling of a distress condition then also triggers minute-by-minute tracking.
In the event of an aircraft experiencing a power failure, the new ELT still transmits distress signals to the COSPAS SARSAT satellite system, which has provided free search and rescue satellite emergency locator service to the aviation industry for more than 20 years.
Whereas previous generation ELT distress tracking technology was activated by G-forces, Ultima-DT is activated by distress conditions that are likely to lead to a crash or accident.
“First units will be delivered to Airbus for final assembly line installation in 2022, ensuring that aircraft delivered from January 2023 meet the autonomous distress tracking requirements,” Orolia said in the release.
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Joby Aviation received the first military airworthiness approval for an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle from the AFWERX Agility Prime program, Will Roper, Air Force and Space Force acquisition technology and logistics chief, announced during the AFWERX Accelerate webinar on Dec. 10. Joby Aviation and Beta Technologies also publicly confirmed for the first time that they broke ground on charging and simulator stations at Springfield Airport in Ohio during the webinar.
“This is an exciting announcement because it means you are literally seeing a new market emerge,” Roper said. “This is exactly the type of public-private partnership innovation the Air Force and Space Force want to be a part of. We want to make amazing things happen, not just for the military, but for the world. We are excited to see what’s to come for Joby and other companies pushing the boundaries of electric vertical takeoff and landing or flying cars.”
In February Agility Prime launched its Air Race with three different categories of technical requirements for certification, Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX Director, said. The three categories are broken down by payload, range, speed, and endurance.
“We have three areas of interest in which we want to tailor or kind of segment the market, you’ll find that we have the 3-8-passenger, your 1-2-passenger, which is like your trainer, and then your third, which is your cargo only,” Natasha Tolentino, program manager for Agility Prime, said.
Joby Aviation and Beta Technologies matured their technologies and were able to move forward in the Air Race. Both companies then proceeded to work with the Air Force airworthiness authority to create a plan for airworthiness assessments and military flight releases, Diller said.
The Agility Prime program provided access to facilities, resources, and equipment for prototype testing, JoeBen Bevirt, CEO of Joby Aviation, said. He said during the testing they worked on reducing the quality and tone of the noise the aircraft makes so it would be less intrusive.
“Our target is really to have these aircraft be a mainstay of daily mobility and that means that they have to blend into our environments,” Bevirt said. “So that’s kind of a foundational thesis of our aircraft design and one of the beauties of electric propulsion.”
During the webinar, Joby Aviation and Beta Technologies broke ground on simulator stations and a charging station for Beta Technologies at the Springfield airport in Ohio. The simulators will give pilots an opportunity to experience flying these next-generation aircraft, Bevirt said.
Brig. Gen. Heather L. Pringle, Commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), also announced a partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio unmanned aerial systems (UAS) group, and AFRL to field and operate a ground-based detect and avoid system at the Springfield Beckley Municipal Airport.
“The system is SkyVision, and it will meet research and development requirements for unmanned aerial vehicles operating beyond visual line of sight in the national aerospace system,” Pringle said. “SkyVision helps us accelerate innovation for the state and for the nation. For the warfighter, SkyVision enables AFRL to develop and field innovative unmanned aerial solutions to meet warfighter requirements faster and more cost-effectively.”
Joby Aviation also announced a $75 million investment by Uber that included the acquisition of Uber Elevate this week.
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LuxStream, the new in-flight connectivity technology from Collins Aerospace and SES, is scheduled to be installed on up to 45 of the VistaJet in-service aircraft fleet in 2021, the company’s chief operating officer (COO) Nick van der Meer said during a Connected Aviation Intelligence question and answer session hosted by Avionics International and sister publication Via Satellite last week.
Vista Global – the parent company of VistaJet and US-based subsidiary XOJet – became the launch customer for LuxStream in September 2019, bringing in-flight Internet speeds of up to 25 Mbps in the United States and 15Mbps globally via SES’s managed Ku-band satellite network exclusively to business aviation operators. Now, the Malta-based operator has worked through COVID-19 related schedule delays on installments and is looking forward to rolling the service out to more aircraft in its fleet next year.
“Unfortunately, COVID set the schedule for deployment back quite a bit, our first aircraft was at a [maintenance, repair, and overhaul] MRO facility getting the prototype installed and they had all sorts of problems flying the right technicians in to complete some of the upgrades,” van der Meer said. “We have eight aircraft currently fitted and flying with LuxStream and we’re looking to do about two per month moving forward. In the year 2021, we’re looking to install it on about 45 of our aircraft.”
2020 has been a year of progress and operational adjustments for VistaJet integrating the new service onboard its aircraft while also dealing with COVID-19 related regulatory, policy, and transmission-related concerns of passengers and regulators. The current Vista Global fleet includes 60 aircraft based in Malta with 29 total Global 6000s and the remaining spread across Challenger 850s, 605s, and 350s. In the U.S. they operate a fleet of Global 5000s and eight Challenger 350s along with XOJet’s fleet of Citation Xs and Challenger 300s.
This has also been a year of expansion, as they recently acquired RedWing Aviation after XOJET purchased a controlling majority stake in Minnesota-based charter airline Red Wing Aviation that will bring 15 Citation V Ultras to the Vista Global fleet. VistaJet’s performance following the implementation of tighter cross-border travel policies by regulators in March and April is also reflective of how the business aviation segment has outperformed commercial airlines in passenger demand since that time period.
According to an Oct. 6 press release, VistaJet reported a “surge of 49 percent in corporate interest globally since the start of the pandemic.” On the operational side, there are new applications and workflows opening up as a result of the LuxStream deployment.
“We’ve linked the LuxStream technology to our back-end systems and linked it to further Collins systems like electronic flight folios, for example, where our crew are working purely off an iPad and will no longer use paper navigation logs. We also can access and download any data that you would regularly access from the quick access recorder (QAR). Through the bespoke router we can pull down any of that data at any point at any time throughout the flight,” van der Meer said.
Some of the information van der Meer’s team regularly uses the LuxStream router to download data for include takeoff and landing times and the amount of fuel onboard or burned through certain phases of flight. “The iPads used by our pilots are connected via the router to the flight management system, so every time the pilot hits a certain waypoint they’re checking to see the exact amount of fuel they have, and checking to see if everything is working out and does everything look ok, and we’re getting all that data on the ground as well,” van der Meer said.
According to the COO, a web portal provided by Collins Aerospace allows both VistaJet and their passengers to manage all of their billing and in-flight Internet data usage on a per-flight basis as well. While there is some noticeable difference between the 15 Mbps offered internationally versus the 25 Mbps offered inside the U.S., the executive said passengers do not see a major drop off in performance and are still able to stream and use bandwidth-intensive applications across multiple devices simultaneously in-flight.
He described one scenario involving a demonstration flight where a total of 10 devices including laptops, mobile phones, and tablets were all connected and performing either video conferencing calls or streaming videos and they were all able to successfully occur uninterrupted.
Comments made by van der Meer confirmed the download speeds observed by Astronics Corp. during an evaluation of its Ku-band tail-mounted antenna technology to support the Collins Aerospace KuSAT-2000 SATCOM terminal’s ability to support the 25/15 Mbps split between the U.S. and international airspace that occurred earlier this year. During that evaluation Astronics’ team transferred 12 gigabytes of data, testing up to seven devices that were simultaneously streaming HD video as well as voice, video calls, and other communications platforms.
“Your meetings can continue without worrying about will we have a proper internet connection in the sky. You just set the video calls and continue as per your normal schedule or just relax and watch a movie if you choose,” van der Meer said.
As VistaJet continues to roll LuxStream out on more aircraft, the operation will continue to deal with the new normal flight operational environment and conditions imposed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as well. In July, the company took steps to improve its ability to support in-flight medical emergencies, by adding the Tempus IC2 device to its aircraft fleet. Tempus IC2 provides clinical data, images, real-time voice and video, and a connection to MedAire’s ground-based 24/7 team of medical experts.
Operationally, VistaJet has dedicated a special team to monitoring regulatory and policy-related COVID-19 updates and has been successfully managing the situation for the most part.
“It’s tough. Countries are updating their regulations constantly. You have trips that are booked, and 24 hours before the trip departs a new regulation comes into play in some cases. We put a special team in place constantly monitoring all of the various changes that are out there,” van der Meer said. “Our passengers have been very flexible, they want to be as informed as possible before they take off so that they’re not surprised on the other end.”
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