France, Germany and Italy Among Nations to Sign Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability LOI

November 20th, 2020   •   Comments Off on France, Germany and Italy Among Nations to Sign Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability LOI   
France, Germany and Italy Among Nations to Sign Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability LOI

Five nations signed a letter of intent to build NATO’s Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability. (NATO)

Five nations have signed a letter of intent for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Next Generation Rotorcraft Capability (NGRC) project, according to a Nov. 19 press release. France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom will use the NGRC project to replace aging helicopters set to end their life cycle between 2035-2040.

The signing took place virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic with each defense minister signing from their respective capital.

“Medium lift helicopters are a crucial part of allied inventories and a key enabler of rapid deployment and transfer in and out of theaters,” NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană said in remarks during the virtual signing. “Many platforms currently in service are reaching the end of their life cycle and will start to be phased out in the next 15 to 20 years. The goal of this initiative is for participating allies to develop and field the next generation of medium-lift helicopters to ensure a seamless transition between the two generations.”

The development of the NGRC project started in 2015 with a workshop on future requirements and then progressed in 2016 to the formation of the NGRC Team of Experts (TOE) which released a 2018 report stressing the need to update rotorcraft.

Col. Paul Morris, assistant head of air maneuvers for the British Army, spoke about his work with the NGRC TOE in an Oct. 6 presentation reported on by Avionics International. During the presentation, Morris said NATO was looking to medium-range aircraft because of the cost savings that could be optimized by the balance of a medium-range fleet versus a single heavy-lift fleet. Morris also said medium rotorcraft would be optimal for global reach and urban environments.

Morris said the NGRC would look to key technology drivers like flight control and performance, avionics and mission equipment, teaming, and lethality when developing new rotorcraft.

“We’re looking at advancing sectors, fly by wire technology, active control avionics and mission equipment, and the modular consistent architectures,” Morris said. “The trailblazing work that [Future Vertical Lift] FVL is doing, we watch with keen interest. We see this as the way forward.”

Experts from all five nations will put together a Statement of Requirements over the coming years, the release said. In October, Morris said that if a letter of intent was signed at the end of 2020, an industry day would take place in 2021.

“By investing our resources and channeling our development initiative through a multinational framework, we are making sure allies are equipped with the best available capabilities which helps to maintain NATO’s technological edge,” Geoană said

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Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Approved with Alerting, Software and Wiring Changes

November 19th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Approved with Alerting, Software and Wiring Changes   
Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Approved with Alerting, Software and Wiring Changes

The FAA published its rescinding of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet on Wednesday Nov. 18, 2020. (Boeing)

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officially published a rescinding of its emergency order prohibiting the operation of the Boeing 737 MAX, 19 months after the aircraft was grounded following its operation in separate Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines flights that killed a combined 346 passengers and crew onboard.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order rescinding the grounding Wednesday, and the agency published a new Airworthiness Directive (AD) outlining design changes that need to be made to individual MAX airplanes before the in-service fleet returns to passenger-carrying service. The agency estimates that the AD affects a total of 72 aircraft operated by U.S. airlines, while Boeing has another 450 of the MAX aircraft parked in storage waiting to be delivered.

Specific changes required on the MAX by the new AD focus on improving the overall functionality of the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) and its associated systems and components along with some required manual and pilot training updates. MCAS is designed to automatically command the aircraft’s nose-down stabilizer to enhance pitch characteristics when entering steep turns with elevated load factors and flaps up conditions that are approaching stall, according to Boeing.

Among the changes to the MAX required by the new AD include a revision to the aircraft’s flight control software, which now requires inputs from both angle-of-attack (AOA) sensors.

Prior to its grounding, MCAS relied on information from a single AOA sensor feed, making it vulnerable to failure if the data reported by either sensor individually was flawed or erroneous for any reason. Under the new software update, inputs from both sensors are required and the flight control system software will now compare inputs from both sensors if those inputs differ by 5.5 degrees or more for a specified period of time the Speed Trim System (STS), which includes MCAS, will be deactivated for the remainder of the flight.

“The new flight control laws now permit only one activation of MCAS per sensed high-AOA event, and limit the magnitude of any MCAS command to move the horizontal stabilizer such that the resulting position of the stabilizer will preserve the flight crew’s ability to control the airplane’s pitch by using only the control column. This means the pilot will have sufficient control authority without the need to make electric or manual stabilizer trim inputs,” FAA said in the new AD.

A new mechanism for monitoring the performance of each flight control computer and cross-FCC monitoring has also been including in the updated flight control software, according to the AD. There is also a mandate for each 737 MAX that re-enters service to feature an “AOA DISAGREE” alert, a message that will appear on the pilot’s primary flight display if there is a failure in either AOA sensor or if the flight control system experiences a significant calibration issue.

Previously, the AOA DISAGREE alerting message was included on the MAX as a purchase option. This change will require the installation of new MAX display system software.

The FAA provided cost estimates for the required changes established by the new airworthiness directive.

FAA is also requiring changes to the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing, an AOA sensor system test, and an operational readiness flight for each MAX that is targeted for re-entry into service. In a 99-page report analyzing its review of the 737 MAX re-certification program published on the same day as the AD, the agency also summarized the changes to the aircraft’s design and operation established by the rescinding order.

“The MCAS activation software now includes a maximum limit of one nose-down stabilizer activation during a single elevated AOA event and cannot be reset by pilot activation of the electric trim switches,” the agency said.

The overall amount of time required to complete the re-certification program and sign the rescinding order ungrounding the 737 MAX fleet was 20 months, according to a video statement published by Dickson on the FAA’s YouTube page. Before finalizing the AD, the FAA reviewed more than 550 public comments submitted by the proposed AD published in August.

New training requirements for U.S. operators of the MAX have also been published, according to Dickson.

“This doesn’t mean that the MAX will immediately take to the skies, we will still have to approve the 737 MAX pilot training program for every US airline operating the MAX, additionally the FAA will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates of airworthiness for all new 737 MAX aircraft manufactured since the FAA issued a grounding order last year. Airlines that have parked MAX aircraft will also have to follow required maintenance steps to prepare them to fly again,” Dickson said.

During an appearance on CNBC following the publishing of the AD Wednesday, Dickson said the combination of the design changes and training for pilots will make it “impossible” for the MAX to experience the same kind of accident that lead to the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, called the FAA’s directive an “important milestone,” in a Nov. 18 statement published by Boeing.

“We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide,” Deal said.

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FAA, NASA UAS Demonstrations Mark End of UTM Pilot Program

November 19th, 2020   •   Comments Off on FAA, NASA UAS Demonstrations Mark End of UTM Pilot Program   
FAA, NASA UAS Demonstrations Mark End of UTM Pilot Program

The second phase of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management pilot program (UTM/UPP) ended with testing demonstrations in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The second phase of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management pilot program (UTM/UPP) ended with testing demonstrations in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) focused on testing remote identification (RID) technology and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, according to a Nov. 17 press release.

The demonstrations used test sites at the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) and the New York UAS Test Site (NYUASTS) with each event attracting over 100 participants. The demonstrations collaborated with local public safety agencies to show complex UTM capabilities in BVLOS operations, according to the release.

The FAA and NASA demonstrated the ability of the FAA to access information from industry with the FAA UTM Flight Information Management System prototype and infrastructure and exchange secure information between the FAA and industry, according to the release. The demonstrations also used UAS volume reservations and in-flight separation to show how UAS would operate in a high-density environment.

“The demonstrations will help move us closer to safe beyond-visual-line-of-sight drone operations,” Pamela Whitley, the FAA’s acting assistant administrator for NextGen, said in a press statement. “Flight testing UTM capabilities in high-density airspace will help us develop policy for safely and efficiently integrating drones into our national airspace while benefiting and serving communities.”

RID capabilities were validated in the demonstrations using data and new technology to confirm the latest international standards. The highly anticipated RID rules from the FAA are set to be released in December.

The UTM/UPP will inform policy considerations, standards developments, and the implementation of a UTM system. The FAA will now use the results of the program to allow stakeholders to develop capabilities based on lessons learned, according to the FAA.

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Gogo’s John Wade Talks Intelsat Commercial Aviation In-flight Connectivity Acquisition

November 19th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Gogo’s John Wade Talks Intelsat Commercial Aviation In-flight Connectivity Acquisition   
Gogo’s John Wade Talks Intelsat Commercial Aviation In-flight Connectivity Acquisition

John Wade is the president of commercial aviation for Gogo.

 

In early September, Intelsat made the move to acquire Gogo’s Commercial Aviation business for $400 million. Despite the aviation industry’s struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic and Intelsat’s ongoing Chapter 11 restructuring, the operator’s creditors approved the deal, which will create another vertically integrated player in the in-flight connectivity (IFC) market. Analysts also applauded the capacity efficiencies the deal will bring, and it could be a win-win situation for both parties.

Intelsat CCO Samer Halawi recently said the deal will transform the IFC experience for airlines, as Gogo will now have efficient use of Intelsat’s satellite capacity, and that Intelsat has a strong vision of future growth in the commercial aviation market. The transaction is expected to close early in 2021.

Here, John Wade, Gogo’s president of Commercial Aviation, talks about why the acquisition made sense for Gogo, what restructuring will look like, and how IFC will be affected during the pandemic recovery.

 

Why did this deal make sense for Gogo? Why was Intelsat a good fit for the business?

Wade: I think the deal made sense for both parties. There’s been discussion around the industry for years about not only consolidation but the need to become more vertically integrated — to make sure that there’s true value added in everything one’s doing. Intelsat recognized that that was something that needed to happen. They are clearly a very strong satellite operator and have been for decades, and with a great roadmap to the future. So, from our perspective, merging with a satellite operator made all the sense in the world … from Intelsat’s perspective, we’re the leading in-flight connectivity provider in the industry today. So, putting those two together means you’ve got this very formidable partnership, which is going to allow us to offer really compelling in-flight connectivity solutions to the world’s airlines.

 

How do you think this deal will result in better service for airlines and their customers?

Wade: I think it comes down to both owner economics and scale. Intelsat has a great repertoire of satellites that give it global access. With its planned roadmap to the future, that’s only going to get stronger and better. That means we’re going to be able to bring very competitive, very high caliber, high service level in-flight Wi-Fi to the world’s airlines.

 

What other opportunities does being vertically integrated with a satellite provider bring Gogo?

Wade: I think it’s that access to satellite capacity — that’s the primary thing we got from merging the organizations. There’s certainly going to be some scale benefit as well if you’re putting together a large satellite operator with a large Internet of Things (IoT) provider, but the relationship is complimentary. We bring a lot of things that they don’t have today. And, they bring a lot of capacity that our customers are very excited to get. So, I think it’s a very natural marriage.

 

What challenges has Gogo had that will be addressed under Intelsat?

Wade: I think it’s the same thing. The primary thing we get from the relationship with Intelsat is access to not just current capacity, but future capacity. Intelsat has a very innovative and open-minded approach to how we bring capacity together. Whether it’s on their own satellites, partner satellites, or other third parties’ [satellites], I think we’re going to have an incredibly compelling global network of satellites and capacity. That’s going to mean having the highest service levels in the industry.

 

As I understand it, Commercial Aviation will maintain its office in Chicago, and it’ll be an independent business unit under Intelsat. So, what will restructuring look like?

Wade: We’re not anticipating much in the way of changes. Until the deal is closed, we’re still operating as a part of Gogo. But from what we understand Intelsat’s goals are post-merger, we will continue to operate as a standalone division inside the Intelsat infrastructure — which will be based in Chicago with the current team. One of the things that Intelsat told us was attractive about Gogo was the quality of the people in the team we have here in Chicago. It’s a great testament to the fact that they recognize that Gogo has been a leader in IFC. It’s the people, as well as the products, that make a difference in the way that we have been able to deliver market-leading IFC services to the world.

 

Gogo will maintain its business aviation segment. But, will it look any different with the Intelsat acquisition?

Wade: That’s really a question for the guys who are running the business aviation side. But, I think it’s a win-win for both sides of the Gogo business: both for the Commercial Aviation (CA) business to become part of Intelsat, as well as allowing the part of Gogo’s remaining Business Aviation side to really focus on the success that it’s had in the Business Aviation market.

 

The deal means Intelsat has access to go Gogo’s Air-to-Ground (ATG) service for Commercial Aviation. Could you see a deal in the future between Commercial Aviation and Business Aviation to equip some business aviation customers with satellite IFC?

Wade: Yeah, at closing, we expect to enter into a satellite network sharing agreement, which will support some of the Business Aviation aircraft with Intelsat’s satellite network. So, yes, the relationship will go both ways: Gogo will provide current and next-generation air-to-ground services to install that. Then, we will do the same in reverse and Intelsat will provide satellite service back to Gogo.

 

Are there any new antenna partnerships in the works?

Wade: Just as a general matter of policy, we don’t announce new products that haven’t had any formal product announcement. There’s nothing I can really specifically say about that. What I can say is, I think both Intelsat and Gogo have a history of innovation that goes back decades … that will inevitably, at some point, include new antenna technologies as well as other technologies.

 

You’ve seen a lot from working in the aviation market over many years. Is this pandemic the most challenging environment you’ve seen?

Wade: I think this is the most challenging time for aviation since the Wright brothers. We’ve never seen global aviation take such a profound market hit in terms of the impact on passenger traffic. Although, I was delighted to see how many airlines immediately switched from pulling passengers to hauling medical supplies. There are various airlines out there, including some of our customer airlines, that went as far as taking seats off the triple sevens to put in a lot more medical materials to be moved around the planet. I think it just speaks to the need that we have as a global society today, for aviation, which forms the very fabric of society … I think we’ll see aviation recover in the post-pandemic period.

 

Clearly, airlines are also challenged during the pandemic. What is your forecast for a return to pre-pandemic air travel?

Wade: I was actually just talking to one of our major customers about that a few minutes ago. I think the entire industry feels it’s going to be several years before we see the industry return to normal. But I think we’re going to see a rapid recovery in ’21 once a vaccine is more widely available, and people have the confidence to fly again. So I think we’ll see the majority of the recovery happening in 21. And then [we need until] ’22 or ’23 before we get back to the pre-pandemic levels.

 

Speaking of recovery, what trends do you see happening in IFC during the recovery?

Wade: This is actually really interesting — I was having a conversation with the same customer [about this]. We are not seeing many people flying on business, most people are flying for vacation reasons. Yet, the percentage of passengers using our products is just as strong today as it was pre-COVID when most of our passengers were business. So, what we’re seeing is that we’re all online, all the time … and this shift is seeing people traveling on leisure not just wanting to use IFC, but actually using in-flight connectivity — it’s a trend that’s going to carry on into the post-COVID period. So we expect to see a very strong recovery in terms of passenger connectivity use in the future.

 

Gogo had to make some cuts during the pandemic, furloughing more than 600 employees and reducing 143 positions. Do you have any updates on when those workers on furlough will be brought back?

Wade: Yeah, they’re all back already, we actually brought everybody back at the end of August. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true for the people whose positions were eliminated. We had to take that unfortunate step because we believe it’s going to be years before the industry has recovered back to its previous levels. But I can say that Intelsat was extremely impressed with what the Gogo team has been able to do over the years and fully intends to keep everybody that is a Gogo employee today and move them on to becoming Intelsat employees once the deal closes.

 

This article was originally published in Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics. It has been edited. 

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Wisk, NASA to Study Autonomous eVTOL Flight Operations and Safety Scenarios

November 18th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Wisk, NASA to Study Autonomous eVTOL Flight Operations and Safety Scenarios   
Wisk, NASA to Study Autonomous eVTOL Flight Operations and Safety Scenarios

Wisk’s eVTOL aircraft, Cora, takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane. It has 12 independent lift fans and stands at 21 feet long with a 36-foot wingspan. (Wisk)

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) all-electric autonomous air taxi creator, Wisk, is partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to create safe solutions for autonomous air vehicle integration into the national airspace, according to a Nov. 16 press release. The partnership will start by addressing safety scenarios for autonomous flight and contingency management.

“Wisk brings a tremendous amount of experience in eVTOL vehicle development, automation technologies, and flight test, and combines it with a safety-first mindset towards advancing autonomous flight,” Robert Pearce, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said in a press statement. “NASA believes our partnership with Wisk will help accelerate the realization of exciting new Advanced Air Mobility missions.”

While the effort will focus on autonomy, it will be testing a wide range of technologies including simulation and modeling, a representative from Wisk told Avionics International. Key technology for autonomous flight will include collision avoidance and flight path management systems. Wisk will primarily be developing in-house solutions but could consider future partnerships at a later time, according to a representative.

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) all-electric autonomous air taxi creator, Wisk, is partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to create safe solutions for autonomous air vehicle integration into the national airspace. (Wisk)

The partnership will develop a validation framework that can be used for autonomous flight assessments. The creation of this framework would be done with industry standards organizations and could include guidance on airspace structure, flight procedures, minimum performance requirements for aircraft, and standards for developing the future of autonomous systems, according to the release.

Wisk’s eVTOL aircraft, Cora, takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane. It has 12 independent lift fans and stands at 21 feet long with a 36-foot wingspan. Cora first flew in 2017 and has a capacity of 2 passengers. It flies at about 100 miles per hour at 1,500 feet for about 25 miles plus reserves. The company has been steadily building a long-term vision to establish autonomous air taxi operations globally, beginning with the electric two-seat Cora aircraft that has flown more than 1,300 times between seven full-scale aircraft in Hollister, California and New Zealand.

“Our partnership with NASA will bring together our market-leading expertise in autonomy with the unmatched technical capabilities of NASA,” Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk, said in a press statement. “The frameworks and recommendations developed through this collaboration will not only advance autonomous passenger flight but also increase the overall safety of aviation.”

 

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Finnish Army Gives MD500 Fleet Cockpit Upgrades

November 18th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Finnish Army Gives MD500 Fleet Cockpit Upgrades   
Finnish Army Gives MD500 Fleet Cockpit Upgrades

The Finnish Army will be completing a cab hardware refurbishment project on its MD500 fleet upgrading the multifunction display in the cockpit and making the fleet night vision (NVG) compatible. (Finnish Defense Ministry)

The Finnish Army will be completing a cab hardware refurbishment project on its MD500 helicopters, upgrading the multifunction display in the cockpit and making the fleet night vision (NVG) compatible, Lt. Col. Kimmo Nordberg, Chief of Army Aviation, told Avionics International. The refurbishment project is projected to be completed in the middle of 2022 and will be completed by the strategic partner of the Finnish Defense Forces, Patria.

“Major change will be the replacement of old instruments with multifunction display,” Nordberg said. “At the same time, the cockpits of the three old versions of MD500 will be changed to NVG compatible. After this upgrade, the whole fleet is NVG capable. There is also a new encrypted radio installation and data link.”

The refurbishment project is projected to be completed in the middle of 2022 and will be completed by the strategic partner of the Finnish Defense Forces, Patria. (Finnish Defense Ministry)

The refurbishment project, first announced in a press release by the Finnish Defense Ministry, will also include an exterior paint update to compliment the cockpit upgrades.

The MD500 fleet update will allow it to meet the requirements of special aviation missions with new management capabilities such as encryption enabled voice communications systems to communicate between machines and ground forces, and compatibility with other branches of defense. Pilots will also be able to switch between the NH90 and the MD500 more seamlessly with the new electronic multifunction display flight control gauges.

The MD500 helicopter is used in training, passenger transport, and even to assist other authorities in search tasks, according to the release.

The press release also announced the testing of the visibility of helicopters in Finnish terrain by giving the NH90 transport helicopters a painting diagram where the surface of the helicopter is painted with a white winter mask paint. (Finnish Defense Ministry)

The press release also announced the testing of the visibility of helicopters in Finnish terrain by giving the NH90 transport helicopters a painting diagram where the surface of the helicopter is painted with a white winter mask paint. This will allow the Army to study the effect of color masking.

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B4UFLY Adds Drone Data Crowdsourcing and Local Advisories in New Update

November 18th, 2020   •   Comments Off on B4UFLY Adds Drone Data Crowdsourcing and Local Advisories in New Update   
B4UFLY Adds Drone Data Crowdsourcing and Local Advisories in New Update

The B4UFLY, the Federal Aviation Administration partnered drone app, will now offer localized advisories and crowdsourcing for drone pilots. (Kittyhawk)

The B4UFLY, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) partnered drone app, will now offer localized advisories and crowdsourcing operational data for drone pilots, Kittyhawk CEO Jon Hegranes and B4UFLY app maker, announced on Nov. 16. The new features will debut in San Francisco, which is ranked in the top five most active cities for drone pilots using B4UFLY.

B4UFLY provides recreational drone pilots a mobile application with information on whether it is safe to fly in a particular airspace using informative, interactive maps with filtering options. The app contains information about controlled airspace, special use airspace, critical infrastructure, airports, national parks, and temporary flight restrictions, according to the FAA.

The new features will give pilots more data about local ground-based advisories. Hegranes used the example of his local park where there are restrictions around takeoffs and landings.

“This is one of the unique aspects of drones, the airspace is primary; We have to understand the airspace that we fly in, but where we take off from where we land from is going to have additional rules that you want to be aware of,” Hegranes said.

B4UFLY will have to work closely with local governments to instate these advisories. Hegranes said while they are launching this feature in San Francisco first, states like Virginia and Tennessee are working with Kittyhawk to integrate their data into B4UFLY.

B4UFLY app provides recreational drone pilots with information on whether it is safe to fly in a particular area using informative, interactive maps with filtering options. (Kittyhawk)

“We’re working really closely with governments, enterprise, drug delivery companies, but also our user base to help you, help us and to create a better total picture of the airspace, and where we operate from.”

The new update also allows users to provide feedback, something Hegranes said was highly requested. The app allows users to flag advisories if they feel something is missing or incorrect.

“It’s a really interesting way for users to start to provide more feedback and more information for what is going on in the airspace,” Hegranes said. “This applies to users, this applies to cities and states, but also more and more enterprise use cases where you’re a utility company doing inspections, do you want to show other airspace and drone pilots that there’s activity in a place that may not have a lot of aircraft typically or if you’re doing drone deliveries in a specific corridor, or in locations, how can you provide situational awareness to other drone pilots that there’s a new type of drone activity.”

The feedback will be constantly reviewed for accuracy and actionable items which can be added to the app, Hegranes said. However, Kittyhawk is still working through which data sets it will pull from.

“I’d say probably the biggest question that we’ll be working through is, as we do get some of these submissions, what’s the right data source to pull from,” Hegranes said. “Do we create these ourselves or their existing ones like we have with San Francisco?”

The upgrades are ultimately aimed at providing pilots with more information for flying, not to create no-fly zones.

“Our focus is impacting safety, improving situational awareness with more of these advisors so the more that we can put into B4UFLY and create that, the better,” Hegranes said. “This is not to create no-fly zones, that’s for the FAA and the airspace but certainly our view and in working with our partners we think it’s important to share these additional advisories and rules that do impact that full operation.”

Hegranes said B4UFLY will soon be equipped with weather information and Spanish language options.

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Is the Aviation Industry Doing Enough to Mitigate Insider Threats Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?

November 17th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Is the Aviation Industry Doing Enough to Mitigate Insider Threats Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?   
Is the Aviation Industry Doing Enough to Mitigate Insider Threats Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Aviation leaders need to take a holistic approach by creating an insider threat program across the aviation industry, according to a new report from experts at Deloitte. Photo: London Gatwick Airport

Insider threats have long existed in the airline industry, such as when a Horizon Air employee commandeered a turboprop passenger plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in August 2018, or an American Airlines mechanic tampered with an aircraft’s air data module (ADM) system in 2019. These same threats are amplified in 2020 as the aviation industry faces a global pandemic that has forced airlines to upend every part of their business and increased the risk of negligent or malicious insiders.

Aviation leaders need to take a holistic approach by creating an insider threat program across the aviation industry, according to a new report from experts at Deloitte.  The report, Aviation Insider Threat Mitigation, offers ten recommendations that make up a holistic approach for aviation leaders to use when creating insider threat programs.

“You want to set up an insider threat program based on looking at a variety of different aviation incidents and then foundationally insider threat incidents as a whole because many of these insider threats are cross-industry things that you should begin to do, not to say that you’re not already doing them, because in many instances, you may be doing some of these, but you may not be doing all of them,” Mike Gelles, director at Deloitte and intelligence and national security expert, told Avionics International.

The first consideration the report suggests is defining the threat. Gelles said defining the airport’s threat and risk tolerance is key to creating a successful insider threat program.

“If you’re just starting an insider threat program, you’ve got to define what you’re trying to protect,” Gelles said. “What is your risk appetite? And then what’s your risk tolerance? That’s kind of one in two. What is it that you really are trying to protect? And what are you willing to do and not willing to do as relates to the business? … If you haven’t done that, honestly, it’s very hard for the rest of this to fall in place because it’s almost as like you’re building an organization without any real defined strategy.”

After establishing the insider threats, the aviation industry needs to engage a broad set of stakeholders, according to the report. This is challenging within the aviation industry in particular because of how many stakeholders exist within the ecosystem, Gelles said.

“I do think it’s important to recognize when we look at insider threats across industries that aviation is a very complex industry and probably one of the most challenging,” Gelles said.  “There needs to be layers of cooperative insider threat programs to mitigate an insider threat within the ecosystem, meaning there needs to be components at the airport, there needs to be components within the airlines, there needs to be components that exist with the vendors and that  all needs to be integrated at some point in time.”

The complexity increases when you consider ownership structures and ultimately responsibility for mitigating insider threats, Elizabeth Krimmel, senior manager in Deloitte’s government and public services practice, told Avionics.

“So, I, as an airport, might have eight terminals, and I might have five different terminal operators managing those, I’m acting as the landlord and where does my control start and stop and where does that hand over to the terminal operator,” Krimmel said. “We start to talk about working groups, then it becomes who’s responsible? Who owns this piece of it, and ultimately, who owns responsibility? I think that gets really fuzzy in a large airport system and even more so now when airports are so focused on how we recover from COVID, that’s the right time for these blind spots to open up.”

From there, the report recommends looking for precursors, creating vetting programs and periodic vetting practices, connecting the dots when risky behaviors arise and setting behavioral expectations.

“What am I willing to do and not willing to do to keep the business going and that’s where there’s a very significant balance between what an organization is willing to do to compromise security and then if there’s too much security, it compromises the business,” Gelles said.

All of these vulnerabilities existed before 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and they have only been amplified by the furloughs and layoffs that have occurred as a result.

According to Gelles, separating employees from any organization, those who may be furloughed, those who are separating voluntarily or involuntarily rise to the top of being one of the highest risks as a potential insider threat. This can occur both in terms of whether they’re disgruntled, but also in terms of what they want to take with them and the type of information they can take either to sell for personal gain or to exploit elsewhere in obtaining a new job or a new position.

However, layoffs and furloughs are not the only vulnerabilities presented by the pandemic. Gelles said because of the particular circumstances presented by COVID-19, insiders with malicious intent could cause significant damage by tampering with health and safety measures.

“If I want it to be an insider with some malicious intent, then I could really compromise some of the health and safety practices that are going on in the on the aircraft in some form or fashion, could that be the air filtration system could that be the methods that are there to protect the passengers, and I could compromise the brand and reputation of an already struggling company,” Gelles said.

In the aviation industry, COVID-19 has become a top priority, understandably, however, the time and attention that has had to be dedicated to disease mitigation have diverted resources from insider threat priorities. The aviation industry has had to add another item to an already full list of priorities while working with fewer resources.

“Airport operators are thinking about so many different things and it just dilutes the number of things that they have time to spend executing,” Krimmel said. “Something like this requires focused and coordinated attention and as the threats get more challenging and our adversaries get more creative, it only becomes harder; But resources are not expanding at that same rate. So, airports are really doing a lot more with a lot less than they were 5, 10, 20 years ago. It’s just very challenging and especially even more so now with COVID.”

The post Is the Aviation Industry Doing Enough to Mitigate Insider Threats Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic? appeared first on Aviation Today.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – November 15, 2020

November 16th, 2020   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – November 15, 2020   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – November 15, 2020

Check out the Nov. 15 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.

Commercial 

Emirates Group Reports Half-Year 2020-2021 Results

Emirates Group published its half-year results. (Emirates)

The Emirates Group announced its half-year results for its 2020-21 financial year in a Nov. 12 press release.

Group revenue was AED 13.7 billion ($ 3.7 billion) for the first six months of 2020-21, down 74 percent from AED 53.3 billion (US$ 14.5 billion) during the same period last year, according to Emirates.

“This dramatic revenue decline was due to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought global air passenger travel to a halt for many weeks as countries closed their borders and imposed travel restrictions,” the airline said in the release. “As part of pandemic containment measures, Emirates and dnata’s hub in Dubai also suspended scheduled passenger flights for 8 weeks during April and May.”

Emirates carried 1.5 million passengers between 1 April and 30 September 2020, down 95% from the same period last year. In contrast, the airline reported an “uplift” of 65 percent to its cargo volumes compared to the same period in 2019.

Etihad Engineering Launches Face Mask Production Facility 

The engineering division of Etihad Aviation Group is launching an in-house face mask production facility. (Etihad Airways)

Etihad Engineering, the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) arm of Etihad Aviation Group, has accepted an order for 1.3 million face masks to be manufactured at its newly established in-house face mask production facility, according to a Nov. 10 press release.

Over the next three months, the medical face masks will be distributed to staff across the entire Etihad Aviation Group from cabin and ground crew, to catering, cargo, engineering employees, and medical professionals. The new facility operates fully automated machines that are capable of producing up to 20,000 masks daily.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we witnessed consistent demand for face masks at the workplace. With the safety, health and wellbeing of our customers and employees our paramount concern and top priority, we saw an opportunity to be self-sufficient,” said Haytham Nasir, Vice President Airframe Services, Etihad Engineering.

 

GE’s Blockchain-Powered Wellness App Makes Debut at Albany International Airport

Albany International Airport has become the first to start using a new blockchain-powered smartphone application that uses QR codes to show passengers real-time tracking of cleaning of touchpoints and surfaces throughout terminals, restaurants and other areas.

Wellness Trace is GE’s new application that the company envisions establishing a community among airline travelers similar to Waze where they can check the app to get a sense of the cleanest restaurants, stores, bathrooms, and other areas of the airport. Albany started using the app after a three-month trial and has now put into operation with more than 45 QR barcodes located throughout the airport.

Check out the full article here.

Business and General Aviation 

AEA Q3 Report Shows Decrease from 2019

The third-quarter 2020 Avionics Market Report was published by the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) on Nov. 9 showing a 27 percent decrease during the first nine months from 2019 but a 5.9 percent increase compared with the second quarter of 2020.

In the first nine months of 2020, worldwide business and general aviation avionics sales equaled more than $1.6 billion, according to the release. Third-quarter sales were down 33.4 percent compared to 2019.

“The significant contraction of industry sales during the last six months has been driven by the international health crisis,” AEA President and CEO Mike Adamson said in a press statement. “However, we are encouraged with the direction of activity in the retrofit market, which is up nearly 11% over second-quarter total sales. In addition, the overwhelming majority of AEA member shops and manufacturers are continuing their essential operations, and many are reporting customer backlogs that extend several weeks and into next year.”

The retrofit market amounted to 54.5 percent of the $1.6 billion reported in the first nine months of 2020, according to the release. Forward-fit sales totaled 45.5 percent of the total.

 

Mid-Canada Mod Center Completes First Canadian Installation of Universal Avionics InSight Display System

Mid-Canada Mod Center (MC2) recently completed installation of a Universal Avionics (UA) InSight Display System on a Citation VII aircraft. This marks the first Canadian installation of Universal Avionics’ integrated flight deck solution.

“Repair costs for legacy avionics on an aircraft of this age are typically quite high and some of the systems are no longer supported,” said Bill Arsenault, president of Mid-Canada Mod Center. “The main goals here were to enhance safety through better situational awareness, and extend the usable life of the aircraft with a modern cockpit. This Citation VII had relatively few upgrade paths available, but having worked on older aircraft for many years, it was clear to us that the Universal Avionics InSight Display System would meet our client’s goals.”

 

Connectivity

SES and Intelsat CEOs Clash on Approaches to Serving IFC Market

A screenshot of the World Satellite Business Week Virtual Edition CEO panel (Euroconsult)

Viasat‘s new CEO Rick Baldridge joined executives from major satellite operators SES, Intelsat, Hughes Networks Systems, and Eutelsat on a virtual executive panel just days after he was named the new CEO replacing Mark Dankberg. The discussion at World Satellite Business Week Virtual Edition hosted by Euroconsult, centered on numerous topics, but mobility was one area in which perspectives differed, as Intelsat and SES shared different ideas.

Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler talked in depth about Intelsat’s recent acquisition of Gogo saying that he feels very strongly about the growth of In-Flight Connectivity (IFC), and that it will be a double-digit growth market over the next decade. However, it is clear that Spengler believes traditional approaches can definitely be improved upon.

“Our view is that the service provider level was not performing optimally. The impact was really felt by customers. By vertically integrating here, we can dramatically change the customer experience. We are going to be enhance that user experience. Our integration planning is well underway. We will make some significant network investments to support this. We think this is a long-term growth area for Intelsat, as well as the industry as a whole,” Spengler said.

Check out the full article first published in Via Satellite, a sister publication to Avionics International.

Embedded Avionics

Telemus ELINT UAV Gets New IF Recorder

Unmanned air vehicles (UAV) part of the Telemus ALR-510 ELINT/ESM system will now have a Penteck Talon RTX 2589 rugged intermediate frequency (IF) recorder for operational use, Pentek announced in a Nov. 9 press release. The IF recorder will digitize and capture wideband IF analog signals.

“Telemus chose this recorder not only for its wide instantaneous bandwidth and environmental performance but also for its rugged, compact design,” James Rose, director and general manager at Telemus, said in a press statement. “The Pentek IF Recorder was added to the system to meet the end user’s requirement for continuous data capture.”

The Pentek RTX 2589 is the latest IF recorder to satisfy the operational needs of the Telemus electronics intelligence (ELINT) UAV systems, according to the release. The ALR-510 ELINT/ESM system has been used to detect, identify, and geolocate radar system during military operational missions within a NATO country.

 

Military

BAE System Submits RFI for Japan’s Next Generation Fighter

BAE Systems is proposing its package of integration for Japan’s F-X next-generation fighter development program by submitting a request for information (RFI) to the Japanese Ministry of Defense (JMOD), according to a Nov. 5 press release. The announcement comes just a week after Mitsubishi was picked as the main contractor to develop the F-X.

BAE Systems is offering technical capabilities over a range of key areas, according to the release.

“We firmly believe that we can add significant value to the F-X program,” Andy Latham, Campaign Delivery Director – Japan, for BAE Systems’ Air business, said in a press statement. “We look forward to further progressing our discussions and we are honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with Japan on this program.”

Last week the JMOD chose Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to be the main contractors for Japan’s next-generation stealth fighter, the AP reported.

Elbit Systems Selected to Compete in JADC2 ID/IQ

The JADC2 ID/IQ’s purpose is to develop and operate systems as a unified force across all domains with an open architecture system to enable capabilities via multiple integrated platforms. (Elbit Systems)

Elbit Systems of America, a manufacturer of high-performance products, system solutions, and support services, was chosen by the Air Force to compete in future orders for the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contracts, according to a Nov. 9 press release.

The JADC2 ID/IQ’s purpose is to develop and operate systems as a unified force across all domains with an open architecture system to enable capabilities via multiple integrated platforms.

“Elbit Systems of America is honored to help the U.S. Air Force realize the vision for connecting sensors and effects across multiple domains,” Raanan Horowitz, President and CEO of Elbit Systems of America, said in a press statement. “Our concept for JADC2 facilitates our Warfighters enjoying an asymmetric advantage by providing tools that shorten reaction time and aid in decision-making. To achieve this, we are developing networked, AI-enabled solutions that fuse sensors and data to increase situational awareness and deliver increased lethality.”

Unmanned

Kongsberg Geospatial and Unifly Partner to Enable Remote ID

The Unify BLIP is an autonomous weather-proof tracker that functions independently from the drone itself as a stand-alone digital blackbox. (Kongsberg Geospatial)

Kongsberg Geospatial, a Canadian manufacturer of real-time software for air traffic control, and Unifly, unmanned traffic management (UTM) technology company, have partnered to create a real-time e-identification and tracking, or remote ID, system, according to a Nov. 12 press release. Identifying and tracking drones is key to integrating them into the national airspace.

The system will use Unifly BLIP (Broadcast Location & Identity Platform) and other real-time sensors to give pilots a view of their operational airspace when flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).

“Remote identification and real-time tracking are two foundational capabilities for the safe and secure integration of drones into the airspace, especially around critical infrastructure and in urban areas,” Laurent Huenaerts, General Manager of Unifly in North America, said in a press statement. “The Unifly BLIP tracker provides this information and its Data Platform allows for a seamless integration with situational awareness systems like IRIS. We are very pleased to now be integrated with the world-leading airspace visualization platform that Kongsberg Geospatial has developed.”

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – November 15, 2020 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Lilium to Launch New Electric Air Mobility Network in Florida

November 15th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Lilium to Launch New Electric Air Mobility Network in Florida   
Lilium to Launch New Electric Air Mobility Network in Florida

Lake Nona, Florida will be the new home to a new ‘electric air mobility’ network with the help of Munich-based Lilium, Tavistock Development Company, and the City of Orlando come 2025. (Lilium)

Lake Nona, Florida will be the new home to an electric air mobility network with the help of Munich-based Lilium, Tavistock Development Company, and the City of Orlando come 2025, according to a Nov. 11 press release. Lilium is currently developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet aircraft.

The location was picked because of its close proximity to the Orlando International Airport, which more than half of the region’s annual visitors, according to the release. The network will have access to 20 million Floridians within a 186-mile radius and create over 100 jobs in the Orlando area.

Lilium specifically described its new concept of operations as a “high-speed electric air mobility network” in their release, emphasizing the significance of the need for electric infrastructure in the city to support their 2025 vision. Their eVTOL jet will be able to travel 186 miles on a one-hour charge, according to the release.

It is currently under certification from the “European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and will operate under existing regulatory frameworks,” according to the German eVTOL developer.

The location was picked because of its proximity to the Orlando International Airport, which is home more than half of the region’s annual visitors. (Lilium)

“For this new technology to truly re-shape the transportation ecosystem and benefit Orlando residents long-term, it is going to take a true partnership between cities, developers, and transportation operators,” City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a press statement. “We have been focused on finding the right partners to be a global leader in the advanced air mobility space. I’m thrilled that our progressive and collaborative environment has created an opportunity for this unique partnership between the City of Orlando, Lilium, and Lake Nona to invest in the expansion of safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation options throughout one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.”

Other aviation companies in the area include BBA Aviation/Signature Flight Support and SimCom Aviation Training who recently announced Lake Nona as its new pilot training global headquarters.

Lilium and Tavistock will work together to build the vertiport at Lake Nona which will be subject to approval from the FAA and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Multiple vertiport designs will be created with flexibility in mind so that they can be assembled on their own or incorporated into existing structures, according to Tavistock.

In August, Lilium told Avionics International how it plans to use a business model that offers a 24-minute trip for $170.

“We are delighted to partner with Lilium to create the first U.S. network of vertiports and to launch within Lake Nona’s living lab allowing unrivaled connectivity unlike anything developed in the country to date,” Ben Weaver, Tavistock managing director, said in a press statement. “This partnership and network launch highlight our community’s passion and commitment to groundbreaking partnerships and new technologies that sets us apart as a city of the future.”

Lilium’s eVTOL jet will be able to travel 186 miles on a one-hour charge. (Lilium)

There are also plans to launch its own app and operate its service internally — a full-stack offering that could eventually be a lucrative business but also requires greater up-front investment.

“We are thrilled to partner with Tavistock and build the first stretch of Florida’s high-speed electric transportation network with Central Florida at its core,” Dr. Remo Gerber, chief operating officer at Lilium, said in a press statement. “It shows that regional high-speed air mobility can be built by private initiative and give communities such as Lake Nona, which can also serve Orlando and arrivals from its international airport, the ability to determine themselves whether they want a link into a high-speed transportation network.”

 

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