Embraer CEO Expects Regional Airline Segment to See Faster COVID-19 Recovery

November 12th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Embraer CEO Expects Regional Airline Segment to See Faster COVID-19 Recovery   
Embraer CEO Expects Regional Airline Segment to See Faster COVID-19 Recovery

Embraer believes its regional jet family, such as the E190-E2 pictured here, will be well positioned for airline demand once the industry starts to recover from the drop in COVID-19 air travel demand. (Embraer)

Embraer CEO Francisco Gomes Neto said the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer’s regional E-Jets are well-positioned for an eventual recovery from COVID-19’s impact on passenger air travel demand, according to comments made by the executive during their Nov. 10 third-quarter earnings call.

Between January and September, Embraer has seen a net loss of $728.6 million, while delivering just 16 commercial jets and 43 executive jets, compared to a combined 117 commercial and business jet deliveries during the same period in 2019. The company expects deliveries in the fourth quarter to increase compared to the previous three quarters of 2020, especially within its executive jets segment.

Neto and other Embraer executives are confident however that their regional E-Jets airliners will be well-positioned once COVID-19 border and travel restrictions return to normal as they expect regional air travel markets to recover faster than international.

“We believe the domestic and regional markets will rebound first, as it happened in the past as we mentioned. And the airlines, we look for more versatile, flexible, and more economical fleet. And we do believe that our E-Jets are very well-positioned in that direction. So that’s why we believe we have a good chance as soon as the market picks up,” Neto said in response to an analyst question.

The latest passenger travel data published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reflects Embraer’s regional optimism, as domestic travel–though still way below 2019 levels–has outpaced international traffic numbers since the implementation of wide-scale air travel regulations in April. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines CEO Pieter Elbers as an example recently said during a webcast hosted by Eurocontrol that his airline is flying 100 percent of its Embraer regional jets.

Embraer CFO Antonio Garcia said another good sign for their position among regional operations came in the third quarter where five E-175s were delivered to United Airlines. During the first and second quarter, Embraer only delivered a combined nine E-Jets.

“During the third quarter, we delivered seven E-Jets representing a sequential improvement compared to the first and second quarters that will accelerate even more in the fourth quarter. Among our third-quarter deliveries, we had five 175s for United Airlines, highlighting our continuous leadership in U.S. regional jet market,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, 93 percent of the global in-service E-175 fleet remained in operation through the end of September. Embraer has also had no commercial aircraft order cancellations since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two new airlines, Alliance Airlines from Australia and Vietnam-Based Bamboo Airways also received new deliveries and started operations with E-Jets during the quarter.

Other third-quarter highlights for Embraer include the launch of the Phenom 300’s air medical evacuation configuration that is now available as a retrofit for in-service Phenom 300s. At the end of September, Embraer also achieved Brazilian and U.S. regulatory certification for the synthetic vision guidance system (SVGS) featured on its super-midsize Praetor business jet.

The system allows pilots to operate the aircraft to a decision height of 150 feet, as opposed to the regular decision height of 200 feet, increasing operational efficiency and allowing access to several airports during inclement weather and lower ceiling approaches, according to Embraer.

Despite their expectation of a faster recovery in the regional airline market, Garcia is still cautious about 2021 and said COVID-19 pandemic uncertainty is still Embraer’s biggest concern in the foreseeable future.

“We’re lucky to have a broader portfolio, we’re seeing a good performance investor margin for executives and defense and security and services which is more or less tried to compensate the drop in the commercial aviation margin results,” Garcia said. “But we’re going to see the same picture in 2021.”

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The FAA Needs to Address Competency and Training Gaps in Workforce, GAO Says

November 11th, 2020   •   Comments Off on The FAA Needs to Address Competency and Training Gaps in Workforce, GAO Says   
The FAA Needs to Address Competency and Training Gaps in Workforce, GAO Says

 

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

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Aviation Safety (AVS) identify organization-wide competency gaps and assess training curricula on a recurring basis within its inspector and engineer workforces, according to a Nov. 9 report. The recommendations come after the agency found an increasing lack of institutional knowledge and assessments of training curricula.

According to GAO, between 52 to 62 percent of FAA inspectors and engineers will be retirement eligible by fiscal year 2025.  It also found that the FAA has changed how it conducts safety oversight work requiring highly technical skills in aerospace technology like risk management and data analysis and that inspectors and engineers do not get adequate training on new technologies, like unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

“As more inspectors and engineers in FAA’s Office of Aviation Safety retire and the aviation industry implements new technologies, the office must ensure its inspectors and engineers have the competencies necessary to respond to these changes,” the report states. “The Office of Aviation Safety has taken positive steps to identify the critical competencies that its inspector and engineer workforces need to address safety oversight activities. However, without conducting recurring, organization-wide assessments of any gaps that exist in these competencies for the inspector and engineer workforces, the Office of Aviation Safety is limited in its ability to efficiently target workforce strategies such as hiring and training.”

While the AVS has begun addressing critical competencies, it has done this at an office level, not an organization level which has prevented the FAA from implementing strategies for addressing organization-wide gaps.

“For example, without knowing the extent to which its inspector and engineer workforces have gaps in advanced data analytics, the Office of Aviation Safety may not know the extent to which it should hire or train employees with this skill set. Furthermore, Flight Standards and Aircraft Certification may not be able to effectively leverage the existing competencies that its inspector and engineer workforces have to conduct the office’s safety oversight mission,” the report states.

The report notes that employees receive introductory, recurrent, and on-the-job training, however, the AVS does not regularly assess its training curricula.

The latest set of recommendations on hiring practices outlined by GAO comes as the agency has already been discussing plans to hire more software and systems engineers, as well as other technological subject matter experts to improve the way it certifies increasingly complex avionics and other systems in the future, according to a June Senate hearing featuring FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson.

FAA’s 2021 budget request includes $10 million assigned to adding 50 new technical employees, the first phase of an increased hiring effort for such positions.

“Without assessing the curriculum as a whole on a recurring basis, the Office of Aviation Safety does not have complete information on whether critical competencies are being sufficiently emphasized,” the report states. “For example, without recurring curricula assessments, the Office of Aviation Safety may not know whether training courses across training specialties similarly address oversight activities related to new technologies.”

As the FAA hires more employees, the training process will become even more important to make sure critical competencies within the agency are aligned, according to the report. By assessing the training curricula regularly, the agency can make sure it will achieve its mission and goals.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) agreed with GAO’s assessment and will respond to recommendations 180 days after the report’s issuance, Keith Washington, deputy assistant secretary for administration at the DOT, said in an Oct. 20 letter attached to the report.

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Boeing and Northrop Successfully Test Open Mission Systems AESA Sensor

November 11th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Boeing and Northrop Successfully Test Open Mission Systems AESA Sensor   
Boeing and Northrop Successfully Test Open Mission Systems AESA Sensor

Northrop Grumman’s open mission systems (OMS) compliant advanced wideband AESA sensor was used on Boeing’s battle management command and control (BMC2) system during a successful test flight. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman and Boeing Defense announced successful test flights using an open mission systems (OMS) architecture with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) sensor on a midsize jet-powered aircraft.

The OMS-compliant AESA sensor was used on Boeing’s battle management command and control (BMC2) system, according to Nov. 9 press releases published by both companies. The AESA sensor captured data from specific targets and then sent the information back to the computing system where it was displayed in real-time.

“These demonstrations continue to act as pathfinders to enable further OMS opportunities,” Paul Kalafos, vice president of surveillance and electromagnetic maneuver warfare at Northrop Grumman, said in a press statement. “Using an agile framework, we can quickly develop and adapt complex, multi-function systems to enable multi-mission nodes at the tactical edge of the battlespace, be it Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), electronic warfare, or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

The test flights used Boeing’s Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) platform. According to Northrop Grumman, the AEW&C mission computing, processing, and Human-Machine Interface (HMI) hardware were mounted on the test aircraft and connected to the AESA sensor. The test flights demonstrated the ability to use OMS compliant software to successfully transfer kill chain data.

“From an engineering standpoint, executing this OMS test in a relevant environment, represents a major step up in demonstrated readiness,” Rick Greenwell, Boeing chief engineer of aircraft modernization and modification, said in a press statement. “As a company, we are committed to OMS and have demonstrated OMS on defense products such as the T-7A Red Hawk and F-15EX. Open architecture is a very efficient way of doing software engineering and bringing capabilities across platforms.”

The use of open system architecture allows customers to make changes to technology quickly, at a low cost, and with any manufacturer.

“Through our iterative development and flight demonstrations, we are focused on agile development with OMS-compliant sensors and commercial practices to prove the rapid integration of capabilities across mission sets,” Greg Simer, vice president of air dominance and strike at Northrop Grumman, said in a press statement. “The result is faster and more affordable advances in sensor capabilities for U.S. forces and their allies.”

The companies completed a ground test using the AESA and BMC2 last month to identify areas of interest as potential threats.

“By adding an OMS-compliant BMC2 system, it tremendously increases the platform’s growth opportunities,” Nancy Anderson, Boeing vice president of aircraft modernization and modification, said in a press statement. “Customers will have more flexibility to add or upgrade capabilities, select vendors and determine an implementation schedule. Customers have laid out OMS requirements for future programs and this accomplishment is a great example of Boeing listening and responding.”

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New SESAR Project to Test Nokia 4G/5G Connectivity for Controller to Pilot Data Communications

November 10th, 2020   •   Comments Off on New SESAR Project to Test Nokia 4G/5G Connectivity for Controller to Pilot Data Communications   
New SESAR Project to Test Nokia 4G/5G Connectivity for Controller to Pilot Data Communications

Nokia, alongside Honeywell International as consortium lead, has been selected as part of Project FACT (Future All Aviation CNS Technology), an innovative research and development program initiated under the SESAR 2020 program, managed by the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking. (Nokia)

A new research initiative funded by a European government-industry consortium will use Nokia’s 4G and 5G wireless network infrastructure to test new wireless network technologies for commercial airline controller to pilot data link communications (CPDLC).

The Single European Sky ATM Research Agency Joint Undertaking’s (SESAR JU) Project Future All Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Technologies (FACT) will feature the deployment of Nokia’s 4G and 5G wireless network infrastructure at a private airport in Istanbul where both low high altitude air traffic data communications will be tested using modified airliner and drone avionics. Nokia is working with Eurocontrol, Honeywell, Thales, and several other companies and industry groups to determine how they can safely integrate 4G and 5G connectivity into conventional air traffic management (ATM) air to ground data link communications.

“Once we started supporting the European Aviation Network (EAN) for cabin connectivity services, I said that we need to be providing nose-to-tail communications,” Mervyn Harris, Head of ATM for Nokia told Avionics International.

That opportunity came when SESAR JU selected Nokia and Honeywell International as the consortium lead for Project FACT. Nokia describes its support of FACT as the supply of “new and emerging high-bandwidth mobile broadband technologies” for air traffic controller to pilot communications, according to an Oct. 27 press release. Harris said the selection occurred in June, however, initial work was slightly delayed to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Nokia will also evaluate the use of its wireless infrastructure to support SESAR JU’s U-Space initiatives that include commercially and civilian operated drones. The Finland-based wireless network communications provider is targeting a feasibility study and test specification developed through lab trials scheduled to start in the summer of 2021, with field testing by June 2022.

The European Union is contributing the bulk of funding in the amount of €1.8 million toward Project FACT, to meet the agency’s goal of supporting a “common performance-based approach for CNS functions to meet the needs of a wide range of airspace users across diverse operations,” according to the European Commission’s description of FACT.

Project FACT’s objective, also published by the commission, specifically references taking an innovative approach toward the use of existing “technology bricks, potentially adapted from adjacent industrial areas such as automotive or telecommunication.”

“Interesting examples of such new CNS enablers are the envisioned use of 3G/4G/5G for communication and localization, OneWeb for low-cost satellite communication, or Aeromacs as a new technology standardized by aviation for airport operations,” the agency says.

Honeywell International and Thales have been identified as key avionics suppliers for FACT, which will involve a transformational shift away from legacy non-Internet Protocol (IP)-based aircraft systems for CPDLC. Harris said CPDLC is the immediate focus, with other aircraft data communications links up for evaluation in the near future as well.

This will mark Nokia’s first entrance into the air to ground aircraft safety communications spectrum world of aviation. Some current examples where it is supporting ground-to-ground aviation networks include ENAV’s new ENET-2 architecture in Italy and the Irish Aviation Authority’s next-generation air traffic control network at its new West Ireland disaster recovery center.

Harris said initial tests for CPDLC are likely to focus more on 4G, while he sees 5G-enabled aircraft communications coming further down the road.

“The next steps are to prepare the test cases, get agreements for these use cases, and then start planning to deploy at the airport in Turkey and work with Eurocontrol to allocated spectrum during these tests, those are the key activities that need to occur between June and July of next year,” Harris said. “In the future, what will be good to see is at some point when airlines ask for a new aircraft and they have the option to have 5G-enabled boxes onboard.”

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – November 8, 2020

November 9th, 2020   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – November 8, 2020   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – November 8, 2020

Check out the Nov. 8 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

Boeing Creates New Vice President of Software Engineering Role

The Boeing Company named Jinnah Hosein its new vice president of software engineering.

The Boeing Company named Jinnah Hosein as its new vice president of software engineering, effective immediately, according to a Nov. 6 press release. In this newly created role, Hosein will report to Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief engineer and senior vice president of engineering, test and technology, and will focus on further strengthening Boeing’s focus on software engineering across the enterprise.

“The continued advances in software makes excellence in software engineering an imperative for our business,” said Hyslop. “Jinnah will be charged with defining and leading Boeing’s strategy for software engineering, which includes providing capabilities, technologies, processes and secure and accurate systems to meet the needs of all our customers across the entire product life cycle.”

Hosein will lead a new, centralized organization of engineers who currently support the development and delivery of software embedded in Boeing’s products and services. The team will also integrate other functional teams to ensure engineering excellence throughout the product life cycle.

Hosein brings extensive experience as a software engineering leader across several innovative, high-tech companies. He joins Boeing after serving as vice president of software engineering for Aurora, a self-driving vehicle company, in Palo Alto, California. He led the company’s software organization for the development of those vehicles and developed Aurora’s high-integrity software life cycle to deploy autonomous architecture to on-road vehicles.

 

Air Cargo Demand Still Recovering Following COVID-19

(IATA)

The September data for global air freight markets released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows only a 3.7 percent monthly growth in global demand in September, leaving it eight percent below 2019 levels, according to a Nov. 4 press release. The report also showed a 25.2 percent decrease in global capacity.

While the global air freight markets are still struggling to recover from losses incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic, they are still making improvements. The September global demand numbers were 4 percent lower than in August, which showed a 12.1 percent drop. However, the global capacity percentage showed a contraction three times larger than the demand which would indicate a severe lack of capacity in the market, according to the release.

“Air cargo volumes are down on 2019, but they are a world apart from the extreme difficulties in the passenger business,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said in a press statement. “For air cargo, 92 percent of the business is still there, whereas about 90 percent of international passenger traffic has disappeared. Favorable indicators for the peak year-end season will support the continued recovery in demand. Already North American and African carriers are reporting demand gains on 2019. The challenge continues to be on capacity. As carriers adjust schedules to reflect falling passenger demand amid the resurgence of COVID-19, valuable belly capacity will be lost when it is needed the most.”

Business Aviation

AeroCruze 230 Now Available on More Legacy Aircraft

Aircraft equipped with BendixKing’s KFC 200 autopilots will now have access to the AeroCruze 230 (KRC 230) after BendixKing, a division of Honeywell obtained regulatory approval to expand the number of aircraft that can be upgraded, according to a Nov. 5 press release.

The KFC 230 is the only touchscreen autopilot in general aviation and offers an affordable and quick upgrade path for legacy aircraft, according to the release. The system will add safety features to aircraft like the Automatic Wings Level, which easily gives pilots control over the aircraft when flying.

“We understand the need for affordable, high-precision autopilots in the general aviation segment that help reduce workload and allow pilots to concentrate on important tasks while flying,” Roger Dykmann, director of offering management at BendixKing, said in a press statement. “AeroCruze 230 is designed to not only meet but exceed those needs and now this upgrade option is available for even more aircraft.”

Garmin Adds New Cockpit Enhancements

Garmin International Inc. released two new cockpit enhancements, G500 TXi and G600 TXi, with capabilities including DFC90 autopilot compatibility, new multi-functional display (MFD) configurations, and additional engine parameter displays, according to an Oct. 29 press release.

According to the press release, pilots will be able to receive modern features and displays on Cirrus aircraft equipped with legacy Avidyne flight displays by upgrading to the G500 TXi. They will also be able to receive engine information and support for electrical gauges.

The enhancements will support annunciation and full bug synchronization on primary flight displays in the Avidyne DFC90 autopilot, according to the release. They will also give the pilot an MFD/EIS layout design on the 10.6-inch TXi flight display.

Connectivity

Viasat to Supply In-flight Connectivity for KLM Fleet

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has selected Viasat to supply in-flight connectivity across the majority of its in-service European fleet, according to the second quarter 2021 financial results published by the global communications company on Nov. 5.

The airline operates a fleet of Boeing 737s and Embraer E190s in Europe.

“We are starting to see signs of improvement in global air passenger counts, and behind the scenes the market landscape for IFC is increasingly moving in our favor, as highlighted by a new win with KLM in Europe,” Viasat said in a letter to shareholders.

“IFC results will likely remain challenging near term, but we remain optimistic about gaining meaningful market share coming out of the crisis, as supported by the recent KLM win,” the company said.

Military

L3Harris To Missionize King Air 350ER Aircraft With ISR Equipment For Canada

King Air 350ER ISR aircraft. (Textron Aviation)

L3Harris has been tapped to missionize three King Air 350ER aircraft, which are set to be delivered to Canada, with equipment to enable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, the company said in a Nov. 2 press release.

Under the deal, L3Harris will outfit the aircraft with “full-motion video sensors, a mission management system and communication datalinks,” according to the company.

“Our L3Harris team is ready to combine our ISR, missionization and modification solutions to deliver a system that will enhance the capabilities and security of Canada and its allies. L3Harris has the distinction of successfully delivering more certified, special mission King Airs on-time and on-budget than any other contractor in the world, and we look forward to maintaining that tradition,” Sean Stackley, the company’s president for integrated mission systems, said in a statement.

The contract is part of a larger $300 foreign military sale with Canada for the modified King Air 350ER aircraft, built by Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft, that the State Department approved in October 2018.

Air Force Considering Possible Autonomous, Stealth Attributes for Future Tanker

The U.S. Air Force continues to study what attributes its future KC-Z tanker should have, as the service tries to resolve six Category 1 deficiencies on its Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers–design and product quality faults that raise the possibility that the service may not field all planned KC-46As by the scheduled date of 2029 and may have to move toward a “bridge tanker” sooner.

If the Air Force meets its 2029 fielding plan, “there will be 179 KC-46s, and we’ll have 300 KC-135s left,” Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the chief of Air Mobility Command, said last week during a virtual Airlift/Tanker Association conference.

The Air Force now employs 394 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s for aerial refueling.

Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett “has committed to a continuous recapitalization of tanker aircraft, meaning we’re going to have a bridge tanker where we’ll have a full and open competition on an aircraft to continue to recapitalize on the KC-135,” Van Ovost said. “They’ll be almost 70 years of age at that time [2029].”

Check out the full story as first published in Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics.

 

Blue Angels Fly Legacy Hornets for the Last Time

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, conducted the final flight on the F/A-18 A/B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets marking the official transition of the Blue Angels to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet platform. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Gordon)

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron is officially transitioning the Blue Angels to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet platform after taking a final flight on the legacy platform on Nov. 4, according to a press release.

The F/A-18 A/B/C/D “Legacy” Hornets have been flown for 34 years. The flight will also mark the 75th anniversary of the team, according to the release. The flight lasted 30 minutes and took off and landed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola.

“We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to salute those teams who have flown, maintained and supported this platform for over three decades of service,” Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, U.S. Navy Blue Angels commanding officer and flight leader, said in a press statement. “We deeply appreciate the expertise and operational knowledge Blue Angels past and present have brought to the team and we look forward to enhancing our operations as we fully transition to flying the Super Hornet.”

 

Unmanned

ArduPilot Gets Sagetech’s UAV Transponders

The open-source autopilot, ArduPilot, will now be equipped with Sagetech Avionics unmanned ariel vehicle (UAV) transponders. (Sagetech)

The open-source autopilot, ArduPilot, will now be equipped with Sagetech Avionics, a technology company providing safety-solutions for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), according to a Nov. 3 press release. The integration was made in partnership with Kraus Hamdani Aerospace, a UAS technology company.

The integration was tested by both companies on the K1000 Ultra Long Endurance (K1000E) UAV, according to the release. The ArduPilot will be added to the list of autopilots that natively integrate with Sagetech’s XP Series of UAS transponders.

“The use of transponders in compliance with aviation standards is a key step to advancing the UAV industry for safe integration into controlled airspace,” Kraus Hamdani Aerospace CTO and co-founder, Stefan Kraus, said in a press statement. “Coupled with our contributions to the ArduPilot community for Sagetech’s low SWaP [size, weight, and power] XP transponder, our fully autonomous K1000ULE platform can safely operate for extended periods in controlled airspace and at medium-to-high altitudes while carrying out complex missions.”

 

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PODCAST: Deutsche Telekom VP of IFC and Services Talks Connecting Mobile Devices In-flight

November 7th, 2020   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Deutsche Telekom VP of IFC and Services Talks Connecting Mobile Devices In-flight   
PODCAST: Deutsche Telekom VP of IFC and Services Talks Connecting Mobile Devices In-flight

David Fox is the VP of in-flight connectivity and services for Deutsche Telekom.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, David Fox, vice president of in-flight and connectivity services for Deutsche Telekom joins to discuss how his company has been expanding its presence in supporting cabin internet and mobile network access in-flight across Europe and other regions of the global commercial airline market.

With David, we discussed how Deutsche Telekom is expanding its presence in providing in-flight connectivity and services for airlines, and David provides some perspective on how they’re trying to make the process for airline passenger journeys transitioning from one airport, to the aircraft and then on to the destination airport and the way that passengers stay connected in each of those phases.

We also ask David how Deutsche and others are trying to make that process more seamless, as well as some other in-flight connectivity related topics they’re working on.

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

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

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FAA Makes New Beyond Unmanned Aircraft Initiative Permanent

November 6th, 2020   •   Comments Off on FAA Makes New Beyond Unmanned Aircraft Initiative Permanent   
FAA Makes New Beyond Unmanned Aircraft Initiative Permanent

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a new permanent unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) integration initiative called BEYOND. (FAA)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a new permanent commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) airspace integration initiative, BEYOND, that will focus on three challenge areas: beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations, leveraging industry, and focusing on community engagement, according to an Oct. 30 press release.

BEYOND will replace the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) which ended on Oct. 25. The BEYOND program will work with eight of the state, local, and tribal governments that participated in the IPP, according to the release.

“The IPP propelled the American drone industry forward, allowing for unprecedented expansions in testing and operations through innovative private-public partnerships across the country,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said in a press statement. “Now, the BEYOND program will build upon this success, tackling the next big challenges facing drone integration.”

The BEYOND program’s BVLOS operations will focus on infrastructure inspection, public operations, and small package delivery, according to the release. The FAA will look to use industry operations to analyze and quantify the societal and economic benefits of UAS while taking into account community concerns by collecting and analyzing community engagement.

“We will build on our relationships with the partners from the pilot to continue to collaborate on challenges that we identify and support innovation in the industry,” the FAA told Avionics International. “This includes tackling safe, repeatable, scalable, and economically-viable UAS flights beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight as well as better understanding the societal and economic benefits of UAS and developing best practices for community engagement.”

Eight IPP participants were selected to participate in BEYOND including Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority of Virginia, Kansas Department of Transportation, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, North Carolina Department of Transportation, North Dakota Department of Transportation, City of Reno, Nevada, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Following the lead of the IPP, the FAA will use BEYOND to support its COVID-19 response.

“The FAA is proactively taking steps to help address the widespread economic and health effects that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the aviation industry,” the FAA said. “Specific to the IPP, at the onset of the pandemic, many of the participants were able to pivot from their original missions to support the COVID-19 response and recovery, demonstrating the increasing value of drone operations in this new environment.”

The FAA said the BEYOND program will work under established rules rather than issuing periodic operational waivers.

“Approving operations through waivers enabled us to gain valuable knowledge and data as operators built their safety cases and flew thousands of missions,” the FAA said. “To scale this to the type and number of UAS operations we expect in the future though, we need to craft rules, policy, and guidance that would enable future safe, routine operations without the need for the labor-intensive waiver requirements. That could include all of the provisions that currently require a waiver under Part 107.”

Moving forward the FAA will review proposed concepts of operations that were submitted by the eight lead participants in the BEYOND program. Once those plans are finalized, testing will begin with BVLOS strategies.

The FAA confirmed to Avionics that it is still on track to release a UAS remote ID ruling next month which will be crucial to integrating unmanned aircraft for commercial and civilian operations into the national airspace.

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Tu-160M2 Blackjack Takes First Flight with New Turbofan Engines

November 5th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Tu-160M2 Blackjack Takes First Flight with New Turbofan Engines   
Tu-160M2 Blackjack Takes First Flight with New Turbofan Engines

The Russian Tu-160M2 Blackjack completed its first flight with new serial NK-32-02 turbofan engines at Kazan Aviation Plant S.P. Gorbunov, United Aircraft Corp. announced on Nov. 3. (UAC)

The Russian Tu-160M2 Blackjack, a supersonic variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber, completed its first flight with new serial NK-32-02 turbofan engines at Kazan Aviation Plant S.P. Gorbunov, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) announced on Nov. 3 in a tweet.

According to UAC, the flight lasted two hours and 20 minutes at an altitude of 6,000 meters and was led by Anri Naskidyats, whose crew piloted the mission.

“During the flight, the necessary checks were performed on the updated general aircraft systems and on-board electronic equipment installed as part of a deep modernization of the aircraft, as well as the performance of the new NK-32 series 02 engine, developed and manufactured by the United Engine Corporation [UEC],” the UAC said.

According to the UAC, the flight lasted two hours and 20 minutes at an altitude of 6,000 meters and was led by Anri Naskidyats, whose crew piloted the mission. (UAC)

The NK-32-02 turbofan engines were reported to be the largest and most powerful turbofan jet engines ever fitted on a combat aircraft by The Diplomat in 2017 when the upgrade was first announced. UEC said the engines will allow longer-range flights.

The Tu-160, unofficially named the White Swan, is historic in military aviation being the largest supersonic and variable geometry-wing aircraft. It is also the world’s heaviest combat aircraft with the highest gross take-off weight among bombers. The aircraft first flew in Dec. 1981. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the full modernization of the Tu-160 fleet in 2017 after resuming manufacturing in 2015.

The Tu-160 is part of Russia’s nuclear triad.

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FAA Privacy ICAO Program Gains Foothold, But Extent Limited Thus Far

November 5th, 2020   •   Comments Off on FAA Privacy ICAO Program Gains Foothold, But Extent Limited Thus Far   
FAA Privacy ICAO Program Gains Foothold, But Extent Limited Thus Far

A look at the use of the FAA’s Privacy ICAO address option for business and general aviation operators.

Last November, New Hampshire-based Private Jet Services (PGS) Group warned that aviation hobbyists, crowdsourced websites, and hackers were intercepting flight data using private Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers—available for as little as $199 from Amazon—and broadcasting the information online. The aviation consultancy said that such receivers, along with a “deeper level of positional data and a tail number,” could allow real-time flight tracking of corporate executives and other VIPs.

The Washington Post, through some sleuthing, was able to chronicle the 150,000 miles that the Gulfstream G650 belonging to SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk traveled on in 2018, as well as the miles logged by a Gulfstream belonging to Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post and founder of Amazon and Blue Origin.

To allow aircraft owners to limit the availability of real-time ADS-B position and identification information, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began a Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) program last December for U.S. registered aircraft equipped with 1090 MHz ADS-B and using a third-party call sign in domestic U.S. airspace. The program allows such owners to request an alternate, temporary ICAO address, which is not assigned to the owner in the Civil Aviation Registry (CAR).

Despite its promise, PIA has not seen widespread adoption so far.

“Since the Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) program launched on December 19, 2019, 74 users have enrolled,” the FAA said. “In addition to the Limiting Aircraft Data Displayed program, the PIA program provides a layer of privacy for aircraft operators who seek to anonymize their ADS-B equipped aircraft while flying in U.S. sovereign airspace.”

ADS-B equipage levels for FAA-registered aircraft as of Oct. 1, 2020.

Of the 74 PIA users, one operator has registered three aircraft, while three operators have registered two aircraft each, and 67 operators have a single aircraft registered, the FAA said.

The agency declined to release a list of the 74 users, as PIA’s objective is “improving the privacy of aircraft operators in today’s ADS-B environment by limiting the extent to which the aircraft can quickly and easily be identified by non-U.S. government entities while ensuring there is no adverse effect on ATC [air traffic control] services,” the FAA said.

As of Sept. 1, more than 132,500 U.S. aircraft were equipped with ADS-B, including 110,030 general aviation aircraft—fixed-wing, rotorcraft, light sport and experimental aircraft.

“We have equipped 100 percent of the six jets in our fleet with ADS-B (Out) and understand the benefits of safety and accuracy of tracking regarding ADS-B,” Adam Vidoni, the chief pilot of Virginia-based Chantilly Air, wrote in an email. “We discussed the option of incorporating the Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) and opted not to implement. The frustration comes with PIA currently being the only real ‘free’ option to maintain aircraft registered information from being fully public. However, the technical aspect of changing the aircraft’s registered tail or call sign to accommodate PIA requires physical removal of the equipment (box) to be reprogrammed each time the aircraft flew internationally, which doesn’t hold true for its domestic operations requirements.”

“This in itself requires time and maintenance which is an indirect cost and inconvenience to an on-demand operation,” Vidoni wrote. “So, we weighed the benefit to cost and opted out of participating—feeling that there are many other ways someone could attempt to gain access of information to our clients’ movements other than flight tracking.”

Chantilly Air is looking forward to other privacy options that may prove more time and cost-effective than PIA.

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has been discussing with the FAA a possible expansion of PIA to international airspace between the continental United States and Hawaii, Mexico, and Canada.

“Initial conversations between the FAA and NavCanada have been favorable,” the FAA said. “The FAA plans to jointly submit a working paper to the ICAO Aeronautical Surveillance Working Group. If the paper is accepted, we will begin drafting regional supplementary procedures, followed by a proposal for amendment to ICAO Doc 7030.”

The cockpit avionics for the ADS-B Out-equipped King Air 360, unveiled by Textron in August. (Textron Aviation)

Doug Carr, the vice president of regulatory and international affairs at NBAA, said that the association has been encouraging its members to adopt PIA as one tool to ensure privacy.

“I think, expectedly, the take-up rate [for PIA] has been a little slow because there is a little bit of work that’s needed to take advantage of what PIA does, and, in its initial rollout, it is limited in scope in terms of where it can be applied,” he said. “It really is a consideration for each and every aircraft make and model, as there are a variety of considerations for the operator to review in determining how this program would work for their specific aircraft, and, secondly, FAA’s initial rollout has limited the applicability only to airspace over the continental United States.”

Some considerations for business jet operators in deciding whether to implement PIA are the need to secure a third party call sign from one of a half dozen companies for PIA; the process to install a new ICAO or Mode S transponder code through proprietary cabling and software, a software upload for the aircraft, or manual work on the switches of an aircraft electronic box; and the current geographic limits on PIA.

Given such considerations, it is likely that PIA and other privacy tools may take some time to see adoption by business aviation operators.

Greg Raiff, the CEO of PJS Group, wrote in an email that customer privacy is “of the utmost concern” to business aircraft operators in the PJS network.

An ADS-B Out-equipped 30-seat passenger Embraer Regional Jet operated by PJS Group. (PJS Group)

“PJS has expected all [Part] 135 and 121 operators in its network to move toward compliance with the Privacy ICAO Address program,” he wrote. “Initially, PJS expected all preferred vendors to be PIA compliant by the third quarter of 2020. However, due to the COVID pandemic, vendors have been given until April of 2021 to be compliant as a PJS-preferred vendor. To date, approximately 40 percent of preferred vendors are compliant.”

PJS is “strongly supporting” the expansion of PIA internationally, yet “we understand that there is no single standard for PIA and realize it may be some time before implementation into international markets occurs,” Raiff wrote.

Ryan Foss, the director of flight support for Massachusetts-based Magellan Jets, said that all operators in the Magellan Jets’ network are using PIAs “or are interested in implementing immediately.”

“Having access to any specific information regarding our guests’ business travel, for example, can be reverse-engineered by competitors and it is our duty to protect them,” he wrote in an email.

Private jet companies offering fractional aircraft ownership may have a leg up in ensuring the privacy of clients. “NetJets does not need to utilize the PIA program domestically or internationally,” Patrick Gallagher, the president of sales and marketing at NetJets, Inc—a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that has more than 750 aircraft, all equipped with ADS-B, said.

“NetJets’ tail numbers are never associated with a specific traveler, and passenger travel data is maintained under strict confidentiality,” Gallagher wrote in an email. “Traveling with NetJets is anonymous by design, so our owners’ privacy—and safety—remains completely intact.”

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Airbus Sees Mixed Segment Results While Launching New Business Jet as Pandemic Persists

November 4th, 2020   •   Comments Off on Airbus Sees Mixed Segment Results While Launching New Business Jet as Pandemic Persists   
Airbus Sees Mixed Segment Results While Launching New Business Jet as Pandemic Persists

Airbus launched the corporate jet configuration of its A220-100 commercial airliner in October, pictured here, and saw mixed results across different aviation market segments through the first nine months of 2020. (Airbus Corporate Jets)

Airbus published its financial and operational results through the first nine months of 2020, showing mixed performance across various market segments status including their defense division’s increase in new orders, the launch of a new business jet, and adjustments to commercial aircraft production rates.

While COVID-19’s impact on the global decline in air traffic and subsequent airline layoffs and order cancellations has impacted Airbus their results showed much less impact on their commercial division comparative to Boeing’s recently reported third-quarter results that continue to be severely impacted by the continued grounding of the 737. At the end of September, the Airbus commercial aircraft order backlog stands at 7,441 and a total of 341 deliveries were completed compared to 4,300 and 98 total deliveries completed by Boeing’s commercial division during the first nine months of the year.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the second wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus that lead to newly enacted lockdowns by many of the largest countries in Europe including Germany and France is a new concern. Faury expects the single-aisle market to lead the recovery once restrictions are lifted and airlines can start addressing anticipated gradual increases in passenger demand with new orders.

“It’s extremely diverse between a low-cost airline operating in one given regional market that is – that has remained open for domestic flights; or a national carrier who has no domestic market and has lost almost completely its market international flights for a long period of time,” Faury said. “They all have to deal with very different situations. And that’s why we have said we’ve made a work a very comprehensive work airline-by-airline, plane-by-plane,” Faury said in response to an analyst question.”

Segment performance for Airbus varies, including Airbus Helicopters, which reported “broadly stable revenues” and booked 143 net orders compared to 173 during the first nine months of 2019. Even as the pandemic continued to impact air travel between July and September, the division also received 68 new orders for helicopters, including six for the new European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)-certified H160.

The helicopters division of Airbus did not see as much impact from COVID-19 on deliveries and new orders during the first nine months of 2020 recording “broadly stable revenues” and booking 68 new orders during the third quarter including for its newly EASA- certified H160, pictured here. (Airbus Helicopters)

Their Defense and Space division also increased its order intake by 35 percent compared to the first nine months of 2019 to €8.2 billion. The defense division achieved new contract wins for telecommunication satellites in the U.K. and the Middle East during the third quarter.

On Oct. 6, Airbus Corporate Jets launched the TwoTwenty business jet, calling it a “whole new market segment” or the “Xtra Large Bizjet,” a private charter version of their A220-100 commercial airliner. TwoTwenty can fly up to 18 passengers with a range of up to 5,650 nm.

“Based on its compelling market appeal, we see promising demand for this aircraft in the growing business jet market,” ACJ President Benoit Defforge said in an Oct. 6 press release.

Production rates for commercial aircraft have been adjusted to reflect what Airbus believes will be a ramping up of demand for single-aisle A320 family aircraft by the third quarter of 2021, although Faury remains cautious.

“Airlines remain in a difficult situation and their balance sheets are impacted by the crisis. We continue to expect that air traffic will reach its 2019 level again between 2023 and 2025,” Faury said. “The single-aisle market will lead the recovery while wide-body will lag. Based on the agreements formed with our customers a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic may result in maintaining the current production levels for longer and could have an influence on the timing and pace of the future single-aisle ramp-up.”

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