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.
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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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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.
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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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.”
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.”
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.
“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 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.
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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Aerospace9, an information and technology company based in South Korea, has agreed to purchase 300 of Bye Aerospace’s all-electric aircraft, according to a Nov. 2 press release. The agreement marks an important opportunity in the Asia Pacific market, George Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace, told Avionics International.
“When you look at the macroeconomic growth of the world, you cannot ignore how important our friends in Asia are,” Bye said. “When you look at the overall opportunity, the Asia market is gigantic, maybe not today, but it’s becoming that tomorrow and soon thereafter.”
Bye Aerospace, a Colorado-based aircraft manufacturer, is currently in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) certification process for its all-electric trainer eFlyer, which comes in two and four-seat options. Bye said he expects this process and production to start in the third quarter of 2022. The original date of 2021 was pushed back because of COVID-19.
Aerospace9 will be purchasing a total of 150 eFlyer 2s, the two-seat variation, 148 eFlyer 4s, the four-seat variation, and two Envoys, which is Bye Aerospace’s soon to be announced 9-seat variation, according to the release. It will also have the opportunity to acquire 100 additional aircraft.
“This investment is not just a purchase contract, it is a very meaningful contract that creates an amazing opportunity for Asia,” Chairman Seunghyuk Cha of Aerospace 9, said in a press statement. “Our company has a very important responsibility in the aviation industry as a new strategic partner of Bye Aerospace.”
Bye Aerospace’s prototypes, fixed-wing all-electric aircraft produced under Part 23 Amendment 64, were initially rolled out four years ago. They use lithium-ion battery cells for power lasting between three to five hours depending on the aircraft configuration. The eFlyer is a trainer aircraft, which negates the need for longer flight times, Bye said.
“The cell goes into a module, which provides thermal management mechanical protection and safety systems and those battery packs, there are two strings that have battery packs completely redundant one to the other, that provide the energy for the battery management system,” Bye explains. “It’s basically a computer that monitors the health and the state of charge and so forth and those electrons feed the electric energy into the controller inverter and electric motor, and that system is designed for a three-hour flight time on the two-seat eFlyer 2.”
Once Bye Aerospace receives FAA type certification, it expects to subsequently achieve certification from South Korea’s civil aviation authority.
“When we get a type certificate in America there’s, generally speaking, a collaborative agreement between the FAA and South Korea, where there’s a paperwork process of acknowledgment of this level of rigor of achieving a type certificate under the FAA, in our case 14 CFR 23 Amendment 64 rules,” Bye said. “And that paperwork process pulls the FAA type certificate into the Civil Aviation Authority of Korea and they achieve an airworthiness certificate level of acceptance in Korea.”
Including the Aerospace9 agreement, Bye Aerospace now has future purchase agreements for 711 total aircraft.
In July Bye Aerospace announced a $10 million investment by a venture capital fund which allowed it to begin work on the first production-conforming prototype of its eFlyer 2 aircraft. The SUBARU-SBI Innovation Fund also invested in the company in 2018.
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The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is partnering with Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame to conduct hypersonic research in key areas including the transition from laminar to turbulent flow, predicting the heating of turbulent flow, systems engineering, and propulsion, Jonathan Poggie, a professor in the school of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University and leader of the hypersonics program, told Aviation Today. The research will be used for any military vehicle or object flying at hypersonic speeds.
Purdue and Notre Dame were chosen specifically to participate in the $5.8 million program because each of them have separate Mach 6 (about 4,500 mph) quiet wind tunnels and combustion facilities. The multidisciplinary effort emphasizes the pressure to move fast and get stuff done, Poggie said.
“The key thing that I would emphasize in this being unique is while it involves so many institutions and it’s multidisciplinary, we’re not just doing ordinary academic research,” Poggie said. “We’re putting together many different fields to try to make the whole that’s bigger than the parts.”
Two of the projects the program is focused on involve the transition from laminar to turbulent flow for next-generation high-speed vehicles capable of flying at Mach 5 and beyond. When laminar flow, which is smooth and quarterly in layers, transfers to turbulent flow, which is chaotic, it is very difficult to predict the transfer rates, which can be a factor of 10 higher when in turbulent flow over laminar flow, Poggie explained.
“The idea there is that transition from laminar to turbulent flow describes features particularly sensitive to external disturbances and particular sound,” Poggie said. “A conventional wind tunnel is very noisy, that when it runs you can actually hear the rumbling, and that turbulent flow on the sidewalls of the tunnel contaminates the flow field, creating an unrealistic disturbance environment that’s not representative of light. These tunnels [Mach 6] are specially designed to reduce that noise field to a minimum that’s very close to what you get when you actually fly through the atmosphere.”
This research will be led by Joseph Jewell, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue, and Thomas Juliano, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and Notre Dame.
Sally Bane, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue, will be leading the program’s research into how to improve the capability of designers to predict heating of turbulent flow using computer models. This is important because it will determine what materials will need to be used in a hypersonic vehicle.
“We’ll be trying to predict those measurements with the best available computer models and see how we can help improve the capability of making this prediction so when designers go to design a hypersonic vehicle, they know the level of heating they can expect from flight,” Poggie said. “That’s important for us to know that and have an error bound on the value because otherwise, they have to use a very conservative design and a conservative thermal protection system is heavy and reduces the vehicle performance.”
According to Poggie, the program will also include a system engineering project which will examine how different design aspects can mitigate heat transfer. The project will take an integrated approach examining all parts of the design including aerodynamic structures, flight controls, and the internal systems of the vehicle. This project will be led by Dan DeLaurentis, director of the Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation (i-GSDI).
“Disciplines including aerodynamics, aerothermal effects, and propulsion all can come into play when a vehicle is flying at hypersonic speeds,” DeLaurentis said in a press statement. “Multidisciplinary research is a point of emphasis for the i-GSDI and the Department of Defense.”
Carson Slabaugh, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue, will be leading the programs work in scramjet combustion experiments.
The multidisciplinary effort involves a total of 16 researchers between the universities and it will be Poggie’s job to coordinate these efforts to create a cohesive result.
“We all have a big history working together and that’s what enabled this all to come together,” Poggie said. “People knew each other, and they had confidence working with each other. And then we have a good set of leads for each of the tasks… That hierarchy will hopefully allow me to not have to have my hands in every single project.”
Earlier this year, Purdue was awarded $5.9 million by the AFRL to develop a Mach 8 wind tunnel, and Northrop Grumman donated a Hypersonic Pulse (HYPULSE) shock tunnel to the university in October. The HYPULSE will allow flight simulations from Mach 5 to Mach 40, which is fast enough to allow a plane traveling from Washington, D.C. to fly to California in just 15 minutes. Purdue is only the second university to have one of these wind tunnels.
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Check out the Nov. 1 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.
International Airlines Group (IAG) published its results for the first nine months of the year, showing passenger capacity down by 64 percent between January and September, according to an Oct. 30 press release.
“In quarter 3 we’re reporting an operating loss of €1,300 million before exceptional items compared to an operating profit of €1,425 million last year. The total operating loss was €1,918 million, including exceptional items relating to fuel hedges plus restructuring costs at British Airways and Aer Lingus,” said Luis Gallego, IAG’s CEO.
“We are calling on governments to adopt pre-departure testing using reliable and affordable tests with the option of post flight testing to release people from quarantine where they are arriving from countries with high infection rates. This would open routes, stimulate economies and get people traveling with confidence. When we open routes, there is pent up demand for travel. However, we continue to expect that it will take until at least 2023 for passenger demand to recover to 2019 levels,” he added.
Overall passenger revenue fell by 71 percent for the first nine months of the year across IAG’s airlines. Passenger revenue during the third quarter was down by 86 percent, according to IAG.
Emirates Airlines’ Terminal 3 of the Dubai International Airport will integrate biometrics technology supplier Vision-Box’s Orchestra Digital Identity Management Platform, according to an Oct. 26 press release.
The implementation will be made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and it will create a touch-less and contactless passenger processing experience, according to the press release. The Orchestra Digital Identity Management Platform features touchless identification, contactless security checks for clearance, digital travel document authentication, touchless lounge access, and touchless boarding.
“The need for touchless identity management and seamless passenger flow management is the new reality,” Miguel Leitmann, the CEO of Vision-Box, said in a press statement. “As air travel dynamics have evolved under the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a safe contactless passenger experience is paramount to the industry’s revival. Emirates has been one of the first in the world to recognize the need for contactless digital technology for passenger safety and have sought to swiftly implement the most advanced technology with Vision-Box’s touchless and contactless technology.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published its updated Easy Access Rules for Air Traffic Management/Air Navigation Services (ATM/ANS) on Oct. 27.
According to the agency, the updated rules contain “the applicable rules for the providers of ATM/ANS and other Air Traffic Management network functions.” Described a revision from October 2020, the update also incorporates European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/469. That implementing regulation includes new requirements for ATM services, design of airspace structures and data quality as well as runway safety data.
According to EASA, the updates will make “Easy Access Rules for Air Traffic Management/Air Navigation Services (Regulation (EU) 2017/373” applicable as of January 27, 2022.
he Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact-Record of Decision for the South-Central Florida Metroplex, which is the agency’s plan to modernize air traffic procedures for 21 airports in the southern half of the state, according to an Oct. 26 update published by the agency.
The agency posted the document and the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) on the Florida Metroplex Environmental website.
The decision enables the FAA to move forward with new satellite-based procedures that will enhance safety and efficiency. New procedures are scheduled for implementation in mid-2021.
The project includes new arrival and departure procedures for Miami, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa and St. Pete/Clearwater international airports and 15 other smaller airports.
Inmarsat unveiled a next generation terminal for its GX Aviation in-flight connectivity (IFC) network in an Oct. 29 press release.
The terminal, developed in collaboration with GDC Technics, includes a flat panel antenna provided by Thinkom that has been integrated with smart dual aero modem technology that supports Inmarsat’s new GX+ North America service, announced with Hughes Network Systems last week.
“The global in-flight connectivity market is fast evolving and we have enjoyed working with Inmarsat to develop this next-generation terminal for GX Aviation, which is not only lightweight and low drag, but also boasts one of the lowest engineering failure rates in the market. We are hugely excited about the partnership and look forward to working with Inmarsat and its partners to bring this new terminal to airlines across the world,” said Brad Foreman, Chief Executive Officer of GDC Technics.
The new GDC Technics terminal has been certified and is now flying on Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Additional retrofit and line-fit certifications are currently in progress and expected to be available by the end of this year, including retrofit options for the Airbus A320/330 family, and the Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched a competition on HeroX, a social network for crowdsourced solutions, to find innovative ways for cargo to be unloaded from lunar landers and other spacecraft while operating in a lunar environment, according to an Oct. 29 press release.
The competition, NASA’s Lunar Delivery Challenge, is open to anyone over 18 who lives in a country not sanctioned by the United States. NASA will select six winners who will share a total prize of $25,000.
“We are looking for broad concepts from the public, so this is not an engineer-specific challenge. We want to hear from everyone,” Paul Kessler, Aerospace Vehicle Design and Mission Analyst at NASA, said in a press statement. “We are interested in concepts that range from simple to complex. We don’t yet know what will work best, and that’s why we’re interested in every proposal. We are excited to see what people have to offer and to have them contribute to NASA’s ambitious mission. This is the stuff that makes history.”
NASA expects to use this challenge to support its Artemis program, which looks to land the first woman and second man on the moon in 2024. The solutions created through this program will have to account for a wide variety of cargo types and weights supporting everything from small scientific instruments to large rovers.
“Replicating our everyday activities on the Moon continues to be a challenge,” Christian Cotichini, CEO of HeroX, said in a press statement. “Finding ways to do these things in a lunar environment is crucial to the success of a sustained human presence on the Moon. The unloading of payloads is a critical part of that overall effort. NASA hopes it can once again leverage the brilliance of the crowd so that astronauts have access to the equipment and supplies they need.”
The nanosatellite bus manufacturer, NanoAvionics, is expanding in the United Kingdom moving to a larger facility for satellite assembly, integration, and testing. NanoAvionics will also expand its sales, technical support, and research and development activities, according to an Oct. 29 press release.
NanoAvionics announced a 300 percent revenue increase in the last 12 months, according to the release. Their products are used by NASA, ESA, and MIT and use a modular design and low-cost preconfigured nanosatellite buses.
“Following the establishment of our first office at Harwell Campus last year, NanoAvionics is now further expanding its business in the UK by investing in this new AIT facility, creating jobs and by developing a technology cluster and supply chain, similarly to what we have done in Lithuania and the USA,” Vytenis J. Buzas, CEO of NanoAvionics, said in a press statement. “To grow our Satellite production capabilities locally, we are going to connect with companies in Britain such as printed circuit board suppliers, electronics manufacturers, cable assembly providers, producers of mechanical components and surface treatment providers.”
The Canadian Air Mobility and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) are launching a multi-stakeholder group for research, development, and commercial operations in the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector, Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM). The announcement was made in an Oct. 28 press release.
CAAM has more than 20 partners including TransLink, Helijet International, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Bell Textron. It will create an AAM innovation hub to expand the sector and spur new technology.
“We’ve established an outstanding group of strategic members to support the design, integration, and implementation of Advanced Air Mobility in Canada,” JR Hammond, Founder & CEO of Canadian Air Mobility and Executive Director of CAAM, said in a press statement. “We look forward to demonstrating the economic viability, environmental benefits and social inclusivity factors of this technology and making Canada a world leader in AAM. To that end, we welcome additional members who share our vision that AAM provides the path toward a safer, healthier, and more efficient mode of transportation.”
AAM includes the use of zero-emission, electric, or hydrogen fuel cells and vertical take-off aircraft. It will provide transportation to rural and urban areas and could complete tasks like emergency medical response, and natural disaster assessment, according to the release.
The Workhorse Group Inc, a technology company that makes electric drones, submitted a type certification application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its HorseFly unmanned aerial system (UAS), according to an Oct. 28 press release. Type certification takes about one to two years and signifies the airworthiness of a category of aircraft.
The HorseFly can deliver parcels, carry sensors and cameras, and operate autonomously, according to the press release. It has a payload of ten pounds for up to10 miles.
“FAA Type Certification is the only path to scaling meaningful, long-term commercial revenue operations in the U.S., and we believe our Aerospace division is firmly on that path,” Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes said in a press statement. “We first started developing our unmanned aerial system over four years ago and have come a very long way in that time. Workhorse Aerospace has flown hundreds of live package deliveries in multiple states. With direct operating costs of the aircraft coming in at less than three cents per mile, package delivery integrated via drone represents a true step function improvement in terms of cost and efficiency. While there is much work ahead, this formal application is a milestone achievement for our team. We will continue to work diligently over the coming months as we progress through the various stages of the approval process.”
On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Jack Mandala, CEO of Seamless Air Alliance (SAA), joins to discuss the organization’s latest in-flight connectivity standard, “OpenIFC” Release 2.0.
Seamless Air Alliance was established in 2018 by Airbus, Air France KLM, Delta, Sprint and an industry coalition of operators and technology providers collaborating with the goal of driving down the price and increasing the availability of in-flight connectivity (IFC) service, technology, and upgrades. Following the publishing of their first IFC standard earlier this year, the organization recently announced the completion of Seamless Release 2.0.
This latest Release “defines the information provided by each network component, enabling suppliers to design and build OpenIFC products using the modular architecture and open interfaces from its first release,” according to SAA.
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Boeing expects regulatory approval of the 737 MAX’s return to service to occur before the end of the year, according to comments made by David Calhoun, the company’s president and CEO during an Oct. 28 third-quarter earnings call.
Calhoun said the fourth-quarter return to service timing is ultimately the decision of global regulators and is subject to possible changes. The MAX has been grounded for 18 months following two separate fatal crashes of the airliner by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines.
Between July and September, Boeing incurred “$590 million of abnormal production costs related to the 737 program,” the company said in its third-quarter earnings release. Overall third-quarter revenue was down by $3.6 billion primarily due to “COVID-19 impacts as well as 787 quality issues and associated work.”
“The certification process itself, ticketing each airplane, while that’s somewhat new, that’s a process rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed between us and our regulator. That doesn’t mean it’s going to fly through, on the other hand, I don’t actually expect much delay in that process,” Calhoun said in response to an analyst question on the amount of time required between receiving final regulatory approval and when actual MAX deliveries to operators can logistically begin.
At the end of the third quarter, Boeing’s 737 order backlog stood at 3,400 orders, including a total of 436 order cancellations where customers either canceled altogether or converted their MAX order to another model. A note from Calhoun to employees published alongside the earnings release notes that a new Safety Management System (SMS) that incorporates “lessons learned from internal and external investigations surrounding the MAX” was also introduced during the quarter.
The MAX re-certification flight testing program has now amassed over 1,400 flights and 3,000 test hours, including flights recently completed with FAA Chief Steve Dickson at the controls and separate tests with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as well as Transport Canada and Brazilian civil aviation authorities onboard. Calhoun also confirmed Boeing has been in discussion with the Civil Aviation Authority of China about the MAX.
Boeing CFO Greg Smith also provided updates to analysts on the long-term delivery outlook for the MAX.
“We currently have approximately 450 737 MAX aircraft built and stored in inventory. We expect to have to re-market some of these aircraft and potentially reconfigure them, which will extend the delivery time frame. We now expect delivery of about half of the aircraft currently in storage by the end of next year and the majority of the remaining in the following year,” Smith said.
Last week, American Airlines confirmed in its own third-quarter earnings release that a new agreement was reached with Boeing to defer deliveries of 18 total 737 MAX aircraft from 2021 and 2022 to 2023 and 2024. According to an Oct. 24 report published by CNBC, American has already planned on flying its first 737 MAX flights between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and the carrier’s Miami hub starting Dec. 29 through Jan. 4.
Over the next year, Boeing expects to incur a total of $5 billion in abnormal production costs associated with the MAX.
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