How is Canada Approaching Advanced Air Mobility?

May 14th, 2021   •   Comments Off on How is Canada Approaching Advanced Air Mobility?   
How is Canada Approaching Advanced Air Mobility?

The Canadian Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a nonprofit promoting the sustainable, beneficial use of eVTOL aircraft and drones throughout the Vancouver region, released a white paper exploring the path to Vancouver’s potential emergence as the first “Advanced Air Mobility [AAM] City in North America.” Pictured here, is a proposed concept for takeoffs and landings with larger eVTOL aircraft. (AAM)

One in five aircraft in Canada will be flying with zero emissions by 2040, JR Hammond, executive director of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), said during a panel at the Vertical Flight Society’s Forum 77 on May 12. Making this goal a reality will require collaboration between industry and regulatory bodies to make advanced air mobility (AAM) not only environmentally sustainable but also economically sustainable and accessible to everyone involved, industry professionals said.

“We are really playing that role in taking all of the work coming out of the drone or RPAS [remotely piloted aircraft systems] industry, transitioning into this vertical advanced mobility industry, and critically, having that technology, build and build on energy capacity as we move into the commercial aviation side,” Hammond said. “Our work on advanced mobility, yes, encompasses the retail side, but it’s critical for moving people, cargo, and the performing of various services within urban and regional areas that were previously not served or underserved by aviation, all with that thread of sustainability under zero-emission aviation.”

Part of making AAM sustainable is making sure that the demand for these technologies is inclusive, Teara Fraser, lead executive at Iskwew Air, said during the panel. Fraser said that when she started Iskwew Air she was conscious of the very diverse communities in Canada and focused on how aviation might be an answer to some of their unique challenges.

“When I started Iskwew Air, one of the things I really cared about and that I wanted to contribute to was ensuring that those communities could access food, medical supplies, and the services that they needed,” Fraser said. “So, I’m really curious and committed to exploring how can these emerging technologies uplift indigenous land, story, sovereignty, and stewardship. How can these technologies be used in service of people in service of community?”

Engaging communities that have not traditionally been served by these technologies will also help with the public acceptance challenge which has been cited as a barrier to AAM, Danny Sitnam, president and CEO of HeliJet, said.

“If we can protect communities, protect families, help rural and remote communities develop their own initiatives with these technologies, we are going to get tremendous acceptance,” Sitnam said. “We have to break the stereotypical situation that is around us once in a while where these technologies are for the rich and famous.”

AirJet Helicopter is developing an aircraft that uses compressed air to perform many mechanical functions making it less expensive and more reliable than traditional components, Clifford Dickman, co-founder of AirJet Helicopter, said. Dickman said the design and performance is comparable to a helicopter, however, the AirJet aircraft offers economic benefits by avoiding maintenance and repair expenses.

“There’s been no sacrifice in terms of performance, but the operating costs, clearly, are reduced, and at the same time everyone is striving towards having an environmentally friendly and low impact aircraft on the environment, both in terms of noise, and carbon footprint,” Dickman said. “I think the AirJet concept goes a long way towards achieving both.”

Sitnam said when thinking about AAM technologies it is important to operate on a cost per seat mile model. He said part of his thinking on this is investing in long-haul, high speed, high altitude hybrid technologies for connecting trunk routes and smaller lighter low altitude technologies to feed hubs to and from suburban destinations.

While some new AAM technologies are transformative for the aerospace industry, Sitnam said they should not try to “reinvent the wheel” for every aspect of operations.

“With these new technologies, I think a key component is not reinventing the wheel,” Sitnam said. “There’s a lot of infrastructure already in place that we need to take advantage of. Existing heliports, specifically say the Vancouver harbor heliport, is a huge economic driver for the city and the province, and they can accommodate future technologies, at some point in time. So, I think we need to look at rules and regulations today, of existing facilities, and see how we integrate the infrastructure that’s coming ahead without reinventing the wheel and building more infrastructure when there’s something already there.”

Craig Bloch-Hansen, project manager of RPAS Technical Standards at Transport Canada, said the regulator approach to these technologies is three-pronged and includes focuses on personnel, procedures, and products. To achieve their regulatory objects they will need to coordinate research and development and then work to advance to operational trials.

“Our challenge is to understand those technologies, understand the risks associated with them, and provide a regulatory framework, that really allows for industry to grow to become sustainable and to support technology innovation, sustainable development, and ultimately, supporting safety,” Bloch-Hansen said.

The operational trials will be important so regulatory agencies can explore how these new technologies can integrate into existing infrastructure while also making it more sustainable, Bloch-Hansen said.

“We’re also working with Canadian industry to define, test, and deploy new infrastructure to support operations,” Bloch-Hansen said. “We also see a need to expand those [existing infrastructure] to support efficiencies within our operations, and to find ways to continue to drive sustainable development, both economically and environmentally within the regulatory structure and with support of the operators nationally.”

The panelists also emphasized the sentiment that AAM is not something that is happening in the future but right now.

“Some people may think it is going to be in the future, maybe one day, maybe our children, no no no no,” Nicolas Chabee, vice president of marketing and sales at Pratt & Whitney Canada, said. “We are going to show that it’s actually coming today. There’s some technology that is available today. There are some resources that are already flying today. We all have the same objective to increase advanced mobility to make it more accessible and democratic.”

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 9, 2021

May 10th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 9, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 9, 2021

Check out the May 9 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.

 

 

Commercial

Airbus Pays Tribute to Passing of Fly-By-Wire Visionary Bernard Ziegler

Bernard Ziegler, engineering pioneer for digital fly-by-wire control technology on Airbus aircraft, has passed at the age of 88. (Airbus)

Airbus published a May 5 press release paying tribute to the passing of Bernard Ziegler, at the age of 88. Ziegler, one of Airbus’ engineering pioneers, was instrumental in the introduction of the world’s first digital Fly-By-Wire (FBW) and side stick controls in a commercial passenger aircraft with the A320 in 1988, according to the release.

Born in 1933, in Boulogne sur Seine, Ziegler graduated from the French “Ecole Polytechnique” in 1954 and, later, from several engineering and flight training schools (Ecole Nationale de l’Air, Ecole de Chasse, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique, Ecole du Personnel Navigant Essais).

During the early 1960s he studied aeronautical engineering at ENSA (l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l’Aéronautique) in Toulouse, which is now ISAE-SUPAERO. He then attended prestigious flight test pilot school EPNER, before taking up a career as a military test pilot.

His career at Airbus spanned four decades, where he helped the company to realize the full potential that digital FBW could bring, including flight envelope protection incorporated into the control software. Ziegler’s legacy lives on with digital FBW on all current generation Airbus aircraft.

Through his retirement in December 1997, Ziegler was Airbus Senior Vice President of Engineering.

Boeing Adds New 737 Passenger-to-Freighter Conversion Lines in Costa Rica 

Boeing will add two new 737 passenger to freighter conversion lines in Costa Rica. (Boeing)

Boeing is adding two new 737-800 Converted Freighter (BCF) conversion lines in Alajuela, Costa Rica, under a new partnership with local aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA).

The first of the new conversion lines is expected to open in early 2022, according to a May 5 press release, with the second anticipated to open later that year.

Currently, Boeing converts 737-800 passenger airplanes to freighters at three locations: Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services (BSAS) in Shanghai, China; Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company Limited (GAMECO) in Guangzhou, China; and Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd. (STAECO) in Jinan, China.

To date, the 737-800BCF has won more than 180 orders and commitments from 15 customers on four continents. In March, Boeing re-delivered the 50th 737-800BCF since entering into service in 2018.

 

 

Lufthansa Group Expands Long Haul Fleet with New Airbus A350, Boeing 787 Orders

Lufthansa is adding five new 787-9s to its long-haul fleet. (Lufthansa)

Lufthansa Group’s Executive has approved a new purchase 10 total long-haul aircraft: five Airbus A350-900s and five Boeing B787-9, according to a May 3 press release. These aircraft will be operated by Lufthansa.

The first Boeing 787-9 are scheduled to fly for Lufthansa as early as next winter, with others to follow in the first half of 2022, according to the release.

A computer-generated image of a Lufthansa Airbus A350-900. (Lufthansa Group)

The five newly ordered Airbus A350-900s will be delivered in 2027 and 2028. This brings the total number of firm orders for the A350-900 to 45 aircraft. The Lufthansa Group also agreed with Airbus on a re-structuring of planned deliveries.

“Even in these challenging times, we are continuing to invest in a more modern, more efficient and a lower emission Lufthansa Group fleet. At the same time, we are pushing ahead with the modernization of our long-haul fleet even faster than planned prior to the coronavirus pandemic due to anti-cyclical opportunities,” Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said in the release. “The new aircraft are the most modern of their kind. We want to further expand our global leadership role, among other things, with cutting-edge premium products and a state-of-the-art fleet – especially because we have a responsibility to the environment.”

 

 

IATA Highlights High Cost of COVID-19 Testing on Airlines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) highlighted the high cost of COVID-19 testing in a May 4 press release, referencing statistics from a sampling of the costs of tests being used in some of the world’s largest passenger airline markets.

“An IATA sampling of costs for PCR tests (the test most frequently required by governments) in 16 countries showed wide variations by markets and within markets,” IATA said in the release. “Of the 15 markets where there is a cost for PCR testing to the individual. The average minimum cost for testing was $90. The average maximum cost for testing was $208.”

“As travel restrictions are lifted in domestic markets, we are seeing strong demand. The same can be expected in international markets. But that could be perilously compromised by testing costs—particularly PCR testing. Raising the cost of any product this significantly will stifle demand,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said in the release. “The impact will be greatest for short haul trips (up to 1,100 km), with average fares of $105, the tests will cost more than the flight. That’s not what you want to propose to travelers as we emerge from this crisis. Testing costs must be better managed. That’s critical if governments want to save tourism and transport jobs; and avoid limiting travel freedoms to the wealthy.”

 

 

 

 

 

Business & GA

Dassault Launches New Falcon 10X, Targets 2025 Entry into Service 

A computer-generated rendering of Dassault’s new Falcon 10X ultra long range business jet. (Dassault Aviation)

Dassault launched its all-new Falcon 10X business jet during a live ceremony broadcast from a hangar at Le Bourget Airport on May 6, targeting a 2025 entry into service.

The 10X will be powered by the Rolls Royce Pearl 10X engine, largest and most powerful version of the Pearl series, delivering more than 18,000 pounds of thrust. According to a May 6 press release, the 10X will be capable of flying nonstop from New York to Shanghai, Los Angeles to Sydney, Hong Kong to New York or Paris to Santiago with a 7,500 nautical mile range.

“The 10X is large enough to accommodate four cabin zones of equal length but owners can configure their cabin to create a truly customized interior, including for example, an expanded dining/conference area, a dedicated entertainment area with a large-screen monitor, a private stateroom with a queen-size bed or an enlarged master suite with a private stand-up shower,” Dassault said in the release.

Using augmented and virtual reality, Dassault gave a tour of a digital mockup of what the new 10X will look like, including the new flight deck, which features a single smart throttle that will serve as the primary power control, connecting both engines to the Digital Flight Control System (DFCS), according to Dassault.

 

Flexjet and Sentient Jet Parent Company Acquires Halo Aviation

Luxury fractional jet provider Flexjet and jet card provider Sentient Jet have a new sister company, Halo Aviation Ltd. (Halo), a U.K.-based helicopter transportation services operator. The transaction follows the acquisition earlier this year of Associated Aircraft Group (AAG), a U.S.-based executive Sikorsky helicopter operator.

“My vision is to strategically position each of our flight providers to become a leader in its market,” Kenneth C. Ricci, Principal, Directional Aviation, parent of OneSky Flight, said in a  May 7 press release. “Flexjet is the preeminent global fractional ownership company, Sentient Jet offers the industry’s leading jet card and FXAIR and PrivateFly have uniquely-positioned offerings in the on-demand charter space. Now, with the acquisition of Halo and AAG, we can add another market to that list: Vertical lift.”

Founded in 2009 by William Fanshawe and Therese Bewsey, Halo Aviation is a helicopter travel services provider with bases in the south of England, around London, in the Midlands and in the Channel Islands.

 

 

 

 

 

Connectivity 

Intelsat’s Gogo Commercial Aviation Acquisition Pays Off in First Quarter Results

Intelsat turned in its first year-over-year double-digit revenue increase in at least eight years, thanks to contributions from its recently acquired Gogo Commercial Aviation business. The satellite operator’s first fiscal quarter 2021 revenues were $502.8 million — an increase of $43.9 million (0r 10 percent) from Q1 2020.

The operator also cut its total quarterly net losses from $218.8 million in Q1 2020 to $174.9 million for the three-month period that ended March 31.

Intelsat completed its $400 million cash acquisition of Gogo Commercial Aviation in December and transformed it into a business unit under its Network Services division, which delivered $214 million in Q1 revenue. This represents a 43 percent year-over-year increase for the division and makes Network Services Intelsat’s largest and most profitable business unit, surpassing the Media unit.

The satellite operator said the increase would have been even greater if not for certain mobility and enterprise contract terminations that happened during the quarter. The costs attributed to the Gogo Commercial Aviation acquisition itself also offset some of the overall company’s gains.

 

 

 

SkyFive Creates Independent Sister company to Develop 5G Air-to-Ground Connectivity in China

SkyFive, a Munich, Germany-based provider of air-to-ground connectivity, has established a new independent sister company, SkyFive In-flight Connectivity dedicated to developing a new IFC solution for the Chinese commercial passenger airline market.

“To fully cater for the needs of increasingly connected aircraft flying in the dense Chinese airspace, the government decided to leapfrog legacy satellite technologies and rely on 5G-based Air-to-Ground (ATG) communications to provide aerial broadband connectivity services. Airline passengers will experience high speed Internet in the aircraft cabin, and airlines will benefit from significantly improved operational efficiency, all delivered at a minimum cost per bit,” SkyFive said in a May 1 press release.

The creation of SkyFive Inflight Connectivity (Beijing) Co. Ltd. follows the earlier announcement of a partnership with Airbus to develop a 5G ATG solution for the Chinese market.

 

 

Military

US Navy’s C-130s Get Upgrades

U.S. Marine Corps maintainers install Collins wheels and brakes on a C-130 at Navy Air Station New Orleans. (Collins)

The U.S. Navy’s fleet of C-130T and KC-130T aircraft has completed an upgrade of their wheels and brakes, according to a May 5 announcement from Collins Aerospace.

The new breaks will include Collins DURACARB carbon heat sink material allowing them to last for 2,000 landings per overhaul compared to 250 landings with the previous system, according to Collins. They can also handle higher energy.

“At Collins Aerospace, we’re committed to keeping our warfighters safe while delivering the most efficient solutions to our customers to help keep their aircraft in the air,” Ajay Mahajan, vice president, Landing Systems for Collins Aerospace, said in a statement. “And that is exactly what our bolt-less wheels and carbon brakes will do for the U.S. Navy.”

The new wheels will have a lock-ring design and higher fatigue life compared to previous models, according to Collins. They also contain fewer parts.

 

BETA’s eVTOL Receives First Air Force Airworthiness Approval for Human Flight in Electric Aircraft

ALIA is a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion system with eight lifting motors used for vertical lift and two internal motors used for cruising. (BETA)

After a year of testing BETA Technologies electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, ALIA, has received the first airworthiness approval for manned flight in an electric aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force announced on May 5.

BETA and the Air Force will sign a contract in June that allows the Air Force access to ALIA as well as their eVTOL simulators in Washington, D.C. and Springfield, Ohio. The airworthiness approval allows ALIA to fly in the Air Force’s AFWERX Agility Prime program, according to the Air Force.

“Achieving the first manned airworthiness authorization in the Agility Prime program is a key milestone,” Col. Nathan Diller, the director of AFWERX, said in a statement. “This not only unlocks the opportunity to begin Air Force directed manned flight tests, but it also shows the high level of maturity of this technology and the high level of maturity of Agility Prime partner companies like BETA.”

The airworthiness approval follows the military 516c standard, according to BETA. ALIA is a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion system with eight lifting motors used for vertical lift and two internal motors used for cruising, according to BETA. It is 7,000 pounds and has a 50-foot wingspan. BETA developed ALIA to be developed under Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification standard.

 

B-1Bs Resume Flight After April Grounding for Fuel Leak

A B-1B Lancer is prepared for retirement at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., on Feb. 16. The Air Force has said that the planned divestment of 17 B-1B aircraft will help sustain the remaining fleet of 45 B-1s and save funds to direct toward the new B-21 bomber (U.S. Air Force)

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers by Boeing began a resumption of flights on May 3rd after a safety stand-down by Gen. Timothy Ray, the head of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), on Apr. 20th.

“Individual B-1B aircraft will return to flight as inspections and maintenance directed during the stand-down are completed on each aircraft,” AFGSC said on May 6th. The Apr. 20th grounding of the B-1B fleet followed an Apr. 8th “ground emergency” involving one B-1B at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., per AFGSC. While taxiing to the aircraft parking area at 3:45 p.m. that day, maintenance crews saw fuel leaking from the plane and notified the aircrew.

Maj. Gen. Mark Weatherington, the commander of 8th Air Force, said in a statement that the B-1Bs “are still safe to fly and we are confident that this stand-down has resulted in increased safety within the B-1B fleet.”

 

 

Unmanned

D3 Technologies Partners with CAAM

D3 is developing an automated deep-tech air traffic control system for UAM for automated flight. (D3 Technologies)

D3 Technologies, the German urban air mobility (UAM) startup, is partnering with the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) to implement urban air traffic control in Canada, according to a May 6 press release from the company.

D3 is developing an automated deep-tech air traffic control system for UAM for automated flight.

“We highly value the opportunity to incorporate Air Traffic Control best practices and the forward-thinking of Advanced Air Mobility in a current, revenue-generating project that will demonstrate proof of concept to regulators such as Nav Canada and unlock future use cases,” Achim Kostron, CCO D3 Technologies, said in a statement. “The interdisciplinary partner models put together by CAAM will accelerate AAM worldwide! We are excited to be part of this progress and to enable regulators to evaluate the options of future urban air traffic control.”

 

 

 

Space

FAA Adds More Space Launch Activity Areas

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi onboard, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA)

The Federal Aviation Administration is adding more space launch activity areas to its navigation charts in an effort to increase pilot safety and airspace awareness, the agency announced in a May 5 release.

The agency is predicting that space launches and reentries could exceed 50 this year compared to 41 last year.

Space activity areas currently exist in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.

 

 

 

 

 

eVTOL

Jaunt Expands Operations in Canada and Appoints New President

Jaunt Air Mobility is opening design and manufacturing operations in Canada. (Jaunt Air Mobility)

Jaunt Air Mobility is opening design and manufacturing operations in Canada and has appointed Eric Côté to head its Canadian operations, the company announced on May 6.

“Our announcement today to locate our design and manufacturing operations to Canada aligns with our certification path and commercialization strategy,” Martin Peryea, CEO of Jaunt Air Mobility, said in a statement. “Canada and Québec offer a wide range of opportunities stemming from a long history in the aerospace industry, including an experienced workforce and global suppliers. Canada’s aerospace industry is known for export, and we intend to capitalize on that reach. Canada is a global leader in developing and promoting clean technology and this is aligned with our core values.”

Côté has over 15 years of aerospace experience and was most recently leading the Soucy Group, a worldwide engineering and manufacturing organization in defense, power sports, industrial, and agricultural sectors.

“Jaunt Air Mobility is developing a new generation of aircraft that will meet the growing demand for faster urban and regional travel,” Côté said in a statement. “The Jaunt Journey will meet the highest safety standards and eliminate Green House Gases (GHG) emissions. One aircraft can eliminate the equivalent of 95 cars of GHG in congested city driving conditions. The aircraft will offer a solution for urban air mobility, cargo delivery, medical transport, and humanitarian aid.”

 

 

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Space-based ADS-B Gives Eurocontrol Six Hour Preview of Flights Entering European Airspace

May 8th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Space-based ADS-B Gives Eurocontrol Six Hour Preview of Flights Entering European Airspace   
Space-based ADS-B Gives Eurocontrol Six Hour Preview of Flights Entering European Airspace

Eurocontrol has started integrating Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data into its flow management system for European airspace. (Eurocontrol)

Eurocontrol has started integrating Aireon’s space-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data into its enhanced tactical flow management system (EFTMS), a capability the agency expects will drastically improve predictability for air traffic operations throughout European airspace.

Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data is now providing real-time surveillance data to the EFTMS under a 10-year agreement signed with Eurocontrol last year. Eurocontrol sees the injection of space-based ADS-B as a key element of its broader efforts to transition to a new “integrated Network Management (iNM) system” that will help establish a new digital services-based architecture for air traffic management in Europe.

A software upgrade to the ETFMS last year allowed it to start using Asterix Cat 21, a surveillance data format that gives Aireon the ability to tailor the data fed to the system only on flights that are designed to land within or fly over the European region. According to a May 6 press release published by Eurocontrol, the Aireon system provides coverage for all 41 Eurocontrol member states, as well as Israel and Morocco.

Eurocontrol’s ability to process the space-based data and then use it to optimize flow management in collaboration with Europe’s individual air navigation service providers (ANSPs) could significantly improve the ability of airlines and airports to meet scheduled arrival and departure times. Prior to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on passenger demand and flight operations in 2020, between 2018 and 2019 Eurocontrol recorded a record number of flight delays, primarily due to record numbers of flights being operated at the time and the segmented way in which air traffic is managed in the region.

“We have the data from six hours before entry into the NM area. So, our flight plans are updated in real-time with these data, which allows us to increase our capacity,” Daniela Gheorghe, network operations manager for Eurocontrol said in a video covering the space-based ADS-B announcement. “According to the studies, we expect at least a 20 percent improvement in predictability, which will allow us to be able to do better planning when traffic will ramp up.”

Air traffic controllers in Europe have also increased their flexibility in accommodating schedule and flight plan changes when a disruption of traffic awareness or other unexpected disruptions of traffic over a large area occurs with the surveillance upgrade. The integration of space-based ADS-B data into EFTMS will also give controllers the ability to receive more information about swaths of airspace that exist outside of their direct area of responsibility.

“Eurocontrol has demonstrated exemplary leadership in the deployment and operation of innovative technology and services. They are the first provider to use space-based ADS-B for flow management,” Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon said in a statement. “We are confident that space-based ADS-B data, provided from well-beyond the EU borders and shared with the Member States, will facilitate worldwide gains in efficiency and environmental sustainability, while also reducing delays for customers.”

Integration of space-based ADS-B into EFTMS comes two years after Aireon became the first-ever company to be certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a provider of aircraft surveillance-as-a-service. That designation allows Aireon to provide space-based ADS-B surveillance for any European ANSP.

With the ADS-B integration into EFTMS complete, Eurocontrol can now move on to the next steps it has outlined in iNM development, including plans to select contractors for the system next month, before developing an initial pilot concept to demonstrate its ability to interface with legacy ATM systems used throughout the region.

“Once the pandemic is contained and air traffic resumes, it will be crucial that we have an air traffic management system in place that can adapt quickly to varying traffic demand in the safest, most sustainable and efficient manner,” Eamonn Brennan, director general of Eurocontrol said in a statement. “The integration of space-based ADS-B marks a significant milestone for building the ATM system of the future which will benefit all aviation stakeholders.”

 

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BETA’s eVTOL Receives First Air Force Airworthiness Approval for Human Flight in Electric Aircraft

May 8th, 2021   •   Comments Off on BETA’s eVTOL Receives First Air Force Airworthiness Approval for Human Flight in Electric Aircraft   
BETA’s eVTOL Receives First Air Force Airworthiness Approval for Human Flight in Electric Aircraft

BETA Technology’s ALIA simulator in BETA’s Washington, D.C. facility is a fully immersive eVTOL flight simulator and training facility. The simulator allows Air Force pilots and engineers to experience the future of electric vertical flight by rehearsing and testing the ALIA aircraft in a variety of potential mission sets and scenarios. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

After a year of testing BETA Technologies electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, ALIA, has received the first airworthiness approval for manned flight in an electric aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, the Air Force announced on May 5.

BETA and the Air Force will sign a contract in June that allows the Air Force access to ALIA as well as their eVTOL simulators in Washington, D.C. and Springfield, Ohio. The airworthiness approval allows ALIA to fly in the Air Force’s AFWERX Agility Prime program, according to the Air Force.

“Achieving the first manned airworthiness authorization in the Agility Prime program is a key milestone,” Col. Nathan Diller, the director of AFWERX, said in a statement. “This not only unlocks the opportunity to begin Air Force directed manned flight tests, but it also shows the high level of maturity of this technology and the high level of maturity of Agility Prime partner companies like BETA.”

The airworthiness approval follows the military 516c standard, according to BETA. ALIA is a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion system with eight lifting motors used for vertical lift and two internal motors used for cruising, according to BETA. It is 7,000 pounds and has a 50-foot wingspan. BETA developed ALIA to be developed under Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification standard.

“U.S. Air Force engineers spent more than a year examining BETA’s ALIA aircraft, evaluating its design and flight capabilities against the demanding MIL-HDBK-516C standard,” Camron Guthrie from BETA, said in a statement. “U.S. Air Force personnel and subject matter experts evaluated the aircraft’s design and maintenance requirements along with the company’s operations and flight test plans.

ALIA is a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion system with eight lifting motors used for vertical lift and two internal motors used for cruising. (BETA)

BETA’s flight simulators will allow Air Force pilots and engineers to test flight scenarios and potential mission sets. The simulator in Springfield, Ohio is conveniently located near the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) where it will be beneficial for technical experts and acquisition professionals and the Washington, D.C. simulator will provide a resource for future operational concept developers across other U.S. government agencies, according to the Air Force.

“Electric aviation is a National Security priority and fortunately this was recognized early by the Air Force,” Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO, said in a statement. “The speed and efficiency of the Air Force Agility Prime program to support sustainable electric aviation has been remarkable. The people and expertise that the Air Force has brought to the electric aviation industry and specifically our ALIA program is accelerating the development of incredibly capable, safe and reliable aircraft.”

Through the Agility Prime program, AFRL engineers conducted ground vibration testing (GVT) on the ALIA aircraft, according to BETA. GVT is a method of dynamic structural analysis that will help with flight program safety as well as give the Air Force insight into the design of the aircraft.

“This agreement will enable Air Force acquisition professionals to make data-driven decisions informed by real assessments of military utility,” Diller said.

BETA also recently announced deals with Blade and UPS.

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Bombardier Service Centers to Start Free Health Monitoring Upgrade Program for Challenger Operators

May 5th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Bombardier Service Centers to Start Free Health Monitoring Upgrade Program for Challenger Operators   
Bombardier Service Centers to Start Free Health Monitoring Upgrade Program for Challenger Operators

This is what Challenger and Challenger 350 operators using Bombardier’s Smart Link Plus free upgrade program will see in their new aircraft health monitoring portal. (Bombardier)

Bombardier authorized service centers are ready to start free modifications of in-service Challenger 300s and 350s with a health monitoring unit designed to enable a more streamlined process for acquiring and sharing flight data between aircraft systems and maintenance technicians.

The free upgrade program is known as Smart Link Plus, first introduced by Bombardier and GE Aviation during the 2019 National Business Aviation Association annual conference and exhibition. Now, Bombardier service centers are ready to start modifying Challenger jets with the Smart Link Plus upgrade that is enabled by the addition of Avionica’s onboard network system, aviONS, to the Challenger’s electric equipment bay.

“Today, data is being generated on the aircraft, but it is dormant,” Elza Brunelle Yeung told Avionics International in an emailed statement. “The Smart Link Plus Box allows us to capture this data and securely sends it to our Bombardier platform, from where it can be visualized by our customers via the app. Some of that data is generated from the aircraft  (CAS, OMS) or is captured by the [flight data recorder] FDR (which requires an FDR or a QAR download). A [quick access recorder] QAR today would only allow the extraction of a subset of data, the Smart Link Plus Box provides richer data.”

While in-flight, the Smart Link Plus service automatically sends takeoff, landing and in-flight fault notifications together with contextual data to a cloud-based system, according to Bombardier. Once the aircraft has landed, the Smart Link Plus service makes all of the data generated by the aircraft on that flight to maintenance crews through a web-based application provided by Bombardier.

Brunelle Yeung, who was also a recent guest on the Connected Aircraft Podcast, said that Challenger 300s and 350s featuring satellite connectivity systems can access the in-flight service enabled by Smart Link Plus. However, connectivity is not a prerequisite to enabling its use.

(Challenger 350)

“To enable all functionalities of the system on the aircraft, aircraft connectivity through a satcom or an air-to-ground system for in-flight service is ideal,” Brunelle Yeung said. “However, full aircraft data is accessible once the aircraft lands via cellular or a standard Wi-Fi internet connection. The cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities are included in the Smart Link Plus program. The data will be made available in the application on any web connected device.”

There is also a new data visualization tool being developed by Bombardier that will allow Challenger operators to troubleshoot aircraft while in-flight, by giving maintenance crews on the ground a real-time view of parametric data.

“Bombardier will be rolling out this key visualization tool very soon and it will enable operators subscribing to the program to have access to real-time data to make-data-driven decisions and maximize the aircraft’s operational efficiency. This will also help operators to make faster data-driven decisions to better manage their aircraft operations – in real time or upon landing,” Brunelle Yeung said.

The upgrades are to begin as Bombardier closes its first quarter as an all business aviation company, after completing the sale of the remaining stake it held in the A220 program to Airbus Canada last year. Smart Link Plus has also been made available as a line-fit option on the Global 7500. According to a Jan. 28 press release published by Bombardier giving an update on the Smart Link Plus program, nearly all Global 7500 operators have enrolled in Smart Link Plus services.

Preliminary results published by Bombardier on May 4 project their business jet revenues to be $1.3 billion, an increase of 18 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

During Bombardier’s Investor Day 2021 event hosted virtually by the Montreal-based business jet manufacturer on March 4, Jean-Christophe Gallagher, executive vice president of services and support, explained how Smart Link Plus is also part of their effort to engage Bombardier owners and operators more periodically throughout the lifecycle of their aircraft.

“A significant part of what the aftermarket team is focused on is improving our digital infrastructure to provide new and innovative services for customers. A key strategy for us to connect our fleet with technology that enables these aircraft to be in sync with Bombardier’s customer service response teams in real time,” Gallagher said. “Such advanced technology and the use of big data will allow us to enhance our customer service response times and effectively and efficiently troubleshoot customer aircraft. We recently began a campaign that will see us start to retrofit our install base with Smart Link Plus.”

The post Bombardier Service Centers to Start Free Health Monitoring Upgrade Program for Challenger Operators appeared first on Aviation Today.

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ZeroAvia Test Aircraft for Hydrogen Propulsion System Damaged in ‘Off-Airport Landing’

May 5th, 2021   •   Comments Off on ZeroAvia Test Aircraft for Hydrogen Propulsion System Damaged in ‘Off-Airport Landing’   
ZeroAvia Test Aircraft for Hydrogen Propulsion System Damaged in ‘Off-Airport Landing’

ZeroAvia’s research and development aircraft for its hydrogen propulsion system made an “off-airport” landing according to the startup, the aircraft crashed just outside of Cranfield Airport. (Image: C/O @MEHarris on Twitter)

The hydrogen-powered Piper M-class six-seater turboprop being operated by ZeroAvia as a testbed for its hydrogen propulsion system was damaged during an off-airport landing on April 29, according to a May 1 press release about the accident published by the California-based startup.

According to the release, the aircraft made an “off-airport landing” near Cranfield Airport during a routine test flight, landing on its wheels before the left main gear and wing were caught in the “uneven terrain” where it landed. The two crew members onboard were not injured.

“The flight conformed to the approved test route over the airport; the structural integrity of ZeroAvia systems was maintained throughout the incident sequence and there were no unintended hydrogen or electrical releases and no fire,” ZeroAvia said in the release. “After the landing, the crew were able to safeguard the battery and safely release hydrogen from the onboard tanks, following ZeroAvia safety protocol; no fluid leaks were observed at the time; and full data logs were preserved and will be used in our investigation.”

The Bedfordshire Fire Department tweeted this image of the damaged aircraft taken by one of its drones following the off-airport landing. (Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service)

ZeroAvia reported the incident to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), and has also tasked several of its engineers and board members with conducting an internal investigation into what caused the off-airport landing. The team will be lead by Dominic Cheater, ZeroAvia’s Head of Airworthiness, and have been selected based on their status as with the startup as being independent from the design and operation of the HyFlyer I program.

Saturday’s off-airport landing by ZeroAvia comes following several months of significant new investment flowing into the development of their zero emission powertrain. In March, the startup was awarded a new $24.3 million round of funding, lead by Horizon Ventures, which was joined by British Airways and several other clean energy investment groups.

That followed a December announcement where a $21.4 million Series A round of funding was awarded to ZeroAvia by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Ecosystem Integrity Fund. In June 2020, ZeroAvia completed the U.K.’s first ever electric-powered flight of a commercial-scale aircraft and followed that first hydrogen-fueled commercial-grade aircraft flight using their Piper M-class six-seater turboprop in September.

The program first started flight tests out of Cranfield University’s airport in 2019 as part of Project HyFlyer, a U.K. government-industry funded program launched in an effort to demonstrate how medium range small passenger aircraft can be decarbonized. ZeroAvia’s ultimate goal, using the Piper M Class as a demonstrator aircraft, is to develop certifiable 19-passenger zero emissions aircraft by 2023.

“This incident and the ensuing investigation will undoubtedly disrupt our 6-seat HyFlyer demonstration program that was coming to an end in the following weeks. However, we do not expect any negative impact on our commercial-intent HyFlyer 2 program targeting 10-20 seat aircraft, or our large-engine development program targeting 50+ seat aircraft,” ZeroAvia said in the release.

 

The post ZeroAvia Test Aircraft for Hydrogen Propulsion System Damaged in ‘Off-Airport Landing’ appeared first on Aviation Today.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021

May 3rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021

Check out the May 2 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.

Commercial

Airbus Reports First Quarter Profit, More Deliveries

Airbus published its first quarter results last week. Airbus employees are pictured here celebrating the first A321XLR Center Wing Box delivery. (Airbus)

Airbus on April 29 reported first quarter 2021 net income of €362 million ($439 million), while completing 125 total aircraft deliveries and 39 new orders.

Revenues generated by the French aerospace manufacturer’s commercial aircraft activities decreased by 4 percent, mainly reflecting lower volume in services, according to an April 29 press release. Airbus Helicopters delivered 39 units with revenues reflecting lower volume in civil helicopters, partly offset by growth in services. Revenues at Airbus Defense and Space were also stable compared to a year earlier.

“The good Q1 results mainly reflect our commercial aircraft delivery performance, cost and cash containment, progress with the restructuring plan as well as positive contributions from our helicopter and defense and space activities,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said in the release. “The first quarter shows that the crisis is not yet over for our industry, and that the market remains uncertain. We are investing in innovation and in the transformation of our Company to deliver on our long-term ambitions across the portfolio.”

 

 

Calhoun Sees 2021 As “Inflection Point” For Recovery; Boeing Posts Losses, Lower Sales

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said Wednesday during the company’s first quarter earnings call that 2021 will be an “inflection point” for Boeing.

Boeing on Wednesday reported lower losses in its first quarter amid signs of a recovery in commercial aerospace and the company’s defense business posted strong results, largely driven by the KC-46A aerial refueling aircraft for the Air Force.

“While the global pandemic continues to challenge the overall market environment, we view 2021 as a key inflection point for our industry as vaccine distribution accelerates and we work together across government and industry to help enable a robust recovery,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun said in a statement accompanying the earnings release.

During the company’s earnings call, Calhoun said a “full recovery is still likely a few years away” and is dependent on vaccine distribution and the lifting of travel restrictions in various domestic and regional markets. Greg Smith, Boeing’s outgoing chief financial officer, said on the call that Chinese regulators’ approval of the return to service in China of the 737 MAX passenger aircraft will also impact deliveries of the aircraft, which was grounded worldwide for more than a year following two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

Sales fell 10 percent to $15.2 billion from $16.9 billion on lower revenue from the Commercial Airplanes segment and lower commercial revenue in the services segment. Defense sales were higher, primarily on KC-46A tanker orders.

The Defense, Space & Security segment increased sales 19 percent to $7.2 billion and turned in an operating profit of $405 million following a loss a year ago related to charges on the KC-46A program. Boeing, in a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said 23 percent of defense sales were to international customers.

 

FAA Issues New Airworthiness Directive to Address 737 MAX Electrical Bonding Issues

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring electrical bonding modifications to the flight deck panel assemblies of some newly manufactured 737 MAX aircraft, according to a new airworthiness directive (AD) published by the agency on April 30.

In the directive, the FAA has identified a total of 71 MAX aircraft with electrical bonding and grounding issues first identified by Boeing during standard production testing earlier this month. None of the identified airplanes—delivered and those awaiting delivery—have experienced any operational issues, but will be grounded until undergoing some flight deck panel assembly modifications.

“Investigation identified design changes to the flight deck support panel assemblies, which affected the dedicated bonding and grounding paths that existed prior to the changes,” the FAA writes in the AD. “The affected areas are the P6 panel assembly, including the mounting tray for the standby power control unit (SPCU), located behind the first officer, and the main instrument panel (MIP) assembly located in front of and between the captain and first officer.”

 

 

US to Ban Air Travel From India as Nation Hit with Record Number of COVID Cases

As the number of COVID-19 cases explode and a new variant spreads in India, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration published a presidential action statement on April 30 proclaiming all forms of travel from India will be banned starting May 4.

“The World Health Organization has reported that the Republic of India has had more than 18,375,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The magnitude and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of India is surging; the Republic of India accounts for over one-third of new global cases, and the number of new cases in the Republic of India is accelerating at a rapid rate,” the White House said in the presidential action statement.

Under the new policy, noncitizens who were residing in India for any 14-day period prior to entry in the U.S. will be banned from boarding aircraft traveling to the United States.

 

 

US Airline Passenger Mask Mandate Extended to September

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has extended its face mask requirement for commercial airline passengers traveling through airports and onboard commercial aircraft through Sept. 13, according to an April 30 press release.

TSA’s initial requirement that went into effect in February was to be lifted May 11.

“The federal mask requirement throughout the transportation system seeks to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” Darby LaJoye, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the TSA Administrator said in a statement. “Right now, about half of all adults have at least one vaccination shot and masks remain an important tool in defeating this pandemic. We will continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the need for these directives and recognize the significant level of compliance thus far.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business & GA 

Embraer Expresses Cautious Optimism in First Quarter Results

KLM received their first Embraer 195-E2 in February. (Embraer)

Embraer delivered 22 total aircraft during the first quarter of 2021, including nine commercial jets and 13 business jets.

Those numbers were slightly higher than the same period a year ago, when COVID and the collapse of their commercial aviation deal with Boeing presented a double impact to the Brazilian airplane manufacturer’s financial and operational performance.

“Historically, Embraer seasonally has fewer deliveries during the first quarter of the year, and with some regions of the world, particularly the United States, starting to show better vaccination rollout and improved traffic in the commercial aviation and business aviation markets, the Company is cautiously optimistic for a more evenly balanced quarterly cadence of deliveries in 2021 as compared to 2020,” Embraer said in their first quarter earnings release.

 

ZeroAvia Hydrogen-Powered Test Aircraft Damaged in ‘Off-Airport Landing’

ZeroAvia’s research and development aircraft for its hydrogen propulsion system made an “off-airport” landing according to the startup, the aircraft crashed just outside of Cranfield Airport. (Image: C/O @MEHarris on Twitter)

The hydrogen-powered Piper M-class six-seater turboprop being operated by ZeroAvia as a testbed for its hydrogen propulsion system was damaged during an off-airport landing on April 29, according to a May 1 press release published by the California-based startup.

According to the release, the aircraft mad an “off-airport landing” near Cranfield Airport during a routine test flight, landing on its wheels before the left main gear and wing were caught in the “uneven terrain” where it landed. The two crew members onboard were not injured, according to ZeroAvia.

“The flight conformed to the approved test route over the airport; the structural integrity of ZeroAvia systems was maintained throughout the incident sequence and there were no unintended hydrogen or electrical releases and no fire,” ZeroAvia said in the release. “After the landing, the crew were able to safeguard the battery and safely release hydrogen from the onboard tanks, following ZeroAvia safety protocol; no fluid leaks were observed at the time; and full data logs were preserved and will be used in our investigation.”

Check out the full statement from ZeroAvia about the incident here.

 

 

Military 

L3Harris Teams with Bye Aerospace to Develop All-Electric ISR Aircraft

L3Harris Technologies has partnered with Bye Aerospace to develop an all-electric ISR aircraft. (L3Harris Technologies)

L3Harris Technologies has signed a new agreement with Bye Aerospace to develop an all-electric, multi-mission aircraft that will provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, according to an April 28 press release.

The agreement comes a week after Bye Aerospace released details about its new all-electric eight seater aircraft under development for the commercial market. Under their agreement with L3Harris, the two companies will modify the eight-seater to feature “multi-mission airborne ISR solutions.”

(L3Harris Technologies)

“Applying our missionization expertise to Bye Aerospace’s all-electric platform will help drive future mission applications,” Luke Savoie, President, Aviation Services, L3Harris said in a statement. “These platforms offer sustainability and mission advantages that will benefit a new generation of tactical manned ISR mission aircraft.”

 

 

Northrop Grumman Posts Strong First Quarter, Raises Guidance

Northrop Grumman on Thursday reported a strong open to 2021, delivering higher sales and net income, buoyed in part by the divestiture in January of its information technology services business and top and bottom-line improvements in three of its four operating segments.

The strong quarter led the company to increase guidance for sales and earnings.

Net income in the first quarter soared 153 percent to $2.2 billion, $13.43 earnings per share (EPS), from $868 million ($5.15 EPS) a year ago, driven largely by a $1.1 billion ($6.86 EPS) gain on the sale of the IT services business to Veritas. Excluding the one-time benefit, adjusted net income was still up a handsome 24 percent to $1.1 billion ($6.57 EPS), beating consensus estimates by $1.09 per share.

Sales increased 6 percent to $9.2 billion from $8.6 billion a year ago. Reduced revenue related to the sale of the IT business was more than offset by three extra working days in the quarter.

At the operating level, the Space Systems, the company’s fastest growing segment, led the strong results with sales and operating earnings up 29 and 37 percent respectively on the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, hypersonic programs, classified work, NASA’s Artemis human spaceflight program and the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Radar satellite program, and lower overhead rates.

Mission Systems and Aeronautics Systems also delivered strong results on a wide variety of programs including airborne radar, land and maritime systems, targeting and navigation programs, electronic warfare, classified manned aircraft, and the E-2 and F-35 aircraft production programs.

 

 

Space

Ingenuity Completes Third Successful Flight on Mars with Greater Speeds and Distance 

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter can be seen hovering during its third flight on April 25, 2021, as seen by the left Navigation Camera aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.(NASA JPL)

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity completed a third successful flight on April 25 showing progress on its abilities to fly further and faster than in the two previous demonstration flights, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announced.

Ingenuity’s third flight occurred at 4:31 a.m. EDT or 12:33 p.m. Mars time, according to NASA. The helicopter climbed 16 feet, which was the same as the second flight, and then flew downrange for 164 feet at a top speed of 6.6 feet per second.

“Today’s flight was what we planned for, and yet it was nothing short of amazing,” Dave Lavery, the project’s program executive for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. “With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars missions.”

 

 

FCC Approves SpaceX Request to Lower Starlink’s Altitude

The FCC has granted SpaceX permission to lower the altitude of future satellites in the Starlink Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation. The FCC’s decision, announced Tuesday, came despite protests from Viasat, Amazon, SES, and other satellite competitors.

The license modification allows SpaceX to change the altitude for 2,814 future Starlink satellites, from the 1,100-1,300 km range to the 540-570 km range. It also modifies the final size of the Starlink constellation by one satellite from 4,409 to 4,408. SpaceX just under 1,400 satellites in orbit at this point.

 

 

 

 

Unmanned 

Wingcopter Announces New 198 Electric Triple-Drop Delivery Drone

The Wingcopter 198 has a payload of 13 pounds and a range of 47 miles. (Wingcopter)

German drone developer and manufacturer Wincopter is debuting a new all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) fixed-wing drone capable of “triple-drop” deliveries, according to an April 27 release from the company. The new drone generation will be known as Wingcopter 198.

The Wingcopter 198 has a payload of 13 pounds and a range of 47 miles, according to the release. It is based on Wingcopter’s tilt-rotor technology and does not require infrastructure for operations.

“The Wingcopter 198 is a game-changer for drone-based deliveries, ready to create logistical highways in the sky,” Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, said in a statement. “It can be perfectly utilized as a fleet solution in delivery networks to create new opportunities, everywhere.”

Wingcopter 198’s delivery process is fully autonomous and has beyond visual line of sight capabilities. The system moves beyond the one operator to one drone ratio and is capable of expanding it to one operator to every 10 drones, according to the release. The triple-drop delivery mechanism allows for multiple destinations per flight.

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – May 2, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Congress Needs to Provide Funds and Regulatory Relief to Advance Aviation, Industry Says

May 1st, 2021   •   Comments Off on Congress Needs to Provide Funds and Regulatory Relief to Advance Aviation, Industry Says   
Congress Needs to Provide Funds and Regulatory Relief to Advance Aviation, Industry Says

The hearing comes a week after new final rules for flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace went into effect last week. The rules address remote identification of UAS and UAS operations over people and at night. (Skydio)

During an April 28 House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee meeting, aviation industry advocates asked Congress to provide more funding for innovation and clearer regulatory guidelines to help advance emerging technologies.

“We need your help at the federal level,” Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the city of Los Angeles, California, said during the hearing. “Don’t let us have 1,000 standards in 1,000 cities. Let’s develop a national standard and clear rules for managing low-altitude airspace that recognizes the responsibility of local governments around land use, density, and development. The FAA needs to prioritize research into safely integrating AAM [Advanced Air Mobility] into congested airspace, as well as research into how takeoffs and landings will weave into the flight path of traditional commercial aircraft operations.”

The stated purpose of the hearing was to allow industry to inform members of the subcommittee on new aviation technologies with potential societal, safety, and environmental benefits, according to Chair of the Subcommittee on Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA). The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), commercial space transportation, the National Mediation Board, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The hearing comes a week after new final rules for flying unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace went into effect last week. The rules address remote identification of UAS and UAS operations over people and at night. However, industry experts expressed concern over the slow and often disparate.

“The US safety regulatory system for civil aviation has an enviable record of stewardship over the busiest and most complex aviation system in the world,” James L. Grimsley, executive director of advanced technology initiative at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said. “In order to sustain this vibrancy, our regulatory system needs to evolve to enable and support emerging technologies and new entrants into the airspace, although we’ve made progress in the IPP and BEYOND and understanding how our regulatory system needs to evolve to integrate drones, our policies lagged behind the pace of technological advances. This hinders the industry unnecessarily.”

Later in the hearing, Grimsley cited an example of the regulatory barriers facing industry in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grimsley said he was contacted by many in his community who were looking to use drones for contactless delivery, however regulatory hurdles hindered their ability to be of use.

“We saw a lot of other businesses that were using things like curbside delivery, online ordering app ordering, they were able to shift and society was able to adjust quickly,” Grimsley said. “On the side of things like drone delivery, where society could have benefited, the regulatory system was not ready. We could not get anything in place to do any sort of meaningful missions or to help the public specifically because the regulatory system has been so slow to get to where we are now. So, I’d say our regulatory system actually delayed our ability to respond, in my opinion, very proactively and very constructively to the pandemic response.”

Grimsley said the U.S. is at risk of losing its aviation leadership role because of the slow regulatory movements that are plaguing the drone industry.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) both inquired about competition in the drone industry from China. Adam Bry, chief executive officer at Skydio, said that 80 percent of drones currently in use are made by China and have security concerns.

“Even though the drones are small, the stakes are high,” Bry said. “For the recent past, the drone industry has been dominated by manually controlled drones that are hard to fly and easy to crash. Eighty percent of these drones are made by companies based in China and come with a slew of cybersecurity concerns. The drone market is ripe for a transition from hardware to find products to software-enabled solutions, and…there is an opportunity for U.S. companies to lead the way with the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs here in the U.S.”

Job creation is not the only benefit of U.S.-made drones, Bry said. U.S. manufacturers will also be able to set standards that reflect their values.

“Most importantly, the stronger the domestic drone industry, the more this technology will reflect democratic values,” Bry said. “In 2020, Skydio became the world’s first drone company to issue a set of ethical principles to guide our work. We consider the holistic impact of our products with a particular focus on privacy and civil liberties.”

The U.S. is also falling behind on aviation technologies that can drive environmental sustainability, Roei Ganzarski, chief executive officer at magniX, said during the hearing.

“The U.S. has always been a leader, be an economics, culture, technology, the world looked to us as a beacon for the future, however, with aviation our country is falling short of our reputation for pioneering innovation and leading industry,” Ganzarski said. “In Europe countries are pledging domestic flights to be electric by 2030, banning short flights to reduce emissions, and providing hundreds of billions of dollars to advance carbon-free aviation.”

Ganzarski said the solution is for Congress to invest in electric aviation and provide incentives to operators who adopt it. He said he wants to see an amendment of the Essential Air Service which was passed in 1978 and aimed at guaranteeing that small communities are served by air carriers and given access to the National Air Transportation System.

“Congress needs to provide incentives for operators to adopt electric aircraft for existing and new routes, incentives for airports to invest in charging capabilities, and incentives for manufacturers to develop all-electric aviation solutions. These incentives can include grants, tax credits and more. I also propose amending the Essential Air Service, a taxpayer program, by adding an environmental performance criterion to be awarded subsidies. Separately I’ll share that the FAA is doing an amazing job working with the right attitude and approach with these new technologies, but there are lacking resources.”

Black Scholl, founder and chief executive officer at Boom Supersonic, also advocated for tax credits and policy incentives. He cited the FAA’s work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as critical to future supersonic flight and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) which is being offered as a solution to move away from fossil fuels.

“Regulatory certainty is vital to our success and ICAO must continue to advance economically reasonable, technologically feasible, and environmentally beneficial standards for supersonic aircraft,” Scholl said. “In the field of SAF, policy incentives will also be critical to accelerating production and adoption. At Boom, we support measures such as blender tax credits to accelerate staff production, and we’re working with a broad coalition of staff stakeholders to advance that policy.”

Pierre Harter, director of research and development at the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University, said the aerospace industry is not only critical to the economy but also national security.

“It is apparent that U.S. dominance in aerospace is a critical economic driver and a national security imperative,” Harter said. “The next two decades promise exciting new aerospace innovations and products that will transform the way we live and work enhancing the quality of life for Americans and the rest of the world. As in the past, the government must continue to support innovation by incorporating these new technologies into a strategic framework, investment in R&D, and capitalizing on industry, academia, and government partnerships will enable the safe, secure, and efficient introduction of these new technologies and products.”

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New Airworthiness Directive Grounds Some 737 MAX Airplanes While Boeing Develops Electrical Bonding Fix

May 1st, 2021   •   Comments Off on New Airworthiness Directive Grounds Some 737 MAX Airplanes While Boeing Develops Electrical Bonding Fix   
New Airworthiness Directive Grounds Some 737 MAX Airplanes While Boeing Develops Electrical Bonding Fix

A new airworthiness directive issued by the FAA requires an electrical bonding fix to some newly manufactured 737 MAX aircraft. (Southwest Airlines)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requiring electrical bonding modifications to the flight deck panel assemblies of some newly manufactured 737 MAX aircraft, according to a new airworthiness directive (AD) published by the agency on April 30.

In the directive, the FAA has identified a total of 71 MAX aircraft with electrical bonding and grounding issues first identified by Boeing during standard production testing earlier this month. None of the identified airplanes—delivered and those awaiting delivery—have experienced any operational issues, but will be grounded until undergoing some flight deck panel assembly modifications.

“Investigation identified design changes to the flight deck support panel assemblies, which affected the dedicated bonding and grounding paths that existed prior to the changes,” the FAA writes in the AD. “The affected areas are the P6 panel assembly, including the mounting tray for the standby power control unit (SPCU), located behind the first officer, and the main instrument panel (MIP) assembly located in front of and between the captain and first officer.”

The directive comes following the recommendation issued by Boeing to 16 customers and operators of the 737 MAX on April 8 to remove the identified models from service to address an electrical issue. Boeing’s investigation into the issue found that design changes introduced in early April to the metallic support panel assemblies for the SPCU and MIP do not allow for sufficient electric grounding — an electrical panel design method that safely discharges excess electricity — and present the potential for unsafe conditions.

Operators of the identified 737-8 and 737-9 models have been instructed to ground those aircraft while Boeing develops a service bulletin to address the issue, which could affect the aircraft’s engine ice protection system and has the potential to “result in loss of critical functions and/or multiple simultaneous flight deck effects,” according to the AD.

Boeing 737 MAX cockpit. (Boeing)

A representative for Boeing told Avionics International in an emailed statement that the company fully supports “the FAA’s directive to address electrical issues identified in certain locations in the flight deck of select 737 MAX airplanes.”

“We have been working closely with the FAA and our customers to finalize two service bulletins that will ensure a sufficient ground path in those areas,” according to the statement. “Upon FAA approval, we will provide the final versions of the bulletins to affected operators with detailed instructions on completing the work to return their airplanes to service.”

A cost breakdown of the repair provided by the FAA estimates that the modification of multiple flight deck panels on 68 of the identified aircraft will cost airlines operating those aircraft a collective total of more than $150,000. Three of the airplanes identified by Boeing will only require one flight deck panel modification.

FAA’s publishing of the new AD comes less than five months after Brazilian airline GOL completed the first passenger carrying flight of a 737 MAX since it was first grounded worldwide in March 2019. The FAA is accepting comments on the new directive through June 14.

Since the FAA’s approval to return the 737 MAX to operations in November 2020, Boeing has delivered more than 85 737 MAX aircraft, and 21 airlines have returned their fleets to service, the company said in its first quarter 2021 earnings results published Wednesday. Boeing CEO David Calhoun also provided an update on the efforts to address the electrical issues in a statement published along with the results.

“We are also working closely with the FAA and customers to address electrical issues identified in certain locations in the flight deck of select 737 MAX airplanes. We are finalizing the plans and documentation with the FAA to outline the process required for operators to return their airplanes to service,” Calhoun said. “Upon approval by the FAA, we expect the work to take a few days per airplane — and we will continue to focus on safety, quality and transparency through this process.”

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PODCAST: Finnair’s Vice President of Customer Experience Talks Contactless Cabins and Digital Strategy

April 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Finnair’s Vice President of Customer Experience Talks Contactless Cabins and Digital Strategy   
PODCAST: Finnair’s Vice President of Customer Experience Talks Contactless Cabins and Digital Strategy

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Tiina Tissari, Vice President of customer experience at Finnair, joins to discuss some of the adjustments made by the Nordic airline over the last year under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel in Europe.

Finnair continues to operate a limited network and expects gradual passenger demand recovery to begin around the third quarter, according to their April 27 interim report. While there is still some uncertainty ahead for Finnair, like most European airlines, the carrier is re-opening passenger flights to New York after a break of almost one year and has maintained a relatively strong reputation with its passengers, holding a Net Promoter Score of 54 between January and March 2021.

Tissari provides some perspective on how Finnair is making its passenger experience more contactless with new digital technologies onboard and at the airport, among other changes that they’re enacting.

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.

The post PODCAST: Finnair’s Vice President of Customer Experience Talks Contactless Cabins and Digital Strategy appeared first on Aviation Today.

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