The electrification of aircraft has caused the aviation industry to take an interest in battery technology. While many other industries are also transitioning to battery power in an attempt to be more sustainable, electric aircraft will require very different requirements and regulations.
BAE Systems is developing energy storage and management solutions for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
“Our main focus, I’d say, on battery technology and energy storage would be on high-reliability high-integrity energy storage for flight-critical applications like primary power for the eVTOL aircraft or air taxis,” Justin McClellan, Business Development Lead for Aircraft Electrification at BAE Systems Controls and Avionics Solutions, told Aviation Today. “We’re also working on energy storage systems for small regional aircraft, fixed-wing aircraft, and also for eventual use on larger single-aisle aircraft like Boeing 737 equivalents down the road. So, doing a lot in that space. Of course, associated with that battery technology is also the management technology to keep that system operating safely, detecting faults, and ensuring safe operation, and then that kind of ties in with the flight control system, which would be managing how that power is used such as various distributed propulsion systems on eVTOL.”
In a question and answer session, McClellan shared his expertise on battery technology for eVTOL aircraft, challenges the industry could face in the coming years, and what solutions BAE Systems is providing for power management.
McClellan: People don’t realize that your battery on an aircraft is quite different than what you’d maybe put in an electric car and then of course very different from what’s in any cell phone and besides being lithium-ion, that’s kind of the only similarity.
I’d say the main difference in eVTOL aircraft is you need a lot of power to lift that aircraft. You can imagine, you can push your car, right, if you’re standing behind it and you ran out of gas or something or electricity you can push your car, but try and lift that car; it’s a lot harder. So the amount of power required to do that is quite high and so the batteries tend to be biased towards delivering that power, while staying cool. That’s very different than an electric car where in an electric car everyone wants range…The range is really what sells electric cars, and so, it’s not the instantaneous power but how much energy you store in that battery and energy of course is power over a period of time. You can drive your car with that sort of modest power output for a longer period of time, whereas an eVTOL aircraft might draw a lot of power for a 20 minute very short flight.
McClellan: It’s an interesting one and it gets a little bit technical. You can imagine that when you start to pull power out of the battery, there’s really a range that you’re supposed to use the battery, we’ll call it full to empty, really what it is is it’s a voltage range. That top voltage is associated with being full and a lower voltage associated with being empty, and as you pull power from the battery the voltage will drop and as you pull more power you’ll start to drag that voltage down. So you can imagine that at the end of the flight, when the battery is getting closer to empty…if you go into a hover, for example, where now you’re really relying on the power of the aircraft to keep you in the air there’s no aerodynamic lift associated with the wings or anything like that, you’re going to be pushing that voltage level down and it becomes a very closely tied with the flight control system to make sure that the aircraft is stable but you’re not pulling too much power you’re effectively you’re limiting the envelope, such that you don’t hit a lower voltage limit that forces the battery to have to either be damaged or have a circuit breaker trigger or have something that would start to cause a fault on the battery. Then, of course, in a situation where you need to maybe push it for an emergency situation, having that fault or having that circuit breaker trigger happen gracefully is another very important piece of the control architecture on the battery.
McClellan: There’s so many different aircraft types out there…My background is actually aerospace engineering, so I sort of like to take a look at the aircraft from an aerodynamic efficiency point of view, and then you also have to look at the mission they’re trying to perform and that will basically point to how much energy or battery they need.
When I look at some of the designs that have no wings, that are 100 percent rotor designs—I don’t want to mention too many names—but those are obviously going to be higher power draw aircraft that are going to have shorter ranges and therefore have to put more pressure on the battery. Then look at other aircraft that are very reminiscent of an airplane with maybe tilting rotors or that use other types of lifts that augment their powered lift and see those things as being more efficient so they’re going to get some range. So it really kind of comes down to that mix of the aerodynamic design and the mission that you’re trying to perform, and then matching that to the battery that you need.
I do think that there’s a lot of missions that can be performed with these various vehicles, long-range is obviously the challenge and so inter-city, obviously, very doable. Even shorter, 100-mile type missions seem very feasible for some of the more efficient aircraft, and there’s definitely a market for that…I think that there’s going to be a lot of missions like that, that can be performed using today’s battery technology, and it’s just going to get better as the technology improves.
McClellan: From our perspective, the aviation industry is not going to be really thriving with technology in the cells themselves. Automotive, mobile devices, are the real big consumers of batteries and that’s where the R&D is going. Aviation is really going to be just a consumer of what’s available from these suppliers. I think, from an aviation point of view, having a stable supplier with a large enough production that’s going to help you get certified is very important.
Now when you start talking about how those batteries are implemented, I think that’s where the technology needs to be focused on. So the algorithms that are going to be predicting the degradation, predicting when there might be problems with the battery, I think that’s a huge piece of technology and IP that a lot of companies including BAE are focused on.
I’d say also on the issue of thermal runaway, batteries coming off the assembly line and in such large quantities that are in a large battery pack, you can’t guarantee that one of those batteries is not going to have a problem and overheat and go into thermal runaway. So figuring out ways to contain that, to manage that, maybe to predict that type of thermal event, and not allow it to propagate to the entire aircraft is another key piece of technology development and IP that BAE and others are focused on in the space. I’d say those are kind of the two that I would highlight and they’re really focused around safety and fault mitigation.
That brings up kind of an important equation, there’s going to be a lot of companies and industries in the next few years, vying for batteries and the newest and the best production capabilities. Do you think there will be an issue with eVTOLs gaining access to the number of batteries they would need to conduct large-scale operations?
McClellan: I don’t think that the quantities are going to be a problem. I think about, like a Tesla factory, they’re making and using way more batteries than we ever will. I think the challenge becomes getting approval to use those cells. In some cases, the cell manufacturers may not want to go through the process of approving a battery for an aircraft. They may not want the liability of their battery being on an aircraft. They may not want to have the consistency of production, which might be required from an FAA certification point of view, meaning they might want to make an adjustment every year in the formulation of that battery and meanwhile that means that you’ve got to take your battery back to get re-certified. So I think that the challenge is really getting the approval and getting a stable supplier, more than the quantity. The quantities are there, they’re available and automotive is really driving that now.
Do you think there are any misconceptions about battery technology for eVTOLs.
McClellan: I think there’s definitely a couple. The first is that from our perspective, that, for example, you don’t have to have a safety strategy, you don’t have to worry about that thermal runaway, that you can land quickly or you can delay a fire or anything like that. I think we’ve seen with the 787 battery fires that happened and some of the Samsung cell phone fires and even some of the Tesla battery fires, these things come from some of the smartest companies in the world and so it’s not something that you can just ignore in aviation, it’s got to be something that you plan for with an appropriate safety strategy. One misconception is that, oh yeah we’ll work around it, we’ll land, we’ll contain it, people need to have an appropriate response to the thermal runaway problem.
I’d say the second one is that there’s some miracle battery chemistry out there that’s the magic battery chemistry for aviation. Really it’s like I said, it’s that power versus energy thing. There’s no sort of miracle chemistry that does both. It’s a spectrum you go left to right, and you probably need to be somewhere in the middle to make it work on an aircraft. So I don’t know if chasing the perfect battery chemistry at the cell level, makes a lot of sense at that point then, who’s going to build that for you, right. Unless you’re buying that battery from a production of a big factory somewhere, are you going to build a factory to build it? So I just think commercial cells are probably the best bet, as opposed to sort of this oh we’re gonna define the miracle chemistry, and then we’re going to build a factory to build it and it’s going to be our secret sauce.
Is BAE working with any specific companies on developing battery technology?
McClellan: We are working with a lot of companies that are going to be using our technology. I wouldn’t say we’ve got sort of deep collaborations on the technology, but we have been selected for several aircraft. Jaunt [Air Mobility] is one of the big ones that’s in the public right now. We’re talking with a lot of others from everything ranging from small startups to automotive to traditional aerospace companies…Some of those customers are mainly focused on flight control with us, some of them are focused on energy storage, some are focused on both with us, but our focus was on creating a battery solution that’s very modular and can kind of scale in several directions to meet the needs of different types of aircraft and uses a standard format cell that allows us to have a clear upgrade path as new cell technology comes along so we can just certify that new cell. We don’t have to certify the entire pack and module architecture. So that’s kind of our philosophy on the battery side.
McClellan said BAE is testing its technology on a hybrid fixed-wing aircraft next year and its eVTOL module will be ready at the end of 2022 or early 2023.
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The electric aircraft developer Archer Aviation has received a G-1 issue paper from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) laying out a certification basis for its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and marking an important milestone on the path to type certification.
The G-1 issue paper provides Archer with airworthiness and environmental requirements for the certification of its eVTOL aircraft. According to a Sept. 7 press release from the company, Archer is certifying its electric aircraft in line with the FAA standard 14 C.F.R. Part 23. Archer told Aviation Today that the environmental requirements within the G-1 include elements like noise parameters.
“We’re certainly proud to have hit this historic milestone for Archer. Obtaining the G-1 Certification Basis is a significant step forward towards Archer’s and the eVTOL industry’s goal of changing how people will move around urban environments,” Archer’s Head of Certification Eric Wright said in a statement. “This is an exciting time to be a part of the aviation industry as we work to electrify the skies, and we look forward to continuing to partner with the FAA on revolutionizing aircraft transportation.”
Archer emphasized a “certification first” approach to the development of its aircraft.
“We understand that, as a company seeking to create a never-before-seen transportation solution, questions of safety and airworthiness will be paramount,” a representative for Archer told Aviation Today. “As such, it’s critical that we work closely with the FAA to demonstrate that our aircraft meets all standards and benchmarks necessary for commercial flight. This collaborative relationship ensures that we explore all avenues to ensure that our aircraft is made as safe as possible. ‘Certification first’ embodies our commitment to building an aircraft that can be validated and approved for commercial use so we can go on to realize our goal of transforming urban mobility.”
Now that Archer has received the G-1 issue paper, the company will focus on how to comply with the requirements in the G-1 which is laid out in the G-2 issue paper. According to Archer, the company has been working with the FAA on the G-2 issue paper since earlier this year. Following the G-2 issue paper, Archer will have to show that its design is in compliance with the requirements before receiving type certification.
“Certification continues to be the shining light at the end of our design and development tunnel,” Brett Adcock, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer, said in a statement. “While there is still significant work ahead of us, we now have a basis agreed upon with the FAA that will allow us to better focus our efforts on our goal of obtaining certification on an efficient timeline.”
While its aircraft has not yet taken its first flight, Archer says it is still confident in its 2024 launch date. The company supports this claim with milestones like a $1 billion deal with United Airlines, city partnerships with Miami and Los Angeles, an infrastructure partnership with REEF Technology, it’s Prime Radiant technology, and a partnership with Stellantis.
“With the FAA having now approved our G-1 Certification Basis, we’re continuing to build on this year’s momentum and advance toward upcoming certification and airworthiness milestones,” a company representative said.
In June, Archer revealed its demonstrator aircraft, Maker, which is smaller than its proposed commercial eVTOL with a four-passenger design. Maker, which Wright described as a “stepping stone in the path to certification, is anticipated to make its first flight later this year.
Archer recently announced a collaboration with the Air Force and AFWERX Agility Prime to share data on upcoming flight tests. This data will help provide the Air Force with information on future uses of these aircraft.
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Panasonic Avionics has established a new partnership with ThinKom Solutions, Inc. to develop a new, next-generation Ku-band in-flight connectivity (IFC) antenna, the two companies announced Sept. 7
Under the new partnership, the two connectivity suppliers will develop a next-generation version of ThinKom’s existing Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Sub (VICTS) antenna that will include “support for both LEO (low earth orbit) and GEO (geostationary orbit) satellite networks,” according to Panasonic. The antenna will be available for line-fit and retrofit installations, the two companies said.
“Our new antenna offering with ThinKom is an integral part of our network and will allow airlines to access both current and future satellite constellations,” Jeff Sare, Vice President of IFC Solutions at Panasonic Avionics, said in a statement.
Panasonic’s ThinKom antenna development partnership comes following a series of recent in-flight entertainment and connectivity-related milestone achievements for the company. These include the launch of a new flat-rate IFC business model for airlines last week, and the entry into service of the first Cathay Pacific operated full cabin 4K IFE screens on a new fleet of Airbus A321neos.
On a recent China Eastern Airlines flight MU5105, passengers saw average speeds up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to the aircraft, with peak speeds reaching 200 Mbps.
ThinKom’s VICTS technology is the antenna enabler for Intelsat’s—formerly Gogo—commercial aviation IFC system. VICTS is “comprised of layers of lightweight discs rotating around a single axis to steer the beam and control polarization,” according to ThinKom’s website.
Both companies will begin the partnership with a significant number of airlines already using their IFC technologies, as Panasonic Avionics now counts 2,300 aircraft connected to its satellite network.
“This agreement with Panasonic Avionics is an important validation of our VICTS phased array antennas, which are designed to seamlessly roam on both LEO and GEO networks, delivering unparalleled flexibility and resiliency to ensure the highest level of bandwidth services and availability to airline customers,” stated Mark Silk, President of ThinKom Solutions, Inc.
“The combination of our VICTS technology and Panasonic Avionics’ experience and commitment to in-flight entertainment and connectivity provides an extremely compelling value proposition to commercial airlines, both today and in the future.”
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Chevron, Delta Air Lines, and Google have signed an agreement to test and track sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and its emissions at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the companies announced on Sept. 7.
SAF is created from renewable feedstocks and is said to reduce emissions by up to 80 percent when compared to fossil fuels. SAF has caught the attention of many in the aviation industry because of its “drop-in” characteristics that allow a blend of SAF and Jet A to be used with no aircraft modifications.
In the new effort at LAX, Chevron will be creating a SAF test batch at its El Segundo Refinery and selling the product to Delta who will use it in its fleet at LAX, according to the companies.
“As aviation continues to define a more sustainable future, understanding the environmental impacts of our operations will be paramount as we look to mitigate climate change,” Amelia DeLuca, Delta’s managing director of Sustainability, said in a statement. “On top of being the first carbon neutral airline on a global basis, we’ve pledged to replace 10 percent of our jet fuel with SAF by 2030. This partnership has the potential to help us achieve that goal while providing important data and analytics that demonstrate the environmental integrity of our commitment.”
This project will then track and analyze emissions data from Chevron and Delta with help from Google Cloud, according to the companies. This is meant to be an effort to increase transparency.
“This MOU builds on our previously announced effort to be the first refiner in the U.S. to ratably co-process biofeedstocks in an FCC through a capital-efficient investment program,” said Andy Walz, president of Americas Fuels & Lubricants for Chevron. “The data sharing and transparency component of this partnership will help us better understand the emissions from sustainable aviation fuel production and delivery, supporting our goal to advance lower carbon fuels.”
The airline industry wants to have two billion gallons of SAF in the market by 2030. While many companies are looking towards SAF as a large contributor to meet sustainability goals, there is currently very little supply in the market to actually meet these expectations. The small supply of SAF in the market has in turn makes the fuels economically unsustainable because of their high price compared to traditional fuels.
“Right now, the cost of sustainable aviation fuel on its own without any incentives, if you will, would cost maybe four or five times that of existing petroleum fuels and that’s not sustainable for the industry,” Valerie Reed, the acting director of the bioenergy technologies office at the Department of Energy’s Office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, told Aviation Today in August.
To meet these large sustainability goals using SAF, there will need to be the infrastructure to process and distribute large amounts of these fuels. Companies like Chevron have the advantage of having the industrial capabilities already in place. Neste, a renewable and circular solutions company, has already proven that traditional factories can be converted for this work.
“In the form of proof of concept, Neste has accomplished it…We’re using a conventional refinery, we retooled the conventional refinery, we use common transportation and logistics such as pipelines, marine transportation, and even road transportation, where applicable,” Chris Cooper, VP of Renewable Aviation at Neste, told Aviation Today in August. “We also use infrastructure such as terminals or blending facilities that we need and common pipelines.”
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The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) have issued Supplemental Type Certification (STC) to Innovative Solutions & Support, Inc.(IS&S) for its ThrustSense autothrottle technology for all models of the King Air.
ThrustSense, the autothrottle technology that provides a full authority digital engine control (FADEC)-like navigation system for the King Air and other non-FADEC equipped general aviation aircraft, has now achieved type certification in more than 40 countries following the latest Canadian and European regulatory approvals.
“We’re feeling a wave of greater acceptance in ThrustSense safety and performance by business aviation owners and operators on all seven continents. With the prospect of general aviation movements increasing significantly with pandemic recovery, we’re seeing there’s a greater focused attention by aircraft operators on further enhancing the King Air’s utility and value,” IS&S said in a Sept. 7 statement published on its website.
IS&S reported an increase in the “pace” of ThrustSense deliveries to Textron Aviation for King Air during its third-quarter earnings call held last month. Geoffrey Hedrick, CEO of IS&S, discussed the autothrottle system’s capabilities enabled by ThrustSense for the King Air during the call, highlighting its ability to prevent pilots from over-torquing and “over-temperaturing the engine.”
“The ThrustSense provides most remarkably VMCa Protection. That VMCa is, in fact, the loss of control — loss of control of a twin-engine airplane when you lose the engine,” Hedrick said during the earnings call. “The revolutionary feature is the protection against fatal loss of control actions, in which, a loss of an engine causes the pilot to lose control of the airplane, causing it to flip on its back and crash.”
The addition of the EASA and Transport Canada STCs to the list of international regulatory approvals for ThrustSense on the King Air comes a year after the system was approved for King Air 300 series turboprops equipped with Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics.
Australia, Argentina, Brazil, China, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, and Taiwan are among the nations where other civil aviation regulators have issued type certification for the King Air ThrustSense upgrade.
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When Iridium first introduced Certus in 2016, its main aviation application appeared to be air transport category aircraft that already use the satellite operator’s existing L-band network. While that does remain the largest overall addressable market size for Certus, Tim Last, the Vice President of Iridium’s aviation division, told Avionics International that a wide variety of other aircraft types including electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOLs) aircraft and drones could eventually be flying with Certus modems and antennas in the near future.
First unveiled in 2016, Certus is Iridium’s multi-service communications platform designed to provide safety services communications, with two voice channels and aircraft communications and reporting system network data link connectivity simultaneously. Since then, the number of companies that have partnered with Iridium to become value-added manufacturers of Certus terminals has expanded to include Avitek, Collins Aerospace, Gogo, Honeywell, Navicom Aviation, Satcom Direct, Skytrac, and Thales.
“With Iridium Certus, we will have support for [Aeronautical Mobile Satellite (Route) Service] AMS(R)S services that include [air traffic control] ATC and [airline operational control] AOC communications but will also support other cockpit solutions such as block box data, [System Wide Information Management] SWIM data, weather data, [electronic flight bag] EFB services and so forth. In addition, Iridium partners are going to support business jet cabin services, rotorcraft services and also UAV and general aviation solutions,” Last said.
A number of new milestones have also recently been added to the Certus aviation service launch timeline. As an example, SITA revealed in a Sept. 7 announcement that it will integrate Certus into its “United Aircraft Communications portfolio,” which includes its Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) messaging service between controllers and pilots, graphical weather, and other cockpit services.
“SITA will support validating the Iridium Certus service and aircraft satellite communications systems for Future Air Navigation System (FANS) use on the SITA network to ensure suitability for the handling of Air Traffic Control communications. Evaluations are anticipated to commence before the end of 2022,” SITA said in the announcement, noting that the integration would make Certus available for 19,000 in-service aircraft.
Another aviation-specific adoption of Certus is under development in Japan, where the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) approved regulatory amendments necessary to allow for Japanese adoption of Iridium Certus broadband, along with the legacy non-Certus Iridium Controller–Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and other aeronautical services for aviation, according to an Aug. 2 press release. Following all required processes of the regulatory amendments, Japanese flagged aircraft can start using the services according to Iridium. Last said Iridium is seeking similar CPDLC approval in the U.S.
“The CPDLC approval in Japan is for the existing/original Iridium service. It has not yet received the Iridium Certus approval, which still has terminals in development. We are moving forward with the FAA evaluation, which will be the route to global approval for AMS(R)S, but as you know that can take some time. The Japan approval is for existing Iridium safety services to be used on Japanese flagged aircraft,” Last said.
Currently, the Iridium 700 and 200 service versions of Certus are live, with several aviation VAMs and service providers already completing over-the-air testing in both classes. Honeywell on Aug. 12 announced its Aspire 150 and 350 satellite communications as the first aviation Satcom terminals to demonstrate connectivity at up to 700 kbps using Certus.
Connectivity with the satellites was achieved using a small, light-active high-gain antenna, according to Honeywell. Other components in the system include the satellite data unit (SDU), the SDU configuration module, and a low-gain antenna.
Eventually, terminals with smaller and more compact form factors could be supplied by Certus for a number of other existing and emerging aircraft types as well.
“Iridium Certus is a unique service platform in that it’s able to scale in both device size and speed to suit the end-user needs. With that comes SWaP advantages as well. This makes it ideal for all aspects of aviation – rotorcraft, business jets, UAV, GA, balloons, supersonic aircraft, eVTOLs/urban air mobility applications and many more,” Last said. “You’ll see more evidence of this in the coming weeks as we prepare to introduce commercial service for Iridium Certus 100, which is bringing the smallest-form-factor to speed L-band capability the market has ever seen, which makes it particularly exciting for UAVs, GA, EVTOLs and smaller business jets.”
Last said several Certus partners are getting closer to launching the use of Certus on the first in-service aircraft types approved to use the service.
“We are working closely with our partners on this and they are getting closer to launch. As noted, we expect initial products to be available by the end of this year, with more following soon thereafter in early 2022. Each partner will have their own announcements and you can find some that are already sharing information about companies choosing their solutions,” Last said.
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The China-based autonomous vehicle maker EHang completed test flights of its passenger grade autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) and drone logistics program during the European Union’s Gulf of Finland (GOF) 2.0 in Estonia, the company announced on Sept. 3.
The GOF 2.0 is focused on integrated urban air mobility (UAM) and the trials in Tartu, Estonia is specifically testing entry to and exit from defined airspaces. The GOF 2.0 tests in Estonia will include automated parcel delivery drones operating at low levels, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) intra-urban and peri-urban flights, long-endurance drone surveillance flights about 150 m altitude, drone mapping flights, and unexpected helicopter emergency medical services flights.
“The GOF2.0 project will demonstrate the operational validity of combining ATM/U-space services and systems and creating a shared interoperable infrastructure for both manned and unmanned aviation, especially in dense urban environments. The provision of timely, relevant and accurate digital information to all airspace users on a system-wide basis will enable safe and secure management of unified airspace without segregation,” Maria Tamm, project manager at Estonian Air Navigation Services, said in a statement on the GOF 2.0 website. “The outcomes from the GOF2.0 demonstrations will provide a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the current possibilities and challenges when implementing U-space, advancing urban air mobility and moving towards smart and sustainable aviation.”
EHang flew its passenger-grade AAV, EHang 216, in a beyond visual line of sight (BVOS) flight to demonstrate a VIP transport scenario, according to EHang. The aircraft flew from the Tartu Airport to the Estonian Aviation Museum during the trial and did not carry any passengers during the flight.
The EHang 216 has a 220 kg max payload, 35 km range, and can reach speeds up to 130 km per hour, according to the company’s website. EHang has completed test flights of its AAV aircraft in 10 countries.
During another test flight from the Tartu Airport to a cargo terminal at the Estonian Aviation Museum, EHang demonstrated its drone delivery model, Falcon logistics. According to the release, EHang’s drone demonstrated automated delivery capabilities.
The Falcon drone is a multi-rotor aircraft with a 5 kg maximum payload and 19 km range, according to the company’s website. The aircraft can be charged in less than 90 minutes and can fly for 17 minutes at max capacity.
EHang was able to complete the test flights with a special permit granted by the Estonian Transport Administration that extends until the end of 2021.
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A new partnership between Swoop Aero and Iris Automation will use both companies’ technology to create a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone navigation system, according to a Sept. 2 press release.
Swoop Aero will incorporate Iris Automation’s detect and avoid technology, Casia, onto their aircraft, according to the release. This will include Swoop Aero’s new aircraft, Kite, which the company says is its most advanced aircraft certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Swoop Aero is a great example of how commercial drone services are evolving, meeting numerous critical use cases around the world,” Jon Damush, CEO of Iris Automation, said in a statement. “We are seeing the leading players in the space make investments in safety, and Swoop is one of the firms leading the charge to ensure the safe and efficient integration of uncrewed aircraft into existing national airspaces around the world. Demand for these use cases is highest in regions with stringent air safety standards and avoiding mid-air collisions is the most important aspect of reducing air-risk. An innovator like Swoop Aero is doing the right things to safely introduce aerial services to deliver essential supplies to previously inaccessible areas and we are excited to partner with them on this mission.”
With Casia, Swoop Aero will be able to obtain more complex approvals and certifications for BVLOS flight, according to the release. The company will use the system in two current projects with EBOS Healthcare in Australia and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) airspace integration trial program.
“With two leading drone innovators coming together we can drive the safe integration of autonomous aircraft into even more critical areas,” Eric Peck, CEO and co-founder of Swoop Aero, said in a statement. “A DAA solution is the last great challenge preventing complex operational approvals and certification in countries like Australia and the United States. This partnership showcases the innovation inherent in our platform, and our commitment to safety.”
Iris Automation’s Casia has been used by the FAA and Transport Canada. The company has also recently partnered with UAV Navigation.
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Check out the Sept. 5 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.
Raytheon Technologies on Aug. 30 said its Collins Aerospace segment has agreed to acquire FlightAware, which provides global flight tracking services and analytics to a range of customers including airlines, airports and government.
Terms of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, were not disclosed. Houston-based FlightAware has about 130 employees.
“Global connectivity now shapes and impacts every segment of aviation,” Dave Nieuwsma, head of avionics at Collins Aerospace, said in a statement. “FlightAware is the recognized leader in data collection, analytics, and customer experience, which will help Collins unlock the full power of the connected ecosystem for our customers. FlightAware’s flight tracking and data platform, the largest in the world, has the potential to deliver new capabilities and innovations across our entire business.”
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency revised its deviation for the transport of cargo in passenger aircraft cabins.
According to an Aug. 27 press release, the agency’s third revision of the deviation extends the validity of the policy until July 31, 2022 and clarifies some “interpretative material wording.”
Laser strikes increased in 2020 despite the decrease in flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Sept. 1 FAA press release. Pilots reported 6,852 laser strikes to the FAA last year, up from 6,136 in 2019.
“Pointing a laser at an aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot and not only affects the crew but endangers passengers and the communities they fly over every night,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in the release.
The number of incidents reported in 2020 was the highest annual total since 2016.
The Boeing Company’s board of directors today announced in an Aug. 31 press release that David L. Joyce has been elected to the board, effective immediately. He will serve on the Aerospace Safety and Compensation committees.
A 40-year GE veteran, Joyce joined GE Aviation in 1980 as a product engineer and spent 15 years designing and developing GE’s commercial and military engines, before serving in a variety of leadership positions in GE Aviation, including vice president and general manager of Commercial Engines, according Boeing.
“Boeing will benefit from David Joyce’s deep aviation experience and broad industry relationships,” David Calhoun, Boeing president and CEO, and member of the board of directors said in the release. “David’s experience transforming businesses and focus on quality and safety in the aerospace industry will further strengthen our board.”
ASTM International and European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE) have formed a new partnership that will allow the standards organizations to share information with the aim of reducing duplication and increasing the compatibility of technical solutions for global aviation, according to an Aug. 27 release.
“ASTM International is very pleased to establish this cooperation agreement with EUROCAE as it builds on our existing relationship and positions us to work more collaboratively and efficiently in the future,” ASTM International Vice President of Global Policy, Cooperation and Communications Jeff Grove said in a statement.
The organizations will be working on opportunities to collaborate on development processes, technical standardization dialogue, sharing information on emerging technologies and regulatory drivers, and coordinating program work, according to the release.
Construction work on the new Eurocontrol Network Manager’s operations centre in Brussels has officially commenced with a ‘breaking ground’ event attended last week by Eurocontrol Director General Eamonn Brennan, Philippe Close, Mayor of the City of Brussels and Alain Hutchinson, Brussels Commissioner for Europe and Intergovernmental Organizations.
The €20.5 million building is set to host state-of-the-art operational systems and IT infrastructure as the organization embarks on its integrated Network Management (iNM) digital transformation program, according to an Aug. 30 press release.
“With up to 35,000 flights a day expected in the coming decade across a network spanning 43 States, this new building will play a key role in helping EUROCONTROL modernise the way we manage capacity, reduce delays and minimise environmental impacts,” Eamonn Brennan, director general of Eurocontrol said in the release. “Our new building will become the home of state-of-the-art digital solutions to optimise air traffic operations and will render the management of the European network resilient, reliable and sustainable in the decades to come.”
Lockheed Martin’s new F-16 manufacturing work will now be completed at its Johnstown, Pennsylvania facility, according to a Sept. 2 release.
To accommodate the work, the company will lease a new building and bring 80 new jobs to the city, according to the release.
“Johnstown’s selection for this new work reflects the highly skilled workforce in the area, a record of quality production and the space available to expand,” Wayne Davis, director at Lockheed Martin’s Johnstown site, said in a statement. “We are proud to grow our presence in Johnstown and to contribute to the acceleration of jobs.”
Early work on this effort will begin this year and ramp up in 2022.
Marine Gen. Kenneth Mckenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), on Aug. 30 said that the U.S. military had demilitarized 70 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 27 Humvees, Raytheon Technologies-built C-RAM Intercept Land-based Phalanx Weapon Systems, and 73 aircraft at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) before the departure of U.S. forces.
While McKenzie did not specify the 73 aircraft demilitarized and neither CENTCOM nor the Pentagon nor the State Department have responded to requests to detail those aircraft, the latter are likely limited to at most eight types–Lockheed Martin C-130 transports and UH-60 Black Hawks, MD Helicopters‘ MD-530 Cayuse Warrior attack helicopters, Embraer–Sierra Nevada Corp. A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, Cessna and Northrop Grumman AC-208 and C-208 light attack/reconnaissance/utility aircraft, Boeing CH-46E Sea Knights used by the State Department for personnel transport and evacuation, and Russian Mi-17 helicopters, which the Afghan Air Force (AAF) had turned to in the last several years, per the DoD Inspector General, for their relative ease to fly and maintain and their higher lift capacity, compared to the Black Hawk.
The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) said Friday it will require either proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test result to attend its annual meeting this October in Washington, D.C.
AUSA is still planning to move forward with the in-person event, one of the largest defense shows of the year, with the additional measures in place due to the national surge in Delta-variant COVID-19 cases.
“We are excited and looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the in-person AUSA Annual Meeting from 11 – 13 October 2021 and are adapting our plans following recommendations from the convention center, District of Columbia and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The health and safety of attendees, presenters, exhibitors, staff and the local community continue to be our top priorities as we count down to this year’s important event,” event organizers wrote in a statement.
An all-new Gulfstream G700, the largest aircraft in Gulfstream’s fleet, set its first ever city-pair speed records from Savannah to Doha, Qatar, and then from Doha to Paris, according to a Sept. 1 press release.
A fully outfitted G700 production test aircraft completed the flight from Savannah to Doha, a distance of 6,711 nautical miles/12,428 kilometers, at an average speed of Mach 0.88 in 13 hours and 16 minutes, Gulfstream said in the release. The aircraft then set another city-pair record from Doha to Paris, flying 2,953 nm/5,469 km in 6 hours and 15 minutes at an average speed of Mach 0.90.
“These were the first international flights for the G700, and it performed exceptionally well, setting two new records in the process,” Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream, said in a statement. “We are excited to introduce the G700 in person to customers in the Middle East and Europe and are proud that we can do so while also demonstrating our commitment to sustainability at the same time.”
Skyports and Kenoca Aerospace have signed a memorandum of understanding that will enable cargo drone deliveries of critical supplies on South Korea’s Jeju Island, according to a Sept. 1 press release.
“Through this partnership with Skyports, a global technology leader in the AAM industry, we will commence drone deliveries in Jeju Province before establishing AAM infrastructure and expanding into the air taxi industry,” Kenny Lee, CEO of Kencoa Aerospace, said in a statement. “Jeju’s excellent tourist resources will promote the commercialisation (sic) of our AAM services. The strength of this partnership will enable the fastest commercial launch in Korea.”
Skyports will present a proof-of-concept demonstration of its beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities and perform a feasibility assessment for vertiports for the project, according to the release.
“South Korea is ripe with opportunity in the advanced air mobility space, and Jeju Island’s specific volcanic and island geography provides a unique backdrop on which to demonstrate the benefits of drone logistics,” Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, said in a statement. “With our BVLOS cargo drone operations, delivery services on the island will be up to six times faster, with carbon emissions reduced by up to 90%. Drone deliveries have the potential to totally transform services for residents and healthcare providers, and we’re excited to be amongst the first movers in South Korea – and globally.”
Helicopter operator Microflite and Eve Urban Air Mobility are partnering to bring urban air mobility operations to Australia in 2026, according to a Sept. 2 press release.
“Our partnership with Microflite allows Eve to inject innovation and new mobility solutions within the Australian market. We can deliver a comprehensive solution, including maintenance services and air traffic management, getting ready to introduce our aircraft to Australia, while benefiting from Microflite’s extensive local operational experience,” Andre Stein, President & CEO of Eve Urban Air Mobility, said in a statement.
The partnership will use Microflite helicopters to develop a proof of concept for air taxi operations, according to the release. The companies will also work together on services and procedures for UAM operations.
“This partnership is an exciting development for Microflite. Australia needs a post-COVID lift and what better way to do that than by developing high-tech and low carbon jobs that support transport, tourism, and the vibrancy of this wonderful country. Microflite will work closely with Eve and its partners to evaluate the best path to bring this innovative service to customers,” Jonathan Booth, CEO of Microflite, said in a statement.
NASA has begun the first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flight test of its Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign with Joby Aviation, the agency announced on Sept. 1.
The AAM National Campaign is a multi-year effort to assist with the integration of AAM vehicles into the national airspace. NASA’s tests with Joby are occurring ahead of the first set of National Campaign tests, referred to as NC-1, that are planned for 2022. NC-1 will include more vehicle partners and flight scenarios.
“The National Campaign Developmental Testing is an important strategic step in NASA’s goals to accelerate the AAM industry timeline,” Davis Hackenberg, NASA AAM mission integration manager, said in a statement. “These testing scenarios will help inform gaps in current standards to benefit the industry’s progress of integrating AAM vehicles into the airspace.”
MetroWeather has signed a contract to join TruWeather’s small business innovation research (SBIR) contract with NASA to build urban weather observation infrastructure, according to an Aug. 29 press release.
This weather infrastructure will be used to advance weather reports for commercial urban air mobility vehicles, according to the release.
MetroWeather will provide an optimal sensing algorithm and sampling strategy for simulated lidar measurements for the contract, according to the release.
The contract is currently in Phase 1 and the companies will be working towards a Phase 2 contract to contract an Urban Wind Experiment.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded Virgin Galactic on Thursday, as the federal regulator investigates the company’s previous spaceflight that carried founder Richard Branson, according to a Sept. 2 CNBC article. FAA officials are reportedly focused on a deviation by the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft during its July 11 flight.
“Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety,” the FAA said in a statement to CNBC.
“The FAA is responsible for protecting the public during commercial space transportation launch and reentry operations. The FAA is overseeing the Virgin Galactic investigation of its July 11 SpaceShipTwo mishap that occurred over Spaceport America, New Mexico. SpaceShipTwo deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America,” the regulator added.
On Sept. 2, Virgin Galactic published a press release outlining its next “Unity 23” mission.
Ahead of the 2021 SATELLITE show occurring Sept. 7-9, Via Satellite published this article featuring industry analysts sharing thoughts on what they’ll be watching for at this year’s event.
On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, we feature a presentation given by Tomal Sohorab, Manager of Cargo Solutions at Air Canada Cargo, during the latest installment of our live Connected Aviation Intelligence series that occurred Aug. 5.
Sohorab gives an update with some major progress and significant connectivity milestones achieved by Air Canada Cargo, following up on his presentation last year on how the airline has used Bluetooth technology, connectivity, and specialized sensors on unit load devices (ULDs) to establish an Internet of Things (IoT) approach to air cargo tracking.
The post PODCAST: Air Canada Cargo’s Tomal Sohorab Talks Latest Connected Aircraft Progress appeared first on Aviation Today.