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What Challenges Still Exist for Certifying Electric Aircraft

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

As the aviation industry shifts towards sustainability, more manufacturers are developing electric engines to move away from jet fuel. However, despite years of developments on the industry side, civil aviation regulatory authorities have yet to actually certify one of these aircraft. 

The aircraft manufacturers are at the mercy of regulatory authorities when it comes to certification and some say it is the only thing stopping them from entering into service. During a panel at the Vertical Flight Society’s Electric Aircraft Symposium on July 21, industry and regulatory experts explained what challenges still exist for electric aircraft certification. 

“The only thing that’s stopping us today from operating UAM [urban air mobility] aircraft is to a get an aircraft through certification, that is going to be the pacing item,” Martin Peryea, chief executive officer at Jaunt Air Mobility, said. 

Peryea cautioned that aircraft manufacturers need to establish a certification basis before designing their aircraft to avoid future problems. 

“From a design perspective, you have to actually establish your certification bases before you start designing,” Peryea said. “Unless you really fully understand, how you’re going to certify the aircraft into what rules, it is hard to layout an aircraft architecture from a systems perspective until you could have a full understanding.”

Some manufacturers like Jaunt plan on certifying their aircraft under existing rules like Part 29 and 135, however, they will need a special condition to certify their electric engines. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been working on creating a special condition for electric engines to provide a guide to certification for electric engine manufacturers, Gary Horan, an aerospace controls systems specialist at the FAA, said during the panel. Horan said the FAA has been working with one company in particular to develop this special condition, magniX. 

“We are working at the FAA…to get a special condition issued for the first project to certificate an electric engine,” Horan said. “This special condition is written around one particular company and their product, and to be honest with you, we don’t know if they’ll be the first ones to cross the finish line, but, you know, we had to pick a horse and that’s what we did.” 

Horan said the special condition is based on an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard. He said the terminology is important to consider when talking about certification because the FAA is certifying an electric motor, not electric propulsion. 

“This special condition was developed based on an ASTM standard that we put together over a span of a year, two years, probably longer than that…and it was for what was called at the time electric propulsion, well that terminology is going away,” Horan said. “It is an electric engine that we’re talking about and that makes a huge difference for the FAA, and for [European Union Aviation Safety Agency] EASA by the way, because that’s the only thing we can certify is an engine. We can’t certify an electric propulsion unit because that’s the way the rules are written.” 

One change that the FAA has made is anyone who wants to certify an engine will have to provide information on what aircraft that engine is going in, Horan said. This is based on the agency’s effort to increase safety standards. 

“We are changing one aspect of what we require relative to the engines and safety that we have not required in the past,” Horan said. “If you try to get a type certificate for an engine, you have to do the safety assessment of that engine and you have to project what the rates of failure will be and whatnot. You are now being required to know where it’s going to be installed. You have to know the aircraft because you have to take into account the objectives that the aircraft needs to make to stay safe. So we’ve broadened the scope of the safety assessment, at least at the engine level, but I think what that is going to do is it’s going to reach across to the aircraft level as well.” 

Releasing this special condition will allow manufacturers to have guidelines to follow for engine certification. Lowell Foster, director of global innovation and engineering at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), said without this certification basis, manufacturers are still left with more questions than answers while trying to design a vehicle. 

“The FAA has been a lot more challenging in terms of getting cert basis out and getting agreement with what the means of compliance are, which leaves these questions lingering while you’re trying to design a vehicle,” Foster said. 

However, there are many other areas where manufacturers are still unsure of certification standards. Foster said one example of this is the FAA’s flight standard which is going to apply power-lift requirements to electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. 

“The big one that we just found out about is that the FAA flight standard is going to apply powered lift to our fixed-wing VTOL aircraft,” Foster said. “We don’t know what that means yet, other than we’re having to go down a lot more substantial exemption routes. It will also not just be leveraging new generation sims, but it’ll make using simulators and flight training devices a lot more important.” 

Another challenge for the FAA is the varied design architectures from one aircraft to the next. 

“It’s absolutely amazing how many different variations there are,” Horan said. “There are very few applicants that have come to us, that have the same thing that somebody else has. It’s like everybody’s got a slightly different spin on it.” 

While electric aircraft have made strides in recent years, Horan said the biggest issue they still face is power supply. 

“I think the largest issue that they’re all faced with is the power resource, meaning where are you going to get the energy, how you’re going to manage that,” Horan said. “Total battery operation is extremely appealing because it seems like it’s the quickest way to get there, but the battery technology has still got a ways to go to make it a cost and economic benefit and impact on a range. So I see that as being really the biggest issue.” 

Foster said that he is concerned about the issues that aren’t front and center right now. 

“My concerns are with certification too and not so much the ones that are obvious because I think it’s pretty easy to look across some of the new technology and say these are going to be certification issues, and so we’re focused on those but having watched cert programs for a long time, it’s the little stuff that you’re not watching that bite you in the end,” Foster said.  

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US Air Force Test Center Looks for Visual Display Systems for F-35A JSE

An F-35A Lightning II taxis down the flightline in a Beast Mode weapons configuration on July 22 last year at Luke AFB, Ariz. The weapons configuration consists of six inert GBU-12 bombs, four mounted onto the wings and two loaded into the weapons bay, as well as an AIM-9X air-to-air training missile. The U.S. Air Force said that the Beast Mode weapons configuration provides F-35 B-Course student pilots with the additional training and experience needed for potential combat sorties (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The U.S. Air Force Test Center (AFTC) under Air Force Materiel Command wants industry input on Visual Display Systems (VDSs) for the Air Force Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) for the service’s F-35A by Lockheed Martin.

AFTC is looking for the submittal of white papers over the next month on VDS solutions for the Air Force JSE, which is to expand upon F-35 JSE to support high-end modeling and simulation for other current Air Force platforms, such as the Lockheed Martin F-22, and future platforms.

The 412th Air Wing’s Electronic Warfare Group at Edwards AFB, Calif., “has a requirement for [VDSs] to support the Threat and Friendly/Virtual Air Threat (TAF/VAT) Joint Simulation Environment (JSE),” per a business notice last week. “A VDS is defined as an out-the-window (OTW) display screen, image projectors, auto alignment and calibration system, mechanical edge blending solution, and support structures and interfaces. The VDS contractor will integrate all the VDS components.”

“The Air Force is seeking innovative solutions with regards to the fidelity and Field-OF-View (FOV) of the proposed VDS within this call,” per the notice. “The solution offered will need to consider the human factor relationship or the physical relationship of the primary components of the simulator. The important aspects to retain are the physical relationships of the pilot eye.”

Humberto Blanco, AFTC’s Joint Simulation Division Chief, wrote in a July 19 email that “VDS provides a high fidelity display in support of high fidelity TAF/VAT simulation.”

In response to this article, the F-35 Joint Program Office on July 20 said that the F-35 JSE “is located at Patuxent River where Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) is the lead system integrator, responsible for integrating F-35-In-A-Box (a Lockheed Martin product) with complex threat models from several government organizations.”

“The U.S. Air Force Test Center action referenced…is not in support of the F-35 JSE,” the JPO said. “Rather, it is for an Air Force JSE which will support F-35 and other USAF platforms for high-end modeling and simulation in the future.”


This article was first published by Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics. It has been edited. Check out the full version here

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Pratt & Whitney Engine Operators Get Increased Control Over Flight Data Shared with OEMs

Airlines operating aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, such as the PW1100-GM pictured here, now have access to Teledyne’s cloud-based avionics data service under a new partnership between the two OEMs. (Pratt & Whitney)

Pratt & Whitney’s new avionics cloud computing partnership will open the aircraft engine manufacturer’s analytics platform EngineWise to information captured by Teledyne Controls flight data acquisition systems about the health and status of nearly every airframe part and component on a per-flight basis.

The partnership will allow operators using Pratt & Whitney’s EngineWise data analytics platform to start feeding their data centers with all of the parameters captured by onboard Quick Access Recorders (QAR), such as Teledyne’s GroundLink Comm+ wireless cellular connectivity system. By giving EngineWise users access to this data through Teledyne’s Data Delivery Solution (DDS) Pratt customers now have instant cloud-based post-flight access to the same amount of raw data that is captured by the Flight Data Recorder in a clean actionable format.

Teledyne describes DDS as a cloud computing service that can redact or mask certain data parameters that airlines prefer not to share with OEMs.

“Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine incorporates significantly more sensors than prior engines and can generate millions of data points per engine per flight, providing significant improvements in avoiding unplanned maintenance. These parameters, when collected via devices on board over the full flight, allow us to develop a very thorough picture of the health of the engine,” Joe Sylvestro, vice president of Global Aftermarket Operations at Pratt & Whitney told Avionics International.

EngineWise was first launched by the company in 2017 featuring a suite of web-based software tools that analyze engine data in search of anomalies or trends captured by the sensors mentioned by Sylvestro. As an example, an airline maintenance team can use the system for a sensor configured to monitor how much fuel is required to generate a set amount of thrust or power. As that engine completes more flights, they may assume that the engine’s efficiency is degrading if the amount of fuel required to generate that set amount of power continues to increase over time.

An example of the type of engine data parameters and analysis EngineWise provides for operators. (Pratt & Whitney)

“The collaboration with Teledyne Controls will enhance engine health management services offered to Pratt & Whitney-powered aircraft, focused on Teledyne Control’s global customers. Teledyne’s Data Delivery Solution is one option for collecting full-flight data. In any case, our goal is to minimize the data management burden on the customer,” Sylvestro said. “With regard to [Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System] ACARS, we continue to use snapshot data to provide customers with analytics services while full-flight data-enabled services capture data throughout the flight.”

Teledyne’s quick access recorders and GroundLink Comm+ cellular system enable real-time data streaming, cabin and flight crew connectivity, wireless distribution of field-loadable software parts and automated flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) data downloads. The technology is used by more than 200 commercial airlines on more than 14,000 aircraft.

Mike Penta, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Teledyne Controls told Avionics that the partnership opens up access to QAR data for Pratt & Whitney operators, and removes some of the past barriers that have prevented such access.

“Pratt & Whitney operators can now feed EngineWise with any aircraft data captured by Teledyne avionics onboard, predominately digitally distributed by the Teledyne GroundLink Comm+ system. As to what new type of data, it is specific to each airline as some are more ‘e-enabled’ than others,” Penta said.  “Teledyne can assist in enabling ‘full flight data’ to supply the EngineWise platform everything that it needs, in a timely manner, at a more precise, higher resolution level than traditional data feeds such as ACARS messages. Being able to also enable additional data points within the aircraft data frame was part of the attraction of working directly with Teledyne.”

According to Penta, airlines operating aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney engines that do not feature GroundLink Comm+ can still take advantage of the new partnership and DDS without modifying their existing avionics systems.

“Even for airlines who do not have GroundLink Comm+ units onboard but are still using ‘sneaker net’ to take data from their aircraft data acquisition units, we can still make it work. It technically does not have to be exclusively Teledyne hardware. Teledyne DDS is agnostic and can work with other QAR systems as well as other various OEMs,” Penta said.

Penta said other OEMs have also expressed interest in what he describes as an “instant data lake” that can be enabled once their native analytics platforms are digitally linked to Teledyne’s flight data cloud computing analytics service. Thus far, the expanded version of EngineWise is being used by one European low-cost carrier and an airline based in the Middle East, both of which requested to remain unnamed.

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Electric Cessna Grand Caravan in Development to Fly by 2024

Surf Air Mobility will purchase 150 Cessna Grand Caravan EX single-engine turboprops from Textron as part of the agreement. (Textron)

A new partnership between Surf Air Mobility and Textron Aviation will aim to develop electrified Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, with hybrid-electric versions of the plane to be available in 2024, the companies announced on July 20. 

Surf Air Mobility will purchase 150 Cessna Grand Caravan EX single-engine turboprops from Textron as part of the agreement, according to the announcement. The hybrid-electric version of the Cessna Grand Caravan will be a 9-seat variant of the aircraft. 

“The Cessna Grand Caravan EX is one of the most adaptable and prolific aircraft in flight today. Through this exclusive relationship with Textron Aviation, we’re able to make electrified aircraft broadly available to existing and new operators and bring the benefits of lower cost, lower emission air travel to customers faster and at scale,” Sudhin Shahani, co-founder, CEO and executive chairman at Surf Air Mobility,” said in a statement. “We believe electrifying the Cessna Grand Caravan is the most significant step that can be made toward reduced emission flying with the quickest path to market.”

A hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravan could reduce operating costs and carbon emissions by 25 percent while providing similar performance as a turbine engine, according to the announcement. The aircraft would also be immediately operable at public-use airports because it does not need charging stations. 

“Hybrid electric propulsion technology, deployed at scale for environmental and commercial benefits, is an important part of the future of travel,” Ron Draper, president and CEO of Textron Aviation, said in a statement. “This relationship with Surf Air Mobility leverages the unique performance capabilities of the Cessna Grand Caravan in both passenger and cargo operations, and continues to demonstrate the aircraft’s adaptability for innovative missions and configurations.”

Surf Air Mobility wants to deploy the hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravan on its network to connect more airports with short-haul direct service, according to the announcement. 

“This is an opportunity to showcase the combined expertise and technologies of both Textron Aviation and Surf Air Mobility,” Rob Scholl, senior vice president at Textron eAviation, said in a statement. “The outstanding capabilities and versatility of the Grand Caravan make it an ideal aircraft to take advantage of this new technology.”

Existing Cessna Grand Caravan owners will have the ability to convert to hybrid-electric systems, according to the release. This will be available in 2024. 

Surf Air Mobility, a regional air travel service, announced an agreement to purchase the hybrid-electric aircraft company Ampaire in February. 

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Why Industry Experts are Saying Decarbonization Efforts in the Aviation Industry are Different This Time Around

Joby Aviation is developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that the company expects to be ready for commercial service by 2024. During an FIA Connect panel, their leader of policy and government affairs discussed some of their latest plans. (Joby Aviation)


The aviation industry is brimming with sustainability pledges and partnerships all promising to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. Industry experts on a panel discussion at the remotely hosted Farnborough International Airshow Connect on July 14, said these promises are more than words and are showing signs of coming to fruition.

“It’s not enough to just say we’re going to be net-zero in 2050, but now we’re saying how are we going to get there in the short term, whether that’s through SAF [sustainable aviation fuels] at 2030 or fuel and fleet improvements over time, there’s a lot that’s out there and I think the level of transparency and commitment across the industry is what really encourages me that this time is different and that this will stick as a priority,” Amelia DeLuca, managing director of sustainability at Delta Air Lines, said.

DeLuca said that one of the short-term commitments for Delta was being carbon neutral.

“This is different, and I can see that across the industry,” DeLuca said. “Just looking within Delta, I think about what we’ve done in the last 18 months and the commitments that we made pre-pandemic that we continue to be committed to today. For example, our commitment to carbon neutrality, which started March of 2020 is something that we have fulfilled and continue to be committed to despite the challenge in our industry.”

Sean Newsum, director of environmental strategy for Boeing, said he is encouraged by the scale of commitment from across the industry.

“I think what’s notable this time is that the breadth of commitment across countries, regions of the world, across the industrial sectors, and their commitments to decarbonization, not just within aviation, but broadly across sectors, that’s very different this time,” Newsum said.

This commitment has also not waned in the face of COVID-19 which had significant impacts across the industry.

“I think it’s really notable that we went through a very significant economic disruption of the airline industry, it’s still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, and yet here we are talking about sustainability and decarbonizing aviation, despite the fact that the effects of the pandemic, the global downturn are still with us,” Newsum said. “So I think if that attention can persist through this kind of disruption to our industry, there’s no reason to think it’s not going to stick around once we fully recover from the pandemic.”

Newsum said the industry now has a realistic vision of what is needed to decarbonize and what solutions could come in the near term versus what solutions may still be farther into the future.

While the industry has parsed which solutions are closer to becoming a reality, DeLuca said that doesn’t mean the more long-term solutions should not receive the same level of support.

“In my opinion, at least from the Delta perspective, there is no one answer and to throw ourselves towards one answer is going to sell ourselves short especially as a global airline like Delta,” DeLuca said. “We fly short-haul, we fly long haul, and so we need to make sure that we have awareness of all of the solutions that are out there and that we as a company are supporting the innovation.”

The developments in the electric aircraft space over the last decade are another reason industry experts are more hopeful for the future of sustainable aviation. Joby Aviation is building an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that could be launched as soon as 2024. Max Fenkell, policy and government affairs lead at Joby Aviation, said advances in battery technology have allowed the industry to advance in the last two decades.

“I think the advances in the technology now really make platforms like Joby possible and you’re seeing the investments come from both large companies like Boeing, companies like ours, and a whole host of companies in between, as well as some airlines who began to think about it as well,” Fenkell said. “So, what we’re seeing now is that both consumers and countries are demanding it in their policies and in their kind of purchasing habits, as well as what’s possible technology.”

Companies like Joby have had the opportunity to consider sustainability in all aspects of their development, Fenkell said.

“From the Joby perspective, we’re obviously building an all-electric aircraft so we’re kind of starting at that top of net-zero tailpipe emissions,” Fenkell said. “So, from our standpoint, it’s been the ethos of everything we’ve done.”

Fenkell said Joby sees itself as one part of the bigger “sustainable menu of options,” recognizing that electric aircraft is not the only technology that needs investment.

“In our opinion, obviously looking at electric first, we know that we are part of the solution,” Fenkell said. “We’re not the only piece but…prioritizing each of them is really important because if we don’t continue to think about each one of them, one’s going to fall very far behind and then we’re going to have to think and do things after the fact to get that technology back up.”

Newsum said that different technologies will have different markets, uses, and maybe even geographies.

“The all of the above approach, the right technology for the right market for the right geography at right time,” Newsum said. “Part of that is not trying to force-fit a particular technology solution, not trying to make battery the solution for every product in every market in every region of the world. We need to find the right technology, the right place, the right time. Some of these technologies will take a couple of decades to mature to the point that they’re viable in the commercial aviation space.”

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Airlines Show Growing Interest in Electric and Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft

United Airlines’ latest electric aircraft investment came this week through a deal with Swedish startup Heart Aerospace, whose ES-19 all-electric regional jet is pictured here as a computer-generated mockup. (United Airlines)

Several major commercial airlines made headlines this week regarding new investments, partnerships, and ongoing studies of electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft. United Airlines and Icelandair signed separate agreements for next-generation aircraft and hydrogen, while Delta Air Lines CEO commented on the international carrier’s interest in the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

The latest investment in next-generation aircraft from United Airlines came in the form of a July 13 announcement confirming a new investment in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace. United Airlines Ventures (UAV), along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Mesa Airlines made a joint investment of $35 million toward the development of Heart Aerospace’s 19-seater ES-19 aircraft.

United has also “conditionally agreed” to purchase a 100 ES-19 aircraft, once Heart Aerospace meets a set of operational requirements established by the Chicago-based airline. Separately, United’s regional subsidiary Mesa Airlines has also agreed to add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet under similar criteria established by United.

Gothenburg, Sweden-based Heart Aerospace is developing the ES-19 as all-electric fly-by-wire regional turboprop aircraft with a range of up to 217 nm. Heart expects the aircraft to be ready to achieve type certification from European and U.S. civil aviation authorities by the third quart of 2026.

Heart has been testing a ground-based prototype of the complete propulsion system over the last year and has received letters of intent to purchase the ES-19 from SAS, Wideroe, Air Greenland, and Finnair among others.

“Breakthrough Energy Ventures is the leading voice of investors who are supporting clean-energy technology creation. We share their view that we have to build companies who have real potential to change how industries operate and, in our case, that means investing in companies like Heart Aerospace who are developing a viable electric airliner,” Michael Leskinen, United’s Vice President Corp Development & Investor Relations, said in a statement. “We recognize that customers want even more ownership of their own carbon emissions footprint. We’re proud to partner with Mesa Air Group to bring electric aircraft to our customers earlier than any other US airliner.”

Icelandair has turned its clean-energy focus to hydrogen, signing an LOI with Universal Hydrogen, to “pursue the implementation of green hydrogen, a carbon-free aviation fuel, as a propellant for Icelandair’s domestic aircraft fleet,” according to a July 14 press release.

Universal Hydrogen, the California-based green startup that emerged from stealth last year, is developing an aftermarket hydrogen conversion kit for regional aircraft, as well as a fuel distribution system based on a unique modular hydrogen capsule technology. The startup sees its LOI as the first step in what could become an expanded partnership with Icelandair to include working with Icelandic hydrogen producers, transportation companies, and airports.

Icelandair operates a fleet of De Havilland Canada DHC-8-200 aircraft, that could become the first in its fleet to receive Universal Hydrogen’s conversion kit in the near future.

“Icelandair sets the standard high for responsible aviation, we are committed to reducing our carbon emissions and believe we are in a good position to become one of the world’s first airlines to fully decarbonize our domestic network,” Bogi Nils Bogason, President and CEO of Icelandair Group said in a statement. “Universal Hydrogen’s work across both fuel logistics and services as well as aircraft conversions would allow us to accelerate our pursuit of a fully decarbonized domestic fleet and we’re thrilled about the option to be an early adopter, that could bring hydrogen-powered Dash 8s to our skies in the next several years.”

While Delta Air Lines’ immediate fleet renewal strategy centers around the recent addition of 36 airliners to its fleet—including 29 used Boeing 737-900ERs and seven used Airbus A350-900s—an eventual investment or partnership around electric-powered aircraft is something they’re considering. During their July 14 second-quarter earnings call, CEO Ed Bastian was asked by an analyst to give his thoughts on eVTOL aircraft development based on some of the recent moves made by United Airlines.

“As you can appreciate every one of the proposed manufacturers has been after Delta. We’ve heard from many of them,” Bastian said referring to eVTOL developers. “We’re studying this space and we will continue to get good smartness space. I think it’s at a very, very early stage right now and I think a lot of the plans that we see are a bit premature, candidly. But it’s not anything that we are unaware of and I guarantee every one of those manufacturers would love to have Delta colors on their plane. So hard to predict timing but we’re in the marketplace having lots of conversations.”

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – July 18, 2021

Check out the July 18 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.



Delta Adds Airbus, Boeing Aircraft to Fleet Amid Travel Demand Recovery

Delta has entered into agreements to add 29 used Boeing 737-900ERs and lease seven used Airbus A350-900s as it continues to modernize its fleet, according to a July 13 press release.

Delta will lease the A350s through AerCap and purchase 27 of the 737-900ERs from funds managed by Castlelake, L.P., while the remaining two 737-900ERs will be financed from funds also managed by Castlelake, L.P. Both transactions are subject to closing conditions, according to the release. Deliveries of the aircraft will be completed by the first quarter of 2022, and they will enter service after modifications are completed.

“These aircraft are an investment in Delta’s future,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement. “As we look past the pandemic, Delta’s disciplined, innovative approach to fleet renewal positions us for growth as travel demand returns, while enhancing the customer experience and supporting our sustainability commitments.”





Boeing Lowers 787 Production Rate to Address New Manufacturing Flaw 

Boeing is temporarily lowering the production rate for its 787 Dreamliner and halting deliveries of its flagship wide-body jet to address a newly discovered manufacturing issue.

This will be the second delivery stoppage of the twin-aisle airliner in less than a year, after Boeing stopped delivering the 787 between November 2020 and late March to address previously discovered issues with composite skin flatness and small gaps discovered between sections of the fuselage.

Boeing temporarily paused deliveries of the 787 again in May after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sought more information and data about its verification process for the aircraft’s fuselage. Since then, Boeing delivered one 787—that had been cleared for delivery several months before the FAA’s inquiry— to Turkish Airlines.



Ryanair Announces 2,000 New Pilot Jobs 

Ryanair has launched a new recruitment drive for 2,000 new pilots to provide crews for aircraft deliveries over the next three years as the Dublin-based low cost carrier recovers and rebuilds from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a July 12 press release.

As part of Ryanair’s career development initiatives, most Captain vacancies created by these new aircraft deliveries will be filled by internal promotions which creates opportunities for replacement first officers, and ultimately new cadet pilots who will ultimately become the next generation of Ryanair’s First Officers and Captains, according to the airline.

Training courses take place through 2021 to be ready for Summer 2022 for positions all over Europe. Ryanair has partnered with Airline Flight Academy in Dublin to deliver Boeing 737 Training Courses as part of this recruitment drive.

“As we take delivery of more than 210 Boeing 737-8200 gamechanger aircraft, Ryanair will recruit 2,000+ pilots over the next 3 years to fill positions created by this growth,” Ryanair’s People Director Darrell Hughes said in a statement. “This is great news for experienced and aspiring pilots but also for our own pilots who will enjoy fast tracked promotions. Throughout the pandemic, Ryanair has worked closely with our people to save jobs and we are delighted to start planning for a return to growth over the coming years as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis and grow to 200m guests by FY2026.”



New Partnership Between Joby, JetBlue and Signature Aims to Create Credits for Clean Flight Technology 

Joby Aviation, JetBlue Airways, and Signature Flight Support are teaming up to create a new pathway to clean aviation by developing a system of aviation credits for using electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies, the companies announced in a July 13 press release.

The partnership is aiming to aid in the commercialization of electric and hydrogen technologies, according to the release. It will also connect airlines and operators in the development of sustainable solutions.

“This partnership allows JetBlue to not only continue to fulfill our domestic carbon neutrality commitment, but also evolve the type of offsets we purchase and help support the development of electric and hydrogen aviation — critical levers for meeting the U.S. aviation industry’s net-zero goals,” Sara Bogdan, head of sustainability and environmental social governance at JetBlue, said in a statement.



US Lawmaker Writes Letter to Airline CEOs Questioning Use of COVID-19 Aid Amid Worker Shortages

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today wrote the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Republic Airways, and Allegiant Airlines seeking information related to recent reports of workforce shortagesflight cancellations, according to a July 16 press release.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline industry received billions in federal payroll support funding to retain their workforces and ensure carriers were better prepared to ramp up when travel returned,” according to the release.

“I am deeply concerned by recent reports highlighting…workforce shortages that have caused flight cancellations and generated delays for passengers,”  Cantwell wrote in the letter.  “These shortages come in the wake of unprecedented federal funding that Congress appropriated, at the airlines’ request, to support the airline industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“As passenger travel has boomed in recent weeks, new reports also suggest that some airlines are now unprepared to meet the increased demand that they scheduled for, and have resorted to delaying or canceling flights,” the Senator continued.  “This reported workforce shortage runs counter to the objective and spirit of the PSP, which was to enable airlines to endure the pandemic and keep employees on payroll so that the industry was positioned to capture a rebound in demand.”




SAUDIA Airlines Contracts with GE Digital for Digital Asset Records Management

 Saudia Airlines will be implementing GE Digital’s Aviation Software Asset Records solution, extending an existing partnership between Saudia and GE to use cloud computing and data sharing systems to digitally transform the Middle Eastern carrier’s maintenance and engineering operations, according to a July 13 press release.

The airline will be utilizing GE Digital’s Asset Transfer System to streamline and simplify the way leased-asset documentation is managed with lessors, as well as MRO Connect, Workflow Management, and M&E Systems Integration.

“Saudia places innovation among its top priorities when it comes to aircraft fleet and operations, and with this latest partnership with GE, it enables Saudia to transition to a seamless, all-digital solution for aircraft asset records management,” Eng. Ahmed Al Wassiah, Chief Operations Officer at Saudia said in a statement. “With the expansion of the fleet and the airline’s aircraft modernization roadmap, an essential part of the 360 approach is to have an all-digital interface, providing real-time access to archived aircraft records in real-time, facilitating swift access to multiple features, records, and data.”



Three-Year Sustainment Contract for F-35 to Include Incentives to Improve Full Mission Capable Rates

A 419th Fighter Wing F-35 deployed to HIll AFB, Utah (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The F-35 program has a “handshake agreement” with Lockheed Martin on a three-year sustainment contract for the company’s F-35 Lightning II fighter–a contract that will come with incentives for the defense contractor to improve full mission capable (FMC) rates for the aircraft, the head of the F-35 Joint Program Office told the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on July 13.

The Government Accountability Office has said that the F-35 has an FMC rate of 54 percent–18 percent below the goal.

“In our tireless pursuit of affordability, I am pleased to announce that late last month the program reached a handshake agreement with Lockheed Martin on a ’21 to ’23 [2021 to 2023] air vehicle sustainment contract that emphasizes improved aircraft full mission capable rates and continues cost reductions for all our services, partners, and customers,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, the F-35 program executive officer, told a hearing of the HASC Tactical Air and Land Forces panel on the Pentagon’s fiscal 2022 request for fixed wing tactical and training aircraft.

UK Plans to Incorporate Squadrons of “Swarming Drones” to Foil Adversary Air Defenses 

The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) plans to incorporate squadrons of “swarming drones” to help foil enemy air defenses.

Last year, the RAF gave its No. 216 Squadron the mission of testing drone swarm technology.

“With swarming drones and uncrewed combat aircraft, we are on the threshold of a change in air warfare as profound as the advent of the jet age,” Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the chief of the U.K. air staff, told the Global Air Chiefs Conference in London on July 14. “Our drone test squadron, 216, has proven beyond doubt the disruptive and innovative utility of swarming drones under our Alvina program. Working with our defense science laboratory and specialist industry partners, I can say that we have exercised swarms of over 20 ultra-low cost drones, operating together against threat systems, to brilliant effect. We have been focused on confusing and overwhelming adversary air defenses, but we’re already contemplating new, disruptive missions.”





Intelsat Retires Gogo Brand for In-Flight Connectivity Services 

Gogo commercial aviation is now an Intelsat company. (Intelsat)

Intelsat is dropping the name Gogo from the Commercial Aviation division that it retired last year, the company announced July 13.

Intelsat announced the move to acquire Gogo’s Commercial Aviation division in August 2020, and the $400 million cash deal closed in December 2020 after it was approved by Intelsat’s bankruptcy court and creditors. The satellite operator is still undergoing Chapter 11 reorganization. Gogo is still a publicly traded company and is developing a 5G network for business aviation customers.

John Wade, former Gogo president of Commercial Aviation, continues to lead Intelsat’s Commercial Aviation business division as president.

“Our company is known for its flexibility and commitment to exceptional customer service, and we’re always innovating new models aimed at helping airlines identify the right distribution strategy to meet their unique needs,” Wade commented. “We do more than talk a good game; Intelsat’s superior customer experience is backed by meaningful and easy-to-understand SLAs [service level agreements] that commercial airlines can trust to meet their passenger experience needs.”


Panasonic Avionics Switches on XTS Connectivity Over China

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic Avionics) has completed the latest phase in its continuing investment in in-flight connectivity with the activation of extreme high throughput (XTS) satellite coverage over China and the Asia Pacific region, according to a July 13 press release

The beam over Asia Pacific from APSTAR 6D, Panasonic Avionics’ first XTS satellite, has gone live through teleports in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Perth. This will enable airlines based in the region and others flying over it to benefit from its enhanced satellite capacity.

APSTAR 6D went into its first stages of operation in early 2021 and is now providing airlines flying across Asia Pacific with multiple gigahertz of new Ku-band capacity over China, including high-density air traffic routes across East Asia using XTS spot beams. APSTAR delivers 90 beams across the whole region, and 50 Gbps in capacity.




The Wisk-Archer Legal Fight Rages On

Wisk Aero filed a new brief in its ongoing legal fight with Archer Aviation in which Wisk is accusing Archer of stealing Wisk’s proprietary intellectual property. The new brief, which was filed on July 14, claims to have new information concerning Archer’s alleged use of Wisk’s trade secrets and that an Archer engineer pleaded the fifth amendment.

“The Archer engineering documentation is stunning in its reliance on Wisk’s trade secrets,” the brief states. “Archer concluded in 2019 that its efforts to date were not viable and that it would have to ‘start over.’ So in December 2019 and January 2020, Archer recruited close to a dozen Wisk employees … in just seven weeks Archer … not only settled on a final aircraft configuration but also laid out full conceptual designs of all supporting systems. … The design was called ‘cora + tilt’ – ‘Cora’ being a reference to Wisk’s well publicized, fifth-generation aircraft.”

Archer responded in a statement calling Wisk’s filing “a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from its own misconduct and the material falsehoods at the heart of its lawsuit.” The company also claims that the lawsuit was not brought on a good faith basis and is only meant to limit Archer’s success.

“In its filing today, Wisk has thrown everything and anything against the wall in the hopes that something will stick,” Archer said in a statement. “These new claims, like those that came before, lack any factual basis and rely on wild speculation and innuendo.”




CAE to Spend C$1B in Innovation Over Next 5 Years

The investment will fund Project Resilience, which aims to develop the technologies of tomorrow. (CAE)

CAE committed to investing C$1 billion over the next five years to fund innovation including digitally immersive solutions, artificial intelligence, advanced air mobility, and green lift aircraft technologies, according to a July 15 release.

The investment will fund Project Resilience, which aims to develop the technologies of tomorrow, according to the release.

“CAE is launching a major five-year Research and Development investment program which will reinforce CAE’s position as a global technology leader, create high-value jobs and collaborations, and contribute to a greener, safer, and more inclusive world,” Marc Parent, CAE’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement. “CAE is a Canadian innovation powerhouse, and our Research and Development will allow us to reinforce our leadership in training by creating digitally immersive solutions across many sectors and markets to make the world a safer place. The project will also allow us to expand into exciting new markets such as advanced air mobility, green light aircraft technologies and next generation healthcare equipment and services. We thank the government of Canada and the government of Quebec who will be partnering with us to open up these new markets for CAE and Quebec and Canada.”

The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec will also be investing a total of C$340 million in these initiatives, according to the release.


Electric Air Taxi Companies Want to be Included in Infrastructure Bill 

Air taxi companies are calling on Congress to include eligibility for electric aircraft charging infrastructure in the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being negotiated by Congress and the White House.

In a July 13 letter addressed to Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Kevin McCarthy, 19 companies asked for consideration as negotiations of the bill progress.

“Both Congress and the Administration correctly recognized the need to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure to reduce transportation emissions and improve mobility,” the letter states. “Many communities, airports and companies plan to incorporate electric aircraft as part of their green transportation strategies. We, therefore, respectfully request that infrastructure legislation include eligibility for the deployment of electric aircraft charging infrastructure.”

The companies who signed onto the letter include Joby Aviation, Lilium Aviation, AECOM, Ampaire, Archer, Beta Technologies, Bye Aerospace, Ferrovial Vertiports, Five Alpha, Eviation, Eve Urban Air Mobility, MagniX, Overair, Pipistrel, Skyports, Tavistock Development Company, the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, and Wisk Aero.



Germany Gets Its First Drone Traffic System

Droniq GmbH, a drone integration company, and DFS are creating an unmanned traffic system for drones, U-Space Sandbox, in Germany’s Port of Hamburg, according to a July 15 release.

“In the future, U-Space will also allow the full potential of drones to be exploited in urban areas within an established framework,” Droniq CEO Jan-Eric Putze said in a statement. “For unmanned aerial transport, this is a milestone. We are proud to show for the first time what this future can look like.”

The traffic within U-Space Sandbox will be coordinated by a U-Space Service Provider (USSP), which will be conducted by Droniq, according to the release. DFS will provide Droniq with relevant airspace and air traffic data functioning as the Single Common Information Service Provider (SCISP).

“Our drone traffic systems puts us in an excellent position internationally, providing a solid foundation for the integration of drone airspace. In this way, we are enabling fast and uncomplicated drone operations. This is an important step towards digital aviation, combined with a proven safety standard,” Friedrich-Wilhelm Menge, Managing Director Technology at DFS, said in a statement.

Demonstrations for this technology will take place in the fourth quarter, according to the release.





Sunil Bharti Mittal to Deliver Keynote Address at SATELLITE 2021 

Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal (Bharti Enterprises)

One of India’s most successful and iconic business leaders is speaking at the SATELLITE 2021 conference in September. Sunil Bharti Mittal, the founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises, and now Executive Chairman of OneWeb following a massive $500 million investment into the operator, will deliver SATELLITE 2021’s opening keynote address on Wednesday, September 8th at 8:30am EDT at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

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Are EU Green Deal Aviation Targets Attainable?

Several leading aerospace industry CTOs discussed the European Union’s Green Aviation Deal published July 14 during a virtual FIA Connect panel discussion this week. Pictured here is the Air France Flight 342, which became the first long-haul flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced in France when it took off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport for Montreal on May 18.

The European Commission adopted a sweeping set of climate proposals aimed at reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 that will significantly impact the aviation industry. While industry experts are calling these proposals ambitions, they are not saying they are impossible.

During a panel discussion at the remotely hosted Farnborough International Airshow Connect on July 14, experts reacted to these proposals and provided details on how their companies are working to reduce emissions.

The new proposal from the EU aims to reduce aviation CO2 emissions by five percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2050 and require airlines at EU airports to use at least five percent of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) in 2030 and 63 percent by 2050, according to remarks by European Commissioner Adina Vălean.

“Shifting to sustainable aviation fuels will also improve our energy security and reduce our reliance on fossil imports,” Vălean said. “With the right incentives, such as this blending mandate and the future Renewable and Low-Carbon Fuels Value Chain Alliance we are preparing, Europe will be a front-runner and lead the production of SAF globally, creating more than 200.000 jobs in the EU, mainly in the renewables sector.”

Paul Stein, chief technology officer at Rolls-Royce PLC, compared the development of SAF to the current COVID-19 vaccination production.

“Just have a look at the current vaccination crisis around the world and just how much the world has re-industrialized to produce billions of doses of vaccine,” Stein said. “It’s that sort of spirit that’s going to be required to get the scale into sustainable aviation fuels, and I think it’s entirely possible.”

The problem is that there is currently very little SAF in the market making it significantly more expensive than jet fuel.  Naveed Hussain, chief technology officer and vice president and general manager at Boeing Research & Technology, said that to accelerate the scale of SAF available, there need to be incentive programs.

“That’s going to involve a number of different elements, certainly things like incentive programs to make SAF economically competitive with Jet A for airlines and economically attractive relative to transport fuels for fuel producers, access to capital to enable the development of these new production capacities by the incumbents and also the startup fuel producers, and stable and predictable government policies to reduce the risk and enable a government support mechanisms to de-risk this capital,” Hussain said.

Some partnerships are already developing in the industry to increase the supply of SAF such as with Rolls-Royce and Shell.

“If we set ourselves the ambition of achieving 100 percent use of sustainable aviation fuels by 2050, which I think is an achievable goal, we need 500 million tons of that fuel in 2050,” Stein said. “…To achieve this scale, we clearly need partnership, because the companies represented on this call is not going to be the ones that produce the 500 million ton, it’s going to be the big energy companies.”

Boeing is tackling decarbonization from four angles, Hussain said. They are working on fleet renewal, operational efficiency, renewable energy transition, and advanced technology. Their newest airplanes will reduce fuel and emissions by up to 25 percent and operational efficiencies can cut about 12 percent of emissions.

Boeing also announced a partnership with SkyNRG to advance SAF and is adding digital design and production tools as well as developing new propulsion technologies to its new aircraft.

“We see these four pillars underpinning the future of decarbonization of aviation with SAF at the forefront, having the biggest impact to ensure aerospace is safe and sustainable,” Hussain said.

GE Aviation wants to demonstrate mature hybrid-electric, open fan, and advanced materials technologies that could be used in new engines as soon as the mid-2030s, Chris Lorence, chief engineer at GE Aviation, said.

“We are organizing our efforts in sustainability around three pillars,” Lorence said. “First is accelerating bold technology developments in our future engines to reduce emissions. Second driving efficiencies in our own facilities to lead by example. And third, engaging across the aviation industry to advocate for advances like lower carbon fuels that will enable the installed base to operate more sustainably.”

Lorence said while he thinks the EU’s goals are aggressive, they are necessary.

“I mean it’s certainly an aggressive goal, I think we can all agree on that, but we need aggressive goals,” Lorence said. “I think what’s encouraging them…is there’s been so much discussion about 2050 in the industry but so little discussion about what happens in between, and so I’m hopeful that this will be a catalyst to say we need to have a real call to action sooner to get the SAF industry built up. My hope is that this will get to more harmonize the restrictions and requirements that will be around the world and not just in the EU, and that it will provide some support and incentives to really get this industry moving in the way that we want to.”

GE Aviation and Safran have put sustainability first in their development program for the next-gen CFM engine with the RISE program, the companies said in a June announcement. Eric Dalbiès, senior executive vice president of R&T and Innovation at Safran, said the company is also industrial operations for the products themselves.

“As far as decarbonization…I would say it’s a two main pillar approach: how to decarbonize the products we’re making, and how to decarbonize the industrial operations for the products themselves,” Dalbiès said.

Dalbiès said Safran is executing this approach by developing more efficient products and investing in SAF and hybrid-electric technologies.

Sabine Klauke, Chief Technical Officer, said Airbus is working on its ZEROe aircraft concept which it announced in September 2020. These aircraft will rely on hydrogen as a primary power source.

“The fact is that these ambitious targets cannot be achieved using existing aircraft technologies today,” Klauke said. “So at Airbus, we believe that alternative propulsion systems and also energy sources will push technologies in the right direction to help reduce emissions in aircraft of today and tomorrow.”

Klauke said Airbus wants to have an aircraft on the market using these technologies in 2035.

“Our ambition is clearly to have a flying aircraft on the market in 2035,” Klauke said. “So that’s a clear target and a clear date. Today…we are looking into the different possibilities like hydrogen combustion, but as well as fuel cell and hybrid-electric possibilities.”

Mark Russell, chief technology officer at Raytheon Technologies, said the company is working on getting more efficiency from its turbofan architecture, engine cores, and thermal technologies. They are also working to create hybrid-electric propulsion systems.

“The vision Raytheon Technologies has for a sustainable aviation future includes four elements, advanced in jet engine efficiency, extensive use of sustainable aviation fuels, wide adoption of hybrid-electric propulsion, and optimizing the aircraft-like trajectories,” Russell said.

While industry experts expressed support for the proposals, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released a statement against using taxation as a solution to cut emissions.

“Aviation is committed to decarbonization as a global industry,” Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, said in a statement. “We don’t need persuading, or punitive measures like taxes to motivate change. In fact, taxes siphon money from the industry that could support emissions’ reducing investments in fleet renewal and clean technologies. To reduce emissions, we need governments to implement a constructive policy framework that, most immediately, focuses on production incentives for SAF and delivering the Single European Sky.”

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Electric Air Taxi Companies Want to be Included in Infrastructure Bill

Lilium and Tavistock Development Company formed a partnership with the City of Orlando in November 2020 to build an eVTOL network in Flordia including a vertiport at Lake Nona. (Lilium)

Air taxi companies are calling on Congress to include eligibility for electric aircraft charging infrastructure in the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being negotiated by Congress and the White House.

In a July 13 letter addressed to Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Kevin McCarthy, 19 companies asked for consideration as negotiations of the bill progress.

“Both Congress and the Administration correctly recognized the need to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure to reduce transportation emissions and improve mobility,” the letter states. “Many communities, airports and companies plan to incorporate electric aircraft as part of their green transportation strategies. We, therefore, respectfully request that infrastructure legislation include eligibility for the deployment of electric aircraft charging infrastructure.”

The companies who signed onto the letter include Joby Aviation, Lilium Aviation, AECOM, Ampaire, Archer, Beta Technologies, Bye Aerospace, Ferrovial Vertiports, Five Alpha, Eviation, Eve Urban Air Mobility, MagniX, Overair, Pipistrel, Skyports, Tavistock Development Company, the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, and Wisk Aero. While some of these companies are developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, other companies involved are creating eVTOL infrastructure.

The first eVTOL aircraft could receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as soon as 2023 and companies like Joby and Lilium have expressed interest in deploying commercial launches in 2024.

“While ground-based electric vehicles are already in the market, up to zero-emission aircraft should be widely available to move travelers and freight within the next few years,” the letter states. “Aviation electrification reduces sector emissions, enables new use cases and allows for infrastructure sites closer to where people live and work allowing for urban and regional flight options in congested cities and underserved rural communities.”

The letter stresses the importance of charging infrastructure in the success of the air taxi industry’s goals.

“To make zero-emission, high-speed urban and regional air mobility a real transportation option, it is critical that electrification and charging infrastructure funding and financing programs include aviation application eligibility,” the letter states.

So far, the majority of infrastructure-related activity in the eVTOL industry has been occurring privately through industry investments and partnerships. Some of the companies who signed onto the letter have formed these partnerships. Lilium and Tavistock Development Company formed a partnership with the City of Orlando in November 2020 to build an eVTOL network in Florida including a vertiport at Lake Nona. Eve Urban Air Mobility and Skyports also have a previous partnership together to develop eVTOL operations. Joby Aviation announced an infrastructure partnership in June with REEF Technology and Neighborhood Property Group, who are not included in the letter.

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SmartSky Moves Closer to Launch of New IFC Network with FCC Certification

SmartSky Networks has received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval for its next-generation air-to-ground in-flight connectivity network. (SmartSky Networks)

SmartSky Networks has received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification on the ground-based remote radiohead for its next-generation in-flight connectivity (IFC) air-to-ground network.

FCC certification is the latest milestone achieved for SmartSky on its journey to the commercial launch of its IFC network later this year. SmartSky’s network, which the company first started rolling out in 2015, features spectrum reuse, advanced beamforming, and 60 MHz of spectrum to enable in-flight internet.

“SmartSky received its first FCC certification for the remote radiohead in 2016.  Subsequent development of our network’s terrestrial and airborne hardware and software components to optimally deploy SmartSky’s network required an update to the remote radiohead software and FCC certification of the radiohead with the updated software prior to commercial operation of the network,” SmartSky David Helfgott told Avionics International.  “Additionally, the FCC certification permits us to update the existing terrestrial infrastructure and deploy new infrastructure to increase coverage without risk of certification delays.”

The FCC certification comes following the opening of the southeastern portion of the network in June that covers a large contiguous portion of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Helfgott said this is one of several geographic regions that will become operational this year, although operators have not yet started using the operational portion in the southeastern region yet.

According to Helfgott, the fully operational network—which will provide IFC coverage throughout U.S. airspace—is on track to become available next year.

“With existing tower and terrestrial network infrastructure already in place, we expect to have coverage for 80-90 percent of flight hours by the end of 2021 and full CONUS coverage in 2022. Completion of the network does require the installation of equipment at new towers; outside the just announced southeast coverage zone, all existing towers are largely complete,” Helfgott said.

There are a total of 250 IFC cellular towers enabling the entire SmartSky IFC network throughout the U.S. One way the company says its network is unique when compared to others is through the use of virtualized evolved packet cores across all 250 towers. As opposed to the traditional physical node-based packet cores used in most networks, by going virtual, SmartSky has more flexibility related to the way voice and data services traffic can be managed across its network.

SmartSky has also continued to establish new industry partnerships in preparation for the launch of the network later this year. In June, Avionica formed a new partnership with SmartSky to enable the concurrent transfer of critical operational telematic data for aircraft by pairing their onboard data collection systems with Skytelligence, a web-based platform that aviation companies can use to develop their smartphone and tablet-based applications and share flight, weather, and operations data. That same month, Honeywell Aerospace was confirmed as a new value-added reseller of SmartSky’s IFC service to U.S.-based business aviation operators.

“Deployment of the FCC-certified tower radios for our network, coupled with the availability of our shipset products (high-performance antennas, aircraft radios) gives our service-partners and dealers great confidence to begin accepting orders,” Helfgott said. “We are already seeing increased interest and demand with the business aviation markets rebounding ahead of schedule in 2021. The timing is great as we plan for our commercial launch, and to be the leading catalyst for the advent of the connected aircraft market.”

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