Skytrac has become the latest value-added manufacturer (VAM) for the Iridium Certus 9810 modem, under an expanded partnership with the satellite network provider that will see the development of a new modem and satellite communications terminal.
Certus is Iridium’s next-generation multiservice satellite communications platform designed to provide connectivity to multiple industries, especially maritime and aviation operators. The service will provide support for commercial airliners, and also lower cost hardware for general aviation fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.
Other VAMs for Certus aviation terminals include Avitek, Collins Aerospace (ARINC), GoGo, Honeywell Aerospace, Navicom Aviation, and Satcom Direct.
Under their expanded partnership, Skytrac will redesign the Iridium Certus 9810 modem so that it can be integrated into their SDL-350 2-MCU satellite terminal.
“The 9810 modem is being redesigned by Skytrac for [size, weight, and power] SWaP optimizations. This redesigned modem will be built into the satellite transceiver,” a representative for Skytrac told Avionics International. “When purchasing the SDL-350, it would have the Skytrac-optimized 9810 modem embedded into it. Because the SDL-350 also comes with embedded Wi-Fi connectivity and cellular card modules, operators would gain a full-scale connectivity system with the purchase of the SDL-350.”
Skytrac expects to introduce the new SDL-350 to the aviation market next year, with the terminal expected to be capable of enabling “EO/IR imaging, telemedicine, Timely Recovery of Flight Data (TRFD), large file transfers, credit card processing, GADSS, and more,” the company said in a Sept. 23 press release. The SDL-350 will be capable of achieving globally available broadband transfer rates of 352 kbps both to and from the aircraft.
The Canadian manufacturer expects to see demand for the new technology across multiple segments of aviation, primarily from fixed-wing operators. SDL-350 is being developed to support cockpit connectivity, and “is not intended for widescale In-Flight Entertainment applications although small scale VIP Connectivity will be enabled for business aviation purposes,” the representative said.
Outside of the SDL-350, operators looking to adopt Iridium Certus through Skytrac would also need to equip their aircraft with the company’s active low gain antenna to handle the increased bandwidth provided by the Iridium Next constellation and Certus.
“Since the SDL-350 was designed with a 2MCU form factor, we expect heavy adoption from the fixed-wing market. The upgraded bandwidth will allow Skytrac to develop new and custom applications depending on operator use-cases. Military and government applications such as remote surveillance and reconnaissance with UAVs, telemedicine applications for EMS, [Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System] GADSS, black box streaming, and credit card processing for airlines, and VIP connectivity for business aviation are all applications that the SDL-350 will enable,” the representative said.
Skytrac is also a VAM for the mid-band Iridium Certus 9770 modem, capable of enabling 22 kbps from and 88 kbps to the aircraft. The modem is being developed as part of the Iridium Certus ISAT-200A-08, capable of supporting SATCOM voice and messaging, flight data acquisition and monitoring as well as real-time aircraft health and usage monitoring.
ISAT-200A-08, an updated version of the ISAT-200A, will also add new capabilities over its predecessor to include VoIP communications, image transfer, graphical weather, and medical data transfer.
Skytrac is also an Iridium Certus Service Provider.
“Iridium Certus ushers in a new era of globally available connectivity for operators looking for higher bandwidth satellite communication solutions,” said Jan van der Heul, Skytrac’s Vice President of Sales. “We’re excited to introduce the two new terminals to the market and look forward to working with operators around the world to enhance their operations through the capabilities we provide.”
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The GE9X engine, which will power the Boeing 777X, has been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
GE Aviation has delivered eight GE9X engines and two spares to Seattle for testing in Boeing’s 777x test planes, according to a Sept. 28 press release. The engine manufacturer is also continuing its ground testing on the GE9X engine to achieve Extended Operations (ETOPS) approval and maturation tests to help engineers prepare to support the engine when it enters into service.
Certification of the GE9X comes eight months after Boeing completed the first flight of the 777X on Jan. 25. Lufthansa is the launch airline for the 777X, which Boeing expects to enter into service by 2022.
To be certified, the GE9X test engines completed just under 5,000 hours and 8,000 cycles. A total of nine test engines were included in the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 33 certification.
“This milestone has been accomplished thanks to the tremendous efforts of the GE9X team and our partners,” Karl Sheldon, GE9X program general manager, said in a statement. “The GE9X engine has been through a rigorous and thorough certification and testing process. We are pleased with the performance of the engine, which has been validated through extensive ground and flight testing. We are excited to deliver a mature, state-of-the-art product to operators around the world.”
The GE9X touts lower specific fuel consumption (SFC) and less smog-causing emissions than others in its class, according to GE. To date, over 600 GE9X engines have already been ordered.
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ZeroAvia has completed the first hydrogen-fueled commercial-grade aircraft flight using their Piper M-class six-seater turboprop .
The UK government has funded ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-fueled program through their Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Program. This flight was also part of the HyFlyer project, which aims to decarbonize medium range small passenger aircraft.
The flight took place on Sept. 24 at the company’s research and development facility in Cranfield, England, with the Piper M-class completing taxi, takeoff, a full pattern circuit, and landing.
“Developing aircraft that create less pollution will help the UK make significant headway in achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Nadhim Zahawi, UK business and industry minister, said in a statement. “Backed by Government funding, this flight is another exciting milestone in ZeroAvia’s project. It shows that technologies to clean up air travel are now at our fingertips – with enormous potential to build back better and drive clean economic growth in the UK.”
In July ZeroAvia completed its first phase of test flights for a hydrogen-fueled commercial-grade aircraft. The more than 10 test flights completed used a Piper Malibu Mirage turboprop modified with a 300-kilowatt (kW) battery electric power system along with a customized cockpit display and computer.
ZeroAvia and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) have also created at Hydrogen Airport Refueling Ecosystem (HARE) at Cranfield Airport. The hydrogen production and refueling facility is also a first and offers a microcosm of what a hydrogen airport ecosystem will look like.
“It’s hard to put into words what this means to our team, but also for everybody interested in zero-emission flight. While some experimental aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a power source, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could be boarding a truly zero-emission flight very soon,” ZeroAvia CEO Val Miftakhov said.
The industry is increasingly looking towards hydrogen power to achieve a zero-emission aircraft on their way to net-zero emissions goals. Last week, Airbus released three designs for its hydrogen-fueled aircraft.
According to the press release, ZeroAvia’s successful flight could also assist in the post-pandemic recovery since the hydrogen-electric powertrain will have lower fuel and maintenance costs than traditional jet-fuel powered aircraft.
During an interview with Avionics International in July, Miftakhov said the company’s goal is to develop a certifiable zero emissions hydrogen-electric turboprop by 2023.
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Check out the Sept. 27 edition of What’s Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.
Boeing entered into a patent and technology license with Florida-based Healthe Inc. under which Healthe will manufacture an ultraviolet (UV) wand designed to sanitize airplane interiors, according to a Sept. 22 press release.
Boeing designed and developed the UV wand as part of the company’s Confident Travel Initiative (CTI) that has been providing a new web-based portal to educate and answer passenger questions and concerns about air travel health risks related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“The UV wand is designed to be more effective than similar devices. It quickly disinfects surfaces on an airplane and further strengthens other layers of protection for passengers and crew,” Mike Delaney, who leads Boeing’s CTI efforts, said of the new wand.
“Boeing spent six months transforming an idea for the wand into a working model, and Healthe will now take that prototype and make it available to the world at large,” he added.
The UV wand uses 222 nanometer UVC light, which Boeing says it has found to be capable of inactivating pathogens effectively.
Using the self-contained apparatus that resembles a carry-on suitcase, crews can pass UV light over high-touch surfaces, sanitizing everywhere the light reaches. The UV wand is particularly effective in compact spaces and sanitizes a flight deck in less than 15 minutes.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) have established a new partnership to enhance cybersecurity in international aviation. According to a Sept. 24 press release, the partnership is focused on “tackling the threats to flight safety posed by the increased digitalization of aircraft and interconnectivity of aviation systems.”
BSI President Arne Schönbohm signed a memorandum of cooperation with EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky last week to solidify the new partnership.
“Flying is generally considered the safest form of transport. Considering the increasing digitalization and connectivity in aviation, cyber security is a key factor to ensure that this remains the case. We can only have a successful digital takeoff in aviation if information security is on board from the very beginning,” Schönbohm said.
In the agreement, the BSI and EASA agree to exchange relevant information on information security incidents and threats and to cooperate on managing cyber attacks and information security incidents within their respective areas of responsibility.
“Cyber security is an essential component to ensure flight safety. We are confident that this cooperation will help to increase our joint awareness of cybersecurity threats and the best practices for managing them,” Ky said.
On Sept. 22, officials representing EASA and FAA participated in a webcast focusing on each of their latest cybersecurity advancements and upcoming policy updates.
CAE launched a new digital community platform, Airside, for pilots with resources geared towards career and training tools that they hope will provide assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“CAE is building a strong pilot community on Airside and providing the information and tools required to get through these challenging times,” Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions, said in a statement.
In August, Delta announced furloughs for over 2,000 pilots starting October 1, according to reporting from Business Insider. Delta also gave early retirement and bailouts to 1,800 pilots during the pandemic. American Airlines had to lay off 17,500 workers, including some pilots, according to reporting from USA Today.
Airside was created after surveying 3,000 pilots in April. The platform provides users with a resume builder, career section, articles, and podcasts.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) will host a weeklong slate of events throughout the week of Oct. 5-9, 2020.
“This year, it’s more important than ever for our industry to come together, recognize innovative leadership, and seize this moment to strive for new heights,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We’re going to gather virtually, learn together and plan for the future.”
The program includes two, first-time virtual events: a dedicated Virtual Safety Week, honoring and further advancing leadership in safety, a core industry value, and also a designated day to honor young business aviation leaders from across the industry who are making a difference.
Check out the full agenda here.
NVIDIA is hosting the latest edition of its NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) Oct. 5-9, 2020. The embedded processing supplier uses these events to give developers, researchers, engineers, and innovators a “deeper understanding of how artificial intelligence will transform their work.” according to the company.
Check out the full agenda here.
A multi-year agreement between OnTime Networks, a producer of modular gigabit ethernet switches, and Airbus for the use of OnTimeNetworks’ airborne-grade ethernet switch to be used in-flight testing.
The CM-4012F0-AER 12 Port Gigabit Ethernet switch will be used when testing high-speed data acquisition system applications. The CM-4012F0-AER is designed for high altitude, extreme shock, vibrations, harsh climate, and dust and water exposure.
“This contract is a strong example of our long-standing relationships and continued support of the critical flight test industry,” Øyvind Holmeide, CEO of OnTime Networks, said in a statement. “It reinforces our commitment to providing the most advanced and reliable networks and time synchronization solutions for high-speed flight test instrumentation system applications.”
The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and Ansys, a simulation software company, have teamed up to streamline workflow for validating system models for hypersonic vehicles used by the United States government, according to a Sept. 22 press release. The partnership will cut down on taxpayer costs and development time.
The development of hypersonic aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles can be extremely costly, running as much as “$100 million dollars for a single prototype flight test,” according to the press release. These costs have slowed down initiatives by the Defense Department and NASA in the production of high-speed hypersonic aircraft, spaceships, and missiles.
The crux of this partnership relies on using Ansys’ hypersonic systems models in UTA’s state-of-the-art arc jet hypersonic wind tunnel. Ansys’ simulation solution is aimed at developing hypersonic technologies for projects ranging from thermal protection systems in spacecraft to combustion technology for hypersonic travel.
“Testing and validating physics-based component models within a wind tunnel that operates at hypersonic speeds and temperatures delivers a major technological advantage for our mutual customers, driving faster development of cost-effective solutions,” Luca Maddalena, professor of Aerospace Engineering and director of the UTA’s Aerodynamics Research Center, said in a statement. “The university’s arc jet will help validate Ansys’ software codes for hypersonic applications and power leading-edge research in aerothermodynamics, scramjet propulsion, ablation, and much more.”
AirMap, a digital airspace and automation company serving the drone economy, received a $1 million contract to provide unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) traffic management (UTM) to the Air Force’s Agility Prime program, according to a September 22 press release.
Agility Prime, which launched in April, is an Air Force program focused on supporting commercial investment of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs).
The contract, given by AFWERX, is a $1 million Direct to Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award. It will allow Agility Prime to use AirMap’s unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform. AirMap platforms allow airspace authorities to safely fly drones in low altitude airspace.
“AirMap is proud to partner with the USAF to provide industry-leading UTM services for advanced air mobility operations. We are excited to support all of the Agility Prime participants as they build, test, and bring their eVTOLs to market,” said Larry Berkin, GM of the AirMap Defense Group, an AirMap business unit focused on providing mission-critical technologies to the US Department of Defense.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that drone pilots are now able to access 133 more air traffic facilities in controlled airspace, according to a Sept. 24 press release. The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system, an approval system for drone pilots requesting to fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace, now covers 81 percent of eligible airspace.
Controlled airspaces, like airports, require access to fly below 400 feet. Using the LAANC system, drone pilots now have access to 726 airports and 537 facilities, according to the press release. All pilots must still operate under the FAA’s small drone rule.
The addition of 133 additional traffic facilities to the LAANC database was spurred by feedback within the drone community.
On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, we feature an interactive roundtable session from the second installment of the Global Connected Aircraft Summit’s 2020 “Cabin Chats” series that occurred Sept. 22-24.
Daniel Iriarte, a member of the Onboard Product-WiFi/IFE team at Aeromexico, joined a panel discussion moderated by Mark Holmes, editorial director for Via Satellite, and other guests including Intelsat Principal Product Marketing Manager for Aero, Khali Heath, and Director of Aero Products, Mark Richman. Iriarte took questions from all three panelists and the audience, while also engaging in a unique discussion with one of the three companies that provides in-flight Internet service across their aircraft.
The discussion provides some unique insight into how Intelsat will move forward with its plans to close an acquisition of Gogo’s commercial aviation IFC business, while Iriarte also provides some perspective on why his airline is keeping the Wi-Fi service active across its entire fleet despite the economic impact of COVID-19 forcing a major internal restructuring.
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Japan Airlines (JAL) has established a new agreement with Matternet to evaluate future opportunities for the use of drones to provide healthcare deliveries, the latest in the carrier’s efforts to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for a new style of flight operations.
Matternet, a U.S.-based end-to-end UAS logistics company launched in 2017, has enabled more than 10,000 commercial revenue drone flights and has separate regulatory approvals to conduct beyond visual line of sight operations (BLVOS) in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) airspace. Under a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with JAL, Matternet will conduct a joint research project aimed at eventually deploying a full-scale drone delivery service, according to a Sept. 23 press release.
“Japan Airlines is eager to explore the future of its air logistics business with the implementation of drone delivery,” JAL Tomohiro Nishihata Managing Executive Officer of Innovation said in a statement. “We aim to contribute to improving healthcare and solving logistics issues through our partnership with Matternet.”
The end-to-end drone logistics system provided by Matternet includes its M2 Drone, ground control station and cloud-based data management platform. Their software is capable of receiving customer requests and generating routes for new drone flights while monitoring and controlling other assets.
Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet said their partnership will begin with demonstrations of drone deliveries in Tokyo. JAL’s partnership with Matternet follows a number of other initiatives the airline has taken toward advancing the use of drones for commercial delivery operations throughout Japan.
A joint announcement published by JAL, KDDI Corp., East Japan Railway, Weathernews Inc., and Terra Drone Corp. describes their plan to demonstrate drone delivery services for Tokyo Metropolitan Government agencies. Those companies have formed a consortium tasked with studying the feasibility drones delivering pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies using fixed-wing unmanned aircraft supplied by Terra Drone. Additionally, Terra Drone will supply its Terra UTM platform to enable drone traffic management including flight plan generation and communications to operators.
“Due to the lack of delivery personnel and the impact of the global pandemic, the necessity to respond to changes in the logistics industry has become real and the use of drones may help realize automatic, contactless delivery services,” JAL said in an Aug. 31 press release. The consortium will also integrate smartphone applications and ground base stations into the entire concept of operations, while also evaluating the use of drones for food deliveries to offices and apartment buildings as well.
Prior to the August announcement, JAL embarked on another drone delivery testing initiative with Terra Drone to do full-scale flight demonstrations in the city of Yabu, Japan. JAL has also expressed interest in the future use of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as well, after signing an agreement with Bell and Sumitomo Corp. to create an on-demand air mobility network, as well as work to build the infrastructure and foster the regulatory environment required for the service to take hold.
Showing how serious it is about future drone delivery ambitions, JAL has also launched its new Air Mobility Operation Academy (JAMOA). The program will provide education and training for future UAV pilots, with JAL describing it as the first “known program in Japan to offer the same flight knowledge taught to actual pilots of a commercial airline.”
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Avionics developers are now able to use military level, safety-critical cryptography to deliver secure communications through DDC-I’s Deos Real Time Operating System (RTOS).
DDC-I, a global supplier of real-time operating systems, and woflSSL, a TLS cryptography provider, have made a cryptography library and certification kit certifiable to DO-178C Level A, according to a Sept. 21 press release. This means avionics developers will have a commercial off the shelf (COTS) product that meets federal information processing standards, FIPS 140-2, and can be used to support safety-critical RTOS applications.
“The integration of Deos and wolfCrypt should prove very attractive to avionics developers who require a secure, out-of-the-box, safety-critical solution that comes ready to certify, complete with DAL A evidence,” Larry Stefonic, CEO and Founder at wolfSSL, said in a statement. “We have a very strong working relationship with DDC-I and find Deos to be quite straightforward to work with. Together, I believe we offer our joint customers a world-class platform that features best-in-class RTOS and security.”
According to DDC-I, Deos can be used in air data computers, air data inertial reference units, cockpit video, displays and instrumentation, flight management systems, and engine management.
“Deos is a safety-critical RTOS that is inherently secure with its time and space partitioning and its safety-critical architectural design, and any customers that require extended security features can now leverage the collaboration between DDC-I and wolfSSL to support their security needs,” Greg Rose, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at DDC-I, told Avionics International.
Some encrypted systems require security packages to communicate with each other, the integration with wolfCrypt would facilitate that connection, Rose said. Avionics or ground systems that require “Secure boot, Secure Update, and Secure Communications” would be able to use this encryption, according to DDC-I.
Together, Deos and wolfCrypt, can be used for anything from military systems to Urban Air Mobility or avionics systems featured on commercial airliners. DDC-I and wolfSSL already have several joint customers that are using the wolfSSL technology in conjunction with DDC-I’s Deos Safety-Critical RTOS, Rose said.
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California green energy startup Universal Hydrogen has established a partnership with Redmond, Washington-based magniX to supply the electric propulsion system as part of a retrofit conversion kit for the De Havilland Canada DHC8-Q300.
Universal Hydrogen describes itself as an end-to-end logistics company, lead by a team of former UTC executives that left the company after the Raytheon merger including Paul Eremenko and Jason Chua. Their concept of operations envisions using the global intermodal freight network to eliminate the need for infrastructure and provide hydrogen power for passenger-carrying regional airline flights in the near future.
The retrofit conversion kit being developed by Universal Hydrogen for the Dash 8 is part of their goal to promote near term adoption of hydrogen power for commercial aircraft. Under the partnership with magniX, they have now secured the motors, inverters, and motor controllers as part of their full hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.
Rather than trying to develop the infrastructure required to store, develop and distribute hydrogen, Universal Hydrogen has developed a specialized capsule that converts hydrogen to dry freight enabling transportation from the point of consumption to airports where aircraft need refueling. Their design takes advantage of the concept of intermodal freight, which uses containers that can be transported through a variety of vehicles including ships, semi-trailer trucks, and trains.
“magniX is responsible for the 2MW-class electric propulsion systems,” magniX CEO Roei Ganzarski told Avionics International.
Ganzarski said the use of hydrogen power as compared to a lithium-ion battery can enable the use of the cleaner energy source on larger aircraft.
“magniX provides the electric propulsion systems that take electricity as input, and provide propeller torque as output. From our propulsion perspective, there is no difference between the source of the electricity. With that said, the hydrogen fuel cell technology is enabling the electrification of much larger aircraft like the Dash-8 or ATR42 which is very exciting as this opens up a much larger operational envelope,” Ganzarski said.
magniX already has leadership ability to provide electric power on smaller turboprop aircraft, including the eBeaver that started flying with Harbour Air in December 2019, and the eCaravan that started flying in May 2020.
The company’s 750-horsepower Magni500 propulsion system powered an eCaravan flight in May for a 30-minute flight, climbing to 2,500 feet. According to Ganzarski, the system they will provide to Universal Hydrogen features a power electronics suite capable of collecting data about its performance for analytical purposes.
Ganzarski said he does not envision the need for specialized avionics or flight instruments to be developed as part of the Dash 8’s hydrogen power retrofit conversion kit.
“We anticipate that many of the same metrics that we monitor today for existing engines and Jet A will remain. For example, we will display various temperature, pressure, speed, and fuel metrics,” Ganzarski said. “In the case of our hydrogen-electric powertrain, we’ll also monitor the dynamics of the powertrain, to ensure we can appropriately identify issues and raise alerts. To mitigate the formation of contrails, we plan to incorporate atmospheric condition sensing capabilities into our system. This will enable decisions of when to store the fuel cell water vapor emissions in onboard tanks, and when to release them.”
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Airbus has unveiled three climate neutral zero-emission commercial aircraft concepts that will use hydrogen as their primary fuel source, according to a Sept. 21 press release. The three concepts, codenamed ZEROe, could be put into service by 2035.
This move by Airbus is an attempt to reduce the impact of commercial aviation on the world’s climate. The three zero-emission aircraft designs aim to decarbonize the aviation industry and could provide a solution in meeting the industry’s climate-neutral targets.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), commercial aviation is responsible for 2-3 percent of global carbon emissions. In 2009 the industry established three targets to address climate change: improvement in fuel efficiency of 1.5 percent per year from 2009 to 2020, cap on net aviation carbon dioxide emissions, and reduction in net aviation carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by 2050.
Airbus’ turbofan design would be suited for longer flights and more passengers. It has a range of over 2,000 nautical miles and can hold 120-200 passengers. The turbofan design uses a modified gas-turbine engine that runs on hydrogen through combustion. The liquid hydrogen is stored and distributed through tanks behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
For shorter distances and less people, Airbus created the turboprop design. The turboprop design can hold up to 100 passengers and go more than 1,000 nautical miles. It is also powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines.
The “blended-wing body” concept changes the appearance of the aircraft merging the main body with the wings. The range and capacity of this design are similar to the turbofan.
“This is a historic moment for the commercial aviation sector as a whole and we intend to play a leading role in the most important transition this industry has ever seen,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said in a statement. “The concepts we unveil today offer the world a glimpse of our ambition to drive a bold vision for the future of zero-emission flight. I strongly believe that the use of hydrogen – both in synthetic fuels and as a primary power source for commercial aircraft – has the potential to significantly reduce aviation’s climate impact.”
In order for Airbus to make these concepts a reality, airports will need “significant” hydrogen transport and refueling systems to support day-to-day operations, according to the press release. Airbus also states they will need the government support for funding of research and technology as well as the ability to retire older, less environmentally friendly aircraft sooner.
Airbus is also working on making their helicopters more eco-friendly. According to a press release, Tomasz Krysinski, head of research and innovation at Airbus Helicopters, hydrogen technologies in helicopters could be available in 2029. However, Airbus is working on many other innovations besides hydrogen power like “eco-mode,” which would pause and restart a gas turbine in flight on twin-engine helicopters or CityAirbus, which is a fully electrically powered demonstrator.
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During the first day of the Global Connected Aircraft Summit’s second “Cabin Chats” web series, cybersecurity experts from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) came together to discuss risk management and upcoming policy changes for stakeholders across the connected aircraft ecosystem.
Peter Skaves, Advanced Avionics Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor (CSTA) at FAA, said the biggest threat from the standpoint of the FAA is access points via public networks. The FAA’s assessment is that the cybersecurity risks for the e-enabled architecture and infrastructure of the aircraft cannot physically be hacked while flying.
“Every part in the airplane, every software part, has a unique electronic identifier and the only time we can load up these software parts is on a maintenance action when the planes are parked at the gate,” Skaves said. “Once the maintenance action is done, the hardware interlocks are not available for any additional software updates. There is no room for you to come over here and go rogue on these displays or anywhere in the airplane. There is no physical way you can do that.”
In recent years, professional hackers from firms such as IOACTIVE have demonstrated their ability to hack into a commercial airplane’s satellite internet modem, although the only such hacking that has been demonstrated impacted passenger mobile devices connected to the in-flight Internet with no ability to affect safety critical avionics systems. During the web-based version of Black Hat 2020 last month, Oxford PhD candidate and cybersecurity researcher James Pavur, demonstrated how his team was able to use about $300 in home television equipment and specialized software to enable “satellite eavesdropping” on in-flight passenger Internet data.
The FAA and EASA are continuing to expand industry guidance, education and regulations to prevent cybersecurity risks in the air and on the ground.
Cyrille Rosay, a senior cybersecurity expert at EASA, explained how the agency has amended its cybersecurity requirements for commercial aircraft, helicopters, and jet engines. The amendments were originally proposed in 2019. EASA’s “Decision 2020/006/R,” published in July, issues amendments for product certification and continued airworthiness to already existing certification specifications (CS) and acceptable means of compliance (AMC). These regulations do not yet apply to unmanned aircraft.
Decision 2020/006/R aims to protect aircraft against threats to on-board electronic networks and systems. The amendments in this decision affect everything from general requirements on systems and equipment function in AMC 23.2510 to APU Control Systems and information security protection in CS-APU 90. The new amendments are to become effective in January 2021, according to information presented by Rosay.
Skaves said that the FAA plans to publish an advisory circular to recognize standards for Transport Category Airplanes. The advisory circular will be combined with RTCA industry-accepted standards.
A slide in Skaves presentation noted, “The FAA plans to publish an advisory circular as one means but not the only means to recognize these [Aircraft Systems Information Security/Protection] ASISP industry standards for Transport Category Airplanes.”
Juan Anton, cybersecurity in aviation & emerging risks section manager at EASA, discussed how the agency is also working on managing cybersecurity risks by organizations. Anton explained how EASA regulatory framework is focused on preventing accidents, where managing cybersecurity risks focuses on safety risks that result from intentional acts.
“Our rules have always been focused on safety…We put safety layers to stop something from happening, but we assume that it happens just by chance when all things align. We never thought about somebody trying to exploit those vulnerabilities or flaws,” Anton said.
Anton said the solution would be an Information Security Management System (ISMS) and reporting of information security incidents that may impact aviation safety. The ISMS would identify areas that would be vulnerable to cyber risks, identify cyber risks resulting from its interfaces with other organizations, perform information security risk assessments, and ensure personnel has the skills to perform their tasks.
EASA is currently working on an ISMS and predicts it will be adopted by the European Commission in 2022.
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