What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 25, 2021

April 26th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 25, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 25, 2021

Check out the April 25 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.

 

Business & GA 

Bye Aerospace Unveils New Electric eFlyer 800

Bye said they have assembled their first aircraft and others are also on their way. The eFlyer 800 could start production and delivery at the end of 2022 or into 2023. (Bye Aerospace)

Bye Aerospace announced the eFlyer 800, an all-electric twin turbo-prop class airplane that will be able to seat eight people, according to an April 22 announcement.

Bye Aerospace CEO George Bye said they decided to develop an electric aircraft that was geared toward the regional and charter aircraft market but provided the service at a reduced cost and zero CO2 emissions.

The eFlyer 800 will have a 500 nm range with an operational ceiling of 35,000 feet, and 320-knot cruise speed. It will use two wing-mounted electric motors with dual redundant motor windings and quad-redundant battery packs.

 

 

 

Pilatus Chairman to Retire This Summer

Pilatus Aircraft Chairman Oscar Schwenk will be stepping down from his post this summer, as the Swiss business jet manufacturer looks to build on the results they produced last year under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have come through a challenging year with flying colours. The operational management team under CEO Markus Bucher has done outstanding work. Surviving the corona year with such a good result is proof that Pilatus is a very healthy company with a sustainable strategy which is fully supported by all. I have therefore decided to hand over the office of Chairman of the Board of Directors to new hands from summer 2021 – now is the right time,” Schwenk said in an April 22 press release.

In 2020, Pilatus delivered a total of 129 aircraft and generated a slightly better operating income than 2019, finishing the year above 155 million Swiss francs.

 

 

 

 

Commercial

Boeing Chief Financial Officer to Retire in July

Greg Smith will retire from his position as chief financial officer of Boeing in July. (Boeing)

Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith has decided to retire from the company, effective July 9, 2021. Boeing is conducting a search for Mr. Smith’s successor, according to an April 20 press release.

“I could not be prouder of the 140,000 people who work hard every day to deliver on our promises to all stakeholders and live our foundational values. With the company well positioned going forward, the timing is right for me personally to begin a new chapter outside of Boeing. I will always cherish and be grateful for the experiences I have had, and the relationships I have made, in my thirty years at Boeing,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith was appointed chief financial officer in 2011 and later served in expanded roles as the executive vice president of Finance, Enterprise Performance and Strategy, and more recently executive vice president of Enterprise Operations, Finance and Sustainability.

Boeing has also made the decision to extend their standard retirement age of 65 to 70 for President and CEO David Calhoun, who has been in the role since Jan. 13, 2020.

“Under Dave’s strong leadership, Boeing has effectively navigated one of the most challenging and complex periods in its long history,” Boeing Chairman Larry Kellner said in a statement. “Given the substantial progress Boeing has made under Dave’s leadership, as well as the continuity necessary to thrive in our long-cycle industry, the Board has determined that it is in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders to allow the Board and Dave the flexibility for him to continue in his role beyond the company’s standard retirement age.”

 

 

 

Delta Places Order for 25 Airbus A321neo Aircraft

Photo courtesy of Airbus

(Airbus)

Delta Air Lines finalized a firm order for 25 A321neo (New Engine Option) aircraft. This is in addition to Delta’s 2017 order of 100 A321neo aircraft. These planes will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines. Additionally, Delta has accelerated delivery of two A350-900 aircraft as well as two A330-900neo aircraft.

“With our customers ready to reclaim the joy of travel, this agreement positions Delta for growth while accounting for the planned retirements of older narrowbody aircraft in our fleet, reducing our carbon footprint, increasing efficiency and elevating the customer experience,” Mahendra Nair, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Fleet Strategy, said in an Aril 22 press release. “We thank Airbus for their steadfast partnership during the pandemic and look forward to working with them as we take delivery of the A321neo as well as our accelerated A350 and A330-900neo deliveries.”

Delta’s A321neos are being powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines.

 

 

 

OUR&D Invests $50k in SAF

The non-profit organization OUR&D announced a $50,000 grant opportunity for early-stage research into sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), according to an April 22 release.

The request for proposals (RFP) will take submissions for eight weeks on proof of concept ideas for SAF that need further development, according to the release. The company will then review the RFPs over six weeks before announcing a winner.

“We are pleased to be able to make this funding available to scientists who are working on one of the most important technological problems of our time,” Ethan Palay, President of OUR&D’s Board of Directors, said in a statement.“The science is clear, we must eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, and there is no clear path for the aviation industry to accomplish this goal.”

 

 

New Digital Glass Cockpit for HX50

(Hill Helicopters)

Hill Helicopters announced a new digital glass cockpit for the HX50 personal turbine helicopter, according to an April 21 release.

The Hill Digital Cockpit (HDC) integrates and complements iPad-based navigation and flight planning apps through a single control interface, according to the release. It uses high-definition synthetic vision, 21st-century connectivity, and clear instrument indications.

“We designed HX50 to simplify flight and give aspiring pilots the confidence they can fly,” Hill Helicopters President and CEO Jason Hill, said in a statement. “The VFR-optimized HDC is central to this objective. Electronic flight systems available today are generally designed for fixed wing aircraft and are poorly suited to the typical missions of VFR private helicopter operators. We designed a simple, elegant digital cockpit that blends aerospace integrity with the very best of automotive and industrial design to provide unparalleled improvements in situational awareness. This delivers a near effortless flying experience, simplifies training, delivers optimal pilot support and oversight, and most importantly, boosts safety by intelligently managing the information flow, which minimizes pilot workload and cognitive demand in all phases of flight.”

 

 

 

Connectivity

KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started rolling out Viasat in-flight connectivity across its Boeing 737-800 fleet. (KLM)

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started operations of its first Boeing 737-800 to feature in-flight connectivity (IFC) provided by Viasat, according to an

The Amsterdam-based airline is on schedule to equip it’s entire 737-800 fleet with Viasat IFC by the end of 2022, according to an April 22 press release. Viasat’s IFC service will be added to 18 total 737s operated by KLM.

Viasat first confirmed KLM’s selection of its latest satellite connectivity technology in a second-quarter 2020 earnings report. The service is initially being introduced in three packages that include free messaging, and two tiers of access to basic Internet services as well as an option for full video and audio streaming.

“On-board Wi-Fi is an important service that customers want to enjoy for the entire duration of their journey. KLM’s Internet service is already being used extensively on our intercontinental flights. Through this partnership with Viasat, we are ensuring that our customers can be online on European flights as well,” Boet Kreiken, EVP Customer Experience, said in the release.

Widerøe to Trial Inflight Dublin’s Wireless IFE System

(Widerøe)

Norwegian regional carrier, Widerøe, will begin operating flights with Inflight Dublin’s wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, Everhub, as part of a six-month trial.

Everhub is Inflight Dublin’s DO-160G certified portable server that can run off battery or aircraft power, and features browser-based content with removable SSD cards.

“Taking the first step into the inflight entertainment space is something we have wanted to do for some time and we are excited to be working with Inflight Dublin to further enhance our passengers’ journey. The Everhub solution is impressive and we look forward to offer this to our customers and benefit from the potential revenue opportunities the system has to offer,” Knut Anders Enoksen, Widerøe’s manager of its ancillary products and loyalty program.

 

 

 

 

Military 

Boeing Announces Delivery of Second F-15EX to USAF Ahead of Schedule

The second F-15EX arrived at Eglin Air Force Base to begin testing with the first EX that was delivered last month. (Boeing)

Boeing said that it delivered a second F-15EX fighter aircraft to the U.S. Air Force on Apr. 20—a delivery that the company said came “earlier than the contract requirement.”

Both of the F-15EXs are at Eglin AFB, Fla. for testing.

Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager, said in a statement on Apr. 21 that “along with state-of-the-art avionics and survivability suite, the new F-15EX includes almost 3 miles of high-speed digital data bus to enable open architecture, which will keep it evolving ahead of threats for decades.”

The Air Force is to buy 144 F-15EXs, which will feature an Open Mission Systems architecture to enable faster avionics upgrades.

In July last year, the Air Force awarded Boeing an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract for up to 200 F-15EXs. The Air Force said that the first F-15EX bases will be located in Florida and Oregon.

Airbus Completes Flight Testing for A400M Helicopter Refueling Certification

Airbus has completed the flight testing portion of its A400M new generation airlifter’s helicopter air-to-air re-fueling certification campaign.

The company’s defense division aims to achieve full helicopter air-to-air refueling certification later this year with the conclusion of all mandatory night operation trials, according to an April 19 press release. The flight tests, performed in coordination with the French Armament General Directorate (DGA), involved operations with two French Air Force H225M helicopters.

“The campaign took place in day and night conditions over the west coast of France at between 1,000 ft and 10,000 ft and flight speeds as low as 105 knots. During those flights, a total of 81 wet contacts and transfers of 6.5 tonnes of fuel were achieved, which included simultaneous refueling of two helicopters for the first time,” Airbus said in the release.

 

 

 

Embraer to Study Unmanned Aircraft System Development for Brazilian Air Force

Through a newly signed memorandum of understanding, Embraer and the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) have established a cooperation to study the necessary capabilities for the conceptual design and development of an advanced unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

“This is a unique opportunity for the Brazilian Air Force to deepen its studies in disruptive technologies that may cause an imbalance in current and future scenarios,” Brazilian Air Force Commander, Lieutenant-Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Junior, said in an April 23 press release. “In modern war, it is essential to use unmanned aerial platforms, operating alone or in conjunction with conventional aircraft. Such technology makes it possible to reduce costs and risks, without losing effectiveness in fulfilling the missions assigned to the Brazilian Air Force.”

The study will analyze and prioritize the operational and logistical elements related to the “development of a superior class unmanned aircraft system,” according to an April 23 press release.

“This study is of fundamental importance for the maintenance and expansion of Embraer’s competencies in the development of aerial defense systems with high technological content and great integration complexity,” Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer said in the release. “It is also an opportunity for the continuous development of new technologies and products for the FAB and the Ministry of Defense, aimed at expanding the operational capacity and guaranteeing national sovereignty. A major challenge for this aerial system will certainly be its integration and joint operation with other systems and aircraft, manned or unmanned.”

 

 

 

Japan’s RQ-4B Takes First Flight

Japan’s RQ-4B Global Hawk took its first flight in Palmdale, California on April 15, Northrop Grumman announced in a statement.

“The unarmed RQ-4B Global Hawk will provide Japan with on-demand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information supporting the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s missions of protecting borders, monitoring threats and providing humanitarian assistance in times of need,” Jane Bishop, vice president and general manager of autonomous systems at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement. “This successful first flight is a significant milestone in delivering Global Hawk to our Japanese allies.”

The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle that can deliver near real-time on demand data at all times.

 

Unmanned

Final Drone ID Rules Begin in US Airspace 

Final rules for drone remote identification (remote ID) and drone operations in the U.S. over people went into effect on Wednesday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The rules were unveiled in December 2020 and were originally supposed to take effect on March 10 but were delayed amid a regulatory freeze caused by the change in presidential administration.

“Today’s rules are an important first step in safely and securely managing the growing use of drones in our airspace, though more work remains on the journey to full integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS),” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “The Department looks forward to working with stakeholders to ensure that our UAS policies keep pace with innovation, ensure the safety and security of our communities, and foster the economic competitiveness of our country.”

According to the FAA, the remote ID rule establishes a new Part 89 in Title 14 of the code of Federal Aviation Regulations. Remote ID will work similar to a digital license plate and includes the UAS ID number, latitude, longitude, altitude, velocity, location information about the control station, emergency status, and time mark.

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New All-Electric eFlyer Aircraft from Bye Aerospace

April 24th, 2021   •   Comments Off on New All-Electric eFlyer Aircraft from Bye Aerospace   
New All-Electric eFlyer Aircraft from Bye Aerospace

The eFlyer 800 will have a 500 nm range, 35,000 feet ceiling, and 320-knot cruise speed. It will use two wing-mounted electric motors with dual redundant motor windings and quad-redundant battery packs. (Bye Aerospace)

Bye Aerospace announced the eFlyer 800, an all-electric twin turbo-prop class airplane that will be able to seat eight people, according to an April 22 announcement.

George Bye, Bye Aerospace CEO, said they decided to develop an electric aircraft that was geared toward the regional and charter aircraft market but provided the service at reduced cost and zero CO2 emissions.

“The background of what’s happening is a megatrend,” Bye told Avionics International. “It’s not something that is kind of a question mark anymore. Electric vehicles are expected. Today, all around the world, young people kind of look at us and they go, what do you mean internal combustion engine. They’re expecting electric.”

Bye Aerospace and Safran will work together on the electric powertrain for the eFlyer 800, according to Bye Aerospace. Bye said the aircraft will use lithium-sulfur battery cells. (Bye Aerospace)

The eFlyer 800 will have a 500 nm range with an operational ceiling of 35,000 feet, and 320-knot cruise speed. It will use two wing-mounted electric motors with dual redundant motor windings and quad-redundant battery packs.

“It’s a brand new design and the design is optimized to carry an electric propulsion system,” Bye said.  “The size, weight, speed, etc., is a turboprop equivalent. It has trouble prop speed and altitude at about a 500 nautical mile range with eight seats. And that is kind of the ideal sweet spot for the mission of what our classic regular legacy turboprops do every day.”

Bye Aerospace and Safran will work together on electric powertrain development for the eFlyer 800, according to Bye Aerospace. Bye said the aircraft will use lithium-sulfur battery cells.

The eFlyer 800 will also have the option for supplemental power through solar cells which would be used for things like cabin air conditioning or lighting on the ground.

“It would be a functional power source but solar power by itself is not enough to fly the plane,” Bye said.  “It is supplementary, which is great, but it’s more meaningful when you’re on the ground and not wanting to pull down from the battery while you’re while you’re sitting there loading and unloading passengers and you want to keep the cabin comfortable.”

Bye said they have assembled their first aircraft and others are also on their way. The eFlyer 800 could start production and delivery at the end of 2022 or into 2023. (Bye Aerospace)

Bye Aerospace is currently working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Part 23 certification for their eFlyer 2 and eFlyer 4. This aircraft will be certified in a similar way, however, there will be a different certification process for the electric propulsion system.

“It’s a classic design,” Bye said. “The wings and the fuselage are balanced. The aerodynamics are appropriate, very clean, very efficient, and the benefit of that is, this is a standard process of certifying an airplane. The electric propulsion system is new.”

Bye said that the use of batteries and electric motors on airplanes is not an entirely new concept, but that they have never been certified within a propulsion system.

“The motors and batteries are fairly well understood,” Bye said. “What we’re doing, that’s new and unique, is to use those as a primary propulsion system, and of course, that’s what we’re doing. That’s kind of pioneering work with the FAA to deliver a normal category Part 23 aircraft to our customers.”

Bye said they have assembled their first aircraft and others are also on their way. The eFlyer 800 could be ready to start production and delivery by the end of 2022.

“We have the assembly of our first airplane so number one underway right now,” Bye said. “Number two and three are on the way. After that, we should start production and delivery at the end of next year and into 2023.”

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KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity

April 23rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity   
KLM Starts Operating First 737 Flights with Viasat In-Flight Connectivity

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started rolling out Viasat in-flight connectivity across its Boeing 737-800 fleet. (KLM)

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has started operations of its first Boeing 737-800 to feature in-flight connectivity (IFC) provided by Viasat.

The Amsterdam-based airline is on schedule to equip it’s entire 737-800 fleet with Viasat IFC by the end of 2022, according to an April 22 press release. Viasat’s IFC service will be added to 18 total 737s operated by KLM.

Viasat first confirmed KLM’s selection of its latest satellite connectivity technology in a second-quarter 2020 earnings report. The service is initially being introduced in three packages that include free messaging, and two tiers of access to basic Internet services as well as an option for full video and audio streaming.

“KLM continues to invest in the onboard product so that we can continue to meet our customers’ expectations and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. On-board Wi-Fi is an important service that customers want to enjoy for the entire duration of their journey. KLM’s Internet service is already being used extensively on our intercontinental flights. Through this partnership with Viasat, we are ensuring that our customers can be online on European flights as well,” Boet Kreiken, EVP Customer Experience, said in the release.

The Dutch carrier has been featuring connectivity from Gogo’s 2Ku network and Panasonic Avionics separately across its 787 and A330 aircraft fleets for several years. According to KLM, 81 percent of their total intercontinental-range fleet are equipped with connectivity, and they expect to modify all of those aircraft with Internet access by the first quarter of 2022.

(KLM)

Viasat connectivity has been installed on two 737s operated by KLM so far, with the airline rolling out free-of-charge services during an initial trial period for passengers.

“KLM came to us seeking an IFC partner that could deliver new, affordable ways to engage and entertain passengers in-flight, with options that included streaming, scrolling, and staying connected,” Don Buchman, Viasat’s Vice President and general manager said in a statement. “In understanding their needs, we delivered a high-value IFC service that can support rising data requirements and the latest internet trends—anytime and on any short hop European flight.”

The wireless access points, modems antennas, and Wi-Fi portals featured on KLM’s 737s and E-195s connects passenger devices to Viasat’s Ka-band satellite network, including “KA-SAT, ViaSat-2 and other owned and partner satellite systems,” according to Viasat. That IFC equipment is also forward-compatible with the communications company’s third-generation satellite constellation, ViaSat-3.

Viasat delayed the launch of its first ViaSat-3 satellite due to a wave in COVID-19 cases that occurred in Arizona, where their payload facilities are located, the company said during its fiscal year 2021 third-quarter earnings call in February.

KLM also plans to begin equipping its Embraer E-195 fleet with Viasat connectivity, noting that specifics for those aircraft will be “announced at a later time,” according to the release. Embraer delivered KLM’s first E-195-E2 aircraft to Schiphol Airport in February.

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes Second Flight

April 23rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes Second Flight   
NASA’s Mars Helicopter Completes Second Flight

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its left Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast. This is one still frame from a sequence captured by the camera while taking video. This image was acquired on Apr. 22, 2021. (NASA JPL)

Ingenuity, NASA’s Mars helicopter, completed a second flight on the red planet on April 22 with new challenges including a higher maximum altitude, longer flight duration, and added sideways movement, according to a statement from NASA. Ingenuity’s first flight was earlier this week on April 19.

“So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate,” Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a statement. “We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity.”

The second test flight took place at 5:33 am EDT, or 12:33 pm Mars time, and lasted 51.9 seconds, according to NASA. Ingenuity reached 16 feet in altitude compared to 10 feet during its first flight. It also completed a 5-degree tilt which carried the helicopter sideways for 7 feet.

“The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions,” Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot at JPL, said in a statement. “Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here – to make these unknowns known.”

The downward-looking navigation camera aboard NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took this image of the rotorcraft’s shadow on the surface of Jezero Crater during helicopter’s second experimental test flight on April 22, 2021. The helicopter’s navigation camera autonomously tracks the ground during flight. (NASA JPL)

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration on the Perseverance Mars rover mission. The JPL team was allocated 30-sol, or 31 Earth days, to complete the demonstration before the Perseverance rover continues on with its mission. This flight is taking place on the 18th sol or Martian day or the demonstration.

The Perseverance rover is sitting about 211 feet away from Ingenuity’s airfield that NASA named “Wright Brothers Field.” The rover is able to use two of its camera to document the flights.

“For the second flight, we tried a slightly different approach to the zoom level on one of the cameras,” Justin Maki, Perseverance project imaging scientist and Mastcam-Z deputy principal investigator at JPL, said in a statement. “For the first flight, one of the cameras was fully zoomed in on the takeoff and landing zone. For the second flight, we zoomed that camera out a bit for a wider field of view to capture more of the flight.”

Ingenuity survived its second flight and is still within its demonstration timeline so it will continue to take more test flights. After the first flight, MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL, said there could be up to four additional test flights of the helicopter.

“So, beyond this first flight, over the next coming days we have up to four flights planned and increasingly difficult flights, challenging flights, and we are going to continually push all the way to the limit of this rotorcraft, we really want to push the rotorcraft flights to the limit and really learn and get information back from that,” Aung said in a briefing on April 19.

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NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Achieves Historic First Flight on Mars

April 20th, 2021   •   Comments Off on NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Achieves Historic First Flight on Mars   
NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Achieves Historic First Flight on Mars

The Mars Ingenuity helicopter completed the first flight on Mars. This photo was taken by Ingenuity and shows the ground view as it is flying. (JPL)

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter made history on April 19 completing the first powered flight on Mars, according to an announcement from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who confirmed the flight at 6:46 a.m. EDT today.

The flight took place at 3:34 am EDT, which is 12:33 Mars time, and was flown completely autonomously. The data resulting from the flight was transferred back to the JPL through the Perseverance rover, according to NASA.

“Ingenuity was a technology demonstrator and experimental mission but its success is truly remarkable and it gives us this new capability,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said during a briefing on April 19.” I believe…that we should be doing these types of technology demonstrations on all our science missions to take advantage of the ability to prove out new technologies and capabilities that will then feed forward to even more ambitious and productive missions in the future.”

The flight consisted of a three-meter climb, five-second hover, a 96-degree turn, 20-second hover, and landing, Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief pilot at JPL, said during the briefing.

This altimeter chart shows data from the first flight of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which occurred on April 19, 2021. (JPL)

“This flight was all about proving that it is possible to fly on Mars,” Grip said. “So to that end, what we had instructed Ingenuity to do was to climb to an altitude of three meters, hover there for a little bit, about five seconds, then make a turn of about 96 degrees, hover for another 20 seconds and then go to land again in the same place that it took off from. And we told that’s what he told engineering to do, and it did exactly that. And it did it just perfectly.”

Grip said the flight is considered successful from the data JPL has received so far.

“From everything we’ve seen so far, it was a flawless flight,” Grip said. “It was a gentle takeoff, at altitude, it’s gets pushed around a little bit by the winds, but it really just maintained station very well, and it stuck the landing, right in a place where it was supposed to go.”

Ingenuity is only four pounds, and its blade span is just under four feet. The small helicopter faced many challenges to get to its first flight including Mars’ unique atmosphere.

“When things work, it looks easy,” MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL, said during the briefing. “I would like to take this opportunity to remind how difficult it is to fly a rotorcraft at Mars. First and foremost, because the atmosphere there is so thin, right, about one percent compared to that at Earth. That’s like on Earth being at elevation three times the height of the Himalayas. So, the air is very thin and Ingenuity had to be really light, small and has to be able to fly in the atmosphere and survive on its own. It did all of that under four pounds.”

Aung said Ingenuity has met all three of NASA’s agency-level objectives by showing powered flight is possible on Mars, actually flying on Mars, and getting data for future generations of Mars helicopters.

“Mars helicopter Ingenuity technology demonstration project has three goals in alignment with NASA’s agency-level objectives,” Aung said. “The first is to show on Earth that it is possible to fly power controlled flight at Mars. We did that before we were launched. The second goal was to actually fly on Mars, we have done it…The third goal is to get data back that will inform engineers that are designing future generations of Mars helicopters, and we have done that too.”

Ingenuity’s flight was captured by two cameras, the Mastcam-Z and Navcam, on the Mars rover Perseverance which was parked about 211 feet away during the flight, Justin Maki, Perseverance Mars rover imaging scientist at JPL, said during the briefing. The Mastcam-Z camera recorded the video.

 

“It’s a 720p video and it’s 1280 by 720 pixels,” Maki said. “It runs at about 6.7 frames per second.”

The blades of the helicopter are blurred because the video has a 10-millisecond exposure time which equals about one-half rotation of the blade, Maki said. So far, they have been able to receive about 2,000 image frames from the rover.

“I can tell you from firsthand experience that that was harder than it looks,” Maki said. “In fact, I think I speak for our entire imaging team that were kind of relieved that we caught it in flight. We had practiced this three or four times before and this is the first time that we were able to nail it…You have two different spacecraft. They both have this roughly the same time, but they operate differently, and so characterizing how the heli operates when we tell it to go, compared to how the rover does its thing is actually tricky.”

Now that Ingenuity has taken its first flight, the JPL team is planning up to four more flights in the coming weeks. The technology demonstrator has two weeks left in its planned month of experimentation.

“So, beyond this first flight, over the next coming days we have up to four flights planned and increasingly difficult flights, challenging flights, and we are going to continually push all the way to the limit of this rotorcraft, we really want to push the rotorcraft flights to the limit and really learn and get information back from that,” Aung said.

Bob Balaram, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief engineer at JPL, said Ingenuity is in very good shape after its first flight, possibly better shape than before.

“Ingenuity itself is extremely healthy at this point,” Balaram said during the briefing. “In fact, she’s even healthier than she was before this. She shook off some of her dust that I’ve been covering her solar panels and is in fact, producing even more solar energy than before. The batteries are looking good. The communication system is fantastic. The landing gear appears to work well. All the silver mechanisms and motors are doing great. The computers and avionics behave flawlessly. So all in all, it’s in a perfect state. And I’m just really excited to see what else she can teach us over the next few weeks as we explore aerial mobility on Mars.”

The next flights could test things like speed, distance, or how the helicopter reacts to wind. Aung said the JPL team expects to test the helicopter to meet its limits. This information will be important to allow the JPL team to find unknowns that they weren’t able to model.

“It’s also important and probably supportive of that plan to actually deal with this, like a tech demo, and we really want to be sure that when everything is said and done we know the full scope of what’s possible with that type of flying machine,” Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot, said. “And so for us that’s really critical…The month of Ingenuity is very much in the spirit of a text demo. That’s exactly what you would want to do, right, kind of to make sure that in fact, we’re putting a pedal down and are going for it.”

An added element of additional flights could be audio. This capability was available during the first flight however there was a concern that there could have been EMI interference between the microphone and the helicopter flying, Aung said.

“There is a plan to record the sound,” Maki said. “We didn’t want to put that into the first observation or the first try, because it was complicated enough just trying to get the video to work. So, we’re going to be putting that in an upcoming plan. I’m not sure if it’ll be the second flight, but it’s certainly one of our later flights.”

Right now NASA and JPL are working to gather and analyze all the data from Ingenuity’s first flight and that will inform the next flight which could be as soon as Thursday, Grip said.

“We’ll get the high rate data downlink from the helicopter to us tomorrow, and then we will be attempting to fly within the next few days,” Grip said. “So we’re targeting for this Thursday but we’ll know more after we get the high rate data.”

The post NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Achieves Historic First Flight on Mars appeared first on Aviation Today.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 18, 2021

April 20th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 18, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 18, 2021

Check out the April 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.

 

Commercial

New CDC Study Shows Keeping Middle Seat Open Helps Reduce Risk of COVID Exposure on Airplanes

(Delta Air Lines)

A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kansas State University attempts to quantify the benefit of specific distancing strategies to prevent transmission, such as keeping aircraft cabin middle seats vacant on airline flights.

Using bacteriophage MS2 virus as a surrogate for airborne SARS-CoV-2, CDC and Kansas State University (KSU) modeled the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 exposure and aircraft seating proximity, including full occupancy and vacant middle seat occupancy scenarios, according to the study.

“Compared with exposures in full occupancy scenarios, relative exposure in vacant middle seat scenarios was reduced by 23% to 57% depending upon the modeling approach. A 23% exposure reduction was observed for a single passenger who was in the same row and two seats away from the SARS-COV-2 source, rather than in an adjacent middle seat,” the study says.

Researchers analyzed data on virus aerosol dispersion in aircraft cabin mock-ups from a previous study conducted at KSU during July–August 2017 as part of a pandemic influenza research initiative, according to the study. These data were used to establish a “regression model to estimate the reduction in aerosol concentration as distance from a source increased,” the study says.

“These regression models were applied to conceptual aircraft seating scenarios to simulate the reduction in exposure resulting from vacant middle seats in an aircraft cabin,” the study says. “During the aerosol dispersion study at KSU, mannequins with realistic passenger heat emission were seated in the cabin mock-ups, and then MS2 aerosol was introduced from a source location and collected at six different sample locations in the cabin. This process was repeated four times: twice in a single-aisle cabin and twice in a twin-aisle cabin.”

 

 

 

 

Boeing Reports First Quarter 2021 Deliveries

Boeing reported major aircraft program deliveries across its commercial and defense operations on April 13.

The company completed a total of 77 commercial aircraft deliveries, including 63 total 737s. Boeing will release its full first quarter results on April 28.

 

 

Qantas Reports on Return of Passenger Demand in Australia

(Jetstar)

Qantas reported a strong return for domestic air travel demand in an April 15th update noting some of its regional subsidiary carriers will start re-deploying aircraft.

According to the update, Qantas is seeing demand return for leisure travel regionally, and has also engaged several regional travel agreements with other nations including New Zealand.

Qantas Group CEL Alan Joyce said the Australian government’s “half-price fares” program is also helping to restore passenger demand.

“The direct response to the program has been fantastic, with over 250,000 fares sold in the first two weeks,” Joyce said. “Indirectly, we saw a big spike in travel demand before the fares even went on sale because the announcement itself gave people confidence, which is something that had been missing for months. Corporate travel, including the small business segment, is now back to around 65 per cent of pre-COVID levels, and increasing month-on-month.”

 

 

 

 

Connectivity

Court of Justice Rules Against Eutelsat’s European Aviation Network Claims

The European Aviation Network concept of operations.

The European Court of Justice issued a ruling dismissing Eutelsat’s claim that Inmarsat’s operation of its European Aviation Network is an infringement on European law.

According to a summary of the ruling published by the EU Court of Justice on April 15, the claim by Eutelsat stemmed from EU’s selection procedure process for operators of mobile satellite systems. Eutelsat in 2014 a competitor of Inmarsat, brought an action before the Conseil d’État (Council of State, France) seeking annulment of a decision by that council to allow Inmarsat to operate EAN with a satellite and ground component, the latter of which is operated in partnership with Deutsch Telekom.

“Ruling on a request for a preliminary ruling from the Conseil d’État, the Court of Justice, in its judgment, provides an interpretation of ‘mobile satellite systems’ and of the concepts of ‘CGC’ and ‘mobile earth station’ 4 in the light of the MSS decision. In addition, the Court provides clarification concerning the powers of the competent authorities of the Member States to grant, or to refuse to grant, to an operator the authorizations necessary for the provision of the components of mobile satellite systems,” the ruling notes.

Inmarsat published an April 15 press release describing the allegations made by Eutelsat as “filed with the sole intention of artificially creating legal and regulatory uncertainty around EAN.”

“Inmarsat welcomes the ruling of the European Court of Justice rejecting our competitors’ arguments aimed at limiting the operation of the European Aviation Network,” Brad Swann, Inmarsat General Counsel said in the release.

Check out the full Court of Justice ruling here.

 

 

 

Military

Two Flight Demonstrations from Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER

Sikorsky’s Future Vertical Lift aircraft like RAIDER are designed to provide U.S. Army commanders with information to self-diagnose maintenance and predict aircraft availability. That increases the operational readiness and availability and reduces life cycle costs associated with the aircraft. (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company.)

Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER helicopter flew two flight tests for Army officials and soldiers at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama this week, according to an April 15 release from the company.

The S-97 is Lockheed’s big for the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program which is part of the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) effort.

“Since the first Black Hawk took to the skies in the 1970s, to when our teams broke helicopter speed records with X2 Technology in 2010, we have been working with our Army partners to develop and deliver low-risk, transformational, affordable and sustainable aircraft to support the warfighters’ missions,” Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo, who was at Redstone this week, said in a statement. “This is the first of what we believe will be many times our X2 Future Vertical Lift aircraft will fly at Redstone.”

According to the release, the flights demonstrated the aircraft’s low-level maneuverability and high-speed capabilities.

“Flying RAIDER continues to amaze me,” Sikorsky’s Christiaan Corry, a former U.S. Marine with more than 4,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft and test pilot for the demonstration, said in a statement. “The combination of the coaxial rotors and the propulsor are really the enablers for this transformational technology. As we demonstrated today, in low-speed flight we are as capable as a conventional helicopter, but when we engage the prop, we are able to operate in a whole new way – it’s much more like flying an airplane.”

 

Honeywell Introduces New Navigation Technology Alternatives to GPS

Honeywell presented three new navigation technologies to use in GPS denied environments, according to an April 15 release.

The technologies include vision-aided navigation which uses live optical or infra-red camera feed and maps, celestial-aided navigation which uses stars and reference objects orbiting earth, and magnetic anomaly-aided navigation which uses sensors to measure magnetic strength with known magnetic maps, according to the release.

“Most of us have experienced some level of GPS unavailability, perhaps on our mobile phones or car navigation systems. It’s a minor inconvenience for us, but for military operations, not having access to critical positioning and timing information can make or break a mission,” Matt Picchetti, vice president and general manager of Navigation & Sensors at Honeywell Aerospace, said in a statement. “We’re very excited to roll out this robust lineup of alternate navigation solutions, which are specifically designed to address the needs of our military customers and give them the added layers of redundancy needed to successfully carry out their operations, even if they lose access to GPS signals.”

These new systems will be available in 2022 with deliveries starting in 2023, according to the release.

 

 

 

French Government Buys More Helicopters

As part of a stimulus plan, the French military is purchasing Airbus helicopters. (Airbus)

The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) has signed a contract for eight H22Ms, a VSR700 prototype, two H145s and 10 H160s as part of a stimulus plan to support the national aeronautical industry, according to an April 15 announcement from Airbus Helicopters.

“We are very thankful to the French government for their support of the aeronautical industry through the Stimulus plan,” Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO, said in a statement. This is a win-win situation as the aircraft fulfill a real operational need for the French armed forces and this order allows Airbus Helicopters to secure jobs and key skills in the medium term. The French armed forces are facing increasing and varied challenges and I am confident that the H225M, thanks to its excellent range and multirole capacity, will be an efficient and reliable asset that will enhance their operations at home and abroad. The VSR700 is also a crucial program. It will provide the French Navy with a highly capable autonomous platform and it will pave the way for future unmanned systems within the Airbus Helicopters portfolio.”

The two H225Ms will go to the French Air and Space Force and the VSR700 prototype is being developed by the French Navy with the Naval Group, according to the release. The two H145s will do to the Sécurité Civile and the 10 H160s will be used by the French Gendarmerie Nationale.

 

10 Starlink Satellites to Enhance Arctic Communications for NORTHCOM

The January launch of 10 SpaceX Starlink polar orbit satellites are to enhance the communications for U.S. military forces in the Arctic, and Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, the head of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), told lawmakers this week that he hopes to have another 100 satellites for such communications in the future.

SpaceX and OneWeb are building such commercial, polar orbit satellites.

“To compete in the Arctic, you have to be on the field,” VanHerck said in response to a question from House Armed Services Commitee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on the Arctic competition with Russia during an Apr. 14 hearing. “Currently…we’re not able to have the persistence I need to compete day-to-day in the Arctic. My priorities start with domain awareness, the ability to communicate and provide data and information so that we can operate and have persistence in the Arctic…We’ve got 10 satellites on orbit and approximately 100 more in the future.”

 

 

TransDigm To Sell Airborne Components Business Unit To Private Equity Firm

The Belgium-based Technical Airborne Components (TAC) business unit of TransDigm is being sold to a private equity firm.

TransDigm Group Inc.’s Belgium-based Technical Airborne Components (TAC) business unit on Tuesday said it has agreed to be acquired by the private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

TAC, which has about 170 employees, manufactures rods and struts for commercial aircraft, regional and business jets, helicopters, military aircraft and rockets. Some of the company’s customers include Airbus Group, Leonardo, Dassault, Eurofighter, Embraer and Arianespace.

“We are delighted to be partnering with TAC and its management team and look forward to drawing upon our industry and operational expertise as well as our transatlantic presence to accelerate its growth,” Ralf Ackermann, partner at Searchlight, said in a statement. “This investment further demonstrates our belief in the long-term recovery of the aerospace sector.”

 

Business & GA

Gulfstream’s First Fully-Outfitted G700 Joins Certification Flight Testing Program

The first fully-outfitted Gulfstream G700 joins the aircraft’s type certification flight testing program. (Gulfstream Aerospace)

In an April 15 press release, Gulfstream confirmed its first fully-outfitted G700 completed its first flight, joining five other flight test campaign aircraft as the new long range jet marches toward type certification. The fully outfitted aircraft took off today and flew 3 hours and 36 minutes, reaching an altitude of 48,000 feet/14,630 meters and a top speed of Mach 0.935, according to Gulfstream.

“Flying a fully outfitted aircraft signals significant progress in the G700 flight-test program,” Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream said in the release. “The G700 interior is raising the bar for cabin innovation and customization. It provides more space than ever before for Gulfstream’s precision-crafted furnishings, more opportunity for personalization and more technology to optimize passenger health, safety and enjoyment.”

The Gulfstream Cabin Experience on this G700 test aircraft includes the all-new ultrahigh-definition circadian lighting system and the first “ultra galley” to be featured on a Gulfstream jet, according to the company. Other interior cabin elements and features include more than 10 feet of counter space; a dedicated crew space; an entertainment and presentation area; a six-place conference and dining area; and a state room.

eVTOLs

China Establishes Type Certification Team for Passenger Variant of Ehang’s EH216

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has established a new type certification team for Ehang’s EH216 autonomous aerial vehicle. (Ehang)

The Civil Aviation Administration of China established a “type certification” (TC) team for Guangzhou-based EHang’s development of its EH216 autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV). The kickoff meeting was held in Guangzhou on April 13-14 with the aim to officially advance the TC approval work of EH216, according to an April 16 press release.

 EHang officially submitted the EH216 type certificate application to CAAC in December 2020, which was accepted by CAAC in January 2021.

“Unmanned aviation is an integral part of the construction of intelligent civil aviation and may become the primary form of transportation in the future. THE Government and companies should work together to promote the development of unmanned aerial vehicles and adhere to high-quality standards when building the civil aviation infrastructure. Both the applicant and CAAC should have innovation mindset in the certification process while benchmarking international standards,” CAAC’s Chief Engineer Shijun Yin said in the release.

EHang also published its full-year and fourth quarter 2020 results on Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

Unmanned

All Nippon Airways Partners with Wingcopter to Bring Drone Delivery to Japan

Wingcopter’s drone has a range of 120 km and has been tested in harsh weather conditions. (Wingcopter)

ANA HOLDINGS INC. (ANA HD), the parent company of All Nippon Airways, and Wingcopter have formed a new partnership to build a drone delivery network for pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods in Japan, according to an April 15 release.

The project will use Wingcopter’s drone which has vertical take-off and landing capabilities while also taking advantage of fixed-wing architecture for flight mode by using a tilt-rotor mechanism, according to the company’s website. Wingcopter will also provide pilot training, mission planning, operational design, and maintenance.

“Being able to help a global company like ANA open up new business areas and at the same time pursue our mission to save and improve lives, is what we tirelessly work for,” Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, said in a statement. “We are really looking forward to the next steps and the overall partnership with ANA in Japan and beyond.”

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – April 18, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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PODCAST: Bombardier’s Elza Brunelle-Yeung Talks Smart Link Plus Business Jet Upgrade Program

April 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on PODCAST: Bombardier’s Elza Brunelle-Yeung Talks Smart Link Plus Business Jet Upgrade Program   
PODCAST: Bombardier’s Elza Brunelle-Yeung Talks Smart Link Plus Business Jet Upgrade Program

Bombardier Director of Business Development Elza Brunelle-Yeung joins this episode of the podcast.

On this episode of the Connected Aircraft Podcast, Elza Brunelle-Yeung, Bombardier’s senior director of business development, joins to discuss the Canadian aircraft manufacturer’s new legacy business jet upgrade program, SmartLink Plus.

Smart Link Plus was first jointly launched by Bombardier and GE Aviation at the 2019 National Business Aviation Association annual conference and exhibition to bring a free new health monitoring unit to legacy Challenger and Global business jet operators. We discuss how the program was first established, progress over the last year, and the start of the upgrades, which are scheduled to begin this summer.

We also learn more about the data visualization tool that the upgrade is bringing to Bombardier operators.

Have suggestions or topics we should focus on in the next episode? Email the host, Woodrow Bellamy at wbellamy@accessintel.com, or drop him a line on Twitter @WbellamyIIIAC.

Listen to this episode below, or check it out on iTunes or Google Play If you like the show, subscribe on your favorite podcast app to get new episodes as soon as they’re released.

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LAS Cargo Activates eFOQA for Boeing 727 Fleet Under New Deal with GE Digital

April 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on LAS Cargo Activates eFOQA for Boeing 727 Fleet Under New Deal with GE Digital   
LAS Cargo Activates eFOQA for Boeing 727 Fleet Under New Deal with GE Digital

Colombia-based LAS Cargo has activated eFOQA for its fleet of Boeing 727-100s. (LAS Cargo)

Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (LAS) Cargo, a Colombia-based domestic air freight carrier, has signed a new five-year contract with GE Digital to electronically transform their Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA) program.

FOQA is described by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a voluntary safety program that enables sharing and analysis of de-identified flight data with civil aviation regulators so that they can identify and reduce safety risks as well as monitor national trends as they occur within aircraft operations. Boris Zuniga, director of safety and quality for LAS Cargo, told Avionics International that the automated data processing and error detection capabilities of eFOQA will give his team cleaner and more accurate data with fewer false positives.

“Currently, LAS Cargo has activated the eFOQA technology in its Boeing 727s and 737-300. Our technical department performed a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for each aircraft,” Zuniga said.

While FOQA programs are not mandated by the FAA for U.S.-registered airlines, some other civil aviation regulators, including the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority, require operators of certain aircraft types to develop and sustain a FOQA program. In 2008, the International Civil Aviation Organization amended Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention to introduce new recommendations for airlines around the establishment of FOQA and flight data monitoring practices.

Most airlines manage this by downloading flight parameter data points captured by their flight data recorder (FDR) or a quick access recorder (QAR), and then review or compare what they’ve captured to historical records and performance of that aircraft.

“The Quick Access Recorder will record our fleet’s key parameters and provide valuable operational information that will allow us to continue improving our standards and procedures,” Zuniga said.

eFOQA gives LAS Cargo a new cloud-based method for analyzing flight recorder data and tracking safety metrics to alert its flight department of possible risk. (GE Digital)

According to GE, their eFOQA technology also analyzes FDR data and actively tracks safety metrics to alert flight departments of possible risks. Several tasks in the FOQA process that previously would have been performed by humans, including data ingestion, error correction, and statistical reporting are now automated by LAS Cargo’s use of eFOQA.

Zuniga said the airline is also considering new methods for downloading their data directly from the aircraft.

“We are also evaluating a Wi-Fi option. Once the plane’s data is downloaded, we upload it to the cloud,” he said. “GE receives the information and performs its analysis to have the visibility of the necessary actions to improve our procedures.”

Using GE Digital’s Event Measurement System (EMS), a flight data platform, operators can access both safety and fuel analytics to identify and quantify specific opportunities to reduce fuel consumption. The eFOQA platform utilizes EMS to gather, cleanse, and process data, according to GE.

Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Digital’s aviation software division, says their eFOQA technology will allow LAS Cargo to “be safer, more efficient, and profitable in challenging times.”

“Our aviation industry takes great pride in being the safest means of transportation on Earth. This only happens by implementing processes, safeguards, and controls to make safety the number one priority,” Coleman said in an email. “It also only happens by harvesting the wealth of information modern aircraft make available and translating it into actionable insights to ensure we are constantly learning from our collective flying experiences. We serve hundreds of customers in the aviation ecosystem, as well as sponsor the industry-wide collaboration, to ensure best practices in analyzing flight data are fully shared and understood across our industry.”

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Will the Mars Helicopter Persevere?

April 17th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Will the Mars Helicopter Persevere?   
Will the Mars Helicopter Persevere?

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its rotor blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity encountered a problem during a high-speed spin-up test of its rotors on April 9 delaying its planned first flight demonstration. NASA has found a solution to this problem however the demonstration timeline will be further delayed while this issue is fixed, according to an update from NASA published on April 12.

Ingenuity landed on Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance Rover on February 18. The helicopter ran into a problem during the week NASA’s team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) planned to test sensors, server mechanisms, and motors.

The solution JPL came up with includes a small modification and reinstallation of Ingenuity’s flight control software, according to the update. The modification includes changing the process where the two flight controllers boot up to allow the hardware and software to safely transition to the flight state.

According to the update, most of the delay will come from validating the software change and completing the uplink to Ingenuity. JPL has not yet released an updated timeline for the demonstration. However, there is a deadline for this mission which must occur within the 31 Earth days allotted to the demonstration before NASA has to move on with the rest of the Perseverance mission.

Perseverance is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to Mars. Ingenuity, a technology experiment, will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet. Perseverance will arrive at Mars’ Jezero Crater with Ingenuity attached to its belly. (NASA)

While this issue caused a delay, JPL says Ingenuity is still healthy and its critical functions like power, communications, and thermal control are stable.

“It is not unexpected for a technology demonstration like this to encounter challenges that need to be worked in real time,” NASA said in the update. “The high-risk, high-reward approach we have taken to the first powered, controlled flight on another planet allows us to push the performance envelope in ways we could not with a mission designed to last for years such as Perseverance. In the meantime, while the Ingenuity team does its work, Perseverance will continue to do science with its suite of instruments and is gearing up for a test of the MOXIE technology demonstration.”

Before this issue was diagnosed, Ingenuity completed important milestones like detaching from the Perseverance rover, recharging its batteries using its solar panels, and surviving on Mars.

“This is, in effect, an aircraft that also happens to be a spacecraft,” J. Bob Balaram, Ingenuity chief engineer at JPL, said during a press conference remotely hosted by NASA on March 23. “It has survived launch. It has survived the journey through space with vacuum and radiation. It has survived the entry and descent and landing on the surface on the bottom of the Perseverance rover and it has survived all of the challenges and design issues that are necessary for a spacecraft. But most of all I think of Ingenuity also as an experimental aircraft.”

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All Nippon Airways Partners with Wingcopter to Bring Drone Delivery to Japan

April 16th, 2021   •   Comments Off on All Nippon Airways Partners with Wingcopter to Bring Drone Delivery to Japan   
All Nippon Airways Partners with Wingcopter to Bring Drone Delivery to Japan

Wingcopter’s drone has a range of 120 km and has been tested in harsh weather conditions. (Wingcopter)

ANA HOLDINGS INC. (ANA HD), the parent company of All Nippon Airways, and Wingcopter have formed a new partnership to build a drone delivery network for pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods in Japan, according to an April 15 release.

The project will use Wingcopter’s drone which has vertical take-off and landing capabilities while also taking advantage of fixed-wing architecture for flight mode by using a tilt-rotor mechanism, according to the company’s website. Wingcopter will also provide pilot training, mission planning, operational design, and maintenance.

“Being able to help a global company like ANA open up new business areas and at the same time pursue our mission to save and improve lives, is what we tirelessly work for,” Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, said in a statement. “We are really looking forward to the next steps and the overall partnership with ANA in Japan and beyond.”

In a video announcing the partnership, Plümmer said operations would start on the Gotō Islands in Nagasaki Prefectur, Japan and expand from there.

“Here in Gotō, 100 km west from Nagasaki city, there are 11 inhabitant remote islands,” Tetsuya Kubo, vice president of ANA HD overseeing the digital design lab, said in the video. “We would like to help those people living on the islands who have difficulties in accessing medical care, food and other vital supplies.”

Wingcopter’s drone has a range of 120 km and has been tested in harsh weather conditions, according to the company’s website. The drone has a 178 cm wingspan, 132 cm from front to tail, and has a max payload of six kilograms. In fixed-wing mode, it can reach speeds of 150 kilometers per hour and drops down to 100 kilometers per hour in cruise speed.

“The ongoing tests of Wingcopter aircraft represent a significant step forward in the creation of a viable drone transportation network,” Kubo said. “We are excited to partner with Wingcopter as we build on the advances and innovation of previous trials to bring drone delivery one step closer to reality. Once fully realized, a functioning drone transportation infrastructure will help improve quality of life in rural areas across Japan.”

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