Agility Prime Awards New Contract to Software Company Tangram Flex

September 3rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on Agility Prime Awards New Contract to Software Company Tangram Flex   
Agility Prime Awards New Contract to Software Company Tangram Flex

Agility Prime is a program dedicated to demonstrating the U.S. Air Force’s commitment to the commercial success of electric air taxis. (U.S. Air Force)

Tangram Flex, an Ohio software company, has been awarded a new Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract with the Air Force’s Agility Prime program that will be focusing on advancing the safety and cyber security of drones and air taxis included in the program, the company announced in an Aug. 31 press release. 

The company was previously awarded an STTR contract in December for software integration and assurance tools to validate software components on Agility Prime vehicles, the company wrote in a Medium post. The new contract from Agility Prime is a follow-on of the December contract, which was dubbed the Commoditized Confidence Through Software Assurance (CCSA) effort. 

“Tangram Flex is dedicated to building technology that enables our customers to rapidly integrate new capabilities with high levels of confidence,” Ricky Peters, CEO of Tangram Flex, said in a statement. “Our engineering team develops cutting-edge solutions in support of the Air Force. I’m incredibly proud of our team’s skills and the code generation technologies we have built that empower our customers to engage in the next frontier of software-driven innovation.”

The Phase II effort will focus on streamlining analysis and testing for drones and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, according to the release. This solution will also provide cyber security support for Agility Prime’s vehicles. 

Tangram is partnering with Ohio State University for this contract. 

Tangram also announced another STTR Phase II contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory and defense secure communications community on Sept. 2. This contract will include a partnership with Professor Benjamin Delaware, a programming languages researcher from Purdue University in the Department of Computer Science.

The post Agility Prime Awards New Contract to Software Company Tangram Flex appeared first on Aviation Today.

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NASA Begins First eVTOL Test of AAM Campaign with Joby

September 3rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on NASA Begins First eVTOL Test of AAM Campaign with Joby   
NASA Begins First eVTOL Test of AAM Campaign with Joby

Joby becomes the first eVTOL company to test with NASA’s AAM National Campaign. (Joby)

NASA has begun the first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flight test of its Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign with Joby Aviation, the agency announced on Sept. 1. 

The AAM National Campaign is a multi-year effort to assist with the integration of AAM vehicles into the national airspace. NASA’s tests with Joby are occurring ahead of the first set of National Campaign tests, referred to as NC-1, that are planned for 2022. NC-1 will include more vehicle partners and flight scenarios. 

“The National Campaign Developmental Testing is an important strategic step in NASA’s goals to accelerate the AAM industry timeline,” Davis Hackenberg, NASA AAM mission integration manager, said in a statement. “These testing scenarios will help inform gaps in current standards to benefit the industry’s progress of integrating AAM vehicles into the airspace.”

NASA’s testing with Joby will take place at Joby’s Electric Flight Base in California and run through Sept. 10, according to the agency. During the tests, NASA will be collecting vehicle performance and acoustic data from Joby’s aircraft which could be used to identify gaps in current regulations. 

“NASA’s AAM National Campaign is critical to driving scientific understanding and public acceptance of eVTOL aircraft,” JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, said in a statement. “We’re incredibly proud to have worked closely with NASA on electric flight over the past 10 years and to be the first eVTOL company to fly as part of the campaign.”

NASA will test the acoustics of Joby’s eVTOL using its Mobile Acoustics Facility and more than 50 microphones to measure the aircraft’s acoustic profile during flight, according to the agency. 

“From day one, we prioritized building an aircraft that not only has an extremely low noise profile, but blends seamlessly into the natural environment,” ​​Bevirt said. “We have always believed that a minimal acoustic footprint is key to making aviation a convenient part of everyday movement without compromising quality of life, and we’re excited to fly with NASA, our long-time partners in electric flight, to demonstrate the acoustic profile of our aircraft.”

Joby released a video in August comparing its noise profile to traditional aircraft and helicopters. (screenshot from Joby’s Youtube video)

In August, Joby released a YouTube video comparing its aircraft’s overhead noise profile to that of two fixed-wing aircraft and three helicopters. While the company was unable to release data related to the noise profile differences, the sound waves displayed in the video appear to show Joby’s eVTOL creating significantly less noise than the other aircraft. 

NASA will also be collecting data on how Joby’s eVTOL aircraft flies and communicates with controllers, according to the agency. 

To prepare for these tests, NASA used a Bell OH-58C Kiowa helicopter to create a blueprint for the eVTOL flight plan. 

“We need a vehicle that has a vertical lift capability to test our flight test plan and that flight test plan is basically the blueprint of moving forward with our vehicle partners,” Starr Ginn, NASA AAM NC lead, told Aviation Today in March. “It’s to tease out what are going to be even some certification hurdles for the vehicles because the whole airspace architecture and infrastructure is built around the performance of the vehicle and so you got to come up with some minimum safety standard.”

Joby has already agreed to G1 certifications with the FAA and the company hopes to receive type certification by 2023 to facilitate a commercial launch in 2024. The company is also seeking a Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate to operate in cities and communities in the U.S. 

The post NASA Begins First eVTOL Test of AAM Campaign with Joby appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Technology is Available That Could Lower Aircraft Emissions Today, Not Ten Years from Now

September 3rd, 2021   •   Comments Off on Technology is Available That Could Lower Aircraft Emissions Today, Not Ten Years from Now   
Technology is Available That Could Lower Aircraft Emissions Today, Not Ten Years from Now

Tamarak Aerospace claims its active winglets can increase efficiency by 33 percent. (Tamarak)

Airlines and aircraft makers have all committed to zero emissions pledges that pump funding and research into cleaner technologies like electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft and sustainable aviation fuels. The problem is that none of these solutions can be implemented on a wide scale today. 

While this means that some of the emission reduction estimates tied to these technologies are still decades away, there are technologies available right now that can contribute to emissions reductions. 

“For an airline, who’s maybe made carbon neutrality goals or objectives, made those public announcements, this is an important element of getting there because this is available relatively short order, we’re not waiting for SAF to be available, we’re not waiting for hybrid electric technologies, it’s available, really, in short order to help meet those objectives,” Jacob Klinginsmith, president of Tamarack Aerospace Group, told Aviation Today.

Tamarack makes what it calls “active” winglets—opposed to passive or traditional winglets.  Klinginsmith said this technology can be used today to provide added efficiency to aircraft and reduce emissions and it can be used in conjunction with future clean energy technology. 

Tamarack’s active winglets are different than traditional winglets because they include an extension and winglet providing greater wingspan increase. To be able to add the extension and winglet to the wing, Tamarack uses a load alleviation system that reinforces the wing. Klinginsmith said this system can provide efficiency improvements up to 33 percent versus about 5 percent with passive winglets. 

Tamarak’s winglets aim to enable airplanes to fly with the efficiency of a glider. (Tamarak)

“Companies have looked at doing struts on the wings and things like that to make the wings longer and more slender, but we’re doing it with this load alleviation system, which allows us to kind of get all the benefits of doing a longer thinner wing, without some of those structural penalties that typically come with it,” Klinginsmith said. “Even traditional winglet modifications typically require structural reinforcements for the wing, which takes time and it cost money and then you lose some useful load at the end of the day. With our technology, you know, we kind of get to have the aerodynamic performance without those structural penalties, in fact, we increase the payload in the ones that we have out right now. Our product right now is increasing the payload for operators.” 

The winglet technology essentially provides the plane with the characteristics of a glider, Klinginsmith said. 

“At a high level, the secret to what we’re doing is we’re turning the airplane into something that performs closer to how a glider would, right,” Klinginsmith said. “We all can understand that a glider is very efficient, it has to have low drag to stay aloft. The scientific term is aspect ratio, which is just basically how long and thin the wings are because of the less induced drag. And so we’re modifying the aircraft wing to make it more long and slender, which has a less induced drag and that’s what everybody’s looking for now in terms of efficiency.” 

Changes to the aircraft are not the only way to reduce emissions. On the ground at airports, some companies like Aircraft Towing System World Wide (ATS) are creating technology to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions, and noise generation. ATS has a system to taxi aircraft from the runway to the gates and back without using the aircraft’s engines. The system uses an underground channel to tow aircraft from one location to the other. 

The ATS system will allow aircraft to taxi without using fuel. (ATS)

“After landing an aircraft, the pilot will taxi to the appropriate taxiway and drive the aircraft nose wheel onto the ATS ‘tow dolly’ where it is secured in place. Pilots can then shut off the aircraft’s main engines,” ATS Vice President/CEO Vince Howie said in a January statement on the company’s website. 

ATS claims that the fuel traditionally used to taxi aircraft can all be saved by using its system. For example, at Heathrow airport, the company estimates that over 15 million liters of fuel can be saved. 

“The average taxi time at Heathrow is 22 minutes and the average fuel consumption during taxi is 9 gallons or 35 Liters (L) per minute of taxi time,” a representative for ATS told Aviation Today. “There were over 475,000 movements or taxis in 2019. So, 22 minutes x 35 liters x 475,000 movements = 15,995,000 liters of fuel burned during taxi or saved if ATS were installed. If fuel was 1.70 euros per liter that is 27,191,500 euros in savings per year at Heathrow.” 

A prototype of the ATS system is being installed at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark in Ardmore, Oklahoma. (ATS)

The company claims that the fuel savings presented in this example could also be used to generate carbon credits. 

“Taking the fuel savings example one step further, depending on the engines installed on commercial aircraft, the emission output averages 265 kilograms of CO2 per taxi,” the representative for ATS said. “Since emission credits are presently selling for approximately $7.60 per ton in carbon credit auctions in the U.S., this equates to .0055 Euros per liter of carbon credit for fuel burned during taxi. 35 Liters of fuel per minute of taxi x 22 minutes = 770 Liters of carbon x .021 Euros carbon credit per liter = 4.24 Euros per taxi x 475,000 movements. Based on this formula the airport should be able to generate 2M Euros per year in potential carbon credit revenue when sold on carbon credit markets.” 

ATS is currently installing a prototype of this system at the Ardmore Industrial Airpark in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Air traffic management (ATM) modernization has been cited by companies like Boeing and Airbus as a way to make operations more efficient. The European Commission is also working on a new framework for more efficient airway management, the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) project

“Modernising Europe’s air traffic management (ATM) is central to meeting our Green Deal objectives and ensuring the long-term resilience of the aviation sector,” European Union Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said in a statement on the EU’s website. “By speeding up the implementation of the innovative technological solutions, the Common Project One (CP1) will ensure more direct, and therefore, more fuel-efficient flight paths, and allow modern aircraft to fully exploit the benefits of greener and quieter technologies.” 

The SESAR project aims to develop and deploy technology to increase ATM performance and build Europe’s intelligent air transport system. One of the aspects it is addressing is inefficiencies in air traffic management. Optimizing these inefficiencies will help save fuel. A 2016 report from the International Civil Aviation Organization said this could result in a 10 percent reduction of CO2 emissions per flight. Airbus has claimed similar statistics. 

“Direct routings can result in approximately 10 percent less fuel consumption in aircraft, as well as significantly reduced CO2 and noise emissions,” Airbus’ website states. “This is why we develop modern air traffic management systems in collaboration with our subsidiary Airbus NavBlue and work closely with a range of partners to further optimise in-flight operational efficiency.” 

While some of these solutions aren’t at the forefront of much of the discussion on sustainability solutions like electric aircraft and sustainable aviation fuels, they could provide a pathway for airlines and operators to meet interim sustainability goals because they are available now. 

“A lot of airlines and operators are looking at sustainability probably closer than they’ve ever looked and with more intent, than they’ve ever had to make changes and so there’s a huge opportunity there with our technology,” Klinginsmith said.

However, these solutions do not have to replace future technologies but instead can be used together once they are developed. 

 “Our technology works well with those other technologies, whether we’re talking about upgraded engines, SAF, reducing the drag on the airframe, and that is sort of synergistic with some of these other modifications that, frankly, are a ways out,” Klinginsmith said. “Especially SAF that has a lot of attention right now, we’re looking forward to that, we’re looking forward to saving a lot of people gallons of SAF, but that’s a ways out and our technologies are available right now.” 

The post Technology is Available That Could Lower Aircraft Emissions Today, Not Ten Years from Now appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Drone Companies See Opportunities in B2B Middle-Mile Logistics

September 2nd, 2021   •   Comments Off on Drone Companies See Opportunities in B2B Middle-Mile Logistics   
Drone Companies See Opportunities in B2B Middle-Mile Logistics

Elroy is hoping to have another of its full-capability pre-production Caparral aircraft built by the end of the year and will use it to validate subsystem and software. (Elroy Air)

The logistics industry is seeing a big opportunity in the future use of drones within their operations. While some companies are targeting last-mile deliveries from businesses to consumers, others are looking towards the often overlooked middle-mile logistics. 

Middle-mile logistics refers to deliveries that occur from business to business such as seaports to a distribution center or distribution centers to stores. 

According to an analysis in a 2020 white paper from Levitate Capital, the value proposition for using drones within logistics chains will have to weigh the speed and availability drones can offer with the cost savings of traditional route density and batched deliveries. While last-mile delivery drones are competing with courier delivery services that will have an advantage in cost savings, middle-mile deliveries will be competing with semi-trucks and intermodal freight networks. 

“Whereas last-mile delivery drones compete with courier-owned delivery vans and crowdsourced delivery models, middle-mile drones will compete with semi-trucks and intermodal freight networks,” Dario Constantine, a senior associate at Levitate Capital focused on drone technology companies, writes in “The Future of the Drone Economy.”  

The report states that the cost of logistics is dependent on the amount of freight moved at one time. The lowest cost options in this chain are ships and trains and as freight in transferred along its journey, the cost increases as the vehicle that carries it gets smaller. 

“As parcels are transferred to smaller vehicles, the per-mile cost of transportation typically increases –with the most expensive being a single vehicle carrying a single parcel,” Constantine writes. “As a result, drones in the near term are likely to be more expensive per kg-mile than fully loaded trucks. However, middle mile drones can reduce the hours of transportation and handoff times associated with trucks and other ground vehicles and transfer the economic value of time savings to the sender and receiver.” 

Companies developing drones have taken notice of this trend with some creating aircraft specifically geared towards middle mile operations. Elroy Air is developing a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) cargo done, Chaparral, for this sector. 

“The opportunity is to dramatically expand the reach of express logistics, by creating orders of magnitude more aerial cargo routes that can operate to/from locations that would not support air cargo today,” David Merril, co-founder and CEO of Elroy Air, told Aviation Today. “The result: bringing same-day shipping to a billion more people worldwide, which improves quality of life.” 

Companies who are developing aircraft for this sector are having to distinguish themselves in a crowded field of aircraft by providing capabilities that cater to this sector. 

“A challenge in this industry is distinguishing between the different types of air vehicles,” Chris Benson, vice president of corporate strategy at Volansi told Aviation Today. “We aren’t delivering cups of coffee down the street, we are delivering dozens of pounds of critical supplies to the next county and, one day, to the next state. On the smaller end, you have small drones that have a lot of autonomy, but are not built for long ranges and ruggedized conditions, this is where you see a lot of the last-mile drone delivery companies. On the larger end of the spectrum, there are manned VTOL aircraft that must be reliable and rugged, just like any traditional manned aircraft, this is where you see the “air taxis”. Volansi sits in a unique category between these two, with our focus on autonomy (like the smaller drones) and reliability and capability (like the larger aircraft).” 

Volansi completed a demonstration with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to showcase its aircraft. (Volansi)

Last-mile delivery drones have smaller payload capacities and shorter ranges than drones being developed for middle-mile logistics. Elroy’s Chaparral can carry up to 500 lbs of cargo and has a 300-mile range. The ability to carry more cargo for longer distances increases middle mile drone cost benefits over traditional transportation in this area. 

“The unit economics are challenged for smaller, last-mile delivery drones,” Merril said. “They can only make it work delivering extremely high-value parcels (e.g. blood, medical supplies). Also, the barriers to entry are higher in larger systems – we’re the leading company focused on VTOL delivery drones for middle-mile, and compared to the crowded last-mile space it’s much more difficult for competition to catch up to us.” 

These companies are also focusing heavily on autonomy within their operations. The ability to automate operations also contributes to the cost savings of using drones for these operations. 

“In some high-value industries, a delay as short as 10 minutes can cost a company tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue,” Benson said. “We can cut that delay through improved access to critical parts and supplies, keeping revenues high. Other customers carry millions of dollars of inventory across dozens or even hundreds of locations. By leveraging our autonomous logistics system, they can reduce their carrying costs of inventory.” 

Merril even said that these operations would be easier to automate because of the ability to have more control over take-off and landing sites at businesses rather than a last-mile delivery site. This could make business-to-business drone deliveries more practical as well. 

“Because of positive unit economics, a huge TAM [total addressable market] and the fact that the takeoff and landing zones at the end-points (origin, destination) can be controlled by the shipper, and therefore the operation is much easier to automate safely (vs landing cargo in back yards, on front porches, etc – where everyday people will be interacting with the systems),” Merril said. 

The regulations placed on these operations will likely not be dependent on their use case but rather on where their delivery locations are. Liz Stalford, Volansi’s head of aviation regulatory affairs, told Aviation Today that the Federal Aviation Administration is creating type certifications based on performance measures like durability and reliability. These performance measures are adjusted based on the population density at which the aircraft are flying over. So, regulations for these aircraft will depend if the place they are delivering is in a more rural or urban location. 

“If the FedEx Office, for example, is right here in the middle of Bend [Oregan], the population density is the same as delivering to my house,” Stalford. “It’s the same issue, it’s more about population density. So, I would say it’s easier to get it for a rural than for increasing population density markers.” 

Stalford said there are other factors like detect and avoid capabilities and noise limitations that are still regulatory barriers that the FAA has not created measures of performance for yet. 

While the commercial regulators are defining regulatory requirements, there is also room in the defense industry for these aircraft types. 

“The biggest customer for autonomous aircraft is still the U.S. military,” Benson said. “This is due to the unique regulatory environment and need for reliable and ruggedized autonomous aircraft that can deliver real payloads, including both sensing and logistics missions. We see the military being influential in setting the bar for long-range, high-payload autonomous aircraft.  The military requires high levels of reliability, security and safety, which will be necessary in the commercial market when the national airspace system is made more accessible to unmanned aircraft.” 

The post Drone Companies See Opportunities in B2B Middle-Mile Logistics appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Panasonic Avionics Introduces Bundle Business Model for Airline In-flight Connectivity

September 1st, 2021   •   Comments Off on Panasonic Avionics Introduces Bundle Business Model for Airline In-flight Connectivity   
Panasonic Avionics Introduces Bundle Business Model for Airline In-flight Connectivity

Panasonic Avionics is introducing new in-flight connectivity bundles, switching to a fixed-rate model associated with how they charge airlines for IFC service. (Panasonic Avionics)

Panasonic Avionics has introduced a series of new “connectivity bundles” designed to help optimize the way commercial airlines pay for the data and bandwidth necessary to deliver in-flight internet services to passengers.

According to an Aug. 31 press release, the California-based supplier of aircraft in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) systems is making the bundles available for a fixed monthly fee. The company sees the new connectivity bundles as a way to remove the data limitations and cost uncertainty associated with charging airlines based on the amount of data or services their passengers and flight crews use on a monthly basis.

“These new bundles give airlines the flexibility to build an in-flight connectivity offering to drive impact on passenger experience, customer loyalty, and operations with Panasonic Avionics’ enterprise-wide solutions,” Hernan Abbes, Vice President of global sales at Panasonic Avionics said in the release. “It’s the latest way that we are leveraging our market experience and expertise to help airlines differentiate themselves from their competitors and help drive Net Promoter Score (NPS).”

Most airlines provide in-flight connectivity (IFC) to passengers based on one of several commonly used business models, including through a satellite operator selling capacity to an aviation connectivity service provider that then charges the airline to install equipment and enable internet service on the aircraft on a monthly basis. Some airlines establish service provider control models, where they allow the service provider to manage everything associated with passenger access to the internet including the price charged for access. Others structure access to the internet based on the aircraft, type of service, and length of flight, as well as services that the passenger is going to access, and then pay the service provider based on the number of megabytes they’ve consumed on a per-aircraft basis.

The introduction of the new bundles for Panasonic comes following the announcement of the recent in-flight connectivity (IFC) milestone for the company. On a recent China Eastern Airlines flight MU5105, passengers saw average speeds up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to the aircraft, with peak speeds reaching 200 Mbps, according to an Aug. 26 press release. The performance benchmark was enabled by the APStar 6D satellite technology jointly designed by Panasonic Avionics and APSATCOM that first became available in Asia Pacific airspace earlier this year.

With its new fixed monthly fee bundles, Panasonic is coupling its associated in-flight entertainment content and digital features as well such as payment options with Apple Pay and Alipay, mobile services, and “a team that can monitor and measure performance to further optimize the solution,” the company says. The new bundles also come with “promotional recommendations and templates” in support of individual airline marketing efforts.

“Each of the bundles is based on airline feedback and from our experience in delivering in-flight entertainment and connectivity services to more than 300 airlines,” Abbes said. “More importantly, they offer the flexibility to airline customers who want to further enhance their offering with additional solutions including Panasonic Avionics’ Advertising, Marketplace, Destination Services, our Arc 3D in-flight moving map, and our Panasonic Technical Services global support team.”

The post Panasonic Avionics Introduces Bundle Business Model for Airline In-flight Connectivity appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Inmarsat CTO Talks Impact of Future GEO-LEO-5G Network for Aviation

September 1st, 2021   •   Comments Off on Inmarsat CTO Talks Impact of Future GEO-LEO-5G Network for Aviation   
Inmarsat CTO Talks Impact of Future GEO-LEO-5G Network for Aviation

Inmarsat recently unveiled its plans to establish Orchestra, a future communications configuration that will combine existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into an integrated network.

The U.K.-based satellite operator’s technology roadmap for Orchestra extends into the 2040s, operating as a dynamic mesh network that will eventually enable “direct-to-cloud” connectivity for airlines along with a significant expansion in the amount of capacity available for existing L-band and Swiftbroadband users.

Avionics International recently caught up with Inmarsat Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Peter Hadinger to learn how Orchestra will bring improved connectivity to airlines, business aviation, and military aircraft operators.

Peter Hadinger is the Chief Technology Officer of Inmarsat.

 

Avionics International: In terms of the I-6 satellites, what makes these fundamentally different from the fourth generation spacecraft that are mentioned in the press release, and what is the enabler on these new satellites that allows for this improvement in capacity and speed for the L-band network?

Hadinger: The investment in the Inmarsat 6 series of spacecraft, which is a considerable investment, is about ensuring the longevity of our L-band services. Aviation and other mobility users have come to rely on Inmarsat for safety and many other critical infrastructure capabilities. The Inmarsat 6 investment represents an extension of that.

The launch comes almost 15 years after we launched the Inmarsat 4s, and as a result, technology has improved and we’re able to do a lot more things with the I-6s than we were able to with the I-4s. When you look at the capacity of a satellite, the capacity of satellites is a function of two things, it’s of the bandwidth and of the power and you have to have both, you cannot just have the bandwidth or just power. The Inmarsat 6 satellites have access to 50 percent more spectrum than the I-4s. That means we have a lot more bandwidth at our disposal and have nearly doubled the power on the I-6s as compared to the I-4s. The sixth-generation has nearly double the number of beams and we can generate about four times as many simultaneous channels.

 

 

Inmarsat also recently announced ELERA, as a component of Orchestra that targets an expansion in speed and capacity for the L-band network. Considering a significant number of aircraft operators use the L-band network for cockpit safety services, what will this expansion mean for them?

Hadinger: All of the cockpit safety communications we enable today have moved over time from the Inmarsat 2s and I-3s, the Inmarsat 4s, and now to the Inmarsat 6s that all carry straight through. The big users, on the high-speed end of ELERA, are going to be business aviation, where you have small aircraft antennas that today are serving private jet owners. That segment of aviation is always looking for faster and faster video conferencing and things like that onboard their aircraft. The ability to quadruple the speeds we give them means they can get more functionality out of the existing terminals they have.

It’s important to know that in almost all cases on an airplane, this network expansion and upgrade does not mean a change to the antenna. So the fuselage stays exactly the same. If you have a relatively modern radio inside, it can be upgraded as easily as using a flash drive that upgrades the software inside the radio. In other cases, it might mean swapping out a few cards in the radio, but it does not mean re-wiring the plane or having to install a new antenna or anything like that.

 

 

Considering Inmarsat envisions Orchestra as a configuration of its L-band and Global Xpress (GX) networks with terrestrial 5G and eventual low earth orbit (LEO) capacity, what will aviation users see in terms of service advancements as they’re continually rolled out and stitched together?  

ELERA is focused on the L-band space, but it is also an important piece of Orchestra. We’re seamlessly connecting together not just the L-band, but what we’re doing in GX and what we’re doing in some future infrastructures to include LEOs and 5G to make sure that we have a very large number of possible ways of getting to the end-user.

Whether that’s a pilot in the cockpit or a passenger in the cabin, Inmarsat is constantly investing in new pathways behind the scenes doing all the work to stitch it together so that the user doesn’t really care what pathway it went through. It’s just improved service that they see over time when they’re signed into an Inmarsat network.

 

 

What’re some of the main applications that ELERA as part of Orchestra can open up for business aviation operators of smaller and lighter aircraft?

Hadinger: The premier use of high-speed SwiftBroadband today is for the passengers in the back of a business aviation aircraft. However, the safety services part of SwiftBroadband is always paramount for us. One of the applications we’ve been developing for some time is work on our black box in the cloud. What this really does is it allows us to stream telemetry from the aircraft back to the operators in real-time.

Especially in the case of an emergency, this capability can essentially supercharge that telemetry rate from a given aircraft. We may not be doing this for all the aircraft, but if an airplane has an emergency situation that’s either declared or is sensed, the service goes into overdrive and starts dumping telemetry and voice data and everything else that can be streamed off the aircraft back into the cloud.

That becomes a record that’s available to investigators regardless of the outcome of an emergency. We already have a fairly significant effort in aviation started with the European Space Agency called Iris which is about improving the ability of an aircraft to know where each other are in the airspace and to take the most direct routes and to really get rid of some of the bottlenecks that exist in the air to ground VHF network by using satellite as a high-speed overlay.

Inmarsat unveiled this logo for ELERA, indicating its eye toward eventually providing connectivity to next-generation advanced air mobility aircraft. 

 

Is ELERA being rolled out globally for airspace users across all segments, including military aircraft, or is there any regional market or specific segment Inmarsat is targeting?

Hadinger: There’s nothing that Inmarsat does that is not global, so ELERA will be rolled out on a global basis. From a market perspective, the U.S. government is our single largest customer, as a customer, and almost every U.S. government transport aircraft, whether it’s transporting VIPs or transporting boxes on large freight carriers, are connected by Inmarsat worldwide. So those users will be able to take advantage of the new advancements from ELERA and Orchestra moving forward.

 

 

Inmarsat is claiming that ELERA will lead to the creation of the “smallest footprint, low-cost terminal for L-band users.” What type of form factor will that terminal have for commercial and business aircraft, and will it require modification of existing L-band terminals for the existing equipment that they operate?

Hadinger: This obsoletes, nothing of what we currently do. So if you are a user of classic aero today, if you’re a user of Swiftbroadband or Swiftbroadband safety today none of that changes. What we’re doing with ELERA through the satellite investments is making more capacity available to those L-band services. Through the ground network and advancements, it’s going to allow new products to be introduced that have either smaller form factors or lower costs for certain applications.

For example, if you wanted to have some of the same safety services features that the airlines use in general aviation aircraft, that’s where you’re looking at a terminal that needs to be quite small and much lower in cost. The opportunity to expand those services into the broader business and general aviation aircraft is also an opportunity that ELERA brings about because it does allow for the introduction of these lower-cost terminals.

We’re making investments in the satellite infrastructure and then we’re talking with our partners—those companies who build aviation equipment—about the terminals that they want to develop to use this infrastructure. We’re of course going to let them make announcements about their specific equipment that is enabled by ELERA. But what we’re doing is we’re announcing that we’re making this infrastructure available and that this infrastructure can facilitate the introduction of a whole new generation of aviation terminals.

The post Inmarsat CTO Talks Impact of Future GEO-LEO-5G Network for Aviation appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Raytheon Technologies To Acquire Flight Tracking Company FlightAware

August 31st, 2021   •   Comments Off on Raytheon Technologies To Acquire Flight Tracking Company FlightAware   
Raytheon Technologies To Acquire Flight Tracking Company FlightAware

Raytheon Technologies has reached an agreement to acquire FlightAware. (FlightAware)

Raytheon Technologies on Monday said its Collins Aerospace segment has agreed to acquire FlightAware, which provides global flight tracking services and analytics to a range of customers including airlines, airports and government.

Terms of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, were not disclosed. Houston-based FlightAware has about 130 employees.

“Global connectivity now shapes and impacts every segment of aviation,” Dave Nieuwsma, head of avionics at Collins Aerospace, said in a statement. “FlightAware is the recognized leader in data collection, analytics, and customer experience, which will help Collins unlock the full power of the connected ecosystem for our customers. FlightAware’s flight tracking and data platform, the largest in the world, has the potential to deliver new capabilities and innovations across our entire business.”

Once the transaction closes, FlightAware will become part of Collins’ Information Management Systems portfolio with the Avionics business unit.

FlightAware extracts data from its own automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast receiver devices worldwide for air traffic surveillance. The company says its global flight tracking solutions, predictive technology and analytics are used by more than 10,000 aircraft operators and service providers.

The post Raytheon Technologies To Acquire Flight Tracking Company FlightAware appeared first on Aviation Today.

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HyPoint and Piasecki Aircraft Partnership Aims to Create Hydrogen Fuel Cell System for eVTOLs

August 31st, 2021   •   Comments Off on HyPoint and Piasecki Aircraft Partnership Aims to Create Hydrogen Fuel Cell System for eVTOLs   
HyPoint and Piasecki Aircraft Partnership Aims to Create Hydrogen Fuel Cell System for eVTOLs

HyPoint and Piasecki Aircraft have formed a new partnership to develop a hydrogen fuel cell system for eVTOL aircraft (Piasecki)

With aircraft emissions and sustainability becoming a leading concern in the industry, the development of electric aircraft, like electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has accelerated. However, most of these aircraft are depending on lithium-ion batteries, which are generally heavy and not energy-dense. A new partnership between HyPoint and Piasecki Aircraft aims to solve this problem. 

HyPoint and Piasecki Aircraft have formed a new partnership to develop a hydrogen fuel cell system for eVTOL aircraft that will provide four times the energy density of existing batteries, twice the power of existing hydrogen fuel cell systems, and a 50 percent reduction in operating costs, the companies announced in an Aug. 24 press release. If successful, the companies hope to develop the world’s first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter.

“The much-anticipated arrival of eVTOLs and similar aircraft has been severely hindered by the technical limitations of existing power systems,” Alex Ivanenko, founder and CEO of HyPoint, said in a statement. “This new strategic partnership will dramatically accelerate delivery timelines by equipping eVTOL manufacturers with next-generation hydrogen fuel cell systems that meet their unique needs. Together, HyPoint and Piasecki will work to grow the emerging eVTOL market by delivering a certified multiplatform solution for eVTOL makers. In addition, we share a common vision for making safe, cost-effective zero carbon-emission flight a reality for conscientious businesses and consumers around the world.”

Piasecki is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force on certification criteria for its aircraft. (Piasecki)

The $6.5 million agreement will first develop five 650kW hydrogen fuel cell systems for Piasecki’s eVTOL PA-890 Compound Helicopter. Piasecki will retain an exclusive license to the technology created during the partnership and both companies aim to make a new system available for purchase to eVTOL makers that will be customized to their individual aircraft. 

According to HyPoint, its system will be able to get 2,000 watts per kilogram of specific power and will have up to 1,500 watt-hours per kilogram of energy density. HyPoint uses compressed air for cooling and oxygen supply to achieve these results. 

Piasecki is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force on certification criteria for its aircraft. 

“We are laser-focused on the development and qualification of a 650kW system for our PA-890 eVTOL Compound Helicopter, which would be the world’s first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter. Success will pave the way for collaboration with other eVTOL OEMs with different platform sizes to ensure broad application of this technology,” John Piasecki, President and CEO of Piasecki, said in a statement. “Initial lab testing funded by Piasecki last winter demonstrated the technical viability of HyPoint’s hydrogen fuel cell system. While we are benchmarking HyPoint’s technology against alternatives and continue to rigorously test and validate findings, we are very optimistic. Our objective is to develop full-scale systems within two years to support on-aircraft certification testing in 2024 and fulfill existing customer orders for up to 325 units starting in 2025.”

The post HyPoint and Piasecki Aircraft Partnership Aims to Create Hydrogen Fuel Cell System for eVTOLs appeared first on Aviation Today.

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What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 29, 2021

August 30th, 2021   •   Comments Off on What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 29, 2021   
What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 29, 2021

Check out the Aug. 22 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

 

Qantas Targets Return to ‘Covid-safe’ International Flying by December

(Qantas Group)

The Qantas Group posted a $16 billion revenue loss in its full-year 2021 results published on Aug. 26, as the  Australian group of airlines looks to restart international flying by the end of the year.

Along with its 2022 results, Qantas outlined its eventual return to international flying by December, to “key markets like the UK, North America and parts of Asia have high and increasing levels of vaccination,” according to an Aug. 26 press release.

“From mid-December 2021, flights would start from Australia to COVID-safe destinations, which are likely to include Singapore, the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Canada using Boeing 787s, Airbus A330s, and 737s and A320s for services to Fiji,” Qantas said in the release. “Flights to destinations that still have low vaccine rates and high levels of COVID infection will now be pushed out from December 2021 until April 2022 – including Bali, Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg. Levels of travel demand – and therefore, capacity levels – will hinge largely on government decisions on alternative requirements to mandatory hotel isolation for fully vaccinated travelers.”

 

 

DGCA Clears Boeing 737 MAX for Flights in India

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) published an order on Aug. 26 that clears the Boeing 737 MAX to start flying in Indian airspace again.

DGCA first grounded the MAX in March 2019 following the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes. The agency cites the design changes included in the airworthiness directives published by the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency last year.

“Worldwide, 17 regulators have permitted operation of Boeing 737 Max airplane. A sizable number airlines (34) with B737 Max airplane are operating currently and have attained 1,22, 824 total departures with 2,89,537 cumulative hours since the un-grounding from 9th December 2020, with no untoward reporting,” DGCA said in the order.

 

 

Delta Air Lines Expands Fleet with New Airbus A321neo Order 

A computer generated rendering of Delta’s Airbus A321neo. (Airbus)

Delta is continuing its 2021 fleet modernization strategy with a new agreement that will add 30 Airbus A321neo aircraft to its fleet.

The aircraft are being converted from purchase rights into firm orders under an existing A321neo agreement Delta has with Airbus. This marks the latest order conversion activity between Delta and the French airframe manufacturer, following a similar transaction in April when Delta and Airbus converted 25 A321neo purchase rights into firm orders and added 25 incremental A321neo options, according to an Aug. 24 press release.

 

 

Boeing Reaches $1 Billion E-Commerce Parts Milestone 

Boeing has achieved what the company describes as an “e-commerce milestone,” reaching $1 billion in online orders for aircraft parts and services, according to an Aug. 26 press release.

The milestone was driven by “e-commerce advancements” and increased demand from commercial services customers, indicating the continued market recovery from the impact of COVID-19, according to Boeing.

“We’re seeing innovation accelerated by necessity across our services business as the aerospace industry emerges from one of the toughest periods we’ve faced,” Ted Colbert, president and chief executive officer, Boeing Global Services said in the release. “The aftermarket supply chain solutions Boeing provides, such as parts support, are an essential service for our customers as they emerge from the pandemic. The digital advancements that we’re driving enable us to be nimble in our response to the uneven recovery and simplify how Boeing supports our customers.”

 

 

 

Military 

Qatar’s F-15 Gets a Name 

(Boeing)

The F-15QA will be the name of Qatar’s F-15 fighter jets, Boeing announced in an Aug. 25 press release.

The aircraft name was a collaboration between Boeing, the U.S. Air Force, and the Qatar Emiri Air Force, according to the release. The first of these aircraft will arrive in Qatar this year once pre-delivery pilot training commences.

“The rollout of the F-15QA is momentous, not just in terms of capability but also in terms of the enhanced partnership it represents. The relationship the United States shares with Qatar is critical to the stability and security of the central command area of responsibility, and we are grateful for our coalition partner’s continued focus on building interoperability and combined readiness,” Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, commander of 9th Air Force, said in a statement. “It is a privilege and honor to stand with our Qatari counterparts this day and every day.”

Boeing will operate an aircrew and maintenance training center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar through 2024, according to the release.

“The Qatar F-15QA program further enhanced next-generation technologies in the advanced F-15 such as the fly-by-wire flight controls, an all-glass digital cockpit and contemporary sensors, radar and electronic warfare capabilities,” Prat Kumar, vice president of the F-15 program, said in a statement. “Driven by digital engineering and advanced manufacturing, these aircraft represent a transformational leap for the F-15. The F-15QA will enhance the superiority of the QEAF with more speed, range and payload than any fighter in the world.”

 

 

 

DoD and DHS Receive Final C-sUAS Solution from ELTA North America 

ELTA North America’s OTM v4 for U.S. Department of Defense

ELTA North America has completed deliveries of its counter small unmanned aircraft system (C-sUAS) solution to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, the company announced in an Aug. 24 press release. 

ELTA’s C-sUAS solution, the On-The-Move V4 (OTM V4) is a multi-sensor, multi-layered mobile system, according to the release. The system provides early warning, detection, disruption, and defeat capabilities. It also provides multiple defeat capabilities with minimal to no collateral damage. 

“The OTM V4 is a truly innovative C-sUAS offering that we are proud to provide to our military forces and DHS security agents in the field,” ELTA North America CEO William Ostrowski, said in a statement. “Its ability to provide increased standoff for the safety of troops will remain a critical priority as we continue to develop advanced defense technologies.”

The OTM 4V was part of the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate (IWTSD) Mobile C-sUAS Defense-in-Depth Capability, according to the release. 

“We are very pleased with the progress ELTA North America, D-FEND Solutions, and Smart Shooter has made on the spiral development and integration of the advanced Mobile C-sUAS Defense-In-Depth Capability,” IWTSD Tactical Offensive Support Program Manager Mike Trexler said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing small tactical team operational testing and evaluations in a variety of scenarios and environments in FY 22.” 

 

 

 

F-35 Parts to Be Catalogued in System by End of Next Year, Program Says 

A forklift driver from Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Oklahoma City moves engine parts for the F-35 at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. (DLA)

In 2019, the Pentagon Inspector General found that the F-35 program was unable to track parts adequately for the Lockheed Martin fighter, as the program had not chosen an Accountable Property System of Record (APSR) required by DoD Instruction 5000.64 until October 2017 and had not catalogued parts in the system.

In response to email questions, the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. said on Aug. 26 that it will have such parts verified and catalogued by the end of next year.

“The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) is on track to meet scheduled milestones, and to have the Accountable Property System of Record (APSR) populated with verified property records by Dec. 31, 2022,” the program said. “The JPO is working directly with the Defense Logistics Agency Program Management Office for the JPO’s designated APSR, the Defense Property Accountability System (DPAS). The JPO has made considerable progress executing a multi-faceted approach to implement the APSR, while concurrently verifying property through physical inventory.”

 

Connectivity 

Next Starlink Satellites Will Have Inter-Satellite Links, Shotwell Says 

Inter-satellite links are the future of satellite data transmission. This was one point that leaders across the space and satellite value chain could agree on while speaking Tuesday, Aug. 24 at the Space Symposium in Colorado.

SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell said that every Starlink satellite that is launched in the future will be equipped with laser terminals, starting with the next launch in about three weeks.

“We’re flying a number of laser terminals right now in space, and we’re working on probably our third generation now,” Shotwell said. “In fact, that’s why we haven’t flown Starlink for weeks, because we wanted the next set to have the laser terminals on them.”

 

Euroconsult Predicts Strong Rebound for IFC Market 

Euroconsult predicts that the number of connected aircraft could double by the end of this decade, and there will be  between 16,000 and 20,000 connected aircraft by 2030. This was one of the highlights of its recent “Prospects for In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity (IFEC) 2021” report, which Euroconsult announced details of Aug. 23.

However, Euroconsult notes that this number is lower in relation to previous forecasts, as a further result of the pandemic. However, even the lower-case scenario of 16,000 aircraft shows strong growth over the course of this decade.

The 2021 edition shows that around 9,000 aircraft across 115 airlines are currently equipped with In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) terminals — a reduction of 2.5 percent compared to the previous year. Over 80 percent of these aircraft were connected through satellite connectivity, with the remainder connected through Air-to-Ground.

 

eVTOLs

Varon Vehicles Partners with D3 Technologies 

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

Varon Vehicles has announced a new traffic management system partner for its infrastructure network, D3 Technologies, according to an Aug. 24 press release. 

“We are convinced that a future UAM ecosystem must be interoperable and designed on a highest assurance level with a guiding central instance,” Achim Kostron, Chief Commercial Officer of D3 Technologies, said in a statement. “We are delighted to collaborate with Varon Vehicles and their approach of infrastructure networks developing concrete use-cases and driving them to implementation.”

D3 Technologies has developed an automated air traffic management system for UAM vehicles. Varon Vehicles’ infrastructure network will include takeoff and landing infrastructure, a fleet of UAM aircraft, and a network to connect the aircraft and infrastructure. 

“Our Traffic Management Systems (TMS) will be the central brains of our operations as it is there that our traffic of aircraft will be orchestrated in a safe and reliable manner, without burdening air traffic control or any other traditional aviation assets,” Felipe Varon, CEO and Founder, said in a statement. “We are delighted to be collaborating with D3 Technologies as they bring serious capabilities to an integrated solution providing highest aviation safety considering weather management, off-nominal situation management, airspace architecture design and real time aircraft monitoring capabilities, which are crucial for our TMS requirements.” 

 

 

 

Archer Finds Infrastructure Partner in REEF

Archer Aviation’s eVTOL aircraft will use a blend of current FAA Part 23, 27, 33, 35, and 36 requirements. (Archer Aviation)

The electric air taxi company Archer has formed a new partnership with REEF, mobility and logistic hub operator, according to an Aug. 24 release. 

“Archer is focused on developing urban aerial ridesharing networks that will ease the issues caused by excessive city congestion” Adam Goldstein, co-Founder and co-CEO of Archer, said in a statement. “We believe that working with REEF will allow us to accelerate our mission to transition congested urban areas to more sustainable forms of transportation. The ability to build out our early vertiports with light retrofitting of existing structures would allow us to scale operations while maintaining our focus on affordability for our customers.  We’re thrilled to announce this strategic relationship as we continue to execute on our roadmap towards bringing urban air mobility to reality.”

Archer will use its data technology, Prime Radiant, to find optimal landing sites within REEF’s existing network of over 4,800 parking garages in North America. 

“One of REEF’s core areas of focus is to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions by supporting incredible transportation technologies like those Archer is building,” George Fallica, REEF’s Chief Revenue Officer, said in a statement. “Archer’s focus on sustainability and transforming the everyday urban travel experience aligns closely with our own mission. We’re excited to be working with them on plans to reshape city landscapes and make existing infrastructure even more functional.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Bristow and Electra.aero Form Partnership 

Shown here, Electra’s ultra-short takeoff and landing aircraft can deliver nearly triple the payload capacity, an order of magnitude longer ranges, and less than half the operating costs. Electra is the most sustainable choice for advancing urban and regional air mobility. (Electra)

Global flight solutions provider Bristow has formed a partnership with hybrid-electric short take-off and landing (eSTOL) aircraft maker Electra.aero that includes a joint development agreement and purchase agreement for 50 of the company’s aircraft, according to an Aug. 26 press release. 

“Bristow’s deep experience operating aircraft across a variety of missions is an excellent complement to the Electra team’s extensive experience in designing and building innovative aircraft. This collaboration will lead to a more rigorous aircraft capable of addressing operators’ needs across a variety of use cases and will help Electra develop and certify an eSTOL aircraft in as short a period of time as possible,” John S. Langford, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Electra.aero, said in a statement. “As our principal launch operational customer, Bristow will benefit from early access to Electra’s aircraft, which will deliver more than twice the payload, fly longer ranges, and have substantially lower operating costs than vertical take-off alternatives — with much less certification risk. We expect to deliver 50 or more aircraft to Bristow to provide low-emission transport services in exciting new markets.”

The partnership will include collaboration on technical development, certification, marketing, and future operations of Electra’s eSTOL aircraft, according to the release. 

“Just as Bristow pioneered the vertical transportation market some 70+ years ago, this MOU sets the stage for early collaboration and development between Bristow and Electra for a new class of aircraft that will allow us to take advantage of the unique capabilities of electric and hybrid power generation technologies to substantially lower carbon emissions and operating costs. This will allow us to expand our expertise providing sustainable, innovative and efficient vertical lift and aerial transport solutions into new potential end markets like moving time-sensitive cargo and passengers regionally,” Bristow President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Bradshaw said in a statement. “As today’s global leader in vertical lift, Bristow can leverage our operational expertise to help Electra design and build the next generation of aircraft that fully utilizes the eSTOL concept in existing and new end markets.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Space 

Virgin Orbit To Go Public in SPAC Deal at $3.2B Valuation 

Virgin Orbit LauncherOne and Cosmic Girl. (Virgin Orbit)

Virgin Orbit is taking a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger to go public in a deal that values the company at $3.2 billion.

The launcher announced Monday that parent company Vieco USA, Inc. will combine with SPAC NextGen Acquisition Corp. II. The merger is expected to provide $483 million in proceeds. This includes a $100 million PIPE backed by Boeing and AE Industrial Partners, in addition to existing Virgin Orbit investors and NextGen.

 

 

NASA SpaceX Cargo Resupply Mission Launches to International Space Station

The latest SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft is bound for the International Space Station after launching at 3:14 a.m. EDT Sunday on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to an Aug. 29 press release.

The cargo Dragon, launched on SpaceX’s 23rd Commercial Resupply Services mission, is scheduled to autonomously dock at the station around 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 30, and will remain at the station for about a month, according to NASA. This latest SpaceX Dragon mission is carrying more than 4,800 pounds of science experiments, crew supplies, and spacecraft hardware.

The post What’s Trending in Aerospace – August 29, 2021 appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Boeing 737 ecoDemonstrator Flights Test Satellite Internet for Pilot-to-Controller Communications

August 28th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Boeing 737 ecoDemonstrator Flights Test Satellite Internet for Pilot-to-Controller Communications   
Boeing 737 ecoDemonstrator Flights Test Satellite Internet for Pilot-to-Controller Communications

The 2021 Boeing ecodemonstrator program, a modified Alaska Airlines 737-9, will fly with end-to-end IP-based satellite connectivity for pilot-to-controller data link communications. (Inmarsat)

The heavily modified Alaska Airlines 737-9 being operated by Boeing for its 2021 ecoDemonstrator program will provide the opportunity for Inmarsat to evaluate the use of Internet Protocol Suite (IPS)-based satellite data link communications between pilots and controllers can be securely executed.

Alaska’s 737 has been equipped with antennas, modems, and radios to enable the use of Inmarsat’s Iris satellite communications technology for data link messages—normally transmitted over Very High Frequency (VHF) radio—exchanged between the aircraft’s flight management computer and ground-based air traffic control systems. John Broughton, Inmarsat’s Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety Services, told Avionics International that the ecoDemonstrator flights will allow them to evaluate the use of Iris in a live flight environment.

“Iris adds a significant element of security wrappers around the pilot voice and data communications, which is a necessary step when you’re using satellite as a communications vehicle in continental airspace,” Broughton said. “It’s that the security wrapper, that ultimately enables implementation of true IP-based connectivity with all of the flexibility that comes with that. Another important part of the Iris program has been demonstrating that Satcom has the capability, both from a latency and a capacity point of view to be able to sit along with VHF in a multi-link capability.”

According to an Aug. 18 press release, Iris is “powered by the Inmarsat ELERA satellite network,” with the ecoDemonstrator program featuring its first use outside of European airspace. ELERA is the upgraded narrowband L-band network that Inmarsat is rolling out using capacity from two new I-6 satellites that are scheduled to be launched by the end of the year. The I-6 satellites feature 50 percent more capacity per beam than Inmarsat’s fourth-generation L-band satellites to enable speeds of up to 1.7 Mbps.

The ecoDemonstrator aircraft has been equipped with terminals and routers supplied by Cobham and Honeywell Aerospace for satellite-enabled end-to-end transfer of air traffic control safety services and messaging.

“What you’re also seeing here for the first time is end-to-end internet protocol version six (IPv6) operation going from flight management system and communications management unit through the Satcom, through to the ground-based processor,” Broughton said.

IPv6 is the next-generation IP designed to replace IPv4 and will allow more users and devices to communicate over the internet by using bigger numbers to create IP addresses. Whereas IPv4 addresses were 32 bits long, IPv6 addresses will be 128 bits long, according to Apple.

In emailed statements to Avionics last year, Paul Prisaznuk, the AEEC executive secretary and program director explained how the Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC) was finalizing its “Roadmap for IPv6 Transition in Aviation.”

Boeing Test and Evaluation, Boeing Flight Test, Flight Operations Multimedia, 737 MAX 9, 1D204, Alaska Airlines, ecoD, ecoDemonstrator, CLEEN 2, Glasgow, MT, Aerial photos

“Private networks using the Internet Protocol Suite (IPS) will be the backbone of this new aviation infrastructure. The networks will use IPv6 addressing and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS). Data comm services will be migrating from ACARS to ATN/OSI and eventually ATN/IPS,” Prisaznuk said at the time.

In recent years, Inmarsat has leveraged the use of Iris in Europe for a series of flight trials and demonstrations in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) agency to establish 4-D flight operations—aircraft tracking in four dimensions, adding time to the traditional three-dimensional measurement of latitude, longitude, and altitude.

Danny Bharj, director of aviation technology programs for Inmarsat, who also represents the satellite operator on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) committee tasked with standardizing the use of IPS in commercial air to ground communications, told Avionics that ICAO is working in collaboration with AEEC, Eurocae and Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) committees on IPS system and data transmission/interfacing standardization.

“The software required to do the IPS functionality was built specifically for this program,” Bharj said.  “Even though we have the ecoDemonstrator flying IPS functionality, the operational data that we’ll get from that, it really gives us the very basics, if not a bit more. We know that there will be issues and small areas that still need to be validated to ensure that, you know, we’ve covered all the possible use cases as we formalize them to allow the technologies to become certified avionics and certified systems.”

Results of the demonstration will also be key to proving the global rollout potential of Iris. The first deployment of Iris is expected to roll out in Europe by 2023, and then “then on a global basis over the next decade,” according to Inmarsat.

Iris is one of 20 new technologies being evaluated by Boeing using Alaska’s 737 as an airborne test lab. A major focus for the 2021 edition of the ecoDemonstrator program is around reducing fuel burn, emissions and noise, and incorporating more sustainable materials into the production of airframes.

“We selected the Iris solution for testing, as it is closely aligned to our own commitment to reduce the environmental impact of modern aircraft,” Rae Lutters, ecoDemonstrator Program Manager at Boeing, said in a statement.  “We are looking forward to evaluating Iris in a live flying environment and exploring the real-life impact such innovative technology could have when implemented on a global scale.”

The post Boeing 737 ecoDemonstrator Flights Test Satellite Internet for Pilot-to-Controller Communications appeared first on Aviation Today.

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