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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UPS Begins Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines with Drones in North Carolina

August 27th, 2021   •   Comments Off on UPS Begins Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines with Drones in North Carolina   
UPS Begins Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines with Drones in North Carolina

UPS is using Matternet drones to deliver COVID vaccines in North Carolina. (UPS)

UPS and its subsidiary UPS Flight Forward have begun delivering COVID-19 vaccines using drones in a new partnership with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist located in North Carolina, according to an Aug. 24 press release. 

“The delivery of COVID-19 vaccines by drone is an exciting and important step for UPS as we continue our near-perfect vaccine service delivery throughout the U.S. and around the world,” Dan Gagnon, vice president of UPS Healthcare, said in a statement. “We’re providing greater flexibility in how customers, and ultimately patients, receive temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals, which will continue to provide long-term value within the health care industry.”

The vaccines are being transported by a Matternet M2 drone that has been outfitted with a specialized cargo box with a temperature-sensitive packaging mixture, a PCM Gel solution supplied by Cold Chain Technologies. The gel solution keeps the vaccines between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, and the cargo box also includes a temperature monitoring device to make sure the vaccine stays within the correct temperature range. 

A close up of the specialized cargo box featured on the UPS drones. (UPS)

“Distributing and protecting the integrity of the COVID-19 vaccine is our top priority and we’ve successfully completed multiple test flights to ensure that the vaccine remains at the appropriate temperature throughout transit,” Jennifer Tryon, chief pharmacy officer at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, said in a statement. “The ability to use a temperature monitoring device for our COVID-19 vaccine drone delivery program also opens the door for us to transport additional items which require maintenance of the cold chain.”

The drones used in this project will fly autonomously from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to medical practices located at Piedmont Plaza, according to the release. UPS Flight Forward operators will be monitoring the autonomous flight, inspecting the Matternet M2 drones before takeoff, and watching for conflicting air traffic. 

UPS Drone delivers COVID vaccine to Piedmont Plaza. Natalie Russell, PharmD

“The WHO estimates that up to 50 percent of vaccines are wasted globally every year, largely due to temperature control failure,” Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet, told Aviation Today in a statement. “The Matternet M2 drone’s speed and ability to maintain cold chain is especially important at a time of intense Covid-19 vaccine demand and more global approvals of cell and gene therapies and biologics requiring refrigerated and frozen storage than ever before.” 

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and the practices receiving vaccines are operated through IQ Healthtech Labs. 

The post UPS Begins Delivering COVID-19 Vaccines with Drones in North Carolina appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Air Taxi Companies Ramp Up Infrastructure Plans as Aircraft Certification Looms

August 26th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Air Taxi Companies Ramp Up Infrastructure Plans as Aircraft Certification Looms   
Air Taxi Companies Ramp Up Infrastructure Plans as Aircraft Certification Looms

Lilium’s eVTOL jet will be able to travel 186 miles on a one-hour charge. (Lilium)

Electric air taxis are aiming to fill a gap in the current mobility network with flexibility similar to cars combined with the time savings of air travel. However, unlike a car, air taxis won’t be able to depart and arrive from just anywhere, and unlike traditional aircraft, only using traditional airports will hamstring air taxi capabilities. 

For these reasons, electric air taxi companies are starting to develop plans and partnerships to create infrastructure for the unique needs of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL). While the necessity of eVTOL infrastructure is not a point of contention, the locations and operational uses are still up for debate. 

A 2021 report on urban air mobility (UAM) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) found that infrastructure was cited as the biggest challenge for UAM. This infrastructure—most commonly referred to as vertiports in the industry—will be required for initial operations of UAM passenger transport. According to EASA, the most important aspects of vertiports will be their accessibility and electricity infrastructure connection. 

“Dedicated infrastructure is required for the initial operation of UAM passenger transport,” the report states. “‘Vertiports’ that enable takeoff and landing of air taxis, will probably appear in different sizes and numbers in different cities, depending on expected traffic volumes. Two important factors for determining vertiport locations will be ease of access, as well as electricity and infrastructure connection.” 

Varon Vehicles is looking at urban air mobility as an answer to mobility infrastructure problems. (Varon Vehicles)

Varon Vehicles has decided to look at UAM as mobility infrastructure instead of designing its own aircraft, Felipe Varon, founder and CEO of Varon Vehicles, told Aviation Today

“Our approach is not to see UAM as aviation – we use (nextgen) aviation, but our focus is on mobility infrastructure…We see the entire UAM operation as a new form of mobility infrastructure, comparable to roads, train systems, metro systems, cable cars, etc., but with a potential for disruption because we will have no cost-per-mile, so we can approach customers and governments in an entirely different way to generate connections, to serve different markets in pressing need for connection,” Varon said. 

The location of vertiports will be an important consideration for air taxis to be an effective part of a city’s mobility infrastructure. Varon said his company is using requirements from customers to predict vertiport locations. For example, vertiports to service tourists could be centrally located near a hotel. Although this seems self-explanatory, Varon said it has been the most challenging aspect. 

“The biggest challenge in creating vertiports is matching the idea of a vertiport with a real, down to earth, business operation,” Varon said. “That is absolutely not trivial and we’ve taken years to reach this point. Vertiport placement is complex, land allocation is not simple or cheap, we have to consider the mobility interconnection aspect of it and the airspace side of it. And then match this to an operating business case. Not an easy task.” 

The exact location of the vertiports will be tied to customers’ requirements but these vertiports will also be connected to form a network. Lilium, the eVTOL company developing the 7-Seater Jet, has already announced that it intends to create a regional network in Florida that would provide 1,200 miles of connectivity. 

“We are planning on developing our first US regional network in Florida, in partnership with Tavistock and Ferrovial, who share our vision of fast, sustainable travel,” a Lilium spokesperson told Aviation Today. “We have a planned network of 14 vertiports across Florida and project approximately 1,200 miles of connectivity…We’ve been working on a lean, modular design that will help make vertiports accessible to developers large and small.” 

Archer, the developer of Maker, created a data-tracking technology to pinpoint advantageous locations for its vertiports. 

“We’re using Prime Radiant, Archer’s data tracking technology, to determine optimal takeoff and landing locations and routes that we can put into action as soon as our UAM networks launch,” Brett Adcock, Archer’s co-founder, told Aviation Today. “Prime Radiant was developed to work in real-time in response to conditions and demand on the ground by tracking ground traffic and congestion relative to vertiport locations, allowing Archer’s eVTOL aircraft to hone in on those areas and meet demand where it’s most prevalent.” 

Deciding on the location of eVTOL infrastructure will also have to take into account if companies want to repurpose existing infrastructure or build a completely new structure. Wisk, the maker of Cora, is focusing on the development of its aircraft which it will launch using existing infrastructure. 

“eVTOL infrastructure is currently in the exploratory phase of development,” a spokesperson from Wisk told Aviation Today. “While some companies have shown initial vertiport concepts, many OEMs, including Wisk, are focused on the certification of their aircraft. Specifically, at Wisk, we intend to focus on existing infrastructure for our initial launch of services. We believe this is a more efficient and environmentally conscious approach.” 

Other companies, like Lilium, are looking towards a combination of new and existing infrastructure. Besides its operations in Flordia, Lilium will also be conducting operations at airports in Germany. 

“We have also announced our intention to set up future hubs with a number of German airports, including Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf, Munich and Nuremberg,” Lilium’s spokesperson said. 

Existing infrastructure can be locations like airports, however, eVTOLs will also be able to utilize existing buildings by converting their rooftops to vertiports. Archer announced a new partnership with REEF Technologies on Aug. 24 to do just that. 

“Our partnership with REEF Technologies to further expand our plans for urban takeoff and landing sites is emblematic of these overall efforts,” Adcock said. “Broadly, we’re open to utilizing all existing infrastructure — from parking garages, to hotels, to high-rise rooftops, and beyond — that can be retrofitted to support our vehicles for takeoff and landing, so as to minimize the amount of new construction required to support a robust UAM network.” 

REEF has a network of over 4,800 parking garages that cover 70 percent of North America’s urban population, according to the release. Archer will use its Prime Radiant technology to determine optimal locations within REEFs existing network. 

Lilium is planning to develop an eVTOL network in Florida. (slide from Lilium’s Analyst Presentation)

The infrastructure for eVTOLs will have requirements that fit into two categories: consumer needs and aircraft needs. The consumers will need places to park. The aircraft will require charging infrastructure and air traffic control technology. 

“Whether a Vertiport is designed to facilitate 20 flights per day or 20 flights per hour, it will have three common ingredients: a take-off area, parking stands and a terminal,” the Lilium spokesperson said. “It will also need high-power charging equipment, air traffic control technology for high throughput operations and digital check-in tools, but we’re working with system suppliers and industry committees to bundle this equipment into standardized ‘plug-and-play’ solutions allowing the sector to scale more rapidly.” 

There is also a possibility for vertiports to become becomes hubs. Varon’s operations will include the vertiports themselves, an airspace architecture linking the vertiports, and the eVTOL fleets operating from the vertiports. While the vertiports will provide takeoff and landing infrastructure for aircraft, the company also imagines them eventually functioning as a large mobility hub. 

“We are starting in Colombia and have chosen the city of Cartagena for first implementation, with rapid expansion plans to other regions of Colombia and Latin America,” Varon said. “Our Vertiports are quite advanced in conceptualization and general design. But initial Vertiports will not be huge mobility hubs, we will get there eventually, more towards the second half or end of this decade.” 

Vertiports can be mobility hubs by allowing access to other transportation services, however, they can also be strategically placed for other purposes. 

“Vertiports can be placed at an existing transport terminal, next to a shopping center, on top of a busy car park or alongside a suburban residential development,” Lilium’s spokesperson said. 

Currently, there are no eVTOL aircraft that have been given certification from the FAA or EASA and while companies are working on finalizing those certifications, it appears they are in the planning phase. Lilium is working on its concept of operations. 

“The concept of traffic corridors is something that has been included in a couple of future Concept of Operations (ConOps) studies – the majority of which are focused on urban air mobility and connecting landing sites within densely populated cities,” the Lilium spokesperson said. “Eventually, we will need to work out how to transition from the traditional services when flying en-route to any new system/destination located within a city.  It will be important to have a seamless and coordinated transition between any two future systems.”

Varon Vehicles is also working on planning, however, they are also looking at factors outside of technology development like public acceptance. 

“We are running plans for implementation of our first operation at this moment, start of operation is not dependent on technology but rather on other factors like public acceptance and also the pandemic situation and the Tourism market’s pickup,” Varon said. 

Companies like Wisk are hoping that public acceptance be tied to the value eVTOLs could add to local communities. Wisk is looking at the development of infrastructure from a multifaceted approach. 

“The development of infrastructure to support future eVTOL air taxi services is multifaceted and includes both the repurposing of existing infrastructure, as well as the development of new, bespoke “vertiports.” Both of these approaches present similar opportunities in several key areas from community engagement and social acceptance (zoning and permitting), to airspace integration (procedures and coordination), to energy grid and storage solutions,” Wisk’s spokesperson said. “Much like the development of eVTOL aircraft, the development of eVTOL infrastructure – if done responsibly – will add value while seamlessly integrating into local communities.” 

While eVTOL companies are already planning and developing future infrastructure, they won’t be able to complete this task alone. 

“However, it is important to recognize that to achieve scale, regulatory bodies (like the FAA, city and municipal governments, and others) must begin to take an active role in the development and repurposing of infrastructure,” Wisk’s spokesperson said. “This will ensure that new and existing infrastructure aligns with industry-wide standards, resulting in future air taxi services that are equitable and accessible for all.” 

On this issue, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it will be adjusting existing rules to meet the bespoke needs of eVTOLs. 

“The flexibility in the FAA’s regulatory framework enables us to tailor existing rules to determine certification requirements for various aspects of eVTOLs,” the FAA told Aviation Today in a statement. “In some cases, the agency could issue special conditions or additional airworthiness criteria, depending on the type of project.” 

Most of these companies say their infrastructure will launch when their aircraft do, which for some could be as early as 2024. 

The post Air Taxi Companies Ramp Up Infrastructure Plans as Aircraft Certification Looms appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Delta Air Lines Expands Fleet with New Airbus A321neo Order

August 25th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Delta Air Lines Expands Fleet with New Airbus A321neo 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.

“Adding these aircraft strengthens Delta’s commitment to replacing older fleets with more sustainable, fuel-efficient jets, and offers the best customer experience in the industry,” said Mahendra Nair, Delta’s S.V.P. – Fleet and TechOps Supply Chain. “Delta appreciates the extensive partnership with the Airbus team in support of our strategic growth plans, and we look forward to continuing to work together throughout the recovery and in the years ahead.”

There is currently 121 total of the A321ceo family and the newly announced purchase commitments bring the total firm orders to 155 A321neo aircraft. Powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G turbofan engines, Airbus claims that the A321neo has 12 percent greater fuel efficiency on a per-seat basis than A321ceo aircraft.

Delta revealed its new design for A321neo premium seats last year. (Delta Air Lines)

Interior seating accommodates up to 194 passengers, with 20 in First Class, 42 in “Delta Comfort+” and the final 132 in the main cabin. In May, Delta agreed to a deal with Viasat that will deploy the company’s in-flight connectivity (IFC) on more than 230 aircraft, including select aircraft from the A321neo fleet.

“As the industry looks to emerge from the pandemic, Delta is showing responsible leadership and casting a strong vote of confidence now in the A321neo,” Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International said in a statement. “With orders for 30 more of an aircraft that is in very high demand around the globe, our partners at Delta are underscoring the strategic role they see for the A321neo with its outstanding environmental performance for the airline’s renowned customer service and reliability for years into the future.”

Delta has purchase rights for an additional 70 A321neos. The airline expects to take delivery of its first A321neo in the first half of 2022, with deliveries of these aircraft continuing through 2027.

The post Delta Air Lines Expands Fleet with New Airbus A321neo Order appeared first on Aviation Today.

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FAA Funds $20.4M in Grants to Lower Airport Emissions, Invest in Electric Vehicles, and Charging Infrastructure

August 25th, 2021   •   Comments Off on FAA Funds $20.4M in Grants to Lower Airport Emissions, Invest in Electric Vehicles, and Charging Infrastructure   
FAA Funds $20.4M in Grants to Lower Airport Emissions, Invest in Electric Vehicles, and Charging Infrastructure

FAA headquarters in Washington DC. (U.S. Department of Transportation)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is making a push to lower airport emissions with $20.4 million in new grants to improve air quality at airports, purchase zero-emissions vehicles, and create electric charging infrastructure, the agency announced on Aug. 24. 

The FAA’s Zero-Emissions Vehicle program and President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act will provide $5.9 million in grants to four airports for zero-emissions vehicles. The airports—California’s John Wayne/Orange County Airport, Indiana’s Indianapolis International Airport, North Carolina’s Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, and Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport—will receive varying amounts of money that will go towards electric subtle buses and charging stations. 

Funds from the FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission Program and the American Rescue Plan Act will provide $14.5 million to reduce airport and ramp equipment emissions at nine airports including Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma Airport, San Diego International Airport, Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field, Fort Wayne International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. These airports will purchase mobile ground power units, charging stations, per-conditioned air units, and electric multi-use vehicles. 

“Transportation might be the biggest emitter of CO2, but that means we have the opportunity to be a big part of the solution,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. “These grants put us on the right path to build a more sustainable aviation system.”

The FAA also announced that the White House and multiple federal agencies such as the Energy Department, Agriculture Department, the FAA, and NASA would be holding a roundtable with public and private sector leaders to discuss the decarbonization of the aviation sector. 

The post FAA Funds $20.4M in Grants to Lower Airport Emissions, Invest in Electric Vehicles, and Charging Infrastructure appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Navy Awards PteroDynamics Contract for VTOL Drone

August 25th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Navy Awards PteroDynamics Contract for VTOL Drone   
Navy Awards PteroDynamics Contract for VTOL Drone

PteroDynamics’ drone can fold its wings to fly like a fixed-wing aircraft in forward flight. (PteroDynamics)

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) has awarded PteroDynamics a contract to supply three of its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drones for its Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS program, the company announced in an Aug. 23 press release. 

In Nov. 2020, NAWCAD acquired a drone for long-range naval ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore cargo transport nicknamed the Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS.  This project was started in 2019 when an analysis found that 90 percent of critical repair cargo delivered by helicopters at sea weighed less than 50 pounds. 

“Using unmanned, autonomous aircraft for delivery of these critical payloads is an important capability for the Navy to have,” Blue Water’s project lead Bill Macchione said in a statement. “The innovative design of PteroDynamics offers significant potential for both military and civilian missions.”

The drone PteroDynamics will be supplying the Navy with has a Transwing design with wings that fold when the aircraft transitions from lift to forward flight. This allows the aircraft to function as a rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft. In the Nov. 2020 release from the Navy, Macchione said they were exploring the possibility of aircraft with folding wings. 

The drone will use common off-the-shelf batteries and is able to carry 15 pounds of payload for at least 50 nm, Kayla Jones, special projects analyst at PteroDynamics, told Aviation Today via email. 

PteroDynamics’ drone uses VTOL capabilities when its wings are unfolded. (PteroDynamics)

“This is an exciting milestone for our distinctive VTOL aircraft,” Val Petrov, PteroDynamics’ founder and CTO, said in a statement. “Our design is well suited for operations on ships where windy conditions and tight spaces challenge other VTOL aircraft during takeoffs and landings.”

Jones said PteroDynamics will continue testing with the Navy in June 2022 after the three aircraft are delivered. 

“PteroDynamics hopes to move forward with the Navy after this project to a larger, hybrid-electric variant of this Transwing cargo VTOL design that would have a max MTOW of 320 lb (145 kg) able to carry payloads up to 50 lb (23 kg) over significantly longer ranges,” Jones said.

The post Navy Awards PteroDynamics Contract for VTOL Drone appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Civil Reserve Air Fleet Activated to Assist in Evacuations from Afghanistan

August 24th, 2021   •   Comments Off on Civil Reserve Air Fleet Activated to Assist in Evacuations from Afghanistan   
Civil Reserve Air Fleet Activated to Assist in Evacuations from Afghanistan

American Airlines Airbus A321. Photo, courtesy of Glenn Beltz / CC BY 2.0.

The post-World War II Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) has been activated for the third time as the Department of Defense conducts evacuations of Afghanistan after the fall of the government and Taliban takeover. 

CRAF allows the Department of Defense to use commercial aircraft; in this case, the aircraft are being used to evacuate U.S. citizens and personnel, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants, and other at-risk individuals from Afghanistan. The Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the activation in an Aug. 22 press release from the Defense Department. 

The Stage I activation will include 18 aircraft from six different airlines. American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, and Omni Air will all provide three aircraft, Hawaiian Airlines will provide two aircraft and United Airlines will provide four aircraft. According to the release, the Defense Department does not expect CRAF to cause major impacts to commercial flights. 

In a statement released on Aug. 22, Delta said it had been in contact with the DoD for days prior to the announcement and that flights would begin Monday morning. Delta said it will use available spare aircraft for the mission as to not interrupt commercial operations. 

“For decades, Delta has actively played a role in supporting the US Military and our troops,” John Laughter, Delta E.V.P. and Chief of Operations, said in the statement. “And we are again proud to pledge Delta people and our aircraft in support our country’s relief efforts.”

In a release from Atlas Air, the company said it was standing by with additional capacity if the Defense Department should need it. 

“As the largest supplier of airlift to the U.S. military, we are proud to provide this essential passenger service in the region at this critical time,” the company said in a statement. “Atlas is a company that cares for the world we carry, and our team feels a tremendous sense of responsibility in serving the needs of the U.S. military and our nation.”

The flights provided by commercial airliners will not be flying into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, the Defense Department stressed. These aircraft will be used to transport passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases. 

“Activating CRAF increases passenger movement beyond organic capability and allows military aircraft to focus on operations in and out of in Kabul,” the DoD said in a statement. “CRAF is a National Emergency Preparedness Program designed to augment the Department’s airlift capability and is a core component of USTRANSCOM’s ability to meet national security interests and contingency requirements.  Under CRAF, the commercial carriers retain their Civil Status under FAA regulations while USTRANSCOM exercises mission control via its air component, Air Mobility Command.” 

CRAF was created following the Berlin Airlift and has been activated twice before, first to support Operations Desert Shield/Storm in 1990 and 1991 and again for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002 and 2003. 

All of the airlines included in CRAF have announced statements in support of the activation. 

“We have been called to duty under the Civil Reserve Air Fleet to support the emergency evacuation of Kabul, Afghanistan,” Hawaiian Airlines posted on Twitter. “We are proud to join the U.S. DoD & our fellow air carriers in the humanitarian effort to bring to the U.S. our citizens & the Afghans who supported them.” 

The post Civil Reserve Air Fleet Activated to Assist in Evacuations from Afghanistan appeared first on Aviation Today.

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