ATM Modernization, Business & GA, Commercial, Military

Industry Scan

By | November 1, 2000

Diel Avionik Systeme: Germany’s Largest Avionics Supplier

Champagne corks were popped and broad smiles surrounded the entry way of a branch office in Toulouse, France, in celebration in mid-September of the launching of a new company formed jointly by Diehl VA Systeme Stiftung & Co. KG and Thomson-CSF Sextant. With contracts signed in late August, the two companies established Diehl Avionik Systeme GmbH, now Germany’s largest avionics supplier.

The collaboration represents still further consolidation within the avionics industry, as well as a European counterpoise to the merger late last year of Honeywell and AlliedSignal in the United States. The new company, owned 51% by Diehl VA Systeme Stiftung and 49% by Thomson-CSF Sextant, employs more than 800 people and is expected to take in about 113 million euros ($100 million) annually. Diehl Avionik Systeme’s capital stock totals $7.21 million euros ($6.38 million). Diehl Avionik Systeme is based in Uberlingen, with facilities in Frankfurt and offices in Toulouse. Its managing directors are Dieter Spohn, chairman, Uwe-Dietmar Gross, and Detlef Grieschat.

To form the company, Diehl VA Systeme Stiftung transferred the activities of two of its divisions: BGT and VDO Luftfahrtgerate Werk GmbH. Diehl Avionik will provide a wide array of avionics equipment, including head-up and panel-mounted display systems, flight control systems, processing equipment, engine and auxiliary power unit control systems, instruments and sensors. Contact Diehl Avionik Systeme at (49) 7551 89 6842.

Smiths Acquires Orbital Sciences

For $100 million in cash, Smith Industries acquired the Fairchild Defense division of Orbital Sciences Corp. This is on top of two other aerospace-related acquisitions Smiths has made this year; it also acquired BAE Systems’ Marconi Actuation Systems and Invensys Aerospace. All told, Smiths has invested $378 million in aerospace acquisitions in 2000.

Smiths also plans to merge with the TI Group. The total benefit of all this financial activity, according to Smiths’ chief executive, Keith Butler-Wheelhouse, is annual sales in aerospace products reaching $2 billion. "That’s three times the level we were at a year ago," he comments.

Fairchild Defense produces systems that record, organize and transfer information, and that are on such aircraft as the F-16 and Mirage 2000-9. Smiths officials claim the Fairchild products complement is array of voice and data recorders, data transfer equipment and health and usage monitoring systems. See www.smiths-industries.com.

A System to Protect Wiring

Wiring problems have become a big issue of late, and in response, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Navy have contracted Eaton Corp. to develop technology that will protect electrical wiring in aircraft. The two-year contract totals $1 million.

Under the contract’s terms, Eaton will develop 20 arc fault circuit interrupters for use on aircraft such as the DC-9, which is operated by both the airlines and military. The company will adapt its technology in this area to the miniature circuit breakers in an aircraft’s 400-Hz electrical system. Eaton also will develop accompanying test procedures. For more information, see www.eaton.com.

Fatigue Meter Scores High

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has successfully completed the first flight test for a new solid-state fatigue meter developed by AMETEK Aerospace’s Gulton-Statham Products unit.

The fatigue meter was installed and flew on a Tucano turboprop airplane at Sao José Dos Campos. The aircraft underwent several flights designed to record various G loadings experienced by the aircraft. Ametek reports that the meter "performed perfectly." The new meter has a micro-machined accelerometer and solid-state electronics, and it weighs about 0.9 kg.

For more information, see www.ametekaerospace.com.

Luxell Penetrates Japan’s Market

Luxell Technologies Inc. says it received its first contract from Mitsubishi Precision Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan, to supply displays and keyboards for Mitsubishi Precision’s new control display unit (CDU). The CDU is part of the inertial navigation system (INS) that Mitsubishi Precision is supplying for the CH-47JA and CH-47J helicopters used by the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the Japanese Air Self Defense Force.

The CDU will display both latitudinal and longitudinal positioning, "fly-to" points, navigational parameters, and way points along predetermined flight routes.For details, phone Brian Kennedy at 905-206-1708, or send e-mail to bkennedy@luxell.com.

VXI, KineticSystems Partner

KineticSystems Co. LLC of Lockport, Ill., and VXI Technology Inc. of Irvine, Calif., have formed a partnership to supply their customers with a more complete line of data acquisition application solutions.

"This relationship allows us to provide our customers with data acquisition products from a leading supplier, rounding out our product portfolio, says Paul Dhillon, executive vice president for VXI Technology.

Visit www.vxitech.com or www.kscorp.com for more information.

Gowanda’s Mexican Presence

Gowanda Electronics announced it has created a Mexican subsidiary, Gowanda de Mexico, in Tijuana. The company says the new office was opened in response to strong demand from the global electronics industry and a strong business relationship with manufacturing facilities in Mexico.

Gowanda’s customers include Agilent Technologies, Tektronix and Alcatel. For more information, phone 716-532-2234, or direct e-mail to sales@gowanda.com.

Advent of ZBD

Following its spin off in July, into a new company called ZBD Displays Ltd., the UK-based Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) says it is researching a new Zenithal Bistable Display (ZBD) technology. Prelude Trust Plc, Dow Chemical Ventures, and TTP Ventures are providing funding for the research.

ZBD represents a novel liquid crystal display (LCD) technology that uses a microstructured surface to control the alignment of LC molecules. These microstructured surfaces hold the LC molecules at the surface in either of two orientations. They obviate the need for "rubbing" the substrate as is the case in conventional LCDs.

The two LC orientations in ZBD displays are equally stable and can only be switched from one to the other by a voltage pulse of appropriate polarity. This "bistability" is not affected by thermal or mechanical effects, so that once an individual ZBD pixel is switched from "black" to "white," or vice versa, it remains in that state, even when the power is switched off.

In comparison, most conventional LCDs require continual application of a voltage to each pixel to maintain one or other of the states, even if the overall displayed image is static. For more about ZBD, see DERA’s Website at www.dera.gov.uk.

Live, Global IFE by AIRIA

AIRIA, a joint venture between Live Inflight Video Entertainment and Inmarsat Ventures Ltd., announced it would be the first company to deliver live, global in-flight entertainment (IFE).

The London, UK/Annapolis, Md.-based group aims to bring live news feed and sporting-event coverage to long-haul airline passengers by the third quarter of next year. The live in-flight service will use Inmarsat’s existing network of satellites and the Inmarsat Aero H and H+ satcom antennas, which are already on 76% of modern long-haul, widebody aircraft.

For more about AIRIA, phone +44-20-7728-1030, or visit www.airiaglobal.com.

A First for Asia

Cathay Pacific Airways is expected to become the first Asian airline to trial the Airshow Network provided by Airshow Inc.

The Airshow Network can provide passengers with real-time weather, news, sports, stock quotes, and financial data from sources such as CNN Interactive, Bloomberg, Intellicast and Sportsticker. The airline also will install an upgraded Airshow moving map display system throughout its entire fleet. The Airshow Network will be trialed on a Boeing 747-400 aircraft. For more information about Airshow and its products, visit www.airshowinc.com.

CabinCall Allows Cell Phones

In what appears to be a breakthrough for air travelers that use mobile phones, BAE Systems has introduced CabinCall, a system that will allow passengers to use their personal phones safely, but under crew control, in airliners anywhere, regardless of the aircraft’s location or altitude.

The system uses existing aircraft communications bearers and manages links to the ground via satellite or terrestrial networks, supplying intercontinental communications services. CabinCall is said to resolve the safety and operational issues of mobile phone use in aircraft cabins by applying a number of patent-pending techniques. It manages the volume and frequency of radio frequency use within the cabin and can inhibit calls during critical flight phases, such as takeoff and landing.

CabinCall will hit the market in the third quarter of 2001, following in-flight demonstrations late this year. Various growth options, including Internet browsing, are projected. Further variants will be released for ARINC 752 Terrestrial Flight Telecommunications System (TFTS) and North American Telephone System (NATS) applications, along with interfaces for the ARINC 746 CTU. A partner in this technology’s development is interWAVE Communications International Inc. of San Jose, California. For additional information, visit www.baesystems.com.

Airbus E-Services

Airbus Industrie is developing Airbus In-flight Information Services, which will offer Web-based technology to passengers and airlines. Initially intended for the A340-600, entering service in 2002, it will provide airborne access to services ranging from e-mail, airline intranet, Internet, e-commerce and live TV.

It also offers operational and maintenance applications. The service will provide real-time maintenance diagnosis and permit the use of advanced cabin management services. See www.airbus.com.

LAAS in Chicago

A major step to advance the local area augmentation system (LAAS) was made in Chicago in late August when a Honeywell ground system was installed on a grassy knoll at O’Hare International Airport (ORD). By the end of this year, another Honeywell unit will be positioned atop a terminal building at nearby Midway Airport.

By the first quarter 2001, following extensive evaluation, the two ground systems are expected to provide the first publicly published Category I approaches. These will not be special Cat I (SCat I) approaches; these will be the real thing.

Chicago’s Department of Aviation made the decision to attain the LAAS capability. United Airlines, which has a hub in Chicago, has partnered with the agency and is equipping aircraft to participate in the evaluation process. Other airlines, including Southwest (which operates out of Midway) are also considering participation, according to Joe Santos, the Chicago Aviation Department’s executive assistant.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will bring its Boeing 757 to Chicago to further facilitate the evaluation process, which will be establishing procedures for approved, published approaches. Santos says the process will require a maximum of 200 flight operations at the two airports. Once the system is commissioned, it will be handed over to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for maintenance and reliability assurance.

All aircraft during the evaluation will be equipped with Rockwell Collins multimode receivers (MMRs). The MMR was expected to receive its standard type certificate in early October. LAAS approaches will be colocated with instrument landing system (ILS) approaches, i.e. the glideslopes of both systems will overlap.

For more information on the MMR, see www.collins.rockwell.com, and on the ground unit, see www.honeywell.com.

Thomson-CSF out of NATS

Thomson-CSF Group has announced its decision to withdraw as a bidder in the United Kingdom National Air Traffic Services (NATS) partial privatization tender process. Consequently, the Airsafe consortium, led by Thomson-CSF will be dissolved.

Thomson-CSF discovered, as a result of an internal investigation, a failure on its part to comply with the process rules. Contrary to the requirements of the bid process, a member of the Thomson-CSF bid team had discussions with a consultant engaged by NATS and subsequently, inadvertently, received unauthorized information. Thomson-CSF said the information received was unsolicited.

Sydney Outage

Following a recent power interruption to Sydney Airport’s Operations Centre, Airservices Australia has stated that preliminary investigations indicated the operation of a safety cutout switch in a transformer, following detection of a power fluctuation. Emergency battery power ensured that air traffic control systems were maintained.

In cases of power interruptions such as this one, and because the battery system can provide full power for about a half hour only, Airservices has contingency plans for limited operations, which require the progressive shutdown of some of the Operations Centre’s air traffic control positions.

L-3 FDRs on C-130

L-3 Communication’s Aviation Recorder division was awarded a $2.5-million contract by the U.S. Air Force to supply its solid-state flight data recorders (SSFDR) for installation in the C-130 fleet.

The contract calls for L-3 to supply the Air Force with its new Model FA2100 FDRs as a replacement for their current tape-based models. The Air Force started a program in September that involves retrofitting its C-130 fleet over the next two years. For more information, see www.L-3com.com.

DRS Gets J-STARS Job

DRS Technologies Inc. has won a $2.8-million contract to provide aircraft wire harnesses, cable assemblies, panel boxes and related equipment for the U.S. Air Force’s E-8C aircraft under the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) program.

DRS was awarded the contract by the Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Electronic Sensors & Systems Sector. Visit www.drs.com for more information.

Eurocopter Selects CMA-3000

Eurocopter has selected the CMA-3000 GPS-based flight management system (FMS) for two major EC-145 contracts awarded to BAE Systems Canada. Deliveries of 64 systems for a total of 32 aircraft are scheduled to commence in August 2000.

This FMS is used on the Swiss Army Super Puma Mk1 and Bavarian Police EC-135 helicopters, and Sextant selected the system for the CASA C-295 military transport program. The FMS interfaces with the on-board navigation sensors, radios and digital moving map displays. It is designed for operation in the en route, terminal and approach air traffic control environment.

Endevco Designs Accelerometer

Endevco Corp., a subsidiary of Meggitt Plc, has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of the Air Force Munitions Directorate at Eglin AFB, Fla., to design and manufacture a new advanced piezoresistive accelerometer.

The tool will be able to survive the extremely harsh environments faced in modern weapon system fusing. The accelerometer will have the capability to withstand the shock and high G-force encountered by an impacting bullet. For details on this, visit www.endevco.com.

New Airborne Receiver

Litton Guidance and Control Systems has selected Rockwell Collins’ new airborne selective availability anti-spoofing module (SAASM) receiver for integration in its LN-25X embedded inertial navigation system/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS) nav system.

The Collins receiver joins SAASM technology with GPS embedded Module GEM IV and GEM V software. The result is a SAASM-based GPS receiver with 12-channel, all-in-view technology.

The SAASM is a single, tamper-resistant, multi-chip security module that can be combined with other components and software in a GPS receiver.

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox