ATM Modernization, Business & GA, Commercial, Military

Industry Scan

By Jonathan Ray | March 1, 2007

Study Outlines European ATM Need

Like the United States, Europe is in dire need of a modernized air traffic management (ATM) system, or it faces air traffic congestion, airport slowdowns and eventually severe economic consequences, according to an ongoing study.

The Single European Sky ATM Research Program (SESAR) late last year produced the second, "D2" deliverable of its definition phase contract for modernization of the continent’s ATM system.

Under the definition phase, SESAR will deliver by March 2008 a European ATM master plan covering the period to 2020. The second, implementation phase will involve development and deployment of the master plan initiatives. Development is planned from 2008 to 2013, with deployment starting in 2014.

The definition phase is co-funded by Eurocontrol and the European Commission. Work is being performed by a consortium of 30 companies and organizations.

European air-traffic demand in 2020 is projected to be twice the demand in 2005, rising from 9.1 million flights to about 18 million. Some European airports will struggle to accommodate such growth. The top 20 airports will be saturated for 8 to 10 hours a day, the study predicts.

The expectation is that the growth in air traffic will be constrained to about 1.7 times the level in 2005, resulting in an ability to accommodate only 16 million flights. If airport capacity fails to meet demand, there could be a potential yearly loss to Europe of 50 billion Euros ($66 billion) of added value in 2020 growing to 90 billion Euros ($118.8 billion), according to the study.

Airport saturation

The average annual growth in the number of European IFR flights for the forecast period of 2006 to 2020 is projected to be 4.2 percent. However, without major expansion plans, airports will constrain this growth to around 3.4 percent per year, the study predicts.

"As 70 percent of the 50 largest European airports have reached their saturation points today, a clear vision is needed of how to both create more capacity to ensure the European economy overall remains competitive and to ensure the best operations," the study stated.

The SESAR program’s overall goals are to achieve an ATM system that can accommodate a three-fold increase in capacity and reduce delays, both on the ground and in the air; improve safety performance by a factor of 10; yield a 10-percent reduction in the environmental impact of flights; and reduce the cost of ATM services to airspace users by at least 50 percent.

The system should incorporate new technologies and procedures that can "optimize the use of the available airport capacity commensurate with meeting the environmental performance requirements, which will surely accompany them," according to the study. Also required will be improvements in coordination during tactical flight planning of arrival and departure times, and enhancements in all-weather capability to maintain the capacity of airports under all conditions.

The study says the long-term concept for the European ATM system will be defined at a later stage of SESAR, but "at this stage it is believed the system will encompass better and safer use of airspace which captures the best use of advanced aircraft capabilities and increased use of digital data communication as an enabler of aircraft/ground and ground/ground... communication improvement.

"ADS-B [Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast]... is recognized as a prime enabler of critical ATM applications, bringing potentially substantial safety and capacity benefits. Moreover, ADS-B is also supported by GA [general aviation] and guarantees the required interoperability with the USA," the study says.

The first deliverable contract identified several blocking points to the future ATM system, including time, costs, environmental impacts and safety. The study said savings of $659.8 million to $1.3 billion a year could be achieved by increasing capacity. One third of that could be derived from more efficient use of existing airspace and airport resources. — Emily Feliz

GE Eyes Smiths Aerospace

General Electric in January said it plans to acquire U.K. aircraft systems supplier Smiths Aerospace.

The $4.8 billion transaction, which must be approved by Smiths shareholders and U.S. and European regulators, would add Smiths’ flight management systems, electrical power management, mechanical actuation systems and airborne platform computing systems to GE’s commercial and military aircraft engines and related services.

If approved, the transaction also would expand GE’s footprint in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is set to fly later this year. Smiths is supplying the Common Core central computing system, enhanced flight data recorder and other components; GE is providing its GEnx turbofan, one of two engine options. The Smiths deal comes six years after GE’s attempt to buy Honeywell was foiled by European regulators in 2001.

The move will also increase GE’s position on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), in which Smiths has a presence estimated to be between $6 billion and $7 billion over the life of the aircraft. Smiths parts on the JSF include electrical power management system, standby flight display system and weapons control and data management.

"GE and Smiths fit together well because our product offerings are complementary, and because we have similar customers and deep domain expertise in this industry," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. "This acquisition is consistent with our strategy to invest in high-technology infrastructure businesses that deliver strong growth, earnings expansion and higher margins." Visit www.geae.com.

TransDigm Avionics Buy

Aviation components manufacturer TransDigm Group in January announced a definitive agreement to acquire Aviation Technologies for $430 million in cash.

Aviation Technologies consists of two primary operating units: Avtech, a supplier of flight deck and passenger audio systems, cabin lighting and power-control products and components; and ADS/Transicoil, a supplier of displays, clocks, brushless motors and related components. The privately owned company employs 600 people and had estimated 2006 revenue of $105 million.

Cleveland-based TransDigm manufactures ignition systems and components, gear pumps, mechanical/electromechanical actuators and controls, NiCad batteries/chargers, power conditioning devices, hold-open rods and locking devices, engineered connectors, latches and cockpit security devices, lavatory hardware and specialized AC/DC electric motors.

"This is the first sizeable acquisition opportunity that we have seen in several years that meets our stringent strategic, operational and value-creation criteria," said W. Nicholas Howley, TransDigm chairman and CEO.

Aviation Technologies "fits well with our consistent focus on proprietary aerospace components with broad platform positions and significant aftermarket content." Visit www.transdigm.com.

Esterline to Buy CMC

Aerospace company Esterline Corp. in February said it will pay $335 million to acquire Canadian avionics company CMC Electronics.

Esterline, Bellevue, Wash., said the deal will expand its avionics business and "fits our stated strategy to consolidate manufacturers of superior aerospace systems and components."

Esterline’s and its operating companies’ products include lighted switches and displays for commercial and military aircraft; integrated display and control switches; illuminated push-button switches and indicators; integrated switch panels; and military voice and data switching systems.

The deal "takes us a long way in adding to the tool kit of solutions that we are assembling for our avionics customers. And, it is in line with requests from those customers that we expand the value-added products and services we bring to them," said Robert W. Cremin, Esterline’s CEO.

CMS products include aeronautical communications systems, electronic flight bags, enhanced vision systems, flight deck systems integration, navigation sensors and display and control systems. Visit www.esterline.com.

White House R&D Policy

The White House in December released a national policy intended to guide federal aeronautics research and development through 2020. The policy calls for interagency cooperation and government support of commercial and academic research to achieve its stated goal of advancing the U.S. technological leadership in aeronautics.

What the policy doesn’t contain is a way to pay for the "broad-based national foundational research program" it envisions. That was left to the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy who, by presidential order, must review federal funding and activities related to aeronautics and submit, within a year, an R&D and related infrastructure plan. The policy "includes the tools necessary to revive federal aeronautics programs, but it must be backed up with money," said John Douglass, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). "We are thankful the administration has recognized the importance of aeronautics in strong and forceful language," he added. "The challenge now is to make the financial commitment match the policy."

AIA decried the reduction in federal funding for NASA aeronautical research in particular, which has declined more than 40 percent since 1994, the association said.

The aeronautics policy was required by the Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Related Agencies appropriations bill of 2006. The policy was developed by a committee of the National Science and Technology Council.

Roles and responsibilities are spelled out for NASA, FAA, the National Science Foundation and the departments of Defense, Commerce and Homeland Security. NASA’s research effort should be aimed at "preserving the intellectual stewardship and mastery of aeronautics core competencies." FAA should conduct applied research in areas supporting safety, the environment and air-traffic management. Among its goals and objectives, the policy calls upon the government to provide "long-term stability and focus in innovative research," to develop advanced aircraft concepts and technologies, and to develop and pursue technologies that enable increased air-traffic capacity and participation of advanced aircraft concepts in the national airspace.

"As demand for air transportation continues to increase, traditional approaches to meeting this demand will need to give way to more innovative multidisciplinary approaches that integrate traditional aircraft systems with air transportation management systems," the policy said.

AIA said one of the most important programs that will benefit from the policy is the multi-agency Joint Planning and Development Office planning the Next-Generation Air Transportation System. "This demanding effort requires interagency and industry coordination and collaboration, and the new policy underscores the importance of integrating different programs and budgets to meet its goals," AIA said. Visit www.aia-aerospace.org.

Boeing, Lockheed Pact

Lockheed Martin and Boeing announced a blockbuster "strategic alliance" to compete for coming requirements of the Next-Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS), the collaborative, satellite-based air traffic management (ATM) construct planned for 2025.

Company officials discussed the alliance in a Jan. 22 conference call that was long on potential implications, but short on specifics. "We’re here to figure out ways collectively, by combining the strengths of our two companies, to drive the availability, the technology, the methods and the concept of operations," said Judy Marks, president of Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions. "What we’re announcing with this alliance is basically our intent to team."

Lockheed Martin, with $39 billion in revenue, brings its expertise in automation technology and "50-year legacy" in air traffic control support, Marks said.

Boeing, with $59 billion in sales, brings strength in aircraft systems, avionics, aviation operations and airspace simulation and modeling. The companies said they will focus initially on networked information sharing, advanced operational concepts and global interoperability.

"We believe that our complementary capabilities puts us, and puts the nation, on the fastest possible track to a Next-Gen ATM system, with the highest probability," said Kevin Brown, Boeing Phantom Works vice president and general manager of Advanced Air Traffic Management.

Last October, Lockheed Martin announced a team including Sensis Corp., Harris Corp. and Honeywell to pursue FAA’s requirement for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, a stepping stone to NGATS. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com, www.boeing.com.

EVS for Boeing Bizjets

Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) and Rockwell Collins have partnered to upgrade Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) for BBJ operators, the companies said.

Rockwell Collins teamed with Max-Viz, Portland, Ore., to complete certification of EVS on the BBJ. It will incorporate a Max-Viz multi-wavelength infrared sensor into the Rockwell Collins Head-up Guidance System (HGS). BBJ operators that upgrade will also require an upgrade to their HGS 4000 and the infrared camera.

The offering will be available to BBJ customers through Boeing and Rockwell Collins service bulletins. Certification of the system is expected by early 2008. Visit www.boeing.com.

United EFB Program

United Airlines’ fleetwide installation of electronic flight bags (EFB) will be just the first phase of its "AIRborne InterNET" program that eventually will include maintenance and passenger applications.

Chicago-based United will install dual, Class II EFBs in the cockpits of some 500 aircraft. Rita S. Schaaf, automation systems manager with the airline, described the effort Jan. 10 at the FAA New Technologies Workshop in Arlington, Va.

The cockpit EFBs will display near real-time weather, navigation charts and online flight manuals. Future capabilities may include surface moving maps, which cannot currently be deployed on Class II EFBs, and cabin surveillance.

The EFB rollout to pilots "has to be a success," Schaaf said, because other, planned network applications will follow. Maintenance applications could include minimum equipment lists, logbooks, flight-data downloads and problem reporting; passengers could access booking, buy-on-board and Internet services.

Schaaf said considerable attention was paid to designing an EFB interface that pilots can effectively use. The devices will have 10-inch diagonal displays and a software keypad to input data, with no keyboard. Pilots will carry charts and manuals on a memory stick that can be inserted into the EFB to upload revisions.

The airline is basing its EFB functionality on the standard of an integrated office suite of products. "There’s a reason why Apple and Microsoft succeeded very, very nicely with their single user interface model — it works," Schaaf said. "We need to apply that lesson to the EFB environment." — Bill Carey

Boeing’s Wired 787

Boeing scrapped plans to use a wireless system to deliver broadband in-flight entertainment (IFE) on the 787 Dreamliner, set to fly for the first time in August, citing technology and weight concerns.

Boeing said switching from a wireless to a wired IFE system produces a net weight reduction of about 150 pounds.

Also, Boeing could not get permission to use certain wireless frequencies from some countries. Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter declined to say which countries were unwilling to approve the frequencies, but said the United States was not among them. The wired system will deliver higher quality and more stable performance, Gunter said. She said further IFE advancements are planned for the 787 in the next few years.

"We are working with the industry to deliver a wireless broadband solution for laptop users but expect this will not enter service on the first airplanes. It is not expected to be ready until late 2009," Gunter said. Visit www.boeing.com

Continental Powers Up

Continental Airlines is enhancing in-flight entertainment options and in-seat AC power ports on its fleet of Boeing 757s.

The airline said it completed the installation of Audio/Video on Demand (AVOD) in the "BusinessFirst" cabins of its fleet of 41 757s, which are used primarily on transatlantic flights out of its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport. AVOD systems will be installed in economy cabins beginning this summer.

The system allows customers to choose from movies, short-subject programs, music, video games and a program that teaches foreign language.

Continental also plans to install AVOD in both the BusinessFirst and economy cabins of its Boeing 777 fleet. The first 777 with the new system was scheduled to enter service in March. The entertainment systems on these aircraft will allow customers to choose from more than 250 movies, 300 short-subject programs and 150 CDs.

Continental is also increasing the number of in-seat AC power ports on its 757s. Power ports are available in each of the 16 BusinessFirst seats and in economy class seats located forward of the overwing emergency exit.

These will be the first Continental aircraft to be equipped with power ports that accept the standard electric plugs from most countries around the world. No special adapter is necessary.

AC power ports will be installed throughout the economy section when AVOD is added to the main cabins of the 757s.

Continental’s 777 and 767 fleets already have the EmPower 15V DC system, which uses special adapter cables for the in-seat power.

The airline said it plans to deploy in-seat power in more aircraft to support the anticipated increased use of on-board electronics. Visit www.continental.com.

Rannoch in China

A subsidiary of Rannoch Corp., Alexandria, Va., signed two agreements with China to deploy its Multisensor Surveillance System (MSS) to provide parallel runway monitoring and surface management for Beijing International Airport. Financial details were not disclosed.

ERA said its selection by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is believed to be the first time wide area multilateration technology will be used for a parallel runway monitoring system.

Previously, only specially designed, electronically scanned radar has been deemed acceptable for use in guiding aircraft on approach to parallel runways.

With a double-digit increase in traffic expected at the airport this year, ERA said the MSS system will allow the airport to more efficiently utilize capacity.

MSS is based on eXtended ADS (ADS-X), which enables highly accurate tracking of aircraft by combining a variety of techniques, including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and multilateration.

ERA said the system is cheaper and more efficient than conventional radar.

Park Air Systems, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, is providing the Advanced-Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (A-SMGCS) services, while Rannoch’s network of sensors will provide the real-time surveillance data, Rannoch spokesman Michael Gundling said.

Gundling said manufacture of the Beijing sensors is underway. Installation is scheduled for the third quarter.

In December, Rannoch announced an agreement to deploy the MSS system at airports managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The company said the system will upgrade aircraft tracking, identification and billing systems at JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and Teterboro Airports. Visit www.rannoch.com.

Swedish Surveillance

The Swedish airport authority said it will use the Sensis Corp. Multistatic Dependent Surveillance (MDS) multilateration system in an effort to improve traffic flow on the ground at the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport.

Sensis, East Syracuse, N.Y., and Luftfartsverket Air Navigation Services (LFV) said the system will improve "overall system reliability and safety by providing heightened surveillance accuracy and automated labeling of aircraft and vehicles." Sixteen remote sensors will be deployed in the next year.

The Sensis multilateration system uses low-maintenance, non-rotating sensors to detect and track the movement of aircraft or vehicles based on their transponder signals. The system is compatible with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) applications.

"Multilateration is a low-cost transitional technology that addresses our customers’ current high accuracy surveillance needs leveraging existing aircraft transponders, and their potential future need for ADS-B," said Marc Viggiano, president, Sensis Air Traffic Systems division. Visit www.sensis.com.

Passive Locator

BAE Systems demonstrated a passive location capability, which it says will make it easier for aircraft to identify enemy positions in crowded radio-frequency (RF) environments.

BAE said the system for the first time demonstrated the ability to "nearly instantaneously construct a geo-location solution, without the need for multiple aircraft to simultaneously receive the same pulse of an enemy radar signal."

BAE used a T-39 twin-engine utility jet and a ground station performing as a "virtual" aircraft to show the aircraft’s ability to calculate geo-location, or latitude and longitude relative to the aircraft’s location, with any RF signal.

The on-board electronics needed for the system include a digital receiver, data link and GPS, said Hugh Kao, BAE Systems technical director.

The demonstration, which followed a month of tests sponsored by the Lockheed Martin-led Joint Strike Fighter program, occurred in October at the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif. "The battlespace is a complex environment that is increasingly saturated with RF energy. These conditions make it hard for multiple aircraft to simultaneously detect the same signal," Kao said in a statement.

"The technology we have demonstrated enables accurate real-time geo-location of threat signals from bits and pieces of data." Kao said he’s seen "a lot of customer interest" in the systems. Visit www.baesystems.com.

EMS Satcom Surveillance

Canada’s transportation department chose an EMS Satcom data system for use on its marine surveillance aircraft.

Transport Canada will use EMS Satcom’s eNfusion Broadband high-speed data system on its Dash 8 aircraft under the National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP), designed to detect polluting in Canadian waters. The system was integrated with Swedish Space Corp.’s (SSC) Maritime Surveillance System to allow for real-time transmission and replay of data. The integrated system also allows aircraft to cover a wider geographical area in all weather conditions. Another Dash 8 will be outfitted later this year.

The marine surveillance suite consists of EMS Satcom’s AMT-3800 High-gain Antenna, HSD-400 High-speed Data Terminal and CNX-200 Network Accelerator. SSC provides its Side Looking Airborne Radar, Infrared/Ultraviolet line scanner, Airborne Automated Identification System (for receiving ship identity information) and an electro-optical infrared camera system, along with a high-resolution digital photography and video camera system to document evidence.

"The surveillance system will enable Transport Canada to detect very fine details on the sea’s surface and provides excellent imagery for oil spill detection as well as information about currents and other environmental phenomena," said Louis Armstrong, Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance program manager. "This all-weather radar... will expand our surveillance capabilities, while also mitigating the limitations of poor weather." Visit www.emssatcom.com.

Tactical Radar System

Raytheon won a $135.4 million contract from U.S. Special Operations Command to develop a new tactical radar for rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems division, based in El Segundo, Calif., will perform the work in Dallas and McKinney, Texas.

The system design and development contract calls for Raytheon to build, test and integrate the new Silent Knight radar. The system will serve as a common, multi-mode terrain following/terrain avoidance radar for platforms including the MH-47G helicopter, the program’s lead aircraft.

The system also will provide navigation support, ground mapping and weather information to air crews, Raytheon said. Silent Knight eventually will be fielded on MH-60M, MC-130H and CV-22 block 30 aircraft.

The cost plus incentive fee contract, potentially valued at more than $164 million, contains an option for six low rate initial production units. Principal partners include AIC, Crestview, Fla.; DRS Technologies, St. Louis; and Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Visit www.raytheon.com.

Radar Data Link

Raytheon won a $9.7 million contract from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to develop the next-generation wideband common data link for active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar systems.

Raytheon said the five-year program calls for it to develop specifications and open-standard interfaces for a radar common data link to determine how it would operate with current and future AESA systems, to formulate concepts of operations with the Air Force and to demonstrate feasibility.

Raytheon teamed with L-3 Communications and Boeing on the program. L-3 will provide experience with common data link waveforms. Boeing is the platform partner for integration of the AESA technology on the F-15 and F/A-18 aircraft. Visit www.raytheon.com.

F-16 Fire Control

Northrop Grumman won a $49.7 million contract to provide its airborne fire control radar system for 52 F-16s for the Pakistan Air Force.

The contract, awarded by the U.S. Air Force, calls for Northrop Grumman to manufacture and install its AN/APG-68(V)9 system on 18 new F-16 Block 52+ aircraft, with retrofit kits for 34 existing F-16 A/B Block 15 aircraft. Delivery is set for 2008. The contract includes options to equip up to 44 more F-16 aircraft with the AN/APG-68(V)9 radar. This would involve the manufacture of complete radar systems for 18 new F-16 Block 52+ aircraft, with retrofit kits for an additional 26 F-16 A/B Block 15 aircraft.

The AN/APG-68(V)9 system has high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and provides extended air-to-air detection range, increased reliability and lower support costs. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.

Turkish F-16 Contract

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $635 million contract from the U.S. government to upgrade Turkish Air Force F-16s.

The company will provide 216 modernization kits for Turkish F-16C and F-16D models, including flight testing, training and technical support. The contract continues work started under an initial contract in July 2005, based on an agreement between the U.S. and Turkish governments.

Work will be conducted at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas, and at Tusas Aerospace Industries in Ankara, Turkey, through February 2016. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com.

Falcon 50 STC

Landmark Aviation received FAA supplemental type certification (STC) for installation of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Integrated Display System IDS on Dassault Falcon 50 aircraft.

The IDS upgrade for the Falcon 50 can be configured with three or four 8-inch-by-10-inch active matrix LCDs and includes Rockwell Collins Integrated Flight Information System, enabling electronic charts, weather and map overlays. Options such as an Attitude Heading Reference System and Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System can be added. Visit www.landmarkaviation.com.

Avionics Turnaround

Rockwell Collins renewed its agreement with fractional ownership company Flight Options, of Cleveland, providing turnaround-time shipment of avionics units on more than 130 Flight Options aircraft within 24 hours.

The five-year Exchange Services agreement covers Beechjet 400A, Hawker400XP, Citation III, Citation V, Hawker 800XP and Challenger 601 aircraft.

"The agreement provides Flight Options a guaranteed availability of assets across its expanding fleets and significantly reduces the administrative costs associated with operations," said Scott Gunnufson, vice president of business operations for Rockwell Collins Services. Visit www.flightoptions.com.

E-10A Contract

Northrop Grumman received a contract valued at $256 million for the E-10A Multi-Sensor Command and Control aircraft.

The contract covers design and analysis of the E-10A Technology Development Program (TDP) through initial design review, scheduled for May.

The E-10A integrates Northrop Grumman’s Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program Wide-Area Surveillance sensor and its Battle Management Command and Control mission suite into an airborne system that provides a combination of cruise missile defense, ground moving target tracking and dissemination of time-critical data.

"The E-10A TDP is designed to test the next-generation wide area surveillance system, which is designed to provide advanced integrated ground and air surveillance targeting capabilities available to the war fighter," said Dave Nagy, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Programs.

The E-10A program is managed by the U.S. Air Force Material Command’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

Northrop Grumman also announced an Air Force contract to provide 42 additional Litening Advanced Targeting systems for a range of aircraft.

The system is a self-contained, multi-sensor laser target-designating and navigation system that enables aircrews to detect, acquire, track and identify ground targets for accurate delivery of both conventional and precision-guided weapons. It is deployed on AV-8B, A-10, B-52, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.

Australia UAV Order

Boeing Australia in January won its second unmanned aerial vehicle contract in a month with a deal to provide reconnaissance and surveillance services to the Australian Army using the ScanEagle autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The ScanEagle system provides immediate, operational imagery coverage for the Australian Army while the I-View UAV system is introduced.

Boeing, which partners with designer Insitu, Bingen, Wash., to provide the low-cost, long-endurance UAV system to military customers, is providing assistance with system operations.

In December, Boeing Australia signed a deal to deliver Australia’s first tactical unmanned aerial vehicle capability under Joint Project 129.

ScanEagle, which is four feet long with a 10-foot wingspan, carries either an electro-optical or an infrared camera. Both are inertially stabilized. The gimbaled camera allows the operator to easily track stationary and moving targets.

ScanEagle is launched autonomously via a pneumatic wedge catapult and flies pre-programmed or operator-initiated missions guided by GPS and its onboard flight control system. Visit www.boeing.com.

Army Chinook Order

Boeing and the U.S. Army signed contracts valued at more than $1.5 billion for up to 66 CH-47F Chinook helicopters.

The contracts include 16 new CH-47Fs and nine remanufactured CH-47Fs valued at $624 million. The contracts include options for 22 additional new CH-47Fs and 19 remanufactured CH-47Fs valued at more than $920 million. Deliveries will begin in early 2008.

The CH-47F features a newly designed, modernized airframe and a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System advanced digital cockpit. Boeing says the advanced avionics provide improved situational awareness for flight crews with an advanced digital map display and a data transfer system that stores pre-flight and mission data.

In January, Boeing signed a $1.1 billion deal with the U.S. Army for the remanufacture of 96 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters for the Army and 30 AH 64Ds for the United Arab Emirates. Boeing said it will deliver the first remanufactured Apache produced under the new contract to the Army in October. Visit www.boeing.com.

IFE on Turboprops

India regional airline Kingfisher Airlines took delivery of its sixth ATR 72-500 from Toulouse, France-based regional aircraft manufacturer ATR.

The plane is equipped with a Vision Systems in-flight entertainment system (IFE), which also will be equipped on the five earlier planes. The new planes were scheduled to be introduced into Kingfisher’s domestic service in January.

The system enables passengers to view DVDs, listen to CDs and receive commercial advertisements and crew messages. LCD screens will be spaced every two or three rows, Kingfisher said. A control panel allows the crew to select the program that will be displayed. The audio comes through overhead speakers.

The system, proposed as an option for the ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-500, was certified last November and can be installed on new aircraft during production or retrofitted later. Visit www.atraircraft.com.

AESA-Equipped Squadron

A U.S. Navy squadron at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va., became the first of its kind to deploy a Super Hornet Block 2 fleet equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Boeing, which delivered the 11th AESA-equipped aircraft in December, said the Raytheon-made APG-79 AESA agile beam radar made significant strides in reliability, survivability and lifecycle costs. Unlike earlier radar systems, AESA systems have no moving parts, instead relying on an array with solid-state transmit and receive modules. Other components include a receiver/exciter, ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf processor and power supplies. "You are no longer slave to where the radar is pointing in space," said Jeff Ayers, Boeing F/A-18 AESA Program Manager. "There’s a higher level of autonomy," he said.

In air-to-air engagements, the radar allows targets to be engaged at long ranges and offers reduced air crew workload via its resource manager function. The system also offers high resolution ground mapping at long standoff ranges, with an interleaved mode capability and a five-fold increase in system reliability, Boeing said.

"The incorporation of advanced solid state electronics into the array revolutionizes reliability," said Erv Grau, vice president of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. "This type of performance was unheard of in the radar world until now."

The Super Hornet Block 2 upgraded various systems from the previous iteration, including forebody, liquid cooling system, high-speed data network, displays and computers.

Although no timetable has been set, Boeing said all Block 2 Super Hornets will be AESA equipped. This includes 415 aircraft in the present program — 280 delivered with AESA and 135 retrofits, said Patricia Frost, Boeing spokesperson. To date, Boeing is under contract for 42 AESA-equipped Super Hornets, and 27 have been delivered.

"This fiscal year all F-models will deliver with AESA. Next fiscal year and beyond all F/A-18E/F/Gs will deliver with AESA," Frost said. Visit www.boeing.com.

Clarifications

  • A news brief entitled "F-22 Data Acquisition" (Feb. 2007, page 14), regarding Teletronics Technology Corp.’s design of the Airborne Instrumentation Data Acquisition System for the F-22 Raptor, contained an incorrect Web URL. The correct address is www.ttcdas.com.

  • A New Products brief entitled "PMC Boards" (Feb. 2007, page 43) included an incorrect photo. The photo should accompany the "Hermetic Package" brief.

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