"The tax benefits in Puerto Rico are among the best you can find in the world," said Boris Jaskille, PRIDCO executive director. "We offer the same protections and regulations, yet we offer fiscal autonomy."
Joseph P. Daily, president of Essig Research, a Cincinnati-based engineering and research company that handles business from GE Aviation and Williams International, said his firm sees 20 to 25 percent in cost savings in labor alone over the U.S. mainland.
Among the aerospace companies making inroads:
Pratt & Whitney established an aerospace engineering joint venture with Indian company Infotech in Isabela, opening a 50,000-square-foot facility.
Lockheed Martin invested $260,000 in the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM) for the study and development of algorithms related to synthetic aperture radar (SAR), data processing and explosive chemical detection.
Honeywell expanded its aerospace operations to Mayaguez, opening a 12,000-square-foot facility in June. "The operations are focused on core capabilities in information technology, contracts, sourcing and customer support," said Karen Crabtree, Honeywell Aerospace spokesperson. The facility employs about 70 people.
Pratt & Whitney joint venture Infotech Aerospace Services, which describes itself as a low-cost supplier for export controlled, military and U.S. defense technical services, says it was the first aerospace engineering services company on the island. Its facility in Isabela employs 400 engineers from 15 disciplines. Since its inception in late 2003, the company said it has gone from 18 employees to 500 overall, and Infotech aims to double that by 2010.
The Infotech work force is made up primarily of young graduates from the island, peppered with retired industry veterans from places such as Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, Allied Signal, Pratt & Whitney and other companies.
"We feel our business model is a successful one," said Rita Peralta, president and general manager of Infotech Aerospace Services.
The company is performing design, analysis, software development and testing on the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine, the engine powering the F-35 Lightening II Joint Strike Fighter. Infotech also supports the F-22 Raptor, with its work on that aircraft’s F119 engines.
In addition, Infotech is working on a propulsion system for the Joint Unmanned Combat Air System, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The company also supports the Sikorsky S-93 helicopter. It provides aerospace engineering services in software development, mechanical design, structural and thermal analysis, aerodynamics, and performance analysis and drafting, with the majority of its work relating to the design of jet engines for military and commercial applications.
However, "we need to diversify and we want to diversify," into areas such as avionics and for companies beyond the United Technologies family, Peralta said. In the first five months of this year, 70 percent of the company’s business and customers were from Pratt & Whitney and another 17 percent came from Hamilton Sundstrand, both UT companies.
Lockheed Martin, which established the SAR grant in 2007, has had a strategic relationship with UPRM since 2003. Since that time, Lockheed Martin has hired eight UPRM engineering graduates and provided internships, scholarships and research funding.
"UPRM is known throughout Latin America and the U.S. as a higher education leader and innovator in the engineering and technology sciences," said Stan Sloane, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems & Solutions.
"With this partnership we hope to establish a mutually beneficial, long-term program that furthers UPRM’s awareness of our customers and technology challenges while providing us access to some of the world’s most talented Hispanic scientists and engineers." — Emily Feliz
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), an aerospace manufacturing and services concern based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, completed the $1.9 billion acquisition of Standard Aero and Landmark Aviation from The Carlyle Group.
As a result of the acquisition, first announced in March, DAE will combine the two aviation services companies into a business enterprise within its DAE Engineering subsidiary. The combination will create a network of 12 primary facilities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Singapore and Australia, with an additional 14 regional service locations.
Paul Soubry Jr., Standard Aero president and COO, was named president and CEO of the combined companies, reporting to Robert Mionis, CEO of DAE Engineering. Roger Wolfe resigned in August as Landmark Aviation CEO.
"DAE is quickly establishing itself as a significant player in the global aerospace industry," said Bob Johnson, DAE’s CEO. "The acquisition of Standard Aero and Landmark Aviation provides a critical platform for DAE to take advantage of growth opportunities in the MRO business around the world."
Standard Aero, based in Winnipeg, Canada, provides gas turbine engine and accessory MRO and engineering services to regional airlines, the military, business aviation, helicopters and industrial operators. Landmark Aviation, Winston-Salem, N.C., with four major MROs in the United States, provides engine, airframe and avionics services, interior refurbishments and painting of mid-to-heavy aircraft.
Landmark Aviation also operated Associated Air Center, a completion center that produces luxury aircraft interiors for transport category aircraft. Associated Air Center will report separately to DAE Engineering.
DAE planned to divest another entity, Landmark Aviation Airport Services, comprised of 33 fixed-base operations, an aircraft sales, charter and management business, and MRO operations associated with the FBO sites.
The operations of Landmark Aviation Airport Services and the sale process were to be overseen by an independent board of trustees made up of former U.S. Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, former Sen. Bob Kerrey and former Defense Department Comptroller Dov Zakheim.
Honeywell is developing a multifunction display (MFD) for general aviation that will incorporate wide area augmentation system-capable (WAAS) GPS navigator, Terrain Avoidance Warning System, weather radar display and digital VHF comm and nav radios — taking the place of up to four separate units.
The Bendix/King KSN 770, unveiled at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in July, will feature a graphical interface originally designed for Honeywell’s integrated business aircraft cockpits. Honeywell said it expects to certify the KSN 770 in late 2008.
The unit will be competitively priced with similar WAAS-capable systems.
Honeywell said it also is working with Crossbow Technology, San Jose, Calif., to develop a new Bendix/King Primary Flight Display (PFD) for piston-powered aircraft that interfaces with existing navigation systems and autopilots.
The PFD will have a built-in solid state Air Data Computer and Attitude Heading Reference System, altitude and airspeed bugs and a slaved Horizontal Situation Indicator.
The Bendix/King KFD 840 will interface to common general aviation navigation systems as well as existing KAP-140 and KFC-150/200/225 autopilots.
"We see significant interest in the retrofit market for ‘glass cockpit’ technology that makes flying easier and safer, such as solid state sensors and a wide horizon. For many aircraft this will allow a pilot to add a second attitude, airspeed and altitude source, improving safety," said Dan Barks, business director for operators and dealers with Honeywell Business and General Aviation.
Aspen Avionics, Albuquerque, N.M., in July unveiled its Evolution Flight Display system for general aviation at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.
The modular Evolution system enables aircraft owners to upgrade their primary flight instrument "six pack" to glass cockpit technology all at once, or in stages. The first two models in the Evolution line — the EFD1000 Pilot Primary Flight Display and EFD1000 Pro Primary Flight Display — will be certified this fall.
Aspen Avionics said it received more than $1.5 million in new orders for the system during the first week it was available for sale.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Air Unit in California will equip its fleet of Eurocopter AS350B-3 A-Stars with displays from Sagem Avionics.
The department has been flying A-Stars equipped with a single Sagem Primary Flight Display for more than a year and has issued purchase orders for three additional helicopters. Two will have displays retrofitted by Rotorcraft Support at Van Nuys, Calif. The third aircraft will have Sagem displays installed by American Eurocopter.
The displays will be equipped with Night Vision Goggle (NVG) filters to support the department’s extensive use of NVGs.
Sagem Avionics, Grand Prairie, Texas, is a subsidiary of France’s Sagem Defense and Security.
Weather service provider WSI Corp., Andover, Mass., teamed with Avidyne, Lincoln, Mass., to provide a datalink weather receiver capable of receiving Sirius Satellite Radio content.
The new InFlight AV-300 unit receives the WSI weather graphics and data service. The InFlight AV-350 is capable of both the weather service and Sirius radio programming.
The receivers use advanced Sirius chipsets that improve receiver performance and reception, especially for airborne applications. The receivers also use a teardrop-pattern antenna, which maximizes satellite signal availability and rejects interference from ground-based signals, the companies said.
Compatible with multifunction displays and electronic flight bags, the teardrop-shaped antenna and the WSI InFlight receivers are designed to have the same approximate footprints as current systems to help current WSI customers transition to the new hardware with minimal effort.
The AV-300 series has been developed by Avidyne Safety Systems Group in Columbus, Ohio, and will be manufactured at Avidyne facilities in Melbourne, Fla. The antenna has been developed by Micro-Ant, in South Easton, Mass.
International Communications Group, Newport News, Va., received an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for its ICS-200 Iridium Communications System for installation on the Learjet 60.
The ICS-200 incorporates dual Iridium transceivers with an internal cabin telecommunications unit (CTU) and permits connections of conventional telephony devices or legacy CTU systems. CTU features include intercom calling, call transfer, conferencing and follow-on dialing.
Available through European ICG distributor Aero-Dienst GmbH, the ICS-200 installation also was certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency, the European Union’s civil aviation regulatory body.
EMS Technologies, Norcross, Ga., completed a $5.7 million purchase of Dspace Pty. Ltd., of Adelaid, Australia, a deal designed to strengthen its satcom business. DSpace now is an operating entity of the EMS Satcom division, based in Ottawa, but remains in Australia.
EMS said Dspace has been key in the development of Inmarsat’s Broadbad Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite radio protocols. Dspace has developed a low-cost, software-defined radio that will allow a variety of satcom platforms to be upgraded as technology improves.
The acquisition also positions EMS to exploit rising demand for Inmarsat’s BGAN services in new markets.
"DSpace is an important acquisition for EMS, reflecting our strategy to make key investments in high-growth businesses that complement our core strengths, in this case, broadband mobile communications," said Paul Domorski, EMS Technologies, president and CEO.
Avidyne, Lincoln, Mass., and S-TEC, Mineral Wells, Texas, are cooperating on an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) to retrofit the Alliant Integrated Flight Deck on Cessna Conquest II twin-engine turboprops.
The Conquest II will be the third airframe offering the combination of Avidyne’s Envision series of integrated flight deck products and S-TEC’s IntelliFlight 2100 Digital Flight Control System.
The Alliant package for the Conquest II includes dual-redundant Avidyne EXP5000 10.4-inch primary flight displays, Avidyne EX500 multi-function display and the S-TEC IntelliFlight 2100 digital autopilot.
Thales launched the development of a Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) to augment its modular product family for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).
The addition of the UAT radio will provide ADS-B reception and various broadcast services for all enroute, terminal or surface applications. Thales said the transceiver improves upon current systems by offering twice the target processing capability and an integrated range validation function.
In addition, Thales said its ADS-B ground station in Langen, Germany, which provides Traffic Information Service-Broadcasts (TIS-B), achieved site acceptance from Germany’s air traffic control organization.
TIS-B broadcasts traffic information for non-ADS-B equipped aircraft to ADS-B aircraft, enhancing safety and efficiency. The Thales ADS-B ground station was deployed as part of the Eurocontrol CASCADE 3 project, which aims to validate and implement ADS-B operations.
Thales IFE Growth
The provision of an inflight entertainment (IFE) option on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is driving Thales’s aerospace business in the United States as well as driving the partially French and publicly owned company closer toBoeing.
Thales’s TopSeries i5000 system at this writing had been selected by three-quarters of the carriers that had ordered IFE as a seller-furnishedoption for their Dreamliners, outpacing the eX2 system from Panasonic Avionics.
Thales will be delivering $3 million to $4 million of content onTopSeries-equipped 787s — some 2,040 line replaceable units — mostly attributable to IFE. By 2010, it expects to make $500 million a year on Dreamliner IFE alone, said Sergio von Borries, Thales North America vice president of business development.
The company also is providing an electrical power converter, integrated standby flight display and, through its Diehl Aerospace GmbH joint venture, cabin mood lighting and flight controls for the 787. But IFE is largely behind its"organized around Boeing" approach of aligning its business with that of the airframer. Indeed, Thales wants to be a preferred partner, rather than a supplier, to Boeing, said Allan Cameron, chairman and CEO of Thales NorthAmerica.
To that end, Thales last September moved its Seattle avionics product support operation to a 65,000-square-foot, former Boeing training building near the airframer’s narrowbody production plant in Renton, Wash. The new location, which represents a fourfold increase over Thales’s previous quarters, has another 102,000 square feet available for expansion. Last January, repair of both legacy and iSeries IFE systems was moved to the facility from Irvine, Calif. A third of the floor space was devoted to IFE, said Ed Senen, vice president and general manager-Americas, for Thales Avionics.
In Irvine, Thales’s IFE headquarters, some 1,000 people are employed at a 130,000-square-foot final assembly plant and a 60,000-square-foot support and delivery center. There, Thales is turning out TopSeries systems for aircraft ranging from the Bombardier CRJ700 to the Airbus A380. The effort is supported by three contract manufacturers: Sanmina-SCI, Huntsville, Ala.,for seat electronics; Carlyle Inc., Tukwila, Wash., for cable; and Celestica Inc., in Arden Hills, Minn., for small LCD screens.
Since a precursor company, Sextant Avionique, acquired the IFE business of B/E Aerospace in 1999, Thales has been gaining ground on market leader Panasonic Avionics. While the company claims only about 20 percent of the installed base of IFE systems, it is winning competitions going forward, as shown by its performance on the Boeing 787.
"Today, we believe we’re capturing 40 percent or so of the overall marketplace," said Alan Pellegrini, Thales vice president and general manager for IFE. The third major player, Rockwell Collins, "is effectively transitioning out of the commercial side" of the business, he added. "For all intents and purposes, every [IFE] competition is a two-horse race." —Bill Carey
Panasonic Avionics Corp., Lake Forest, Calif., on July 1 named Paul Margis, a 15-year veteran of the company, as its new CEO.
Margis, who has overseen development of the company’s eFX narrowbody and eX2 widebody inflight entertainment (IFE) systems, joined Panasonic Avionics, then Matsushita Avionics Systems, in 1992. He was appointed senior vice president and chief technology officer in 2000 and president in 2005.
The company also announced that Yasu Enokido, director of the avionics business unit at Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., and senior vice president of regional sales and operations at Panasonic Avionics, had been named president and COO.
Enokido started with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., in Osaka, Japan, in 1983. He joined Panasonic Avionics in 2005 as vice president of corporate planning.
"As the IFE market grows and changes, we too must adapt. We believe this change will further strengthen our company and its ability to provide operational excellence and innovative products and services to our valued customers," Margis said.
Panasonic recently announced that Australia’s Qantas Airlines will install its eX2 system on Airbus A380 aircraft to be delivered in August 2008. The eX2 is a standard option on both the A380 and Boeing 787.
ARINC 429, the predominant avionics data bus standard, celebrated its 30th anniversary in July. And despite drastic changes in avionics in those three decades, the standard is still "alive and well," said one of the original developers.
The ARINC 429 specification, a data standard providing the basic description of functions and the supporting physical and electrical interfaces for a digital information transfer system on an aircraft, was adopted July 21, 1977.
Dan Martinec, technical director of ARINC Industry Activities, said he was surprised the standard, which has been used on virtually every major aircraft manufactured since 1980, has lasted this long. Martinec helped develop the standard.
"The beauty of 429 is its flexibility," Martinec remarked. "You can change a box without having to change the whole system."
ARINC 429 was not a totally new specification. It was based on the best parts of data buses on earlier air transport aircraft that used some digital interfaces in conjunction with analog-based avionics, Martinec said.
ARINC 664, defining an Avionics Full Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX), is becoming the new databus standard, and is used on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. However, the 787 still has "numerous" 429 buses, Martinec said.
The 429 standard hasn’t changed a great deal in the last three decades, save a revision in the summer of 1980. Early tweaks included the introduction of equipment identifiers to allow for reuse of data labels, which accommodated the expansion of data types beyond the original 256 provided for in the original publication. Impedance and voltage threshold levels were adjusted to enhance the consistency of operation, Martinec said.
"ARINC 429 is alive and well and continuously being updated to add newequipment," he said.
Martinec said he recently received requests to apply the standard to a cargo door controller on the Boeing 777, an integrated air system controller on the 747-800 and a lateral control electronics unit on the 747-800. —Emily Feliz
Chelton, Lewisville, Texas, part of the Cobham Antennas division, was selected by Rockwell Collins to supply its HGA-7001 Satcom Antenna for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The HGA-7001 initially will be used to enable long-range communications on the flight deck and will be capable of supporting emerging Inmarsat services for cabin applications, Chelton said.
The Chelton antenna system was developed with Omnipless, a sister company based in South Africa, and is built to ARINC 781 standard to provide smaller, lighter, cost effective satcom equipment to aviation OEMs and operators.
American Airlines, which has partnered with airborne telecommunications provider AirCell, of Louisville, Colo., to launch in-flight broadband, will begin testing the service next year on its Boeing 767-200 aircraft flying transcontinental routes. Passengers equipped with 802.11 Wi-Fi enabled devices will be able to access the service. The cost will be announced at the time of the service roll-out, American Airlines said.
"We understand that broadband connectivity is important to our business customers and others who want to use their PDAs and laptops for real-time, in-flight broadband communications," said Dan Garton, American Airlines executive vice president of marketing.
AirCell last year won a spectrum auction by the Federal Communications Commission for air-to-ground broadband frequencies.
Row 44, Westlake Village, Calif., selected San Diego-based AP Labs, a supplier of rugged enclosures, real-time and integrated operating systems, as its Server Management Unit (SMU) provider for Row 44’s broadband entertainment system.
The SMU is a key component of the Row 44 in-flight broadband system, which will support passenger connectivity, entertainment and airline operational data services.
The system includes a low-profile antenna mounted to the top of the fuselage, connecting to the AP Labs’ SMU inside the cabin. A WiFi signal is distributed throughout the cabin by two or more wireless access units, providing high-speed connectivity for Internet browsing, e-mail, text messaging and short message service.
STG Aerospace of the U.K. received supplemental type certification (STC) from FAA for its Wireless Emergency Primary Power System for the Boeing 737NG family. The company said concurrent certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency was expected.
STG said it was in the process of seeking FAA and EASA certifications across the remainder of the Boeing family, before making applications for Airbus and other aircraft types.
The company’s emergency lighting system has a built-in wireless monitoring and diagnostic capability.
‘In Situ’ Sensors
Networks of sensors mounted on commercial aircraft might one day check continuously for the formation of structural defects, possibly reducing or eliminating scheduled aircraft inspections, reports our sister publication Air Safety Week (www.aviationtoday.com/asw).
Like nerve endings in a human body, in situ sensors offer levels of vigilance and sensitivity to problems that periodic checkups cannot, said Dennis Roach, who leads a Sandia National Laboratories team evaluating some of the first sensor systems for aircraft.
"With sensors continually checking for the first signs of wear and tear, you can restrict your maintenance efforts to when you need human intervention," he said.
Structural health monitoring (SHM) techniques are gaining the support of airframe manufacturers, airlines, and regulators, according to Roach.
SHM incorporates into the aircraft structure non-destructive inspection (NDI) technologies currently used in manual inspections to scan for small cracks in the airframe, for example. Such inspections are strictly regulated to maintain a high degree of aircraft safety.
Widespread adoption of SHM could significantly reduce maintenance and repair expenses for commercial aircraft, now estimated at about a quarter of the fleet’s operating costs, said Roach. Those costs are rising as the aircraft age, many well beyond their design lifetimes.
Ground crew technicians might plug a laptop or diagnostic station into a central port on the aircraft to download structural health data. Eventually "smart structures" fitted with many sensors could self-diagnose and signal an operator when repairs are needed.
Ultimately an integrated network of sensors could monitor not only structural elements, but also the health of electronics, hydraulics, avionics and other systems.
The SHM sensors being developed at Sandia can find fatigue damage, hidden cracks in hard-to-reach locations, erosion, impact damage, and corrosion, among other defects commonly encountered in aging aircraft.
The work is an extension of Sandia’s Airworthiness Assurance Program, which for years has focused on development and evaluation of NDI technologies to aid human inspectors as they go over an aircraft frame or fuselage skin inch by inch looking for the consequences of aging.
Boeing’s recent incorporation of an in-situ, or permanently-mounted, crack-detection sensor into its NDI standard practices manual for Boeing airframes is the first time a manufacturer has adopted SHM techniques — evidence the industry is ready to consider new ways of ensuring the safety of aircraft beyond NDI-assisted human inspection, said Roach.
Several other commercial airlines working with Sandia are considering SHM applications and are working with Boeing and FAA to use embedded crack detection sensors to address specific maintenance requirements.
"When we set out to do NDI, in the back of our minds we knew that eventually we wanted to create smart structures that ‘phone home’ when repairs are needed or when the remaining fatigue life drops below acceptable levels," Roach said. "This is a huge step in the evolution of NDI."
Sandia is part of a group formed in late 2006 — the Aerospace Industry Steering Committee for Structural Health Monitoring — to address the growing demand from the aerospace industry for standardized procedures and certification requirements for SHM. The international group also includes manufacturers, regulators, government agencies, the military and universities.
Sandia, operated by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, has facilities in Albuquerque, NM, and Livermore, Calif.
The Sandia team already has developed or evaluated several types of inexpensive, reliable sensors that can be mounted on aircraft structures, typically where flaws are expected to form. One promising SHM sensor, a Comparative Vacuum Monitoring (CVM) sensor, is a thin, self-adhesive rubber patch, ranging from dime- to credit-card-sized, that detects cracks in the underlying material. The rubber is laser-etched with rows of tiny, interconnected channels, or galleries, to which air pressure is applied. Any propagating crack under the sensor breaches the galleries and the resulting change in pressure is monitored.
The sensors manufactured by Structural Monitoring Systems (SMS) are inexpensive, reliable, durable, and easy to apply, said Roach. More important, they provide equal or better sensitivity than is achievable with conventional inspection methods, he said.
CVM sensors were tested in a lab and validated on three commercial aircraft beginning in April 2005. Boeing’s inclusion of CVM technology in its Common Methods NDI Manual, an aviation industry first for NDI, is the culmination of a comprehensive, two-year validation program by Sandia in cooperation with FAA, Boeing, SMS, a number of U.S. airlines, and the University of Arizona. Work on additional applications for Southwest Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines is underway.
Sandia also is developing a variety of other sensor systems. Technologies being considered include flexible eddy-current arrays, capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducers, piezoelectric transducers that can interrogate materials over long distances, acoustic emission sensors, embedded fiber optics, nickel strip magnetostrictive sensors, and conducting paint whose resistance changes when cracks form underneath.
SHM techniques also could monitor the structural well-being of weapons, rail cars, bridges and buildings. Sandia already is applying SHM to a variety of structures.
"There is recognition that SHM’s time has come, an opinion you would not have heard from many people a few years ago," said Roach.
Similar research is underway at Purdue University, where engineers have designed and tested a SHM system to detect flaws in new types of military missiles made of composite materials instead of metal.
Missiles are sometimes damaged when struck by rocks and debris kicked up by helicopter rotors or when mishandled during shipping or maintenance. Unlike missiles made of metal, which often show external signs of damage such as cracks and dents, damage in new filament-wound composite materials may not show telltale signs of damage, said Douglas Adams, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.
The new monitoring system uses a mathematical model to pinpoint the location and severity of impacts based on vibration data collected by a sensor called a triaxial accelerometer. "We have shown that 98 percent of the time we can detect, locate and quantify the force of impacts (on a composite structure)," Adams said.
The casings are made of carbon fibers, Kevlar or other material wound in layers.
In addition to detecting damage, the technique also could determine how durable the material is after long-term storage and exposure to the environment. Another goal is to gather data to help engineers design more impact-resistant casings in the future. —Ramon Lopez
Las Vegas McCarran International Airport selected the MSS multilateration system by Era, of Alexandria, Va., to provide real-time flight arrival and tracking information for the airport’s Flight Information Display System (FIDS).
Era said the multilateration-based system provides accurate gate-to-gate surveillance and flight track information.
"Era’s ATC quality multilateration technology is designed so it can be extended to support all airport operations functions ranging from billing to noise monitoring to a FIDS data feed," said Bill Colligan, Era vice president and general manager of Airport Operations Solutions.
Era also announced that Kuala Lumpur International Airport will employ its MSS and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system for airport surface surveillance.
Airport officials sought the flight tracking and surveillance system in response to the construction of a new low-cost airline terminal at Kuala Lumpur and overall growth.
Fuel Cell Propulsion
AeroVironment (AV), Monrovia, Calif., flew its Puma small unmanned aircraft for nearly five hours powered by an onboard fuel cell battery, hybrid energy storage system.
The June demonstration marked the completion of the first task under AV’s contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to develop advanced propulsion technologies for unmanned aircraft.
The $4.7 million, five-year contract calls for several development tasks designed to improve the efficiency and flight duration of UAVs. Other tasks under the contract call for improvement of electric motor efficiency, integration of solar cells into aircraft wings, and exploration of hydrogen storage technologies.
For the Puma flight demonstration, AV worked with Protonex Technology Corp., Southborough, Mass., to develop the fuel cell battery, hybrid energy storage system, which included hydrogen generation technology licensed from Millennium Cell, of Eatontown, N.J.
The Puma’s standard propulsion system comes equipped with rechargeable batteries, with a listed flight time of 2.5 hours. Using standard propulsion, the aircraft can fly for up to 150 minutes, while wirelessly transmitting live video and other information generated by electro-optical or infrared sensor payloads.
The nearly five-hour duration of the flight using fuel cell battery hybrid power surpassed the longest previous Puma flight achieved by AV using any technology.
The U.S. Army awarded a five-year contract to Westar Aerospace & Defense Group, St. Louis, Mo., for programmatic support of planned upgrades to the Apache Block III (AB3) attack helicopter.
The upgrades will give the Apache improved situational awareness, better engines and drive systems, enhanced targeting capability and an upgraded communications suite. Also planned is a UAV control capability.
Westar, a QinetiQ North America company, will provide resource management, cost analysis, and schedule development assessment to the AB3 program.
"AB3 will address obsolescence issues and add capability, ensuring the aircraft is a viable combat multiplier through 2030 and as part of the Army’s Future Combat Force," said Hanson Rains, Westar vice president for acquisition and operational support.
Westar also announced a five-year, $22 million contract from the U.S. Army Aviation Technical Test Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., for engineering and aviation testing services ranging from developmental testing of advanced aircraft survivability systems to preliminary airworthiness evaluations of the MH-60M Blackhawk for special operations forces.
ARH Data Server
EFW, based in Fort Worth, was chosen by Bell Helicopter to supply the Data Transfer System (DTS) for the U.S. Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH). Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
DTS is a data server capable of synchronized recording of video and audio, using standard solid-state memory cartridges. The system will interface with ARH communications, navigation and aircraft survivability equipment and mission subsystems to automate the mission data input process and record mission and aircraft data during flight.
EFW, an Elbit Systems of America company, also will supply the Helmet Display and Tracking System for the ARH, providing pilots with helmet-mounted night vision, flight data and weapons targeting information.
A Raytheon Cobra Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) conducted its first flight away from the aircraft’s home station in Tucson, Ariz., in June with a flight in North Dakota airspace.
The Cobra UAS flew flight profiles through military restricted airspace over Camp Grafton South, a National Guard training facility 45 miles south of Devil’s Lake, N.D. During three days of tests, Cobra air vehicles completed nine flights and executed autonomous takeoffs, landings and in-flight navigation along pre-planned routes, Raytheon said.
In one of the planned missions from the Camp Grafton South airfield, a Cobra UAS carried the PrecisionAg digital imaging payload developed by the University of North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Engineering team. The PrecisionAg payload is designed to take digital images of crops and rangeland for the purpose of monitoring vegetation health for North Dakota agribusiness applications.
"Cobra can stay aloft for more than three hours with a 25-pound payload, providing researchers with an affordable, stable platform for an array of sophisticated electronic equipment and sensors," said Don Newman, Raytheon director of Unmanned Systems.
L-3 Link Simulation and Training division is integrating its Advanced Helmet Mounted Display (AHMD) into the U.S. Army Flight School’s Reconfigurable Collective Training Devices (RCTDs). Financial terms were not disclosed.
L-3, based in New York City, said the upgrade replaces the existing helmet mounted displays that have been used on Army training devices since 2005.
The technology provides pilots with 360-degree field-of-view imagery and systems symbology. The training program is jointly housed at the Aviation Warfighter Simulation Center, situated at the U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.
L-3 at this writing had delivered 11 RCTDs, which can be reconfigured to support simulated training in the UH-60A/L, CH-47D, OH-58D, AH-64A and AH-64D helicopters. In all, L-3 is providing the training program with 37 simulators and training devices.
Northrop Grumman’s KC-30 Tanker team is using Honeywell’s FAA-certified Military Airborne Collision Avoidance System-Formation Rendezvous (MILACAS-FR) system for the KC-30 tanker.
MILACAS-FR will improve accuracy and safety during flight by detecting nearby aircraft and evaluating their threat potential to the KC-30, an aircraft designed to refuel Navy and coalition aircraft. The system provides traffic alerts and maneuvering advisories to help pilots avoid mid-air collisions and fly in tight formations.
Honeywell’s MILACAS-FR system was certified for use on military aircraft this year.
Northrop Grumman won a $408 million pilot production contract to produce the next three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and battle management command and control aircraft for the U.S. Navy from 2007 to 2010.
The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye development aircraft was slated to fly in late summer, with the second aircraft scheduled to fly later in the year. The latest contract is a follow-on to a $2 billion pact awarded in 2003.
The Advanced Hawkeye concentrates battle management, theater air missile defense and multiple sensor fusion capabilities in one aircraft. The external appearance of the E-2D is similar to the E-2C. Upgrades include the APY-9 radar, which can "see" more and smaller targets at a greater range, and a rotodome containing an electronically scanned array that provides continuous, 360-degree scanning. There are new radar system workstations, integrated satellite communications capabilities and a glass cockpit that replaces prior-generation Hawkeye displays and avionics.
The E-2D will be delivered in 2010. The Navy plans to procure at least 75 E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, which will be manufactured at Northrop Grumman’s facility in St. Augustine, Fla.
United Industrial Corp. said its AAI Corp. subsidiary will assist the U.S. Marine Corps’ transition to the Shadow tactical unmanned aircraft system (TUAS).
The Marine Corps, which is retiring its Pioneer UAV this year, will begin using the Shadow as a surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering system, United Industrial said.
AAI, Hunt Valley, Md., won a $3.8 million contract from the U.S. Army to provide training services to the Marines in connection with the transition to the Shadow TUAS. The logistics contract designates $3.4 million for training for personnel and $415,000 for development of the Shadow training program. AAI was selected in 1999 by the Army as the prime contractor for its Shadow 200 UAS, designated RQ-7B.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, Shadow-equipped units of the U.S. Army and National Guard have recorded more than 180,000 flight hours and 37,000 sorties. In all worldwide operations, Shadows have recorded more than 200,000 flight hours and 49,000 sorties, AAI said. The Pioneer is produced by Pioneer UAV, Inc., a company owned equally by AAI and Israel Aerospace Industries.
Objective Interface Systems (OIS), Herndon, Va., Germany’s SYSGO formed a technology alliance to integrate OIS’ communications technologies with SYSGO’s portfolio of operating systems.
The companies said integration of SYSGO’s real-time operating system and communications middleware from OIS is aimed at manufacturers of communication systems, radar and sonar systems, avionics and other security- and performance-critical applications.
"With a synergistic focus on technical excellence and customer support, our companies are working together to deliver seamlessly integrated products that meet the performance, security and safety requirements of even the most demanding embedded systems," said Joe Jacob, OIS senior vice president.
"SYSGO developers will soon be able to use the complete range of OIS high-performance, small-footprint communications middleware with SYSGO operating environments. This will allow our customers to establish communications among diverse systems, even the most mission-critical, without having to make modifications at the code level," said Torsten Sehlinger, SYSGO vice president of marketing.
Edgewater Computer Systems Inc. (ECSI) flight-tested its Extended 1553 data bus on a U.S. Air Force F-16.
The Ottawa, Canada-based company said the primary purpose of the test was to demonstrate an increase in network capacity roughly 100 times the legacy throughput with no interference to the legacy 1553 system.
The test demonstrated a low-cost, robust method to substantially increase the capacity of the existing on-board network, ECSI said.
During the flight at the Air Force Reserve Command Test Center in Tucson, Ariz., the ANG Block 30 F-16 performed typical mission flight and aircraft maneuvers, including multiple target tracking with radar and sensors and high-G turns. The Extended 1553 bus operated concurrently with the legacy bus.
Two flight-certified line replaceable units were equipped with E1553 network interface cards — a programmable display generator and a commercial central interface unit, both provided by advanced storage-management systems company EFW.
The flight test revealed the ability to stream a video display while simultaneously capturing data-bus performance metrics, ECSI said.
"There is a great deal of interest in this flight test program, from both industry and the Armed Services, because the technology had not previously flown in an operational aircraft," said Orlando Cortes, Air Force Lead Engineer for the E1553 Program.
"Many people in the technical community were skeptical that the technology would survive in a flight environment. Two of the most important findings from the flight test program were that not only did it survive, it performed extremely well. Also, there was no anomalous behavior caused by cross-talk between the legacy and high-speed channels."
Raytheon said its F/A-18 Super Hornet Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar is moving into full rate production following U.S. Navy approval. The AESA APG-79 line is ramping up in anticipation of delivering 437 systems for the Navy.
AESA radar offers multi-target tracking and increased situational awareness. In air-to-air engagements, the radar allows targets to be engaged at very long ranges and offers reduced crew workload via its resource manager function. The system also offers high-resolution ground mapping for air-to-surface tracking.
AESA-equipped Super Hornet Block IIs are being delivered to two squadrons at Naval Air Station Oceana: the Black Lions of VFA-213 and the Gladiators of VFA-106. The former is the first Navy squadron to fly all AESA-equipped F/A-18F Super Hornets. In addition, AESA-equipped Block II Super Hornets are being introduced to squadrons at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.
AeroVironment, Monrovia, Calif., said the U.S. Air Force has taken delivery of an initial BATMAV micro unmanned aircraft system (UAS), including the Wasp III air vehicle, under the Air Force Beyond Line of Site (BLOS) program.
AeroVironment received the BATMAV, or Battlefield Air Tactical Micro Air Vehicle, contract award last December. The company has received orders for 30 systems through the program’s indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, which provides for purchases of up to $45 million over five years.
Wasp III has a wingspan of 29 inches, weighs 1 pound and carries integrated forward and side looking electro-optical color cameras as well as a modular forward or side-looking electro-optical or infrared payload. The system is backpackable and is capable of operating for up to 45 minutes at up to 5 kilometers from the transceiver. It can be operated with the same common ground control and user interface as AeroVironment’s Raven and Puma small air vehicles.
Wasp III is a Block III version of the Wasp micro UAS, which AeroVironment developed under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (see Avionics, March 2007, p. 28).
AeroVironment now has won three open competitions for U.S. Department of Defense small and micro UAS programs of record. As a result, the company said it is the sole supplier of these small UAS systems to U.S. Army, Special Operations Command, Marine Corps and Air Force programs.
Proxy Aviation Systems, Germantown, Md., recently completed a series of demonstrations of the cooperative flight capabilities of its SkyWatcher and SkyRaider unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), managed by its SkyForce Distributed Management System (DMS).
The Cooperative Rules Based Reconnaissance Unmanned System (CRBRUS) demonstration was conducted at Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, Nev., from July 1 through 11. Test criteria included target search, simulated weapons and multiple sensor employment, dynamic mission re-tasking, formation flying, collision avoidance and automatic take-off and landing. The U.S. Air Force has contracted with Proxy to perform the tests under the operational control of its UAV Battle Lab.
CRBRUS marked the first successful demonstration of multiple UAVs performing fully autonomous cooperative flight. SkyWatcher and SkyRaider, with two simulated UAVs, communicated over a common mesh network, allowing one operator to manage all four UAVs.
SkyWatcher is designed for medium-endurance, low- and medium-altitude Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, while SkyRaider is engineered for heavy-payload missions requiring the carriage and release of external stores. The demonstrations at Creech AFB marked the first operational display of SkyRaider, which features retractable gear, a 1000-pound payload and the capacity to operate in high-density altitudes.
The network-centric software of the SkyForce management system allowed the four aircraft to accomplish group tactical goals with varying levels of operator control. SkyForce is designed to operate as many as 12 airborne UAVs and 20 ground nodes concurrently.
"The CRBRUS program demonstrated the advantage of having complementary sensor types operate in concert from their ‘sweet spot’ altitude and flight pattern and merge the derived information. The combined effect was enhanced target validation and reduced kill-chain timeline. The demonstration results provide clear-cut evidence for both the effectiveness of this approach and the far-reaching potential it holds," said Don Ryan, Proxy Aviation CEO.
The European Navy Radar under development for the naval version of the NH 90 (NFH 90) helicopter was flight-tested during a two-week period in Hyères, France, manufacturer Thales announced.
The radar system is a new-generation maritime patrol radar derived from the Thales Ocean Master radar family. Developed in conjunction with EADS Germany and Galileo Avionica of Italy, the radar is integrated into the NH90’s mission system by Agusta Westland.
The objective of the tests was to evaluate at full-scale the air-to-surface capabilities, which represent Thales’ share in the radar.
"The results of this flight campaign are in line with expectations and confirm that the air-to-surface detection capability is on-track for the NH 90 qualification," Thales said.
ViaSat, Carlsbad, Calif., won a $44.9 million order to provide ground-based and airborne Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) terminals, providing greater situational awareness for U.S. military services.
The contract award includes terminal variants and spares for F/A-18, E/A-18G, F-16, and AC-130 aircraft, Portuguese F-16s, and the MH-60R/S and CH-53K helicopters.
The MIDS terminal is a jam resistant, wireless system connecting users with both digital data and voice communications.
Marine One Flies
The new Marine One presidential helicopter made its maiden flight July 3 at AgustaWestland’s facility in Yeovil, U.K.
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, N.Y., is prime contractor and systems integrator for the VH-71, which is based on AgustaWestland’s EH101 helicopter. Aircraft final assembly will be performed by Bell Helicopter. Initial operational capability is scheduled for late 2009.
During the 40-minute first flight, AgustaWestland pilots performed general aircraft handling checks, tested flight characteristics at varying speeds up to 135 knots, and evaluated on-board avionics.
Before Test Vehicle 2 is delivered to Patuxent River, Md., this fall for structural testing, the aircraft will complete initial shake-down flying and embark on flight trials to test the integrated avionics and aircraft systems.
"We are on track to fly three more test vehicles by early 2008 and this inaugural flight signifies a tremendous achievement and a step forward to delivering the Presidential aircraft on time," said Steven C. Moss, president of AgustaWestland North America.
—Rockwell Collins Government Systems won a $25 million contract modification to exercise an option for AN/ARC-210(V) Electronic Protection Radio Systems for the U.S. Air Force. The modification consists of 329 RT-1851 ARC-210 Receiver-Transmitter Radios; 323 C-12561 Radio Control Sets, and 294 MT-4935 Mounting Bases for the Air Force’s A-10 aircraft. Work is expected to be completed in July 2008.
—The U.S. Navy awarded Raytheon an $18.5 million contract modification to provide an infrared marker upgrade on F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet targeting pods. The marker supports ground operations and air-to-ground missions, allowing pilots to illuminate targets of interest with an infrared designator.
—EMS Technologies Defense & Space Systems Division received a $12 million, multi-year contract from Lockheed Martin for F-22 antennas.
—The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command awarded a Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman joint venture a $43.4 million contract for Life Cycle Contractor Support for the AH-64D Apache Longbow Fire Control Radar system.
—ITT Corp.’s Advanced Engineering and Sciences Division won a $19.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide sensor research under the Electro-Optical Sensor Technology and Evaluation Research program.
—Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems won a $9.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to manufacture spares for the MH-60R helicopter multispectral targeting system.
—Rockwell Collins won a $14 million contract to support the Common Avionics Architecture System and Cockpit Management System on the A/MH-6, MH-47 and MH-60 helicopters. The work, which will be performed at Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Lewis, Wash., Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., and Cedar Rapids, is scheduled to be completed in 2012.
—The name and Web address of Radiall were listed incorrectly in the July Product Focus article on Connectors. The company’s Web site is www.radiall.com.
—Teac Aerospace was omitted from the list of companies accompanying the August Product Focus on In-Flight Entertainment. The company’s Web site is www.teac-aerospace.com.