Airline and avionics industry representatives who gathered in April for the 59th annual AMC general session were reassured by parent organization ARINC that the avionics-focused maintenance conference will continue to be supported.
In opening remarks at the conference, held April 14-17 in Tulsa, Okla., ARINC Chairman and CEO John M. Belcher offered words of praise for the company’s Industry Activities division, which organizes AMC and its sister conferences, AEEC and FSEMC. The status of Industry Activities was in some doubt following the acquisition of ARINC last year by The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. AMC itself has struggled to sign new airlines to paying membership agreements.
"ARINC and Industry Activities are here to stay. We are not going anywhere," Belcher declared. "ARINC Industry Activities... is an integral part of our heritage. It has been for over 75 years."
Just weeks after maintenance issues grounded hundreds of planes around the United States, and amid news of a possible mega-merger between Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines, Belcher linked AMC’s work directly to airline safety.
"History has shown that your work to establish technical standards for the aviation industry has reduced lifecycle costs on airborne electronics by promoting the reliability and improving maintenance and supporting techniques," Belcher said. "I feel the exchange of engineering, maintenance, associated technical information and the development of voluntary, maintenance-related technical standards has had a direct effect on improving safety itself."
Delivering the keynote address, Oliver Martins, American Airlines vice president of engineering, planning and quality assurance, said the model of aviation maintenance, and avionics maintenance in particular, is evolving. There is a crowded field of competition for maintenance work — by the airlines themselves, independent maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies, airframers and equipment OEMs.
"The business model in aviation has changed," Martins said. "All this makes the world of aircraft maintenance and the running of an airline even more complex."
Martins called on AMC participants to establish a dialogue for a new, sustaining model of aviation maintenance. "This is the time to set a new future. This is the time to redefine the map. This is the time to create a new paradigm," he said. "As members of this most important fraternity, we hope to achieve a result where all of us can build a new model to succeed in this environment for the long haul."
The roughly 700 airline maintenance personnel and OEMs in attendance worked through more than 300 questions, ranging from component maintenance manual availability to customer service response time by OEMs around the world.
The conference’s No-Fault Found (NFF), Electronic Distribution of Software and Field Loadable Software working groups updated attendees on their progress toward standards development.
The NFF working group, headed by Axel Mueller, of Lufthansa Technik, completed its task of establishing strategies for reducing NFF occurrences. A new standard — ARINC 672 — was expected to be released in early June. According to the working group, the standard will provide a holistic view of the NFF scenario; a common understanding of NFF phenomenon; examples of NFF sources and proposed solutions; and basic requirements and building blocks for a dedicated process to be implemented at a maintenance organization.
"NFF management is becoming more and more difficult. You don’t have all the role players under one roof anymore," said Mueller, who is also AMC Steering committee chairman. "Now that we have the guidelines finalized, it is a good moment."
The Field-Loadable Software working group also reported progress toward standardization.
Maintaining increasingly software-intensive aircraft is likely to become a major issue, committee members said. For example, older aircraft have 30 to 50 locations in which to load software. Among newer aircraft, the Boeing 777 has 400 software destinations, the Airbus A380 1,200, and the Boeing 787 1,400.
"This is an immense number of items to keep track of," said Marshall Demoire of Demo Systems, Moorpark, Calif., who serves on the working group. "Software is becoming the driver on the airplane instead of the hardware.... We like the software because it brings us flexibility, but it means we have more to manage."
The distribution of software poses its own set of problems, namely in the areas of security and efficiency. Physical transmission of the upgrades is time-consuming and not always reliable. Electronic means, either wired or wireless, while faster and seemingly more efficient, also pose security and feasibility concerns, panel members said.
"The committee is trying to put common terms and common explanations to the problem we are facing. This is an industry wide discussion," Demoire said.
Next year’s AMC conference, sponsored by Northwest Airlines, will be held March 30-April 2 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis and will be co-located with AEEC. In 2010, the co-located conferences will be sponsored by US Airways and held in Phoenix. — Emily Feliz
Rockwell Collins added to its content on the A350XWB, winning the nod from Airbus to provide an integrated, global communications package, the Avionics Full Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) backbone, Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR) and digital radar altimeter.
The awards, announced April 30, added to the earlier selection of Rockwell Collins’ Trimmable Horizontal Stabilizer Actuator for the new wide-body, slated to enter service in 2013.
Previously announced avionics packages went to Thales, which will supply displays and flight deck avionics, and Honeywell, which will provide the flight management system and integrated Aircraft Environment Surveillance System.
"We’re very pleased with these [latest] awards, which represent, on average, the most content per plane that we’ve ever had on an Airbus aircraft," said Kelly Ortberg, Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems executive vice president and chief operating officer.
The "Communication Global Work" package consolidates five packages into one. Included will be next-generation VHF and HF comms; ARINC 781 satcom system with low profile antenna and dual SwiftBroadband capabilities; avionics communications router with Aeronautical Telecommunication Network and Future Air Navigation System (FANS-B) capabilities; an audio system and a cellular-based Gatelink system linking the aircraft to ground crews after the plane has landed.
The AFDX system, also incorporated in the Airbus A380 Superjumbo and A400M military transport, provides the backbone for flight avionics data communications.
The MMR will provide Instrument Landing System and GPS Landing System capabilities, as well as the aircraft’s position, velocity and time reference. The company’s Digital Low Range Altimeter will provide accurate height measurements above terrain during aircraft approach, landing and climb-out phases of flight. The information is provided to the automatic flight control system, instrument system, and terrain awareness and warning system.
Rockwell Collins said work on the A350 contract will take place at facilities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Irvine, Calif., Melbourne, Fla., and Toulouse, France.
An Airbus-led group carried out what was described as the world’s first in-flight demonstration of in-trail procedure (ITP) over oceanic airspace using ADS-B, paving the way for Airbus to certify the technique by 2010.
The demonstration, involving an Airbus A340 test aircraft and SAS airline A330, took place in March in Icelandic airspace. During the test, the A340 performed several altitude changes relative to the SAS A330. Using a traffic computer manufactured by ACSS, of Phoenix, the pilot was able to receive on a navigation display all flight identification and positioning information regarding the surrounding aircraft.
The demonstration was part of the broader Cooperative Validation of Surveillance Techniques and Applications (CRISTAL) ITP project (Avionics, October 2007, page 36). Project partners include Iceland’s air traffic services provider ISAVIA, NATS of the United Kingdom, Eurocontrol, Airbus and SAS.
Europe is moving to standardize data link services that will build upon the operational introduction of Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications under the Link 2000+ program.
Eurocontrol, in an April 7 press release, said a number of new data link operational services, including short-term applications for flight information services and medium-term introduction of 4-D trajectory operations, are ready for international standardization.
"Now is the right moment to capitalize on the R&D work carried out and to provide our stakeholders with the possibility to maximize the return on their data link investment, and we are committed to the development of global standards that will provide safety, efficiency and capacity benefits for our stakeholders," said Robert Stewart, Eurocontrol head of communications systems and programs.
A joint RTCA/EUROCAE group, SC-214/WG-78 has been created to develop global data link standards for the next step, Eurocontrol said.
The involvement and commitment of the military is crucial to the success of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program, but additional resources are needed, according to the Military ATM Board (MAB).
At an April 1 meeting at Eurocontrol in Brussels, the MAB agreed a close relationship with the program at the strategic and technical levels is necessary, but funding mechanisms must be found that would allow the military to invest resources beyond the national security mission.
The MAB was formed in November 2007 to provide high-level military advice regarding civil-military ATM issues to the director general of Eurocontrol. It presently consists of senior military officers from 31 member states, and is chaired by Maj. Gen. Peter Vorderman, of the Netherlands.
"Military forces across Europe are well aware of the importance of SESAR and of their involvement in it," said Jean-Robert Cazarre, Eurocontrol director of civil-military coordination. "...We must also recognize the importance of additional funding in order for us to be fully integrated and contribute to SESAR and Single European Sky activities."
FAA granted Jeppesen, Englewood, Colo., approval to provide qualified Required Navigation Performance (RNP) consulting services to the aviation industry.
The approval allows the company to guide airlines and other aircraft operators through FAA’s RNP operations approval process. Jeppesen also will offer RNP services for non-U.S. operators looking to implement RNP operations worldwide.
Last August, Jeppesen was invited by FAA to participate in a pilot program to qualify third-party vendors to develop, quality assure, flight test and maintain RNP flight procedures within the United States.
Naverus, Kent, Wash., last year became the first FAA-authorized company to develop RNP procedures for customers. This year, Honeywell was designated by FAA as a consultant for RNP Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (SAAAR) procedures.
Airservices Australia will expand a safety trial of the Universal Communications Frequency, or Unicom, to three regional airports, Airservices CEO Greg Russell announced in April.
Unicom operators using VHF radio provide general weather reports, basic air-traffic information and details about the services and facilities available at an airport to enhance the safety of regular passenger services into the destinations.
Pilots approaching within an approximate 20 nautical mile radius of the Unicom locations will radio for information using Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) channels.
The regional airports at Port Macquarie, Hervey Bay and Karratha, are experiencing rapid growth in passenger movements, driven by the introduction of jet and large turboprop aircraft.
The existing trial of Unicom services in Dubbo and Wagga Wagga will be extended until November to further test and validate the service’s effectiveness during a wider variety of seasonal and weather conditions, Russell said.
ARINC and ATH Group, Lanham, Md., will offer an ACARS-based arrival management system, "AirPlan enRoute Service," designed to save airlines fuel.
The service is based on ATH Group’s "Attila" computer-based arrival management system, which sequences aircraft arrivals by dynamic monitoring of aircraft progress (Avionics, December 2007, page 35). By using airlines’ existing ACARS systems, AirPlan enRoute will require no new avionics, software modifications or changes to an airline’s IT infrastructure, the companies said.
The system calculates improved arrival times, starting when aircraft are hours from landing — and sends recommended changes to each aircraft’s projected time at the arrival fix to achieve overall system goals and save fuel.
"By offering these benefits in a hosted service without up-front infrastructure costs, ARINC can accelerate the adoption of a much-needed advance in airline operational efficiency," said Michael Baiada, ATH Group president.
ARINC Industry Activities, in conjunction with SAE, planned an exploratory meeting to address standards for fiber optic wavelength division multiplexed local area networks (WDM LAN).
The meeting, open to the aerospace community, was scheduled for June 10 in Annapolis, Md.
A network based on WDM uses multiple wavelengths on a single strand. The system allows for simultaneous transmission of broadband digital and analog signals, with applications for in-flight entertainment and other areas.
The benefits of a WDM LAN include high data transfer capacity, design flexibility, affordability, longevity and broad applicability, said Dan Martinec, of ARINC.
Representatives of the military and commercial sectors will address the status of activities associated with the development of an aviation requirement. The meeting also will address the scope of the standardization work and projected schedule.
Embraer’s Phenom 300 light jet made its first flight April 29 at the company’s test runway in Gaviao Peixoto, Brazil, ahead of its mid-year target.
During the one hour and 22-minute flight, Capt. John Sevalho Corção and Embraer Chief Pilot Eduardo Alves Menini put the plane through a number of maneuvers, checking the aircraft’s flight characteristics and systems. Real-time flight data was sent to engineers on the ground.
Three aircraft will spend about 1,400 hours in the certification program, and a fourth will be dedicated to the maturity campaign, Embraer said. The Phenom 300 is expected to enter service in the second half of 2009, priced at $6.65 million.
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535E engines, the Phenom 300 has a range of 1,800 nautical miles with six occupants, and can be configured for up to 10 occupants. The aircraft’s "Prodigy" flight deck, based on a Garmin integrated avionics suite, features three interchangeable 12-inch displays.
Embraer’s Phenom 100 Very Light Jet accomplished its first flight in July 2007. Certification of the Phenom 100 is expected in the second half of 2008, followed by delivery of between 10 and 15 jets by the end of the year. According to Embraer, more than 750 Phenom 100s and 300s have been sold worldwide.
Participating companies said aviation history was made April 9 when a Super Puma helicopter operated by Bristow Eastern Hemisphere departed Aberdeen Airport, Scotland, with an operational TCAS II system from Rockwell Collins.
This was the first time a helicopter had gained operational approval to use TCAS II equipment, the companies said.
TCAS II, required on fixed-wing aircraft carrying more than 15 passengers, works by interrogating the transponders of other nearby aircraft to determine and display their altitudes, ranges and relative positions. The TCAS II computer calculates the conflict potential and, if necessary, displays a recommended vertical avoidance maneuver to ensure safe separation.
Rockwell Collins, Bristow and Shell Aircraft cooperated to install, test and certify the TCAS II system. The group used Rockwell Collins’ existing TCAS-4000 product line for fixed-wing aircraft, without making modifications to the system. The effort resulted in Bristow Eastern Hemisphere receiving the first-ever EASA Supplemental Type Certification of TCAS II for rotary aircraft.
Honeywell signed an exclusive licensing agreement to provide the VistaNav Synthetic Vision System, developed by Mercury Computer Systems, Chelmsford, Mass., for the general aviation market.
Under the licensing agreement, announced in April, Honeywell will assume sales and support of the VistaNav Cockpit Information System product line, which includes the CIS-2000 and -2200 Class II electronic flight bags (EFB). The synthetic vision system was developed by Mercury Computer’s Avionics & Unmanned Systems Group (AUSG).
VistaNav Synthetic Vision is a portable, 3-D synthetic vision system. During flight, the system generates dynamic, realistic 3-D imagery, regardless of external conditions.
"With this new avionics solution, Honeywell expands our technology toolkit and allows us to offer more functionality for today’s cockpits and those of the future," said TK Kallenbach, Honeywell vice president of marketing and product management.
"Over the past three years, the AUSG team has developed a series of innovative products based on the award-winning VistaNav 3-D Synthetic Vision system," said Mark Aslett, Mercury Computer Systems president and CEO.
"While this exciting technology has garnered significant attention in the general aviation space, it is critical that we narrow our overall market focus and vigorously prioritize our R&D efforts, to improve the company’s performance and returns for our shareholders. We’re pleased to transition the VistaNav product line to Honeywell, which can provide a favorable environment to foster future growth."
Gulfstream Aerospace received approval from European regulators to retrofit its four large-cabin models with the Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display (SV-PFD). EASA also approved business jets equipped with Gulfstream’s "PlaneView" flight deck to fly RNP Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (RNP SAAAR) approaches.
The SV-PFD certification means operators of EU-registered Gulfstream G350, G450, G500 and G550 aircraft will have the option of using the application. The SV-PFD, which uses Honeywell’s Integrated Primary Flight Display, provides 3-D, color terrain images overlaid with primary flight display instrument symbology.
In the United States, FAA certified the SV-PFD and approved the use of RNP SAAAR approaches for PlaneView-equipped Gulfstream large-cabin aircraft in late 2007.
Chelton Flight Systems in April said it had started field installation of Synthetic Vision software capable of integrating and displaying Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) information.
The company was installing version 6.0B software in southeastern Alaska under FAA’s Capstone Phase 2 Program.
Working with FAA and the University of Alaska in Anchorage, Chelton also was providing training on the new software to Part 23 aircraft operators.
The DO-178B Level A software update received FAA approval last December, Chelton said.
Aircell, Louisville, Colo., plans to launch in-flight broadband services for the business aviation market later this year.
At the Aviation Electronics Association (AEA) International Convention and Trade Show in April, Aircell executives told Avionics the new broadband offerings includes two services — the air-to-ground Aircell Mobile Broadband Network for North America, and an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband network for global coverage. First deliveries are slated for the third quarter of this year.
The ground infrastructure for the air-to-ground broadband network was completed in March. The service allows for passengers to use their Wi-Fi-enabled devices onboard the aircraft.
"The last piece of the puzzle, which is broadband connectivity, is getting introduced into the equation," said Jack Blumenstein, Aircell president and CEO. "We put an office system on that aircraft... everything that would enable a working environment on that aircraft."
The network also powers "Gogo," Aircell’s in-flight Internet service for airline passengers. Gogo will launch later this year on select American Airlines routes.
"Our mission statement is very simple — to let people do on the airplane that which they’ve been doing on the ground," Blumenstein said.
The SwiftBroadband system offers data connectivity at up to 432 kbps per channel, has coverage across the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia, and will be available on a worldwide basis following the upcoming launch of the third Inmarsat-4 satellite. The system will offer e-mail, Internet and voice service, the company said.
Garmin International, Olathe, Kan., said Quartz Mountain Aerospace is the first manufacturer to select its G950 avionics suite.
Filling a niche between Garmin’s G900X and G1000 avionics, the G950 is designed for aircraft manufacturers who want a standardized avionics configuration and plan to complete certification of the avionics panel on their own.
Manufacturers can select between a two or three displays.
"The G900X is designed for non-certified, kit-built planes and the G1000 is tailored to the specific aircraft that it will be installed on and generally includes the GFC 700 autopilot," said Gary Kelley, Garmin vice president of marketing.
"The G950 fits a new niche... allowing OEMs with certified airframes to have the benefits of a proven, Garmin all-glass cockpit. Since the G950 isn’t customizable and doesn’t include the GFC 700 autopilot, OEMs will also have the benefit of a streamlined certification process."
Among G950 features in common with other Garmin avionics are a Mode S transponder with Traffic Information Service and dual integrated radio modules supporting VHF communications, VHF navigation with ILS and Class Gamma 3 WAAS, allowing for lateral precision with vertical guidance approaches.
Quartz Mountain, Altus, Okla., selected the G950 for its single-engine Model 11E. The company said it received a Standard Airworthiness certificate for the first production airplane March 20.
UAS Safety Forum
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a two-day forum April 29-30 on the safety of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The forum brought together representatives of the military, industry, FAA and other government agencies involved in UAS operations, reports Air Safety Week, Avionics sister publication.
The forum resulted from the investigation of an April 25, 2006, crash of a Predator B operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) near Nogales, Ariz. The aircraft crashed within 100 yards of a house in a sparsely populated residential area. No one on the ground was injured, but the aircraft was substantially damaged.
NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident to be the pilot’s failure to use checklist procedures when switching operational control from a console that had become inoperable due to a "lockup" condition, which resulted in the fuel valve inadvertently being shut off and the subsequent total loss of engine power.
The board’s October 2007 meeting on the accident produced 22 safety recommendations to address perceived deficiencies associated with the civilian use of unmanned aircraft.
"The Nogales accident surfaced a number of important questions that need to be addressed if UAS’s are to operate safely in the National Air Space," said board member Kitty Higgins, who chaired the forum.
Among presenters, Doug Davis, head of FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Program Office, discussed the agency’s roadmap and rulemaking for large and small UAS. He said market surveys indicate the majority of UAS developed in the next decade will be under 20 pounds. Davis said the rulemaking process will be lengthy, with a projected final rule in 2010 or 2011.
Darren Gaines, with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said integration of UAS in an already saturated NAS must be done safely. "Controllers are cautious, conservative and skeptical when it comes to new ideas," he said. "UAS is all new to us. We’ve got to get a handle on what to expect when you mix UAS with conventional aircraft."
While many proponents believe development of "detect and avoid" sensors will allow controllers to mix manned and unmanned aircraft in the NAS, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dallas Brooks said detect and avoid is not "Holy Grail" technology.
"We need to go end-to-end across the NAS to determine what to do procedurally and with technology. I believe many UAS will be capable of achieving a level of safety equal or better than manned systems. The question is how fast we can get there."
Ellis Chernoff, of the Air Line Pilots Association, raised a number of concerns regarding UAS hardware and standards. He called for UAS pilots to be regulated by FAA.
CBP operates the MQ-9 Predator B UAS in Arizona to monitor the U.S./Mexico border and will soon stand up a second Predator base in North Dakota to keep tabs on the border with Canada. The law enforcement agency hopes to acquire two dozen Predator Bs for overland and maritime interdiction missions.
CBP Assistant Commissioner Michael Kostelnik said Predator B has become "the awkward poster child" for UAS in the NAS. "Nevertheless, (the 2006 crash) does highlight the risks of these systems." He noted the crash was caused by human error, not mechanical failure. "We agree with the NTSB accident investigation, and the vast majority of the Safety Board’s recommendations have been completed. We’ve improved our processes a lot." — Ramon Lopez
A ‘Banner’ Year
Despite overall economic uncertainty and continued financial challenges for the airline industry, the general aviation sector is poised for another banner year in 2008, according to the Aviation Electronics Association (AEA).
Kicking off the AEA International Convention and Trade Show in National Harbor, Md., in April, AEA President Paula Derks (photo, above) said the GA sector in 2007 reaped $21.9 billion in total billings, topping 2006 by 16.5 percent. Worldwide shipments hit 4,272 units.
"With the airlines declaring bankruptcy, merging together in hopes of existence and scrambling to attract passengers, it has never been a better time for our segment of the industry to shine," Derks said.
"From manufacturers to distributors, FBOs to repair stations, we must seize the opportunity to tell our story," she said. "We must work smart and we must be proactive. We all must use any and all tools available to us to promote our businesses, our services and our products."
CJ4 Prototype Flies
Cessna’s Citation CJ4 business jet prototype completed its first flight May 5 in Wichita, Kan.
The 2-hour, 22-minute flight, which departed from McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, consisted of maneuver stability and initial systems evaluations.
While the pilots took the prototype on a sustained climb to 16,000 feet, engineers monitored its instrumentation and safety equipment via telemetry systems at Cessna’s facility in Wichita, Kan.
Since its debut in 2006, the CJ4 has received more than 150 orders, Cessna said. Customer deliveries are set for 2010.
"It was an outstanding first flight," said Senior Engineering Test Pilot Dan Morris. "We tested quite a number of the systems on the aircraft, including the autopilot, and all performed very well."
Configurable for up to eight passengers, the CJ4 is expected to have a maximum speed of 435 knots. It will mark the debut of the Williams International FJ44-4A electronically controlled engine. The twin engines each provide 3,400 pounds of thrust. The aircraft will feature Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite and Rockwell Collins cabin management system, "Venue."
The first flight of a production CJ4 will take place later this year. Cessna said it plans to type certify the aircraft by the second half of 2009.
Fuel Cells Power Manned Flight
Boeing Research and Technology Europe, part of the company’s Phantom Works advanced R&D unit, in February and March conducted three test flights of a Diamond Dimona motor-glider powered by a hybrid, proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell and lithium-ion battery system. The flights took place at the Ocaña airfield, south of Madrid.
Fuel cells convert hydrogen directly into electricity and heat, giving off only water as exhaust. Boeing reports that PEM fuel cell technology potentially could power small manned and unmanned air vehicles. Over the longer term, solid oxide fuel cells could be applied to secondary power-generating systems, such as auxiliary power units for large commercial airplanes.
"Boeing does not envision that fuel cells will ever provide primary power for large passenger airplanes, but the company will continue to investigate their potential, as well as other sustainable alternative fuel and energy sources that improve environmental performance," the airframer stated.
Boeing R&TE and partners have worked on the experimental aircraft since 2003. Participants include companies, universities and institutions based in Austria, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Northrop Grumman in April was awarded a $1.16 billion system development and demonstration contract from the U.S. Navy to develop the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS), using the company’s RQ-4N Global Hawk UAS platform.
The Northrop bid beat competing platforms proposed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The contract is to develop a persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data collection and dissemination capability, serving as an adjunct to the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft, the Navy said. The first BAMS-configured RQ-4N is slated to fly in 2011, with entry into service in 2014.
"This announcement represents the Navy’s largest investment in unmanned aircraft systems to date. The extraordinary efforts leading to this announcement have helped the BAMS UAS program begin to develop a persistent ISR capability never before available to the fleet," said Capt. Bob Dishman, program manager for the BAMS UAS program.
Raytheon and Boeing have teamed to pursue the U.S. Army-U.S. Navy Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM) program, a single-missile solution for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Raytheon is prime contractor for the team’s bid. Lockheed Martin also is expected to compete.
With an in-service date of 2016, JAGM will replace thousands of BGM-71 TOW, AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-65 Maverick missiles. The missile is being designed to defeat moving and stationary targets at extended ranges in all types of weather.
JAGM will be launched from aircraft including the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, AH-64D Apache Longbow, MH-60R Seahawk, AH-1Z Super Cobra, Extended-Range Multi-Purpose UAV, Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and Warrior Unmanned Aircraft System.
Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica in April said the DA7 Eurofighter Typhoon prototype was the first aircraft to enter its new anechoic shielded chamber, described as the largest in Europe.
The chamber is used to test in the electromagnetic compatibility of aircraft and systems and measure the performance of emitting devices, specifically radio frequencies. Located at the Alenia Ground Test Center at Turin-Caselle airport, the facility is a 900-square-meter building, 20 meters high, with an internal volume of 18,000 cubic metres. An internal hoist system is capable of lifting aircraft up to 25 tonnes.
Sikorsky Aircraft planned to make the first flight of a fly-by-wire UH-60M Black Hawk by early May.
The fly-by-wire project is one of several Sikorsky was pursuing. Other efforts include the X2 Technology Demonstrator and the Canadian Maritime Helicopter, based on the S-92 helicopter.
The upgraded "Mike" model Black Hawks are to deploy with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division this year.
The Vulture’s Wings?
Aurora Flight Sciences, Manassas, Va., Boeing Advanced Systems and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works have been awarded one-year contracts for the first phase of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s "Vulture" program.
The goal is to demonstrate an unmanned aircraft that can stay aloft for up to five years. Aurora’s solar-powered "Odysseus" design (above), unveiled in April at the Boston Museum of Science, is a flying wing that will fold during the day to collect the most sunlight, and stretch flat at night to minimize drag and conserve power.
The company’s partners include BAE Systems, focusing on payloads, sensors and concept of operation; C.S. Draper Laboratories, electronics and controls; and Sierra Nevada Corp., autonomous refueling.
The Chelton HGA-7001 high gain antenna system has been selected by Boeing and Rockwell Collins as the Inmarsat satcom antenna system for the B787 Dreamliner program. The HGA-2100 model number is being used by Rockwell Collins as the designation for the Chelton HGA-7001. This information was omitted in the "Antennas" Product Focus of the April 2008 issue (p. 44). Chelton said the HGA-7001 also has been selected by Rockwell Collins and Boeing for the B747-8 and B777 programs.
ITT Corp. won an $111 million contract for production of AN/ALQ-214(V)3, an integrated countermeasure system that provides self-protection capability for the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Under the contract, some systems will be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force for its F/A-18 E/F, representing the first international sale of the system.
Raytheon said an $89.5-million U.S. Navy contract allows it to add Canada and Switzerland to its list of customers for the ALR-679 (v)3 digital radar warning receiver. The ALR-67(V)3 is fitted on Navy F/A-18E/F carrier-based tactical aircraft. The receiver will be installed on Canadian CF-18s and Swiss F/A-18s.
Northrop Grumman received a $79.4 million contract for Global Hawk Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensors to be carried on the RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial system, currently in production. The MP-RTIP sensor is a modular, active electronically scanned array radar that can be scaled in size for integration into various airborne platforms.
Rockwell Collins signed a $66 million contract with Northrop Grumman to provide optical assemblies for the Miniature Pointer Tracker (MPT) used in the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system. The MPT can defend a wide range of aircraft from an infrared missile attack by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat and activating a high-intensity system of pulsed lasers to track and defeat the threat by confusing its guidance head.
Northrop Grumman won a $54.9 million, 18-month contract from the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center for development and flight-testing of a signals intelligence sensor payload for the MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and for the preliminary design of an expanded sensor package for the MQ-9 Reaper UAS. The signals intelligence sensor is scheduled to complete factory tests in December, complete flight tests in May 2009, and achieve operational fielding in 2010.
SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems will provide its Galileo Seaspray 7500E active electronically scanned array surveillance radar for the U.S. Coast Guard’s HC-130H upgrade, a four-year contract valued at $32 million. Fifteen HC-130H turboprops will receive the new radar.
Ethiopian Airlines will install the Thales TopSeries in-flight entertainment system on its future fleet of 10 Boeing 787s. The airline will offer 15.4-inch displays in business class and 9-inch displays in economy class. Thales also will supply media services and maintenance support.
Australian carrier Virgin Blue selected Rockwell Collins to provide the EP-1000CT image generator and Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) projector-based visual system for its Boeing 777 simulator. This is the fourth Rockwell Collins’ visual system acquired by the airline in the last year, and the third to include LCoS projector technology.
Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla., is providing RF-7800W high-capacity, line-of-sight radios to the U.S. government’s Real Time Airborne Management System for emergency scenarios. The radios will be used to transmit images of the landscape from an airborne digital camera and other sensors to ground stations in real time. The RF-7800W provides voice and data transmissions with very low latency and supports power-over-Ethernet for limited cabling and easy deployment.
An A380 Full Flight Simulator (FFS), manufactured by CAE, Montreal, achieved Level D certification, the highest qualification for flight simulators, by the European Aviation Safety Agency and FAA. Airbus is using the A380 FFS for initial training of A380 customers.
Nanocomp Technologies, Concord, N.H., was awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop very lightweight, electrically conductive wires, cables and materials made from carbon nanotubes for use in aerospace applications to replace traditional copper wiring. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Panasonic Avionics Corp., Lake Forecast, Calif., will supply its Cabin Services System on the new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Panasonic Avionics will provide its eX2 in-flight entertainment system to Aeroflot for 10 of the airline’s A330s. Financial terms were not disclosed. Deliveries are expected to start this year.