The insider’s perspective on some of the latest developments in the airline industry was on display during the AMC and AEEC annual meetings, held March 30 to April 2 in Minneapolis.
On the same day that Delta Air Lines announced the most visible manifestation yet of its takeover of Northwest Airlines, Stephen E. Gorman, Delta’s chief operating officer, described the "big challenge" it faces in obtaining a single operating certificate from FAA. Between the two airlines, there are 325 manuals and 110 major processes.
"We start with the manuals and start looking for the differences — 325 manuals is just mind-boggling," he said. "Think of that when you have two airlines with that much heritage and history, and both of them have been the product of a tremendous amount of mergers and acquisitions over the years."
Gorman gave the keynote address to the joint opening session of the two conferences March 30. That day, Delta said 40,000 Northwest flight attendants, pilots, airport lounge representatives, ticket counter and gate agents had switched to Delta uniforms. New Delta signage was erected at 400 ticket counters, gates and baggage claim areas in Detroit, Memphis and Minneapolis.
Speaking April 1 at the AEEC Symposium, Blair Reeves, Southwest Airlines manager of flight operations engineering, described the obstacles that airline faces in implementing Required Navigation Performance (RNP) across its mixed-generation fleet of 539 Boeing 737s. Last June, Southwest announced that it will invest $175 million over six years to implement RNP procedures and modify aircraft for tighter tolerances.
"The integration task is monumental," Reeves said. "... We basically have three different models of the 737. We consider two of them — the 300 and the 500 — pretty much the same, and the 700 being the Next-Gen (model). But in dealing with it, we have to modify the Classic fleet in two phases, we have to retrofit the NGs that are out of production already, and then we have to put a break-in into the production line. So any new technology we do, we’re adding to three different areas in our fleet.
Gorman and Reeves were among several speakers on the roster for the engineering and maintenance conferences, which were collocated for the first time in recent history. The meetings also represented the 60th anniversary for both AMC and AEEC. The two branches cite a common beginning in 1949, when the ARINC board of directors instructed the Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee — today’s AEEC — to hold regular maintenance meetings.
ARINC Industry Activities (IA), which organizes AMC and AEEC, reported 685 registrants, representing 49 airlines and some 120 suppliers, repair companies and other interests. More than 30 companies hosted suites on multiple floors of the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, which served as the meetings venue.
Though it is gradually being folded into the Delta brand, Northwest Airlines served as the host airline for the conferences. A brief retrospective video of the airline’s history, tracing back to its beginnings as a bi-plane mail carrier in 1926, drew AMC delegates to their feet in a spirited standing ovation when it was shown April 1.
AMC, the larger of the two conferences, is structured as an open forum. Airlines submit discussion items — oftentimes complaints — pertaining to avionics equipment and maintenance practices. The suppliers in attendance, seated on either side of the main column of airline representatives, are required to stand up and either explain or defend their actions.
After a typically slow start, the AMC delegates over four days reviewed all 241 discussion items on the agenda, leaving 22 open for resolution.
AEEC engineering delegates adopted five supplements and three new project papers on the topics of EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) Recommended Practice; Onboard Mobile Telephony System; and Global Navigation Satellite System Landing System Unit.
The conference directed its Fiber Optic Subcommittee to define the "adapter contact" in the ARINC 801 fiber optic terminus specification. Definitions of "preferred fiber optic contact" and "non-preferred fiber optic contact" will be expanded to include their use in an ARINC 600 insert, according to AEEC.
ARINC IA Project Initiation/Modification (APIM) proposals were approved for an EFB Application Control Interface Standard, software specification; and Media Independent ACARS Messaging, software specification.
Avionics Magazine is a co-sponsor of the AMC and AEEC conferences, and organizes a Product Showcase with exhibitors. For the magazine’s daily blog coverage of the conferences, visit www.aviationtoday.com/av/blog. —Bill Carey
J. Randolph "Randy" Babbitt, a former airline pilot and former Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) president, was nominated by President Obama in March to become the next FAA administrator.
Babbitt, 62, most recently a partner in the aviation practice of Oliver Wyman Inc., a management consulting firm, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The confirmation hearing had not been scheduled at this writing.
The nomination was well received by the aviation industry, with various groups praising Babbitt for his experience as a pilot, labor negotiator and safety expert.
"Randy Babbitt is a superb choice to lead the FAA. He has both the experience and the leadership skills to drive the modernization of our aging air-traffic management system and to improve relations with air traffic controllers," said Air Transport Association (ATA) President and CEO James C. May.
Babbitt began his aviation career as a pilot for Eastern Airlines and flew for more than 25 years. He served as president and CEO of ALPA, the largest professional organization of airline pilots. In 1993, he served as a presidential appointee on the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry. In 2008, Babbitt was named by the Secretary of Transportation to an independent review team of aviation and safety experts tasked with evaluating and crafting recommendations to improve FAA’s implementation of the aviation safety system and its culture of safety.
Former FAA Administrator and current Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) President Marion Blakey said Babbitt is an "excellent choice."
"He’s a pilot, with a thorough understanding of how our nation’s aviation system works," said National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen. "Clearly, Randy will be able to hit the ground running at a critical point in the evolution of the nation’s air transportation system."
If confirmed by the Senate, Babbitt will lead FAA at a critical time, tasked with both implementing NextGen and resolving a long-running labor dispute between the agency and controllers.
Europe will see a 5-percent reduction in flights this year due to the economic recession, according to a Eurocontrol forecast.
The decline in air traffic will affect all sectors, including low-cost carriers, which saw 5 percent fewer flights in February compared to February 2008. The business aviation market was down by 21 percent in February.
Eurocontrol attributed the declining traffic to reduced economic output generally, meaning fewer goods to ship and lower demand for air travel; credit difficulties that are complicating restructuring and investment by aircraft operators; and slowed "migration flows" within Europe.
"As passengers look for cheaper ticket options, yields are falling and load factors remain weak despite airlines cutting capacity in the winter," said David Marsh, Eurocontrol head of forecasting. "All of these factors suggest that this decrease will not be short-lived, and the recovery in traffic growth is not expected before the end of 2009 with, at best, weak growth in 2010."
The release of the Eurocontrol forecast March 24 coincided with a revised financial forecast by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), based in Geneva. The association predicts global air-transport industry losses of $4.7 billion this year; last December, it pegged 2009 losses at $2.5 billion. IATA also revised its forecasted loss for 2008 from $5 billion to $8.5 billion.
IATA predicts passenger traffic will contract by 5.7 percent over the year, with the impact on airline revenues made worse by a sharper fall in premium traffic. Cargo demand is expected to decline by 13 percent. Industry revenues are expected to fall by 12 percent, or $62 billion, to $467 billion. In comparison, industry revenues fell by $23 billion from 2000 to 2002, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, IATA said.
"The state of the airline industry today is grim," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA director general and CEO. "Demand has deteriorated much more rapidly with the economic slowdown than could have been anticipated even a few months ago. Combined with an industry debt of $170 billion, the pressure on the industry balance sheet is extreme."
Relative to other regions, North American carriers are expected to perform best this year, with a combined profit of $100 million. A 7.5-percent reduction in demand is expected to be offset by an equal reduction in capacity.
"Carriers are benefiting from careful capacity management and lower spot prices for fuel," IATA said.
Carriers in the Asia-Pacific region will be hardest hit, with expected losses of $1.7 billion. European carriers are expected to lose $1 billion.
Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Control Center on March 23 converted to a new air-traffic control system in a ceremony attended by representatives from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Camiel Eurlings, the Netherlands Minister for Transport, Public Works and Water Management, officially deactivated the old system, dating to the early 1970s. Air-traffic control over Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and northwest Germany is provided by the new flight-data processing system.
The Maastricht system is the first in Europe developed in accordance with European standards on system interoperability, and is "entirely consistent with the philosophy behind the Single European Sky," Eurocontrol said. The Single European Sky initiative reorganizes air-traffic management into a flexible network of functional airspace blocks (FAB).
The flight-data processing system makes it possible to reduce flight distances by calculating the most direct air routes possible, helping to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Aircraft trajectories are thus calculated automatically in real time using radar data, information entered by the controllers and flight plan data.
The Maastricht Control Center provides control for the upper airspace (above 24,500 feet) of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and northwest Germany. The lower airspace is managed by the national providers Belgocontrol, Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland and Deutsche Flugsicherung, respectively.
The Maastricht Center employs 250 controllers and handles 1.5 million flights annually, making it the second busiest European air-traffic control center in terms of traffic volume after London. Over the past 10 years, air traffic has increased by 55 percent, Eurocontrol said.
The center is involved in a six-nation effort to create a functional airspace block designated "FAB Europe Central."
The union representing FAA technicians who certify air-traffic control equipment is "extremely concerned" that FAA has turned over that responsibility to private industry, beginning with the deployment of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) ground stations.
The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), which represents 11,000 technicians, testified March 17 before the House Aviation Subcommittee on FAA’s certification policy.
"In essence, the FAA is attempting to eliminate inherently governmental functions in order to justify handing over the National Airspace System to private contractors who are focused primarily on maximizing profits and meeting the absolute minimum of safety standards," PASS President Tom Brantley stated in a press release.
FAA in August 2007 awarded an 18-year, $1.86 billion contract, including options, to ITT Corp., to provide the nationwide ground network for ADS-B. The contract gives ITT overall responsibility for design, development, testing, installation and support.
Air China RNP
Naverus in March concluded an agreement with Air China to design Performance-based Navigation (PBN) procedures for the carrier’s Airbus A330s at Lhasa Gonggar airport.
The new procedures, which incorporate Required Navigation Performance (RNP) technology, will provide all-weather access and improved safety at one of the highest-elevation airports in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Situated in the Himalayan Mountains at an elevation of 12,000 feet, Lhasa is among the world’s most challenging flight environments.
The contract marked the eighth PBN project Naverus has undertaken for Air China and the sixth set of RNP procedures the company has been contracted to provide for the Lhasa Airport. Naverus designed PBN procedures last year for Air China A319s and in 2006 for Boeing 757s.
In addition to Lhasa, Naverus has designed PBN procedures for Chinese airlines at Linzhi, Bangda and Jiuzhaigou airports in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Sichuan Province.
The company also is developing RNP approach and departure procedures at Kangding airport in Sichuan Province and Zhangiiajie airport in Hunan Province.
"Our operations continue to show strong benefits from RNP and we remain committed to expanding PBN operations," said Air China Southwest Branch Vice President Capt. Chen Zhiyong.
PBN Flight Checks
Jeppesen said it is the first third-party vendor authorized to flight check performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures, including Required Navigation Performance (RNP).
The Boeing subsidiary said its chief technical pilot, Capt. Robert Holleran, completed the flight validation training course per FAA notice 8260.66, Flight Validation of Satellite-Based Performance-Based Navigation and Special Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Instrument Flight Procedures. He is the fourth individual to receive the authorization, Jeppesen said.
Jeppesen, Englewood, Colo., provides a PBN program that includes FAA-qualified AC90-101 consultants, RNP and RNAV flight procedure design, analysis of fleet missions and route structure to optimize RNP implementation strategy, and simulator evaluation.
Holleran has worked more than 20 years in commercial aviation and has over 13,000 flight hours in GA aircraft, regional turboprops and jets. He has commanded 20 aircraft types and holds type ratings on several Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
He is a member of the FAA Advisory Board for PBN and the Air Transport Association RNAV Task Force. He participated on the task force for FAA Advisory Circular 90-101, Approval Guidance for RNP Procedures with SAAAR.
Southwest Airlines in March said it flew Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures on a round-trip flight between Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby International Airport as part of its program to eventually use RNP at every airport it serves.
According to the airline, the demonstration flight yielded an estimated reduction of 904 pounds of C02 and fuel savings of 8 percent.
"The data collected is extremely promising for just one roundtrip flight and we are excited to implement additional flights at airports across our system," said Jeff Martin, Southwest Airlines senior director of flight operations and RNP lead.
Southwest is investing $175 million over six years to implement RNP procedures, retrofit aircraft and train pilots.
Qantas Airlines received approval from the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to use the Honeywell "SmartPath" Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS) at Sydney International Airport for satellite-based precision landings with its A380s.
Qantas previously was approved to fly GBAS approaches with its 737 fleet, and has recorded more than 1,600 GBAS landings in Sydney using the Honeywell system. The first GBAS landing on the A380 took place during the aircraft’s test flight in Sydney in June 2007.
Airservices Australia has been engaged in the use of GBAS technology since 1999 and has operated the SmartPath GBAS ground station in Sydney since November 2006, Honeywell said.
Honeywell’s Sydney installation is one of eight Honeywell GBAS stations operating worldwide. The company said additional installations are planned this year at airports in the United States and Europe.
Boeing Class 2 EFB
Boeing announced March 5 an agreement with Esterline CMC Electronics to provide Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB) hardware on selected aircraft models for production and retrofit, starting with the Next-Generation 737. Boeing said a second provider would be announced later. CMC Electronics’ PilotView system is the Class 2 EFB selected.
Boeing said it is developing a common application suite and ground infrastructure for use across Class 1, 2 and 3 EFBs. It aims to "maximize the value of the EFB infrastructure" by including Boeing and Jeppesen applications and data.
"Many Class 2 providers offer no integration, leaving it to be done by the airline," stated Robert Manelski, director of Crew Information Services with Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "This can add unanticipated cost and increase technical and schedule risk. Our EFB solution is fully integrated, allowing customers the flexibility they want, with Boeing support throughout the life cycle of the product."
Boeing was the first to certify and integrate a Class 3 EFB on the 777 fleet in October 2003. Since then, the airframer has certified the Boeing Class 3 EFB, manufactured by Astronautics Corporation of America, for the next-generation 737, 757, 767 and 747-400 models and made it standard equipment on the 787 Dreamliner and Boeing Business Jet. The airframer said it has more than 1,000 Class 3 EFBs on order.
"This selection of our PilotView EFB makes the most of our strengths in Class 2 hardware delivery and combines it with Boeing’s strengths in data delivery and integration," said Jean-Pierre Mortreux, CMC Electronics president and CEO. "We believe this combination will offer the flexibility that customers are seeking."
The founder and principle owner of electronic flight bag (EFB) manufacturer navAero bought back a majority stake in the company April 1, a move he said will secure its future in the market.
NavAero founder and principal owner Stefan Ridderheim now owns 81 percent of the company and has secured financing of more than $4 million, according to an April 2 navAero release.
"The change in ownership was an absolute necessity to guarantee navAero’s long-term future," Ridderheim said.
"We need to be in control of our own destiny — and not subject to the changing views of investors that are often influenced by outside factors. In the right conditions, it makes sense to share the financial risks by involving investors/shareholders. And over the past months, we explored bringing new owners into the company. But in today’s economic environment, we found no good options that fit with our strategic plans. It became apparent that the only way to have truly committed financial resources was to take the aggressive step and secure the future for ourselves... which is exactly what I have done," he said.
Lars Eriksson was named president of navAero. Ridderheim is chairman and CEO.
Air Shuttle EFBs
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA chose the navAero t-BagC22 electronic flight bag (EFB) for fleet-wide deployment on its Boeing 737 NGs.
The airline’s program includes cross-connected dual t-Bag C22 EFBs with the navAero t-Pad 2000 display. The systems feature the newly commercialized navAero-designed, UMTS/HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) 3G cellular modem for on-ground data transfer, ARINC 429 connectivity and custom software enabling moving map applications on a Class 2 EFB.
The contract, announced March 12, covers deployment on Norwegian Air Shuttle’s 40 operating 737s, with an option for 42 737NGs on order. The deployment will be completed this year, navAero said.
"We are very pleased to be one of the first airlines in Europe to receive an operational approval for use of a Class 2 EFB system in all phases of flight," said Ole Christian Melhus, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA deputy director of flight operations. "This is in line with our long-term strategic IT development process in optimizing and assuring operational control within our expanding operation."
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, based in Fornebu, Norway, transported 9.1 million passengers in 2008. The low-fare, point-to-point carrier employs 1,400 people.
SAT-WAY SA, based in Luxembourg, said it has developed a Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB) with wireless connectivity for chart and manual updates from Jeppesen. The EFB provides connectivity with both land mobile and Iridium satellite networks, and "scans" available networks for the most cost-effective data transmission.
SAT-WAY said the EFB provides "ACARS-like" information and can reduce the investment and air-time cost associated with the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) used by airlines for operational messaging. The system can send and receive ACARS-like messages, transmit flight data logs, aircraft status and condition information, load sheets and logbooks, and display as moving map the aircraft’s position.
TriaGnoSys GmbH, of Wessling, Germany, and network-based telephony company Skuku, of Peta Tikva, Israel, formed a partnership to provide in-flight GSM services. Their system makes use of existing connectivity on the aircraft, including in-seat screens, seat-back phones and the Internet, to enable voice and Short Message Service (SMS) functions.
Skuku technology uses SIM card data in ground GSM servers to provide roaming for voice and SMS text messages. TriaGnoSys has developed the software to enable Skuku to be used on aircraft.
To use the service, passengers insert their own SIM cards into a SIM card reader. On aircraft with Internet connectivity, SMS messages can be sent and received using the IFE screen, and computer "softphones" can be used for voice calls. Seat-back phones can also be used to make and receive voice calls, as can Inmarsat and Iridium satellite phones, the companies said.
"Airlines, as well as business jet owners and operators, can exploit the technology they already have on their aircraft to provide an additional passenger service," said Axel Jahn, TriaGnoSys managing director. "The installation process is a simple software upgrade, bypassing the need for the expensive and time-consuming fitting of hardware. In addition, Skuku technology can easily be integrated into current generation IP-enabled IFE systems."
Panasonic Avionics Corp., of Lake Forest, Calif., in March launched Panasonic Airline Television Network, a proprietary broadcast TV distribution network. The network includes a broadcast TV channel specifically licensed by Panasonic for worldwide distribution to aircraft in-flight via Ku band satellites.
Also, Panasonic said it has entered into multi-year agreements with five major television news groups to provide live news and information via the network. The licensed news organizations are Al Jazeera, BBC World News, the Bloomberg Television network, euronews and France 24.
Panasonic said it defines and manages the selection of channels, and all licensing and distribution agreements are made directly with the content providers. This framework simplifies the content management process and system design, Panasonic said. Also, the network will provide seamless coverage as aircraft move from one coverage area to another.
Panasonic said the service is provided via the same antenna and onboard equipment as its Panasonic eXConnect broadband in-flight entertainment system.
ARINC opened an office in Miami serving as the Latin American Gateway for its GLOBALink voice and data communications, flight operations, and installation and maintenance services.
The company said it recently reviewed its Miami expansion plans with 70 airlines and airport managers, a presentation that reflected its "accelerating growth in response to regional aviation expansion."
The new Gateway office is located a mile south of Miami International Airport. The airport is the main North American hub to Latin America, with 88 airlines serving 118 domestic and international destinations.
Marinvent Corp., Saint-Bruno, Quebec, said its Dynamic Non-Linear Display (DNLD) technology has been formally accepted for the issuance of United States and European patents, with worldwide applications pending.
The display technology addresses the problems encountered with conventional real-time displays that simultaneously require high resolution and very large ranges, Marinvent said. Examples include the airspeed and altitude tapes on head-up displays and electronic flight instrumentation systems.
Marinvent said DNLD flight trials were underway at the National Research Council of Canada’s Institute for Aerospace Research in Ottawa and Montreal.
Teledyne Controls, El Segundo, Calif., said German charter airline Blue Wings has selected its Flight Data Interface Management Unit (FDIMU) for installation on 20 new Airbus A320s.
Blue Wings, headquartered in Bocholt, Germany, will use the FDIMU to perform flight data acquisition, aircraft condition monitoring and data recording. The first FDIMU delivery is expected in August 2009.
The FDIMU is a compact, integrated system that includes mandatory data acquisition and a fully programmable Aircraft Condition Monitoring System (ACMS) with recording functions and processing capability. Teledyne said it is flying on more than 60 percent of Airbus aircraft.
"Our airline was looking for a reliable data recording system that could manage multiple operations, including ACMS," said Ruediger Fellmann, Blue Wings technical director. "The FDIMU will meet and exceed our criteria, allowing us to define the set of standards required to measure the in-depth performance of our fleet."
Honeywell is providing upgraded satcom equipment to Malaysia Airlines, allowing passengers to use mobile phones and PDAs on selected flights as part of a pilot program through mid-2009.
The satcom equipment enables passengers to use mobile and data phone services while the aircraft is in the cruise phase of flight. Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777s already are equipped with Honeywell satcom systems, providing voice and data communications as well as flight deck connectivity with air-traffic control.
Recent routine maintenance checks provided an opportunity to implement the new data services capability, Honeywell said. Approvals were granted by the European Aviation Safety Agency and Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation.
Honeywell’s HD710 High Speed Data satcom unit replaces the High Power Amplifier with a unit that contains both the HPA and a high-speed data unit.
Sagem of France and Barco of Belgium announced equipment selections on the ATR 42/72-600 series regional turboprop.
Sagem was selected by the ATR consortium to develop and produce the MPC 600 multipurpose computer, used to record flight and maintenance data. Incorporated in the aircraft’s Thales TopDeck avionics suite, the computer replaces several different assemblies and handles data collection and processing for both maintenance and regulatory purposes. The centralized maintenance function indicates recommended procedures for the entire aircraft, for use directly by ground crews.
The first production-standard MPC 600 was delivered to ATR in February in preparation for the first flight of a series 600 aircraft.
ATR 42/72-600 cockpits will be equipped with dual CDMS-3000 control display units from Barco. The CDMS-3000 combines sunlight-readability with compact dimensions, low weight and optimum energy efficiency, Barco said. The unit is ETSO-C113 certified and available in a variety of keyboard sizes.
Goodrich Corp., Charlotte, N.C., will provide the high-lift actuation system for Bombardier’s new CSeries family of airliners, the company announced March 24. The selection is expected to generate more than $750 million in original equipment and aftermarket revenue over 20 years, Goodrich said.
Goodrich will design and produce an integrated high-lift flap and slat system, including actuators, power drive units, wing tip brakes, electronic control units, cockpit levers, transmission shafts and sensors. Work will be performed by the company’s Actuation Systems unit in Wolverhampton, U.K.
The Wolverhampton team also will provide the thrust reverser actuation system as part of the nacelle system for the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1000G engine that will power the CSeries. Goodrich was selected to provide the nacelle system for the PW1000G in 2008.
Astronautics Corporation of America, Milwaukee, Wis., this month will mark its 50th anniversary as a commercial and military avionics provider.
Founded in 1959 by Nathaniel Zelazo and Norma Paige, Astronautics manufactures displays, aircraft servers, flight instruments and electronic flight bags (EFB) and provides full flight-deck upgrades. The company employs nearly 2,000 people in Milwaukee and locations in Little Falls, N.J., and Asheville, N.C., as well as overseas locations.
Astronautics reports more than 1,500 of its Class 3 EFBs flying to date. The Astronautics EFB is standard equipment on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and is available on the 777, 767, 757, 747 and 737. With Astronautics certified application of Cockpit Display of Traffic Information (CDTI) for Class 2 and Class 3 EFBs, the pilot can see current location along with information on other aircraft on the ground, helping to prevent runway incursions.
In conjunction with the Brazilian Air Force, Astronautics developed the Avionics Modernization Program upgrade for Brazilian C-130s. The company said it designed, installed, integrated, flight tested and certified the new glass cockpit in 56 weeks from contract award.
Nathaniel Zelazo and Paige continue to serve as chairmen emeritus of the company. Ronald E. Zelazo is Astronautics CEO.
Rockwell Collins Buy
Rockwell Collins announced plans April 1 to buy DataPath, Inc., a Duluth, Ga.-based satcom communications company, in a cash transaction worth $130 million.
DataPath, which has more than 600 employees around the world, designs, integrates, manages and deploys satcom systems for military and commercial customers. Its systems include multi-band satcom terminals, network control software to manage and control communication networks, and global field support services.
"The acquisition of DataPath will broaden and strengthen our position in networked communications, an area of rapid growth for military customers around the world," said Clayton Jones, Rockwell Collins chairman, president and CEO. "DataPath’s strong customer relationships, expansive product line, and experience in developing satellite communication solutions make it an ideal fit for our communications portfolio."
Rockwell Collins said it expects the acquisition to be completed in May.
President Obama has proposed eliminating LORAN-C, the long-range, ground-based navigation system, in his 2010 budget plan, saying the system is outdated and no longer needed.
Decommissioning LORAN, which is operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, would result in savings of $36 million in 2010 and $190 million over five years, according to the budget.
LORAN-C provides coverage for maritime navigation in U.S. coastal areas and is approved as an enroute supplemental air navigation system for IFR and VFR operations. Proponents of LORAN say implementing eLORAN, or enhanced LORAN, instead of eliminating it would improve safety and security in case of a loss of the GPS system.
The International LORAN Association (ILA) favors the implementation of eLORAN, an enhanced and modernized version of LORAN, as a GPS backup system.
"This independent, positioning, navigation, timing, and data delivery system would mitigate the safety, security, or economic effects of a loss of GPS for critical infrastructure applications, especially those that require precise time and frequency," according to the association.
The Coast Guard said it will continue to operate the current Loran C system through the end of FY2009. The service is preparing detailed plans for implementing the FY2010 budget.
Hawker Beechcraft CEO
Hawker Beechcraft Corp. on March 23 introduced W.W. "Bill" Boisture Jr., as its new chairman and CEO. Boisture, who formerly served as president NetJets and Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., succeeds Jim Schuster, who announced his retirement in November. He takes the reins at Wichita, Kan.-based Hawker Beechcraft at a difficult time.
On Feb. 12, Hawker Beechcraft reported a net after-tax loss for 2008 of $139.9 million on sales of $3.5 billion. The company said net sales were "significantly impacted" by a four-week strike by the International Association of Machinists in August. Included in the 2008 results were $91.1 million in charges associated with bringing early-production Hawker 4000 units to the final type design and establishing more normal production processes, the company said.
Hawker Beechcraft said orders have declined and cancellations increased in the current economic environment. Net bookings for the year were $4.8 billion and year-end backlog was $7.6 billion.
"The company does not believe 2009 new bookings will reach recent-year levels and anticipates declining backlog in 2009," it stated in the financial release.
In response to the weak economy, Hawker Beechcraft laid off 500 workers last November and more recently announced 2,300 additional job reductions. The company delivered 441 business and general aviation aircraft in 2008, consisting of 160 business jet, 178 turboprop and 103 piston aircraft.
"Bill is the right person at exactly the right time," said Sanjeev Mehra, managing director of Goldman Sachs and chairman of the board of Hawker Beechcraft Inc. "His proven ability to drive customer satisfaction and value has never been more important than in this challenging economic environment."
Boisture served as president of NetJets, Gulfstream and British Aerospace Corporate Jets, a forerunner to Hawker, and as chairman and CEO of Butler Aviation. Most recently, he was the president of Intrepid Aviation, a commercial aircraft lessor, and a senior aerospace advisor with The Carlyle Group.
Boisture was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and graduated from the USAF Fighter Weapons School and the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School. He was honorably discharged as a major after 11 years of service. He has a commercial instrument rating and remains an active pilot.
FAA granted supplemental type certification (STC) for the Garmin G1000 avionics suite on the King Air 200 and B200 turboprops, Garmin said.
The G1000 suite integrates primary flight information, navigation data, communications, terrain awareness, traffic, weather, and engine instruments on a 15-inch multifunction display (MFD) and two 10.4-inch primary flight displays (PFD). The installation results in a weight savings of about 100 pounds, Garmin said. The King Air 200/B200 installation comes with Garmin’s GFC 700 three-axis, dual channel automatic flight control system (AFCS). The STC also includes approval for Garmin’s synthetic vision technology (SVT), which presents a three-dimensional depiction of terrain, obstacles, traffic and the runway environment on the PFD.
WAAS, Class B terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), dual integrated solid-state attitude and heading reference systems (AHRS), and dual integrated digital air data computers are standard features of the G1000 avionics suite.
Rockwell Collins has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a Part 147 maintenance training organization. The company said it is offering courses at its Reading, England, location.
The EASA approval covers avionics maintenance classes, also known as B2 type training courses, for select Rockwell Collins Pro Line-equipped aircraft. The first course offered is a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 300 series Pro Line 21 class.
"As an EASA Part 147 approved training organization, we have the capability to provide avionics maintenance classes to support our customers’ continuing requirements for EASA-approved type training," said Ken Schreder, Rockwell Collins vice president and general manager, Simulation and Training Solutions.
Honeywell in March said its fleet of HTF7000 engines had accumulated more than 500,000 hours of in-flight operation. The company reported 499 HTF7000 engines in service, with a dispatch reliability of 99.97 percent.
Last year, Honeywell won major awards to supply its HTF7500E turbofan for the new Embraer Legacy 500 mid-size and Legacy 450 mid-lights jets; and HTF7250G for the new Gulfstream G250.
"While this achievement is rewarding, we continue development of new technologies making derivative HTF7000 engines even better values for future aircraft applications like Gulfstream and Embraer," said Rob Wilson, president of business aviation with Honeywell Aerospace.
Honeywell is using a Boeing 757-200 testbed fitted with a "Tech7000" developmental version of the engine. The aircraft also serves for developing new APUs, avionics, flight controls and radar technologies.
Gulfstream Aerospace in March received FAA authorization to use Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) for oceanic and remote area waypoint reporting, becoming the first business jet manufacturer to do so, the company said.
ADS-C allows an air traffic controller to initiate the tracking of an aircraft’s position from the ground using information sent at predetermined intervals from the jet’s onboard sensors. The system improves safety by automatically reporting when an aircraft deviates from its cleared altitude and route. It also provides meteorological data from aircraft sensors to the air-traffic control system. ADS-C is part of the Future Air Navigation System (FANS) data link application, which will include Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC).
Late last year, Gulfstream completed a full FANS flight across the Atlantic Ocean using CPDLC with ADS-C.
TDG Aerospace, Escondido, Calif., said its Universal Fault Interrupter (UFI) was selected by Hawker Beechcraft to protect electrical circuits in the super mid-size Hawker 4000, which features a composite fuselage. Hawker Beechcraft is the first business aircraft manufacturer to select the patented UFI technology.
The UFI protects aircraft fuel pump systems from electrical faults, extended dry pump operation, and un-commanded pump operation. Certified to 14 CFR 25.981, the UFI was initially designed to help commercial aircraft operators comply with regulatory mandates for fuel system safety.
TDG Aerospace said 10 U.S. airlines have selected the UFI for mandatory airworthiness compliance in their fleets, with "hundreds" of UFI units installed on commercial aircraft operating in the United States and Europe. The company has developed FAA-approved UFI solutions for the Boeing 757 and 737NG series aircraft, and approval for the Boeing 767 was expected.
Thales said it was awarded a contract from the NATO procurement agency NC3A to supply an air-traffic management system for the NATO base at Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The contract includes Thales’s latest generation Eurocat control center, one co-mounted STAR 2000 primary and RSM970 Mode S secondary surveillance radar, a precision approach radar provided by ITT Corp., and a series of complementary communications, navigation and surveillance equipment.
"Thales is among the few companies to design, develop and deploy systems based on a dual expertise for the civil and defense domains," said Daniel Kleim, managing director of Thales Air Traffic Management Systems.
Boeing unveiled the "Silent Eagle," a new export version of the F-15 under development, March 17 in St. Louis, Mo.
Designated F-15SE, the fighter has redesigned conformal fuel tanks (CFT) that allow for internal weapons carriage. Depending on the specific mission, the operator can use the CFTs for internal carriage or change back to the traditional CFTs for optimum fuel capacity and external weapons carriage.
The Silent Eagle will be able to internally carry air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 and AIM-120 and air-to-ground weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). Boeing said it has completed a conceptual prototype of the CFT internal-carriage concept, and plans to flight-test a prototype by early 2010, including a live missile launch.
The F-15SE has been reconfigured with canted vertical tails and digital flight control system for aerodynamic efficiency, reduced weight and improved reliability. Survivability improvements include a BAE Systems Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS) working in concert with a Raytheon Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. Stealth improvements include coatings and treatments on the aircraft.
"The F-15 Silent Eagle is designed to meet our international customers’ anticipated need for cost-effective stealth technologies, as well as for large and diverse weapons payloads," said Mark Bass, Boeing F-15 program vice president.
"The innovative Silent Eagle is a balanced, affordable approach designed to meet future survivability needs."
Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems was awarded a $9.2 million contract from TKC Aerospace, of Charleston, S.C., to upgrade U.S. Customs and Border Protection C-550 Citation Tracker aircraft with its Vixen 500E intercept radar and associated mission management system.
The contract represents a further inroad in the U.S. market by the Finmeccanica-owned company, which is supplying the Seaspray 7500E radar for U.S. Coast Guard HC-130Hs ( Avionics, September 2008, page 24).
The Vixen 500E is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar providing air-to-air and air-to-surface surveillance. It is comprised of a processor/receiver and AESA antenna.
"This upgrade program will not only improve the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the C-550 Citation fleet, but it will lower life cycle support costs, primarily due to the order-of-magnitude improvement in system reliability compared with equivalent conventional radars," said Patrick Geraghty, executive vice president, Radar Systems, for Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems US.
The contract is for the first two radars and mission management systems, with options for additional systems to upgrade the remainder of the fleet.
AdaCore announced a licensing agreement with BAE Systems UK to provide company developers in the United Kingdom with access to AdaCore’s GNAT Pro Ada development environment.
The contract is expected to benefit more than 600 developers, giving them access to GNAT Pro on 15 major native and cross development platforms, New York-based AdaCore said.
Current and recent BAE projects using Ada programming language include the Eurofighter Typhoon, Maritime Composite Training System, Harrier and Nimrod updates, and the Seawolf Mid-Life Update ship defense system.
"This landmark investment by BAE Systems UK demonstrates how Ada continues to be the standard for development in the safety-critical aerospace and defense markets," said Franco Gasperoni, AdaCore managing director.
Barco n.v., Kortrijk, Belgium, entered into an agreement with Sweden’s Saab to expand its avionics offerings with Saab’s RIGS Head-Up Display for commercial and military helicopters and small aircraft.
The RIGS system uses Saab’s digital video display technology to project an "out-of-the-window" picture into the pilot’s field of view. The required software is hosted on Barco’s PU-2000 processing unit with open-system MOSArt architecture.
The RIGS HUD can be used to render flight, navigation and sighting data with aiming point and target reticule. The display can offer all-weather capabilities by presenting instrument landing system information and images from enhanced vision sensors.
BAE Systems Inc., announced March 12 that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Advanced Ceramics Research, of Tucson, Ariz., a manufacturer of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced ceramic materials.
BAE, Rockville, Md., said the acquisition supports its UAS strategy, providing "an excellent set of mature, operational products" within the small, mini and tactical UAS market and complementing larger platforms being developed by BAE Systems in the United Kingdom.
Advanced Ceramics Research employs 60 people and produces the Silver Fox, Manta and Coyote unmanned aircraft. Silver Fox has been certified operational by the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command; the two others are undergoing certification, BAE said.
Silver Fox is a gas/electric UAS with 8- to 10-hour duration, payload of 5 to 8 pounds and capability for autonomous takeoffs and landings. Manta is a gas-powered UAV with 6- to 8-hour duration, payload of 15 to 18 pounds, and autonomous takeoff and landing capability. Coyote is an electric UAV with one-hour duration and 1-pound payload. It is deployed from an aircraft in flight and is capable of autonomous landing.
The UAS platforms are supported by the Advanced Ceramic Research Integrated Ground Control Station (iGCS), which is capable of supporting multiple UAS operations.
AeroVironment (AV), of Monrovia, Calif., and the U.S. Army Product Manager for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) conducted a continuous 30-hour demonstration of persistent surveillance of a point target using AV’s RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aircraft system.
The demonstration at Camp Roberts in California followed an inquiry from Pentagon officials regarding the potential for AV’s Raven small UAS to perform low-cost, tactically relevant persistent surveillance, the company said. The Raven weighs 4.2 pounds and is powered by lithium-ion batteries. The system used by the Army includes three air vehicles, day and night sensors, two ground control stations, a laptop computer with mission planning and recording software and accompanying spares and a battery charger.
"This demonstration indicates that the Raven small UAS is capable of performing tasks normally assigned to limited, high demand and higher echelon reconnaissance assets in a highly cost effective manner," said Dean Barten, product director for Army SUAS.
AV said the 30-hour duration represents a prolonged tactical level surveillance mission similar to what would typically be performed at the battalion or lower level. Using one standard production Raven baseline system, which consists of three aircraft and two ground control stations, the demonstration provided continuous surveillance using two-person crews operating in eight-hour shifts.
Employing the autonomous guidance capability incorporated into the Raven small UAS, operators rotated the aircraft over a surveyed point target — a residential building on the base — maintaining surveillance throughout the demonstration, and reported activity at the target site. In addition to recording the imagery, the demonstration team streamed a live video feed from the operation via webcast throughout the event.
FCS Design Review
Boeing and Science Applications International Corp., working together as lead systems integrator for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, announced March 13 that preliminary design reviews have been completed for the program’s unmanned vehicles and aircraft.
The FCS platforms reviewed were the Multifunctional Utility/Logistics Equipment (MULE) family of vehicles and its Autonomous Navigation System; the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle; the Class I Unmanned Aerial System (UAS); and the Class IV UAV.
The Class I UAV is based on the Honeywell T-Hawk Micro Air Vehicle; the Class IV UAS is based on the RQ-8 Fire Scout being developed by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.
The UVS Integrated Product Team completed the five PDRs ahead of a System-of-Systems (SoS) preliminary design review scheduled for later this spring. The SoS review will assess the integration of the FCS program’s individual platforms into a complete architecture and help establish baselines for developing prototypes. Qualification testing of prototypes is scheduled for fiscal 2011.
CAE, of Montreal, signed contracts to design and manufacture three full-flight simulators and associated CAE Simfinity training devices for Avianca Airlines and Sofia Flight Training, as well as Emirates-CAE Flight Training. These contracts have a total value of $26.6 million.
Elisra Electronic Systems Ltd., an Elbit Systems and Elta subsidiary, was awarded a $25 million contract to supply the Korean government with airborne electronic warfare (EW) suites for Korean air force C-130s. The advanced and integrative EW suite includes protection systems against various radar-guided and heat-guided missile types. Elisra also announced a $7 million contract to supply airborne electronic warfare systems to Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the FA-50 fighter. Elisra said KAI’s business plan calls for implementation of the EW system in an additional 60 jets over the next few years, and additional dozens of systems in a follow-on phase with a potential for export.
Raytheon was awarded a $3.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for the Electronic Warfare Battle Management system design. Raytheon will spend three years conducting a series of EWBM system experiments and demonstrations in the Air Force Research Laboratory virtual combat laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Through the experiments, the Air Force will be able to apply EWBM to a variety of scenarios to determine the best use of electronic warfare assets on the battlefield. Joining Raytheon are Sierra Nevada Corp., Sparks, Nev.; AEA Technology, Carlsbad, Calif.; and Bonn Corp., Las Vegas.
Elbit Systems Ltd., of Haifa, Israel, was awarded a contract to supply advanced helmet mounted systems for the Korean Army’s Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH) program. Under the contract, Elbit Systems will supply the prime contractor, Korea Aerospace Industries, with the advanced helmet mounted display systems, as part of the Korean Army’s extensive programme for the development and manufacture of some 250 tactical transport helicopters. Elbit Systems contract is for an initial quantity of helicopters to be delivered during 2009-2010.
Rockwell Collins will provide avionics for the Oman Air fleet of 12 Boeing 737NGs, the company announced in March. Oman Air will also retrofit its current fleet of nine 737s with Rockwell Collins data link products. Among systems selected are the Rockwell Collins MultiScan Hazard Detection System weather radar, GLU925 Multi-Mode Receiver, and TTR-921 TCAS II receiver/transmitter. "This is an important win as we look to further expand our presence in the Middle East," said Jeff Standerski, Rockwell Collins vice president and general manager for Air Transport Systems. Last September, Oman Air selected the Rockwell Collins Airshow 4200D Moving Map and Flight Information System and Tailwind 560 in-flight television system for seven A330s.
Rockwell Collins signed three airline customers for its dPAVES in-flight entertainment system. Air Arabia selected the system for 49 of its A320s. Air Europa will install the system on 12 of its 737 aircraft (13 options). And CanJet Airlines will install dPAVES on two additional 737-800 aircraft. Rockwell Collins said the system includes the Broadcast Digital Server, which offers 160 gigabyte storage capability and embedded Airshow Moving Map in one 4 MCU box. Other features include scalable architecture, route specific content, fleet commonality of line replaceable units (LRU), plug-and-play LRUs and flyable data loader.
Swedish charter operator Viking Airlines selected the navAero tBagC22 Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB) for installation on its five Boeing 737 NGs and Classics and one McDonnell Douglas MD-83. navAero said the deployment will be completed this year.
KID-Systeme, based in Buxtehude, Germany, will supply cabin surveillance equipment for the Airbus A350 XWB family, the company announced. The system will include a cockpit door surveillance system (CDSS) and a cabin video monitoring system (CVMS). The CDSS improves security by providing the pilots with a view of anyone in the area of the cockpit door, and the CVMS allows the pilots and the cabin crew to view passengers. The KID-Systeme surveillance system will initially be available as a line-fit option on all A350s when the aircraft enters commercial service in 2013.
Elbit Systems of America, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., was awarded a follow-on contract by the U.S. Air Force, Ogden Air Logistics Center, for depot level repair services on the F-16 AN/APG-68 Fire Control Radar Modular Low Power Radio Frequency (MLPRF). The AN/APG-68, a long-range, Pulse-Doppler radar designed to detect targets for the fire control system, consists of four line-replaceable units (LRU), an antenna, a dual-mode transmitter, the MLPRF, and a programmable signal processor.
Avidyne’s CMax Electronic Approach Chart software, which includes Jeppesen’s worldwide coverage of airport diagrams, is now standard on all new EX500 and EX5000 Multi-Function Displays (MFD). Avidyne said it will also enable current EX500 and EX5000 MFD customers to upgrade for a fraction of the previous cost for the CMax option. With CMax, customers can gain access to Jeppesen’s electronic worldwide airport diagram service on their EX500 or EX5000 MFD. CMax is available for $499 as an upgrade from Avidyne for existing EX500 and EX5000 MFDs.
SuperJet International, of Venice, Italy, a joint venture of Alenia Aeronautica and Sukhoi Holding, selected Lufthansa Technik Logistik as the exclusive logistics provider to manage Sukhoi Superjet 100 spares distribution worldwide. The partnership will take advantage of Lufthansa Technik Logistik’s facilities based at Frankfurt International Airport.
Boeing and Systematic A/S, of Aarhus, Denmark, a systems integration and software company, signed three agreements outlining future areas of cooperation.
An article in the April 2009 issue, "Intelligence Upgrade," (page 28) incorrectly stated the order of command for the U.S. Army’s Aerial Common Sensors (ACS) project manager. ACS falls under the Program Executive Office-Intelligence Electronic Warfare and Sensors.