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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Industry Scan

LiveTV, Greenwich AeroGroup Bring Iridium’s OpenPort to the Skies

LiveTV and its partners are moving forward with a system to bring global connectivity services to business aircraft operators, commercial airlines and helicopters.

OpenPort Aero is a modified version of Iridium’s maritime satcom platform which provides high-speed data and voice connectivity on the aircraft. The companies said the system’s relatively simple architecture and high bandwidth capability make it a lower cost alternative to Inmarsat airborne systems. The system, which weighs about 30 pounds, provides bi-directional speeds of up to 134kbps and includes three independent phone lines, enabling simultaneous voice and data connectivity.

Greenwich AeroGroup, based in Wichita, Kan., sells, supports and installs the system; JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV is the system integrator and developer of the onboard equipment and Iridium is the service provider.

Components of the system include a seven-panel, phased array antenna; satellite-modem line replaceable unit (LRU); and a wireless access point.

In October LiveTV and Greenwich AeroGroup began flight tests on Challenge 604 business aircraft belonging to Dean Foods. During the hour-long test, the flight crew used four iPads and two smartphones to test speed levels, access Websites, download data, email, text and make phone calls over the Iridium network. Dean Foods is the launch customer of the system on a business aircraft, the partners said.

“To have this system installed for the first time, fly with it for the first time, and have it come off flawlessly was a very exciting,” said LiveTV Flight Engineer Chris Brown. “The pilot was downloading weather information onto his iPad.”

The first business aviation supplemental type certificate (STC) is expected to be completed by the end of the year for the Bombardier Challenger 601-3A/3R, 604 and 605 models. The system has already been certified for use on A320s.

“With our first STC in-hand for the terminal, this really opens the door for airlines looking for low-cost connectivity solutions to support crew and passenger connectivity such as [electronic flight bags] and wireless in-flight entertainment,” said Mike Moeller, vice president of sales at LiveTV.

Greenwich AeroGroup said the next planned STCs for the OpenPort Aero system are the Falcon 2000 model aircraft and the Gulfstream IV, 450, V and 550 model aircraft with tail radomes by mid 2013. Additionally, the company said it is starting its first STC in a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter at its Summit Aviation facility in Middletown, Del.

“We see a big market for OpenPort Aero’s Wi-Fi system on helicopters. Since Iridium’s satellite system is not hampered by the rotor of the helicopter as other satellite systems have discovered, our recent testing of the OpenPort Aero system in the rotorcraft environment worked flawlessly,” said Mark Fischer, Greenwich AeroGroup’s director of avionics products. —Emily Feliz

This is an exercept of a story that appeared in Avionics Magazine’s digital e-zine In-Flight Connectivity Insider. Visit www.aviationtoday.com/av/in-flight-connectivity/

Thales to Acquire Sysgo

Thales capped November with a pair of acquisitions, the most recent one being the purchase of Sysgo AG, the German supplier of operating system products, middleware, and software services for the real-time and embedded market.

Thales said the acquisition will strengthen its leadership in embedded computing solutions for mission-critical applications. At the same time, it will bring Sysgo access to the market for Thales solutions, consolidating the company’s position as Europe’s leading provider of safe and secure operating systems while supporting its capacity to expand into new markets such as automotive.

Luc Vigneron, chairman and CEO of Thales, called the acquisition “an excellent opportunity to bring on board dynamic teams of experts in advanced software technologies. This will accelerate the development of the next generation of operating systems, particularly for avionics applications. All of our markets will benefit from the key competencies of Sysgo, as the group addresses growing safety and security requirements with new generations of multi-core processors.”

Sysgo, which employs 80 people in Germany, France and the Czech Republic, will be a subsidiary of Thales, with its headquarters in Klein-Winternheim, near Frankfurt, Germany. Sysgo customers include Airbus, EADS, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins and Rohde & Schwarz.

Earlier in November, Thales announced plans to acquire the helmet mounted display and motion tracking businesses from Gentex Corp., based in Carbondale, Pa.

Carlisle Acquisition

Carlisle Companies, based in Charlotte, N.C., will pay $265 million to acquire the Thermax-Raydex business, a supplier of hook-up, data and coaxial wire and cable for mission-critical applications for commercial aerospace, defense and industrial customers.

With annual sales of about $112 million, the Thermax-Raydex business, which is a unit of Belden, of St. Louis, Mo., designs, manufactures and sells customized wire and cable for transmission of data and power on aircraft and defense platforms, as well as in high-end industrial equipment. The business will operate as part of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies.

“We are excited about the acquisition of Thermax-Raydex, as the company adds capabilities and technology to strengthen our interconnect products business in very attractive aerospace and industrial sectors. Thermax-Raydex expands our product, technology and service ranges to our customers. This acquisition is consistent with our focus on higher margin, highly engineered products and is an excellent fit with Carlisle,” said David A. Roberts, Carlisle chairman, president and CEO.

Etihad Launches Wi-Fly

Etihad Airways in December launched its Etihad Wi-Fly in-flight Internet and mobile connectivity service, powered by the Panasonic Avionics Global Communications Suite. The airline’s first aircraft equipped with Panasonic’s communications technology, an Airbus A330-200, took flight on Dec. 4 for Brussels, offering high-speed broadband Internet connectivity as well as data and mobile phone services, the airline said.

The A330-200 will be used for long-haul destinations across Etihad Airways’ network, such as Brussels, Dublin, Manchester, Munich, Frankfurt and Milan. Etihad Wi-Fly is a result of the 10-year, $1 billion agreement we signed with Panasonic Avionics in November 2011, according to the airline.

“We continue to invest in our product and consider ways to offer our guests the most engaging and dynamic in-flight entertainment options. The broadband Internet is high-speed, in line with what our guests would experience at home or at work, so we believe this will be hugely popular,” said James Hogan, Etihad Airways president and CEO. “By the end of Q1 2013, we will have 10 ‘Etihad Wi-Fly’-equipped aircraft, and I am pleased to announce that by the end of 2014, every single Etihad Airways aircraft will be equipped for in-flight connectivity.”

All Etihad Airways narrow-body aircraft will be outfitted with data and mobile phone connectivity, while wide-body aircraft will be additionally equipped for broadband Internet services.

The “Wi-Fly” connectivity solution is offered to guests at a cost of $13.95 for one hour or $24.95 for 24 hours.

Etihad Airways also currently operates six connectivity-enabled aircraft under an agreement with OnAir: three Airbus A320s and three Airbus A330-300s.

ITT Exelis Buys C4i

ITT Exelis in early December signed a definitive agreement to acquire C4i Pty. Ltd., based in Melbourne, Australia, from the Longreach Group Limited, for $16.8 million.

C4i provides advanced communications software that is central to the needs of air traffic management systems and mobile communications solutions for commercial, homeland security and defense systems around the globe. Its Internet Protocol (IP)-based voice control and switching solutions allow for large networks of radio devices to be seamlessly integrated. This technology provides operators with a fully integrated command and control system enabling enhanced safety and efficiency for air traffic control.

“C4i’s interoperable communications solutions and engineering talent will complement Exelis’ strong and successful record of integrating, deploying and operating large scale communications networks for our air traffic management, commercial and defense customers,” said Michael R. Wilson, president of Exelis Information Systems. “This acquisition expands our portfolio of critical infrastructure solutions, builds on our presence in Australia, and brings us closer to our customers and markets of interest.”

Pending shareholder approval, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013 subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

UAS Partnership

AeroVironment entered into a strategic relationship with Sweden-based CybAero AB to develop and distribute a Tier II vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft system. The relationship gives AeroVironment exclusive rights to provide CybAero AB systems to U.S. customers and to government customers in NATO and other countries. AeroVironment has agreed to purchase up to $3 million in convertible notes from CybAero to facilitate the company’s growth.

U.S. military customers typically segment the numerous types of unmanned aircraft systems they employ by size, weight, endurance and range into different tiers. Man-portable, hand-launched systems such as AeroVironment’s RQ-11B Raven, RQ-20A Puma AE and Wasp AE that weight less than 20 pounds comprise the Tier I segment. Tier II UAS include heavier, larger and longer endurance systems with longer range, such as CybAero’s VTOL offering. Tiers III and IV include air vehicles of increasing size, capable of even longer endurance and range and requiring larger support teams and infrastructure requirements.

“CybAero is a pioneer and leader in the Tier II VTOL market. Our joint team has demonstrated this reliable, cost-effective Tier II UAS solution that will build on AeroVironment’s family of small UAS, expanding our customer offering,” said Roy Minson, AeroVironment senior vice president and unmanned aircraft systems
general manager.

“With its significantly greater endurance and payload capacity, small footprint and ease of use, this new system will join our family of UAS and deliver a robust vertical takeoff and landing capability to current and new customers seeking that Tier II solution.”

“We are working with CybAero to integrate their product into our system solution and will invest to add critical capabilities required to bring the most competitive offering to market,” Minson added.

RTOS on Pro Line Fusion

LynuxWorks, based in San Jose, Calif., said its LynxOS-178 Version 2.2.2 real-time operating system (RTOS) has been certified for use by Rockwell Collins in its Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics system.

Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion was granted certification this year from Transport Canada (TC) on the Bombardier Vision Flight Deck, marking the first certification of Pro Line Fusion on a customer aircraft. The system features synthetic vision on a head-up display, which leverages LynxOS as part of the Pro Line Fusion avionics system on the Bombardier Vision Flight Deck.

“The latest certification of LynxOS-178 by Transport Canada in the Rockwell Collins Pro Line avionics system is another major milestone for LynuxWorks in the avionics market,” said Robert Day, marketing vice president for LynuxWorks. “This further demonstrates that a standards-based approach for software reuse in airborne systems is viable and can significantly reduce the time and cost of achieving certification.”

Earlier this year, LynuxWorks received Advisory Circular AC 20-148 approval from FAA for reusable software components authorized for the LynxOS-178 product used in the Rockwell Collins Adaptive Flight Display Runtime, Common Computing Module Runtime, Data Concentration Module Runtime and Synthetic Vision Module Runtime for Pro Line Fusion.

Contracts

➤ Rockwell Collins has been selected by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to provide a suite of avionics equipment for the U.S. Navy C-130T Avionics Obsolescence Upgrade program. The equipment will be installed on 20 aircraft with work scheduled to begin in 2013. The selected equipment includes the MultiScan Hazard Detection Weather Radar, the software-defined V/UHF radios, along with other communication equipment.
➤ Rockwell Collins has been awarded a $54 million full rate production contract, with unexercised options valued at an additional $241 million, by the U.S. Navy to upgrade 11 aircraft as part of the E-6B Block I Modification program.
The initial $54 million award covers the procurement of the material, installation and associated activities for the next three aircraft. The total program includes production engineering support, field service support, operator and maintenance crew training classes and maintenance trainer updates.
➤ Curtiss Wright Controls signed a $1.6 million contract with Northrop Grumman to provide rotary actuators for the U.S. Marine Corps Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) program. The rotary-geared actuators are being delivered to Northrop Grumman. The actuators transmit power from an electric motor to lift and lower the G/ATOR system’s flat-screen antenna array, Curtiss-Wright said.
➤ Luxemburg carrier Luxair has signed a seven-year avionics by the hour agreement with Thales to provide spares provisioning and component maintenance services for its fleet of Bombardier Dash8-400s. The agreement will provide advance exchanges and access to a pool of avionics components based in France.
➤ Piper Aircraft has selected Garmin’s G1000 integrated flight deck for its Archer and Seminole models.
➤ LAN Airlines and U.K.-based IFE Services have signed a new in-flight entertainment agreement. The agreement covers the provision of IFE content across its fleet of wide and narrow body aircraft, the company said. IFE will also manage digital encoding and audio visual on-demand content for LAN.
➤ Saab Sensis has been selected as the air traffic control Decision Support Tool developer subject matter expert for the NextGen Institute’s Trajectory-Based Operations research. The research will involve providing current and future air traffic demand scenarios and system-wide simulations to evaluate current and future air traffic management concepts.
➤ Airbus ProSky has teamed with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to support the modernization of the air transportation system in Singapore and throughout the Asia Pacific region. The partnership resulted from a series of joint technical workshops between the two entities, where they determined that it was necessary to modernize the air traffic management (ATM) practices in the Asia Pacific region to support the growth in air traffic. Under the new partnership Airbus ProSky will assist CAAS in building the Center of Excellence for ATM in Singapore, which will host companies that are looking to develop and adapt new ATM concepts.
➤ United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Bayanat Airports Engineering & Supplies signed a strategic partnership agreement with Frequentis AG to provide airports air traffic management systems for civil and defense markets, airport technology products, tower automation, and aeronautical information management systems in the UAE. Under terms of the partnership, Frequentis will install a bi-directional flight plan format converter for Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

Garmin Selected for Firebird

Northrop Grumman selected Garmin to supply the avionics suite for its Firebird optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The Firebird is equipped with a tailored version of Garmin’s touchscreen-controlled integrated flight deck system.

“Commercial avionics are an increasingly compelling option for government and military aircraft because they offer excellent features with significant time and cost savings,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin’s vice president of aviation sales and marketing.

The Firebird cockpit is equipped with three 14-inch, HD widescreen displays. Primary flight information is displayed to both the pilot and co-pilot along with additional displays capable of showing sensor data, moving maps, charts, engine indications and other important flight information. In addition, the cockpit is equipped with two touchscreen display/controllers that provide a centralized and intuitive interface to the system, giving pilots rapid access to the flight information they want. The touch controllers also allow for the control of external missions systems.

The Firebird is also equipped with Garmin’s Synthetic Vision Technology, which presents a 3-D depiction of terrain, obstacles, traffic and the runway environment on the flight displays. Garmin’s GWX 70 Doppler-capable weather radar and GTS 850 Traffic and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS I) are also on board the aircraft.

The triple widescreen displays, dual touchscreen display/controllers and flight management systems are also used in the ground control station that is used to fly the aircraft when it is operated as an UAV.

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