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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Regional Scan: North America

By Woodrow Bellamy III and Chelsea Bryan

NextGen Data Comm on Track For 2016 IOC

What a pilot will see on the cockpit display when using Data Comm for a revised route clearance.
Photo: NATCA
Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the first phase of the Data Communications (Data Comm) Air Traffic Management (ATM) technology under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) NextGen program is on track for 2016, according to a National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) official involved with the program.

Data Comm is one of the most transformative ATM overhauls coming to the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) under NextGen. The technology will enhance two-way voice communication between Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and pilots, significantly reducing delays throughout the NAS by providing an email-like digital communications service for flight plans, departure clearances and route information.

 AEA Avionics Market Report Shows Industry Growth

The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) released its 2013 year-end avionics market report at its annual convention showing global General Aviation (GA) avionics sales reaching more than $2.4 billion last year, a 6.9 percent increase over 2012. This is the second annual avionics market report released by AEA, capturing sales of all business and GA aircraft electronics, including all component and accessories in cockpit/cabin/software upgrades, portables, non-certified aircraft electronics; all hardware (tip to tail), batteries and chargeable product upgrades from the participating companies. The report doesn’t include repairs and overhauls, extended warranties or subscription services.

AEA President Paula Derks said the numbers were a good sign for the industry given the uncertainty surrounding the global economy, with the U.S. improving while Europe continues to recover from the downturn in 2012 and emerging economies in Latin America and Asia remaining inconsistent with expected performance in those regions.

The report features sales figures from 21 participating AEA member companies, which includes some of the avionics industry’s biggest names such as Rockwell Collins, Garmin, Honeywell and Universal Avionics.

Facebook to Provide Internet to Developing World With UAS

Facebook’s prototype aircraft for delivering Internet connectivity to remote locations.
Photo: Internet.org
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company intends to develop a new method of delivering Internet connectivity to parts of the world that currently do not have access, by using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). As part of this effort, Facebook has acquired Ascenta for $20 million. The small U.K.-based aerospace engineering company created a prototype of the Zephyr, which holds the world record as the longest flying solar powered UAS after flying non-stop above an Arizona army range in 2010.

The process of providing connectivity via UAS is being developed as part of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, which is also looking to use satellites and lasers, in addition to aircraft, to deliver basic Internet services to the 5 billion people worldwide who currently lack it, Zuckerberg said.

 Garmin Introduces G3X Touch

Garmin released a large touchscreen glass flight display system for light sport aircraft, the G3X Touch. Garmin’s experimental engineering team, TEAM X, designed the display.

The non-certified system features 10.6-inch displays and allows pilots to receive NEXRAD, METARs, TAFs, TFRs, winds aloft and more through its SiriusXM aviation weather and radio capability. The upgrade will allow pilots to locate targets when radar is not an option.

 Aircell Unveils New In-flight Connectivity for Biz Jets

Gogo’s business aviation subsidiary announced a new in-flight communications system for business jets, the ST 4300. The system features voice, narrowband data and cockpit data link services in a single system.

ST 3400 features one, two or three Iridium voice/narrowband data channels, plus one dedicated Iridium data channel. Additionally, the system allows business jet operators to configure flight deck communications based on their specific needs. In the future, Gogo says the ST 3400 will be eligible for FANS (Future Air Navigation System) certification.

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