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Monday, June 1, 2009

Industry Scan

Avionics Webinar: Providers Outline EFB Installation Considerations

The business case for aircraft operators to deploy electronic flight bags (EFBs) is strong, but there are important trade-offs to consider when deciding between a portable Class 2 or an installed Class 3 device, advised speakers participating in the May 7 Avionics Magazine Webinar, "Operators Guide To EFBs: Choosing and Applying Electronic Flight Bags."

Class 2 EFBs, which are generally COTS-based computer systems connected to an aircraft mounting device, may have a lower cost initially. But the burden falls on the owner/operator to ensure that a Class 2 EFB does not interfere with the operation of the aircraft. In a Class 3 application, that duty is covered under the type certificate or supplemental type certificate, said Merritte DeBuhr, manager of technical program development with ECS, of Franklin, Wis.

"Depending on what you want to do, where you want to operate and how many airplanes you have in your fleet, the total long-term cost of ownership may disappear with a Class 2," DeBuhr said. "The benefit of the lower cost of the Class 2 may disappear over time when you look at the extra burden that the owner/operator has to go through to get a Class 2 on an airplane versus a Class 3."

Under the recent Change 47 to Order 8900.1, which provides guidance to FAA principal operations inspectors (POIs) for EFB operational authorization, any change made to major components of a Class 2 device, such as the microprocessor, motherboard, or hard drive, requires that operational approval of the EFB be re-performed, said DeBuhr. Class 3 EFBs are treated more like traditional avionics equipment, allowing the operator to make changes to the system without obtaining new approvals.

Yet Class 3 EFBs come with their own certification and cost issues. "The cost of a Class 3 installation is... about the same as the Class 2, except the qualification of the black boxes is far more expensive. Eventually those costs can be resolved between a Class 2 and a Class 3 if you in fact look at the long-term maintenance of a Class 2," said Jerry Schumacher, president of U.S. Technical, of Fullerton, Calif. "It just depends on how big your fleet is and how many changes the Class 2 goes through [during] the life of the box."

U.S. Technical completed the interface engineering and certification processes for the Continental Airlines EFB program. Continental plans to retrofit 58 of its Boeing 757s and 26 767s with the navAero Inc. t-Bag C22 Class 2 EFB, in addition to the Class 3 EFBs installed on its 777s, manufactured for Boeing by Astronautics Corporation of America.

In January, Continental performed its first revenue flight using a Class 2 EFB with airport moving map display and "own-ship" aircraft position. Jeppesen, the first company to obtain FAA Technical Standard Order authorization for the application on a Class 2 EFB, provides the Airport Moving Map software.

"Continental was very forward looking back in 2007 when they made the decision to implement an EFB program that focused really on airport moving map as one of their key business drivers to help increase the safety of flight," said Ken Crowhurst, navAero senior vice president. "I believe that that decision to move forward was very instrumental in helping FAA realize that this is a technology approach that has very broad-reaching implications to the industry and became, I believe, a very key point of stimulus to the FAA."

A big advantage of Class 3 EFBs is their growth potential, said Bill Ruhl, manager of Business Development with Astronautics Corporation of America, based in Milwaukee. Class 3 hardware provides growth to support Type C software applications, which require that the operating system meet DO-178B Level C and hardware be qualified to DO-160E.

"There are certain advantages to Class 3s, but this is another inherent advantage to Class 3s that we see at Astronautics," Ruhl said. "There’s a whole number of things coming forward with the Type C apps that we’re going to see here shortly in the future," including support for in-trail, oceanic in-trail and terminal in-trail aircraft operations.

A hybrid of Class 2 and Class 3, called Class II-H and covered under FAA Advisory Circular 120-76A, includes a display unit that is removable by the pilot without tools. But a remote aircraft interface device is bolted into the airplane and requires an STC. The new draft of the AC was released last November and is still under review by FAA. — Emily Feliz

For more on EFBs, see Pages 35-49. To hear an archived version of the May 7 Avionics Magazine Webinar, visit www.aviationtoday.com/webinars.html.


Commercial

CDA Approaches

European organizations in late March announced a "joint action plan" to reduce aircraft C02 emissions by implementing continuous descent approaches (CDA) at up to 100 airports by the end of 2013. In a CDA, the aircraft flies a smooth rather than a stepped approach to an airport, reducing fuel burn, emissions and noise.

The plan, announced at the 4th Aviation and Environment Summit in Geneva, aims to reduce C02 emissions by more than 500,000 tonnes annually.

The action plan was developed by 19 organizations and companies across Europe, including air navigation service providers, manufacturers, airports and airlines. Organizations joining in the announcement were Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), Eurocontrol and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

"This action plan is yet another demonstration of how seriously the aviation community takes the need to reduce the environmental impact of flying," said Lex Hendriks, Eurocontrol deputy director of network development.

"It is a good example of what can be achieved when a number of organizations work together in partnership, sharing good practices, and is an early deliverable for the SESAR program to which so many of us are committed."

Sturgell Appointment

Former Acting FAA Administrator Robert "Bobby" Sturgell joined Rockwell Collins, becoming senior vice president of its Washington, D.C., operations.

Sturgell, who left FAA in January, became acting administrator in September 2007 following the departure of Marion Blakey, who now heads the Aerospace Industries Association.

With Rockwell Collins, he is responsible for developing and implementing governmental, regulatory, legislative and industrial affairs strategies, and for maintaining relationships with members of Congress, staff and Obama administration officials, the company said.

"Bobby’s extensive experience and strong working relationships, in Washington D.C., as well as the aerospace and defense industry, will help ensure we are well-positioned to provide perspective and insight regarding policy and legislation important to our business," said Clayton Jones, Rockwell Collins chairman, president and CEO.

747-8 Intercontinental

Boeing announced in late April that 25 percent of the design releases for the new 747-8 Intercontinental had been completed, meaning a quarter of the information needed to build parts and tools for the aircraft’s assembly was complete and released for fabrication or procurement.

Since much of the aircraft’s design is the same as the 747-8 Freighter, which Boeing is building first, the engineering focus is on work unique to the Intercontinental, comprising mostly fuselage and interior design, the airframer said.

The most obvious difference is the extended upper deck of the Intercontinental. The 747-8 will be stretched 18.3 feet from the 747-400 to provide 467 seats in three-class configuration and a range of about 8,000 nautical miles.

The interior of the Intercontinental will incorporate features from the 787 Dreamliner, including a new curved, upswept architecture that will give passengers a greater sense of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings. The architecture will be accentuated by lighting technology that provides smooth transitions for a more restful flight, Boeing said.

The 747-8 program, comprising the 747-8 Intercontinental and the 747-8 Freighter, was launched in 2005 by Cargolux Airlines and Nippon Cargo Airlines. Lufthansa was the first airline to order the 747-8 Intercontinental in 2006.

Cabin Electronics

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, Charlottesville, Va., will customize its CL11 single board computer for use in the cabin electronics system of Airbus aircraft. The initial order from Airbus is valued at $500,000, but ongoing orders are expected to reach $15 million over the five-year life of the program, GE Fanuc said.

The CL11, a 3U CompactPCI single board computer, hosts an Intel Core Duo or Core2 Duo processor, and incorporates power management technology.

The board supports up to four PCI Express interfaces, six USB 2.0 ports, two serial ATA ports, optional CompactFlash, VGA/SDVO, and one COM port at the backplane. GE Fanuc said the board is suited to low-power embedded computer applications and offers an extended temperature option for applications in extreme environments.

FMS Software

GE Aviation, Grand Rapids, Mich., announced FAA certification of its flight management system (FMS) software Update 10.8 for the Boeing Next-Generation 737. The new software has been standard for all 737 production aircraft since February.

The software update provides improved operation and an increased navigation database with 95 percent spare memory for growth, and supports the APB blended winglet installation on 737 Classics and NGs, GE Aviation said.

The GE FMS provides precision navigation compliant with Required Navigation Performance standards, enabling the aircraft to descend to lower altitudes when flying on instruments in reduced visibility. The FMS also provides output of the aircraft’s 4-dimensional trajectory for integrated air-ground operations.

The FMS software will be installed on the U.S. Navy’s P-8A multirole maritime surveillance aircraft, a modified 737 currently in development.

Wi-Fi Trial

Alaska Airlines on April 14 announced initial results of its Inflight Wi-Fi service trial, which was launched Feb. 26.

The airline said 2,100 passengers logged on to use the service and 96 percent of those who completed a survey said they would use it again.

The service at this writing was available on one 737-700, with more installations planned. It is based on a system provided by Row 44, of Westlake Village, Calif., and making use of the HughesNet Ku-band satellite Internet service ( Avionics, November 2008, page 19).

Among other survey findings, Alaska Airlines said 35 percent of respondents used the Wi-Fi service with portable devices such as smart phones. Other passengers surfed the Internet on devices such as notebook computers. Some of the most popular activities were checking e-mail, downloading and listening to music, watching streaming media and interacting on social networks.

"The initial feedback we’re getting is overwhelmingly positive," said Steve Jarvis, Alaska Airlines vice president of marketing, sales and customer experience. "We will continue to optimize the service and listen closely to our customers to find the right price that is both competitive with other airlines and fits comfortably within our passengers’ budgets," he added.

The airline said it will set a final price for the service later this year. Passengers will be able to purchase the service using major credit cards via the Inflight Wi-Fi secure payment process.

Iridium Deal

International Communications Group (ICG), of Newport News, Va., signed an agreement with Rockwell Collins in May giving Rockwell Collins the ability to market a version of ICG’s NxtLink Iridium communications systems for air transport customers.

"Adding an Iridium communications solution to our products portfolio further enhances our ability to offer airlines a comprehensive communications suite," said Steve Timm, vice president and general manager of Information Management with Rockwell Collins.

The agreement includes a dual-channel system, the IRT 2110, and a tri-channel system, the IRT 2120. The IRT 2110 incorporates a single Iridium transceiver (LBT) and a Short Burst Data (SBD) modem and provides connections to customary and standard flight deck voice and data systems, ICG said. The IRT 2120 is a three-transceiver device, which combines dual LBTs providing two channels of global voice with an SBD modem dedicated to DataLink services.

Both system support Future Air Navigation System, Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) requirements.

"This arrangement allows Rockwell Collins to provide a comprehensive Iridium-based flight deck communications solution with features tailored to specific customer needs," said Armin Jabs, ICG president and chief operating officer.

Business/GA

Emteq Introduces ‘SkyPro’ Cabin System

Emteq, of New Berlin, Wis., and Custom Control Concepts (CCC), of Seattle, launched the "SkyPro" system, which supports cabin productivity and control in business aircraft.

Based on an advanced modular system design, SkyPro is the only non-Ethernet based, all-digital, high-definition audio/video distribution network in the corporate aviation market, Emteq said. Connectivity is available through the aircraft’s satcom system interface to compatible personal devices for e-mail, calendar and file transfer accessibility, wireless Internet, integrated video conferencing and teleconferencing.

The partnership combines Emteq’s experience with avionics systems integration and certification with CCC’s software development expertise, design tools and experience in manufacturing digital cabin management and in-flight entertainment systems.

SkyPro can be configured to meet operator requirements for any aircraft type or size, Emteq said. Intuitive touch screen interfaces with customizable graphics provide passengers with full control over cabin functions.

"We are excited to participate in the ongoing efforts to enhance the use of corporate aircraft as a productivity tool, essential to business success in an advancing global economy," said Jerry Jendusa, Emteq CEO.

Lear 45 FMS

Universal Avionics, Tucson, Ariz., said its WAAS/SBAS-capable flight management system has been approved for the Lear 45 through a supplemental type certificate (STC) awarded in late March to Duncan Aviation.

The STC for the dual UNS-1Ew installation, which includes Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) capability, covers Lear 40 and 45 models. Universal said it is the first company to provide LPV approach capability to a Part 25 aircraft like the Lear 40/45.

The LPV approach types, referred to as RNAV (GPS) LPV approaches on the approach chart, are the fastest-growing GPS approach types in the United States, the company said.

Citation AdViz

Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), Exton, Pa., in April said the first Cessna Citation outfitted with its "AdViz" flat-panel display system had completed an initial flight test. Cessna chose the display system in 2007 for the Citation retrofit program.

The AdViz system initially will be available for purchase through the nine Cessna-owned Citation Service Centers, and later will be distributed through the Cessna authorized network. The system will be certified for the Cessna Citation 500/501, 550/551, S550, 560 and 650.

"The AdViz glass cockpit exceeded my expectations," said Rick Trissell, Cessna flight test pilot, after the 90-minute flight of a retrofitted Citation V on April 6.

Emergency Power

Mid-Continent Instruments, Wichita, Kan., introduced an emergency power supply based on Lithium Nanophosphate battery technology, describing it as an industry first.

Mid-Continent’s MD800 Series automatically provides power for standby equipment during aircraft power loss or interruption. The MD835 may be used as a direct replacement for older Goodrich PS-835 units. The system weighs 4.5 pounds, charges faster, costs less and is easier to maintain than competing power supplies. The 4.6 amp-hour battery system uses the same mating connector and mounts in a standard 1/4 ATR rack.

The MD800 Series requires a bi-annual capacity check as opposed to the traditional 12-month requirement of existing models. The 10-year life expectancy is more than three times that of the nearest competition, Mid-Continent said.

HondaJet Selection

Ametek Aerospace & Defense, Sensors and Fluid Management Systems Group, was selected by Honda Aircraft Co., to supply the fuel gauging system on the new HondaJet business aircraft.

The system is made up of 15 level sensing probes, a refuel display panel, a signal conditioning unit and four in-tank wiring harnesses. First HondaJet deliveries in the United States are set for 2010.

Military

Middleware Evaluation

ORBexpress, a communications middleware made by Objective Interface Systems (OIS), of Herndon, Va., is the first such software to be evaluated under the Common Criteria security certification standard, OIS said in April.

The middleware is being evaluated by a commercial Common Criteria Testing Laboratory accredited by the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP), an initiative of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Security Agency (NSA). NIAP will review the lab’s technical report as part of the validation process. Upon successful validation, NIAP issues a certificate to the evaluation sponsor, in this case OIS.

ORBexpress is undergoing the certification for the F-35 Lightning II Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) system, which is being developed by Northrop Grumman. According to OIS, the evaluation will save programs time and money by making it easier and faster to develop and certify secure systems using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products. The company expects to complete the evaluation process by the end of 2009.

The Common Criteria evaluates the software source code, in addition to development and engineering processes. "The nice thing about this is that it is a product-centric versus a program-centric approach," said Ben Calloni, Lockheed Martin senior research program manager. "Each vendor then has a product that is reusable by multiple customers, not just the DoD, but anybody who has a security requirement could then use that product within their systems where they have an information assurance need."

Last November, after a three-year effort, the Integrity-178B real-time operating system (RTOS) from Green Hills Software, Santa Barbara, Calif., was certified under Common Criteria Evaluation Level 6+, the highest security level reached for an operating system. The Integrity RTOS underlies applications on the F-16, F-22, F-35 and Boeing 787 among other platforms.

Joe Jacob, OIS senior vice president, said there is a push in military aircraft development to ensure that software components are safety-critical and security evaluated, making the use of commercial products a viable option for avionics applications.

"In the past, avionics people were very focused on DO-178B and whether it was level D, C or B," Jacob said in a telephone interview. "For level A, we wanted to make sure there was a high degree of reliability for the software, that the software did what it was supposed to do and wouldn’t be a source of failure. Over the last several years, there’s been a push for making sure that the software also achieves a high level of security assurance."

Jacob added, "what the marketplace is starting to deliver in the avionics field is software components that can both be safety-critical certified and security evaluated at the same time." — Emily Feliz

‘Brownout’ Solution

Canada’s CAE and Neptec Design Group, of Ottawa, said they have demonstrated Neptec’s Obscurant Penetrating Autosynchronous LIDAR (OPAL) sensor, integrated with CAE’s Augmented Visionics System (AVS), to support safer helicopter operations in near-zero visibility.

During testing at the U.S. Department of Defense Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, Neptec’s OPAL was used to penetrate dust clouds generated by the UH-1 test helicopter. OPAL could "see through" brownout conditions opaque to the human eye to differentiate between rocks, bushes, sloping terrain, utility poles, ground vehicles, and wires at distances greater than 200 meters, CAE said.

CAE’s AVS solution combines Neptec’s OPAL as well as other sensors such as forward-looking infrared (FLIR), with the CAE-developed common database (CDB), which was originally developed for the United States Special Operations Command to support rapid, correlated database production.

The fundamental concept of the system is to take OPAL’s 3-D sensor data and update the CDB for real-time processing of a synthetic image showing the area surrounding the helicopter, including terrain and potential obstacles.

Further development of the AVS technology is part of Project Falcon, CAE’s five-year, C$714 million dollar research and development program to develop new applications for its modeling and simulation technologies.

"CAE is best known for the development of high-fidelity synthetic environments created for use in full-mission simulators used for training and mission rehearsal exercises," said Adolfo Klassen, CAE chief technology officer.

"Our AVS technology development is an innovative application of our synthetic environment expertise that brings a high-fidelity synthetic image into the cockpit in real-time to address all operations in degraded visibility."

Longbow REU

Longbow Limited Liability Co., a joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, on April 6 announced the first successful powered flight of the Radar Electronics Unit (REU) configuration of the Longbow Fire Control Radar (FCR) on an AH-64D Apache Block III prototype.

The Longbow FCR enables the Apache Longbow to search, detect, locate, classify, prioritize and engage moving and stationary targets. The advanced REU improves power ratios and provides built-in processor expansion growth for new operating modes that will expand the Apache’s role and missions.

As currently configured by the U.S. Army, the Longbow system consists of the Longbow FCR, the AGM-114L Hellfire millimeter-wave guided missile, the digital M299 launcher and the AN/APR-48A Radio Frequency Interferometer.

The Longbow REU configuration will be fielded on the Apache Block III beginning in 2011. One of its design features is that it may be installed to operate on Apache Block I or Block II helicopters with appropriate modifications, the companies said.

Armed Scout

EADS North America will team with Lockheed Martin and American Eurocopter to compete for the U.S. Army’s armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH) contract. The EADS team unveiled its entry — the Armed Scout 645 — at the Army Aviation Association of America convention in Nashville, Tenn., in May.

The Armed Scout 645 is based on the Eurocopter EC145 commercial airframe that serves as the platform for the Army’s UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).

In 2008, the Army cancelled its contract with Bell Helicopter for an ARH to replace the aging Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, a single-engine, double-bladed, armed scout aircraft, citing budget overruns and delays.

The Army is still discussing how to move forward with the program.

FBW Transducers

Claverham Ltd., a Hamilton Sundstrand Flight Systems business unit, selected Curtiss-Wright Controls, of Charlotte, N.C., to provide multi-channel linear variable displacement transducers (LVDT) for fly-by-wire (FBW) systems on the Sikorsky UH-60M Upgrade and CH-53K helicopters. The two programs have a potential contract value of $20 million over 15 years.

The LVDTs are special, pressure-sealed transducers that are embedded in the Primary Flight Control Actuators manufactured by Claverham. The transducers provide electrical signals that are proportional to the position of the hydraulic actuator rod.

The actuators form part of the FBW system, which changes the rotor pitch angles on the main and tail rotors in response to the pilot’s commands during flight. Curtiss-Wright said product shipments are expected to begin this year.

The company will supply the transducers from Christchurch, U.K.

Unmanned Systems

Starter Generator

Bental Industries Ltd., of Israel, will supply its G-054 Starter Generator system to Innocon for integration on the latter company’s Mini Falcon UAV.

The Bental Permanent Magnet Generator (PMG) brushless DC Starter Generator system will be used to start the Mini Falcon’s gasoline engine and provide electric power to the aircraft’s battery and electric components. The system is designed to enable remote engine starting by ground operator.

U.K. ISTAR Contract

The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) extended its H-450 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) contract with Thales to provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) support to U.K. forces on current operations. The contract begins in July and will run through to 2011, when the H-450 platform will be replaced by the Watchkeeper UAS system.

The H-450 ISTAR service provided by Thales began in July 2007 in response to an Urgent Operational Requirement contract issued by the MoD. The contract is being fulfilled by Thales U.K. through a "fly-by-the-hour" agreement originally signed in June 2007. It included the provision of H-450 air vehicles, training of staff, contractor logistic support and program management services.

Since being deployed in mid-2007, the H-450 UAS has flown more than 19,000 hours, Thales said in April.

The first production Watchkeeper platform completed its maiden flight on April 16, 2008. Last November, Thales announced the first Watchkeeper system flight trials, with autonomous flight taking place under the system guidance of the Watchkeeper ground control software and fully integrated within the ground control station. Flight trials continue through this year.

STRIX UAS

Selex Galileo said it flew its STRIX miniature unmanned aircraft system (UAS) during a British Army mission rehearsal exercise in March.

The flight team from Selex Galileo’s Air Systems, UAS & Simulators division oversaw a number of STRIX flights as part of exercises carried out March 16 through 20 on Salisbury Plain, U.K.

STRIX is an electric, fixed-wing, covert system developed and manufactured by Alpi Aviation of Italy. It is catapult-launched with automatic landing, and is designed for maneuver and special operations support. STRIX is carried in a backpack, which includes a minimum operable configuration.

The Mission Rehearsal Exercise, held in advance of possible deployment, brought together units from the 12th Mechanized Brigade, based in Bulford, and involved about 2,000 troops and vehicles, including aircraft.

Selex Galileo supported the exercise by flying the STRIX UAS for periods of up to one hour to present surveillance of activities at key points on the ground and to monitor the movement of convoys and related action. The video images obtained were down-linked to the company’s Common Ground Control Station and then were passed directly to the brigade’s intelligence, surveillance and target acquisition unit.

Contracts

  • Goodrich Corp. will supply its external video system for the Airbus A350 XWB, a contract estimated to generate more than $1 billion in original equipment and aftermarket revenue over the life of the program. Work will be performed by Goodrich’s Sensors and Integrated Systems in Burnsville, Minn., and Toulouse, France. The system, which includes three externally mounted digital video cameras and two Concentrator-Multiplexer for Video (CMV) avionics modules, integrates all video information inside and outside the aircraft, processes it for display and sends it to the flight deck. The CMVs receive information from the ruggedized external video cameras, multiple internal cabin video sources and the Onboard Information System. The information is processed into high quality video images viewable by the flight crew over the flight deck displays.

  • Vision Systems International (VSI), San Jose, Calif., signed several contracts with a total value of $120 million. Boeing awarded VSI a contract for delivery of 550 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS) for U.S. military F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft as well as foreign military sales. VSI received direct contracts from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force for spares and ground support equipment in support of the JHMCS program. VSI is a joint venture of Elbit Systems of America and Rockwell Collins.

  • Naverus, Kent, Wash., announced April 17 that it had raised $4 million in financing led by Foundation Capital, Menlo Park, Calif., and East Peak Partners. The funds will be used to expand Naverus’ business of providing performance-based navigation consulting. "Performance-based navigation is the cornerstone of green aviation, and Naverus is a key company in our CleanTech portfolio," said Foundation Capital General Partner Adam Grosser.

  • Bulgarian Air Charter, based in Sofia, selected the navAero t-BagC22 Class 2 electronic flight bag for its fleet of MD-82s. Installations are expected to begin in the second quarter.

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