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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Industry Scan

Pilot Report: Bendix/King AV80R Portable Multifunction Display

The day finally arrived and here it was — a new Bendix/King AV80R portable MFD. The unit came with a 4GB SD card, which contained an extensive aviation and automotive database as well as plenty of spare room for personal multimedia files. The database in my unit covered the United States, Canada and Mexico.

After fully charging the unit and, of course, refusing to read the directions (I mean, after all, I am a guy and it is a pride thing with us), I found the unit to be very intuitive and easy to use, which is a big plus for Bendix/King parent company Honeywell.

At a retail price of $799, what wasn’t to like? I played with the unit for an hour or so, programmed a couple of flight plans and set up the data screens. By then it had fully captured my interest, so it was time to get into it further. I was going to need the manual after all, but where was it? Then I found a compact disk entitled "Users Manual." Call me a traditionalist, but I still like paper, especially if I am bouncing along at 9,500 feet and trying to figure out how to operate new equipment.

The AV80R is very capable, including such features as RS-232 input, XM weather interface, Bluetooth, multimedia, virtual keyboard functions and a moving automotive map with text-to-speech voice prompts. Beyond all the standard stuff that you would expect to find, it has some innovative features such as being able to touch and drag, which makes panning the map a pretty simple affair.

In fact, the architecture of the unit is set up to be buttonless, which is a good thing to a point. In order to get in to the submenus, which are easy enough to find from the touch screens, you have to scroll via a touch-and-drag curser that is only about 3/16 of an inch in size. This wouldn’t seem to be a particular problem when you are sitting at you desk, but try this while bouncing around in turbulent air. It is almost impossible, as I would come to find out. It really should have an exterior "Scroll" hard key to work in conjunction with this feature and "Nearest" and "Enter" hard key prompts wouldn’t hurt either. The feature that the unit doesn’t surprisingly have is an HSI (Horizontal Situational Indicator) screen, which is odd given the fact the unit has a 20-channel SiRF III GPS receiver, capable of receiving WAAS.

The one disappointment I did have with the unit was the fact that when you are in aviation mode, you can only display four of the numerous data fields simultaneously. It will widen and let you scroll these fields, but you can’t add any additional fields. It really needs the capability to double this number even if it is at the expense of a little bit of the moving map screen.

The only other real complaint I had with the unit is the battery. You receive one that is only capable of a one-hour run time although there is an optional 1600 mAh battery that will give you a three-hour charge. There is no provision for the use of a Lithium battery pack. There is lot to be said for having a spare battery pack that has a very long shelf life so when you need it, it’s there, especially if you buy a unit like this one as a back-up that gets tucked away in your flight bag.

All in all, the AV80R is a very capable unit at a very reasonable price point and with just a couple of tweaks it could really give Garmin some serious indigestion. Next time you are at the pilot shop you should give one a try. — Darryl Snyder


Commercial

Intel Acquisition

Semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corp. announced a definitive agreement June 4 to acquire the outstanding shares of embedded software provider Wind River Systems, of Alameda, Calif., in a transaction valued at $884 million.

Intel said the acquisition, which was expected to close this summer, will help grow its processor and software presence outside the traditional PC and server market segments into embedded systems and mobile handheld devices. Wind River, with 1,661 employees, will be a wholly owned subsidiary within Intel’s Software and Services Group.

In a first quarter, fiscal 2010 earnings call the day of the announcement, Ken Klein, Wind River chairman, president and CEO, said the company’s executive staff will be retained, but "some minimal number of positions will unfortunately be eliminated" as a result of the acquisition.

"It has become clear over the past 12 to 24 months that customers carefully consider both hardware and software when they evaluate any silicon company’s parts," Klein said, explaining the combination of the two companies. "Simply put, hardware is viewed as necessary but no longer sufficient for a total solution."

For the quarter, which ended April 30, Wind River revenues were $82.5 million, down 6 percent from the prior-year period. Revenue from its VxWorks real-time operating system, a product line that includes a DO-178B platform for avionics, was down 13 percent. However, Ian Halifax, chief financial officer, said the previous-year quarter was "extremely strong" by comparison, due to one large customer transaction.

Aerospace and defense represented 39 percent of Wind River bookings by end market, the largest piece of its business. Among major customers, Halifax said, were Boeing, GE, L-3 Communications and Raytheon.

Citing the pending acquisition, Klein and Halifax did not entertain questions.

NextGen Task Force

The RTCA task force charged with developing recommendations for "mid-term" NextGen operational capabilities reported progress in meeting its late-August deadline.

The NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force held its fourth plenary meeting May 12 at FAA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The industry-government group was commissioned by FAA early this year and given a tight deadline to produce recommendations for achieving NextGen efficiencies by 2018.

"We are really right where we need to be," said Capt. Steve Dickson, senior vice president of flight operations with Delta Air Lines and chairman of the task force.

"We have well-defined evaluation criteria to prioritize [industry] input into a defined list of operational capabilities," Dickson said. "That resulting prioritization needs to be objective and transparent and it will include rationale for how the list was produced.... There needs to be a solid set of industry recommendations presented to the FAA."

Vicki Cox, FAA senior vice president for NextGen Operations and Planning, also addressed the plenary. "The FAA perspective is that we’re very grateful for the work that this group is doing," Cox said. "... I am confident that this task force is going to give the FAA some clear and actionable, consensus recommendations that are aimed at advancing NextGen now."

Whether the task force recommendations are acted upon, Cox said, depends not only on FAA, but on the support of operators, the Obama administration and Congress.

"I’m often asked, can the FAA deliver NextGen? You might well also ask, will the FAA act on the recommendations provided by this task force? Let me say that the FAA has shown its ability to deliver NextGen capabilities," Cox said. "ADS-B just achieved initial operating capability for essential services and did it 14 months after contract award. And we’re on budget and on time to deliver the complete set of ground installations by 2013."

The task force was to deliver an interim report June 30. The final set of recommendations will be released Aug. 31.

Babbitt Confirmed

J. Randolph "Randy" Babbitt, a former airline pilot and former Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) president, was confirmed in May by the U.S. Senate as the next FAA administrator. He officially started his new job in June.

At his confirmation hearing, Babbitt outlined FAA’s top challenges: improving safety, air traffic modernization, reducing aviation’s carbon impact and improving labor relations. At the hearing, he also emphasized the importance of efficient implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System "to maximize the aviation system’s efficiency."

Babbitt, 62, was most recently a partner in the aviation practice of Oliver Wyman Inc., a management consulting firm. He 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, Babbitt served as a presidential appointee on the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry.

New Thales CEO

Dassault Aviation on May 19 completed its acquisition of the Alcatel-Lucent stake in Thales in a transaction valued at €1.57 billion. As part of the transaction, Luc Vigneron was named Thales chairman and CEO, replacing Denis Ranque.

With Alcatel-Lucent’s 20.8-percent share and another 5-percent stake in Thales acquired from the Dassault family holding company, Dassault Aviation now owns about 26 percent of the defense and commercial electronics manufacturer. Dassault is the second largest shareholder in Thales after the French government, which owns 27 percent.

The Dassault acquisition, first announced last December, brought to an end the 11-year tenure of Ranque as Thales CEO. The company’s board "expressed its thanks" to Ranque, "who has been critically instrumental in the development of the group since his appointment," Thales said.

Vigneron, 54, formerly headed French state-owned arms manufacturer Nexter Group, the former Giat Industries. He was appointed Giat CEO in 1998 and became chairman in 2001.

United ADS-B

United Airlines will install equipment for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) on 12 Boeing 747s under an agreement with FAA.

Speaking May 13 at the 9th ICNS Conference in Arlington, Va., Capt. Joe Burns, United’s director of standards and technology, said the project provides "a real opportunity" for the airline to carry out in-trail procedures over the Pacific using ADS-B.

"It gives me now a platform to go back to the CFO and the COO and say, ‘hey look, the system is up, it’s working and it really does provide benefits,’" Burns said. "That’s probably the key to getting the airline involvement and participation moved up. We really have to focus on what we can do with the benefits. It’s really important that we be able to make the business case, particularly right now in the constrained capital environment that we’re in."

FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto said the agreement with United Airlines was signed in April. Details of the project cost and schedule had not been finalized at this writing.

"We’ll fund it and United will train its pilots in the technology," Takemoto said. "... A lot of the way NextGen is taking shape is through these agreements."

Burns said United also will evaluate other technologies, such as a Class 3 electronic flight bag, as part of the project.

Delta Wi-Fi

Delta Air Lines said it has installed the Aircell Gogo Wi-Fi system on nearly half of its domestic mainline fleet, making it the leading airline for in-flight connectivity.

Of the more than 300 airplanes Delta operates on U.S. routes, 139 are equipped with Gogo, including the entire MD-88 fleet. Delta said its MD-90 fleet will be completed by the end of May, with the remainder of the domestic fleet scheduled for completion by September.

In addition to the MD-88s, Wi-Fi is available on select Delta 757-200s and MD-90s. The service is offered in both first and economy class on a pay-per-flight basis. The cost of Wi-Fi access on a single flight ranges from $7.95-$12.95, Delta said. In June, passengers will be able to purchase month-long, unlimited use passes.

Delta made a commitment last year to equip its entire domestic fleet with Wi-Fi. The airline later expanded its installation plans to include 200 pre-merger Northwest aircraft which are scheduled for completion next year. Once the installations are completed, Delta will have more than 500 aircraft offering Wi-Fi.

ICAO Designation

Naverus in June said it had been formally registered as an ICAO supplier of Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) services. With the designation, ICAO can refer member PBN requests to Naverus.

PBN procedures enable aircraft to fly precisely defined paths without relying on ground-based navaids. Naverus, of Kent, Wash., provides a set of PBN solutions designed to improve airspace efficiency.

The Naverus portfolio includes the design and deployment of PBN procedures according to ICAO Procedures for Air Navigation Services-Aircraft Operations (PANS-OPS), FAA and Naverus criteria. The company also supports organizations in implementing PBN procedures and provides maintenance and support services for PBN procedures.

‘SmartPath’ Bremen

Honeywell said installation of its "SmartPath" Precision Landing System at Bremen Airport in Germany has been completed.

A GPS Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS), SmartPath provides differential GPS corrections used to supplement the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Bremen airport. GBAS has been identified as an enabling technology for improving air-traffic capacity in the FAA NextGen and Eurocontrol SESAR programs, Honeywell noted.

The SmartPath installation at Bremen was performed under a contract with DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, Germany’s air navigation services provider. It is one of eight Honeywell GBAS stations operating worldwide. Additional installations are planned this year at airports in the United States and Europe, Honeywell said.

"The flexibility of Honeywell’s SmartPath system allows for multiple approach paths, enabling airports to increase capacity without expensive runway expansions," said TK Kallenbach, Honeywell Aerospace vice president of Marketing and Program Management. "The precise approach path can allow airports to reduce noise in surrounding communities while operators save fuel and lower emissions."

Wireless Technology

GE Aviation said it is developing wireless data-gathering and transmission technology for aircraft applications in support of the WiTNESSS (WIreless Technologies for Novel Enhancement of Systems and Structures Serviceability) initiative.

The project aims to test prototype data-gathering systems on representative platforms in early 2011 and will disseminate results later that year, according to GE Aviation.

"Where ease of access to the data is concerned, it is envisaged that wireless transmission has the potential of greatly reducing aircraft maintenance time by playing a crucial role in advanced prognostics and diagnostics," said Simon Young, vice president, Avionics at GE Aviation in Bishops Cleeve, U.K.

"The technical challenges of implementing wireless technology in the harsh environment of an aircraft are important. Some of these challenges have been addressed by other industries; for example, wireless data capture is increasingly employed in condition-based monitoring within many industries, specifically to optimize manufacturers’ predictive maintenance routines. WiTNESSS aims to build on what has been learned in these other industries and extend the technologies and practices into the aerospace arena."

In addition to GE Aviation, the WiTNESSS consortium includes TRW Conekt, QinetiQ Ltd., QM Systems Ltd., Rolls-Royce, Airbus U.K., BAE Systems, System Level Integration Ltd., Bombardier Aerospace Belfast, Ultra Electronics BCF and AgustaWestland.

Business/GA

Delivery Decline

Deliveries of general aviation aircraft in the first three months of 2009 plummeted 41 percent from the prior-year period, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). Industry billings fell 18 percent to $4.34 billion.

"This is an extremely difficult time for our industry," said Pete Bunce, GAMA president and CEO. "We are dealing first and foremost with the severe negative effects of a worldwide economic downturn, but also with unwarranted criticism focused on the industry. The result has been the cancellation of orders for new airplanes and the loss of more than 15,000 high-paying jobs for American workers over the last several months."

There were 462 units delivered in the first quarter, compared to 785 in the first quarter of 2008, GAMA said.

The piston airplane segment was down 55.1 percent, with 179 units delivered in the first quarter. Business jet shipments of 191 aircraft declined 35.7 percent from the 297 aircraft delivered in the first three months of 2008.

The turboprop segment was the only segment that experienced growth in the first quarter with 92 units delivered, up from 89 units during the same period in 2008, GAMA said.

SVS Approval

Cobham Avionics was awaiting FAA supplemental type certification of a synthetic vision system (SVS) on a Part 25 transport-category aircraft, its first such SVS certification, the company said in May.

Formerly known as Chelton Flight Systems, Cobham developed the first, civil-certified SVS system in 2002 for GA aircraft, as part of the Alaska Capstone technology demonstration. In a briefing at Cobham’s Arlington, Va., offices, Gordon Pratt, Cobham Avionics director of business development, said the company expected a STC for the dual-pilot Cessna Citation 550. It has existing FAA and EASA approvals on several hundred airplane and helicopter types, including single-pilot Citations.

"We’ve had this certification for some time," Pratt said. "Our focus is on owner-flown and business-flown aircraft."

Pratt said he doesn’t expect to see synthetic vision equipped in airliners anytime soon, "because they don’t have the problem synthetic vision prevents." SVS, he said, is a solution more for dynamic, high-workload operations such as single-pilot helicopter flights in IFR conditions.

Helicopter SVS

Cobham in June said its synthetic vision glass cockpit was approved for single-pilot IFR operation on the Bell 412 helicopter through a supplemental type certificate awarded to Arrow Aviation, Broussard, La. The company said this is the first IFR approval for a synthetic vision system (SVS) in a helicopter.

The first customer for the Cobham EFIS system installed on a Bell 412 is the search and rescue unit of North Slope Borough, Alaska. The unit performs medevac, search and rescue, and emergency missions across Alaska’s North Slope.

The EFIS is a four-screen package with synthetic vision, Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System, Highway-In-The-Sky predictive flight director, traffic display, integrated GPS WAAS navigation and other features.

Cobham Satcom

Cobham Satcom received Inmarsat Type Approval for two new SwiftBroadband (SBB) products that can be used on the smallest business aircraft.

Approval was granted for a single-channel Class 6 SBB satellite data unit (SDU) and the IGA-5001, an intermediate gain antenna enabling Class 7 SBB services. Cobham also offers a range of SBB-approved high gain antennas, including the HGA-7001, HGA-7000, HGA-6000 and HGA-6500. Additional type approvals for a dual-channel Class 6 and single-channel Class 7 SDU were expected in June, Cobham said.

Falcon 50 FMS

Chicago Jet Group, Aurora, Ill., in May obtained a supplemental type certificate for dual installation of the Universal Aviations UNS-1Fw or UNS-1Lw flight management systems in the Dassault Falcon 50.

The STC includes approval for 3-D coupled WAAS GPS (RNAV) Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) procedures. Universal Avionics said it is the first manufacturer to provide this approach capability to a Part 25 transport category aircraft.

With the WAAS/SBAS-capable FMS, pilots can fly with accuracy of 0.3 nm and minima as low as 200 feet, with half-mile visibility, for "ILS-like" capability at airports without ILS navaids, Universal Avionics said.

Fusion Flights

Rockwell Collins in May announced that flight testing had begun for its Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics system. The system is being flown on the company’s Challenger 601-3A aircraft, based at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Rockwell Collins first introduced Pro Line Fusion in 2007. Since then, the system has been selected for business and regional aircraft including the Gulfstream G250, Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Embraer Legacy 450/500 and Bombardier Global Express XRS, Global 5000, Lear 85 and C-Series.

Pro Line Fusion is expected to debut in 2011, and is being applied in parallel on the Global Express and G250. Key design elements of the system include high-resolution 15-inch LCD displays, synthetic and enhanced vision and MultiScan weather radar.

Bleed Air System

Green Hills Software, Santa Barbara, Calif., said Meggitt Control Systems is using its software development systems, including the MULTI compiler, debugger and Green Hills Probe JTAG test access port, to build a cabin air temperature control system for the Embraer Legacy 500 midsize and 450 midlight business jets.

The Meggitt pneumatic system will actively control a series of smart and shut-off valves to supply air from the engines to aircraft systems including the cockpit, cargo and cabin environmental and pressurization systems. Bleed air from the engines also will be supplied to the anti-icing system.

The pneumatic system will be certified to DO-178B Level A standards. Green Hills’ MULTI integrated development environment for developing embedded software allows developers to develop, debug and optimize code more quickly, reducing development cost and time, the company said.

Military

High-Power Microwave

Boeing said it was awarded a $38 million contract April 27 to develop a nonlethal, high-power microwave (HPM) airborne demonstrator for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Counter-electronics High power microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP).

The CHAMP Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program will be the first to demonstrate a counter-electronics HPM aerial demonstrator, Boeing said.

The three-year program includes ground and flight demonstrations that will focus on technology integration and military utility.

Boeing will provide the airborne platform and serve as the system integrator. Ktech Corp., Albuquerque, N.M., will supply the HPM source. Sandia National Laboratories will provide the pulse power system.

"This demonstrator will provide a revolutionary, nonlethal system, allowing the military to neutralize specific targets while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage," said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager with Boeing Phantom Works.

European AESA

EADS Defence & Security in May announced the conclusion of two major programs to develop Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) radar.

After extensive flight tests of a multi-channel AESA radar demonstrator in 2008, the Airborne, Multirole Solid state Active array Radar (AMSAR) program ended with the delivery of data evaluation reports by Defence Electronics, an integrated business unit of EADS Defence & Security, Selex Galileo and Thales. AMSAR had been pursued since the early 1990s.

At nearly the same time, the German-British CECAR program (Captor E-sCAn Risk-reduction) led to the successful integration of a radar demonstrator system specifically adapted to the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Under CECAR, Defence Electronics together with Selex Galileo developed a radar demonstrator proving the feasibility of replacing the existing "Captor" radar on Eurofighter. The CECAR demonstrator system was flown on Eurofighter in 2007.

"Over more than a decade, the joint effort of our customer nations and the partner industries has proven the enormous potential of AESA technology," said Bernd Wenzler, CEO of Defence Electronics.

"From this basis we are already looking at the next technology steps toward multifunction sensors, which will introduce multi-sensor performance and reduce through-life cost."

B-52 Communications

Boeing’s B-52 Stratofortress, upgraded with Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT), made its first flight May 21, flying for 3 ½ hours from Boeing’s facility in Wichita, Kan.

The modification installs a digital communications infrastructure in the B-52 that allows the aircraft to communicate with the Air Force’s digital communications network and tie in with Air Force command and control centers, ground forces and other platforms.

The first aircraft left Wichita in June to go into flight test at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

All 76 aircraft in the fleet will receive the CONECT modification after the flight test program is complete.

‘Sniper’ Pod Deployed On A-10C Thunderbolts

Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force completed site activations of the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP), equipping A-10C Thunderbolt II units at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and Spangdahlem AFB, Germany. A further A-10C site activation was planned for Moody AFB, Ga.

The Sniper site activations involve pod installation, maintenance and aircrew training.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the Sniper pod (photo inset) contains high-resolution, mid-wave FLIR and TV sensors, which operate in conjunction with a dual-mode laser for precise geo-location of targets. The pod also possesses a video down link to send streaming video to ground forces.

In a June 3 teleconference, Lt. Col. Michael Millen, commander of the 354th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, described the pod as a "critical piece" of the latest A-10 variant, providing stand-off range from ground threats and the resolution to see and track small convoys and people. Since the start of A-10C installations in late January, the pod and video downlink were used in exercises at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and Fort Polk, La. "For us, it’s been a huge capability increase for the A-10," said Millen, whose squadron is the first to field the ATP.

Millen said the 354th had 16 Sniper pods installed and flying on the A-10C, where the pod is mounted on the first station in-board from either wingtip. He said the squadron would be "deployed very soon, and I anticipate being gone the entire fall" in Afghanistan.

At the end of 2008, Lockheed Martin said, more than 500 Sniper pods were delivered or on order to the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and 10 international air forces. The pod is deployed on F-16, F-15E, B-1 and Harrier GR7 and GR9 aircraft.

Unmanned Systems

‘Phantom Ray’

Boeing’s Phantom Works organization will develop an unmanned technology demonstrator named "Phantom Ray" from the prototype originally developed for the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS) program.

The J-UCAS program was cancelled in 2006 but later revived as the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program to develop a carrier-based unmanned combat vehicle. The Navy in August 2007 awarded Northrop Grumman a six-year, $636 million contract to demonstrate the capability using the company’s X-47B air vehicle.

Boeing’s UCAS program began with the X-45A, which flew 64 times from 2002 to 2005. The flights included a demonstration with two X-45As that marked the first unmanned, autonomous multi-vehicle flight under the control of a single pilot. Boeing also designed a larger UCAS aircraft, the X-45C, which will serve as the basis for the Phantom Ray, the company said.

The Phantom Ray demonstrator is scheduled to make its first flight in December 2010. The aircraft will conduct 10 flights over a period of six months, supporting missions that may include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; suppression of enemy air defenses; electronic attack; hunter/killer; and autonomous aerial refueling, Boeing said.

"Boeing’s goals for the Phantom Ray program clearly demonstrate our commitment to rapid prototyping and are an important part of the company’s efforts to be a leader in the unmanned aircraft business," said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works, based in St. Louis. "We have mobilized our assets to continue the tremendous potential we developed under J-UCAS, and now will fully demonstrate that capability."

MP-RTIP Tested

Northrop Grumman said it completed initial testing of the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor.

The MP-RTIP sensor, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, is planned for the RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk UAS. The radar was being flown on Northrop Grumman’s Proteus aircraft as a surrogate for the first Block 40 Global Hawk.

Northrop Grumman said all dedicated mode flights were completed in the Radar System Level Performance Verification (RSLPV) program, verifying system performance of the Synthetic Aperture Radar and Ground Moving Target Indicator modes. Concurrent mode testing for RSLPV is scheduled to be completed this summer, verifying full sensor capability prior to installation and testing on Global Hawk.

Assembly of the first Block 40 aircraft, designated AF-18, was completed, and the aircraft was awaiting the start of flight testing by the Air Force, Northrop Grumman said.

Hunter UAS

Northrop Grumman’s Hunter UAS, in use with the U.S. Army since 1996, surpassed 75,000 flight hours in service, 50,000 of which were flown in combat, the company said in May.

The RQ-5A Hunter was the Army’s first fielded UAS. The current MQ-5B, equipped with a multi-mission optronic payload, gathers reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition data in real time and relays it by video link to commanders and soldiers on the ground.

Northrop Grumman has integrated a new suite of avionics for Hunter, including upgraded flight and mission computers, an auxiliary power distribution unit, the LN-251 inertial navigation system with GPS, a downsized data link system and an APX-118 IFF transponder.

The MQ-5B uses the Army’s One System ground control station and remote video terminal. It also carries a communications relay package to extend the radio range of soldiers. A differential GPS automatic takeoff and landing system is under development.

UAV Canada

Boeing subsidiary Insitu announced the first $25 million in contracts to Canadian companies as part of a government order for small unmanned aerial vehicle (SUAV) services.

The Canadian government in April awarded a $30 million contract to Insitu, manufacturer of the ScanEagle SUAV, to support the Canadian Forces’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in Afghanistan.

Boeing agreed to match the contract value with dollar-for-dollar investments in the Canadian economy. According to Boeing, if the Canadian government exercises additional contract options, the contract could provide a total of nearly $61 million in opportunities for Canadian industry and universities.

Fuel Cell

Singapore-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies said it has developed a fuel cell power system that will increase the flight endurance of small and stealthy electric unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) by as much as 300 percent.

The company’s Aeropak system operates up to 22,000 feet, stores 900Wh of usable electrical energy and weighs 4.4 pounds. "Evaluation shipments" of the system begin this summer.

Horizon said it has demonstrated its capabilities with a series of UAS flights, including the "Hyfish," a 1kW fuel cell-powered, jet-wing UAS integrated by the German Air & Space Agency, and the "Pterosoar," which set a distance record in 2007 with the support of NASA.

Contracts

  • The U.S. Special Operations Command awarded Boeing a contract potentially worth $250 million for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance services using the ScanEagle UAS. Under the agreement, Boeing and its subsidiary Insitu will operate and support ScanEagle systems for the Mid Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System program for the next five years.

  • Rockwell Collins in June completed its $130 million acquisition of DataPath, of Duluth, Ga. Under the terms of the agreement, first announced in April, Rockwell Collins acquired all outstanding shares of DataPath in a cash transaction. DataPath, which includes SWE-DISH Satellite Solutions AB, a wholly owned subsidiary, will operate under the Rockwell Collins brand.

  • AeroVironment, Monrovia, Calif., said U.S. government agencies funding the Global Observer Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program have exercised an option for assembly of a third Global Observer, a liquid hydrogen-powered UAS, and additional items. There have been six contract options exercised since the program was initiated, representing a value of more than $120 million in program funding.

  • Raytheon was awarded a $54 million U.S. Navy contract to retrofit Super Hornet block II aircraft with APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. The award calls for APG-79 AESA radars to be retrofitted into lots 26 to 29 of the F/A-18E/F aircraft. The units will replace the APG-73 radars currently installed in the aircraft.

  • Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. awarded Curtiss-Wright Controls, Charlotte, N.C., a contract potentially worth $22 million to develop data concentrator units (DCU) for the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter under development for the U.S. Marine Corps. Curtiss-Wright’s system consists of two DCUs that will receive and provide discrete, digital and analog inputs for monitoring, passing through data and controlling aircraft subsystem components. The initial contract runs through 2011 with the production phase starting in 2013.

  • Boeing was awarded a $3.4 million follow-on contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide 46 additional Combat Track II airborne satellite communications systems. Boeing said it has delivered nearly 500 Combat Track II kits to the Air Force since 2001. The total value of the systems currently in use is about $38 million, Boeing said. The systems are installed on C-130, C-17, B-52 and B-1 aircraft operated by the Air Force Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Reserves.

  • Alion Science and Technology, McLean, Va., was awarded a $1.5 million contract to provide modeling and simulation support for the U.S. military’s Mark XIIA Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) radar system. The Department of Defense International Air Traffic Control Radar System, Mark XII Systems (AIMS) Program Office is tasked with certification of interoperability and minimum performance of this new Mark XIIA technology. Alion’s Modeling and Simulation Information Analysis Center will evaluate the performance of Mode 5 on selected platforms and on the identification performance of the IFF interrogator, which queries potential combat targets, and will provide the results to AIMS.

  • Panasonic Avionics Corp., of Lake Forest, Calif., signed an agreement with American Airlines to install its Digital Overhead AudioVideo System on multiple aircraft. New installations of the audio/video system are already in service on 58 Boeing 767-300s, 10 Boeing 767-200s and four Boeing 737-800s in the American Airlines fleet. The contract includes the retrofit of in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems on 106 Boeing 757-200s to be completed by 2015 and five Boeing 767-200s to be completed by July. Panasonic is scheduled to begin retrofits in the fourth quarter. The Panasonic IFE system is also in production on 72 Boeing 737-800s to be completed by 2010.

  • Rockwell Collins signed contracts with Azul Airlines and Lufthansa to provide its HGS-5600 Head Up Guidance System (HGS). Azul, a low-fare Brazilian carrier, has ordered dual HGS-5600 systems for its fleet of 31 Embraer E195s. Lufthansa has ordered dual HGS-5600 systems for its fleet of 20 Embraer 190/Embraer 195s for Lufthansa CityLine, a wholly owned company of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

  • Austria-based carrier NIKI selected data monitoring products from Teledyne Controls, of El Segundo, Calif., for five of its Embraer ERJ 190s, plus five on option. The selected equipment includes Teledyne’s integrated Data Management Unit and Wireless GroundLink Quick Access Recorder, and the AirFASE (Aircraft Flight Analysis Safety Explorer) software for its flight data analysis program. Teledyne said these systems are designed to provide the airline with a Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) system for Aircraft Condition Monitoring, data recording, wireless data transfer and flight data replay and analysis.

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