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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Industry Scan

FAA Leadership Supportive Of NextGen Implementation Task Force Report

FAA leadership complimented the work of the RTCA NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force, describing its final report as an industry consensus document that helps focus the agency’s NextGen rollout.

"The Task Force has forged a consensus across a wide spectrum of users, and I applaud you for that," FAA Administrator J. Randolph "Randy" Babbitt told the NowGen NEXT conference Sept. 15. "This is an excellent head start. You’ve given us a short list of recommended operational capabilities. Task Force efforts have provided us with a unique opportunity to align our implementation plan with the desires of the aviation community."

Babbitt gave the keynote address at the Washington, D.C., conference organized by Avionics Magazine in partnership with RTCA. The event was attended by 220 people from all segments of the aviation industry.

Eight months after it was formed at FAA’s request, the government/industry Task Force delivered its final report Sept. 9, missing an end-of-August deadline to assimilate more than 500 comments to its draft document. Changes and improvements are recommended in five "domains" of Surface, Runway Access, Metroplex, Cruise and National Airspace System Access. The group identified two capability areas — integrated air-traffic management and data communications — that are considered cross cutting of the domains. Finally, it asks FAA to consider "over-arching" recommendations deemed critical to successful NextGen implementation, including financial incentives for equipage.

With its emphasis on leveraging currently available technology and equipment to achieve "mid-term" NextGen operating efficiencies, the Task Force report represents "an airport [and] metroplex-centric approach to NextGen," RTCA President Margaret Jenny told the conference. Observed Christopher Oswald, vice president for Safety and Technical Operations with Airports Council International-North America, "so many of [the recommendations] are based on issues at or near airports, and that speaks to airports’ importance."

Several other presenters applauded the Task Force approach, which has been criticized by some behind the scenes as insufficiently aggressive and favoring airlines. "Airlines strongly support what you’re seeing here in the recommendations," said Basil J. Barimo, vice president for Operations and Safety with the Air Transport Association. "... We think it makes a lot of sense to squeeze what we can out of the present system." Ed Lohr, director of Fleet Strategy & Analysis with Delta Air Lines, said the way to achieve NextGen benefits sooner is to "wring the maximum value from existing equipment we’ve already invested in."

While Babbitt pledged high-level support for NextGen from the Obama administration, other FAA executives spoke more specifically to the Task Force recommendations.

"Certainly, the most important piece for us is the recommendations around streamlining the operational approval process. We couldn’t agree more," said Margaret Gilligan, FAA associate administrator for Aviation Safety. "We’ve also committed to increasing our staff. There’s no question that we need to be building a broader cadre within the aviation safety organization if we are really going to get to do NextGen. We need a broader cadre of technical experts who can handle these approval processes, not just for the major 121 operators, but recognizing the reality that at some point, we hope all aircraft are going to be players in the NextGen system."

Henry P. "Hank" Krakowski, chief operating officer of FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, said he was intrigued by the Task Force recommendations relating to airport surface management.

"We’ve been doing some comparisons with how Europeans run airports and they handle it in a very different manner," he said. "They’ve got more organization around their surface than we do, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity there to do that."

Krakowski added, "The work that’s been done here creates a focus for us that we know will be supported by all of you in the room, to start working on some things right now that can bring some deliverables and benefits to you." —Bill Carey

Business/GA

Under Its Own Power, New Gulfstream G650 Rolls Out In Georgia

Eighteen months after it was announced to the public, the new Gulfstream G650 large cabin business jet rolled out under its own power Sept. 29, stopping in front of a reported 7,000 employees and others gathered at the company’s Savannah, Ga., manufacturing site.

It was the first of tandem debuts by Gulfstream. The super mid-size G250 rolled out Oct. 6 outside Tel Aviv, Israel, where Gulfstream partner Israel Aerospace Industries will perform the initial manufacturing.

Capable of flying 7,000 nautical miles at 0.85 Mach, with a maximum speed of 0.925 Mach, the G650 is Gulfstream’s largest, fastest, longest-range business jet, undergoing development during an historic low in the business aircraft market. Gulfstream has not been unscathed; the General Dynamics subsidiary this year laid off 1,200 full-time employees and contract workers across the country and furloughed 2,200 others due to the global recession and a sharp decline in business jet orders.

"We had a very bad first half of the year; it was a troubling first half of the year. The second half of the year we turned a corner," Joe Lombardo, executive vice president of the General Dynamics Aerospace Group, told reporters after the roll-out ceremony.

With 200 announced orders and entry into service planned for 2012, the G650 provides the company a way out of the hardship. Gulfstream is in the midst of a seven-year, $400 million facilities expansion, which includes the 306,104-square-foot G650 manufacturing and assembly facility where the roll-out ceremony was held, named after former General Dynamics CEO Nicholas Chabraja.

"With the 650, it’s sort of a statement by Gulfstream, it’s a statement by General Dynamics about the future," said Pres Henne, Gulfstream senior vice president of Programs, Engineering and Test. "It’s a willingness to invest in an all-new product. This is the first new, different cross section since the G2. It’s a statement of our confidence in the product, in the company and in the future."

The G650 features Gulfstream’s PlaneView II flight deck, with four 14-inch LCDs and synthetic vision based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics system. It will be equipped with advanced Honeywell IntuVue weather radar, Rockwell Collins HUD II head-up displays and Thales fly-by-wire flight control.

Henne noted that Gulfstream was the first Part 25 aircraft manufacturer to certify a synthetic vision system, in partnership with Honeywell, in early 2008. The G650 also will be equipped with the Kollsman EVS II enhanced vision system. Already, there are more than 50 synthetic vision systems in service on Gulfstream aircraft and more than 500 EVS systems, Henne said.

The roll-out G650 was one of five aircraft planned for a flight-test program entailing 1,800 hours over 18 months, Henne said. The G650 is priced at $64.5 million in this-year dollars. — Bill Carey

Rockwell Collins Readies Pro Line Fusion Integrated Avionics Suite

Rockwell Collins’ new Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics suite was being flight-tested on the company’s Challenger 601-3A test jet in the lead-up to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference in late October, with supplemental type certification (STC) on that aircraft planned in summer 2010.

The company was pursuing an STC to follow through with all the steps necessary to certify an integrated modular avionics system. Flight testing on the mid-sized Challenger began April 22.

"We don’t [want to] learn it on our customer’s platform," said Tim Rayl, Rockwell Collins senior director, Business and Regional Systems marketing. "We know it’s a certification that will have no marketability."

The planned STC was about three months ahead of coming type certification of Bombardier’s Pro Line Fusion-based "Global Vision" flight deck upgrade on the Global Express XRS. The ultra-long-range Global Express XRS is the launch platform and first in a string of new business jets and regional aircraft that will be equipped with the next-generation avionics suite.

Pro Line Fusion also has been specified for the Global 5000, the new Gulfstream G250 — rolled out Oct. 6 at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel — the Lear 85, Embraer Legacy 450/500, Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Bombardier C-Series. Additionally, it was the avionics suite of choice for the Cessna Citation Columbus until that program was suspended in April due to the poor economy.

Unveiled at NBAA in Atlanta in 2007, Pro Line Fusion features extra large, 15-inch-diagonal LCD displays working in concert with the Rockwell Collins Flight Dynamics Head-Up Guidance System, and cursor-controlled checklists, maps and graphical flight planning.

Synthetic Vision

The displays will integrate synthetic vision, and on Bombardier aircraft the Bombardier Enhanced Vision System (BEVS), with imagery provided by Esterline CMC Electronics’ third-generation CMA-2700 infrared sensor. Pro Line Fusion, as well as Pro Line 21 flight decks, will be capable of Rockwell Collins advanced RTA-4100 MultiScan weather radar.

Bombardier accomplished the first test flight of the Global Vision cockpit on a Global Express XRS on Aug. 3. After initial tests at the company’s Downsview facility in Toronto, the aircraft was to continue flight testing at Bombardier’s Flight Test Center in Wichita, Kan., resulting in Transport Canada, FAA and EASA type certification.

Rockwell Collins hosted a briefing and flight demonstration for aviation reporters Sept. 25 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The company’s Challenger was configured with both Pro Line 21 and Pro Line Fusion displays, in the left seat and right seat, respectively, and a Pro Line Fusion display mounted in the cabin. The company was within about 10 days of integrating synthetic vision in the Pro Line Fusion flight display, one of three remaining software builds, Rayl said. Testing for HGS certification was being conducted by Bombardier.

"When you reach flight-test time, you know that you’ve hit a major milestone," Rayl said. "We now have the hardware tested to a level that it’s safe to fly with a real external flight test crew. The software integrity is up to the level that we can achieve the test points that need to be achieved in a flight-test program."

In a laboratory setting, Kirschen A. Seah, Rockwell Collins principal systems engineer, demonstrated a first-phase runway surface management application using Jeppesen airport charts displayed on a console display, part of the company’s Integrated Flight Information System package. The application comes with audio alerting of potential incursions and runway restrictions. — Bill Carey

Certification Foxtrot

Honeywell and Gulfstream unveiled Certification Foxtrot, the latest set of improvements to the PlaneView flight deck on Gulfstream business jets.

FAA approved Foxtrot, the sixth upgrade to PlaneView, in late September after more than a year of flight-testing that included feedback from select Gulfstream customers using the new features in daily operations. PlaneView is based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic cockpit.

The basic elements of Foxtrot upgrade the Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display to the 2.0 version, enhance navigation with WAAS-LPV (Wide Area Augmentation System-Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance), FANS 1/A (Future Air Navigation System) and RNP 0.1 (Required Navigation Performance), as well as upgrades to FMS v7.1, XM graphical weather and paperless charts. With Foxtrot, Gulfstream aircraft can handle all major types of approach, arrival and departure, worldwide.

Due to the carefully created software architecture of the initial PlaneView system, the upgrade requires only a swap-out of cards and black boxes. "We want to keep the customer flying, not on the ground installing upgrades," said Sergio Cecutta, Honeywell marketing manager for Advanced Vision Systems.

Foxtrot marks the first processor upgrade since the delivery of the initial Primus Epic system in the late 1990s, said Honeywell representatives, with previous improvements coming primarily from software drops. The other hardware change sees new ring laser gyros and the addition of WAAS-capable GPS receivers on aircraft previously without WAAS capability. The improved gyros allow pilots to continue an RNP approach to landing in the event of a loss of GPS signal, which in the current format would require executing a missed approach. With Foxtrot, the system can also initialize on the ground with the aircraft in motion.

Gulfstream operators who want Foxtrot without having to stumble through the FAA certification forest themselves can take advantage of Honeywell’s Go Direct Services, sort of like paying an expert third party to figure out your income taxes.

Honeywell showed off some of Foxtrot’s new features to the aviation press on a flight out of Washington’s Dulles International Airport in the company’s own G450, N922H, on breezy evening in late September.

Volumes could be written about PlaneView’s capabilities with or without the latest neat Foxtrot stuff. But some additions stood out during a series of ILS and GPS approaches to runway 3 at Charlottesville, Va. At the bottom of each primary flight display is an inset circle dubbed a "View Frustum," which provides a Horizontal Situation Indicator mounted over a "God’s View" moving terrain display that shows integrated Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) and TCAS information.

The display-within-a-display "frustum" has separate range and brightness controls from the synthetic vision scenery, a first-time achievement in screen technology, according to Honeywell.

The synthetic vision system also details runways on the ground and in the air and shows grid lines to eliminate guessing distance to terrain features. In the same department, the so-called breadcrumbs — blue dashed lines from a runway extended centerlines — now have distance markers to the runway edge, adding precision and safety to the under-appreciated art of flying safe visual approaches. — Ron Laurenzo

Falcon Axxess

Dassault Falcon Jet will install an in-flight Internet system from Aircell, the companies announced in September. Dassault will offer the Aircell High Speed Internet system aboard its entire fleet, including the Falcon 7X, 900LX, 900EX, 900DX, 2000LX and 2000DX.

The Aircell system allows passengers to use their Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptops, tablet PCs, Smartphones and PDAs, to surf the Web and send and receive e-mail.

Falcon customers opting for the service will receive an Aircell Axxess cabin system with an ATG 4000 High Speed Internet unit. Design work has already begun to incorporate the system into the production line at Dassault Falcon, with the first equipped aircraft scheduled for customer delivery in the fourth quarter 2010.

Citation FMS

Universal Avionics’ UNS-1Espw Flight Management System (FMS) was certified for installation on the Cessna Citation 560 Excel and XLS aircraft. Cessna received an FAA amended Type Certificate (TC) for the dual UNS-1Espw WAAS/SBAS-FMS installation.

The type certificate allows operators to obtain WAAS/SBAS capabilities straight from Cessna without delays normally caused by the certification process. The TC also includes approval for 3-D coupled WAAS GPS (RNAV) Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) procedures.

Commercial

Oceanic Datalink

SITA was retained by FAA to provide oceanic FANS datalink service for a third successive five-year term, SITA announced Oct. 7 at the Air Traffic Control Association conference in National Harbor, Md.

SITA provides the FAA service through its global AIRCOM network of VHF stations and satellite operators. The service also is used for airline operational communications by some 9,000 aircraft.

The service enables the exchange of FANS datalink messages between the cockpit and FAA’s Anchorage, Alaska; Oakland, Calif., and New York Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC), which cover portions of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean Flight Information Regions. FAA has used the service since 1999. FANS datalink applications include Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) and Controller Pilot Datalink Communications (CPDLC). ADS-C enables the ARTCC automation to "contract" suitably equipped aircraft to downlink their position and other information over satellite on a periodic basis, typically every 30 minutes, enabling a pseudo radar-type service over oceanic and remote airspace. CPDLC enables pilots and controllers to exchange pre-defined text messages over the satellite service, rather than using HF voice communications.

FAA advises that flights use ADS-C for position reporting and CPDLC for all other ATC communications while in the New York Oceanic area. The Oakland ARTCC in 2007 introduced 30 nm lateral and 30 nm longitudinal separation between appropriately equipped aircraft.

While FANS-1/A was intended to operate over satellite services, a number of air navigation service providers are using or plan to use the capability to deliver services by VHF data links in continental airspace, SITA said. The Eurocontrol Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre has delivered FANS-1/A services over SITA’s analogue VHF service for more than 10 years and more recently over SITA’s VHF Digital Link Mode 2 service, the company said.

WAM Colorado

Sensis Corp.’s Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) deployment around four airports in Colorado achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC) from FAA, making it the first WAM system accepted by FAA for the separation of en route aircraft by air-traffic controllers, according to Sensis.

Yampa Valley Regional, Garfield County Regional, Steamboat Springs and Craig-Moffat County Airports have surveillance coverage through the FAA Surveillance and Broadcast Services (FAA SBS) program office and Colorado Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division Wide Area Multilateration Project. The system uses Sensis Multistatic Dependent Surveillance (MDS) to provide air-traffic controllers at the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center with traffic information.

"Increasing flight safety by eliminating gaps in radar coverage in the Rocky Mountains is a critical goal for the Colorado Department of Transportation," said Travis Vallin, CDOT Aeronautics director. "With the Sensis WAM system, we now have accurate surveillance of flights in this area during all weather conditions, enabling an increase in the capacity and efficiency of flights in this economically vital area."

The Sensis MDS uses multiple sensors to triangulate aircraft location based on transponder signals. MDS sensors also support Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).

In a separate announcement Oct. 5, Sensis said its Precision Runway Monitoring-Alternative (PRM-A) is operational at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The multilateration surveillance system provides controllers with precise aircraft position information needed to simultaneously separate aircraft on approaches to closely spaced parallel runways.

For PRM-A, the Sensis Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X) at the airport was expanded with additional MDS sensors in a WAM configuration.

GBAS Approval

FAA in September granted System Design Approval for the Honeywell "Smartpath" ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) which supports precision approaches and landings. The first U.S.-approved system is located in Memphis, Tenn., and will become operational early next year, FAA said.

SmartPath ground-based systems provide differential GPS corrections to replace or supplement the ILS systems currently used at airports. A single Honeywell system can support landing operations on multiple runways simultaneously, eliminating the need for multiple ILS systems at airports with more than one runway.

Airservices Australia has used GBAS technology since 1999 and has operated the Honeywell SmartPath GBAS ground station in Sydney since November 2006. More than 1,400 revenue landings have occurred in Australia using SmartPath, according to Honeywell. SmartPath is being demonstrated at 25 airports around the world, including Bremen, Germany; Malaga, Spain; and Atlantic City, N.J.

"The approval of Honeywell’s system marks the successful completion of a partnership between the FAA and Airservices Australia to build and certify a ground based augmentation system," stated FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. "We expect GBAS to become an asset to airports around the world."

Replacing ILS with GBAS technology has been identified in FAA’s NextGen and Eurocontrol’s Single European Sky ATM Research Program as a critical enabler for improving air-traffic capacity. FAA’s NextGen Implementation Plan identifies GBAS as an enabler for descent and approach operations to increase capacity at congested airports. The Honeywell system is approved for precision approach operations down to 200 feet above the surface.

GBAS will be improved over the next few years to guide an aircraft down to the runway surface to support zero-visibility operations and provide precise positioning service to enable performance-based navigation, area navigation (RNAV) and required navigation performance (RNP) operations, FAA said.

Moog Acquisition

Moog, based in East Aurora, N.Y., in September completed its $90 million acquisition of GE Aviation’s flight-control actuation business in Wolverhampton, U.K.

The business, formerly part of Smiths Aerospace, designs and manufactures primary and secondary flight-control actuation for commercial and military programs, including high-lift actuation systems for the Boeing 777 and 787 and Airbus A330 and A380. The operation also provides primary flight controls for the Eurofighter Typhoon, and a main engine lift system for the Rolls-Royce engine on the STOVL version of the F-35 Lightning II.

Moog said the unit will be a part of its Aircraft Controls segment. Wolverhampton sales for calendar year 2008 were about $100 million.

"The organization that we’re acquiring is a world-class designer and manufacturer of aircraft actuation systems, with a specialty in high-lift actuation for commercial aircraft," said Warren Johnson, president of Moog’s Aircraft Controls Group. "We know that they’ll be a great addition to our team."

Kontron Stake

Kontron, of Eching, Germany, acquired a majority stake in Digital-Logic AG, a Swiss manufacturer of rugged embedded computer boards and systems.

The company increased its holdings to 78 percent, and said it intends to take over 100 percent of Digital-Logic.

Kontron said the acquisition increases its market share in Central Europe and in the transportation and aerospace markets. Digital-Logic will be integrated under Kontron AG as Kontron Compact Computers AG, the companies said.

FAA, Air Traffic Controllers Agree To Contract

Controllers represented by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) voted Sept. 23 to ratify a new contract with FAA, signaling the end of a three-year stalemate during which controllers worked under imposed work and pay rules.

Negotiations were facilitated by a mediation team led by former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and including Mediators Richard Bloch and Dana Eischen. The mediation process started May 18.

The new three-year contract, covering NATCA’s air-traffic controller, traffic management and NOTAM specialist bargaining units, took effect Oct. 1.

"Today, the members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association overwhelmingly approved a collective bargaining agreement with the FAA," said outgoing NATCA President Patrick Forrey. "It is a testament to our membership that they have endured the worst time in our union’s history, working toward and holding out for a contract that was negotiated in a fair process and agreed to by the parties."

(Paul M. Rinaldi, a veteran air traffic controller at Washington-Dulles Tower, won a runoff election Sept. 17 to succeed Forrey as NATCA president, effective Oct. 17.)

"From the very first day I came into this job, I made a commitment to the controllers that reaching a mutually acceptable agreement would be our top priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, responding to the labor accord. "The union’s ratification vote is great news and marks a new day between the controllers and the FAA."

Said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt: "We set out on this process in May with the goal to move definitively from the past to an agreement that we hope will start a new progressive relationship between the FAA and the controllers as we set about important work to transform the entire air-traffic control system. This gives us a great platform for moving forward on the next generation of air navigation, which will greatly benefit our nation and the traveling public."

Military

Carlisle Acquisitions

Carlisle Companies, of Charlotte, N.C., the parent company of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, announced two acquisitions, expanding its presence in the cable and connector businesses.

In September, the company announced plans to purchase Jerrik, of Tempe, Ariz., a manufacturer of military and aerospace filter connectors, for an undisclosed price. "Jerrik will enhance our presence on mission critical military programs and strengthen our leading range of high-end interconnect solutions," said David A. Roberts, Carlisle chairman, president and CEO.

On Oct. 1, Carlisle announced the acquisition of Electronic Cable Specialists (ECS), of Franklin, Wis., a supplier of cable and wiring harnesses, avionics trays and design/engineering support to aircraft operators. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"ECS complements our specialty wire and cable operations and broadens our product and engineering capabilities for our commercial and defense airframe customers," Roberts said.

Both Jerrik and ECS will operate as part of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, based in St. Augustine, Fla., the company said.

FAB-T Developments

Boeing received a $5.4 million contract to integrate a new satcom system on the U.S. Air Force’s B-52 fleet. The Extremely High Frequency (EHF) system will enable the exchange of information through Family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T), enabling communication with the B-52 from ground, air and space platforms.

In a separate announcement, Boeing in September said the FAB-T program conducted its first flight tests in a realistic environment, using a FAB-T Increment 1 terminal on a Boeing 707 communicating with a Milstar satellite. Boeing is the prime contractor for Increment 1 of FAB-T, which will provide protected beyond line-of-sight communications for the B-2, B-52 and RC-135.

The satcom contract will proceed with three increments. The first includes planning, risk mitigation and development of system requirements; the second will cover the design and installation of FAB-T communication hardware; the third will integrate the new system into the Global Information Grid. Total contract value could exceed $100 million.

A B-52 upgraded with the Combat Network Communications Technology network-centric upgrade completed a first flight in May and entered the flight-test program at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Boeing also is integrating the Lockheed Martin Sniper advanced targeting pod on the B-52 and installing software upgrades on an 18-month schedule.

STARLite Deliveries

Northrop Grumman was set to begin deliveries of its AN/ZPY-1 STARLite small tactical radar system to the U.S. Army, the company said in October.

Alan S. Colegrove, director of land forces business development at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, said flight testing of the radar was nearly complete, and he was "encouraged by the results." The company was on track to begin deliveries to the Army by the end of October. Colegrove spoke Oct. 5 at the Association of United States Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, D.C.

Northrop Grumman, which was awarded a $47 million contract from the Army in 2008, said STARLite will be used for the Army’s ERMP MQ-1C Sky Warrior UAS and MQ-8B Fire Scout FCS Class IV UAS programs. The system includes four primary line replaceable units — antenna gimbal unit, radar electronic unit, power supply and LN-251 combined INS/GPS system.

The radar, which weighs less than 80 pounds and uses less than 800 Watts of power, is the smallest radar in its class, Colegrove said. It operates in two modes — Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI). SAR has two submodes — "spot" and "strip map."

Colegrove said Northrop Grumman is developing a maritime mode as well.

Block III Apache

Boeing will begin a limited user test this month on AH-64 Apaches equipped with Block III avionics. Included will be a test of Apache pilots exercising control over unmanned air vehicles.

"For this limited user test for the first time we’ll have Army aviators controlling an unmanned air system from another aircraft — the Apache — at Level IV," Al Winn, Boeing vice president for Apache Programs, said Oct. 5 at AUSA.

At Level IV, Boeing said, the Apache crew controls the navigation and payload of the UAS. Level I means indirect receipt of secondary imagery or data; Level II is receipt of imagery or data directly from the UAS; and Level III is control of the UAS payload.

In June, Boeing demonstrated the technical capability of Level IV UAS control, with an Apache pilot controlling a Boeing AH-6 variant helicopter, known as the Unmanned Little Bird, via a Tactical Common Data Link. The Unmanned Little Bird was used as a surrogate for the Sky Warrior UAS, which is still under development. The Little Bird also would be used for the November test, Winn said. Pilot training for the Level IV capability began in September.

"We expect the limited user test will pass because obviously we’ve made sure the airplanes were fully operational and capable before the test," Winn said.

The first test units of the Block III Apaches were delivered to the U.S. Army in October 2008 with production deliveries scheduled in 2011. Initial operational capability is planned for 2012.

F-22 Antenna

EMS Defense & Space was awarded a $3.7 million contract from Lockheed Martin to develop an electronically steered, switched-beam antenna for the F-22 Multi-function Advanced Data Link (MADL) system upgrade.

EMS currently provides the F-22 intra-flight data link antenna. The antenna-based MADL system makes its possible for the existing F-22 fleet to maintain net-centric communications among different aircraft types. The antenna technology may be applicable to other aircraft, including the Air Force’s F-15, F-16 and B-2, and the Navy’s F-18, E-2 and E-3, according to EMS.

C-130 AMP Simulator

Boeing in September delivered the first simulator for the U.S. Air Force C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) to Little Rock, Ark., Air Force Base. The Weapon System Trainer passed government acceptance testing and was declared "ready for use" July 20, the company said.

The AMP simulator is a full-motion, high-fidelity system that uses the same software as the C-130 AMP aircraft. Future modifications can be made to the aircraft and the training devices at the same time, so aircrews can train on new capabilities in the simulator before they fly them in the aircraft, Boeing said.

Three C-130 AMP aircraft had completed initial flight testing and were undergoing additional evaluation flights with the Air Force before the AMP upgrade kits are installed on the fleet. Boeing will deliver a suite of trainers over the next several years for the AMP training program at Little Rock.

Field Testing

EADS North America Test and Services, Irvine, Calif., in October entered into an agreement with Pallas Systems, LLC, of Springfield, Ohio, to provide synthetic instrument-based solutions for field service and operational-level test requirements. Under the agreement, EADS North America Test and Services has exclusive rights to distribute Pallas products under its label for the defense and aerospace markets.

Leveraging the Pallas synthetic instrument (SI) technology and rugged packaging, EADS North America Test and Services will provide a compact, multi-function test set for testing electronics in the field under harsh environmental conditions. The platform, which uses a Microsoft Windows operating system, enables field-service automation of record keeping, data collection, documentation, testing and diagnostic execution.

EADS North America Test and Services will offer the SI product for avionics, communications, radar, motor pool and weapons testing. Initial delivery of the Pallas products will begin in the first quarter 2010.

Unmanned Systems

Valiant Angel

An industry team consisting of Lockheed Martin, Harris Corp., and NetApp won a $29 million contract from the U.S. Joint Forces Command for "Valiant Angel," a system to help commanders collect, manage, process, exploit and disseminate full-motion video from manned and unmanned aircraft and ground-based sensors.

Valiant Angel will collect and store incoming video streams from a variety of sensors in a secure, networked database; categorize and manage videos by keyword, geographic region or other items of interest and fuse intelligence data from multiple sources into incoming video streams. The system will incorporate Lockheed Martin’s Audacity video analysis system and Harris’s Full-Motion Video Asset Management Engine. NetApp, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., will integrate its Data ONTAP storage architecture system. Data ONTAP is a flexible, high-performance storage architecture that can scale to 24 servers with a total of 14 petabytes of capacity.

"Video is a powerful intelligence tool, but today there is so much being collected, it’s difficult for troops and analysts to sort through the mountains of available data in search of the specific clip they need to make a decision," said Dan Rice, Lockheed Martin vice president for Spatial Solutions. "With Valiant Angel, commanders will be able to quickly find the video they need, package it into an actionable intelligence report, and share it securely with the front-line troops who need it."

Expeditionary UAS

L-3 Communications Geneva Aerospace, of Carrollton, Texas, was awarded a contract potentially worth up to $250 million to develop and build the Expeditionary Unmanned Aircraft System (EUAS).

The contract, awarded by the U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., has a one-year minimum of $5 million, and includes options for four one-year extensions to support the command’s fixed-wing aircraft.

Contracts

  • Rockwell Collins was awarded a $39.3 million contract from the U.S. Army to provide Common Avionics Architecture System hardware for a variety of helicopters. The contract provides the CAAS in support of the production and sustainment of the CH-47F, CH-53E, MH-53E, UH-60M/MU, HH-60M MU/J, MH-47D/E/G, MH-6, MH-60K/L/T, MH-56C, ARH, VH-60 aircraft. Work is expected to be completed in 2014.

  • Honeywell was awarded a $30.9 million contract modification from the U.S. Navy to provide an additional 46 Block II micro aerial vehicles for the Navy (40) and the United Kingdom (6), with associated spare parts, engineering support services and training.

  • Honeywell signed a 10-year maintenance and asset availability agreement with Air Canada for service on Honeywell components for up to 18 Boeing 777s. Honeywell products covered include the 331-500 Auxiliary Power Unit, IntuVue weather radar, EGPWS, Airborne Collision Avoidance System with ADS-B and Mode S, ADIRU, Quantum line communications and navigation equipment, solid state flight data and cockpit voice recorders and Nitrogen Generation System (NGS). The NGS is the first FAA-certified commercial air transport safety system to lower the oxygen concentration below the level that will support combustion, Honeywell said.

  • Panasonic Avionics supplied Mexicana Airlines with its Digital Multiplexed Passenger Entertainment System. The airline installed the system on 39 A318, A319 and A320 aircraft and took delivery of two A330s equipped with Panasonic’s eX2 system. The system allows business class passengers access to the eXpress Personal Media Player, a hand-held audio visual on demand device.

  • Lumexis Corp., based in Costa Mesa, Calif., announced a contract with EMS Formation under which EMS will design and manufacture the Server Swtich Unit (SSU) optical video/application server for the Lumexis FTTS (Fiber-To-The-Screen) in-flight entertainment system. The SSU is a four-MCU multi-processor server integrated with terabytes of ToughDisk solid state disks.

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