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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Industry Scan

NAVAIR Accelerates Aircraft Certifications Under CNS/ATM Program

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) communications, navigation surveillance/air-traffic management (CNS/ATM) program has completed 13 certifications on different aircraft platforms since 2005, including seven certifications this year.

Managed by NAVAIR’s Air Combat Electronics program office, PMA 209, the CNS/ATM program this year certified new capabilities on the EA-6B Prowler, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, C-2A Greyhound, AV-8B Harrier, KC-130J tanker and EP-3E electronics intelligence aircraft.

During a recent visit to NAVAIR headquarters at Patuxent River, Md., Avionics editors toured the Common System Integration Lab (CSIL), which is supporting the CNS/ATM program through functional testing and independent validation of integrated avionics systems. Also shown was the upgraded CNS/ATM glass cockpit of the Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning aircraft, featuring Rockwell Collins primary flight and multifunction displays, Garmin GNS 530 integrated nav/comm display and GE Aviation standby indicators. Rockwell Collins also supplies the dual CDU 7000 control display units.

Flight testing of E-2C Hawkeye 849, the aircraft viewed by Avionics, started in August 2008 as part of the CNS/ATM system evaluation. As of this October, the aircraft had flown 105 flights and 275 hours with the new cockpit. Initial operating capability of the upgraded E-2C is planned in 2010.

To meet evolving civil interoperability requirements of FAA and Eurocontrol, PMA 209, designated by the Chief of Naval Operations to manage CNS/ATM requirements for all naval aircraft, earlier this decade developed functional requirements documents (FRD) in four capability areas: 8.33 kHz channel spacing of VHF radio communications; Mode S data link; Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums (RVSM); and Required Navigation Performance/Area Navigation (RNP/RNAV).

"Our functional requirements documents are what we molded to take the best of FAA requirements, Eurocontrol requirements, ICAO procedures that were coming out to deal with performance-based airspace, and implement them smartly into military aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps," explained David Staso, the CNS/ATM program team lead.

The guidance documents were developed in 2002 and 2003 and "almost to date, they’ve held up pretty strong," Staso said. Revisions were made for 8.33 kHz channel spacing in 2005; for RNP/RNAV and Mode S in 2006.

When FAA issues a civil mandate for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), "that technology will come to this office and we’ll attack it in the same way," said Capt. Ralph I. Portnoy, PMA 209 program manager.

PMA 209 certified RNP/RNAV functionality on the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft in November 2007. Different than a civil approval, the Navy certification uses the military’s GPS Precise Positioning Service (PPS) to ensure navigational accuracy and integrity. The Navy also relies on a different database than commercial operators — the Digital Aeronautical Flight Information File (DAFIF) supplied by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), to fly RNP/RNAV operations. Working with NGA, the service’s goal is to develop new RNP/RNAV procedures within a 24-hour turnaround, Staso said.

"We have to fly to a lot more places than commercial airports," he observed. "In some cases, we have an approach to a new airfield in Iraq or Afghanistan that was just generated a week ago.... That’s the beauty of an RNP/RNAV (procedure). We can do GPS approaches and have those embedded into the system for use at a brand new location that wasn’t there yesterday."

Functional testing of integrated systems in the CSIL, using equipment such as a commercial flight simulation engine and Spirent Communications GPS simulator to test embedded GPS/INS systems, reduces costly flight testing. System commonality under the program allows for testing across multiple platforms — the lab was operating test benches for the H-53 helicopter as well as the E-2C and C-2 turboprops.

A. J. Reynolds, senior software developer with contractor DCS Corp., Alexandria, Va., said the lab is "functional driven" as opposed to systems driven. "We have found things here that weren’t found at the manufacturer," including documentation issues as well as hardware and software glitches, he said. "Instead of fixing and flying at a high dollar cost, I fix and fly in the lab."

The lab also contributes to quicker system certifications. According to Lab Manager Javier Rosales, getting a new system out to the fleet traditionally has taken seven to nine years. New systems for the C-2 Greyhound were approved in three years. —Bill Carey

Commercial

Data Streaming

AeroMechanical Services Ltd. (AMS), of Calgary, signed an agreement with L-3 Communications to sell AMS’s real-time data communications and Internet data delivery systems for aircraft.

The agreement provides for a reselling and teaming arrangement under which L-3 will offer aircraft manufacturers and civil operators access to flight-data recorder analytical data via real-time data streaming.

Under the brand name FLYHT, AMS will be the exclusive provider to L-3 of Iridium satellite-based real-time data communications and Internet data delivery technology. Included will be AMS’s FLYHTstream data streaming system, as well as its fuel-and emissions-management products.

"This agreement will combine L-3’s flight recorder and electronic flight bag products, with AMS’s real-time data communication systems to offer customers the ability to receive, record, store, monitor, transmit and analyze critical aircraft flight data, in real time when necessary," said AMS President Richard Hayden. "The result will be to improve both cost-effective aircraft performance and operational safety."

With an L-3 flight data recorder, AMS has demonstrated real-time data and aircraft position streaming on in-service aircraft using its patented Automated Flight Information Reporting System.

Using ground-based data analysis tools, operators can review captured data to plan maintenance and verify that each aircraft is conserving fuel and flying safely. In an emergency, ground personnel can review data for aircraft and subsystem functionality, and provide guidance and recommendations to the flight crew.

A380 HUD

The Thales Head-Up Display has been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the Airbus A380 in single configuration for the left seat and in dual configuration for both pilot seats, Thales announced Oct. 19.

The HUD will make its first appearance on the A380 with the entry into service of an Air France superjumbo, Thales said.

Air France is the first airline to select the Thales HUD in dual configuration for the A380. Other A380 HUD customers include China Southern Airlines and Korean Air, Thales said.

The Thales HUD is available as a catalogue option on the Airbus A320 family in single configuration and on the A380 in single and dual configuration.

Thales also has been selected by Airbus to equip the A350 XWB with single or dual HUDs upon its entry into service, planned for 2013.

Thales Management

Months after being appointed a senior vice president with responsibilities over Europe, Turkey, Russia, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, Jean-Georges Malcor resigned from Thales, effective Dec. 31, to become CEO of CGGVeritas of Paris, a geophysical equipment and services company.

Malcor was appointed to his present position at Thales last summer. Before that, in January this year, he replaced Francois Quentin as senior vice president of the company’s Aerospace Division after Thales reported lagging results by the division. Pierre-Eric Pommellet replaced Malcor as head of the division.

RNP Alaska

Naverus will provide Performance-Based Navigation procedures and aviation support services to ConocoPhillips Alaska under the terms of an agreement announced Oct. 19.

Naverus will help the Alaska business unit achieve regulatory approval to fly Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures using the 737-700s it operates on behalf of itself and BP Exploration (Alaska) in support of their North Slope oil and gas operations.

Naverus also will develop optimized, high-performance RNP approach procedures at the Deadhorse, Alaska, airport, near the Prudhoe Bay oil field.

Deadhorse, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is a staging point for personnel and equipment bound for Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay and North Slope oil operations. ConocoPhillips Alaska flies round-trip flights to Deadhorse six days a week in support of North Slope operations.

Croatia Airlines EFB

Lufthansa Systems said it has implemented its Lido/FlightBag electronic cockpit communication platform for Croatia Airlines. The first scheduled Croatia Airlines flight to carry the EFB solution, installed on an Airbus A320, took off in early October, the company said.

Thirty of the carrier’s pilots are using the EFB as a Class 1 system on laptop computers. After an operational approval phase with Croatian aviation authorities, the airline said it will begin using the EFB system across its fleet.

Lufthansa Systems said the airline is the first to have an interface from the EFB to the NetLine/Crew management system, which allows the pilot to transfer information from pre-flight briefings into the EFB.

Lufthansa Systems said depending on the size of their fleet, airlines can save up to $4.3 million each year by using Lido/FlightBag.

EFB STC

navAero, of Chicago, said its tBagC22 electronic flight bag was awarded a new supplemental type certificate (STC) for the Boeing 737NG series.

The STC provides for Ethernet cross-connectivity of the two navAero EFB CPU modules to facilitate data sharing and includes EFB system connections to the aircraft’s avionics. These connections, and a software interface, allow for the appropriate data from the onboard avionics to feed Airport Moving Map applications for the display of own-ship position.

The STC incorporates the navAero-developed, AT&T certified UTMS/HSDPA/3G internal CPU module that allows for on-the-ground cellular connectivity between the EFB and the AT&T network for data transfer.

Business/GA

Embraer Excites NBAA With Legacy 650

Embraer provided some excitement at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in October by unveiling the Legacy 650, a longer-range version of its super midsize Legacy 600. The $29.5 million aircraft, combining the fuselage of the EMB-135 regional jet with the wings of the EMB-145, will be fitted with Honeywell’s new Primus Elite avionics suite.

Embraer also signed the first purchase order for the aircraft, selling two Legacy 650s to Aircraft Asset Management GmbH, of Hallbergmoos, Germany.

The first flight of a Legacy 650 prototype took place Sept. 23 at Embraer’s flight-test facility in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil. A second Legacy 650 flew the next day in São José dos Campos. Certification of the type is expected in the second half of 2010.

Garmin Introduces G3000 For Part 23 Market

Garmin introduced a new avionics suite, the G3000, designed for the Part 23 light turbine aircraft market. Piper Aircraft was named as launch customer for the suite, which will be installed in PiperJet turbine aircraft.

Garmin, unveiling the new system at the NBAA convention Oct. 19, said the G3000 will feature 5.7-inch, touchscreen LCD displays, part of the GTC 570 vehicle management system. The console-mounted GTC 570 uses a desktop-like menu interface with intuitive icons that allow for radio management, audio management, flight management, weather systems management, synoptics, and other vehicle systems control. "It’s truly an elegant system and I think it’s going to be very popular," said Gary Kelly, Garmin vice president of marketing.

The G3000 will be available for forward fit applications in 2012, Kelly said.

Business Connection

Panasonic Avionics, Lake Forest, Calif., announced plans to install its connectivity system on corporate VIP aircraft.

In an announcement Oct. 20 at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference in Orlando, Fla., the company said three business aviation customers operating 14 aircraft will install its Global Communications Suite, which includes the eXConnect broadband system, Wi-Fi enabled eXPhone, eXTraBandwith and the Panasonic Airborne Television Network.

The first customer, a Boeing Business Jet operator, was to receive its Panasonic-equipped aircraft in November, the company said.

The agreements represent the first full foray by Panasonic Avionics into the business aviation market. The company has provided connectivity system components to the market before, but the Global Communications Suite will be the first system integration in business aircraft.

David Bruner, Panasonic Avionics vice president of Global Communications Services, said the company’s dominant presence in the air transport market positions it to provide the same type of service to the VIP market.

"You need the economics of air transport behind this system," Bruner said. "You need to have the bandwidth available when business aircraft operations need it. ‘Office in the sky’ has never really achieved its promise. This system delivers that type of bandwidth."

After the initial launch, the company plans to move into Gulfstream installation in four to six months. Executives said the company has no current plans to move into the in-flight entertainment portion of the business aviation market.

Satcom Combination

ICG described a new in-flight connectivity system for business aviation Oct. 19, combining Inmarsat and Iridium in a comprehensive nose-to-tail package. The system, called "Sora" for the Japanese word for fly, combines an Iridium system from ICG with an Inmarsat SwiftBroadband system from Cobham Antenna Solutions that are tied together with ICG’s NxtMail server.

The system provides global voice and data capabilities, weighs less than 39 pounds and has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $164,500. According to ICG, the system is 42 percent smaller, 30 percent lighter and 20 percent cheaper than Aircell’s SwiftBroadband product.

Jeff Saucedo, ICG vice president of sales and marketing, said the system is available now, but he would not elaborate on potential customers. ICG first made the announcement of a collaboration with Cobham in June, saying it had successfully developed an interface between its NxtMail Server and Cobham’s SDU-7300 Swift 64 and SDU-7320 Swift Broadband Satcom systems.

Aircell Internet

Fractional ownership company Flight Options, of Cleveland, will install the Aircell High Speed Internet system on the majority of its fleet of 110 aircraft, including new Embraer Phenom 300 light jets. The companies made the announcement in October at NBAA in Orlando.

Installations will take place this year through 2011, the companies said.

Components of the system include the Aircell Axxess cabin communications system and the ATG 4000 High Speed Internet unit.

Iridium E-Mail

EMS SkyConnect introduced an Iridium e-mail product for business aviation.

"Forte AirMail," an 8-pound system comprising a wireless access point, antenna and transceiver, is designed for Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and BlackBerries and will allow passengers to stay connected via e-mail and voice while flying, according to a company briefing Oct. 19 at the NBAA conference in Orlando.

The system won’t allow for robust Web surfing, but tests have shown that up to 10 users can send and receive e-mail simultaneously using the system, said Stephen Silverman, general manager of EMS SkyConnect, based in Takoma Park, Md. "This system will work on everything from a Beech Bonanza to a (Boeing Business Jet)," Silverman said.

EMS SkyConnect was working on amending a supplemental type certificate and expected to begin deliveries in early 2010.

Citation AdViz

Cessna Aircraft was awarded a supplemental type certificate (STC) for retrofit installations of the AdViz flat panel cocking display system from Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), of Exton, Pa., in some legacy Cessna Citations.

The AdViz system is certified for the Cessna Citation 500, 550, S550 and 560. It is available in two or three 10.4-inch display unit architectures that provide enhanced situational awareness, increased functionality, reduced crew workload and weight savings, IS&S said.

Options include e-Charts (Jeppesen), XM weather and the display of Enhanced Vision Systems and Wide Area Augmentation System.

The first Cessna Citation V retrofitted with the AdViz Flat Panel Display system completed its initial flight in April, following two years of development.

The AdViz system will initially be available for purchase through the nine Cessna-owned Citation Service Centers, and will later be distributed through the Cessna authorized network.

HondaJet Selection

Emteq, of New Berlin, Wis., said its SkyPro cabin management and in-flight entertainment systems have been selected by Honda Aircraft Co. for installation on the new HondaJet.

SkyPro is an all-digital, high-definition system that is scalable for different aircraft. Features specific to the HondaJet include high-definition touchscreen monitors, Audio/Video on Demand, interactive 3-D moving map, exterior camera with real-time viewing and cabin control.

"The Emteq SkyPro system is the only solution that fully meets our needs for flexibility, scalability and customization," said Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft president and CEO.

Emteq also announced at NBAA an award from Bombardier to design and produce interior and exterior LED lighting packages and other cabin components for the new Learjet 85.

GAViS Certification

The Kollsman General Aviation Vision System (GAViS) has been certified on the Sikorsky S-76A, B and C model helicopters, parent company Elbit Systems of America announced Oct. 19.

GAViS is a lightweight infrared sensor that provides a video image of the aircraft’s forward environment at night and in low visibility conditions. It leverages technology developed for the Kollsman EVS II system used on Gulfstream aircraft. The sensor measures 3 inches high, 6 inches wide and 11.5 inches long. It is contained in a hermetically sealed, aerodynamic housing designed for exterior mounting.

Elbit said Pro Star Aviation, of Londonderry, N.H., received FAA supplemental type certificate approval to install the system at the customer’s location during annual inspections or at Pro Star facilities.

Hawker EVS

Hawker Beechcraft Corp. is adding options for enhanced vision systems on its Bonanza and Baron aircraft, the company announced in November.

The airframer said the EVS-100 and EVS-600 enhanced vision systems from Forward Vision, of Russell, Pa., are line replaceable units that weigh less than 1.5 pounds and mount like any external antenna. The EVS -100 and -600 will first be offered by STC on the Bonanza, with the STC for the Baron to follow.

In addition to making EVS technology an option on factory-new airplanes, Hawker Beechcraft service centers will provide Forward Vision STC-approved systems to existing Bonanza and Baron fleets, the company said.

King Air LEDs

Luma Technologies, based in Bellevue, Wash., introduced a suite of integrated LED displays for Beechcraft King Air turboprops, designed to replace incandescent Caution-Warning panels, the company said.

The single integrated unit for either the glareshield or center console is a plug-and-play replacement Display Head. Luma said it also offers optional solid-state electronics packages.

"All things being equal, you should never have to replace another lamp or take a lamp-related delay again," said Bruce Maxwell, Luma president.

Unmanned Systems

Insitu Unveils ‘NightEagle’ With Cooled IR Sensor

ScanEagle, the lightweight, long-endurance UAV deployed from U.S. Navy ships and by allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, now can be upgraded to the heavier NightEagle configuration with improved infrared sensor for night operations.

Boeing subsidiary Insitu, of Bingen, Wash., described the NightEagle upgrade in a Nov. 10 teleconference with reporters. The upgrade changes out the current DRS Technologies E6000 uncooled, long-wave infrared (LWIR) camera with a cooled, mid-wave infrared (MWIR) sensor provided by FLIR Systems. This "MWIR 1" capability will be replaced by next April with a next-generation "MWIR 2" sensor from DRS Technologies.

Insitu said the MWIR sensor provides imagery equivalent to ScanEagle’s electro-optic daylight imagery, and is preferable for surveillance in humid environments or longer standoff distances. The LWIR is preferred for imaging through battlefield smoke and dust.

"The current long-wave IR capability that we employ does not provide the quality in terms of the resolution of the imagery that we provide the customers and we’ve had a continual request by our customer base to improve the night capability. That’s the genesis of the NightEagle," said Eric Edsall, Insitu’s International Unmanned Aircraft Systems expert.

"It’s a pretty impressive increase in capability," Edsall added. "To get a cooled, mid-wave IR capability onto an air vehicle the size of ScanEagle is an engineering accomplishment we’re pretty proud of.... This is not an incremental upgrade; this is a new capability that we feel we’ve brought to the marketplace that gives a small tactical UAV a capability at night that hasn’t existed before."

Flight tests of the modified ScanEagle with a prototype MMIR camera and inertially stabilized Alticam Vision Corp. turret began in January this year, followed by field trials in April. That month, Insitu was awarded a $30 million contract from the Canadian government to provide UAV services using ScanEagle in support of Canadian forces operations in Afghanistan, with an option to upgrade to the NightEagle capability by the end of this year or first quarter 2010. A similar contract with the U.S. Special Operations Command followed in May. Insitu also is negotiating for NightEagle service with the Australian military.

The NightEagle variant entered production in July. As of November, there were 25 fielded systems, with more than 2,000 flight hours and 260 sorties, Insitu said.

The conversion from the 44-pound (maximum takeoff weight) ScanEagle to NightEagle can be accomplished in the field in about two hours. The NightEagle is distinguished by a third tail fin and larger nose containing the IR imager. The larger air vehicle has about eight to 10 hours of endurance, about half that of ScanEagle, depending on density altitude, Insitu said.

"The system remains quite modular. This is an upgrade that we can do in the field," Edsall said. "You take a standard, Block D ScanEagle that’s got a long-wave IR today; you put a different nose module on it that’s got the mid-wave IR, and you put the third fin on the back of the air vehicle. From a hardware perspective, that pretty much does the conversion for you. Then you’ve got a new software load that you put in the ground control station that accommodates the capability."

The NightEagle conversion represents ongoing improvement of the ScanEagle since the latter was first deployed in 2004. Now with more than 240,000 flight hours, ScanEagle has been upgraded with a Mode C transponder, Automatic Identification System, compatibility with the Rover video datalink and heavy fuel engine.

Edsall explained the rationale behind introducing the MWIR 1 sensor, to be followed soon after by MWIR 2. "When we get strong customer demand for this type of capability we field it as quickly as we can, and in some cases it’s not the best capability that can be fielded," he said. "But we’re not a company that will wait around for years on end to design the 99-percent solution; we’ll get an 80-percent solution out immediately and we’ll follow up shortly thereafter with the 99-percent solution. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here." —Bill Carey

Neuron AHRS

Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract by Saab Aerosystems to deliver its LCR-100 Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) for the six-nation Neuron European unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator.

The AHRS units will be built by the company’s German navigation systems subsidiary, Northrop Grumman LITEF.

The LCR-100 Gyrocompass AHRS is a north finding attitude and heading reference system based on a fiber optic gyro and micro-electromechanical (MEMS) accelerometers. The commercial off-the-shelf system provides accurate and uninterrupted attitude, heading, position, velocity and status information, the company said. The Neuron demonstrator will be used to investigate and validate technologies needed to design next-generation UCAV aircraft.

First flight is expected in 2012 and test flights will be conducted in France, Sweden and Italy, according to the company.

France’s Dassault Aviation is the Neuron program prime contractor. Other partners are Saab Aerosystems, Linkoping, Sweden, EADS-CASA of Spain, Hellenic Aerospace Industries of Greece, Alenia of Italy and RUAG of Switzerland.

ESM Cooling

SprayCool, of Liberty Lake, Wash., said its liquid-cooled enclosure was selected by Sierra Nevada Corp. for that company’s electronic support measures (ESM) system on the U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) platform, the RQ-4N Global Hawk.

Sierra Nevada Corp. selected a chassis based on the SprayCool Multi-Platform Enclosure (MPE). The MPE is a multi-slot scalable enclosure enabled with SprayCool’s patented "direct-spray" 2-phase closed-loop liquid cooling system. The company said the technology uses a fine mist of non-corrosive, non-conductive liquid, sprayed in a thin layer that evaporates and cools electronics. The process continuously cycles within a sealed, closed loop system.

The MPE includes an integrated pump and controller, which will be connected to a liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger that cools the liquid via fuel.

"By choosing the SprayCool chassis, we now have the ability to use COTS cards for our ESM system," said Curt Carr, Sierra Nevada BAMS program manager. "This allows us to provide a much more cost effective package, while meeting the harsh operational requirement."

Raven Certification

The Military Aviation Authority of the Netherlands issued a Military Type Certificate for the AeroVironment Raven B Micro UAV, the first such certificate issued in the Netherlands, the manufacturer said.

The certification allows Dutch military personnel to operate Raven systems in designated Dutch airspace. The Raven B system was selected by the Netherlands Ministry of Defense in 2007.

The Raven is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for "over the hill" and "around the corner" reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition.

Contracts

  • Boeing received an $84 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for additional upgrades of the B-1 bomber avionics software, authorizing Boeing to start work on software Sustainment Block 16.

  • Raytheon received an $81.1 million contract from the U.S. Navy for the AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar, the primary undersea warfare sensor for the Navy’s MH-60R helicopter. The system provides submarine detection, tracking, localization, classification, acoustic intercept, underwater communication and environmental data collection.

  • Delta TechOps expanded its maintenance agreement with Omni Air International (OAI), based in Tulsa, to include component and inventory support for the charter airline’s Boeing 767 fleet. As part of the five-year agreement, Delta TechOps will provide component and inventory support on OAI’s 767s, including avionics and hydraulics.

  • Barco selected the Wind River VxWorks 653 real-time operating system for its CDMS-3000 Control Display and Management System. The CDMS-3000 product family includes the civil CDMS-3739 (ARINC 739), the military CDMS-3703 (combined ARINC 429 and Mil-Std-1553) and the CDMS-3702.

  • ALTO Aviation, of Leominster, Mass., was selected by Honeywell to supply the sound system components for its Ovation Select cabin management system. ALTO will provide customized EQ/digital amplifier, which was co-developed by Honeywell, cabin acoustic modeling software and subwoofers.

  • ECS of Franklin, Wis., which was acquired recently by Carlisle Companies, entered into a data licensing agreement with Boeing allowing the use of Boeing detail engineering design data to develop supplemental type certificates for installation of electronic flight bags (EFB) on Boeing aircraft. The agreement permits ECS to manufacture EFB installation kits and licensed spare parts with FAA Parts Manufacturer Approval.

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