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Friday, January 1, 2010

Industry Scan

Business/GA

Head-Up Guidance

Rockwell Collins in December received FAA certification of its HGS-6605 Head-Up Guidance System on the Bombardier Challenger 605. The head-up display was developed together with an Enhanced Vision System by Rockwell Collins.

The HGS-6605, with inertial flight-path vector, presents critical flight information in the pilot’s forward field of view. The display features 42 degree horizontal and 30 degree vertical field of view.

Synthetic vision is possible as a growth feature, the company said.

Air Routing

Rockwell Collins announced plans in November to acquire AR Group, Inc., and its affiliated companies, including Air Routing International, a provider of trip support services for business aircraft flight operations. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Air Routing, based in Houston, has 240 employees and provides flight departments with trip planning services.

Rockwell Collins said the acquisition will extend its offerings to enable global flight operation support services that leverage emerging connectivity systems.

"The acquisition of Air Routing will broaden our information management and aftermarket services offerings," said Clay Jones, Rockwell Collins chairman, president and CEO. "Air Routing’s strong customer relationships, flight operations support services and trusted agent network complement our information management strategy to deliver enhanced value to business aircraft operators."

Commercial

SE2020 Contracts

FAA in December said it is soliciting bids from companies for NextGen support contracts with a combined value of $7 billion, which would be the largest award in the agency’s history.

Under the System Engineering 2020 (SE2020) effort, FAA will award as many as five separate contracts to industry teams for research and development and systems engineering work. SE2020 "will complement and enhance" major NextGen initiatives, including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), System Wide Information Management (SWIM) and Data Communications, the agency said.

The contract teams will focus on a series of operational capabilities, including Trajectory-Based Operations, Collaborative Air Traffic Management and Reduced Weather Impact. The goal is to achieve early NextGen successes to improve safety and bring greater efficiencies to the National Airspace System, FAA said.

"The team concept is designed to create competitive synergy within each group, driving innovation so that each team comes up with the best possible product," the agency said. "The FAA also structured the contracts, using market survey data, to encourage bids from teams that will include small companies as prime contractors as well as subcontractors. The agency is looking for the best and the brightest, regardless of size."

Five-year contracts will be awarded next summer, with subsequent three- and two-year options, according to FAA.

NextGen Park

Federal, state and local officials broke ground Oct. 19 on a research park in New Jersey dedicated to advancing NextGen technologies.

FAA is leasing 55 acres to the South Jersey Economic Development District to build the NextGen Aviation Research and Technology Park (http://nextgenaviationpark.org), located next to FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center and Atlantic City International Airport in Pomona, N.J. The state’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in August approved $1.6 million for initial organizational and construction design costs.

The park will offer a central location for industry partners to perform research, development, testing, integration and verification of NextGen technologies, FAA said. The park will complement the state of Florida’s NextGen demonstration at Daytona International Airport.

The research park can accommodate up to 400,000 square feet of lab and support space, and is expected to create 2,000 new high-skill jobs. A nonprofit corporation, the park is governed by a board of trustees chaired by Herman Saatkamp, president of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Total private sector investment by the time of completion is estimated at $80 million to $100 million.

Naverus Acquired

GE Aviation announced plans in November to acquire Naverus, of Kent, Wash., a provider of performance-based navigation (PBN) services. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"GE is committed to delivering solutions that help our customers operate aircraft more efficiently, with reduced environmental impact," said Lorraine Bolsinger, GE Aviation Systems president and CEO. "The acquisition of Naverus brings some of the best PBN technology to GE Aviation’s Systems business, further expanding our commitment to deliver environmental results for our customers."

GE said Required Navigation Performance (RNP) expertise from Naverus will enhance its existing suite of avionics and flight management systems. In September, Naverus received FAA approval to design and validate RNP flight paths for public use in the United States.

"Customers will continue to benefit from the same expertise and service for which Naverus is known, while the strength of GE provides a platform for future innovation and growth," said Naverus CEO Steve Forte.

A.E. Petsche Acquired

Arrow Electronics, of Melville, N.Y., announced plans Nov. 17 to acquire wire and cable manufacturer A.E. Petsche Co., of Arlington, Texas. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"With this acquisition, A.E. Petsche will expand Arrow’s product offering in specialty wire and cable and will greatly increase our presence in the aerospace and defense markets," said Peter T. Kong, Arrow Global Components president. "This strategic transaction will add to the breadth of Arrow’s customer base... while allowing for a variety of cross-selling opportunities with our existing business as well as other emerging markets."

A.E. Petsche distributes products in North America, the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. It employs 250 people; sales in 2008 were $220 million.

Reverse Engineering

Software certification firm Verocel Inc., of Westford, Mass., and consultancy Certification Services Inc. (CSI) of Eastsound, Wash., were awarded a contract from FAA to study the use of reverse engineering techniques in the development of safety-critical avionics software.

Examples of reverse engineering include the development of source code before requirements are developed, or formalizing the design after the code is complete. The research also will apply to reverse engineering of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software.

Concerns about using reverse engineering for avionics software applications were raised by the Certification Authorities Software Team (CAST) in a position paper, CAST-18. "Reverse engineering is widespread in the software avionics development industry, but guidance in this area is misunderstood and not applied uniformly, leading to confusion," stated Mike DeWalt, CSI chief scientist.

The two-year project calls for Verocel and CSI to review current industry practices in reverse engineering and potential safety concerns, and will result in a proposed framework to help reduce potential risks, the companies said.

DO-178B Certification

SYSGO, of Mainz, Germany, said its first software-based ARINC 664 Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) system received DO-178B Level C certification. The implementation is part of an engine monitoring unit (EMU) developed by Vibro-Meter SA, a Meggitt company.

SYSGO said the AFDX software implementation offers design possibilities that hardware solutions can not provide. Host drivers are available for SYSGO’s PikeOS, Linux and other major COTS real time operating systems, SYSGO said.

Military

Goodrich Acquisition

Goodrich Corp. in November signed an agreement with an investment affiliate of J.F. Lehman & Co. to acquire guidance and navigation system supplier Atlantic Inertial Systems (AIS) for $375 million. The transaction was expected to close by the end of 2009.

AIS was created following its divestiture from BAE Systems to J.F. Lehman & Co., in August 2007. It employs 800 people at facilities in Cheshire, Conn; Heath, Ohio; Totowa, N.J., and Plymouth, U.K. Sales in 2009 were expected to be $180 million. The company’s products include inertial sensors, inertial measurement units (IMU), integrated IMU/GPS systems, stability systems, and terrain avoidance systems for missiles, military aircraft and land systems.

The AIS Terprom digital terrain system, which provides non-GPS navigation and obstacle avoidance, is in service on 5000 aircraft, including the Eurofighter Typhoon and Royal Air Force Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer.

AIS will become part of Goodrich’s Sensors and Integrated Systems business, within its Electronic Systems segment. In addition to AIS, Goodrich, of Charlotte, N.C., recently acquired Sensors Unlimited, TEAC Aerospace, Recon/Optical and Cloud Cap Technology.

"This acquisition provides the company with another high growth platform in the defense market that builds on existing Goodrich capabilities," said Marshall Larsen, Goodrich chairman, president and CEO. "AIS’s portfolio of inertial sensors is an excellent complement to Goodrich’s guidance, control and navigation systems. Combining our engineering strengths and technology will enable us to further support U.S. and allied forces across the full spectrum of guidance and control systems."

ARC-210 Award

The U.S. Navy awarded a four-year production contract to Rockwell Collins for ARC-210 radios, potentially worth $450 million over the life of the program.

The ARC-210 provides two-way, multi-mode voice and data communications over a 30 to 512 MHz frequency range. It includes embedded Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) anti-jam waveforms and other data link and secure communication features.

The contract includes the next generation ARC-210 radio, which will enter production in 2010. The fifth generation of the ARC-210 is software reprogrammable and features several new capabilities, including extended frequency range for interoperability with civil agencies.

"This contract continues a nearly 20-year relationship between Rockwell Collins and the U.S. Navy and serves as a model for government-industry teaming," said Greg Churchill, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Government Systems for Rockwell Collins. "The end result has been the development of a radio that is used for airborne multi-band, multi-mode communications across most branches of the U.S. military."

IFF Interoperability

Thales in November said its New Generation Mode S/Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator/transponder completed interoperability testing at the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) laboratories in Patuxent River, Md.

The tests, organized by the French Defense Procurement Agency and U.S. Department of Defense, successfully demonstrated communications between the Thales Mode 5 IFF systems and American equivalents, using NATO Mode 5 encryption keys.

Two versions of the Thales system were tested: the TSB 2512, an IFF Combined Interrogator Transponder (CIT) fitted to the Dassault Rafale fighter; and the TSC 2002, a remote IFF transponder fitted to platforms including the C-130, E-3F AWACS and EC725 helicopter. Thales has been awarded a contract to supply 160 sets of the IFF equipment.

MEMS Navigation

Tronics Microsystems, based in Crolles, France, a manufacturer of custom microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and Thales on Dec. 8 announced a "strategic supply agreement" for navigation systems.

Under the agreement, Tronics will produce high-performance, vacuum-packaged inertial MEMS-sensing elements based on two design concepts that Thales invented, designed and patented to meet the navigation requirements of aircraft, satellites and other platforms. Both designs, one for accelerometers and one for gyroscopes, require advanced MEMS and vacuum-packaging technologies.

"The MEMS technology is a major breakthrough" that reduces volume weight, power consumption and cost in navigation technology, said Norbert Herail, Thales director of navigation systems activities. "This technology will drive the future of the navigation market in the same way as the ring laser gyro technology dominates the market today. As the leading driver of these two inertial technologies, Thales will be the sole European company capable of proposing a full range of navigation solutions to the market."

Crypto Management

EADS Defence & Security said its next-generation crypto variable communications management unit, developed in Newport, South Wales, U.K., will debut on the Eurofighter Typhoon beginning in 2010.

The Aircraft Crypto Variable Management Unit, a variant of the company’s Ectocryp Steel electronic key management system, manages key distribution for multiple communications systems on the aircraft using a secure single point device. Crews can pre-load and store mission scenarios. The system securely retains the key material after the platform is "stood down," ensuring it is instantly available for the next mission.

"Traditionally, modern military aircraft and ground installations require multiple communications systems to enable them to cooperate in a network centric environment; these systems include radio, IFF, GPS and data links," EADS DS said.

"The need for high demands of security also requires multiple cryptographic protection devices, each of which have different requirements for key variables and fill devices. This has made key management a time consuming and labor-intensive task, often requiring erasure and re-keying between missions when aircraft are powered down."

Optics Acquisition

France’s Sagem said it finalized the acquisition of optics manufacturer Optics 1, after receiving the necessary approvals from U.S. authorities.

Announced Dec. 2, the acquisition was carried out through Sagem’s Swiss subsidiary Vectronix AG, enabling Sagem to expand its footprint in the U.S. market, "especially for defense applications."

Optics 1, with Commercial and Defense Systems divisions based in Westlake Village, Calif., and Manchester, N.H., respectively, specializes in optics and optical system design. Vectronix AG operates in the United States through Vectronix, Inc., in Leesburg, Va.

EOTS Delivered

Lockheed Martin in late November delivered the first production Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) units for the F-35 Lightning II.

Embedded in the fuselage of the aircraft, with a faceted sapphire window, the EOTS combines forward-looking infrared and infrared search-and-track functionality, giving the pilot air-to-air and air-to-ground situational awareness in a single, passive sensor.

The first production units were delivered to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Texas, for integration on the F-35. EOTS production is being ramped up to produce up to 200 units a year.

Chilean C-130s

Esterline CMC Electronics (CMC) was selected by the Chilean Air Force for the avionics upgrade of its C-130 fleet. As prime contractor, CMC will deliver its Cockpit 9000 suite, including the supply of turnkey installation kits. CMC is also responsible for in-country activities, including labor, training and support.

Cockpit 9000 is an integrated digital glass cockpit tailored to the requirements of transport aircraft. At its core is CMC’s CMA-9000 flight management system.

AIM Anniversary

Avionics test and simulation system provider AIM GmbH, based in Freiburg, Germany, recently marked its 20th anniversary since its founding by four former LITEF engineers in 1989. AIM traces its beginnings to the Eurofighter program, for which it developed and built the first test equipment for the NATO standard STANAG 3910 data bus.

The company, which employs 49 people, produces avionics test and simulation modules, embedded interfaces, databus analyzer software, data loaders and system solutions for Mil-Std-1553, STANAG 3910/EFEX, ARINC 429, AFDX/ARINC 664, Gigabit Ethernet, ARINC 825 (CAN bus), Panavia Serial Link and Fibre Channel/ARINC 818 applications.

Unmanned Systems

Global Hawk Order

The U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $302.9 million contract for five RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Under the contract, Northrop Grumman will build two Block 30 systems and three Block 40 systems for the 303rd Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. The award includes a ground station consisting of a launch and recovery element and a mission control element, plus two additional sensor suites that will be retrofitted into previous production aircraft. The Lot 7 contract runs through 2011.

In 2010, Northrop Grumman will deliver the two Block 30 aircraft equipped with the Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite providing electro-optical/infrared and synthetic aperture radar imaging capabilities. These aircraft will be retrofitted to incorporate the production Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP).

The contract includes the first production Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program payloads.

360-Degree Sensor

Lockheed Martin tested a new infrared sensor turret aboard its hand-launched Desert Hawk III, marking the first time a small UAS has flown with a 360-degree infrared sensor, the company said.

Flight tests of the Desert Hawk III’s new payload offering were conducted Sept. 23-24 at the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley unmanned vehicle proving grounds, to validate the aircraft’s ability to improve night-time ISR for ground forces. By providing 360-degree infrared coverage, troops can obtain greater target location accuracy and superior image stability.

The Desert Hawk III UAS system, used by the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, consists of a lightweight, ruggedized air vehicle with "Plug and Playloads" snap-on payload capability, a portable ground station and a remote video terminal.

The payloads include a 360-degree turret with a mix of electro-optical and/or black and white low-light imagers, an infrared stabilized imager in a roll axis out to 90 degrees, a signals intelligence sensor, the new 360-degree infrared sensor and the upgraded 360-degree E/O imager with continuous zoom.

Contracts

  • The NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency and Eurofighter GmbH on Nov. 17 signed a five-year contract worth Euro 600 million ($891 million) with Italy’s Finmeccanica Group for integrated support services of Italian Air Force Typhoons. Support services will be carried out by Alenia Aeronautica, as prime contractor, together with Selex Galileo, Selex Communications and Elettronica. Alenia Aeronautica will be responsible for managing the supply and repair of all equipment on the aircraft, including avionics equipment.

  • Indonesia airline PT. Garuda Indonesia (Persero) selected a suite of Honeywell avionics for its 25 Boeing 737-800s. The contract, valued at more than $28 million, includes an option for 25 additional aircraft. The package includes IntuVue weather radar; Quantum line communication and navigation sensors; CAS 100 Aircraft Collision Avoidance System, solid-state voice and data recorders and other Honeywell avionics.

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