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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Industry Scan

Commercial

FAA Response

FAA executives on April 6 outlined steps they are taking in response to the RTCA NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force recommendations, and pledged ongoing engagement with industry.

In a series of presentations at the RTCA Spring Symposium in Washington, D.C., organized in partnership with Avionics Magazine, FAA executives detailed steps taken in each of the seven National Airspace System (NAS) domains identified by the Task Force in its September 2009 report. They also addressed a number of “gaps” found in FAA’s first formal response to the recommendations, issued in January. A follow-on work group recommended those gaps be addressed in the agency’s 2010 NextGen Implementation Plan (NGIP) update, which was released in March.

Michael C. Romanowski, FAA director of NextGen Integration and Implementation, said the Task Force recommendations had a substantial impact on the NGIP. He said $180 million, or 20 percent, of spending on NextGen programs in 2010 is directly tied to the Task Force recommendations. In 2011, the requested level rises to $403 million, or 35 percent of the budget, Romanowski said.

Six FAA executives spoke specifically to the Task Force domains of Surface, Runway Access, Metroplex, Cruise and NAS Access, as well as the “cross-cutting” issues of data communications and integrated air-traffic management; and “overarching” issues of streamlining and equipage. Among responses to the gaps:

➤ In the Surface domain, FAA said it is committed to establishing a single point of contact, or “surface lead” this year for improving surface operations.

➤ For Metroplex, “New York continues to be a top focus for the FAA and is funded as a high priority.” The agency said it has developed a construct for “Tiger Team” efforts that will begin this year at an initial set of sites. Metroplex prioritization will be conducted at the 23 sites recommended by the Task Force.

➤ For Cruise, a final investment decision for Time-Based Flow Management initiatives will be made this year, with 2013 a “reasonable” deployment aim.

➤ For Runway Access, FAA said it will update Order 7110.65 governing Air Traffic Control procedures next year to include RNP, LPV and GLS, equivalent to the instrument landing system (ILS), for widely spaced and closely spaced parallel operations. Implementation and training for the update will begin in 2012.

“The FAA must follow the Safety Risk Management process to ensure no unacceptable degradation of safety is created before the document change to FAA Order 7110.65 can be completed,” the agency stated. “If sufficient data is not available to support the safety case, additional simulations will be required to collect sufficient data.”

➤ For NAS Access involving ADS-B coverage in low-altitude, non-radar airspace, FAA said it will propose a list of candidate locations, “including those previously not considered,” for possible expansion of services. The agency said it expects to sign a memorandum of understanding with the National Association of State Aviation Officials for a NextGen initiative “that will explore state and local cost-sharing partnerships for expansion of surveillance services.”

Victoria Cox, FAA senior vice president for NextGen and Operations Planning Services, said the agency is making every effort to accommodate the industry-consensus RTCA recommendations.

“We may not deliver 100 percent on the recommendations, but we’re determined to be transparent about what we’re delivering and not delivering,” Cox said.

In a keynote luncheon address the same day, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt also described FAA’s response.

“You heard from our RTCA Task Force Response Team this morning. You are now convinced, I’m sure, that they’ve been working hard to be sure that we are as responsive as we possibly can be to the consensus that this community has given us,” Babbitt said.

“Last month, the (RTCA) Air Traffic Management Advisory Committee told us that there is a perception of gaps in our response,” he added. “We took another scrub with our budget and our resources to see what we could do to eliminate as many of those gaps as possible. Of course, we can’t do everything. We have to prioritize our efforts and focus on those areas and those deliverables where we can make the best business case. We may not be able to make significant investments at low-traffic airports, for example.”

SE2020 Award

FAA on April 8 named CSSI, Inc., of Washington, D.C., as the first contract recipient under the Systems Engineering 2020 (SE2020) program to support Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) initiatives.

CSSI, an engineering, IT and applied research company this year celebrating its 20th anniversary, was awarded a prime contract potentially worth $280 million to provide systems engineering and program and financial management of several NextGen projects. CSSI will work with 10 subcontractors, seven of which are small businesses, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The announcement was made in a Washington teleconference by Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari, Michael Romanowski, FAA director of NextGen Integration and Implementation, and Elizabeth Soltys, SE2020 program manager.

Several other contract awards will be announced this year, beginning in May, under the SE2020 program, which has a combined value of up to $7 billion, FAA says. Funding for the work will come predominantly from the planned NextGen budget over the next 10 years, according to Romanowski.

In deploying NextGen, “we will be performing a great deal of research and development work that will lead to major investments and new capabilities, including several new systems acquisitions in the next few years. SE2020 is intended to provide a wide range of support services for the FAA as we do the full integration and development of this complex system,” Romanowski said.

“The way we’re structuring this contract allows us to look at competing ideas as we’re moving forward with advanced prototyping and demonstration activity,” he added. “For example, if we’re looking at a way to implement some of the newer technologies on surface movement or collaborative flight-planning with operators, we may ask a couple of the teams to give us their best thoughts and prototype ways that we can integrate and demonstrate that capability. … We can move down a couple different paths and then make a decision on what is the most effective way to integrate this in the system. It’s giving us new capabilities that we probably don’t have as effectively today.”

SE2020 “is an innovative framework that helps to streamline the research, development and systems engineering work critical to the success of NextGen,” Porcari said. “We believe this approach will help us stay on track and enable us to accelerate the benefits of NextGen in our aviation system.”

In-Trail Procedures

Avionics manufacturers are participating in oceanic in-trail procedures (ITP) trials in the United States and Europe using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) aircraft position reporting.

In presentations at the AEEC General Session in Phoenix in late March, manufacturers Honeywell and ACSS outlined separate efforts to demonstrate the optimal flight profiles and reduced separations possible with ADS-B equipped aircraft flying ITP in oceanic airspace.

Under an FAA-funded program, Honeywell and Goodrich are developing, integrating and certifying an ITP avionics capability for United Airlines 747-400s operating over the South Pacific, from the western United States to Australia and New Zealand. Equipage will include a traffic computer, transponder and Class 3 electronic flight bag mounted adjacent to the pilot on the aircraft’s window frame.

There will be a 12-month operational evaluation beginning in 2011, according to Don Kauffman, Honeywell Aerospace senior technology manager for communications, navigation and surveillance technologies. Honeywell estimates the economic benefit of more efficient routing will fall between $200,000 and $400,000 per year, per aircraft, he said.

ACSS, the joint venture of L-3 Communications and Thales, is participating in a Eurocontrol demonstration of ITP in the North Atlantic, planned for late this year or early 2011. Six of the 17 airlines that submitted letters of interest will be selected to participate.

Stephane Chartier, ACSS product marketing manager for ADS-B technology, said the company will certify an ITP application in the second quarter this year that will be incorporated in its SafeRoute suite of ADS-B applications.

New Panama City, Fla., Airport To Open In May

A $306 million airport construction project is nearing completion in Panama City, Fla., with developers banking on the longer runway and more flights to bring tourists and businesses to the Northwest Florida region.

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), the first airport built in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, was scheduled to open May 23. Construction began in late 2007, but developers have been in the planning stages for years.

Operations at the existing Panama City-Bay County International Airport (PFN), located a few miles away from the new airport site, were scheduled to cease May 23 at midnight.

St. Joe Company, one of the largest private landowners in Florida, donated 4,000 acres for the new airport construction. ECP is located in the St. Joe-owned West Bay sector, the 75,000-acre site of a planned mixed-use development of residential, commercial and industrial facilities. The company in March sponsored a press trip attended by Avionics Magazine.

The new airport, which includes a 120,000-square-foot terminal building, general aviation facilities and 10,000-foot runway, is roughly double the size of the existing airport. Other features of the new airport include an in-line baggage handling and screening system. The airport serves as a testbed facility for airport perimeter security and virtual fencing systems monitored by the nearby Navy Surface Warfare Center.

The development includes provisions for expansion, including the addition of 2,000 feet to the main runway to accommodate larger aircraft and a new 5,000-foot crosswind runway, according to Randy Curtis, executive director of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

The project got a boost in October with an announcement by Southwest Airlines that it will begin non-stop operations from the new airport to Orlando, Nashville, Houston and Baltimore-Washington airports. Delta Air Lines, which services the current airport, will increase its operations in the region, launching twice-daily service from Atlanta on 140-seat MD-88s. (Including the new flights, Delta will operate a total of 11 flights daily out of Panama City.) The airport authority said it is working to attract further carriers to the region.

“This is really just the first step in what is getting ready to be a great adventure for the whole (Florida) Panhandle. This is like Ground Zero,” said Roy Willett, project manager for Kellogg Brown & Root, the company overseeing construction of the new airport. “When you think about the economic development, you can’t limit yourself to thinking this is about Southwest, or this is about slinging drinks on the beach. This is a lot more than that.” —Emily Feliz

‘Green’ Flight

Air France and partners announced the completion of the first transatlantic “green” flight optimized from start to finish to reduce noise and emissions.

The April 6 flight, using a Boeing 747-400ER, departed Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and touched down nine hours, 30 minutes later at Miami International Airport. Procedures used during the flight included shorter taxi times, continuous climb, optimum altitude and speed during cruise phase and continuous descent.

According to Air France and participating organizations, the coordinated application of these procedures cut CO2 emissions by 6 to 9 metric tons and saved 2 to 3 metric tons of jet fuel. During the departure and arrival phases, the procedures also helped minimize noise levels by up to 7 dB.

The flight was conducted under the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE), a joint initiative of the European Commission and FAA, which is managed in Europe by the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking.

Aircraft Identification

Eurocontrol has initiated an Aircraft Identification Program to assign a unique identifier to be used continually by all flights by Feb. 9, 2012.

According to the agency, the shortage of available secondary surveillance radar (SSR) codes has been causing increasing problems for individual air-traffic control units and for the European air-traffic management system as a whole. The shortage results in code conflicts with potential loss of identification, or frequent changes of SSR codes.

To reach the target date of 2012, the program will implement the operational use of Mode S Elementary Surveillance (ELS) and the Centralized Code Assignment and Management System (CCAMS) within their respective specified airspace regions. To support these developments, a reform of the Originating Region Code Assignment Method (ORCAM) will also be implemented, Eurocontrol said.

“Direct recognition of an aircraft’s identity on radar displays is a fundamental need of a modern air-traffic control system. The Aircraft Identification Program will ensure that this vital yet complex part of the European network will work seamlessly across the region, eliminating the shortcomings of the current ORCAM and bringing ELS into full operational use,” stated Thierry Liabastres, chairman of the aircraft indentification program’s Steering Group.

ASDE-X Update

The Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X) system is operational at 27 of the 35 busiest U.S. airports, and system developer Sensis Corp. says it is on track to install the remaining contracted ASDE-X systems by the end of 2011.

Michael Gerry, Sensis vice president of Air Traffic Systems, Products and Programs, reported on the status of the ASDE-X roll-out March 18 during the Avionics Magazine Webinar, “Airport Surface Management.”

“The system provides a single integrated picture of all of the aircraft and vehicles that are on the surface at any given time,” Gerry explained. “That picture is a tangible thing for controllers to look at, but that picture is also really a digital representation of where all those aircraft are, which then can feed some automatic incursion detection alerting algorithms to provide for the controllers an indication when a potential unsafe condition or incursion is warranted.”

Other runway safety systems can be used to leverage the data generated by ASDE-X, including the Runway Status Lights (RWSL) system, which takes ASDE-X cues to automatically illuminate red lights in two different alerting scenarios for an unsafe crossing at a runway entrance and an unsafe takeoff.

“The idea being that when the lights are red, the pilot cannot go,” Gerry said.

“The (RWSL) system has a direct-to-the-pilot safety feature, without air traffic control having to be involved.”

Sensis in late 2008 was awarded a three-year, $131 million contract from FAA to install runway status lights, initially at 22 of the 35 ASDE-X airports. Gerry said the first RWSL article test is underway and “going well.”

Other surface safety monitoring technologies available using the ASDE-X system include Automatic Taxi Route Conformance Monitoring, which alerts air traffic controllers when aircraft deviate from the routes communicated to pilots; additional runway status light applications, including runway intersection lights, and final approach runway occupancy signals, Gerry said.

The Webinar, “Airport Surface Management: Enhancing Safety, Situational Awareness on Runways and Taxiways,” is archived and available for download at www.aviationtoday.com/webinars.

Charting Agreement

Saudi Arabian Airlines signed a five-year electronic charting service contract with Jeppesen providing for electronic flight bag (EFB) software, tailored digital charting and navigation data services for use with in-flight applications and the airline’s flight planning system.

Jeppesen delivers ARINC 424 format NavData services on a 28-day cycle.

As part of the agreement, announced March 25, Jeppesen will deliver EFB Class 2 software solutions for the airline, which includes the Web-based e-Link tailored charting service, presented in a Windows operating environment.

“Saudi Arabian Airlines is now moving to a new era of the paperless cockpit vision,” said Capt. Talal Ageel, vice president, Flight Operations. “Saudia has foreseen great cost savings with this implementation.”

Saudi Arabian Airlines maintains a fleet of 81 aircraft, including Boeing 747s and 777s. It also operates McDonnell Douglas MD-90, Embraer 170 and Airbus 320 aircraft. Future plans include adding Boeing 787s and Airbus 330s.

Business/GA

Citation CJ4

Rockwell Collins in March said its Pro Line 21 flight deck, MultiScan weather radar, Venue Cabin Management System and other avionics were certified for the Cessna Citation CJ4 under a type certificate achieved by Cessna Aircraft Co.

The CJ4 certification marks the first installation of Rockwell Collins RTA-4100 MultiScan Hazard Detection System on a business jet. Venue comes standard on the CJ4. Rockwell Collins in 2007 announced the Cessna CJ4 as the launch platform for Venue.

“Cessna’s successful certification of the CJ4 caps off years of ingenuity and development that have culminated in the debut of two Rockwell Collins solutions our Venue HD cabin and our RTA-4100 MultiScan Hazard Detection System for business aircraft,” said Greg Irmen, vice president and general manager, Business and Regional Systems for Rockwell Collins. “We’re proud of the standard this next generation business jet sets for both intelligent avionics solutions and passenger comfort.”

King Air LPV

Rockwell Collins announced April 18 that it has received supplemental type certificates to provide Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV) upgrades for Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90GTi, B200, B200GT, B200C, B200CGT, 350 and 350C aircraft.

The company said it worked closely with Hawker Beechcraft to develop and certify the coupled LPV solution, which includes an upgrade to the Rockwell Collins GPS-4000S sensor. The STCs will allow King Air operators with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics to take advantage of the more than 1,900 available LPV approaches, with minimum decision heights as low as 200 feet. Upgrades will be available through Rockwell Collins’ network of certified dealers.

Rockwell Collins said it plans to complete about 15 certified WAAS/LPV solutions over the next year on Pro Line 4 and Pro Line 21-equipped aircraft manufactured by Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault and Hawker Beechcraft.

Eclipse Charts

Innovative Solutions & Support, Inc. (IS&S), of Exton, Pa., on March 24 announced FAA supplemental type certification of the Class 3 Electronic Charts and XM Satellite Weather upgrade to the Avio NG cockpit of the Eclipse Aerospace EA500 Very Light Jet.

The upgrade provides pilots with Class 3 forward field of view Jeppesen charts and satellite weather information.

Satellite weather is overlaid on a moving map with multiple graphic viewing options, including NexRad, Lightning, Storm Cell, Sigmet, Airmet, TFR, Icing, METARS and Cloud Tops.

Military

F-35 Helmet Display

Vision Systems International (VSI), on March 22 said its Gen II Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) completed its first flight on the F-35B Lightning II.

The Gen II HMDS displays binocular video and symbology information on the helmet visor, providing pilots with the information necessary to execute day and night missions. Night imagery is provided by the helmet-mounted night camera and aircraft Distributed Aperture System (DAS). Pilots also can cue onboard weapons and sensors using the helmet display.

Days earlier, Lockheed Martin announced the first vertical landing of the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B variant of the aircraft.

“The most advanced helmet-mounted display system in the world flew a very successful flight on the F-35,” stated VSI President Drew Brugal. “The Gen II system is the culmination of extensive VSI R&D. It provides the F-35 aviator unmatched situational awareness, presenting symbology and pilot-selectable augmented reality in a wide field-of-view display format.”

VSI, a joint venture of Elbit Systems of America and Rockwell Collins, is performing under a low-rate initial production contract to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics for delivery of the Gen II helmet displays and aircraft ship-sets.

The company also has received contracts for production tooling and initial funding for the Pilot Fit Facility Standup at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Precision Kill Weapon

The U.S. Navy in April declared the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) developed by BAE Systems ready to enter production. The decision, known as “Milestone C,” signified that the APKWS development program has met its objectives and the system is ready to enter low-rate initial production.

The APKWS transforms standard 2.75-inch unguided rockets to laser-guided missiles. It uses standard launchers, and requires no platform integration or aircraft modifications. The mid-body design of its guidance section enables use of existing warheads, fuzes and rocket motors, enhancing the capability of the existing inventory of unguided rockets.

The U.S. Marine Corps initially will deploy the APKWS from AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters. The APKWS also has been demonstrated on the U.S. Army’s OH-58 Kiowa Warrior armed scout.

Throughout eight years of flight tests, the APKWS hit an average distance from the center of the laser spot of less than 0.75 meters against a government specification of 2 meters, according to BAE.

The Navy assumed acquisition executive oversight of the program in 2008 and has fully funded it for production.

BAE Systems has been the APKWS prime contractor since 2006.

Unmanned Systems

Watchkeeper Support

The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded Thales U.K. the initial three-year support contract for the Watchkeeper unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Thales U.K. also is prime systems integrator for the Watchkeeper platform.

The latest contract includes Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) service, providing spare parts, repairs, technical support and availability of the Watchkeeper training facility. The contract covers the entire Watchkeeper system, including air vehicle, ground control station and support vehicles, and includes user training.

The Watchkeeper Service Management Team will be based in the U.K., with Joint MoD and Thales Service Delivery and Training teams based in Abbey Wood, Bristol and Larkhill, Salisbury, assisted by service support organizations at the Thales facilities in Leicester and Crawley.

Watchkeeper, based on the Elbit Systems Hermes 450 air vehicle, will provide the U.K. armed forces with all-weather intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability. UAV Tactical Systems Ltd., a joint company of Thales U.K. and Elbit Systems based in Leicester, is building the system.

Flight and systems trials of Watchkeeper at Parc Aberporth in West Wales were due to begin soon, Thales said.

Also, Thales announced April 12 that the U.K. military’s Hermes 450 (H-450) fleet had flown more than 30,000 operational hours, including 2000 sorties, providing the “lions’ share” of airborne ISTAR supporting current operations.

The Thales ISTAR service-provision contract began in July 2007 in response to an Urgent Operational Requirement contract issued by the U.K. Ministry of Defence, and will run through contract completion in October. The contract potentially could be extended until April 2011, when the H-450s will be replaced by Watchkeeper.

Contracts

AeroVironment, of Monrovia, Calif., received $38 million in orders for digital Raven unmanned aircraft systems, retrofit kits and support services for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. The orders represent a portion of the $121 million appropriated for RQ-11 Raven system procurement in the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, signed into law in December 2009. Raven is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform.

Curtiss-Wright Controls, of Charlotte, N.C., signed a $25 million contract with Northrop Grumman Corp. to provide the Advanced Mission Management System for the RQ-4N Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft. The AMMS units will be manufactured in Santa Clarita, Calif.

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