Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Boeing is moving ahead with flight and ground testing of the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and says it is on track to begin deliveries in 2013. Navy and Boeing officials briefed reporters on the test program at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Md., in May.
The P-8A Poseidon, a modified Boeing 737-800, will replace the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft (Avionics, July 2009, page 24). The Navy plans to purchase 117 production aircraft.
A baseline model will enter service in Increment 1 of the program. Increment 2 in 2016 will add high-altitude torpedo launch capability and multi-static acoustics. Increment 3 in 2019 will add a net-centric surface warfare weapon, architecture upgrade and the ability to host data from the Global Information Grid. All aircraft will be updated with capabilities for each of the increments.
“The P-8 in 2019 will be somewhat different in terms of capabilities than the baseline aircraft of 2013, which is a huge improvement in terms of what we’ve been used to for years,” said Navy Capt. Leon Bacon, deputy program manager for the P-8A Poseidon integrated product team. “We’re leveraging the commerciality and that proven commercial line (of the 737) to shorten and to expedite the build process.”
The test program consists of three flight-test aircraft, two static and fatigue test aircraft, and three production representative aircraft. The first flight test aircraft T1 arrived at the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Md., on April 10. The second flight test aircraft (T2) will begin flights there in the second quarter; the T3 aircraft in the third quarter. Boeing said the T1 aircraft completed its stores ground vibration tests in February. T2 completed its acoustic, communications and sonobuoy testing in March, the airframer said. —Emily Feliz
The U.S. Navy is looking to extend the life of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block II aircraft, the Navy’s program head said.
Capt. Mark Darrah, F/A-18 and EA-18 program manager with the Navy’s PMA-265 program office, said the plan is to extend the aircraft’s service life to 9,000 hours from 6,000 hours for carrier-based operations. (For land-based operations, the service life is already projected to 9,000 hours, Boeing said.) The Navy will begin retiring Super Hornets in 2025; fleet retirement will occur in 2030.
“The design of the Super Hornet is more robust because of the lessons learned from the A through E (models), Darrah said, speaking May 3 at the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition. “We don’t know right now, but we believe that we have good information that will allow us to do what’s necessary to extend the life of the Super Hornet.”
The Super Hornet entered the fleet in 2002. As of April 1, Boeing said 429 Super Hornets had been delivered 234 of the two-seat F models, 186 single-seat E models, and nine Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18Fs. The Navy’s contract calls for 515 aircraft.
“The Super Hornets and (EA-18G) Growlers are going to be in the fleets for many, many years,” Darrah said.
“As we work very closely with the Joint Strike Fighter program, we are working to develop our strengths and their strengths so that it’s a very complementary combination from the flight deck, taking advantage of the strike fighter capabilities of both platforms as well as what the Growler brings in the electronic attack mission.”
Microtecnica, of Turin, Italy, was awarded an estimated €20 million contract to design and supply a cooling system for the Saab Gripen NG next generation fighter.
Microtecnica will develop a Secondary Environmental Control System, exploiting bleed air from the aircraft’s engine, to provide additional cooling capacity for the improved avionics system.
The Gripen NG will have increased range and payload capability, with new avionics, General Electric F414G engine and enhanced communication and electronic warfare capability. The cooling system uses computer-controlled valves that match the extracted bleed air flow from the engine to the actual system requirements.
Microtecnica said it was in the design phase of the Gripen NG project, which involves qualification and requirement testing. The company has previously worked with Saab to provide supplementary cooling for the Saab 2000 airborne early warning and control aircraft.
The U.S. Army’s long-term plan for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) envisions UASs that operate in all weather conditions, possess sense-and-avoid capability and fly in the National Airspace System (NAS).
The Army in mid-April released its UAS roadmap for the next 25 years, dividing the document into near-term (2010 to 2015), mid-term (2016 to 2025) and far-term (2026 to 2035) time periods.
The far-term forecast sees unmanned aircraft and optionally piloted vehicles (OPV) performing most of the service’s surveillance, C3 (command, control and communications), armed reconnaissance, attack and cargo missions, with manned aircraft predominant in utility and medical evacuation roles.
The longer term vision also sees miniature nanotechnology air vehicles maturing, and serving in a SWARM role, for Smart Warfighting Array of Reconfigurable Modules.
“By 2025, Nanos will collaborate with one another to create swarms of Nanos that can cover large outdoor and indoor areas,” the roadmap states. “The swarms will have a level of autonomy and self-awareness that will allow them to shift formations in order to maximize coverage and cover down on dead spots. Nanos will possess the ability to fly, crawl, adjust their positions and navigate increasingly in confined spaces.”
Among the characteristics of far-term UASs, the Army says, will be semi-autonomous and limited autonomous operations; networked operations; extensive use of cognitive software; fully encrypted uplink and downlink; performance-based logistics and multi-functional onboard or networked sensors.
In projecting NAS integration of unmanned aircraft, the service references 35 capability gaps that must be resolved to meet FAA requirements for routine airspace access, identified by a Department of Defense Airspace Integration Integrated Product Team. Currently, UASs in the United States operate either in restricted airspace or with FAA-issued Certificates of Authorization.
The NAS integration issue is being worked on the civil side by the FAA and RTCA Special Committee 203, for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
“As the FAA grapples with how to integrate unmanned aircraft in the NAS, the military is severely restricted in their ability to effectively train and operate with their UAS,” the Army roadmap states. “The FAA and DoD must develop a reasonable solution to provide UAS greater access to the NAS while mitigating safety concerns.”
Further, “DoD and the Army recognize an impending challenge to UAS airspace requirements for training and testing within the present airspace limitations. With the proliferation of UAS and eventual troop redeployment to home stations, the demand for approved restricted airspace and the congestion of that airspace will increase. The demand for airspace will quickly exceed the allotted volume for military aviation operations today.”
The Army is the lead service in developing a ground-based sense and avoid radar (GBSAA) to facilitate greater UAS access to the civil NAS. The Air Force is lead service for an airborne sense and avoid radar (ABSAA).
“The Army’s GBSAA plan is to develop a near-term solution called zero conflict airspace, followed by a near- to mid-term effort that is self-separation,” the roadmap states.
“In these efforts, the Army will develop common SAA requirements and standards, which will feed future integration with on-board SAA systems developed in the ABSAA effort. This is part of the mid- to long-term Army plan for airspace integration and includes an ultimately integrated SAA system that is flying in the NextGen airspace.” —Bill Carey
The Raytheon SeaVue radar completed flight testing on an MQ-9 Predator unmanned aircraft, the company announced May 4. The expanded mission capability (XMC) version of SeaVue is an advanced maritime situational awareness suite that reduces operator workload and improves mission efficiency, according to Raytheon.
The SeaVue XMC radar incorporates streaming digital video and maritime situational awareness technology developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and funded by the U.S. Navy. It can automatically detect, track and sort thousands of maritime targets simultaneously; correlate radar tracks with automatic identification system contacts; provide optimal flight planning for data collection; integrate multiple real-time data sources; and reduce downlink bandwidth requirements via advanced data-compression techniques. The radar is deployed on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s MQ-9 Predator and DHC-8 airframes. The system includes an antenna, transmitter and receiver/exciter/processor box, with a total weight of about 220 pounds.
“A solid partnership between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, the Johns Hopkins University and Raytheon has enabled us to develop and field this unique system to meet defense, civil and homeland security requirements,” said Tim Carey, Raytheon vice president for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems.
Sanswire Corp., of Aventura, Fla., said defense contractor Global Telesat Corp. agreed to purchase a 50 percent interest in one of its SkySat UAVs for $250,000, with an option to purchase the remaining 50 percent for an additional $750,000.
The SkySat mid-altitude UAV platform initially was designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions performed at altitudes up to 45,000 feet.
Sanswire and Global Telesat said they intend to upgrade the UAV to improve its viability for multipurpose defense and communications operations.
Two U.S. senators on May 5 officially introduced a bi-partisan aerospace caucus, outlining an ambitious plan to promote a wide range of aerospace issues.
Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Kit Bond (R-Missouri), who will serve as co-chairmen of the caucus, said 22 other senators had signed up to be a part of the congressional grouping. Murray said the senators will focus on promoting aerospace education, reforming the defense acquisition process and promoting continued investment in FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).
“For far too long we have shared in the many common problems that face this critical sector. This caucus is a step forward in working on shared solutions,” Murray said.
The event in Washington, D.C., attended by congressional staffers, defense contractors, airframers, avionics companies and representatives of the Aerospace Industries Association, featured an address by Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. “The American Air Force will have a strong stake in your work,” Donley said.
Lockheed Martin in May was awarded a five-year, $202 million contract to develop and implement the Time Based Flow Management (TBFM) program for FAA’s Office of System Operations Programs.
Under the contract, the Lockheed Martin team, which includes Metron Aviation, based in Dulles, Va., and Sensis Corp., of Syracuse, N.Y., will expand upon the existing FAA Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) tool, which uses time-based metering to improve aircraft arrival and departure sequence planning.
The TBFM program will help optimize the flow of aircraft into capacity-constrained areas, decrease delays through better predictability of airspace use, and improve fuel efficiency, according to Lockheed Martin. The initiative includes sustainment of TMA, re-architecture to the new TBFM system, and design, development, testing and implementation of enhancements that transition TMA into TBFM supporting NextGen Trajectory Based Operations.
Work will be performed at Lockheed Martin locations in Atlantic City, N.J., and Rockville, Md.; Metron Aviation in Dulles, Va.; and Sensis facilities in Campbell, Calif., and Reston, Va.
Northrop Grumman Park Air Systems was awarded a multi-million dollar contract by the Netherlands air navigation service provider LVNL for a nationwide upgrade of the communications infrastructure serving ATC centers and civil airports.
The system will include Northrop Grumman’s GAREX 220 switching systems and PAE T6 air-ground radios at Amsterdam Schiphol, Rotterdam The Hague, Groningen Eelde and Maastricht Aachen airports and their associated radio ground stations.
When completed, the program will provide integrated air-traffic control voice communications across the Netherlands.
ACSS in April laid claim to being the first avionics supplier to seek FAA certification of a Mode S transponder to DO-260B standard. The Phoenix company, a joint venture of L-3 Communications and Thales, said it has applied for FAA Technical Standard Order (TSO) authorization of its XS-950 Air Transport Data Link, a Mode S transponder.
FAA TSO C-166b references RTCA DO-260B, setting out minimum operational performance standards for 1090 MHz Mode S Extended Squitter (1090ES) transponders used for Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) and Traffic Information Service-Broadcast (TIS-B). The DO-260B revision supersedes DO-260A. FAA was expected to propose a new rulemaking that will mandate DO-260B transponders over the next few years.
Once certified, the XS-950 will support the ACSS SafeRoute suite of ADS-B In applications, including Surface Indicating & Alerting, demonstrated with US Airways as part of an FAA program. Other SafeRoute applications include Surface Area Movement Management (SAMM), In-Trail Procedures, CDTI-Assisted Visual Separation and Merging & Spacing.
According to Thales, more than 4,000 XS-950 Mode S transponders have been delivered to some 100 operators worldwide since the product was introduced in 1996.
The first airlines equipped with the DO-260B standard transponders will be US Airways and UPS. The transponders will be installed on Airbus A300 and A330, Boeing 747, 757 and 767 and MD-11s operated by the two carriers.
Cathay Pacific Airways received approval to use the ARINC AeroConnx electronic flight bag (EFB) system. The airline has installed the system on its Boeing 777-300s for an operational evaluation, ARINC said April 21.
AeroConnx, which supports both flight deck and cabin applications, integrates EFB software applications, hardware, communications media, content and configuration. Components include an EFB application suite managed by ARINC Program Manager, an EFB Content Delivery Management System, AeroSync communications and aircraft data system, and GateFusion wireless gatelink. ARINC recently deployed GateFusion at Hong Kong International Airport in support of Cathay Pacific’s operational trial.
“The way airlines use and manage information is changing very rapidly, and new onboard systems like electronic flight bags and media such as gatelink and Iridium are being used to support applications like electronic charts, documents, techlogs and real-time credit card authorizations,” said Capt. Russell Davie, general manager of operations with Cathay Pacific Airways.
PED Power Supply
Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG), Little Rock, Ark., was awarded an FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for installation and operation of a distributed power supply system for use with passenger and crew personal electronic devices on Embraer EMB-145s.
Installation options were approved for multiple cabin configurations supporting up to 50 passengers as well as flight crew positions, ASIG said April 23.
ASIG said the “PSS for PED” installation is the second of three phases of its Cabin Improvement Program targeting regional aircraft. The first phase of the program involved installation of oven and kitchen equipment in the aircraft, according to Luke Ribich, ASIG managing director. The STC for the oven installation was acquired in January 2010.
Regional carrier ExpressJet Airlines was launch customer of phases 1 and 2 of the cabin upgrade. Four EMB-145s with phase 1 and 2 equipment were in service, Ribich said.
Phase 3 of the program, scheduled for completion in November, will include cabin Wi-Fi and cached in-flight entertainment options including movies, television programming and streamed music to passengers’ Wi-Fi enabled laptops, smartphones and media devices.
ASIG manufactures the power distribution panels, relay panels and control panels for the power distribution system. For the Wi-Fi portion, ASIG manufactures a fault indication and zonal control panel. Phase 1 weighs roughly 12 to 15 pounds; the phase 2 power supply weighs less than 200 pounds.
“We’ve been very mindful of not wanting to appreciably affect weight and balance on the airframe,” Ribich told Avionics Magazine. “So it’s less than the net effect of one passenger, plus luggage.”
The regional aircraft market offers substantial market potential for ASIG, with about 500 EMB-145s in operation. ASIG next will target Canadair Regional Jets for the cabin upgrade, Ribich said. “Since Phases 1 and 2 are now complete, we’re starting to gain some traction on some other regional carriers,” he said.
Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen was granted certification by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia to design, validate and maintain instrument flight procedures, the company said April 21.
The certification authorizes Jeppesen to create Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures such as Required Navigation Performance(RNP) Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (SAAAR) as well as conventional VOR, ILS and RNAV procedures.
Jeppesen holds similar procedure design certification from FAA, and has experience designing PBN and conventional procedures in other regions, including China, Taiwan, New Zealand and Panama, the company said.
Gulfstream Aerospace in April said its Flight Data Monitoring/Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FDM/FOQA) program, introduced in 2009, “is already making a difference in safety” for the 44 aircraft enrolled in the program.
The Gulfstream Flight Operations Risk Management Service (FORMS) measures exposure to known risks, such as unstable approaches, system operating limits and adverse runway operations.
The system consists of an L-3 Aviation Recorders Quick Access Recorder (QAR) to collect data and a monitoring service provided by FDM/FOQA analysis firm Austin Digital Inc., to analyze the data.
The QAR captures the same information as a flight-data recorder but comes with a removable compact flash drive that has the capability to record hundreds of hours of data. It does not require a technician or specialized equipment for removal, Gulfstream said.
FlightSafety International is working with Gulfstream on the initiative and will use the feedback from the FORMS program to incorporate into training scenarios.
“With FORMS, there’s no guess work, just a quantifiable assessment of the crew’s performance and the potential for risks. We can then use that information to create real-world training that mitigates those risks,” said Randy Gaston, Gulfstream vice president of Flight Operations.
“Our in-service analysis of this system demonstrated that operators using FORMS have fewer unstable approaches than operators not using the system,” Gaston said. “Feedback to pilots during the training program, and directly via their own safety stand downs, ensures adherence to Standard Operating Procedures, which greatly improves operating safety.”
The FORMS system is available through an aircraft service change for the Gulfstream G550, G500, G450, G350, G400, G300, GV and GIV. Installations are under development for the G200, G150, GV and GIV, Gulfstream said.
Business aviation in Europe is recovering faster than other sectors after sustaining a 14-percent decline in operations in 2009, according to Eurocontrol.
Business flights increased by 11 percent this March compared to March 2009, the Brussels-based agency said in a report issued May 3, in advance of the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Geneva.
Flights as a whole across Europe grew in March after 17 consecutive months of decline, but only by 1.6 percent. Business aviation also was hit less hard than commercial air transport during the volcanic ash cloud crisis in mid-April. The number of business aviation flights fell 35 percent compared to 55 percent for all air traffic, Eurocontrol said.
“With 66 percent of all business flights in 2009 between city pairs that have no daily scheduled service, it is clear to see that business aviation has re-focused on its niche market and is well positioned to take advantage of any recovery,” said David Marsh, Eurocontrol head of forecasting.
➤ Raytheon received an $89.5 million contract from the U.S. Navy for continued production of its ALR-67(V)3 digital radar warning receiver. The contract includes systems and spares for the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command as well as international customers. The ALR-67(V)3 is the U.S. Navy standard for digital radar warning receiver technology, installed on carrier-based F/A-18E/Fs. Deliveries for this lot will begin in 2012.
➤ Honeywell signed a $40 million contract with VRG Linhas Aereas S.A. to provide its full suite of safety avionics for 65 Boeing 737-800s. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2013. The avionics selected include Honeywell’s IntuVue weather radar, TCAS, Quantum line communications and navigation, solid state Flight Data and Cockpit Voice Recorders and emergency locator transmitter.
➤ Elbit Systems of America was awarded a $15.6 million contract from the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command for its Tactical Video Data Link (TVDL) to equip Marine Corps. AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters. The TVDL provides pilots with live video and targeting information from unmanned aircraft systems, combined with the ability to retransmit video to other aircraft and ground forces. The TVDL is slated be operational on fleet helicopters by the end of fiscal 2010.
➤ Rockwell Collins in May was awarded an $11 million contract modification from the U.S. Navy for procurement of AN/ARC-210(V) radios for the EA-18G, F/A-18E/F, F-16 Block 40 and U.S. European Command aircraft.
➤ ARINC Engineering Services contracted with Rockwell Collins to perform the initial installations of the Block 45 avionics upgrade of the U.S. Air Force’s KC-135 fleet. ARINC said the installations will begin in 2011 with two prototype Engineering and Manufacturing Development airframes. The upgrade includes a new autopilot/flight director, radar altimeters, removal of 21 analog instruments and a modern large-format color digital engine instrument display. ARINC will perform the work at its modification facility in Oklahoma City.
➤ Metron Aviation, of Dulles, Va., achieved International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2008 certification for providing advanced research, concept engineering, air traffic management, software development, environmental analysis and commercial product solutions to the global aviation industry, the company announced March 31.
➤ Raytheon said March 29 it had delivered the first KIV-77 Mode 4/5 crypto applique computers for Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment to the U.S. Air Force. The KIV-77 is Type 1 certified by the National Security Agency and provides information assurance for both legacy Mode 4 and new Mode 5 IFF equipment. Mode 5 IFF is the next-generation encrypted data link between interrogators and transponders to confirm an aircraft is friendly.
➤ Aero Dynamix, of Euless, Texas, was awarded a supplemental type certificate for installation of a night vision lighting system on the Bell 429. The helicopter is owned by Air Methods Corp.
➤ Russian aviation authorities selected surveillance equipment from Era a.s., of Fairfax, Va., for Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport. The selected equipment includes an Era MSS multilateration and ADS-B system, and 150 Squid vehicle tracking units, integrated into a surface movement guidance and control system.