Friday, June 1, 2007
AMC Delegates Hear Appeal, Finish Agenda
After grinding through 20 discussion topics on its opening day, the 58th annual Avionics Maintenance Conference (AMC) picked up speed and completed all 233 items presented at the gathering of avionics vendors and airline maintenance personnel.
The conference, organized by ARINC’s Industry Activities division and held April 2-5 in Phoenix, drew an estimated 700 attendees. Nearly 70 world airlines were represented, as were airframers Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer.
Conferees met at a "pivotal time for commercial aviation," said keynote speaker Garret E. Mikita, vice president for airlines with Honeywell Aerospace. While many airlines have returned to profitability with increased load factors, he said, they also are carrying high debt loads and need to reduce operating costs. AMC supports that effort; according to ARINC, technical solutions to the discussion topics save airlines more than $50 million annually.
While many airlines attended, the conference opened with an appeal for support from those airlines that have not signed membership agreements. "Unfortunately, there is a lack of interest regarding the funding of AMC," counseled Axel Mueller of Lufthansa Technik, AMC Steering Committee chairman. "Nothing in life is for free, so in order to have a successful AMC, we need to financially support it in a balanced and fair manner."
Along with its sister AEEC and FSEMC conferences, AMC this year adopted the business model of a self-sustaining membership organization. But its success in signing airlines to new membership agreements has been "mixed, at best," reported Raymond M. Glennon, vice president of ARINC Industry Activities. Glennon said 19 airlines had signed on as members, while 25 were providing shorter-term financial support under existing service agreements.
"Finally, there are 24 of the world’s 50 largest airlines, including some airlines here today, that don’t provide any financial support to the AMC," he said.
The AMC Steering Group, consisting of airline and ARINC representatives, and including Avionics Associate Publisher Doug Mailat, convened an "operators only" meeting to make the case for airline membership. Sam Buckwalter, AMC executive secretary, said the meeting produced a "positive commitment" from some of the non-contributing airlines.
Said Steering Group member Martin T. Story of Delta Air Lines: "There were certainly a number of airline representatives at the conference that approached us throughout the week and said, ’OK, what can I do, what’s the individual cost from my airline, what do I need to do to build the business case?’ They were asking all the right questions."
Discussion topics were organized under the headings "avionics management and philosophy," line maintenance, product support and several different system categories. Conference officials agreed debate over Item 37, involving an emergency battery supplied by Securaplane Technologies, of Tucson, Ariz., was representative of the success of the conference in settling vendor-airline disputes. Delta initiated the item, complaining that Securaplane had removed service, repair and parts sections from its component maintenance manual (CMM) and increased repair charges.
"There was lots of conversation regarding that whole issue. Securaplane is now going to provide a CMM to those operators for them to work on [Securaplane] products. In this particular case, they needed to do this to maintain goodwill within the industry," said Buckwalter.
"What’s interesting about it is the supplier had made a decision that didn’t sit well with certain airlines," said Story. "The airlines in attendance made it crystal clear that we didn’t like that decision. The supplier in this case — Securaplane — I think really wants to do what’s right for the customer, and I think they learned what the customer considers is right over the course of a few hours as opposed to, perhaps, the next several years. That was a true AMC success story."
In a symposium at the conference, speakers representing airframe, airline and avionics companies suggested that airline industry use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags for tracking components, cargo and myriad other potential applications, is fast approaching.
Daryl Remily, deputy program manager of the Boeing RFID program, predicted aerospace-standard RFID tags will be available by the end of the year. "That’s what we believe. If it comes to fruition, we’ll be pleased," Remily said.
RFID technology uses radio frequency waves to transfer data between a reader and components affixed with "smart labels," each containing a microchip and antenna. RFID tags meeting the proposed Aerospace Standard 5678, though not available at this writing, were poised to enter the market.
Among conditions of the AS5678 standard, Remily said, are that RFID tags comply with Air Transport Association SPEC 2000, Chapter 9, an e-business standard, comply with an FAA policy authorizing the use of "passive" RFID tags, dated May 13, 2005, and satisfy environmental tests per DO 160E. Passive tags derive their operating power from the reader, and do not have their own power supply.
Boeing announced in October 2005 that it would use RFID tags for "maintenance-significant parts" on the new 787 Dreamliner to improve configuration control and better manage parts maintenance and repair histories. The company has tested RFID tags on a FedEx MD-10 freighter and with Delta, and found them resistant to both environmental conditions and electromagnetic interference.
Unlike the small-memory RFID tags used by Wal-Mart and other major retailers, Boeing is looking at smart labels costing some $20 apiece and containing "12 pages of data," Remily said. "A process improvement enabler — that’s what we believe RFID is," he said. "We want data, we want accurate data."
Airbus also is eyeing RFID technology. The airframer conducted a focus group on the topic in Toulouse, France, in March 2006 that drew 11 airlines and four maintenance, repair and overhaul organizations, said Paul-Antoine Calandreau, manager of Airbus’s flyable RFID program. The next focus group was to be held in June.
According to the AMC 2007 seating chart, the following airlines attended the conference:
Air Atlanta Icelandic
Air Canada Jazz
All Nippon Airways
Astar Air Cargo
Delta Air Lines
El Al Israel Airlines
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Middle East Airlines
Pakistan International Airlines
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines System
Sky West Airlines
Sri Lankan Airlines
Sun Country Airlines
Tam Linhas Aereas
USA 3000 Airlines
Virgin Atlantic Airways
GE Acquires Smiths
GE completed its $4.8 billion purchase of Smiths Aerospace in May. European regulators had cleared the transaction weeks earlier, finding no threat to competition.
"The new entity would have neither the ability nor the incentive to discriminate against its downstream competitors in the supply of aircraft engines, as there are credible alternative suppliers of engine components," the European Commission said in a statement.
GE announced in January that it planned to acquire Smiths Aerospace, adding Smiths’ flight management systems, electrical power management, mechanical actuation systems and airborne platform computing systems to its own commercial and military aircraft engines business. GE’s earlier bid to acquire Honeywell was rejected by European regulators in 2001.
Adding Smiths Aerospace to its portfolio will increase GE’s position on the Lockheed Martin-led Joint Strike Fighter, as well as on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. GE already has been expanding its presence in avionics through GE Fanuc Embedded Solutions, a joint venture with Fanuc Ltd., of Japan. The latter company has grown by acquiring Condor Engineering, SBS Technologies and, as of last November, U.K.-based Radstone Technology.
The FAA awarded type certification to the Boeing 737-900ER (Extended Range) airliner.
The 737 derivative incorporates an extra pair of exit doors to increase the maximum passenger capacity; a flat aft-pressure bulkhead to increase interior volume; a two-position tailskid for improved takeoff and landing capability; wing strengthening changes to accommodate the 13,500-pound maximum takeoff weight increase; enhancements to the leading and trailing edge flap systems for improved takeoff and landing capability; and optional blended winglets and auxiliary fuel tanks that increase range to 3,200 nautical miles.
Boeing said airlines have ordered more than 100 Next-Generation 737-900ERs to date.
RNP Service Provider
FAA in April authorized Naverus, of Kent, Wash., as a provider of required navigation performance (RNP) approach and departure procedures to airlines, other aircraft operators and airports.
Naverus is the first company identified by the FAA to provide the services needed to implement an RNP program.
The company said it will design custom procedures and provide integration, quality assurance, flight validation and maintenance services.
"While the FAA will continue providing these types of services, operators now have the option of using Naverus to accelerate their realization of the significant safety, efficiency and environmental benefits available from RNP," said Steve Fulton, Naverus co-founder and chief technology officer.
Naverus developed RNP procedures and secured operational approval for several airlines, including WestJet, Qantas and Air China. The FAA authorization is similar to designations the company has received from regulators in other countries.
JAL Orders EFBs
Boeing said Japan Airlines International will install its Class 3 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) on two new 777s to be delivered this year.
The cockpit computers, representing the airline’s first EFB order, will be installed on a 777-200 scheduled for delivery in May and a 777-300ER set to join the fleet later in the year.
Boeing said its EFB has logged more than 1,000 orders since it was introduced in 2002, with installations sought on Next-Generation 737s, 747s, 757s, 767s, 777s and 787s. The Class 3 EFB is offered as standard equipment on the new 787 Dreamliner.
Continental Airlines will be the first U.S. carrier to use the Boeing Class 3 EFB on its 777s.
Boeing delivered the second of two 777-200ERs equipped with the Class 3 EFB to Continental; the first was delivered in March. Continental also selected the EFB as a retrofit on its previously purchased 777s.
United EFB Talks
United Airlines selected Jeppesen and Teledyne Controls for exclusive contract negotiations to provide key elements of its electronic flight bag (EFB) system, the airline said.
Speaking at the Teledyne Users Conference in Los Angeles in April, Brian Haynes, manager of flight operations technology for United, said the carrier was conducting "gap workshops" on use of Jeppesen’s electronic chart technology and Teledyne’s Class 2 EFB.
Chicago-based United plans to install dual EFBs in some 500 aircraft as part of its "AIRborne InterNET" (AirNet) program (Avionics, March 2007, page 15).
United is rolling out EFBs in two phases, outfitting its domestic fleet, starting with Airbus 319/320s, in the first phase and its international fleet in the second phase.
"We adopted the best practices approach to this, trying to find the best ways to do everything in the business," Haynes said. "AirNet is a key part of the best practices philosophy on the flight ops side."
United spent two years developing a comprehensive business case to sell the AirNet system to management, Haynes said. Benefits include fuel savings based on making strategic weather decisions instead of tactical ones. — Emily Feliz
Teledyne Controls, Los Angeles, said Lufthansa Cargo completed installation of Teledyne’s "Vision" flight-data animation system, providing rapid visualization of flight scenarios for use in incident investigations.
The Vision system is a third generation, Windows-based software application that reconstructs flight data and provides a picture of complex and interrelated actions that occur during an event or incident.
The system provides photo realistic aircraft instrumentation, airfield satellite imagery, and navigation and data plots. It is used in conjunction with AirFASE, a flight data measurement, analysis and reporting tool developed by Teledyne Controls and Airbus.
Built upon the Vision system that was installed in 2001 at Lufthansa’s main base in Frankfurt, Germany, the new Vision installation has been configured to allow data replay and enhanced visualization of Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet of MD-11 aircraft. Following Lufthansa Airlines and Lufthansa Cityline, the cargo carrier is the third company in the group to adopt the Vision system.
Vision users around the world include the U.S. Navy, Air Canada, Air China and Singapore Airlines, Teledyne said. Air Canada has been using the system for five years to support data analysis on its A319, A320 and A321 aircraft and will soon expand to its Embraer 190 and 175 aircraft. — Emily Feliz
FedEx Data System
FedEx will have the technology to support an air-to-ground data collection and transmission system on 350 aircraft within a year.
Speaking at the Teledyne User’s Conference in Los Angeles in April, Bob Bouchard, senior advisor of aircraft development with FedEx, said the company’s Totally Integrated Technical Aircraft Network — or Titan — will improve dispatch reliability and provide automatic updating of electronic flight bags (EFB), pilot access terminals and maintenance access terminals.
The system consists of an onboard server, the pilot and maintenance terminals, EFBs, printer and Teledyne’s wireless Gatelink system. Gatelink sends flight data to a ground server within seconds of the plane landing anywhere in the company’s network.
Bouchard, who is also Titan project manager, said a hard landing at the company’s facility in Subic Bay, the Philippines, made the business case for the Titan system, which was partially launched a decade ago. The aircraft’s flight recorder was sent to the carrier’s Memphis, Tenn., headquarters to determine if the landing was within normal limits and therefore able to return to the United States. With FedEx’s delivery guarantee, a late delivery would have been costly.
"You can imagine having 100,000 packages onboard coming from Asia at top dollar," Bouchard said. "Just that one incident saved us about $3 million. That paid for Gatelink on every aircraft we have." — Emily Feliz
Continental Airlines selected a Rockwell Collins avionics suite for 103 Boeing 737 NGs and two Boeing 777s. Avionics chosen include the GLU-925 Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR), HFS-900D High Frequency (HF) Data Radio, sensors, weather radar and satellite communications.
Rockwell Collins said the GLU-925 MMR is the first to include Local Area Augmentation System and GPS landing system functionality in addition to Instrument Landing System and Global Navigation Satellite System functionality.
The Rockwell Collins HFS-900D Data Radio provides a low-cost, long-range data link system for fleets operating in oceanic, polar and remote land areas, the company said.
American IFE Upgrade
American Airlines announced plans to upgrade cabin interiors on its fleet of 124 Boeing 757s, including installation of an updated in-flight entertainment (IFE) system.
The IFE upgrade includes new LCD monitors, replacing CRT monitors. VHS tape players will be replaced with a digital file server to provide better video and audio quality. As of late April, the airline had not announced which vendors or specific equipment it will install.
Also, American said it is increasing the number of first class seats on the aircraft and adding new sidewalls. The work is set to begin in 2008 and will be completed in 2009. American already has plans in progress to enhance the interiors of its Boeing 777, 767-300 and 767-200 aircraft.
American said the refurbishment program, which includes the 777, 767-200, 767-300 and 757 fleets, started two years ago and will continue for two more years. In that time, the airline expects to have spent more than $500 million on improvements to its fleet.
Indonesian airline Lion Air selected Honeywell to provide next-generation weather radar and other systems for up to 60 new Boeing B737NG aircraft.
Lion Air selected Honeywell’s RDR-4000 next-generation windshear/weather radar system as part of an avionics and electrical package that includes the CAS 100 Collision Avoidance System with capability for Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast.
The contract was signed last year and covers the time period 2007 to 2014. The first seven B737NG aircraft will be delivered to Lion Air this year.
German carrier Air Berlin will use the Rockwell Collins MultiScan Hazard Detection System, Multi Mode Receiver (MMR) and Passenger Address Unit for 85 Boeing 737NG aircraft. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in April 2008.
The WXR-2100 MultiScan Hazard Detection System analyzes and determines actual weather hazards, not simply atmospheric moisture content. It provides weather detection from the nose of the aircraft to 320 nautical miles.
Rockwell Collins says the WXR-2100 reduces pilot workload and enhances safety and passenger comfort by minimizing unexpected turbulence encounters.
China aircraft manufacturer Xian Aircraft Co. (XAC) selected Rockwell Collins to upgrade avionics on its 60-passenger MA60 turboprop.
Rockwell Collins will provide XAC, a manufacturer of large and medium-sized airplanes, with the Pro Line 21 avionics suite, which features five 8-by-10-inch active matrix LCD displays, CNS radio suite, integrated radio tuning, integrated Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System and weather radar. Rockwell Collins also works with AVIC Commercial Aircraft Co. Ltd., of China, to provide Pro Line 21 avionics for the latter’s ARJ21 regional jet. Last summer, Rockwell Collins announced it completed the first delivery of avionics for the ARJ21.
Angola, ARINC Pact
Angolan airline TAAG Angola Airlines has deployed a suite of advanced data link and flight support services from ARINC, of Annapolis, Md.
ARINC and the carrier signed a five-year contract to provide advanced GlobaLink VHF, GlobaLink Satellite and high-frequency data link services. TAAG also selected ARINC’s Graphic/Text Weather Service and OpCenter messaging service.
Through OpCenter, TAAG’s dispatchers can send, receive and manage data link messages. The service reduces costs by eliminating the need for airlines to develop proprietary, server-based message systems, ARINC said.
OpCenter includes a secure Internet e-mail service, giving crews access to important operational messages from any Internet connection. The service can host and deliver pre-departure clearances from Air Traffic Control to aircraft via data link.
TAAG replaced most of its passenger fleet in late 2006 with six Boeing aircraft: four B737-700s and two B777-200ERs. The carrier plans to take delivery on two additional long-range Boeing aircraft later this year.
The FAA completed implementation of an automated air traffic control system known as Advanced Technologies and Oceanic Procedures (ATOP) at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).
Developed by Lockheed Martin, ATOP integrates flight and radar data processing, detects aircraft conflicts, provides satellite data link communications and surveillance capabilities, removes the need for paper flight strips used to track transoceanic aircraft and automates manual processes, FAA says. The system frees controllers to safely handle airline requests for more efficient tracks over long oceanic routes.
The Anchorage ARTCC, the last of three FAA sites transitioning to ATOP, made the change in March. ATOP has already been deployed at FAA centers in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and Oakland, Calif., providing air traffic service over the Atlantic and Pacific regions.
"As we move toward the Next Generation Air Transportation System, we will continue to introduce procedures and technologies that help system users better serve their customers while maintaining the highest levels of safety," said FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey.
More direct communication and reduced controller workload will enable reduced horizontal separation between aircraft from 100 nautical miles to 30 nm. With greater transoceanic capacity, more aircraft can fly preferred routes.
The Port Authority of Seattle purchased additional Sensis Corp., air traffic control displays for controllers managing ramp operations at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac).
The authority said the displays, originally installed in December, allow controllers in the ramp tower to receive real-time surveillance data provided by the Sensis ASDE-X system.
Controllers receive a combination of data from surface movement radars and multilateration. The displays feature an interface developed in consultation with air traffic controllers, Sensis said.
"The ability of our ramp controllers to receive real-time surveillance data is invaluable," said Mike Ehl, Sea-Tac director of airport operations. "With comprehensive surveillance information, airlines can push back at the optimal time, reducing fuel burn for cost savings. Additionally, we can better manage to flight schedules to help ensure on-time arrivals and departures, especially in low-visibility operations."
MultiLat in Latvia
Era Corp., Alexandria, Va., signed an agreement to provide a wide area multilateration solution for Riga International Airport in Latvia.
The multilateration system will provide surveillance out to at least 80 nautical miles from the airport. Era said the system provides higher accuracy, greater update rates, better coverage and improved reliability when compared to conventional radar, and will do so at a lower initial cost, and with lower annual maintenance costs. Era also provides ground surveillance, as well as vehicle tracking, for the airport surface under an agreement reached in 2005.
Canadian simulator company CAE signed an agreement with Parallax Capital Partners and others to acquire MultiGen-Paradigm for $16 million in cash.
MultiGen-Paradigm, based in Dallas, is a supplier of real-time, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software for creating and visualizing simulation solutions. The acquisition was expected to close in May, subject to U.S. government approvals.
"We want to offer our customers a one-stop shop for their modeling and simulation needs. The acquisition of MultiGen-Paradigm is expected to accelerate our growth in this important market," said Marc Parent, CAE group president for simulation products and military training and services.
MultiGen-Paradigm was formed in 1998 following the merger of MultiGen, founded in 1981 in San Jose, Calif., and Paradigm Simulation, founded in 1990 in Dallas.
Montreal-based CAE said the European Joint Aviation Authority and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau certified four CAE-built full-flight simulators with electric motion to Level D, the highest performance rating for flight training equipment.
CAE has supplied one A320 and two Boeing 737-800 simulators to Flight Simulation Company in Amsterdam and one Boeing 737-800 simulator to Japan Airlines in Tokyo.
The all-electric motion system, available to civil and military customers, provides more accurate and authentic cues for pilot training and is more environmentally friendly than hydraulic-based or hybrid electric-hydraulic motion systems, CAE says. It also requires less maintenance, the company said.
Eclipse Aviation, Albuquerque, N.M., said it received a production certificate from FAA allowing it to manufacture the Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet (VLJ) with an approved type design.
With the certification, FAA determined Eclipse’s manufacturing processes and inspection systems comply with federal regulations. Eclipse Aviation is authorized to issue standard airworthiness certificates for the production aircraft.
"Earning our FAA production certificate means we have successfully built a reliable, high-quality manufacturing process, and are well positioned to expedite aircraft deliveries," said Eclipse spokeswoman Peg Billson.
"This is a critical milestone in our journey to become a high-production aircraft manufacturer."
The Eclipse 500 received type certification from FAA last September. But until the VLJ obtained production certification, FAA had to examine each individual aircraft before it could be delivered to customers. Seven jets had been delivered to customers as of late April.
In March, Eclipse Aviation named a new team of suppliers for the Eclipse 500’s "Avio" avionics suite, after a falling-out with Avidyne Corp. The airframer projects it will manufacture 402 jets in 2007 and nearly 1,000 in 2008.
"Production will speed up now with the goal of delivering 400-plus aircraft this year. We have been delivering aircraft slower than anticipated, and with the production certificate we will now be able to accelerate the production line," said Andrew H. Broom, director of public relations at Eclipse Aviation.
Coalition Opposes Fees
A group of businesses ranging from agriculture to local governments, and including major corporate and general aviation associations, has formed to oppose FAA’s proposed user fees to sustain the air traffic control system.
The Alliance for Aviation Across America, which counts as members the National Business Aviation Association, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Aircraft Electronics Association and National Association of Aviation Officials, hoped to dissuade Congress from approving the user-fee proposal set forth in FAA’s reauthorization legislation filed in February.
As part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007, FAA would replace the decades-old system of collecting ticket and arrival/departure taxes with a cost-based program founded on user fees and fuel taxes. The legislation also proposed to eliminate the domestic passenger ticket tax and reduce the international arrival and departure tax by 50 percent. In addition, the bill would reform the Passenger Facility Charge Program to enable large- and medium-sized airports to raise local funds for construction projects.
"Our coalition is here to send a clear message to lawmakers that we stand united against a radical ‘user fee’ proposal which would decimate businesses and communities around our country through a huge tax hike. This special interest legislation would benefit no one but the big commercial airlines," said coalition member Gene Wright, a pilot and the mayor of Quinwood, W.Va.
Still, the coalition is not opposed to change; rather, it opposes the drastic steps proposed by FAA, members said. "Status quo is not an option," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "It’s the draconian idea of completely revamping the system that we’re against."
The Air Transport Association, representing airlines, described the funding bill as a good first step that recognizes "the inequity of forcing airlines and their customers to subsidize other system users."
Jettech, a Littleton, Colo.-based developer of Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) aftermarket services, won FAA supplemental type certification (STC) for the Cessna Citation 500 series aircraft.
The STC will bring the aircraft into RVSM compliance in order to legally operate between FL290 and FL410.
Jettech said its RVSM installation is the only STC approved solution for Citation aircraft with pre-275 serial numbers and equipped with the factory installed Bendix autopilots.
"This RVSM installation is an affordable solution that brings greater operational flexibility to owners and operators of early Citation aircraft," said Jettech founder Rob Irwin. "We believe this RVSM solution will not only help extend the useful life of this versatile aircraft, it will also add residual value."
Included in the RVSM kit are two Honeywell AM-250 Digital Altimeters, an Air Data Interface Unit, pitot-static plumbing and fittings, wiring harness and documentation to support the installation process.
Shadin Avionics, St. Louis Park, Minn., received a purchase order from EADS Socata for 800 of its 8800-T altitude encoders. Shadin said the 8800-T is designed to provide gray code directly to the aircraft transponder and on board Garmin or Trimble GPS unit through the RS-232 serial data port.
EADS Socata manufactures touring, training and business aircraft. It also manufactures aerostructures for major aircraft producers Airbus, Dassault, Embraer, Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin.
L-3 Communications Aviation Recorders, a Sarasota, Fla.-based division of L-3 Communications, was selected by Embraer to supply Combination Voice & Data Recorder (CVDR), Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) products for the Embraer Phenom 100 Very Light Jet and Phenom 300 light jet.
For cockpit voice communications, L-3’s recorders provide two hours of 4-channel audio recording. For flight data, the recorders capture a minimum of 25 hours of extremely high sample rate flight and maintenance data.
"L-3’s CVDR, CVR and FDR are each lightweight, compact and highly reliable units that provide aircraft with all the capability needed to meet and exceed airworthiness requirements where such aircraft are mandated to install flight recorders for incident and accident investigation," said Bruce Coffey, L-3 Aviation Recorders president.
Supplementing incident and accident investigation, the data stored in the CVDR, CVR and FDR can be used to implement maintenance and flight operations programs that provide operators with improved airframe reliability and enhanced flight management.
Oregon Deploys ADS-B
Sensis Corp., Syracuse, N.Y., said the state of Oregon will deploy ground-based Universal Access Transceivers (UAT) at six airports, providing real-time graphical and text traffic and weather data to general aviation aircraft via automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B).
Airports that will receive the technology under the state’s "ConnectOregon" initiative are: Eastern Oregon Regional Airport; Baker City Municipal Airport; Burns Municipal Airport; Roberts Field Airport; North Bend Municipal Airport; and Grant County Regional Airport/Ogilvie Field.
When paired with coverage provided by recent FAA deployments at three other Oregon airports — McNary Field, Mahlon Sweet Field and Rogue Valley International — the ADS-B ground infrastructure will broadcast traffic and weather data throughout the state. ConnectOregon is a $100 million program to invest in air, rail, marine and transit infrastructure.
"These deployments mark the beginning of our transformation to the next generation of air traffic surveillance," said Martin Andersen, ConnectOregon program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Sensis supplied ADS-B transceivers to the FAA as part of the Capstone program in Alaska and the Future Surveillance program on the East Coast, Arizona and North Dakota. The company also fielded the first operational ADS-B transceivers for both the Mode S Extended Squitter and UAT data links in Australia in 2004 and Alaska in 2005, respectively.
European SVS Approval
Universal Avionics, Tucson, Ariz., said it received European Aviation Safety Agency certification in March for its Vision-1 Synthetic Vision System (SVS).
Vision-1 provides a real-time, computer generated rendering of terrain ahead of the aircraft, orientated to the aircraft’s vertical and lateral position, when displayed on Universal’s EFI-890R, MFD-640 or EFI-550 flat-panel LCD displays.
The terrain imagery uses topographical coloring similar to that used on aviation sectional charts. Hills and mountains appear in shades of green and brown while oceans and other large bodies of water are colored blue. Special shading on the digitized terrain and the grid overlay that conform to the landscape provide a sense of movement in flight.
Vision-1 can also display a "wingman’s view," enabling the pilot to see the flight profile based on the FMS flight plan.
"The European ETSO (European Technical Standard Order) certification for our Vision-1 Synthetic Vision System is great news for Universal and our European customers who can now benefit from the tremendous advantages Synthetic Vision brings in increased situational awareness and safety," said Paul DeHerrera, Universal Avionics marketing vice president.
Piper Aircraft will make Garmin International’s G1000 integrated avionics suite available for the company’s Saratoga II TC and Piper 6X aircraft.
The all-glass, fully integrated Garmin G1000 incorporates primary flight, navigation, autopilot, terrain avoidance, communication, engine, and aircraft sensor data on the dual 10-inch, XGA-resolution displays.
The Piper’s G1000 avionics suite also is WAAS-certified, Garmin said.
BAE Systems received a $26.5 million contract to convert 20 F-4 Phantom fighter jets to full-scale aerial targets for the U.S. Air Force.
BAE said the aircraft, designated QF-4, provides the Air Force with a full-size, remotely controlled drone allowing aircrews to train in highly realistic air combat maneuvering exercises, including live weapons launch.
BAE Systems will perform the modification work on 16 aircraft for the Air Force and four aircraft for the Navy at its facility in Mojave, Calif. Production will be completed by July 2009.
To date, BAE Systems has converted 217 F-4s to the QF-4 configuration.
The ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by Boeing and Insitu, of Bingen, Wash., surpassed 1,000 flight hours in support of Australian Army operations in southern Iraq, Boeing said.
"This important combat milestone is a testament to the reliability of the long-endurance and stealthy operation of the ScanEagle UAV platform," said David Withers, president of Boeing Australia Ltd.
"It also is a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the high performance reconnaissance and surveillance services provided on the ground by Boeing Australia in partnership with the Australian Army," Withers said.
ScanEagle is four feet long, with a 10-foot wingspan, and carries either an electro-optical or an infrared camera.
The gimbaled camera allows the operator to track stationary and moving targets.
The system can provide more than 15 consecutive hours of "on-station" coverage, and can be launched and recovered from land or sea. The aircraft is launched autonomously via a pneumatic wedge catapult and flies pre-programmed or operator-initiated missions guided by GPS and its onboard flight control system. It is retrieved using a "Skyhook" system whereby the UAV catches a rope hanging from a 50-foot pole.
‘Killer Bee’ Flies
Race car designer Swift Engineering, San Clemente, Calif., said its "Killer Bee" fourth-generation unmanned aircraft system flew for the first time April 12 at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
The new aircraft, designated KB4, flew for 70 minutes. With a 10-foot wingspan and gross weight of 136 pounds, KB4 can carry a 30-pound payload for up to 15 hours. Among potential missions are domestic border security and improvised explosive device detection in Iraq.
"The airframe has taken the best of what we have learned from the past four years of development and improved manufacturability," said Larry Reding, Swift Engineering’s KB Program Manager. "The outer wings, engine package and systems have all been redesigned for quick removal and replacement as line replaceable units. The wing tips have been significantly increased in length giving the air vehicle improved yaw stability and ample space for antennas."
KB4 flights were scheduled for early May to further test and validate the complete system, including a new "all-in-one" supply trailer and launcher and enhanced net recovery system, Swift Engineering said.
SprayCool, Liberty Lake, Wash., said its thermal management systems accompanied the first flight of Northrop Grumman’s Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) on a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.
The event launched the flight-test phase of ASIP, which is expected to provide enhanced signals intelligence capabilities on both the U-2 and the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.
The ASIP sensor detects, identifies and locates radar and other types of electronic and modern communication signals. The ASIP industry team includes Northrop Grumman as prime contractor for development of the ASIP sensor and the Global Hawk platform; Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, Md., providing the U-2 aircraft and ground station interface; L-3 Communications, New York, N.Y., providing the data link; and Raytheon, Waltham, Mass., providing sensor support and ground station interface.
"SprayCool technology enables ASIP to efficiently operate commercial, off-the-shelf as well as very high-end electronics at high altitudes," said Jeff Severs, SprayCool president and CEO.
"Operation of electronics in stressed, high-altitude environments, especially with products installed in unpressurized areas of the aircraft, are beset with very low temperatures and minimal air density. This requires a thermal management solution that supports both heating and cooling of electronics."
Boeing conducted the first test flight of an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft upgraded under the Block 40/45 program, the largest enhancement in the history of the U.S. Air Force E-3 AWACS fleet.
Based on a Boeing 707-320B airframe, the E-3 AWACS provides wide-area surveillance, command-and-control and communications functions for all airborne assets in any theater of operation.
Under the Block 40/45 program, Boeing outfitted the Test System 3 AWACS aircraft with new mission computing hardware and software, upgraded radar, and navigation and communications systems. The enhancements are designed to increase the aircraft’s capability through improved automation, human/computer interface and reliability as well as lowered lifecycle costs.
During the seven-hour flight April 5 from Boeing Field in Seattle, the crew conducted functional tests of the enhanced navigation, communications, radar and mission computing subsystems.
In future test flights, Boeing said it will further calibrate the upgrade and measure its performance. The mission system flight-test program was scheduled for 62 flights over several months.
ARINC Engineering Services delivered a second advanced C-5 Galaxy Maintenance Training Device (MTD) for use by the U.S. Air Force.
The delivery was made to Travis Air Force Base in California, following three weeks of factory acceptance testing in Maryland by ARINC’s customer, Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed is currently upgrading the entire Air Force fleet of C-5 Galaxy aircraft under the Avionics Modernization Program. Work includes the installation of new avionics and glass cockpits. ARINC said the MTD trainers will allow Air Force maintenance personnel to practice rigorous "hands-on" cockpit maintenance training without removing any actual C-5 aircraft from the line.
Air Force maintenance instructors control the MTD, and can realistically simulate some 200 different maintenance scenarios. Trainer 1 has even been used to support aircrew training, with pilots and flight engineers performing operational and pre-flight checks on the device.
L-3 Communications acquired two "niche" companies in April to expand the company’s presence in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
L-3, New York City, paid an undisclosed sum for Dallas-based Geneva Aerospace, a provider of command, control and communications systems. Geneva Aerospace will be called L-3 Communications Geneva Aerospace.
Also, L-3 acquired Global Communications Solutions, a Victor, N.Y.-based provider of satcom systems that integrate data, broadband Internet, telephony, multimedia, audio, video and computer networking. Both companies will be organized under L-3’s Specialized Products segment, the company said.
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early-warning aircraft, being built for the U.S. Navy by lead contractor Northrop Grumman, made its public appearance in April in St. Augustine, Fla., the first of two test aircraft planned under a nearly $2 billion system demonstration and development contract awarded in 2001.
While similar in appearance to the E-2C airborne early warning aircraft, the E-2D features new avionics and sensors, including a new APY-9 radar developed by Lockheed Martin that combines mechanical rotation and electronic scanning. The rotodome housing the radar was developed by L-3 Communications Randtron Antenna Systems, and has 360-degree scanning capability. The E-2D also has a new glass cockpit, including Barco Multi-purpose Control Display Units, replacing prior-generation Hawkeye displays and avionics.
The Navy and Northrop Grumman team, which includes Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, L-3 Randtron and Rolls-Royce, will begin flight testing this fall in Florida, with further testing at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.
Navy squadrons will be equipped with Advanced Hawkeyes beginning in 2011. Capt. Randy Mahr, Advanced Hawkeye program manager with the Naval Air Systems Command, said the Navy plans to procure a total of 75 E-2Ds.
Lockheed Martin said the system that will serve as the backbone of the F-35 Lightning II maintenance and support network is up and running, even though the first squadron of the multinational fighter won’t go operational until 2012.
The company said the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) was formally switched on in May during a ceremony at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
"Historically, operation and support have accounted for about two-thirds of a fighter’s lifecycle costs. F-35 aims to reduce those expenses significantly, starting with an extremely reliable aircraft and our sophisticated data management system, ALIS," said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of F-35 Program Integration.
The ALIS system, developed in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training & Support, will start by capturing real-time flight test data from Lightning II test aircraft.
The first F-35 is undergoing airborne testing and had completed 17 flights at this writing. Eleven additional Lightning II test aircraft are in production.
"Each F-35 will constantly monitor its own systems and automatically relay information to ALIS. In turn, ALIS will provide an information infrastructure that captures, analyzes, identifies and communicates F-35 characteristics and data, providing information and decision support for every Lightning II user worldwide, on land or at sea," said Kimberly Gavaletz, Lockheed Martin vice president for F-35 Autonomic Logistics and Global Sustainment. For more on the Joint Strike Fighter, see page 40.
New York-based EDO Corp. was awarded an $8 million contract from Lockheed Martin to provide the ALR-95 tactical radar Electronic Support Measures and surveillance system for seven P-3C Orion aircraft. Deliveries are set to begin in mid-2008.
Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways signed a $1.5 million, 10-year contract with SITA to provide VHF Aircom service.
The U.S. Navy awarded an $8.4 million contract to Pedigree Technologies, Fargo, N.D., for the research and development of Electro-Optical Radio Frequency and Acoustic Sensors for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle platforms.
An ARINC and Thales consortium won a $75 million contract for IT, security and telecommunication systems at the New Doha International Airport, currently under construction in Qatar.
Honeywell won an $8 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to overhaul and modernize its F-15 Avionics Intermediate Shop Antenna Test Station and Enhancement Aircraft Radar Test Station. Under the terms of the contract, Honeywell will extend the service life of these test systems and provide fault isolation diagnostics for the F-15 aircraft until 2015.
Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, Md., won a $23 million initial contract to modernize the first production C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
The U.S. Air Force awarded a $14.5 million contract to Honeywell Defense and Space Electronic Systems, Clearwater, Fla., to provide GPS systems for a variety of aircraft. Honeywell will provide 29 Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation System retrofit kits for the MH-60/47 helicopter; 149 EGI Production Units for the UH-1Y, MH-60T, VH-60/CH-47 and AH-64D helicopters; 18 EGI Initial Spares for the F-16 and F/A-18 fighters; and 20 EGI mounts for the MH-60T helicopter.
Raytheon signed a $77.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy, allowing it to make the first international sale of its ALR-67(V)3 digital radar warning receiver. Under the contract, which includes systems for the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Raytheon will deliver 24 radar warning receivers plus spares for Navy requirements and 55 radar warning receivers plus spares for RAAF aircraft.
McDonnell Douglas Helicopter, Mesa, Ariz., won a $17.7 million contract for remanufactured and new parts and safety stock and spares in support of Saudi Arabia’s Apache Longbow Program.
Due to a source error, a New Products item in the April 2007 issue (page 52) misidentified the software certification obtained by International Communications Group for its Iridium communications products. ICG obtained DO-178B Level D.