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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Industry Scan

 

Coast Guard Trades Speed For Capability With New Ocean Sentry

The U.S. Coast Guard is trading speed for capability with its new HC-144A Ocean Sentry medium range surveillance aircraft, which enters operational service next year.

Recently, the fifth of eight HC-144As on contract for delivery through February 2009 completed the trip from manufacturer EADS CASA in Seville, Spain, to the Coast Guard Aircraft Repair and Supply Center in Elizabeth City, N.C., where mission equipment is installed. Its final destination was the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala.

The twin-engine turboprop is a component of the service’s multiyear Deepwater acquisition program for new cutters, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and UAVs, replacing the twinjet Dassault HU-25 Falcon. Coast Guard plans call for a fleet of 36 HC-144As by 2020.

The pilots of the fifth accepted aircraft, Lt. Cmdr. Te-Ali Coley and Lt. Dan Lanigan, described the HC-144A in an August telephone interview with Avionics.

"The speed is something that you’re giving up, not being able to operate a jet," observed Lanigan. "But the size, the legs and the ability to load the amount of mission systems that we can with this aircraft is the difference. That’s the reason why we’re giving up the speed."

A derivative of the EADS CASA CN235-300, the Ocean Sentry will perform multiple missions, including maritime patrol, search and rescue, disaster response and cargo and personnel transport. With a 2,000 nm range and 10-hour endurance, the aircraft can stay on station longer, track targets longer and direct other assets to complete a mission.

The Ocean Sentry mission package includes the Telephonics APS-143C(V)3 "OceanEye" multi-mode search radar, capable of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and inverse SAR imaging; FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE III gyro-stabilized electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor; and ITT ALR-95 maritime patrol ESM (electronic support measures) system for detecting, identifying and locating radar signals. The aircraft’s Saab R-4A Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a transponder for maritime and some airborne traffic that identifies a vessel by its name, size, port of registry, displacement and other descriptors.

"The major improvement with this aircraft has to do with its ability to operate in the ‘Maritime Domain Awareness’ environment, with the surveillance equipment on board," said Coley. Maritime Domain Awareness, or MDA, as described by the Coast Guard is "the effective understanding of anything associated with the global maritime domain that could impact the United States’ security, safety, economy or environment." While the capability is still being developed, "it’s going to really change the way the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security operate in certain regimes and respond to emerging events," Coley said.

The HC-144A flight deck is based on Rockwell Collins Flight2 avionics, with navigation and communications functions managed through a CDU-900 Control Display Unit.

"One thing about this aircraft that’s different... is that about 90 percent of everything the aircraft is capable of doing with the mission systems can be operated from the co-pilot’s side of the aircraft," said Lanigan.

"We have worldwide databases available to us through the FMS and a full range of comms gear that integrates into the CDU," said Coley. "The main difference is workload up front because that’s all on the right side. We can utilize our EO/IR (and) the AIS." The AIS is "really helpful to us," providing a vessel’s details before electronic or visual identification.

While the pilots can operate much of the mission equipment, the HC-144A has a rear ramp and cargo-handling system accommodating military standard pallets, including a Lockheed Martin C4ISR Mission System Pallet. The mission pallet consists of side-by-side console positions for two operators who manage equipment such as the EO/IR sensor, ESM antenna and APS-143 radar. Information collected by the aircraft can be transmitted to the shore-based Maritime Domain Awareness Center, which posts relevant data to a "Common Operational Picture" shared by command centers, cutters and aircraft in the area, the Coast Guard says.

"The aircraft’s going to be operated most of the time with the [mission] pallet on board," Lanigan said. "One of the specifications the Coast Guard wanted, and why the aircraft is so good, is its capability to always at least contribute to any mission no matter what. Say, for instance, we have three pallets on board, hauling cargo or people, and something comes up. We could always divert and go and contribute something."

While still in the operational test and evaluation phase, the HC-144A already has demonstrated its utility. In February, after two U.S. Air Force F-15Cs from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., collided over the Gulf of Mexico, HC-144A No. 2303 was diverted from a routine training flight and arrived first on scene. The aircraft located one of the pilots and directed his recovery — marking its first search-and-rescue mission and first use as an On-Scene Coordinator platform directing multiple agencies. An Ocean Sentry also provided reconnaissance during the Midwest floods in June, assisting the relief effort.

"We’re excited about the opportunity to fly it. I think it’s going to definitely be an improvement over a large portion of the missions the HU-25 did," Coley said. "Operators will miss the speed, the agility of the Falcon, but this is a very unique aircraft." — Bill Carey

Business/GA

Weather Radar

Honeywell unveiled the new "IntuVue" family of 3-D volumetric scanning weather radars based on its RDR-4000 system, which has been certified on the Airbus A380, Boeing 777 and 737NG and military C-17. Plans call for sizing the technology for the business and GA markets.

The IntuVue radar, with new vertical profile display modes, will be standard equipment on the Gulfstream G650 large business jet, expected to enter service in 2012, and a component of the integrated Aircraft Environment Surveillance System (AESS) of the coming Airbus A350XWB.

Also, Honeywell planned to announce at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention an agreement with Airbus to certify the radar on the A320 as part of a block update, as well as the A330/340 family. On the latter models, it will be offered as an option to the competing Rockwell Collins MultiScan Hazard Detection System, the weather radar chosen for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-8, among other aircraft.

Last year at the NBAA convention in Atlanta, Rockwell Collins introduced its RTA-4100 MultiScan weather radar for business jets. The radar, which can be installed on new aircraft equipped with the company’s Pro Line 21 and Pro Line Fusion avionics suites, will be available in December, Rockwell Collins says.

At a pre-NBAA 2008 briefing Aug. 14 in Orlando, Fla., Honeywell said it intends to scale the IntuVue radar for smaller aircraft and to offer it as a retrofit option for aircraft fitted with Primus 440/660/880 weather radars.

"We plan to introduce that family of radars across all market segments," said Michael M. Grove, Honeywell Aerospace marketing director for safety & information management-surveillance systems. "... We do plan on introducing at least two other models over the course of the next three to four years. We’re not prepared to tell you what those models are, but I can tell you that the thrust of that will be to penetrate the GA and business jet market further, in smaller aircraft platforms. Also, we recognize that there is a large installed base of Honeywell radars out there."

The RDR-4000 automatically scans from the nose of the aircraft out to 320 miles, from the ground to 60,000 feet — providing a scanning volume of 1.5 million cubic miles, according to Honeywell. Consisting of 15 overlapping scans, the three-dimensional "buffer" is refreshed every 30 seconds and corrected for the Earth’s curvature. An internal global terrain database correlates its stored data with ground returns and removes ground clutter.

The data derived provides for long-range weather detection, strategic weather detection through an "auto" mode, a tactical mode whereby pilots can view a horizontal or vertical "slice" of sky, an extended ground map and enhanced turbulence detection.

The radar avails turbulence detection out to 40 nm; Honeywell hopes to increase that range to 60 nm in 12 to 18 months by interleaving and extracting longer pulse trains, Grove said.

"In order to get the energy on target, you need to have a fairly long pulse train," he explained. "... At 40 nautical miles you end up basically in a trade-off. If you go beyond 40 with that pulse train [there is] ambiguity in range. What we’ll be doing is using a longer pulse train. What that means is turbulence we see beyond 40, we’ll be able to resolve with the same detail we can inside of 40."

In a flight from Orlando Executive Airport using its Convair 580 test aircraft, Honeywell demonstrated the radar on a display in the cabin. The auto mode displays weather relevant to the aircraft’s flight path in solid colors, with secondary weather in cross-hatched colors.

The display shows green for returns of 20 to 30 dBZ, a measure of radar signal reflectivity; yellow for 30 to 40 dBZ; red for above 40 dBZ. Magenta is used for turbulence, and was evident in weather cells encountered during the flight.

The radar’s manual mode provides a "laser cut" horizontal plane through the 3-D buffer, selectable at 1,000-foot increments. The lower third of the display presented a vertical profile of weather ahead, which can be based on ground track, flight plan or a selected azimuth.

The vertical profile mode will be available on the Gulfstream G650, the A380 and A350XWB AESS and the Airbus A400 transport, Honeywell said.

Other aircraft will require a display upgrade. — Bill Carey

Gulfstream EVS

Gulfstream Aerospace in August was awarded European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for aircraft equipped with its Enhanced Vision System (EVS), a forward-looking infrared sensor, to obtain operational credit for continuing approaches to 100 feet.

EU-OPS rule 1.430(h), the European equivalent of Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 91.175, requires pilots using instrument approach procedures to be able to visually see the approach lights and runway environment from a predetermined distance in order to proceed with landing. With EVS, that distance has been reduced to 100 feet, because the pilot can use the visual cues EVS supplies, Gulfstream said.

United States operators flying in and out of Europe can take immediate advantage of the EASA approval, Gulfstream said. European-based operators must still obtain operational approval from the authority responsible for operational approvals in the country where each aircraft is registered.

Gulfstream also received validation from EASA to install the upgraded EVS II, produced by Kollsman Inc., Merrimack, N.H., on any of its four in-production large-cabin models. Starting in the fourth quarter, EVS II will be standard on Gulfstream’s ultra-long-range G550 and long-range G450, and as an option on the G500 and G350.

Certified by FAA late last year, the EVS II is 22 pounds lighter, with four times the computational power and four times the memory of the original system, Gulfstream said. It has an improved maintenance interface within Gulfstream’s PlaneView flight deck.

Eclipse Layoffs

Light jet manufacturer Eclipse Aviation, Albuquerque, N.M., said Aug. 22 it will reduce its work force by 38 percent — about 650 jobs — in an attempt to "achieve financial stability as soon as possible."

The latest job cuts followed just weeks after Eclipse cut 190 jobs and replaced CEO Vern Raburn with Roel Pieper. Eclipse said the layoffs will impact all departments and all facilities including the company’s headquarters and facilities in Gainesville, Fla., and Albany, N.Y.

"In my effort to take Eclipse Aviation to the next level of growth and sustainability, I am 100-percent focused on operational excellence and a plan to achieve it," said Pieper. "Financial stability is critical for this company and unfortunately, a reduction in workforce was necessary to achieve it. I am confident this action will set the company on the path to profitability so that we can continue to lead the Very Light Jet category."

This summer, Eclipse Aviation cut production of the $2.1 million Eclipse 500 VLJ, but said it would return to previous production levels in 2009.

Suppliers, including the team of companies providing the Eclipse 500’s Avio NG avionics suite, have been notified, Eclipse Aviation said. The latter companies include Honeywell, Garmin, Innovative Solutions & Support, Chelton Flight Systems and PS Engineering.

Third I-4 Satellite

After a series of delays, Inmarsat launched its third I-4 satellite Aug. 18, an event that completes the company’s global satellite network and will expand broadband satellite coverage over the Pacific Ocean.

Broadband providers in the aviation industry had been eagerly awaiting the launch, saying the new satellite will enhance services and capabilities. The satellite was expected to move into position over the Pacific Ocean in the weeks after the launch, Inmarsat said.

The satellite was launched on a Proton Breeze M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"The Inmarsat-4s are the world’s most sophisticated commercial network for mobile voice and data services, and the successful launch of the third I-4 allows us to complete the global coverage for our broadband services. Once the third I-4 is operational, Inmarsat will have the only fully funded next-generation network for mobile satellite services," said Andrew Sukawaty, CEO and Chairman of Inmarsat.

Technician Training

The Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM), Virginia Beach, Va., expanded its avionics program. The five-month program is now offered at five of AIM’s nine campuses, including Atlanta, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Mo., and Chesapeake and Manassas, Va.

AIM’s Avionics Technician Program combines classroom learning with practical application in the hangar. Students learn how to fix and maintain the electronic side of modern aircraft systems. The program also prepares students to take the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensing exam. Upon graduation, avionics technicians will be qualified for an entry-level position.

"Avionics is the future of aviation maintenance," said David Jones, AIM director of education. Although avionics certification is not a FAA requirement, "it most likely will become one," he added.

For more information on the Avionics Technician Program, call (888) 349-5387 or visit www.aviationmaintenance.edu.

PC-12 Upgrades

Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S) in July announced upgrades for its Pilatus PC-12 avionics retrofit program, including a single-sided cockpit option, wide area augmentation system (WAAS) capability and group RVSM certification for all panel configurations.

IS&S also named Finnoff Aviation, Boulder, Colo., as an independent sales agent for the company’s cockpit/IP flat-panel display system for the PC-12, a single-engine turboprop manufactured in Switzerland. The latter company is led by Chris Finnoff, former president of Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd.

Interviewed at the company’s headquarters in Exton, Pa., President Roman G. Ptakowski said IS&S sees a market for more than 300 PC-12s, mostly in North America. The company initially certified a cockpit panel layout with two 15-inch displays, and then pursued other configurations.

"Unique among competitors, we actually have multiple architectures," Ptakowski said. "You can buy a PC-12 upgrade with two 15-inch panels, four 10-inch panels or a combination of one 15 (and) two 10s, or two 10s only, as long as we have redundancy of at least two displays. We have an architecture that has been certified by the FAA. We provide a lot of flexibility so people can do a single-side upgrade and then eventually do the dual side. They have an opportunity to address it the way they see fit."

IS&S expects to make WAAS capability available in the fourth quarter for both single-side and full-cockpit display architectures, allowing pilots to fly precision approaches at smaller airports. RVSM certification, available for all cockpit configurations, will allow pilots to fly at flight level 290 and above.

Grob Troubled

Grob Aerospace in August said its German manufacturing operation had filed for insolvency due to delays in the spn light business jet program.

"This unfortunate situation has arisen as a consequence of recent delays in the spn program, resulting in the increased requirement for cash to see the program through to certification. Under the circumstances, our current loan provider has elected to discontinue their support," CEO Niall Olver stated in a message on the company’s Web site, dated Aug. 19.

Grob, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, conducts research, development, manufacturing and assembly at facilities in Tussenhausen-Mattsies, Germany. According to a spokesperson, as of early September, operations continued in Germany. Employee salaries were secured by the German government for three months.

"Our CEO has been searching for new investors and we already have received some good offers and good interest," the spokesperson told Avionics. "Amongst them are a number of customers who are not only very supportive in not canceling their orders, but they have also offered to invest in us. All options are assessed at the moment."

Built of carbon fiber composite, the Grob spn is to be the first new business jet equipped with Honeywell’s Primus Apex integrated avionics suite ( Avionics, May 2008, page 32), also chosen by Pilatus for the Next Generation PC-12.

The first spn prototype flew in July 2005. A second prototype crashed on Nov. 29, 2006, killing the test pilot, after parts of the elevators and horizontal stabilizer separated. Flying resumed in February 2007, and a third prototype joined the flight test program that October.

In his message, Olver noted a fourth spn prototype flew Aug. 7. Certification of the aircraft had been scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.

"In order to resolve the situation all possible alternatives are being evaluated," Olver wrote. "... Please accept that the severity and significance of this situation is not at all lost on us, and we are working relentlessly on a solution to ensure the minimum impact to employees, customers, other stakeholders and supporters."

Commercial

A380 Experience

Emirates Airline pilots transitioning to the Airbus A380 require a three-week course if they are experienced on the fly-by-wire Airbus A330/340 family; for Boeing 777 pilots, the course is five weeks.

"There are differences in philosophy, architecture, protections" between the Boeing and Airbus models, said Capt. Patrick De Roeck, Emirates A380 project pilot. One obvious difference, he pointed out, is Boeing’s use of a control wheel on the 777 (as well as the 787) versus Airbus’s reliance on sidestick controllers.

De Roeck served as co-pilot on the first commercial flight of the A380 to the United States on Aug. 1, joining Capt. Abbas Shaban, Emirates A380 chief pilot. Following the 13-hour, 20-minute flight from Dubai, the pilots shared their impressions of the superjumbo at a reception held in the Emirates lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. They gave the A380 a favorable review.

"It handles pretty good. It’s very stable, powerful, responsive.... In summary, it’s great to fly," said Shaban.

"It’s impressive how responsive it is for such a huge airplane," added De Roeck, who was nearing 100 hours on the A380, including time spent on Airbus development aircraft. "With the wing the size of a football pitch — it’s amazing. You have three sets of ailerons on either side; you see them all working when you make a turn. It makes you forget actually that you’re flying such a huge, heavy airplane."

De Roeck described the Thales/Diehl designed control and display system, with its eight large displays and cursor control as "the next step up" and "user friendly." And he was impressed with the redundancies built into the aircraft.

"In any airplane of the previous generation, a total hydraulic failure would practically always be catastrophic. In the A380, if you have a total hydraulic failure, it’s not an issue. You continue to your destination. You don’t have to divert, because you have electrical backups for all your controls."

Emirates President Tim Clark was among 489 passengers making the inaugural flight. He described some of the cabin amenities, including the Panasonic eX2 in-flight entertainment system, which Emirates calls "ICE" for information, communications, entertainment.

"It’s the most powerful, most enchanted entertainment system you’ll ever see," Clark said.

"It has enormous capacity.... The screens that we’ve put onto the airplanes, in terms of the seatbacks, are the largest high-definition widescreen televisions in the air today. We have Wi-Fi, ‘My USB,’ which allows passengers to view their own photos on-screen, ‘My Playlist,’ which offers the ability to create personal music compilations from 10,000 tracks of music, and mood lighting to combat the effect of jet lag. [With] the power of the entertainment system, we can actually digitize every piece of written music... if we want. We won’t because it would take you forever to listen to." — Bill Carey

eX2 Milestone

Panasonic Avionics, Lake Forest, Calif., in August said it surpassed 100 deliveries of its eX2 in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. In April, the company said it had reached 1,000 orders for the advanced system.

Based on a gigabit Ethernet network, the fifth-generation eX2 provides passengers with individual seatback smart monitors, hundreds of movies, song titles and interactive game choices, a USB Media Player, seat-to-seat texting and other capabilities.

Panasonic’s X Series product line of IFE systems includes eX2, eFX, eXpress and Digital MPES. The company says more than 900 systems have been delivered to airlines worldwide.

Class 3 EFB

DAC International, based in Austin, Texas, said its GEN-X electronic flight bag (EFB) has been approved by FAA for Class 3 installation on Bombardier CRJ series regional jets.

The GEN-X is a near-total touch screen design, with hard buttons used for display on/off and brightness. Its application manager and software suite, called GENESYS, supports digital chart data from Maptech, Jeppesen or Lido.

Software modules support applications for easy viewing, handling and updating of publications as well as weather, performance, check-list and other functions.

"We designed GEN-X from the start as a Class 3 avionics grade solution," said Mike Crouch, DAC International president. "It was clear to us that our customers were demanding a level of reliability, functionality and growth potential that was only achievable with Class 3 equipment."

Crouch said several customers also were installing GEN-X under Class 2 requirements, in which the EFB is mounted near the pilot.

Gogo American

American Airlines on Aug. 20 launched the Aircell "Gogo" mobile broadband service on its Boeing 767-200 fleet. Passengers have access to the service on nonstop flights between New York and San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, and New York and Miami.

"With today’s launch, American Airlines makes history as the first and only U.S. airline to offer customers full in-flight Internet connectivity, demonstrating once again our industry leadership and focus on our customers," said Dan Garton, executive vice president of marketing.

Gogo, made available through Aircell’s Air-to-Ground Broadband System, enables passengers to surf the Web, check e-mail, send instant messages, access a corporate VPN and other features. Once the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet, users activate their Wi-Fi enabled devices such as laptops, smart phones and PDAs, open their browsers, and are directed to the Gogo portal page, where they sign up for the service. Aircell said it charges $12.95 on flights of more than three hours.

Aircell said Aug. 5 Delta Air Lines will offer Gogo on its domestic fleet of 330 mainline aircraft by next year. The service will initially be offered on 133 MD88/90 aircraft and will expand to the remaining fleet of more than 200 Boeing 737, 757 and 767-300 aircraft through the first half of 2009. Delta expects to have more than 330 aircraft completed by summer 2009.

Alaska 737 Fleet

Alaska Airlines in August completed its transition to an all-Boeing 737 fleet with the retirement of its last MD-80 series aircraft, part of a two-year plan to increase operational efficiency and improve fuel conservation.

The 737-800 burns 850 gallons of fuel per hour, versus 1,100 gallons per hour by the MD-80, the airline said.

The Seattle-based carrier has firm commitments for an additional eight RNP-capable Boeing 737-800s through 2008, which will bring its fleet to 116 737s. When the fleet transition began in 2006, the airline had 26 MD-80s and 110 total aircraft.

"With the last of our MD-80s retiring today and scheduled deliveries of additional new Boeing 737-800s this year, Alaska Airlines now operates one of the youngest, most fuel-efficient and technologically advanced fleets in the industry," said Bill Ayer, chairman and CEO.

Alaska Airlines said it acquired its first MD-80, manufactured by McDonnell Douglas Aircraft, in 1985, and once operated 44 of the jets. The MD-80, with larger fuel tanks for extended range, was the cornerstone of the airline’s expansion up and down the West Coast, as well as into Mexico and the Russian Far East during the 1980s and 1990s.

AEEC General Session

The AEEC General Session will be held Oct. 20-23 at the Marriott Southern Hills outside Tulsa, Okla.

The General Session will include reports of subcommittees and the adoption of completed standards. Proposals will be presented identifying systems and infrastructure necessary for operating within the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) initiative.

Included will be a symposium on Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), with emphasis on the UPS implementation of Merging and Spacing operations at its hub in Louisville, Ky., and the airborne equipment required for these operations.

The Airlines Avionics Institute (AAI) will present awards recognizing members’ contributions to technical achievements through the skilled application of their engineering talents.

AAI Volare awards are given in the fields of avionics engineering to airline, airframe and avionics manufacturing representatives. The AAI Pioneer award is given on occasion to lifelong contributors.

Nomination forms are available at the AEEC General Session Web site, www.aviation-ia.com/aeec/index.html. Recommendations also are accepted for an airline employee to be awarded the Trumbull Award, which recognizes contributions to the industry through the support of standards development.

For further information on agenda items or technical topics for the upcoming AEEC General Session, contact AEEC Executive Secretary Mike Russo.

Beginning next year, the AEEC General Session will be held in the spring, collocated with the Avionics Maintenance Conference (AMC) Open Forum. The 2009 General Session will be held March 31-April 2 in Minneapolis.

Military

Curtiss-Wright Offer

Curtiss-Wright Corp., Roseland, N.J., signaled its intent to acquire embedded computing provider VMETRO, of Norway, by acquiring 100 percent of its outstanding stock.

The offer of 12.06 Norwegian kroner, or $2.25, per share, valued VMETRO at $51.7 million.

In an Aug. 25 announcement, Curtiss-Wright said the offer is subject to certain contingencies and the completion of limited due diligence. "There is no assurance that any offer will be launched, and the company will have no further comment until the contingencies on its offer have been resolved."

In a statement the following day, VMETRO said the completion of the offer is conditional on 90 percent acceptance of the outstanding shares and regulatory approvals.

"The shareholder elected representatives on the board of directors of VMETRO believes that the offered price represents a fair pricing of the company’s shares based on its current knowledge," the company said. "On this basis, the board intends to recommend the VMETRO‘s shareholders to accept the offer unless provided with material new information."

VMETRO serves the defense, aerospace and medical markets with product lines including digital signal processing boards based on multiple FPGAs and PowerPCs, data recorders and storage solutions, protocol and bus analyzers for computer systems based on VME, PCI and PCI Express, and network storage cards. The company has facilities in several countries, with U.S. offices in Houston, Ithaca, N.Y., and Chatsworth, Calif.

Nano Purchase

Lockheed Martin acquired the government business unit of Nantero, Woburn, Mass., which has developed methods and processes for incorporating carbon nanotubes in next-generation electronic devices.

Lockheed Martin also entered into an exclusive license arrangement with Nantero for government applications of its intellectual property. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

According to the Aug. 13 announcement, Nantero has successfully produced carbon nanotube devices in a commercial semiconductor fabrication process.

The company’s government business unit is developing nanotechnology-enabled semiconductor devices, including memory, logic and sensors, for use in military and intelligence applications.

The Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, a unit of its Space Systems company in Littleton, Colo., will manage the Nantero unit. Thirty Nantero employees will join Lockheed Martin as part of the purchase.

Weapon Interface

ITT Corp. on Aug. 25 said it completed testing and was granted a full-fielding recommendation from the U.S. Air Force for its Field Replaceable Connector System (FRCS), a jam-resistant weapon interface connector for use on F-16 Mil-Std-1760 weapons.

The connector system was developed to mate with a high-performance umbilical assembly from W.L. Gore & Associates, Newark, Del. Together, the FRCS and the umbilical assembly offer low and consistent ejection loads, ITT said.

The new "push to fit" design does not require any modification to the mating weapon or aircraft, allowing legacy interfaces and bespoke weapon test equipment to be retained. "ITT has been working closely with W.L. Gore and Associates for a number of years to develop low-risk technical solutions," said Paul Hills, managing director of ITT Integrated Structures. "By drawing on the complementary expertise of both companies, we have strengthened our position in the increasingly complex and expanding stores interface market."

(K)DC-10 Flies

The first flight of a (K)DC-10 modified under the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Cockpit Upgrade Program (CUP) took place July 22 in the Netherlands. A second flight was conducted July 24 with more extensive systems testing.

The CUP modification, performed at Fokker Services, provides a new flight-management system, display system and improved communications.

The RNLAF has a contract with Fokker Services and Boeing to upgrade three aircraft: two (K)DC-10 air-refueling tankers and one DC-10 transport. Delivery of the first aircraft is scheduled this fall, Boeing said.

Under a contract awarded by Boeing in 2005, Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), Exton, Pa., developed two 15-inch Flat Panel Display Systems, two Data Concentrator Units with display generation capability and two Control Panels for the three RNLAF aircraft.

"The success of the (K)DC-10 flight test program provides an affordable proven solution for other derivatives of this aircraft, including the KC-10. IS&S’ cockpit display system offers exceptional performance at a lower cost," said Farhad Daghigh, IS&S vice president of Military Business Development.

Software Support

DDC-I Inc., of Phoenix, a provider of software development tools for safety-critical applications, said it was selected by the U.S. Air Force Warner Robins Air Logistics Center to support "organic refresh" of C-130 avionics software.

The Air Force will use DDC-I’s "Open Arbor" products to replace legacy MIPS and 1750A Ada compilers. As part of the compiler evaluation, the Air Force has migrated one of the avionics applications to DDC-I’s Open Arbor development environment.

"The Air Force has traditionally outsourced its support to contractors," said Bob Morris, DDC-I president and CEO. "Now they are creating their own ‘organic’ software teams to save costs and reduce turnaround times. DDC-I is proud to provide foundational products, training and services that will better enable the USAF to bring this work internally and ramp up its program teams in short order."

Open Arbor is a mixed-language, object-oriented integrated development environment for developing and deploying real-time, safety-critical applications.

The core environment combines optimizing compilers and libraries for C and Embedded C++ with the Safety Critical, Object-oriented, Real-time, Embedded (SCORE) mixed-language debugger.

B-2 Display

Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins demonstrated a prototype of a new digital cockpit display for the U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber, replicating the functions of the jet’s current analog displays.

The "brassboard" prototype of the Multi-function Display Unit Replacement (MDU-R) was demonstrated in late July at the Weapons Systems Support Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

Rockwell Collins developed the MDU-R brassboard under contract to Northrop Grumman, prime contractor for the B-2. During the ensuing Option 1 phase, which began Aug. 1 and lasts for one year, Rockwell Collins will produce a form-fit-function prototype of the design.

"The new digital MDU-R display will help lay the foundation for an all-digital B-2 cockpit in the future," said Dave Mazur, vice president of long-range strike for Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems sector.

"It will also significantly ease the workload of B-2 pilots while increasing their overall mission effectiveness."

Unmanned Systems

UAV Management

An industry team sponsored by the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate demonstrated an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Airspace Management System (UAMS) during a test near Pittsburgh. The UAMS deconflicts flight paths of multiple, small UAVs with limited on-board sensors, communications and processing resources.

Team leader Lockheed Martin said the system uses a ground-based airspace manager and UAV-based intelligent software agents, self-contained software programs with the ability to act autonomously, to distribute the problem of airspace management. It separates deconfliction into three activities: maintaining situational awareness and a common, relevant operating picture; detecting conflict; and modifying flights paths.

The UAMS performs these activities on a centralized server or distributes them to the UAVs. It can also use a combination of both techniques. The system uses sensor input to detect and react to obstacles, giving the UAV a "see-and-avoid" capability.

Team member SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., provided avoidance-planning algorithms. SkEyes Unlimited Corp., Washington, Pa., provided avoidance sensor capabilities, including forward-looking, conic, laser radar and acoustic sensors.

"The successful use of UAMS on in-flight UAVs caps three years of program development," said David Van Brackle, UAMS project manager with Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories. "Our work will improve safety and mission success for future UAV systems and for the warfighters who depend upon them."

‘Perch and Stare’

AeroVironment, Monrovia, Calif., was awarded $4.6 million in funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a small "hover/perch and stare" capable Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) based on its Wasp air vehicle.

The Wasp is a one-pound, 29-inch wingspan battery-powered UAS that is being procured and deployed by the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps.

The goal of DARPA’s Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare (SP2S) program is to develop technology to enable a new generation of perch-and-stare micro air vehicles capable of flying to difficult targets, landing on and securing to a "perch" position, conducting surveillance and then re-launching from its perch and returning to its base.

"Our production Wasp incorporates the latest technologies to provide a day and night capable, hand-launched UAS that fits into a standard backpack while still providing room for other important supplies," said John Grabowsky, AeroVironment executive vice president and general manager of UAS.

"We believe that the Wasp-based SP2S, operated with our joint, common ground control unit, is on track to develop into a portable, practical and affordable perch-and-stare micro air vehicle," he said.

BAMS Go-Ahead

Northrop Grumman said it can begin work on the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) contract following the denial of a Lockheed Martin protest by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Northrop Grumman in April was awarded an 89-month, $1.16 billion contract from the Navy for System Development and Demonstration of the BAMS unmanned aircraft, based on the company’s RQ-4N Global Hawk maritime derivative.

Lockheed Martin proposed a version of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ Predator, and filed a protest of the contract award with GAO on May 5.

GAO denied the bid protest Aug. 8.

"We are very pleased that the GAO has upheld the Navy’s source selection decision for the BAMS UAS program," said Ronald D. Sugar, Northrop Grumman chairman and CEO. "This reaffirms that Northrop Grumman’s offering was selected as the best-value determination in a fair and open competition."

BAMS is intended to give the Navy a persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system and provide the capability to detect and track maritime and littoral targets.

The RQ-4N will be equipped with several sensors, including a Northrop Grumman 360-degree Multi-Function Active Sensor active electronically scanned array radar and the Raytheon Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which provides electro-optical and infrared capabilities.

Software Platform

Northrop Grumman selected the Wind River VxWorks 653 as the device software platform for the X-47B Navy-Unmanned Aerial Combat System (N-UCAS), Wind River announced in August.

VxWorks 653 offers a Certification Evidence DVD containing required documentation for the customer to deploy the VxWorks 653 real-time operating system in safety-certified systems, with support for applications running at different safety levels on the same silicon.

The platform includes unique RTCA DO-178B-qualified development and verification tools that remove time, costs and risk for testing and deploying IMA systems, Wind River said.

"Our VxWorks 653 system removes the risk out of creating compact, small footprint avionics systems, making it the most compelling compute platform for complex, flight-critical systems involved in challenging missions such as unmanned systems like the X-47B N-UCAS," said Rob Hoffman, Wind River vice president and general manager for Aerospace and Defense.

"We chose Wind River because of our successful past usage of VxWorks, and its forward-looking product strategy that allows us to migrate to ARINC 653 and secure Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) systems," said Tighe Parmenter, Northrop Grumman manager of X-47B Navy UCAS Business Strategy and Development. "In addition, the platform enables reductions in device size, weight and power, thereby reducing significant design, engineering and production risks."

The U.S. Navy in August 2007 awarded Northrop Grumman a six-year, $636 million contract to conduct carrier launches and recoveries with the X-47B.

The aim of the program is to demonstrate the capability of an autonomous, low-observable air vehicle, to mature critical technologies and reduce carrier integration risks for a potential follow-on acquisition.

Northrop Grumman will build two air vehicles; the first is scheduled to fly in late 2009, leading to a series of flight envelope and land-based carrier integration and qualification activities beginning in 2010. The first at-sea carrier landings are planned for late 2011, with program completion by 2013.

Contracts

  • Northrop Grumman won a $125 million contract from the U.S. Navy for full rate production of nine AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming System Receivers, a component of the EA-6B Airborne Electronic Attack aircraft. The pact also provides for a display lab and spares. Work is set expected to be completed in 2011.

  • Sensor and Antenna Systems, Lansdale, Pa., won a contract modification not to exceed $36.7 million from the U.S. Navy to procure 27 low band transmitters; 25 V-Pol antennas; 27 H-Pol antennas; and 18 Band 2 adapter interface assemblies for the AN/ALQ-99 Low Band Transmitter Antenna Group for the EA-6B.

  • Elbit Systems, Haifa, Israel, won a $25 million contract from a "country in the Americas" to supply its Hermes 450 unmanned aircraft system. The contract includes Elbit’s Skylark I system, all to be delivered within a year. Skylark is a mini/man-packable UAV system.

  • AeroVironment, Monrovia, Calif., won a $17.8 million contract from the U.S. Army for additional initial spares packages of its Raven UAV. Work will be performed in Simi Valley, Calif., and is expected to be completed in January 2009.

  • Raytheon was awarded a $13.7 million order from the U.S. Navy for 174 AN/ALR-67(V)3 Enhanced Integrated Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receivers and 173 AN/ALR-67(V)3 Enhanced Antenna Detector Radar Warning Receiver Systems in support of Canadian Forces F/A-18s; and six Integrated Microwave Integrated Circuits in support of Swiss Army F/A-18s. Work is expected to be completed in 2011.

  • Honeywell was awarded an $11 million contract from the U.S. Army for design, development, integration, testing and qualification, delivery and support of the upgrade of the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter Control Display System four (CDS4) Improved Master Processor Unit (IMCPU). Work will be performed in Albuquerque, N.M., and is expected to be completed in 2011.

  • Rockwell Collins was awarded a $5.6 million contract modification from the U.S. Navy for production of the AN/ARC-210(V) Electronic Protection Radio System for F-16s. The modification includes 74 RT-1851A© ARC-210 receiver-transmitter radios; 59 MT-6567 mounting bases; 62 C-12719 controls; and 59 RF filter diplexers.

  • Northrop Grumman’s Europe-based subsidiary, Park Air Systems, won a multi-million dollar contract from the Serbia and Montenegro Air Traffic Services Agency for an air-ground radio system to provide VHF and UHF communications. The project involves the installation of VHF and UHF communication systems at 14 locations across Serbia and Montenegro in three phases beginning in December and lasting two years.

  • Standex Electronics, of Cincinnati, acquired BG Laboratories, of Binghampton, N.Y., for $1.6 million. BG Laboratories is a manufacturer of custom-designed magnetics for the aviation, aerospace and military end-markets. BG Laboratories will be integrated into Standex International’s Engineered Products Group as part of Standex Electronics.

  • Lockheed Martin completed the acquisition of Aculight Corp., of Bothell, Wash., a manufacturer of laser-based systems for defense and aerospace. The deal was announced in late July. Lockheed Martin said acquiring Aculight will benefit its customers in areas such as guided munitions, airborne self-protection, advanced sensors and warfighter security.

    Croatia Airlines selected Rockwell Collins’ HGS Head-up Guidance System for its fleet of four Bombardier Q400s plus two aircraft options.

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