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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Industry Scan

ATC Investment Dims Outlook

The pace of air traffic control (ATC) modernization represents one of the risk factors compromising an otherwise rosy outlook for the U.S. aerospace industry, says the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).

Delivering AIA’s annual year-end review and forecast speech Dec. 13 in Arlington, Va., AIA President and CEO John Douglass counted research and development leading to the Next-Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS) as critical to the ongoing success of the industry, which posted $184 billion in sales last year. AIA said an additional $300 million must be spent annually on "transitional research" to implement NGATS by 2025.

"It’s got to happen. It’s not one of these things that [is] discretionary for our government," Douglass said. "Fifteen percent of the gross domestic product in this country is tied up in air travel. We cannot ignore it. It’s got to get fixed, and if there is a shortfall at NASA or the FAA or wherever it is, somebody’s going to have to come up with the money."

The NGATS, a flexible and collaborative air traffic system relying on satellite navigation as opposed to today’s radar-based infrastructure, will be needed to accommodate the expected tripling in air traffic over the next 20 years. FAA currently spends $2.5 billion annually on facilities and equipment, mainly to support the existing system. Much of the responsibility for research resides with NASA, which also is underfunded for aeronautical research, Douglass said.

R&D investment by the government "has been collapsing.... We have serious concern about the aeronautics spending," Douglass said.

Those words dampened an otherwise optimistic outlook. Helped by strong civil aircraft sales, the U.S. aerospace industry grew 8.4 percent in total sales over 2005. AIA projects another strong year in 2007, with sales growing 6 percent to $195 billion, including revenue from missiles, space and aerospace products and services.

The growth last year was driven by the civil aircraft category, which increased 21 percent to $47.5 billion. Sales of military aircraft, engines, parts and services grew 5.5 percent to $52.8 billion, helped by increased foreign deliveries of helicopters, transports, aircraft engines and parts.

"If the Airbus A380 had not stumbled a little bit, these [civil] numbers would have been even bigger," Douglass said, referring to production problems that he said caused "hundreds of millions of dollars" of delayed deliveries to the superjumbo program.

On the military side, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program headed by Lockheed Martin is "starting to hit its stride," Douglass said. In December, the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding committing to the next development and production phase, joining the United States, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. Commitments also were expected from Denmark, Italy, Norway and Turkey. [Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II made its maiden voyage Dec. 15 in Fort Worth, Texas, beginning a 12,000-hour flight test program.]

AIA projects civil aircraft sales will stay strong and exceed military sales this year, growing 15 percent to $54.5 billion. Military sales are projected to increase only 1.5 percent to $53.5 billion. — Bill Carey

‘ADS-X’ In New York

Rannoch Corp., Alexandria, Va., will upgrade aircraft tracking, identification and billing systems at airports managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Rannoch will deploy its Multisensor Surveillance System (MSS) network of flight tracking sensors around JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and Teterboro airports. Rannoch also will provide its AirScene airport management system to automate data collection and billing. The aircraft tracking and billing projects will use the same MSS sensor infrastructure and AirScene data feeds while serving different business purposes.

Pasquale Difulco, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the systems will be deployed by October at a cost of $1.2 million.

MSS is based on eXtended ADS (ADS-X), enabling highly accurate tracking of aircraft by combining techniques including Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and multilateration. The ADS-X approach enables the port authority to field an aircraft tracking system compatible with FAA’s next-generation surveillance system.

"Traditional techniques for tracking aircraft en route, in the terminal area, and on the ground are being replaced by a new generation of technology that is faster, more accurate and less expensive than legacy techniques," said Tom Breen, Rannoch vice president of Aviation Management Systems. "This is the technology that the FAA and other major air navigation service providers have chosen as the basis for their next generation air traffic systems." Visit www.rannoch.com.

Raytheon Aircraft Sold

Raytheon agreed to sell its business jet unit, Raytheon Aircraft Co., of Wichita, Kan., to Onex Corp., and Goldman Sachs Group for $3.3 billion.

Onex, based in Toronto, and Goldman Sachs will form a new company called Hawker Beechcraft Corp., the companies said. The sale is expected to close in the first half of 2007. Visit www.raytheon.com.

Capstone Integration

FAA said it will integrate the Alaskan Capstone project into the national Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) program, to "better focus" national deployment of the satellite-based surveillance system.

Operating for more than six years, Capstone deployed ADS-B to provide radar-like surveillance for pilots flying in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska and the southeast part of the state, where radar cannot be deployed.

"These efforts in the YK Delta have resulted in a reduction in the accident rate and provided valuable data that has paved the way for the national program," FAA said.

In a Dec. 22 "fact sheet," the agency said it now plans to integrate Capstone with its national effort. FAA aims to field an operating system by 2010 and to deploy ADS-B nationally by 2013. Capstone employees will continue to work for FAA in comparable positions.

FAA said it hoped to formalize an agreement with the Alaska Capstone Coalition, consisting of aviation groups, and state representatives under a memorandum of agreement.

ADS-B infrastructure deployment in Alaska will be included in the national program design, FAA said, allowing it to take advantage of synergies to accelerate deployment. Visit www.faa.gov.

Common Data Link

L-3 Communications completed flight tests of its IP-enabled, wideband multi-platform common data link (MP-CDL) at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

L-3 said data link testing on two Big Crow NKC-135 aircraft "demonstrated high capacity net-centric communications between aircraft and from the aircraft to the Global Information Grid (GIG), the Internet and the public switched telephone network using the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Network CDL, Standard CDL and Advanced CDL waveforms at data rates up to 274 Mbps and ranges beyond 300 nautical miles."

MP-CDL is a "production-ready" data link delivering communications capabilities including IP routing, adaptive transmit power and data rate selection, automatic signal acquisition and jam resistance, L-3 said. Network applications demonstrated through the MP-CDL terminals included multiple simultaneous high bandwidth video streams, video teleconferencing, high-definition video and Voice over Internet Protocol. Visit www.l-3com.com.

NATO Countermeasures

Northrop Grumman won a $104.6 million contract to outfit 17 NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft with the company’s Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system.

LAIRCM is a laser-based countermeasures system that operates automatically by detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat and activating a high-intensity infrared countermeasure system to track and defeat the threat.

Under the terms of the contract with the U.S. Air Force’s Electronic Systems Center on behalf of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Program Management Organization, Northrop Grumman will complete LAIRCM system deliveries in 2009.

"Integrating LAIRCM... will give NATO proven infrared countermeasures technology while providing a foundation for using LAIRCM on the remaining domestic and international AWACS fleet," said Jeffrey Palombo, vice president of infrared countermeasures programs at Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division. Visit www.nothropgrumman.com.

Japan AWACS Upgrade

Northrop Grumman won a contract from Boeing worth up to $73 million to upgrade Japan’s four E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

According to the foreign military contract, Northrop Grumman will provide four Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP) kits for Japan’s E-767 fleet, spares and repair parts, support equipment, technical publications and documentation, services and other related program elements to support AWACS mission equipment.

A follow-on installation and checkout contract is planned to begin in 2010.

"This is the most significant upgrade to the Japanese E-767 AWACS fleet since its delivery in the late 1990s," said Chet Silfee, Northrop Grumman RSIP program manager.

The company said the radar upgrade will improve surveillance capability by increasing pulse Doppler sensitivity, enabling the aircraft to detect and track smaller targets. The upgrade also improves the radar’s electronic counter-countermeasures, human-machine interface and reliability and maintainability. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.

Dreamliner Support

Boeing added Air Cruisers Co., Honeywell International and Thales to its GoldCare program, the life-cycle support program for the B787 Dreamliner.

GoldCare partners will be responsible for ensuring the parts they supply for the aircraft. Honeywell Aerospace provides the navigation package, crew information management system, external lighting and flight control electronics; Thales provides flight controls, in-flight entertainment, navigation and power conversion systems; and Air Cruisers provides evacuation systems. Visit www.boeing.com.

Embraer EFB Choice

Embraer selected CMC Electronics’ PilotView Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) for its Legacy 600, E-Jets family and Lineage 1000 aircraft.

Jean-Pierre Mortreux, president and CEO of CMC Electronics, said many of the features found only in Class 3 EFBs, such as Flight Management System-style line-select keys, a high-resolution, fully dimmable display, integrated communication capabilities and DO-160D (environmental conditions and test procedures) qualification, enable the Pilot View system "to meet the varied requirements of both air transport and the discerning business jet operator."

CMC said the system improves productivity by providing efficient access to up-to-date aircraft documentation and flight planning information. En route and approach charts, moving map display and real-time graphical weather information are supported.

The PilotView EFB also has a display/processor unit and a wireless connection. Visit www.cmcelectronics.ca.

Avionics Job Training

CMC Electronics and the government of Quebec unveiled an avionics job training program that will add 140 new technology jobs at the Montreal-based company. CMC will invest $2.8 million in the program, which involves 215 total specialized jobs. The Quebec government will invest $745,000.

"CMC Electronics is pursuing its objective to establish and develop its center of excellence in cockpit systems integration here in Quebec," said CMC Electronics President and CEO Jean-Pierre Mortreux. "The support provided by the Quebec government has assisted CMC in the creation of 140 new, specialized positions and to continue our expansion here in Montreal." Visit www.cmcelectronics.ca.

Cirrus SR22 Trainers

Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation will be the launch site for Aerosim Technologies’ line of advanced flight training devices. The university, located in Kalamazoo, Mich., will receive two Aerosim Advanced Aviation Training Devices (AATD).

The Aerosim AATD replicates the Cirrus SR22 high-performance GA aircraft using computers and specialized hardware and software.

"Industry reception to this line of trainers has been strong," says Eduardo Carrasco, Aerosim business development manager. Visit www.aerosim.com.

Ametek Acquires MRO

Ametek acquired Southern Aeroparts Inc. (SAI), a Tulsa, Okla.-based provider of third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, for an undisclosed price.

Ametek, Paoli, Pa., said the company will join its Aerospace & Defense unit, a supplier of engine monitoring systems, data acquisition units, fluid measurement systems, engine and airframe sensors, avionics blowers and heat transfer and cooling systems.

The privately held SAI had estimated 2006 sales of $17 million.

"The acquisition of SAI opens up new growth opportunities for Ametek to expand the level of MRO support we provide to the airlines," said Ametek Chairman and CEO Frank S. Hermance. "As the trend of airlines outsourcing maintenance tasks continues and accelerates, Ametek will be well positioned to capture more of this very attractive business." Visit www.ametek.com.

Air Route System

Raytheon won a $1.9 million contract from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to produce the advanced route evaluation system (ARES), which will help planners determine the best routes for aircraft to use during an emergency.

Raytheon, Waltham, Mass., said ARES is an aviation route risk analysis system that assesses factors such as aircraft type, fuel loads, flight route and the vulnerability to terrorist activity for any planned flight.

Herb Resnick, Raytheon lead system engineer on the project, said the system uses algorithms to evaluate all commercial flights and determine which pose the greatest security risk based on flight path, infrastructure flown over, fuel loads, type of planes and other factors. The system also takes into account large sporting events, special events, higher security threat levels and specific threats.

"ARES will help DHS and other government users better align and deploy critical resources and manpower to protect our national assets," said Dan Boelsche, DHS program manager.

"The system will determine high-risk air transportation routes based on threat information received from government sources and help us ensure that the country is prepared should we encounter another national emergency."

Resnick said Raytheon hopes to have a prototype completed this year. Visit www.raytheon.com.

Multilateration Study

Eurocontrol selected the team of PiLDo Lab and Clairus LLC, Manlius, N.Y., to study the feasibility of sharing data between multiple wide area multilateration (WAM) systems.

While traditional radar systems consist of one sensor in a central location, WAM relies on a network of small distributed sensors. As European countries begin to deploy the technology, Eurocontrol wants to understand how data from one system may be used to augment another system, Clairus said.

By sharing sensor or system data and cooperating with each other, Eurocontrol hopes owners of WAM systems can easily expand the coverage of their systems.

If WAM data sharing is feasible, owners of adjacent WAM systems could expand the volume of controlled airspace without purchasing, installing or maintaining any additional hardware, Clairus said. Visit www.clairus.com.

Software Platform

Smiths Aerospace selected the Simics virtualized software development platform from Virtutech, San Jose, Calif.

Smiths said the platform will help it accelerate development of integrated modular avionics.

Simics provides a scaleable platform for embedded software testing and debugging. With Simics, an integrator can model the final target system to provide benefits compared to a traditional development, including reduced development and test costs, reduced integration costs and lower acquisition and maintenance costs, Smiths said.

"Simics allows us to test our software and validate it while the underlying hardware design is being developed," said Gerry Vossler, Smiths Aerospace vice president for advanced marketing and technology. "Having to wait for physical access to hardware still in design makes managing the integration of software from multiple sources extremely difficult. But by simulating the processing hardware with Simics, the development, integration and validation of the control software modifications can proceed ahead of hardware availability." Visit www.virtutech.com.

FPGA Partnership

Altera Corp. and White Electronic Designs Corp. formed a partnership they say will give military and aerospace customers access to a variety of packaging options for field programmable gate arrays (FPGA).

Phoenix-based White Electronic Designs will package Altera FPGA die in packaging types that will include small form-factor monolithic plastic and ceramic, chip-on-board, multichip modules, stack and system-in-a-package. The packaging options will support Altera’s Stratix II and Cyclone II FPGAs.

"It brings FPGA capabilities to military systems designers in smaller form-factor packaging for applications requiring greater density and design flexibility than standard packaging allows," said Hamid Shokrgozar, White Electronic Designs chairman and CEO. Visit www.wedc.com, www.altera.com.

Wafer Plant Accredited

Honeywell said its silicon wafer processing plant in Plymouth, Minn., won Department of Defense (DoD) Accreditation of Trust, making it only the second such U.S. plant to achieve the distinction.

The accreditation applies to its 0.15-micron, 0.35-micron and 0.8-micron silicon wafer processes.

"This accreditation provides all DoD prime contractors and other government agencies with a secure, on-shore silicon wafer foundry for microelectronics technology used in military/space electronics, including those requiring an International ‘Traffic in Arms Regulations’ export license," said David Wick, director, microelectronic sales, Honeywell Aerospace.

Silicon wafers are used to make Application Specific Integrated Circuit and memory components, which are subsequently used in replacement programs, commercial and military avionics systems, payload electronics for commercial and military space systems, inertial measurement units and flight control systems. Visit www.honeywell.com.

Falcon F50 STC

Landmark Aviation received a FAA supplemental type certificate for installation of the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 IDS Integrated Display System on Dassault Falcon 50 aircraft.

Landmark said the system provides increased reliability and reduced weight and can lessen the cost of ownership by allowing operators to retain existing equipment, including the autopilot, flight director computers, flight management system, communication, navigation and distance measuring equipment, transponders and attitude/heading gyros.

The Pro Line 21 IDS upgrade for the Falcon 50 can be configured with three or four 8-inch-by-10-inch active matrix liquid crystal displays and includes Rockwell Collins’ Integrated Flight Information System, enabling electronic charts, weather and map overlays. Options such as an Attitude Heading Reference System and Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System can also be added. Visit www.landmarkaviation.com.

Hawker 4000 Ticket

After numerous delays, Raytheon Aircraft Co. obtained a FAA type certificate for its Hawker 4000 super midsize business jet, featuring a composite fuselage and glass cockpit.

The certification brought to a conclusion a development and certification process that began more than 10 years ago. Customer deliveries are expected in 2007.

The Hawker 4000 cockpit is outfitted with the Honeywell Primus EPIC integrated avionics system, which includes five 8-inch-by-10-inch LCD screens.

"The airplane is truly fantastic and once customers experience its performance, we expect sales to climb," said Raytheon spokesman Mike D. Turner.

As of Dec. 1 last year, Raytheon had received 74 orders for the $19.5 million aircraft. Visit www.raytheon.com.

S-61 Cockpit STC

Acro Helipro Global Services, a subsidiary of Vector Aerospace, received a supplemental type certificate (STC) for Rockwell Collins cockpit display and Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS) system upgrades on the Sikorsky S-61 helicopter.

Canada-based Acro Helipro said the STC enables it to extend its capabilities to include installation, maintenance and servicing for the Rockwell Collins glass cockpit and AHRS system upgrades on the venerable S-61.

The upgrade is based on the Rockwell Collins FDS-2000 Cockpit Display System, and replaces mechanical versions with flat panel color displays. Mehanical gyros are substituted with solid-state, dual AHS-3000 AHRS. The upgrade also includes dual Garmin GPS-530 GPS systems and Mode-S transponder/ADS-B upgrade capability.

Acro Helipro recently delivered its first glass cockpit upgrade for the CSC Autec fleet of S-61s, including a 9,000-hour inspection, complete airframe rewire and reinstallation of the external load emergency release system. Visit www.acrohelipro.com.

F-35 Image Generators

Lockheed Martin selected Rockwell Collins to provide the image generation system for F-35 Lightning pilot training devices. Financial terms were not released.

As part of the award, two image generator configurations will be installed, one in a full-mission simulator and the second in a deployable mission rehearsal trainer. The deal also includes data base generation tools and a data base preview station, both based on Rockwell Collins’ environment processor with military extensions (EPX) technology.

The company said the EPX’s layered architecture enhances reliability and allows rapid data base creation and update from source materials.

Since EPX data bases are delivered as source data, the same data can be used in multiple applications and updated incrementally as new source materials become available, the company said. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.

F-22 Data Acquisition

Teletronics Technology Corp. (TTC), Newtown, Pa., will design and certify the Airborne Instrumentation Data Acquisition System (IDAS) to validate upgrades to F-22 Raptor fighter.

Through a contract with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, TTC will design the systems to validate post engineering, manufacturing and development requirements. The test aircraft is configured to allow tests of various hardware and avionics, while validating flying qualities and structural integrity to the production baseline configuration.

The IDAS equipment to be provided is based on TTC’s commercial off the shelf modular data acquisition system. The system is open, permitting interfaces with sensors, avionics and mission control buses, networks, recorders, displays, processors and telemetry transmitters. Visit www.ttcdas.com.

Black Hawk IMUs

Northrop Grumman will provide a high reliability fiber-optic inertial measurement unit (IMU) for Sikorsky Aircraft’s Black Hawk UH-60M flight control computers.

Sikorsky said the UH-60M program will upgrade the U.S. Army’s Black Hawk fleet of UH-60A and UH-60L models to the UH-60M configuration. The upgrade will incorporate a digitized cockpit.

Northrop Grumman will deliver three IMUs for each of the 90 helicopters covered in the initial contract, with the first to be delivered in May. The company said it projects future orders of the IMUs will top 1,200 domestic helicopters. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.

VIP Black Hawks

ARINC Engineering Services and Sabreliner Corp. completed avionics upgrades on two of the four U.S. Army VH-60 Black Hawk helicopters used to transport VIPs to Washington.

ARINC said the helicopters are receiving new flight management systems (FMS) and cockpit displays to enhance flight operations and safety.

Paul Lipp, Sabreliner avionics manager, said a new Universal Avionics Corp. UNS-1F Super FMS was installed and interfaced with the existing KNR-634A VOR receiver. Also installed were a L-3 Communications RT-1634 TACAN/DME receiver/transmitter and Teledyne air data computer and altimeter.

A custom manufactured, Skylight Avionics ARINC 571 to 429 converter was installed to display distance to waypoint, time to waypoint, and groundspeed information on the existing Bendix-King KDI-573B indicators. The final two aircraft were to be completed in 2007. Visit www.arinc.com.

Satphones On G150s

International Communications Group (ICG) will supply Iridium satellite telephone systems on GulfStream Aerospace’s G150 business jet.

The aircraft will be fitted with ICG’s ICS-200 dual-channel Iridium systems, providing two-way air-to-ground voice, fax and data connections, Newport News, Va.-based ICG said.

The ICS-200 incorporates two independent Iridium transceivers and an internal cabin telecommunications unit, with a small omnidirectional passive Iridium antenna. The G150 entered service in August 2006. Visit www.gulfstream.com, www.intcomgrp.com.

Runway System STC

Emteq, New Berlin, Wis., won FAA supplemental type certification for installation of the Honeywell Runway Awareness Advisory System with the Honeywell MK V Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System computer on the B737-300 through -900 series aircraft.

Emteq’s package includes installation instructions, ground test procedure and instructions for continued airworthiness documents. Visit www.emteq.com.

A319 TV Installation

BaySys Technologies won a FAA supplemental type certificate for installation of the Rockwell Collins’ Tailwind 550 Direct Broadcast Satellite TV System on the Airbus A319.

The Ku-band system offers live television programming in flight. Rockwell Collins says the system’s fuselage-mounted antenna is 30 percent more sensitive than current technology, enabling true multiregional reception. Onancock, Va.-based BaySys operates an aircraft modification and completion facility at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. Visit www.baysys.org.

Air Data System Order

A division of Aerosonic Corp. received a $7.5 million order from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to supply air data systems.

Aerosonic, Clearwater, Fla., said its Avionics Specialties subsidiary will supply air data systems that include an integrated multifunction probe (IMFP) and related equipment for the production of KAI’s T50 military training aircraft. Shipments to KAI are set to begin in September.

Aerosonic said its IMFP provides angle of attack, air data sensing and pressure sensing for military aircraft in one probe, reducing the flight management system complexity on military aircraft.

The system is currently installed on the T50 trainer as well as the F16 Block 60 jet fighter and the M346 military trainer. Visit www.aerosonic.com.

Sichuan Equips Fleet

China’s Sichuan Airlines selected Rockwell Collins’ avionics cockpit package and in-flight entertainment system for its Airbus fleet.

The avionics package and Programmable Audio Video Entertainment System (PAVES) will be installed on 12 Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft, with an option for 10 additional aircraft. Deliveries are set to begin in June.

"Our relationship with Sichuan Airlines has grown substantially," said Jeff Standerski, vice president and general manager, Air Transport Systems for Rockwell Collins. "We look forward to continued growth by delivering the proven capabilities of our weather radar, sensors and data link avionics."

The PAVES system includes overhead video on 10-inch retractable liquid crystal displays, and 22 channels of audio programming. The avionics package includes the WXR-2100 MultiScan Hazard Detection turbulence and weather radar system. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.

Skybus Automation

Skybus Airlines selected Wingspeed Corp.’s XLLink Flight Information Architecture (XFIA) to manage automated paperless operations, voice and messaging on its Airbus A319 fleet.

Skybus, a new low-fare airline based in Columbus, Ohio, said the system will allow aircraft to stay connected to the airline’s ground network through a range of sub-networks such as VHF communications, the Iridium satellite network, cellular and Wi-Fi wireless networks.

The XFIA platform will communicate with Rockwell Collins’ eFlight ground messaging software through Wingspeed’s XLLink global communications network.

Wingspeed will provide Skybus with host processing facilities and integration services. Skybus is set to begin operations this year. Visit www.skybus.com.

Australia Unmanned

Boeing Australia signed a contract to provide Australia its first Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) capability under a program called Joint Project 129.

Boeing Australia and its partner, Israel Aircraft Industries’ Malat Division, will deliver the I-View 250A TUAV and associated systems to the Australian Army, providing airborne surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition capabilities.

"The I-View is the first of its type in Australia and one of the most advanced TUAVs in the world," said Boeing Australia Managing Director David Withers. "The JP 129 TUAV capability will become an integral part of Australia’s network-centric defense framework."

Boeing says the I-View 250A TUAV system’s endurance and payload capabilities allow it to detect, identify and monitor targets at ranges up to 150 kilometers (about 90 miles) from its launch site.

Other features include catapult or conventional runway launch, fully automatic recovery via conventional or powered parafoil and data link equipment based on the U.S. Common Data Link standard to facilitate interoperability with allied forces. Visit www.boeing.com.

UAV Central Controller

Lockheed Martin completed a series of tests of a centralized controller device for unmanned air and ground vehicles.

The company said it demonstrated control of four different unmanned systems from one centralized control device. The prototype system consisted of a touch screen laptop computer with a hand controller. Also, several different radio links were demonstrated, including UHF, L-band and wireless broadband.

"This test gives us an opportunity to experiment with human factors early in the process to ensure we can deliver an effective and soldier-friendly controller to the warfighter," said Gene Holleque, director, Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

The unmanned systems tested included Honeywell’s Micro Air Vehicle Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV), Lockheed Martin’s Silver Fox UAV and Roll Based Operations Architecture robot and Lockheed Martin’s Unmanned Ground Vehicle demonstrator. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com.

Fire Scout Flights

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy completed the first series of flights of the Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV), the MQ-8B.

For the newest generation of the aircraft, engineers added a fourth rotor blade and increased fuel capacity. The enhancements give the MQ-8B greater payload carrying capacity of up to 600 pounds. During flight tests at the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Md., the Fire Scout executed its missions autonomously. Northrop Grumman said full autonomy for the MQ-8B’s first flight was accomplished through software/hardware integration testing at its VTUAV System Center in San Diego.

The Navy plans to use the Fire Scout on the Littoral Combat Ship. Sailors will operate both manned and unmanned helicopters to support operational requirements, including real-time video imagery, intelligence gathering, communications-relay capability, precision targeting and battle damage assessment. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.

Sensors Contract

DRS Technologies won a $7 million contract to produce lightweight electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor systems for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) program Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

DRS, Parsippany, N.J., said the sensors provide imagery during reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. DRS will develop and provide emulators and prototypes of an EO/IR system that meets the reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition requirements of the FCS Class I UAV.

The contract was awarded to DRS by Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems sector, California Microwave Systems unit in Belcamp, Md. "The successful completion of the system development phase on this program will place the company in a solid position as the supplier of choice for full rate production," said James M. Baird, president of DRS’s Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Segment. Visit www.drs.com.

Miniature SAR

Lockheed Martin said its unmanned aerial system (UAS) became the first of its kind to successfully send four-inch resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery.

Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, Md., said the accomplishment shows high-resolution, broad-area images from a Miniaturized Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR) could be effectively delivered by a UAS. During a field exercise Oct. 19, Lockheed Martin’s small SkySpirit UAS — with a Sandia National Laboratories-developed MiniSAR sensor — transmitted MiniSAR images, capturing data in two operational modes: focused area circle-mapping and broad area strip-mapping.

"The need for small unmanned systems that meet emerging mission requirements for agility, endurance, affordability and the next generation of resolution accuracy is a key element in extending the tactical capabilities of United States forces," said Rick Udicious, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Tactical Systems business.

Lockheed said MiniSAR, which is being produced by Rockwell Collins, could greatly enhance a ground unit’s surveillance capabilities. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com.

Taranis Unleashed

Smiths Aerospace and BAE Systems are developing an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) technology demonstrator project for the U.K. Ministry of Defence.

BAE Systems will be prime contractor of the four-year, $243 million demonstrator program, called Taranis.

The project, part of the U.K. government’s Strategic Unmanned Air Vehicle (Experimental) Program, will result in a UAV with fully integrated autonomous systems and low-observable features.

Smiths will provide the electrical system and fuel gauging capability. The companies said the project will provide "experimental evidence on the potential capabilities of this class of UAV and help to inform decisions on the future mix of manned and unmanned fast jet aircraft."

Taranis ground testing is expected to begin in 2009 with first flight trials in 2010. Visit www.smiths-aerospace.com

UAS Networking

Boeing will provide unmanned aerial systems (UAS) communications and network systems expertise to the U.S. Air Force under a five-year, $14 million contract.

The contract includes worldwide platform basing, development of crew training requirements, communications architecture, establishment of national and international airspace access policies and coordination of logistic and sustainment development efforts.

Boeing said it also will work with the Air Force to develop UAS operations plans for allied missions. Boeing currently supports day-to-day operations for the Global Hawk UAS at the Air Force’s Air Combat Command headquarters in Langley, Va. Visit www.boeing.com.

Broadband partnership

ARINC Direct, Annapolis, Md., signed an agreement with Israel-based Starling Advanced Communications to provide fully integrated broadband Internet service for business jets. The pact will combine ARINC’s SKYLink satellite service (see page 36) with Starling’s MIJET and MiniMIJET broadband antenna systems for in-flight applications, which will open the broadband Internet market to thousands of additional aircraft, the companies said.

The MiniMIJET Ku-band antenna for medium and small bizjets is capable of a transmission data rate of up to 384 kilobits per second, and reception rate of 3 to 5 Megabits per second.

The pact "will open new horizons for business travelers, enabling broadband in-flight applications, such as the Internet, VPN, PDA, VoIP, e-mail, mobile phones, video conferencing and instant messaging," they said.

ARINC said it will be able to offer connectivity for midsize and large business jets this year. Visit www.arinc.com.

Portable IFE

Pakistan International Airlines will use digEcor’s portable in-flight entertainment (IFE) services for its A310 and B777 aircraft. DigEcor said its digEplayer XT is the first portable audio/video-on-demand IFE system. Visit www.digecor.com.

Weather Service

Ensco, Falls Church, Va., said Korean Air (KAL) became the third major airline to sign up for its polar weather service.

Ensco will provide KAL with information on polar wind speed, polar air temperatures and solar radiation levels.

Last year, Ensco signed weather-service deals with United Airlines and Singapore Air Lines. Visit www.ensco.com.

Axiom Buyout

Axiom Electronics, a Beaverton, Ore.-based maker of wireless communication systems, flight hardware and satellite systems, completed a management buy-out from its former parent Ambitech International. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Completing this transaction marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in Axiom Electronics’ 15 plus year history," said Robert Toppel, president of Axiom Electronics. "We are very excited to be unencumbered from the past and able to facilitate the success and growth of our customers’ business through a combination of strategy, operations and technology prowess, and leadership." Visit www.axiomsmt.com.

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