Sunday, October 1, 2006
C-130, KC-10 to Get Avionics Upgrades
Boeing has received contracts to be a part of two teams conducting modernization programs for separate U.S. Air Force aircraft-the C-130 and KC-10. Under a USAF agreement worth up to $56.3 million, Boeing will lead a team to begin modifying the C-130's aircrew training system. CAE and Lockheed Martin will join Boeing to design, implement and test the cockpit simulator, shown at right, as part of the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP). The contract involves the delivery of the first simulator and other training devices that will be installed at Little Rock AFB, Ark. The modification will upgrade older round dial instruments with glass cockpit displays, including a head-up display. The Air Force plans to fly the first AMP-modified C-130 in 2009.
In a separate deal, Boeing, Honeywell and Rockwell Collins have agreed to jointly pursue the AMP for the KC-10. That project will update the aircraft's avionics to meet communications, navigation, and surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) requirements. Rockwell Collins will serve as the prime contractor for the KC-10 program. Boeing will be charged with non-recurring engineering (NRE) for non-avionics systems and Honeywell will support upgrade efforts for the autopilot/autothrottle systems. The Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center granted $3.5 million to the team in July to study the modernization project for the KC-10. Contract award is anticipated in March 2008. Visit www.boeing.com, www.cae.com, www.honeywell.com, www.lockheedmartin.com and www.rockwellcollins.com.
Tadiran Electronic Systems has tested its Skyfix communications intelligence and direction finding (COMINT/DF) system on unmanned aircraft. Also capable of operation on manned platforms, Skyfix monitors radio emitters, pinpoints their coordinates and sends the data to digital map displays at a ground station. The unit, when incorporated with the Elisra Group's Spectrolite electronic intelligence-electronic support measures (ELINT-ESM) system, provides coverage of the entire signals intelligence (SIGINT) domain. Tadiran is a subsidiary of Israel-based Elisra. Visit www.elisra.com.
Two data acquisition and recording products made by L-3 Communications Aviation Recorders (L-3 AR) have been selected for the Cessna CJ3 and Encore+ business aircraft. Under the agreement, L-3 AR will provide flight data acquisition units (FDAUs) and flight data recorders (FDRs) for the bizjets. According to the Sarasota, Fla.-based division of L-3 Communications, the FDAU is well-suited for the CJ3 and Encore+ flight data systems, which Cessna has modified to monitor additional flight data parameters at fast sample rates. The lightweight, compact FDR is capable of recording up to 25 hours of flight and maintenance information. Visit www.l-3ar.com and www.cessna.com.
Mode S Translator
Spectralux Corp. has obtained an FAA supplemental type certificate for installation of its A429 translator on Gulfstream G-IV bizjets. According to the Redmond, Wash.-based company, the translator is designed to provide a solution for the "selected altitude" problem, an interface issue with avionics components on some business aircraft. Selected altitude prevents compliance with all eight downlink aircraft parameters (DAPs) for the Mode S enhanced surveillance (EHS) mandate in European airspace. Visit www.spectralux.com.
Northrop Grumman is developing a fourth-generation version of its Litening AT targeting and sensor system. Among the upgrades planned are a 1,024 x 1,024-pixel forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor for improved day/night target detection, two-way data links for air/ground communications, sensors to improve target identification and other advanced targeting capabilities. Northrop already has started flight tests of a first target ID sensor, and plans call for testing of a second unit, which features an advanced laser, later this year. Preliminary system checks also are ongoing on the FLIR sensor in anticipation of flight tests in 2007. The U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard and Marine Corps currently use Litening AT. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.
The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority has chosen Comsoft, the German air traffic control (ATC) provider, to integrate radar message conversion and distribution equipment (RMCDE) at the ATC center in Athens, Greece. The equipment will pre-process aircraft data received from conventional and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) ground stations, then forward the information to systems such as the Eurocontrol ATM surveillance tracker and server (ARTAS). The contract, which will help evaluate the benefit of future ADS-B deployment in Europe, is part of the Eurocontrol CRISTAL (CoopeRative ValIdation of Surveillance Techniques and AppLications) program. Visit www.comsoft.de.
A-10 Mod Kits
The U.S. Air Force has awarded $48 million to Lockheed Martin's A-10 Prime Team to supply 107 precision engagement (PE) modification kits for the A-10 fighter. As part of the deal, Lockheed will provide hardware and software updates to transform A-10As from analog systems to A-10Cs, which are digital-based with the ability to launch precision weapons. Each kit features a new cockpit instrument panel with 5-by-5-inch multifunction color displays, a new stick grip and right throttle, and six pylons with "smart" weapons capability. In addition, a new central interface control unit manages the aircraft's avionics and the digital stores management system (DSMS), which controls weapons functions. The Air Force contract is the second order of PE kits, following an initial order for 72 units in March 2005. Plans call for Lockheed to deliver 356 kits over five years, totaling about $168 million. Visit www.lockheedmartin.com.
The Turkish Air Force has ordered 194 multifunctional information distribution system (MIDS) low volume terminals (LVTs) from ViaSat, the satellite and communications provider in Carlsbad, Calif. The MIDS terminals will be installed on Turkey's fleet of F-16 fighters. Deliveries of the LVTs will begin in October and continue through 2010. The order will be placed through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Visit www.viasat.com.
Northrop Grumman has unveiled the first production RQ-4 Global Hawk, Block 20, unmanned aerial reconnaissance system. The Block 20 design features an open system architecture, which enables a plug-and-play environment to accommodate new sensor and communications equipment. The updated Global Hawk also offers more than two times the power of its Block 10 predecessor, as well as 3,000 pounds of additional payload. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.
Louisville, Colo.-based AirCell Inc. has unveiled its Axxess EZ satcom system, which is intended to replace current MagnaStar airborne telephones. Designed to use existing MagnaStar wiring and component locations, the system can reduce downtime by up to 50 percent, according to AirCell. EZ ultimately will allow access to the company's air-to-ground broadband service, which AirCell expects to launch in late 2007.
In a separate announcement, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified AirCell's ST 3100 satcom system on the Cessna Citation 550. The AirCell system uses the Iridium satellite network to provide phone services. The ST 3100 also can function as a communications link, providing in-flight services such as weather, messaging and air traffic control information, and news/sports programming. AirCell also expects EASA certification of Axxess soon. Visit www.aircell.com.
The U.S. Army has ordered 72 modern signal processing unit (MSPU) health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) from Poway, Calif.-based Intelligent Automation Corp. (IAC). The IAC 1209 units, which provide data acquisition and measurement functions specifically designed for helicopters, will be installed on Army AH-64 Apache helicopters. In addition, the service has issued a modification work order, which approves the HUMS system for installation on the Army's 750 Apaches. Visit www.iac-online.com.
ARINC has received an FAA supplemental type certificate for the installation of an Iridium-based telephone service on Boeing 747-200 cargo aircraft. Avionics developed by Newport News, Va.-based International Communications Group are used in the ARINC program. The package includes the small footprint ICS-100 transceiver and Jetphone handset, which provide features such as call transfer, extension-to-extension calling and three-party teleconferencing. Visit www.arinc.com.
Harris Corp. has received a $12.5-million contract to supply the distributed targeting processor (DTP) and mass storage unit (MSU) for the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The DTP and MSU will improve network centric operational capabilities by lowering the time from sensing to shooting, as well as boosting precision targeting capabilities through advanced geo-referencing techniques.
The nine-month contract will build on Harris' efforts to develop other systems for the Super Hornet, including the Fibre Channel network switch (FCNS), a high-resolution mapping system known as the tactical airborne moving map capability (TAMMAC) digital video map computer (DVMC), and a digital memory device (DMD) for cockpit data loading. Visit www.harris.com.
Two manufacturers, BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman, are moving forward into the third phase of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Counter-Man Portable Air Defense System (Counter-MANPADS) program. DHS has granted Northrop Grumman $55.4 million to complete production on 12 Guardian missile defense systems, modify 11 MD-10 cargo aircraft and operate Guardian systems on nine MD-10s that fly regular commercial service. Guardian detects shoulder-fired missiles and sends a laser to the seeker head of an incoming missile to disrupt its guidance signals. In a related agreement, DHS has tapped BAE Systems to continue testing its JETEYE system on an American Airlines Boeing 767, as well as an ABX Air cargo aircraft. BAE Systems says the 18-month, Phase 3 contract will continue to reduce the cost of the system to the airlines by lowering its aerodynamic drag, improving reliability and streamlining installation. JETEYE is based on the Army's advanced threat infrared countermeasures system. The Counter-MANPADS program seeks to develop a system to protect commercial aircraft against heat-seeking missiles. Visit www.baesystems.com and www.northropgrumman.com.
ImSAR of Salem, Utah, has teamed with unmanned aircraft provider, Insitu, to complete a prototype version of the NanoSAR, a 1-pound (0.45 kg) synthetic aperture radar. The radar is designed to bring all-weather reconnaissance and geolocation capabilities to nearly any aircraft, such as the small, lightweight unmanned air vehicle (UAV) platforms manufactured by Insitu. NanoSAR provides broad area reconnaissance and can be used for search and rescue operations, ground motion target indication (GMTI) and remote munitions cueing. Visit www.imsar.net and www.insitu.com.
The U.S. Air Force has granted a contract to the defense segment of Cubic Corp. to incorporate its AN/ARS-6 V12 personnel locator system (PLS) on Air National Guard HH-60G PaveHawk helicopters. The San Diego-based company says the agreement likely will lead to future Air Force PLS orders for the HH-60G and HC-130 Hercules helicopters. The AN/ARS-6 enables voice communications, two-way text messaging and GPS location from ground-based survival radios that can be picked up by airborne rescue crews. Aerospace Integration Corp. of Mary Esther, Fla., is the prime contractor for installation of the units on the HH-60Gs. Cubic will provide technical support for the PLS integration effort. Visit www.cubic.com and www.aicworld.com.
OnAir has struck a deal with the European carrier, Ryanair, to supply its onboard in-flight mobile communications service on the airline's fleet of Boeing 737s. Using Inmarsat's SwiftBroadband satellite network, the OnAir service gives passengers the ability to use cell phones and portable digital assistants (PDAs) to send and receive calls, text messages and e-mails. Plans call for the service to be available on Ryanair flights from mid- 2007. OnAir is a joint venture of Airbus and SITA. Visit www.onair.aero and www.ryanair.com.
UAV Flight Control
Warrenton, Va.-based Athena Technologies has received an order from AAI Corp. to provide its GuideStar flight control system for the U.S. Army's Shadow tactical unmanned aircraft system. Under the $3-million deal with Hunt Valley, Md.-based AAI, Athena will supply the GuideStar-211e flight controls, which feature a selective availability/anti-spoofing module (SAASM). Visit www.athenati.com and www.aaicorp.com.
Flight verification tests of the electro-optical/infrared/laser designator (EO/IR/LD) sensor for the U.S. Army's Warrior unmanned aircraft are now complete. Raytheon recently demonstrated the performance characteristics of the sensor and its wide area search (WAS) capability aboard an Army Twin Otter aircraft. The mid-wave EO/IR/LD sensor provides six fields of view, continuous zoom and targeting functions, and a laser range finder. It also can track moving targets on the ground with an automatic video tracker. Visit www.raytheon.com.
The first F/A-18 tactical operational flight trainer (TOFT) is now operational at the Royal Australian Air Force's Williamtown base in New South Wales. Installed by L-3 Communications' Link Simulation and Training division, the trainer includes a mission management system with an instructor/operator station and a briefing room. L-3's Link division will install two additional TOFTs under a subcontract with Raytheon Australia. The third unit will be upgraded with a simulated Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), an airfield database and a flight control computer, as well as a nine-panel SimuSphere display that gives pilots a 360-degree field of view. Visit www.l-3com.com.
Cessna has started function and reliability testing on its Citation Mustang business aircraft. The Mustang will be certified to use the GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) and operate in reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace. The aircraft's Garmin G1000 cockpit includes SafeTaxi, which provides a graphical display of the ground aircraft at an airport. Visit www.cessna.com and www.garmin.com.
Teledyne Controls has obtained maintenance approval that allows its Los Angeles repair station to perform avionics modifications on Chinese-registered aircraft. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a Maintenance Organization Certificate recognizing the facility's compliance with Part 145 requirements of CAAC regulations. The station also received approval for inspection, repair and overhaul services on Chinese aircraft. Visit www.teledynecontrols.com.
FAA has granted approval for Horizon Air to perform required navigation performance (RNP) 0.3 nm special aircraft and aircrew authorization required (SAAAR) approaches at Portland International Airport in Oregon. The carrier uses dual UNS-1E flight management systems (FMS) from Universal Avionics to perform the approach, which is intended as a backup to GPS. Universal says that Horizon is the second U.S. carrier to achieve RNP SAAAR approvals into Portland, as Alaska Airlines has used the technique there for several months. Visit www.universalavionics.com.
Martinair has chosen Hollingsead International's Sentry One cockpit door video surveillance system (CDVSS) for its fleet of Boeing 767s. Installations are set to begin in the fourth quarter of 2006, and Ventura, Calif.-based Hollingsead plans to obtain European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval for the 767 configuration. The Martinair system will include three or four cameras covering two different aircraft layouts, a system control panel and a 6.8-inch video display unit. The Netherlands-based carrier also flies Boeing 747, MD-11 and Airbus A320 aircraft. Visit www.hollingsead.com.
Embedded software provider Esterel Technologies has acquired a license to sell the IMAGE embedded graphical display software design environment created by Thales Avionics and Diehl Aerospace. The companies signed a strategic technology transfer that gives Esterel an exclusive source code license for the product, which will be sold as a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution. IMAGE is currently in use by large-scale avionics programs, such as the Airbus A380 and A400M, the Sukhoi Russian Jet and the Dassault Aviation Rafale. The graphic software will be integrated into Esterel's SCADE product line. Visit www.esterel-technologies.com, www.thales.com and www.diehl-aerospace.de.
UK-based Drake has finished installing voice communications systems (VCS) for air traffic control at eight sites throughout India. The VCS passed final site acceptance tests, completing the company's contract with the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Included in the installations were large VCS systems, which feature 50 touchscreen operator workstations, as well as 20 radio and 86 telephone interfaces, for the area control centers at Delhi and Mumbai. Smaller systems, with 20 workstations, 10 radio inputs and 26 phone interfaces, were installed at centers in Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Guwahati, Hyderbad, Nagpur and Trivandrum. Visit www.drake-uk.com.
Broadband Phase Out
Boeing has decided to phase out its Connexion by Boeing airborne broadband service. The company says the decision follows a detailed analysis of the high-speed broadband market. President and CEO Jim McNerney noted in an Aug. 17, 2006, press release that the market "has not materialized as had been expected." Boeing expects it will take around $320 million to shut down the service. Visit www.boeing.com.
Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., has a new airport surveillance system in place. The Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X, (ASDE-X) from Sensis Corp. is now operational. Bradley is the first airport to use the company's enhanced surface movement radar (SMRi), which improves accuracy in bad weather. ASDE-X employs numerous surveillance sources, such as multilateration, to provide coverage an airport environment. Visit www.sensis.com.
German satellite communications provider, TriaGnoSys, has tested its Internet access software for the Airbus A380. TriaComMa will be capable of supporting various satellite services, including Inmarsat Swift64 and Swift Broadband, ARINC Gatelink and Ku-band services. TriaComMa will give passengers the ability to access the Web using laptops or through the aircraft's in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. It also will control crew and IFE data communications to and from the aircraft. Visit www.triagnosys.com.
Smiths Aerospace has conducted flight demonstrations of its health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) for the U.S. Army's MH-47G Chinook. The HUMS unit monitors aircraft systems such as engines, transmissions and rotors, and stores the data in a removable memory cartridge. Visit www.smiths-aerospace.com.
Mineral Wells, Texas-based S-TEC Corp. has partnered with Ameriflight to offer a supplemental type certificate (STC) installation of the System Thirty autopilot on Beechcraft 99 turboprops. Visit www.s-tec.com and www.ameriflight.com.
Skyblue Aviation, a British type rating training organization (TRTO), has purchased a Mechtronix ATR 42/72 full flight trainer (FFT). The simulator, which Mechtronix plans to deliver in October 2006, is configurable to either ATR 42-300 or ATR 72-500 aircraft. Visit www.mechtronix.com.
Dulles, Va.-based GeoEye has chosen BAE Systems' Socet Set and ClearFlite software to help create images for hundreds of airports worldwide. Part of a 3D mapping project by the U.S. National Geospatial Agency (NGA), the project calls for airport mapping databases at 365 airports by June 2007. Visit www.baesystems.com and www.geoeye.com.
Rockwell Collins has signed a three-year service and support contract with Mexicana Airlines. As a result of the agreement, the companies expect reduced operating costs and turnaround times for the carrier. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.
Raytheon has won a $96-million contract to provide the Advanced Self-Protection Integrated Suite (ASPIS) of electronic warfare equipment for Hellenic Air Force (HAF) F-16 aircraft. Visit www.raytheon.com.