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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Industry Scan

   Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin

Lockheed, Air Force Fix C-5M ‘Deficiencies’

The U.S. Air Force’s C-5M program has fixed some of the problems that arose during two major modernization initiatives for the transport aircraft and is working to repair the others, according to the Air Force and prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin designed and successfully tested software changes to reduce the false alarm rate and improve the fault isolation rate of the jet’s new built-in test (BIT) function, which checks the health of the aircraft’s systems using on-aircraft sensors and reports the health status back to operators and maintainers, company spokesman Chad Gibson said.

“The Air Force is processing the final paperwork to get that version of software out to the field, and we hope that it will start to be installed on C-5M aircraft later this year,” Gibson told Avionics Magazine. “In addition to the software improvements … we have made several improvements to the Air Force technical orders to identify nuisance faults and to provide procedures to help flight crews and maintenance technicians deal with these indications while we process the software changes.”

The software package, known as Block 3.5, is also expected to resolve a susceptibility to information assurance problems.

To address a lack of C-5M-specific training systems, the Air Force has worked with another contractor, Flight Safety International, to convert flight crew trainers to the C-5M configuration.

In the meantime, Lockheed Martin is supporting aircrew training with an engineering simulator. In addition, Lockheed Martin is developing two maintenance trainers: an avionics maintenance systems trainer that is undergoing testing at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and a flight controls systems trainer that will be delivered to Dover later this year.

The Air Force and Lockheed Martin said problems with the C-5M’s autopilot, environmental control system and thrust reversers have all been corrected and successfully tested.

The Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) highlighted the various C-5M “deficiencies” in its fiscal 2011 annual report, the most recent available.

The Air Force has been upgrading the Lockheed Martin-built C-5 Galaxy, its largest airlifter, into the C-5M Super Galaxy through two major efforts –– the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) and the Reliability Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP). AMP adds a glass cockpit, digital avionics and new communications, navigation and surveillance equipment. AMP also provides a digital backbone for RERP, whose centerpiece is four new GE commercial engines.

The programs are designed to boost the aircraft’s endurance, power and reliability and make it quieter and easier to fly and maintain. Specific improvements include reducing fuel consumption by 20 percent and cutting climb time by 50 percent. At the end of August, the C-5M fleet had flown more than 10,000 flight hours, 50 percent more than projected, Gibson said.

Lockheed Martin in April delivered the last of 79 C-5s to go through the 14-year-old AMP program. Of those, 52 are going through RERP, which is expected to achieve full-rate production this fall and be completed in fiscal year 2016. The Air Force plans to retire the other 27 aircraft, saying it no longer needs them.

The Air Force is pursuing additional upgrades to keep the aircraft ready for combat and humanitarian missions. Lockheed Martin expects to receive a development contract in March for the C-5M’s Core Mission Computer/Weather Radar Replacement Program. A modification to equip C-5Ms with Northrop Grumman’s anti-missile Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system is ongoing and scheduled for completion in fiscal year 2017.

Already in service for decades, the C-5 is slated to remain in the Air Force fleet through 2040.

“The C-5 is a national asset with no peers in its class,” Gibson said. “At this time, there is no known replacement in work.” ––Marc Selinger

COMMERCIAL

Senate UAS Caucus

U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) formed a unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) caucus, in hopes of educating lawmakers and staff about the capabilities of the systems.

The Senate Unmanned Aerial Caucus also hopes to help provide a foundation for the federal UAS policy-making process.

Over the last decade, the use of UASs has expanded from primarily being used for military intelligence to areas such as law enforcement, weather surveillance and aerial photography.

“The increased use of Unmanned Aerial Systems carries great potential and great risk,” said Manchin. “It’s important for all of us to understand how we can use this advancing technology to strengthen our national security and improve our ability to respond in case of natural or man-made disasters, while at the same time ensuring the privacy of all of our law-abiding American citizens. I am so appreciative of Sen. Inhofe’s work on this issue, and I look forward to working together in a bipartisan way to keep our colleagues updated on the emerging policy issues involving this technology.”

Earlier this year, FAA established the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office in its safety organization to address all matters related to civil and public use of UAS, as the agency continues to integrate more unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system (NAS). Currently, FAA authorizes the limited use of UAS and is working on a proposed rule to govern the use of UAS in the NAS.

Recovery Slow for Airlines

The U.S. airline industry is still adjusting to a volatile 2008-2011 period with mergers, new passenger fees and a reduced number of scheduled flights, according to the aviation industry performance report released in September by Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovell III.

The report states in 2000, 10 major airlines accounted for 90 percent of total domestic passenger air traffic — and in 2012 that has been reduced to five, a number that could drop to four if US Airways and American Airlines choose to merge.

According to the report, airlines reduced the number of scheduled domestic flights by 14 percent between 2007 and 2012, which has led to increased passenger loads and higher fares on regional flights.

High fuel prices and a slow economic recovery have greatly influenced the newer business models being introduced by airlines, according to the report. Fuel costs peaked at 40 percent of airline operating costs in 2008, a 30 percent increase from 2000 when fuel costs accounted for 10 percent of airline operating expenses.

To offset the skyrocketing cost of jet fuel, airlines are passing the cost along to passengers, mainly with baggage fees. In 2011, U.S. airlines collected a total of $2.7 billion in added revenue from higher baggage fees — and spent $31 billion on jet fuel.

“Ultimately, the trends presented in this report suggest that the changes in the number of airlines controlling the industry, fare increases, and capacity reductions that began in 2008 are not a brief phase, but rather are signs of a greater shift in the industry that will remain for years to come,” the inspector general said.

Allegiant to Offer Row 44

Allegiant Air will offer the Row 44 video-on-demand (VOD) service on its fleet of 757s, as part of a new partnership with the in-flight entertainment (IFE) provider, under an agreement announced in early October.

Row 44 said Allegiant will offer its wireless in-flight video streaming only service, which operates without satellite connectivity directly on passengers’ iPad, iPhone, Android and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The VOD entertainment content is stored aboard the aircraft on a 1.8 terabyte server, and does not offer the Row 44 satellite Internet service.

“Allegiant has proven adept at pioneering and delivering innovative solutions in the travel marketplace,” said Travis Christ, chief marketing and sales officer for Row 44. “Allegiant is a low cost specialist when it comes to linking leisure travelers to popular destinations, and we look forward to complementing their brand with a world-class VOD entertainment experience.”

Row 44 will begin installations of its VOD service on the Allegiant Air fleet of Boeing 757s in the first quarter of 2013.

In-Flight Phone Service

Emirates will begin offering in-flight mobile phone service on its fleet of A380s, as part of the Dubai carrier’s connectivity package with OnAir.

The OnAir system uses EDGE and GPRS connections to allow passengers to make and receive phone calls and text messages through their individual mobile service providers.

Emirates said the OnAir mobile service has been successfully installed and tested on one of its A380s, and will be retrofitted to its entire fleet of 25 A380s going forward.

“Our goal on every flight is to exceed our passenger’s’ expectations. We believe that exceeding expectations should not only apply to our Cabin Crew’s award-winning in-flight service and our SKYTRAX ‘World’s Best Airline In-Flight Entertainment’ ice system, but also to our passenger’s desire to stay in touch while travelling,” said Patrick Brannelly, vice president of corporate communications at Emirates.

MILITARY

Rafale C137

France’s Rafale C137 equipped with the Thales RBE2 AESA radar system
The French defense procurement agency DGA received the first production Rafale C137 aircraft equipped with the Thales RBE2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, the companies announced in October.

Thales said its radar is designed to provide extended range capabilities supporting low-observable target reduction and greater waveform agility for Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging, among other capabilities.

“Dassault Aviation and Thales are proud to equip French forces with this advanced radar technology, which is now entering operational service on a European combat aircraft for the first time,” said Thales in a statement.

DARPA AHR Flight Tests

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program recently completed successful flight demonstrations of technology that allows unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to automatically refuel in-flight.

DARPA conducted the flights in collaboration with Northrop Grumman and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center using two NASA Global Hawk UASs.

The agency said that the two Global Hawks successfully flew in close formation (as close as 30 feet) for more than 2.5 hours at 44,800 feet. The close formation flight showed the ability of UAS to operate autonomously under in-flight refueling conditions.

“The technical developments that enabled these two high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned Global Hawks in close formation is an outstanding accomplishment for the AHR program,” said Fred Ricker, vice president and deputy general manager for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Advanced Programs & Technology. “Coupled with the advanced design and technical implementation of aerial refueling systems on board both aircraft, the demonstration has truly brought a concept to life, which has the potential to change the operations for unmanned aircraft utility and enable mission flexibility never before realized.”

BUSINESS/GA

Report: Expanding Business Aviation Could Help European Recovery

The Huginn X-1, manufactured by Denmark-based Sky-Watch, is a nano UAS designed for surveillance tasks in both civilian and military settings, according to Oculus.

Business aviation could play a vital role in the continued recovery of the European economy, according to a report conducted by Oxford Economics.

The report, conducted on behalf of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), said in 2011, 96 percent of city pairs served by business aviation had no scheduled connection. The other 4 percent served more than a third of all business aviation air traffic in volume, according to Oxford.

Also, the report uses case studies to highlight the importance of business aviation to local economies in Europe. One example shows that at Farnborough Airport in the U.K., on-site employment is around 1,000 jobs — and an additional 4,000 jobs in the local region are the result of the airport’s larger supply chain.

The Oxford economists also found each additional passenger on a business aviation flight generates the same gross domestic product as nine business passengers on a scheduled flight.

EBAA concludes from the report that more investment in the business aviation industry and expansion of destinations served by business aircraft operators would greatly help to accelerate the European economic recovery.

“What this study clearly points out is that business aviation is playing a key role in facilitating Europe’s recovery,” said Fabio Gamba, CEO at EBAA. “This importance should be recognized in policy formulation, with legislators developing regulations and mechanisms that bolster business aviation activity in order to further stimulate the growth of our region, rather than ignore it as it was evidenced with the European Commission’s proposed recast on slot allocation, or penalize it as the Italian government has done by introducing a double tax on owners and passengers, resulting in dismal traffic figures in the country.”

CONTRACTS

➤ The Office of Naval Research has awarded a $13.5 million contract to an industry team led by Lockheed Martin to explore autonomous technologies aboard an unmanned vertical take-off and landing aircraft. Under the contract, Lockheed Martin and a team of industry, government, and academic partners will develop a technology that will enable aircraft to operate under supervisory control. A human operator will interact with the system at a high level while low level control is left to the automation. The resulting technology will have the potential to improve the utility and effectiveness of current unmanned vertical take-off and landing aircraft, as well as offer pilots supplemental decision aids on legacy manned platforms, Lockheed Martin said.

➤ Mexican carrier Interjet has selected the ACSS T³CAS integrated surveillance system for six Airbus A320s. Phoenix-based ACSS is a joint venture of Thales and L-3 Communications.

“T³CAS will deliver Interjet the most advanced surveillance capability for its A320s,” said Scott Duffin, director of sales at Thales. “Through its higher level of integration and technological advancement, T³CAS delivers the full suite of surveillance functions with less weight and volume of federated systems, with reduced wiring and improved power efficiency.”

In addition, US Airways received Supplemental Type Certification (STC) on its Airbus A330 aircraft for DO-260B (TSO c166b) capability using ACSS’s XS-950 Mode S Transponder. DO-260B is the highest level of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast transmission (ADS-B). US Airways will equip 20 Airbus A330s as part of the FAA’s NextGen implementation program. The XS-950 was certified in 2011 to DO-260B, which enables ADS-B transmission of more information about an aircraft’s position, speed and intent.

FAA is providing $1.3 million in grants for Chicago O’Hare, Denver and San Francisco International Airports for vehicle surveillance equipment to reduce the risk of “conflicts” between airport safety vehicles and aircraft.Each airport will receive $421,875 to purchase up to 75 Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) units to allow air traffic controllers to locate vehicles on the airfield during low visibility conditions. FAA said the ADS-B units will be installed on airport operations vehicles such as fire trucks and snow plows.

“This grant allows ground equipment operators to have a better situational awareness of where they are on the airfield, which increases airport safety,” said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta.

L-3 Aviation Recorders signed an agreement with Airbus to certify and provide the FLYHT Aerospace Solutions AFIRS 228S real-time data communications and SATCOM system for installation on the Airbus A320 family of aircraft. The system, which provides ACARS capability and SATCOM voice connectivity anywhere in the world through the Iridium network, is marketed under the FLYHT brand in conjunction with L-3’s Flight Data Recorders. The products being sold will have the technical ability to support FLYHTStream, FLYHT’s triggered data streaming tool.

➤ The Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG) flyTab team will install a Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB) on CRJ-200s and Dash 8-100s operated by Nav Canada.

ASIG, of Little Rock, Ark., said its EFB components have STC certifications that enable the iPad EFB to be fully integrated with the aircraft. Nav Canada selected the flyTab pedTray mount, power conditioning module (PCM) for iPad recharging and the aircraft interface module (AIM) to connect the EFB with all aircraft systems and sensors.

“The iPad EFB is a replacement for our current Class 3 EFB that is expensive to maintain. This installation will allow us to maintain our operational efficiency and ‘paperless cockpit’ at a much lower cost on our CRJ and Dash 8 aircraft with enhanced applications,” said Anthony MacKay, manager of flight operations at Nav Canada.

The U.S. Air Force awarded a five-year $51 million contract to PKL Services, of Poway, Calif., to provide functional elements spanning operations, maintenance and simulator support for the Air Force and Republic of Singapore (RSAF) F-15 aircraft.

This contract provides functional elements spanning operations, maintenance, and simulator support to maintain the RSAF F-15SG and the Air Force F F-15C/D and F-15E aircraft.

PKL will provide avionics maintenance, inspection and database management and analysis among other specialized support functions for all assigned aircraft at the Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

Lufthansa Systems will provide its iPad Lido/iRouteManual navigation charts to AirBridgeCargo Airlines. The Russian cargo carrier signed a five-year contract with Lufthansa to deploy the iPad navigation charts on its Boeing 747s.

The Lido/iRouteManual for the iPad gives pilots access to relevant navigation charts, NOTAMs and general text information with mobile broadband-enabled updates, according to Lufthansa.

Southwest Airlines will install ARINC Water Vapor Sensor Systems (WVSS) on its fleet of Boeing 737-700s.

The systems will provide coast-to-coast weather observations on more than 100 aircraft once installation is complete, according to ARINC.

Oculus Systems has become the U.K. vendor for the Huginn X-1 unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

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