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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Regional Scan: Europe

By Woodrow Bellamy III

UK Launches Low Altitude Datalink Flight Trials

U.K.’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is currently using live flight trials between Bristol and Edinburgh to research the use of data communications between Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and pilots at lower altitudes. According to NATS, Datalink, the U.K.’s version of the Data Comm ATM modernization in the U.S., is currently mandated in European airspace above 28,500 feet and now the U.K. is looking at providing the same benefits at flight levels as low as 10,000 feet.

In addition to the flight trials between Bristol and Edinburgh, NATS is also conducting them between Bristol and Rome Fiumicino as well as four routes between Scotland and Scandinavia. So far, NATS has landed more than 10 successful trial flights and will continue to run trials through June. Also participating is the Italian air navigation service provider ENAV, airlines including Air France, EasyJet and SAS, and industry leaders Selex-SI, SITA, Airbus ProSky and Boeing. The trials are the culmination of the ATC Full Datalink Project (AFD) under the Demonstrating SESAR: Integrated Flight Trials program.

Datalink was first deployed in Europe in November 2012, as a concept to replace voice communications at lower altitudes.

Airbus Conducts SESAR i4D Flight Trials

Airbus has completed the second initial 4D (i4D) trajectory flight trials as part of a joint project with other members of the government-industry Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking team. i4D, a technology designed to ensure aircraft flight trajectories remain synchronized between air and ground throughout all stages of flight, will facilitate more direct paths between destinations in Europe, according to Airbus.

The SESAR team’s goal is to reduce the environmental impact per flight by 10 percent, as well as reduce delays with shorter and more direct flights.

Europe’s 1st UAS Research Center Opens in Spain

UAS at the inauguration of the ATLAS Research Center. Photo: ATLAS
The first research center for civil UAS activities, ATLAS has opened in Spain. The facility will provide testing for navigation technologies, aircraft performance and simulations for civil missions. ATLAS has a collaboration agreement with Boeing Research and Technology-Europe, enabling the U.S.-based airframe manufacturer to use the facility to perform their own flight tests.

Located in Herrera, Spain, the site features a main runway of more than 2,600 feet, as well as an auxiliary grass runway and an Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower with approach radar and communications room to simulate what UAS operations in Europe will truly look like within commercial airspace.

 

Pilatus Connects PC-12 NG Flight Deck

Honeywell Primus Apex on Pilatus PC-12 NG. Photo: Pilatus
Pilatus Aircraft gave its 6-year-old single-engine turboprop, PC-12 NG, a connectivity-fueled avionics overhaul for 2014 to celebrate the first delivery of the original PC-12 20 years ago. Since first introducing the PC-12 in 1994, Pilatus has developed special mission variants of the aircraft and also incorporated winglets and increased the turboprop’s gross weight.

The 2014 PC-12 NG’s biggest new feature is the new wireless connected flight deck, a set of four iPad applications that interface with an onboard gateway system to provide an effortless data exchange process between the aircraft, pilot and maintenance engineers. Pilatus collaborated with Honeywell, Jeppesen and Aspen Avionics to implement the new flight deck technology. The iPad applications, MyFlightPath, MyCMC, MyGDC, INDS and Connected for Pilatus allow for wireless downloading and updating of navigational databases.

 Thales to Acquire LiveTV

Thales signed a binding agreement to acquire JetBlue’s subsidiary in-flight entertainment provider, LiveTV, for $400 million. The acquisition is still subject to regulatory approval and Thales is expecting to complete the purchase by mid-2014. The Melbourne, Fla.-based LiveTV provides in-flight entertainment and connectivity products covering Ka-Band Broadband, Multi Band Broadband (Ku-, Ka- and L-Band), LiveAero and Regional Satellite Radio.

Currently, LiveTV is providing the installation of ViaSat’s Ka-band satellite in-flight connectivity service across JetBlue’s entire commercial fleet of Airbus A320s.

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