ATM Modernization, Business & GA, Commercial, Military

Industry Scan

By | September 1, 2000
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Thomson in the UK

Having confirmed that its offer for Racal Electronics Plc has been declared wholly unconditional, Thomson-CSF says it plans to reorganize its activities in the UK. The UK holding company, is to be renamed Thomson-CSF Racal Plc.

The plan will group together all subsidiaries in the UK, under the continuing chairmanship of Lord Freeman. Sir Colin Chandler will continue as chairman of Racal Electronics Plc, while the offer process is completed. He then will continue to advise in a non-executive capacity.

An integrated British defense company, to be called Thomson Racal Defence Ltd., will combine Racal’s defense activities with the existing Thomson-CSF defense subsidiaries in the UK.

Richard Moon, currently chief executive of Racal Defence Electronics, will become chief executive of the new company, headquartered in Bracknell.

The industrial electronics and transportation services businesses of Racal will be integrated into the IT & Services business area.

For more information, visit

DRS Equips the Comorant

DRS Technologies, Parsippany, N.J., was recently awarded a $3.6-million contract (with options allowing for a total of $14 million) from the Display and Control Systems unit of Smiths Industries Aerospace. The contract has DRS providing flight control computers for the Canadian Comorant helicopter (variant of the Agusta/Westland EH-101).

The contract award is the result of an agreement signed with Team Comorant in June 1997. Under the agreement, DRS also provides emergency avionics systems for the Comorant helicopter and its variants, including the UK Royal Navy’s Merlin, Italy’s MMI helicopter, and Japan’s Metropolitan Police helicopter, all versions of the triple-engine EH-101.

For more about DRS, visit

CMU Receives STC

Teledyne Controls recently received an FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for its communications management unit (CMU) for the MD-90 aircraft. The CMU already is certified for the MD-11, Boeing 767-300, B757 and B747-400.


Xiamen Selects Aero-I Satcom

China’s Xiamen Airlines selected the Rockwell Collins SAT 2000 Aero-I communications system to upgrade its fleet of Boeing 737-300/500s. For more information, visit

Trial Laptop Service

In a trial beginning in October and scheduled to last for six months, Air Canada will provide its frequent business travelers with the ability to send and receive e-mails and surf a selection of Internet content via their own laptop computer while in flight. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with Seattle-based Tenzing Communications Inc., a global communications provider, to conduct a type trial of its airborne e-mail and Internet services on-board a number of its Boeing 767 aircraft.

Air Canada is said to be the first airline to offer these business tools to its customers. If the type trial is successful, Air Canada plans to widely deploy the on-board e-mail and Internet services across its fleet.

IO Delivers Modules for Nimrod

IO Ltd. says it delivered five electronics modules to The Boeing Co., for use in tactical control systems for the UK’s Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft.

The line replaceable items (LRIs) consist of a sonar buoy release interface, I/O processor interface, AC-to-DC power supply, and a tactical control panel and interface. The units utilize ruggedized versions of IO Ltd.’s commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products for embedded control applications.

The delivery is part of a two-year, multimillion dollar project for Boeing, the tactical control system provider, and BAe Systems, prime contractor of the Nimrod MRA4 program. For more information, visit on the Web.

Sweden Issues Contract

The Swedish Defense Material Procurement Agency, Forsvarets Materielverk, has awarded Rockwell Collins a $38-million, full-rate production option contract for the Ra90 communications system.

Production unit deliveries of more than 250 ground and airborne data link terminals will commence in 2001 and continue through 2004. The contract extends the Phase 1 development program that started in 1995.

The time division multiple access-based (TDMA) voice and data network provides secure, anti-jam communication and situational awareness for the Gripen fighter, Argus Erieye airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, and air defense centers. The Ra90 system displays threats, friend-and-foe identification, and position and status information in near real-time among participating platforms. Visit

Updated Drone

An upgrade is planned for the CL-289 reconnaissance drone system, developed by Dornier GmbH, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (Dasa/Munich), in cooperation with Bombardier/Canada, and delivered to the German forces in 1992.

The core of the upgrade kit is a new electronic digital sensor system. It consists of a high-resolution optical camera and infrared sensors for missions during both day and night. A search-and-rescue (SAR) sensor will provide the drones with all-weather capability.

NATO Simulator Upgrade

CAE’s Military Simulation and Controls division has won a contract for the upgrade of the NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) flight simulator at NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany.

The NATO contract includes the delivery and integration of a CAE medallion image generator, with a 200�-by-45� collimated mirror display and a CAE series 600 motion system.

Also included is an optional software upgrade, which provides the basis for future FAA Level D certification. Other options include further improvement of the simulator’s air-to-air refuelling capability and for the provision of two civilian simulator instructors in support of the military staff.

FAA Modernization ‘on Target’

Dispelling, in part, recent critical press coverage accusing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration of failing to modernize its air traffic control centers, the FAA in mid-July celebrated the 20th and final Display System Replacement (DSR) installation.

Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management was in charge of the DSR project, which equips controllers at the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ATCC) in Leesburg, Va., and 19 other facilities around the country with 20-by-20-inch high-resolution color monitors, which display radar tracks, real-time weather and other information. The systems are supported by hardware redundancy, fault-tolerance software, and back-up networks.

FAA Adminstrator Jane Garvey attended the July 14 dedication ceremony along with Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sen. Charles "Chuck" Robb (D-Va.), Lockheed Martin ATM President Don Antonucci, Air Traffic Services Deputy Associate Administrator Peter Challan, and others who played a role in the project. Garvey stated that replacing the 20-plus-year-old equipment was done "on time and under budget."

The DSR swaps out the 1960s-style round, monochrome displays and network infrastructure with workstations that include larger displays, trackball and keyboard input, and color monitors for the assistant position, as well. The new system receives data from the FAA’s host computer and the Enhanced Direct Access Radar Channel and formats the information for controller interface to the National Airspace System (NAS).

But FAA officials claim the state-of-the-art DRS simply caps a host of programs that have modernized the network of ATCCs. "The oldest equipment you will see today was installed in 1997," said Steve Zaidman, FAA’s associate administrator for Research and Acquisitions, to the visiting media, who were given a tour of the Washington center.

Shown on the tour were two new host computers (replacing eight), installed last year; the voice switching control system (VSCS) by Harris Corp., installed in 1996; new long-range radars (43 total), all installed by early summer; and weather and radar capabilties.

Looking to the future, John Thornton, director of Free Flight Phase 2, said the program he manages will begin in October and run to 2005. "We will take the tools developed during Phase 1 and deploy them where there are bottlenecks and delays," he said, referring to the following programs:

  • Traffic Management Advisory (TMA), which develops arrival sequence plans, provided to both the terminal and en route centers;

  • User Request Evaluation Tool (URET), which calculates potential conflicts from its awareness of flight trajectories;

  • Surface Movement Advisor (SMA), which provides aircraft arrival information to airline ramp towers;

  • Passive Final Approach Spacing Tool (pFAST), which helps develop arrival sequence plans; and

  • Collaborative Decision Making, which gives the FAA and airline operations centers access to NAS status information, including weather, equipment and delays.

After a shaky start due to human interface issues, the $1-billion Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) program, which will provide new color displays to terminal area centers, also appears to be on track.

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