UAVs in the NASA

Recent tests run by NASA, New Mexico State University, the U.S. Navy, Scaled Composites and Modern Technology Solutions validated emerging unmanned air vehicle (UAV) collision avoidance technologies that could someday allow UAVs access to the National Airspace System.

In the New Mexico tests a Proteus manned aircraft, controlled temporarily from the ground, flew on simulated collision courses with a NASA F/A-18 and several other test aircraft.

The ground controller maneuvered the vehicle onto new courses, based on information transmitted from the onboard systems. The tests had a built-in margin of separation, and onboard pilots further increased safety. Proteus’ sensors were calibrated to treat the approaches as threats. Eighteen approach scenarios included single aircraft or pairs of aircraft at various angles and altitudes.

Proteus’ primary sensor was the Goodrich Skywatch HP traffic advisory system, which uses transponder radio signals from other aircraft to identify collision threats. Proteus also used non-cooperative, infrared and radar sensors to detect oncoming aircraft without signals or transmissions from other aircraft. The tests were part of NASA’s Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program, which is developing technologies for UAVs that eventually could provide low-cost telecom relay services, environmental monitoring and the surveillance of remote borders and high-risk assets, such as oil pipelines. Visit www.dfrc.nasa.gov.

Thales on ASTOR

Thales Avionics has been selected by Raytheon Systems to modify the flight controls on the British Ministry of Defence’s Airborne Stand Off Radar (ASTOR) platform, based on the Bombardier Global Express aircraft. ASTOR-equipped aircraft are to perform battlefield ground surveillance, using dual-mode synthetic aperture radar (SAR)/moving target indicator (MTI) radar. Raytheon won a $1.3-billion ASTOR contract in 1999. Thales provides the flight controls on Bombardier’s Global Express and CRJ 700 aircraft. Visit www.thales-avionics.com.

JAL B747 Upgrade

CMC Electronics will supply its GPS-based CMA-900 flight management system (FMS) and CMA-2102 high-gain satcom antenna for Japan Airlines’ flight deck avionics upgrade program, involving 18 firm and 16 optional Boeing 747-200/200F/300 aircraft. The JAL program is the largest single B747 "classic" avionics upgrade, says CMC.

Singapore Airlines also has tapped CMC to provide the CMA-2102 antenna for the carrier’s 18 B777-200/300 aircraft and B747-400 fleet. CMC claims to enjoy more than 75 percent of the twin-aisle, factory-fitted satcom market. CMA-2102 users include 61 airlines and some corporate/VIP and military aircraft. Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) completion centers also have introduced the antenna into new B737NG aircraft. Visit www.cmcelectronics.ca.

Thales EVS

Thales Avionics has completed infrared sensor testing on its future enhanced vision system (EVS). As of April, the company had not chosen a supplier for the infrared sensor to be combined with its head-up display system. The EVS, expected to be fully operational in 2004, will enhance recognition of runway approach lights, threshold indications, taxi lights, taxiways and runways. Visit www.thales-avionics.com.

GV Simulator with EVS

New enhanced vision system (EVS) capability on FlightSafety International’s Gulfstream V full flight simulator has obtained Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. Customers are using the system at the company’s Savannah, Ga., learning center. The GV simulator presents pilots infrared-derived visual information via a head-up display (HUD). By integrating the simulator’s visual system and HUD, FlightSafety presents trainees the same FAA Level-D accuracy in simulated difficult conditions as in clear day and night scenes. Visit www.flightsafety.com.

Cessna AvVisor Display

Cessna is working with Spirent Systems to install Spirent’s AvVisor cabin display system, which enhances passenger situational awareness. AvVisor’s color, active matrix liquid crystal display (AMLCD) screen presents sequenced information, including altitude, ground speed, estimated time of arrival (ETA) and distance traveled.

As of April, installation was nearly complete on a model 550 Citation Bravo for an international customer. Cessna expects to market the unit as an option on all of its Citation aircraft, including the Bravo, CJ2, Encore and Excel. The company plans to certify the system under a Type 2, aircraft type certificate (TC). Spirent already has obtained supplemental type certification (STC) and parts manufacturer approval (PMA) for the AvVisor on a model 525 Citation. Visit www.spirent-systems.com.

Garrett STC

Garrett Aviation, Tempe, Ariz., has received supplemental type certification (STC) approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its retrofit program to install the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Continuum avionics suite on Falcon 20 aircraft. Garrett’s Springfield, Ill., facility recently completed the upgrade for launch customer, Cobalt Resources.

The Falcon 20 installation features three 13.3-inch (33.8-cm) liquid crystal adaptive flight displays. Also included is the following Collins equipment: dual flight management systems, integrated avionics processor system, APS-4000 autopilot, AHS-3000A attitude heading reference systems, digital air data system, TCAS-4000 traffic alert collision avoidance system, TRW-850 weather radar, and Proline radio sensors. Visit www.garrettaviation.com.

GV-SP Triplex FMS

The Gulfstream V-SP (GV-SP) made its first flight using Honeywell’s fully synchronized, triplex flight management system (FMS). The installation is the first fully synchronized triplex FMS in a business aircraft. The system is part of the GV-SP PlaneView cockpit, using Honeywell’s Primus Epic integrated avionics suite.

The GV-SP, slated to enter service next year, has a 5,000-nm range at 0.87 Mach. "Triplex" means that the crew has three multifunction control display units (MCDUs), interfacing with three separate but synchronized navigation/performance computers. The installation increases flight safety, should one FMS fail. Visit www.honeywell.com.

IFE for the Deaf

Matsushita Avionics Systems (MAS) Corp., Bothell, Wash., plans to offer in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. MAS is providing closed captioning (CC) standard on its System 3000. The feature also will be offered standard on System 3000i, MAS’ next-generation widebody system, and on eFX, a new single-aisle product.

Users could access the system via the seatback video monitor during language selection. Passengers with distributed video systems could use the channel up/down mode to select CC. Visit www.mascorp.com.

Brazilian ATC Com

The UK’s Park Air Systems will provide digital air traffic control (ATC) communications capability in airspace over central and eastern Brazil under a $15-million contract from the Departamento De Controle Do Espaço Aereo (DECEA). Park Air, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, will implement the system over the next three to four years. The company’s PAE T6 VHF multimode digital radio (MDR) will support communications over an area 580 million square miles (1.5 million square km) in size, airspace thought to be the busiest in South America.

The new program involves 32 radio sites, each with PAE T6 equipment. The Park Air radios support analog voice requirements, as well as the migration to digital modes of operation. The project also will provide an integrated control center supporting both air defense and civilian ATC communications operations. Visit www.northgrum.com.

Airport Wireless Com

Boston’s Logan Airport will be the ninth major facility to receive ARINC’s Digital Wireless Dispatch system, which expands voice capacity 500 percent and provides wireless data networking and coast-to-coast connections. ARINC expects up to 60 U.S. airport installations by 2005. Installations during the past 12 months include Newark, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, New York John F. Kennedy, Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta airports.

Based on a central digital switching service, the wireless system increases capacity for airport voice messaging and allows airline ramp personnel to connect directly with counterparts at other airports via a flat rate fee. The system uses Motorola iDEN digital voice/data-capable, mobile and handheld units. Visit www.arinc.com.

Raptor Delivered

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., a business area of the Lockheed Martin-led F-22 industry team, has delivered the U.S. Air Force the final flight test aircraft produced under the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the F-22 program. "Raptor 09" will undergo a series of tests and evaluations at Lockheed Martin, Marietta, Ga., to validate the ease of maintenance and repair. Visit www.lmaeronautics.com.

FCC Blesses UWB

In its "First Report and Order" (April 22, 2002) on the subject of ultra-wideband (UWB), the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the unlicensed use of the new technology across numerous restricted bands and aviation frequencies while attempting to protect GPS. UWB devices transmit and receive extremely short bursts of RF energy over a very wide band, by their nature spreading signals across other authorized services.

The FCC order comes about four years after the initial notice of inquiry, Sept. 21, 1998. Despite several studies and some 930 comments, FCC itself admits there is essentially no operational experience and limited information regarding UWB technologies.

The decision marks the first time that intentional emitters have been approved to operate in restricted bands, says Rob Mulloy, vice president and chief operating officer of Multispectral Solutions, Gaithersburg, Md., which has a long history of UWB R&D. The primary operating areas opened up for UWBs are below 960 MHz and between 3.1 and 10.6 GHz. There are some 55 restricted bands below 10.6 GHz.

Observers regard the new order as conservative on account of test data indicating possible interference problems. FCC, however, notes that the new standards "may be overprotective" and intends, in six to 12 months, "to review the standards...and issue a further [notice of] proposed rule making [NPRM] to explore more flexible standards and...additional types of UWB operations and technology." The open-ended quality of the proceedings has UWB "victim" services concerned.

"How can they look at relaxing these [UWB] rules before they understand the impact of the current report and order on current systems?" asks James Miller, program manager, flight operations technology, with United Airlines. (FCC says it acted with "an abundance of caution"–a phrase repeated often in the document–because of "limited information in the record and our lack of operation[al] experience with UWB devices."

This re-examination and possible relaxation of the rules begs the question, according to the U.S. GPS Industry Council, of why the first report and order was issued when it was and why a second NPRM should follow so soon afterward: "If in the three years of this proceeding, the FCC was not able to amass sufficient information and understanding of the nature of UWB transmissions to propose actual rules of operation before it issued the report and order, how much more will it know in six months to a year...?"

Of particular concern to aviation is equipment, such as traffic alert collision avoidance systems (TCAS), DME, VOR and ILS, operating at relatively low frequencies. Also of concern are radio altimeters (4.2-4.4 GHz), microwave landing systems (MLS–5.0-5.15 GHz) and terminal Doppler weather radar (5.6-5.65 GHz). "There’s been no [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] analysis of systems below 960 MHz," Miller says, "unless you consider last-minute paper studies, where extinct systems such as Omega [a radionavigation system] were looked at."

The report and order is less painful to aviation than it could have been, Mulloy says. The emission levels are kept very low, and most applications are restricted operationally to specific sectors. Only com devices–typically indoor personal area networks–are open to mass use. Handheld units used indoors and outdoors for "peer to peer" communications must not be transmit-only. However, communications could be the coup de grâce, say UWB critics, who envision higher-power, wide area mobile radio services–mentioned by FCC–clogging the airwaves. They regard com applications as the "killer app" with huge market potential and point to the logjam at 2.4 GHz with unlicensed IEEE 802.11 devices. Visit www.fcc.gov and www.multispectral.com.

Mea Culpa

The cover of the May issue of Avionics depicted the Dash 8 Q200, which was mislabeled as a Dash 8 Q400. Horizon Air flies both aircraft types.

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