NASA Demos Enhanced and Synthetic Vision

NASA recently demonstrated BAE Systems' enhanced vision system (EVS) technology on a head-up display (HUD) in the agency's B757 test bed aircraft. BAE showed the ability to fuse imagery from a 94-GHz millimeter-wave (MMW) radar with infrared (IR) images (either short-wave, long-wave or a summation of the two). The demo also showcased computer-generated synthetic vision symbology designed by BAE's subcontractor, Nav3D Corp., of San Carlos, Calif., as part of NASA's Follow-on Radar, Enhanced and Synthetic vision systems Integrated Technology Evaluation (FORESITE) program. MMW radar adds the ability to pick out the edges of the runway and highlight objects on the runway through fog, snow and dust. In the flight demo it was used to pick out the outlines of a van parked either to the side of, forward of, or at the very near end of the runway. Highway in the sky (HITS) symbology was overlaid on the primary flight display (PFD), installed with the nav display on large-format glass mounted in the aircraft. Curved approaches were hand-flown, using the HITS tunnel--500 feet (152 m) wide by 300 feet (104 m) high--while a safety pilot controlled the aircraft on takeoff and landing. The demo pilot used a 15-second path predictor, "noodle" vector on the nav display to intercept the HITS tunnel. Visit http://avsp.larc.nasa.gov, www.baesystems.com and www.nav3d.com.

Honeywell Retools Service

Since its reorganization in July, Honeywell Aerospace has retooled its customer service process. The changes are still unfolding, but one example captures the drive to simplify and improve the customer's experience. Before the reorg, there were more than 200 phone numbers to reach customer support. Now there is a single number in North America--800-601-3099--and one for international callers--602-365-3099--to access the same service. Aerospace has morphed from essentially 10 business enterprises to three segments: Air Transport and Regional, Business and General Aviation, and Defense and Space. The customer and product support function runs across all the business segments.

Customer support and product support people now are located in the same group, a big change from the "many different models" of organization that existed previously, says Adrian Paull (shown left), vice president of customer and product support for Honeywell Aerospace. Among these are several dozen product and support leaders for major accounts. As part of the personnel shift, Paull's group is "doing a lot of work in product familiarization." Field engineers, who now are organized by region rather than product, are getting a good working familiarization with all Aerospace products--what they do, where they're used and how customers can get support. This resembles the medical model, he says, where a general practitioner helps patients navigate the health care system. But the approach is adaptable to customer needs.

Honeywell monitors its progress closely. Every three weeks, the president and chief executive officer, Paull and selected staff members listen to about an hour of live phone interactions, as a quality control tool. This month Paull plans to issue electronic surveys and conduct a series of customer service group meetings.

Managers are looking beyond aerospace for customer service ideas, visiting Dell, for example, to discuss e-portals. As part of a unified Web strategy, Honeywell plans to consolidate its Internet presence from 40 Web sites to one, www.honeywell.com, providing an integrated online services environment.

A400M Awards

Thales has been selected by Airbus Military to provide an enhanced vision system (EVS) head-up display (HUD) for the A400M transport aircraft. The infrared-based system will assist pilots in takeoff, approach, landing and taxi phases. In flight, the EVS will enhance pattern recognition, detection and surveillance. The system is designed to offer all-digital image processing from the sensor to the liquid crystal display-based head-up display. Thales says its HUD-based EVS is suitable for regional, business and commercial aircraft, as well.

BAE Systems is partnering with Hispano-Suiza to develop the A400M's full-authority digital electronic control (FADEC) system for the EuroProp International TP400-D6 engine. The FADEC will manage engine fuel flow and variable engine geometries, propeller blades (including synchrophasing), among other functions. The dual-redundant control design employs an Ethernet-based data communications network and is expandable to accommodate new functions and future applications. Onboard monitoring enhances diagnostics for the engine system.

EADS and Thales, meanwhile, will supply the A400M's missile warning system. Known as MIRAS, for Multicolor Infrared Alerting Sensor, the system will employ simultaneous, single-chip, multicolor IR detection, offering considerable detection probability and detection range, and low false alarm rates. EADS is contracted to deliver 85 missile warning systems, beginning in 2010. Visit www.thalesgroup.com, www.eads.com and www.baesystems.com.

Weather Warning

The U.S. Air Force is employing Iridium satcom for a meteorological observing system, deploying more than 280 data collection systems worldwide. Nodes of the USAF's AN/TMQ-53 Tactical Meteorological Observing System (TMOS) include weather sensors connected to a computer and embedded Iridium data modem to collect and provide readings of surface pressure, temperature, dew point, wind direction and liquid precipitation. An enhanced configuration also measures cloud base, heights and amounts; vertical visibility and surface visibility; precipitation type (liquid, frozen or solid); and lightning out to 50 nm. NAL Research Corp. performed the Iridium upgrade in the TMQ-53. Visit www.iridium.com and www.nalresearch.com.

Modernized GPS

An advanced IIR-M global positioning system satellite built by Lockheed Martin was launched in late September from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Once this new series reaches initial operational capability (IOC), it will provide: increased signal power to GPS ground receivers (via a modernized antenna panel); two new military signals (on L1 and L2) for better accuracy, encryption and jam resistance; and a second civil signal (on L2). There are a total of eight modernized IIR-M satellites. Twelve nonmodernized IIRs are currently in operation. Visit www.lmco.com.

Helicopter Flight Deck

Sikorsky Aircraft has tapped Thales to provide its TopDeck glass cockpit for the new S-76D civil helicopter, a model expected to hit the market in 2008. A breakthrough for Thales, the deal marks the French company's first line-fit, glass flight deck integration for a U.S. helicopter manufacturer. Sikorsky used a novel Customer Advisory Councils process, where customers directly inputted their requirements and specifications. The modular suite features four 6-by-8-inch active-matrix liquid crystal displays, interactivity through two track balls, a 4-axis digital automatic flight control system, and a range of functions, such as:

  • Advanced flight management system,
  • Interactive digital map,
  • Maintenance modes, and
  • Interactive radio management.

    Core processing software is compliant with ARINC 653 and has been developed to DO-178B, Level A. Visit www.thalesgroup.com.

    RVSM Approvals

    FAA has issued supplemental type certificate (STC) approvals of several reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) packages for Twin Commander JetProp models, including the 690C (840), 690D (900), 695 (980) and 695A and B (1000). Three RVSM package options are available: dual (pilot and copilot) Meggitt Magic electronic flight instrument system (EFIS); dual digital altimeters and autopilot interface from Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S); and a hybrid system including the Meggitt EFIS on the pilot's side and the IS&S digital altimeter on the copilot's side. RVSM pilot training is available for Twin Commander operators from FlightSafety International's Learning Center in Houston, Texas. Visit www.twincommander.com.

    Bell 407 Synthetic Vision

    Chelton Flight Systems (CFS) will provide a cockpit upgrade, including synthetic vision, for Bell Helicopter's 407 light single-engine helicopter. CFS says its equipment is also planned as the preferred offering for Bell's 206B, 206L and new 210 models. Chelton will supply the electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), which it pioneered in FAA's Capstone program, and integrate the overall system. The glass cockpit includes large-format portrait or landscape displays overlaid with Chelton's 3D highway in the sky symbology, Class B helicopter terrain awareness warning system, dual embedded flight management system, integrated GPS-WAAS (wide area augmentation system), digital flight recorder, solid state air data computer, and a strap-down attitude heading reference system. The offering also includes recursive redundancy, with auto reversion in the event of failure. It includes an engine indication and crew alerting system (EICAS) and will be capable of upgrades to support live video from the forward looking infrared (FLIR) sensor or other external devices. Sister companies provide the following equipment: dual, 8.33-MHz digital coms, Mode S transponder and audio control (Northern Airborne Technology); antennas (Comant); and an optional 406-MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) with GPS interface (Artex Division). Visit www.cheltonflightsystems.com.

    Flight Data Acquisition

    Japan Airlines has chosen Teledyne Controls' enhanced digital flight data acquisition unit (DFDAU) and aircraft condition monitoring system (ACMS) application software development services for the carrier's new Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The next-generation DFDAU is an integrated data acquisition and recording system. Combining data acquisition, data management and data access recording, the enhanced DFDAU can replace up to three line replaceable units, Teledyne says. This will allow operators to reduce weight, wiring and rack space. Visit www.teledynecontrols.com and www.jal.com.

    B787 IFE

    Boeing has named Thales as a "recommended supplier" of in-flight entertainment (IFE) for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The TopSeries i-8000 differs from the preceding i-4000 line in that it is designed to use an aircraft-wide wireless network, which increases flexibility and reduces weight. According to Mike Bair, Boeing's 787 vice president and general manager, "We are eliminating much of the equipment that typically is housed under [the passengers'] seats." Thales will demonstrate a prototype to Boeing late next year and build an engineering lab with 270-seat capacity in Irvine, Calif., in 2007. After lab tests Boeing will install the system in a flight test aircraft for further evaluation. Visit www.thalesgroup.com.

    ATC Systems

    Concurrent Computer Corp.'s German subsidiary has delivered the first of 391 iHawk air traffic control (ATC) systems to Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH as part of the air navigation services provider's Paperless Strip System (PSS) project. The Concurrent systems will function as computer clients and servers to drive computer touch screens at controller work positions. PSS aims to replace controllers' paper strips with a large-scale computer screen that displays virtual strips with the same layout and information. Controllers use a 21-inch interactive pen display to "write" information on the virtual strips in a manner resembling the current operating procedure. The virtual strips can be transferred electronically from one controller to another without resorting to manual means. Visit www.ccur.com.

    Crypto Modernization

    The U.S. Air Force has chosen Rockwell Collins for Phases 2, 3 and 4 of the KG-3X Cryptographic Modernization program, shepherding the program from system design completion through low-rate initial production. The program aims to provide assured, survivable, protected and reliable strategic communications for the airborne parts of the Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network and the Fixed Submarine Broadcast System. Visit www.rockwellcollins.com.

    Helicopter FLIRs

    DRS Technologies, Parsippany, N.J., will produce infrared targeting receiver assemblies for U.S. and British Army Apache Arrowhead forward looking infrared (FLIR) systems. Arrowhead is a modernized target acquisition and designation sight/pilot night vision sensor system (TADS/PNVS). DRS' Dallas-based Infrared Technologies unit will provide standard advanced dewar assemblies, Type I, including IR detector and cryogenic cooling assemblies. Visit www.drs.com.

    Urban UAVs

    Northrop Grumman demonstrated a system that autonomously controls low-altitude unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) that can provide real-time surveillance information to forces in urban areas. The flight exercise at an urban warfare training site at the former George AFB in Victorville, Calif., employed four small UAVs. Participants on the ground were able to view surveillance images on handheld computers and request additional information by moving a cursor on the handheld monitor. The system autonomously prioritized each request and directed the best suited UAV to the requested location while maintaining broad area surveillance via the other unmanned vehicles. The demonstration was part of Northrop's $11.6-million HURT program with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab. HURT stands for Heterogeneous Urban RSTA (reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition) Team. Visit www.northropgrumman.com.

    ARINC 664 Testing

    AIM-USA is supporting Rockwell Collins' design verification and production test groups with its ARINC 664 end system and switch testing for the Boeing 787. Collins will use AIM's off-the-shelf products and contract engineering services. AIM's relevant hardware and software packages include its API-FDX interface modules; Windows-based simulation, monitoring and test software; data loader support; interoperability test scripting; and a library of function calls. Visit www.aim-online.com.

    Satcom Service

    Finnish national carrier Finnair will employ ARINC's Globa-link satcom for passenger and cockpit voice, single-number secure ground-to-air calling, and satellite data link services. Visit www.arinc.com.

    Fluke Acquisition

    Fluke Electronics Corp. will acquire portable thermography product supplier, Infrared Solutions, which services predictive and preventive maintenance channels. Visit www.fluke.com.

    V-22 Electronics

    Boeing Integrated Defense Systems has awarded Curtiss-Wright Controls Inc., Charlotte, N.C., a contract for V-22 Lot 9 production hardware, including cockpit control, feel and drive actuators and an aerial retractable refueling probe. Visit www.cwcontrols.com.

    Lessor Service

    Lufthansa Technik AG, Hamburg, Germany, has opened a sales office in Seattle, Wash., to provide technical services to aircraft leasing companies. Visit www.lufthansa-technik.com.

    Turkish Testers

    The Turkish Army selected EADS' ATEC-6 automatic test equipment to support its Eurocopter AS-532 Cougar helicopters. Visit www.eads.com

    Flight Data Analysis

    Airbus and Teledyne Controls have surpassed 60 customers for AirFASE, a jointly developed flight data analysis and reporting software tool. Visit www.teledyne.com.

    Strobe Lights

    TMG Airepairs delivered 20 multimode, night vision-compatible strobe light kits to Taiwan's air force for the service's C-130 transport aircraft. Visit www.memphisgrp.com.

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