Ferrie: Next-Generation Narrowbody Requires Technology Leap

Well before the first flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, perhaps its highest-profile platform, GE Aviation Systems is devoting attention to the next great challenge in commercial aviation — designing successors to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 narrowbodies.

"The 787 has got everybody’s attention at Boeing and everybody’s attention at my shop," said John Ferrie, the Systems division president. But, he added, "We’ve got one or two people starting to work the next generation."

Unlike its work on the 787, for which it supplies the central computing platform, high-lift actuation and landing gear systems, the division is approaching the next-generation narrowbody from a holistic stance that includes propulsion, electrical power, computing, actuation and flight-control capabilities. That is the result of GE’s acquisition in May of Smiths Aerospace — now GE Aviation Systems — for $4.8 billion, marrying Smiths’ systems expertise with GE’s aeroengine business.

"A year ago, we would not have been talking about a combined propulsion and electrical power system," said Ferrie, who formerly served as managing director of Smiths Aerospace. "If you think of the things we can do — we’ve got propulsion, we’ve got electrical power, we’ve got control. We know how to fly the airplane because we do flight management systems. If you put all that together, I can imagine a completely different share that we as GE can take of that airplane than we could have as Smiths…. We’ve got much more systems capability within the family than we had before."

At a Paris Air Show briefing in June, Ferrie said he put off retirement to lead the division, reporting to GE Aviation President and CEO Scott C. Donnelly. The Systems division employs 9,500 people, with annual sales of $1.8 billion. It has impressive credentials; as Smiths Aerospace, it earned a place on major platforms including the Airbus A380, the Joint Strike Fighter and the Eurofighter Typhoon. After what Ferrie called the "painful birth" of its program with Boeing on the KC-767 tanker — the former Smiths supplies the hose and drogue refueling equipment — the aircraft was offered for the U.S. Air Force KC-X tanker replacement program.

GE Aviation Systems is behind the Common Core System (CCS) of the 787 Dreamliner, a central computing platform running an ARINC 653 partitioned operating system, which is capable of hosting multiple critical functions, connected by Avionics Full Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) backbone. The CCS uses remote data concentrators to consolidate inputs from outlying sensors and systems, including analog and digital signals, and distribute them via AFDX to general processing modules. The open-architecture, Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) approach replaces numerous separate processors and line replaceable units, reduces wiring and saves weight.

But even the 787’s advanced system architecture must be bettered, Ferrie said, if designers are to achieve the industry benchmark 15-percent performance improvement sought for the next-generation narrowbody. While "the engine is the biggest piece of that," systems will be key to the accomplishment.

"We’re going to see, I think, some really new architectures for this airplane that are a long way beyond what we’ve experienced even on something like 787, which is probably still the most advanced architecture that’s out there in commercial transport," Ferrie said."… The issue is we’re only at the start. We know we’ve got to improve the aircraft overall by at least 15 percent. What we’re looking to see is how would that top-level target cascade down and be apportioned across the various systems. If you take an existing architecture, we know there’s just not a way that you can carve up that 15 percent and allocate it in a way that gets to the answer. What we’re working on at the moment are the initial trade studies to actually set those targets in a way that’s actually meaningful. There’s no point in giving me a target of half the cost and half the weight, at scale, of what’s in the 787, because if you stick to the same architecture, I can’t get there."

What GE Aviation Systems "brings to the party" is an IMA technology that should evolve in capability, said Ferrie, citing Moore’s Law for the growing number of transistors on an integrated circuit. "We’re looking at an airplane that’s going to be out there, probably at the earliest [by] 2015, or a few years beyond that," he said. "So the computing power is going to continue to improve and therefore you can start to think of functions that today aren’t in the IMA, maybe migrating into the IMA and saving the weight of the boxes and the wiring and the complexity that goes with them. You can think of flight-control, you can think of some of the power management that’s all still in a federated or quasi-federated state that isn’t all in the IMA, even though the IMA today has over 50 functions that previously would have separate, federated boxes."

As a result of the recent acquisition, the Systems division may be able to draw from the embedded systems expertise of a sister company, GE-Fanuc, to achieve next-generation goals. "That’s one of the areas that we’re exploring — just what do they do? Already, our digital business people are talking to the Fanuc people to understand just what do they actually do, what do they have, and how can we pull that into our product line, if it’s appropriate," Ferrie said. — Bill Carey



ARINC Sale Agreement

The Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C., private equity firm, in early July said it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire ARINC from its shareholders. The value of the transaction, expected to close in the third quarter pending regulatory approvals, was not disclosed.

With reported annual revenue of $919 million, ARINC, Annapolis, Md., is 90-percent owned by airlines. It lists 36 principal stockholders, about half of them airlines. Other stockholders include Boeing, Raytheon, Ford Motor Co. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber.

ARINC develops and operates communications and information processing systems and provides systems engineering for airports, aviation, defense and surface transportation. Its Industry Activities division organizes the AMC, AEEC and FSEMC conferences. Two-thirds of its revenues come from the military.

The Carlyle Group has $58.5 billion in equity under management.

"We have long admired ARINC’s leadership position and impressive track record of growth," said Peter Clare, Carlyle managing director of global aerospace and defense. "We believe that ARINC is well positioned to capitalize on several favorable macro trends in both its commercial and government market segments."

Environmental Image

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott E. Carson delivered a bullish forecast of the aerospace market June 18 at the Paris Air Show, but said the industry must take charge of its environmental image by working collaboratively to reduce emissions.

"A year ago, many believed if you complied with environmental laws that was sufficient," Carson told reporters.

Now, however, with the debate over emissions growing in Europe, the aerospace industry "has an obligation to help shape the public message… help guide rational regulation." He identified air-traffic control improvements as the "lowest-hanging fruit" to drive efficiencies.

Carson said operators, airframers, engine manufacturers and regulators should collaborate through existing structures, including the International Air Transport Association and International Civil Aviation Organization to carry out environmental improvements. Boeing also has created an office of environmental management reporting to the company’s chief technology officer.

Carson’s comments came against a backdrop of projected, sustained growth in aircraft sales. Boeing projects a $2.6 trillion market over the next 20 years, for 27,200 airplanes. The airframer currently has a backlog of $188 billion, with orders of the 777 and 787 representing 59 percent.

However, "the response to all products is strong," including the 737 and 747. The 787 Dreamliner was rolled out in July and the first flight slated for late this month or September. "It’s always been in that kind of a window," Carson said of the date. "We don’t schedule a first flight on a date specific…. The airplane is going to fly, frankly, when it’s ready."

Superjet Customer

Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co. (SCAC) and stakeholder Alenia Aeronautica introduced ItAli Airlines as the first Western customer for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 at the Paris Air Show in June. The regional carrier based in Pescara, Italy, ordered 10 Superjet 100/95s in the long-range, 98-passenger variant, with options for 10 additional aircraft, in a transaction valued at $283 million.

With the announcement, SCAC said it had 71 firm orders for the Superjet.

Powered by twin SaM146 turbofans manufactured by the PowerJet joint venture of Snecma and NPO Saturn, and featuring a Thales avionics suite, the Superjet will be available in 98- and 78-passenger versions. Other avionics suppliers include CMC Electronics, providing the CMA-9000 Flight Management System; Teledyne Controls, the Integrated Flight Data Management Unit; and Vibro-Meter, an Advanced Engine Vibration Monitoring System.

Roll-out of the Superjet is scheduled for September, followed by a first flight by year-end. The first aircraft will enter service with launch customer Aeroflot in November 2008.

The Superjet will replace ItAli Airlines’ fleet of MD-80 and Dornier 328 aircraft. The carrier will use the Superjet to increase frequencies on the domestic network connecting Milano-Malpensa and Roma-Fiumicino, offer new destinations in Eastern Europe and add capacity to its charter network. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2009, with all 10 in service by 2011.

"Today, the Superjet 100 has been granted international credibility among the most demanding audience — airlines," said Viktor Soubbotin, SCAC president. "With this order, the program receives an internationally acknowledged proof of its feasibility and success potential to offer a product [exceeding] global market competitors."

Kollsman Grows

Kollsman, of Merrimack, N.H., is the fastest-growing of Elbit-owned companies in the United States, which represents 40 percent of Elbit’s revenue.

In a Paris Air Show briefing, Yossi Ackerman, president and CEO of Elbit Systems, said a growing demand for the Enhanced Vision Systems (EVS) produced by Kollsman, especially in general aviation, is driving the company’s growth. Cargo carrier FedEx has equipped "hundreds" of its aircraft with EVS, he said.

Elbit owns or partly owns seven companies in the United States, employing 9,000 people and generating $700 million in annual revenue. Ownership in other countries is part of its "multi-domestic" approach, targeting companies in its strategic markets.

Ackerman said Elbit plans further acquisitions in its target markets. "We already have the technology to grow the company," he said. "Our barrier is market access."

JetEye Designation

BAE Systems received designation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for its JetEye aircraft missile defense system, which is developed to protect commercial airliners against infrared-guided missiles (see Avionics, July 2007, pg. 26).

The company received designation under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies, or SAFETY, Act, enacted by Congress in 2002. The act encourages the development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by giving sellers of qualified technologies liability protection from lawsuits.

BAE, involved in Phase III of the DHS Counter-MANPADS program, said JetEye will fly on revenue aircraft with partner American Airlines, and also will fly on a B767 operated by cargo carrier ABX Air. The development aims to reduce the potential cost to the airline industry by streamlining system installation, reducing aerodynamic drag and improving reliability and maintainability.

JetEye is based on the company’s existing directable infrared countermeasure system to protect military aircraft.

Cockpit Retrofits

Innovative Solutions & Support (IS&S), Exton, Pa., won a contract to supply its flat-panel cockpit display systems for the American Airlines fleet of nearly 200 Boeing 757/767s. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IS&S will supply its Cockpit/IP Flat Panel Display Systems to replace 22 individual instruments with four flat-panel displays, a move the company said will improve "display reliability while offering a easily-modifiable versatile platform to improve overall functionality and meet future regulatory requirements."

Deliveries will begin this year.

Continental Satcom

Avionica, of Miami, won orders from Continental Airlines to outfit nine B737-800 passenger aircraft with advanced Iridium satellite systems to provide global, low-cost voice and data communications.

The Continental aircraft will be equipped with the satLINK Iridium system, including antenna, wiring, structural elements and a control panel. Initial installations will provide an Iridium phone handset in the cockpit, which is expected to be augmented by a wireless cabin handset and integration with the aircraft’s communications management unit during a mid-year upgrade.

Continental selected ARINC to provide voice and data services. ARINC’s GLOBALink Iridium service is the first to offer Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System messaging using Iridium.

"The application of Iridium satcom services will eliminate the sole dependency on standard radio communication methods, which are subject to range limitations over isolated areas," said Jun Tsuruta, Jr., senior director of technical purchasing for Continental. "This means that flight crews are not out of touch like they once were. This is a welcome technological breakthrough that ensures global safety and communications in every sense of the word."

Lynx Launch

Regional airline Lynx Aviation was slated to launch later this year with a host of ARINC services and components.

Lynx, a subsidiary of Denver-based Frontier Airlines, has contracted with ARINC for its GLOBALinkSM VHF data link service and OpCenter hosted messaging service. OpCenter provides Web-based message management for airline dispatchers, with store and forwarding ability to streamline ground and aircrew communications. Lynx also will use ARINC’s air/ground domestic service for voice, and Digital ATIS for destination airport information.

The OpCenter service helps dispatchers manage data link messages by translating messages into readable text, saves money by eliminating server-based message systems and gives crews reliable Web-based ground communications via the Internet, ARINC said.

Lynx plans to begin operations this year with service between Frontier’s Denver hub and as many as 10 cities after delivery of its first Bombardier Q400 turboprop.

Embraer HGS

The Rockwell Collins Head-Up Guidance System (HGS) has been approved for Category III landing and low-visibility takeoff operations on the Embraer 190 regional jet. Launch customer JetBlue Airways is operating with the Model 5600 dual HGS on its fleet of 26 E190s, Rockwell Collins said at the Paris Air Show. With the certification, JetBlue was to begin operational approval and training to operate in Cat III conditions — runway visibility down to 600 feet and decision height down to 50 feet — which will allow for improved schedule reliability and on-time performance. JetBlue estimates approval for its fleet will take 12 to 15 months.

The HGS Model 5600 originally was approved for installation on the E190 in November 2005, making it the first commercial aircraft to be certified with dual Head Up Displays. The system has been used by JetBlue as a primary flight reference, allowing both the captain and first officer to benefit from improved "eyes out" situational awareness.

Follow-on Cat III HGS certification is planned for the Embraer 195.

Satcom 747-8

EMS Satcom of Ottawa was selected by Rockwell Collins to develop a Satcom system for the new Boeing 747-8. Based on orders forecast for the 747-8, the deal is worth about $15 million to EMS Satcom over the next 10 years.

With the latest selection, EMS Satcom products will be installed as standard equipment on the largest passenger aircraft, including the Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380, and as factory options on the Airbus A340, A330 and A320.

Passenger and freighter versions of the new 747 will feature GE’s 787 technology GEnx engines, meet Stage 4 and London Heathrow QC2 noise requirements, and have reduced emissions. The aircraft will have an upgraded Rockwell Collins flight deck and an improved wing. The 747-8 is scheduled to enter service in late 2009.

Extended VHF

FAA awarded a three-year contract to ARINC to provide the VHF Extended Range Network (VERN), supporting air traffic control communications in the Gulf of Mexico.

The VERN network includes two air/ground stations located on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and one at Key West, Fla. In combination with FAA’s coastal radio facilities, VERN coverage enables the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center to communicate with aircraft so that appropriate separation can be maintained over the Gulf.

VERN makes use of a special, extended range VHF propagation technique originally engineered and developed by ARINC. The system has been proven to provide extended-range VHF voice communications at distances of more than 400 nautical miles, at an altitude of 18,000 feet. ARINC has operated the VERN air/ground stations and network infrastructure continuously since deploying them in 1998.

Docking Stations

Lufthansa Airlines will be the launch customer for Goodrich Corp.’s laptop docking station Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) system on an Airbus A340.

The Goodrich system includes two high-resolution, touchscreen displays, two laptop docking stations and an installation kit. The system allows the flight crew to use laptop computers through the EFB display for applications during all phases of flight, and complements Goodrich’s Class 2 and Class 3 EFBs.

"Laptop docking station EFB systems give airlines greater flexibility in implementing newer, faster computing platforms into their operations as computing speed and memory performance increase," said Jan Mathiesen, vice president, Goodrich Sensors and Integrated Systems.

Colorado ADS-B

Colorado aviation officials launched a campaign to provide new surveillance capabilities to the state’s mountainous airports.

Sensis Corp., Syracuse, N.Y., won the first phase of the $15 million project, which is formally called the Colorado Air Traffic Control Beacon Interrogator, an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system, leading to FAA certification.

The project is based on a system of distributed sensors that utilize existing aircraft transponders to determine an aircraft’s position and report it to FAA’s Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center, located in Longmont, Colo. Air traffic information will be displayed as a standard radar target on screens in the Denver facility, which provides radar separation for all air traffic in portions of nine western states.

The project will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will provide coverage to airports in Hayden, Rifle, Steamboat Springs and Craig. It will cost $4.7 million and be operational by the 2008 ski season.

Coverage volume and project definitions for Phase II will be finalized this fall. However, the second phase is expected to include Montrose, Telluride, Gunnison, Cortez, Durango and Alamosa and is estimated to cost about $10 million. Once complete, FAA will assume ownership, including operations and maintenance costs of the system throughout its 15 to 20 year life.

Engine Display

ASB Avionics, Mojave, Calif., received a supplemental type certificate (STC) amendment from the FAA, adding digital Engine Instrument Display capability to the Honeywell CDS/R Electronic Flight Instrument System for the L-382G civilian version of the C-130H cargo aircraft.

The engine instrument display (EID) installation utilizes dual Ametek Engine Interface Units (EIU) to transform existing analog engine sensor information into digital format for display on the Honeywell displays. Each EIU has dual-channel redundancy and is transferable from the EID to either of the pilots’ multifunction displays in the event of a display fault. All five displays — pilot’s and copilot’s Primary Flight Display, MFDs and EID — are identical and interchangeable.

ASB said its modular approach to production makes the transformation from the traditional "round-dial" instrument panel to the 5-display "flat-panel" installation a 90-day process.

The original approval of ST01162LA was for a three-display (with analog engine instruments) CDS/R Avionics Modernization Program, and has been installed on 10 aircraft, most of which are now scheduled for retrofit to the 5-display system.

Surface Surveillance

Oslo Airport in Norway selected Holland Institute of Traffic Technology and Era Corp. to expand surface surveillance with Era’s network of multilateration and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) sensors and "Squid" vehicle tracking units.

The airport will add Era’s surveillance technology to an extensive surface tracking and aircraft routing system, including primary X-band radar and a taxiway guidance lighting system. Included will be Squid ADS-B vehicle transponders, allowing ground vehicles to be managed using the same technology as aircraft. Air-traffic controllers will have a single view of all surface traffic in all weather conditions.

Russian Carrier Contract

S7 Airlines, Russia’s largest domestic carrier and Lufthansa Systems signed a five-year contract for the deployment of IT solutions from Lufthansa Systems to support S7’s schedule management processes.

S7 Airlines has been flying with Lufthansa Systems’ flight management system data since 2004 and decided to extend the cooperation, Lufthansa said. This is the latest in a series of contracts that Lufthansa Systems has signed in the recent months with Russian carriers.

"I am very pleased that we have steadily increased our customer base in this important growth market. S7 Airlines is seen as a role model for many other carriers in this region and we are confident that this contract will be a further signal to others," said Stefan Auerbach, senior vice president for regional sales at Lufthansa Systems.

S7 Airline’s major hub is Moscow-Domodedovo. Its fleet consists of 60 Western and Russian aircraft. Total revenue in 2006 was $899 million, according to a Lufthansa Systems release.

Lufthansa Systems, based in Kelsterbach, Germany, also has unveiled an agreement with Russian cargo carrier AirBridge Cargo to optimize its processes in network management.



SwiftBroadband Tests

Satcom equipment provider EMS Satcom, at the Paris Air Show in June, said more than 300 flight hours had been accumulated in advanced tests of the SwiftBroadband satellite broadband service on a pair of Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) operated by a Fortune 100 company. The tests demonstrated support for 10 passengers surfing the Web, sending e-mail and performing file transfers, with an average speed of 200 to 300 kbps.

The BBJs are equipped with EMS Satcom’s eNfusion CNX Cabin Gateway communications system, an AMT-50 high-gain antenna and radome, and an HSD-400 High Speed Data Terminal. Inmarsat is expected to activate the SwiftBroadband service in October.

"These successful trials affirm what EMS Satcom and Inmarsat have been projecting as the solution for in-flight, high-speed Internet connectivity is now almost a reality," said John Broughton, EMS Satcom vice president of product development. "There is still work to do through the rest of this year, including testing with the upgraded ground network, but we are satisfied with the performance of the system so far."

Rotorcraft Monitoring

Curtiss-Wright Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with Eaton Corp.’s Electrical Sensing and Controls Division to develop its Stress Wave Analysis technology for rotorcraft drive-system condition monitoring.

Curtiss-Wright, which will provide the technology through its Swantech business, said the Stress Wave Analysis (SWAN) technology incorporates hardware and Web-based software to detect minute levels of friction in critical components. This enables operators to identify component deterioration in advance of conventional vibration and temperature-based monitoring systems.

Under terms of the MOU, Swantech, based in Fort Lauderdale, will give Eaton the exclusive right to sell SWAN in the market. Eaton will deploy the technology to meet FAA and military standards and co-market it with Swantech. The initial agreement is for three years with an option to renew.

Iridium Outlook

Iridium Satellite said it sees continued strong growth for its mobile satellite communications services in the aeronautical sector, with the number of subscribers up 60 percent year-over-year.

"Our rapid growth in the aeronautical sector is buoyed by a strong aviation industry and driven by new innovative solutions from our distribution partners tailored to meet market requirements for reliable, cost-effective aeronautical voice and data communications," said Greg Ewert, executive vice president of Iridium Satellite. "Much of our growth is currently coming from helicopter fleets, many of which are installing Iridium-based automatic flight following equipment to meet new government regulations and improve operational efficiency."

Astrium Services, a subsidiary of EADS Space, signed an agreement to become a value-added reseller of Iridium satellite communication equipment and services. Under the agreement, Astrium Services will offer satellite voice and data solutions through other EADS companies.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved draft Standard and Recommended Practices (SARPs) covering the use of Iridium for Aeronautical Mobile Satellite (Route) Service, or AMS(R)S. Iridium said it expects full ICAO approval in November, paving the way for deployment of Iridium-based AMS(R)S platforms next year.



Fuselage Delivery

Northrop Grumman in May delivered the center fuselage for the first F-35 Lightning II static test aircraft, a non-flying, short take-off, vertical landing variant designated BG-1.

The company said the center fuselage was delivered more than two months ahead of schedule to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the F-35 prime contractor. It will be mated with an aft fuselage, wings and cockpit at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 final assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to form the full-scale static test aircraft.

Joint Cargo Aircraft

A team led by L-3 Communications’ Integrated Systems Group in June won an estimated $2.04 billion contract to provide the Joint Cargo Aircraft to the U.S. Army and Air Force, based on the Alenia C-27J Spartan medium transport. The losing team of Raytheon and EADS-CASA North America filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office on June 22.

The L-3 team includes Alenia North America, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems and Global Military Aircraft Systems. Assuming the contract goes forward, the C-27J will replace the U.S. Army’s C-23 Sherpas, C-12 and C-26 aircraft and augment the U.S. Air Forces’ existing fleet of intra-theater airlifters. A minimum of 78 C-27Js will be built over the next six years.

Raytheon and EADS-CASA proposed the C-295 military transport for the JCA.

"Following a ‘debrief’ from the U.S. Army, Team JCA carefully considered the Army’s selection process and weighed the merits and challenges of an award protest," said Jon Jones, president of Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. "We decided that a protest was necessary based on crucial portions of our proposal that were either incorrectly measured or not considered during the source selection process."

‘Talking’ Radar

Northrop Grumman and teammates L-3 Communications and Lockheed Martin conducted the first in-flight communications link with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Synthetic aperture radar map imagery and streaming video were relayed from a Northrop Grumman BAC 1-11 test aircraft to an L-3 Communications ground station. During the mission, the team transmitted and received in full duplex at 274-megabits per second burst rate.

The airborne and ground terminals used off-the-shelf L-3 programmable modems with the addition of a new Radar-Common Data Link (R-CDL) waveform. R-CDL uses the AESA radar’s fire control transmitter and antenna to perform high-data rate, two-way communications at long ranges.

"We took our targeting radar and turned it into a ‘talking’ radar by enabling it to transmit and receive unprecedented amounts of information," said Teri Marconi, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s combat avionics business unit.

B-2 Satcom

Northrop Grumman started work on a 62-month, $171 million system development and demonstration contract for an extremely high frequency (EHF) satellite communications system for the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber.

Under a planned, three-increment upgrade program, the new EHF system eventually will allow the B-2 to send and receive battlefield information up to 100 times faster than its current ultra-high frequency (UHF) satellite communications system. The system also will allow the B-2 to connect to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Global Information Grid.

"This SDD contract provides significant momentum for the work Northrop Grumman and its subcontractors are doing to increase the B-2’s fighting effectiveness in the face of technological advances by our enemies," said Dave Mazur, vice president with Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems. "It will help ensure that the aircraft remains a well-integrated, high-value node in the Air Force’s long-range strike structure."

During Increment I, Northrop Grumman’s industry team will replace the B-2’s current flight management computers with a single, integrated processing unit developed by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration. The contract also will involve development of the fiber optic network supporting high-speed data transfers to, from and within the aircraft; and delivery of a disk drive unit from Honeywell Defense and Space to facilitate future transfer of EHF data on and off the B-2.

Increment II of the program will give the aircraft the ability to send and receive information at EHF frequencies. Increment III will fully integrate the new EHF communications capabilities into the aircraft’s controls and displays.

Targeting System

Lockheed Martin said its Electro Optical Targeting System (EOTS) for the F-35 Lightning II successfully completed its inaugural flight test, demonstrating capability as a multi-functional system for precision air-to-air and air-to-surface targeting.

The flight started the first phase of a three-phase flight test program. EOTS eventually will fly aboard the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed, or CATBird aircraft, joined by the complete F-35 sensor suite during the second quarter of 2008.

EOTS provides high-resolution imagery, automatic tracking, infrared-search-and-track, laser designation and range finding and laser spot tracking at increased standoff ranges. Lockheed Martin said the flight-test met all objectives. Subsequent flights will test the laser, proving EOTS functionality in a stand-alone environment.

"This first flight is a significant step toward ensuring the technical maturity of this infrared targeting system prior to final-stage integration on the CATB," said Rich Hinkle, program director, Joint Strike Fighter EOTS at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

Engineering Agreement

Rockwell Collins announced an expanded relationship with HCL Technologies Ltd., an Indian IT services company.

Under the terms of this renewable agreement, HCL will serve as an extension of Rockwell Collins’ engineering centers. The services offered by HCL’s aerospace practice encompass embedded software, hardware design, engineering services, test equipment/rigs and applications development.

"This new design center plays a key role in providing additional resources we need to advance smart communications and aviation electronic solutions for our worldwide customer base," said Kelly Ortberg, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Commercial Systems at Rockwell Collins.

Synthetic Vision

Honeywell was selected by Sikorsky Aircraft to develop and integrate synthetic vision technology to improve helicopter landings in brownout conditions. The $6.9 million, 18-month contract is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Honeywell will design and demonstrate a synthetic vision system for the UH-60 Black Hawk cockpit to "enhance situational awareness and reduce workload for the pilots operating aircraft in degraded visual environments."

The system will integrate radar-based sensor information with terrain and obstacle data to provide a detailed, three-dimensional view of the landing environment on the primary flight display.

Honeywell said it will market its technology commercially by 2010.

KC-130J Delivery

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, stationed in Okinawa, Japan, received its first upgraded KC-130J Super Hercules in June.

The Lockheed Martin-built tanker replaces older KC-130s, most of which date back to the early 1960s. Nine new aircraft will be delivered over 18 months, said Lt. Col. Dwight C. Neeley, the squadron’s commanding officer.

"We’ve worked very hard for well over a year to try and make (the conversion) possible," Neeley said. "The engines, propellers and avionics systems are so much more advanced, it allows us to fly these planes a lot more than we can the planes that are 40 years old."

Capable of inflight refueling of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, the KC-130J features a glass cockpit with fully integrated, digital avionics, Mil-Std-1553 data bus architecture, GPS/inertial navigation and digital autopilot. Rockwell Collins supplies its HGS-3000 head-up displays for both the KC-130J and U.S. Air Force C-130J.

"There’s so much information at the pilot’s fingertips, I can’t even begin to explain," said Maj. Kenneth L. Asbridge, who flew the KC-130 for more than 11 years. "In the old plane, we were literally flying by the seat of our pants. Now we are monitoring computers and everything is very exact."

Helmet Display

BAE Systems started production of the head equipment assembly (HEA) for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Typhoon HEA, a binocular, night-vision-capable, helmet-mounted display, has a fully integrated design ensuring compatibility of the electro-optics with head protection and life support. It incorporates a respirator for protection in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare environments.

BAE said HEA is capable of providing input to the pilot in daylight, at night, and in adverse weather conditions, and remains stable under intense g-forces. The helmet’s technology also interfaces with the Typhoon’s computer system, allowing the pilot to direct sensors and weapons with a turn of the head. The pilot can use the helmet to cue missiles, lock a sensor onto an adversary or target a particular point on the ground.

Catapult Purchase

France’s Sagem Defense Securite acquired Robonic Ltd. Oy, of Tampere, Finland, which specializes in pneumatic UAV catapults. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Sagem said the acquisition provides a key element to develop the new-generation, high-endurance catapulted tactical UAVs. It also supports modernization of Sagem’s Sperwer UAVs, in operational service with Canada, France, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden, "through quicker deployment, a reduced logistics footprint and improved aircraft launching," the company said.

Robonic Ltd. Oy’s pneumatic UAV catapults are in service in the Finnish and other armed forces. Sagem’s acquisition includes the company’s subsidiary Arctic Test UAV Flight Center in Kemijarvi. Sagem used the flight-test center in June 2006 for long-endurance tests of its tactical UAVs.

Software MOU

Aonix signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Fujitsu Ltd. and Los Angeles-based NTK Aviation America for cooperation in providing products and services for airborne applications related to real-time Java in Japan.

On the basis of the relationship, Fujitsu said it is considering the application of Aonix PERC technology to future airborne computer systems. The technology provides real-time embedded virtual machine technology used by Java developers. PERC is used in programs such as the Lockheed Martin Aegis destroyer upgrade, Future Combat System and Boeing J-UCAS unmanned aerial vehicle.

"We believe that Fujitsu, along with facilitator NTK Aviation America, will be instrumental in helping Japan defense applications take full advantage of Java technologies in complex and real-time systems," said Dave Wood, Aonix vice president of marketing.

NTK Aviation America is a U.S. subsidiary of Tokyo-based NTK International Corp.

Japan F-15s

Lockheed Martin will upgrade radar capabilities for the reconnaissance version of the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s fleet of F-15 aircraft. As part of a Japanese-led team, Lockheed Martin will equip F-15s with advanced synthetic aperture radar (SAR) pods.

SAR will be installed in external pods attached to the bottom of select F-15s. Once integrated on the aircraft, the radar will receive, process and disseminate critical targeting information in real-time. The system records imagery, uses an airborne data link to electronically relay information to ground stations, and SAR to accurately locate targets during the day or night in any type of weather condition.

The modified F-15s are slated to replace several aging RF-4 reconnaissance jets, which will be decommissioned by the Japan Air Self Defense Force.

Autopilot Partners

Dallas-based Sagem Avionics announced a partnership with Bell Helicopter Textron to provide autopilot flight controls.

Bell selected the Sagem Trims and SMART servo actuators for future digital autopilot applications. The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (Bell 407 variant) and Bell 429 will be the first models equipped with seven to 12 actuators per aircraft.

While Sagem autopilots have been available for retrofit in Bell 206B and 407 helicopters, this is the first time Sagem products are being forward fit during production.

"We are extremely proud that Sagem products were recognized by Bell to join them in delivering the world’s next generation helicopter capability," said Jean Baudin, Sagem Avionics CEO.

Sagem Avionics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sagem Défense Sécurité, a company of France’s Safran Group.

ATC Radios

Rohde & Schwarz, of Munich, Germany, received an order from the Swedish Defense Material Administration for 90 R&S Series 4200 transmitters and 90 receivers and 56 R&S Series 4400 transceivers.

The radios will be installed at six Swedish Air Force wings and three Deployable Air Bases, where they will provide secured ground-to-air communications with helicopters, tactical and transport aircraft as well as with civil airplanes.

Under the contract, Rohde & Schwarz will ensure service, availability of spare parts and replacement of modules and radios during the next five years.

The primary functions of the latest generation of VHF/UHF air-traffic control radios are software-based, allowing flexible, customized configuration as well as the implementation of new features via software downloads, Rohde & Schwarz said. Every radio can be remote-controlled and monitored by connecting the management system option, R&S RNMS3000, at the LAN interface. TheRNMS3000 is also part of the contract.



  • Canadian simulator company CAE signed contracts to design and manufacture three CAE 7000 Series full-flight simulators and training devices for Cargolux International Airlines, Emirates and Hainan Airlines. Total value of the contracts is about $45 million.

  • Boeing subsidiary Alteon Training and Northwest Airlines signed an agreement to provide flight training on seven aircraft types at Northwest’s headquarters in Eagan, Minn.

  • Israel-based Elbit Systems won two contracts, worth about $14 million, to supply Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System/Head-Up Displays for helicopters operated by two NATO countries.

  • BAE Systems received two U.S. Army contracts totaling $54 million to provide a multi-band laser technology upgrade for the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures/Common Missile Warning System program.

  • L-3 Communications said its Integrated Systems Group was awarded a $40 million contract from the U.S. Navy, with options, to integrate new and existing technology into the next-generation NP-3C instrumented range support aircraft.

  • Kollsman, Merrimack, N.H., received a contract from the U.S. Navy, valued up to $97 million, for repair and modification of night-targeting, weapon and systems assemblies of the Marine Corps. AH-1W helicopter.

  • Emteq, New Berlin, Wis., was awarded long-term purchase orders by Eurocopter for light emitting diode wash lighting provisions for installation on the EC225 Super Puma VIP configuration helicopter as well as by a major regional jet OEM, which the company did not identify. Terms were not disclosed.

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