Opinion Allows Flexibility In Pilot Headsets

Airline pilots have embraced a wide variety of active noise reduction (ANR) products to improve communications and protect their hearing in relatively high-noise cockpits such as the ubiquitous Boeing 737. A popular ANR application combines the Bose QuietComfort 2 (QC2) headphones with the UFlyMike boom microphone adapter (UFM) designed by retired Southwest captain Mike Lackey.

The UFlyMike adapter plugs into the existing headphones jack without modifications, says UFlyMike, based in Colorado Springs, Colo. The adapter had passed testing requirements of Technical Standard Order (TSO)-C139 and was awaiting FAA certification.

Several thousand airline pilots have found this combination offers optimum noise reduction while providing exceptional clarity in the 83 to 88 dBA ambient noise environment found in the 737 and several other aircraft.

In early 2007, FAA inspectors within the certificate management offices of two major airlines objected to pilot use of the QC2/UFMs, ostensibly claiming that airline pilots could use only headsets authorized by FAA TSO. Eight months after receiving a request for clarification, the FAA’s Office of the Chief Counsel responded that federal regulations do not prohibit airline pilots from using non-TSO’d products to supplement already-installed communication equipment that meets minimum requirements.

According to a letter dated Oct. 12, 2007, and signed by Rebecca B. MacPherson, FAA assistant counsel for regulations: "There is no specific requirement that aircraft operating under 14 CFR, part 121 be equipped with headsets or that flight crewmembers use headsets produced under a TSOA (TSO authorization).... Use of a non-approved headset to supplement the operation of an aircraft equipped in accordance (with) those regulations would not... be considered a regulatory violation."

Airline pilots do not have to use headsets at all, but they do have to use boom microphones below 18,000 feet. One major airline’s minimum equipment list (MEL) allows pilots to substitute their own personal equipment for installed equipment, and Boeing’s 737 operating manual allows the use of "any standard microphone." In this context, "standard" is permissive; it means "commonly used or supplied."

Some FAA inspectors object to use of the QC2s because the headphones require some minimum voltage from one AAA battery to keep the earcup circuit closed. They argue that if the battery dies, the earcups also die and the pilot cannot maintain communication. FAA "is particularly concerned," MacPherson said, "that Active Noise Reduction headsets and headset adapters used by flight crewmembers that rely on battery power are subject to failure when internal or externally connected batteries discharge under normal use. These headsets therefore may not be capable of providing the continuous, uninterrupted communications capability necessary for safe operation of the aircraft."

Pilots who use the QC2/UFM setup counter that QC2s provide plenty of warning beforehand, while substantially reducing communication-related risks.

First, a steady red LED in the right earcup starts flashing when a minimum battery life of five hours remains. Second, if the pilot ignores the flashing LED, he cannot miss obvious aural changes when the ANR circuitry starts cutting out as battery voltage approaches zero. Third, battery condition has no effect on the boom microphone. Finally, should the earcup circuit open, the pilot maintains communication by turning up the cockpit speaker and pulling back one earcup just as he would with any other headset-earpiece failure.

Using the risk assessment guidelines contained in FAA Advisory Circular 120-92 to assess the QC2/UFM setup reveals that the likelihood of failure is very low and the severity of consequences borders between negligible and minor, which places their use well within an acceptable risk range. Compared with the missed or misunderstood communications that occur on every flight, pilots find the QC2/UFM benefits far outweigh the risks. — Mitch Whatley

Mitchell R. Whatley is an attorney in Southlake, Texas, and a 737-800 captain with a major U.S. airline.

(Contacted by Avionics, Bose Corp. said it does not endorse the use of the QC2s by pilots, or their compatibility with another manufacturer’s product. The company issued this statement:

"The Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones are designed for noise reduction while listening to entertainment channels in air transport aircraft, such as audio or movie sound channels, and should not be used as a headset for communicating with air traffic control. They are not engineered to meet the needs of pilots and do not meet civil aviation authority standards for communication headsets. Given this, we can not endorse the inclusion of the Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones in your story on aviation headsets in this context or in regards to its compatibility with another manufacturer’s product, like UFlyMike.

The UFlyMike product enables an external source to provide music playback into the QC2 headphones without priority muting or control of received aircraft radio, air-traffic control directions or cockpit intercom communications. This design may allow music to mask critical cockpit communications.

Bose also does not recommend this type of usage with the QC2 headphones because no incoming audio will be heard with a discharged or improperly installed battery. This shortcoming could result in the potential of missed air-traffic control communications while piloting an aircraft. For pilot use, we recommend the Bose Aviation Headset X. The product is TSO-approved and features a microphone with the appropriate power and intelligibility for transmission and reception of flight information. It is engineered to withstand the altitude and temperature conditions common in non-commercial aircraft.")


U.S. ATC Critiqued

The United States lags behind other developed countries in the structure and financing of its air-traffic control system. And its failure to adopt reforms may have serious consequences as air travel and air cargo continue to grow and the industry becomes an increasingly important part of the global economy.

Those are among the findings of "Managing the Skies: Public Policy, Organization and Financing of Air Navigation," a new book by Clinton V. Oster of Indiana University and John S. Strong of the College of William and Mary.

"The U.S. is not keeping pace," said Oster, a professor and associate dean in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. "We’re not the best practice any more, even though for years we were."

The authors say the United States falls behind in three key areas: a disconnect between the cost drivers of the system and the ways in which revenue is generated; diffused accountability that has led to poor performance and high costs of capital investment programs; and a lack of organizational independence that has hampered air-traffic control. "Part of the problem is that we’re the last major country that runs air-traffic control with a government agency," Oster said.

Abandoning air traffic management by a government agency — FAA — doesn’t mean privatization, he said. Other nations have developed more effective systems using independent government corporations, public-private partnerships and user cooperatives.

The United States also is the last major country that finances air traffic control with taxes — primarily excise taxes on airline tickets — rather than user fees. As a result, there is a mismatch between air-traffic volume, which drives costs, and the revenue that flights generate. And business jets, which account for a growing percentage of the air-traffic control workload, often carry only a handful of passengers and don’t pay their share, according to the book. Oster and Strong say the finest hour of air-traffic management came after Sept. 11, 2001, when controllers managed to divert and land more than 4,500 commercial and private aircraft within three hours without an accident. But instead of using the subsequent months of reduced air traffic to institute reforms, the United States returned to business as usual, and pressure on the system is again building.

With air travel projected to grow at nearly 5 percent a year — reaching 1 billion passengers in the United States alone by 2015 — an inefficient system will produce more and longer waits, a loss of confidence in the industry and missed economic opportunities.

"I think it will ultimately hamper aviation and hamper the economy in the U.S., and at some point we’re going to have to do better," Oster said. — Ramon Lopez

NYC Flight Caps

A U.S. Department of Transportation plan to reduce air-traffic congestion and delays in the airspace around New York City — including flight caps — was greeted with both protest and some praise by airlines and industry groups.

Provisions of the plan, announced in December, include the appointment of aviation "czar" to coordinate regional airspace issues in the New York area, and the imposition of hourly flight caps at John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty airports. Flights at New York’s LaGuardia Airport already are capped at 75 scheduled operations per hour.

The DOT plan includes new take-off patterns at both Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airport that will allow aircraft to fan out after takeoff and provide more options for aircraft waiting to depart.

The plan limits the number of departures and arrivals at JFK at either 82 or 83 per hour, depending on the time of day, starting March 15 and extending through 2009. Currently, there are 100 or more flights scheduled at JFK during peak hours. Airlines will be able to shift flights to times of the day when the airport has unused capacity, allowing 50 more flights per day than were offered last summer.

"These new measures will cut delays, protect consumer choice, support New York’s economy and allow for new flights as we bring new capacity online," said Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.

As operational improvements increase capacity at area airports, new slots will be auctioned to airlines and the revenue used for airspace and airport improvements in the region — one of the more contentious provisions.

"The White House and the Department of Transportation are out of step with the global aviation community," charged Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association. "A take-off slot at JFK requires terminal space, a parking stand and a landing slot somewhere else. This is a complex situation and an eBay approach — slot auctioning — will not solve the problem.

"Let’s also remember," added Bisignani, "that this is a capacity problem that we believe can be fully remedied with better operations and improved infrastructure. The Department of Transportation needs to focus its resources on quickly implementing industry recommendations on short and long-term solutions. We need action, not auctions."

Among other reactions:

  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees JFK, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports, said it was pleased that DOT had adopted many of its task force recommendations and held off on congestion pricing. "But the DOT is simply wrong to go forward with restrictive caps and auctions that will cut the number of passengers at JFK, reduce travel options, and increase prices for every passenger," the authority added.

  • The Air Transport Association said flight caps are "undesirable for air travelers but, under existing circumstances, airlines have little choice but to live with caps as a temporary measure." The trade organization added that 77 recommendations put forward in the Aviation Rulemaking Committee process "will provide the opportunity to first restore and then add needed new capacity."

  • Delta Air Lines said it was pleased with some recommendations, but concerned about potential encroachment by new entrant carriers during congested periods and the prospect of slot auctions. "Not only are auctions illegal, but they will do nothing to eliminate congestion. Moreover, carriers such as Delta that have substantially reduced their schedules should have their flights restored before DOT sells new capacity to the highest bidder," stated CEO Richard Anderson. The airline also urged adoption of Worldwide Scheduling Guidelines.

  • JetBlue Airways, based at JFK, applauded the plan. "These capacity enhancements coupled with the regrettable, but necessary, temporary hourly caps on operations, will greatly improve JetBlue’s operational reliability for the benefit of our customers," stated CEO Dave Barger. "The true solution to alleviating congestion at JFK is enhancing capacity, and this cannot be overstated. We look forward to continue working with the DOT/FAA on this important effort."

In her statement on the federal plan, Peters said FAA is working with airports and airlines to make operational improvements next year, including satellite-based navigation procedures for the New York and Philadelphia airports that will allow improved bad weather routing.

Special Conditions

FAA has issued final special conditions for network security on the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to protect against unauthorized access to critical systems.

In certifying the 787 to Part 25 for transport-category aircraft, FAA determined that existing airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate safety standards due to "novel or unusual design features" of the new generation aircraft. Those features are associated with the 787’s digital systems architecture, consisting of flight control, airline business and passenger entertainment networks connected by electronics and embedded software. A notice of proposed special conditions for data network protection and isolation was published for comment last April.

According to a Jan. 2 notice in the Federal Register, the 787-8 design "shall prevent all inadvertent or malicious changes to, and all adverse impacts up on, all systems, networks, hardware, software, and data in the Aircraft Control Domain and in the Airline Information Domain from all points within the Passenger Information and Entertainment Domain."

Delay Blame

Analyzing data from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics, USA Today determined airline problems caused longer delays than air-traffic congestion.

Airline issues produced 23.8 million minutes of delay through October of 2007, compared to 23.3 million minutes caused by air-traffic congestion, the newspaper reported. While the overall number of flights delayed by congestion was slightly higher, the average length of delay was longer for airline-caused holdups, at 55 minutes compared to 47.

"The data call into question a long-held notion about air travel delays — that bad weather and heavy air traffic cause the bulk of the waits that passengers endure," said USA Today. "The newspaper’s analysis shows that airline problems, such as pilot shortages, taking too long to refuel and mechanical breakdowns, are as much the root of delays as anything else."


The "tBagTMC22" Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), manufactured by NavAero, of Chicago, received Supplemental Type Certification (STC) from FAA on Airbus A300 and A310 series aircraft.

The STC, which covers the A300-600 and A310-300 models, is the seventh issued for the EFB as installed Class 2 EFB hardware, NavAero said.

The tBagTMC22 is suitable for use during all phases of flight. Initial deployments for an unnamed, global operator of A300/310s were scheduled to begin in the first quarter.

Iridium OK’d

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved standards and recommended practices permitting Iridium Satellite to provide Aeronautical Mobile Satellite (Route) Services (AMS(R)S) for commercial aircraft on transoceanic flights.

"The ICAO AMS(R)S approval opens a significant new market for Iridium in the international commercial aviation sector," said Greg Ewert, executive vice president, Iridium Satellite. "The ICAO decision means that member states can now approve Iridium satellite equipment to meet the international requirements for redundant communications when flying over ocean regions. As a result, we expect to see rapid adoption among long-haul commercial carriers in the coming year."

Iridium, based in Bethesda, Md., claims its coverage is gap-free, including over the Polar regions used by aircraft on international flights. The company said air carriers are installing Iridium satellite terminals for cockpit communications, especially on high-latitude flights.

Laser Study

Riley Aviation, Sturgis, Mich., said it was contracted by the University of Notre Dame to provide aircraft and pilots for a five-year study of laser transmissions.

The university’s Center for Flow Physics and Controls Aero-Optics is studying how turbulence around an aircraft affects light and laser transmissions and how turbulence-imposed distortions can be corrected. The research is supported by a Joint Technology Office Grant administered by the U.S. Air Force.

The study is expected to pave the way for speed-of-light communications that would occur between aircraft, aircraft-to-ground and aircraft-to-satellites. Ultimately, the work may lead to the use of high-speed Internet during commercial flights, Riley Aviation said.

Project test flights began last September using Riley Aviation Citation I and II jets.


Fighter Workshare

BAE Systems opened a 30,000-square-foot facility at its South Nashua, N.H., location for production work on the F-22A Raptor and F-35 Lightning II programs.

The site will support more than 1,400 of the company’s 4,500 employees in New Hampshire contributing to the F-22 and F-35 programs.

"The new facility is capable of assembling and testing complex microwave products and performing assembly, integration and acceptance testing at significantly reduced cost and cycle times," said Mike Dow, BAE Systems vice president of operations in Nashua. "It’s an important step in our mission to improve supplier relationships, enhance product design and inspire our employees to meet the needs of our nation’s men and women in uniform."

BAE provides the electronic warfare suites of the F-22 and F-35 fighters. The EW systems detect, analyze, evaluate and react to electronic threats fielded by adversaries.

EPX Proposal

Northrop Grumman and L-3 Communications teamed to submit a proposal for the U.S. Navy’s EPX manned surveillance aircraft. Intended to replace the EP-3E four-engine turboprop, the EPX will provide an enhanced surveillance capability and deliver strike targeting information.

The Northrop/L-3 proposal was submitted in response to a Navy broad agency announcement issued in November that solicited bids to develop an EPX preferred system concept and analyze the risks and requirements.

Other major defense contractors, including Boeing, are eyeing the EPX requirement with various platforms.

The Navy envisions EPX as a shore-based aircraft providing intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting support to carrier strike groups and theater, combatant and national commanders.

Hawkeye Flights

The second E-2D Advanced Hawkeye development aircraft built for the U.S. Navy by Northrop Grumman, known as Delta Two, completed its first flight in November followed by a second flight in December.

The contractor team conducted a series of air vehicle tests to evaluate airplane flying qualities, engine response and cockpit instruments, Northrop Grumman said.

The Navy plans to procure at least 75 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and command and control aircraft (Avionics, October 2007, p. 28), which are manufactured at Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing and flight test center in St. Augustine, Fla.

‘JedEyes’ HMD

Elbit Systems, of Haifa, Israel, introduced the "JedEyes" helmet-mounted display (HMD), designed to meet requirements of the AH-64 Apache and other rotary wing platforms.

Compatible with modern aircraft sensors, JedEyes has an ultra wide field of vision with high resolution. The system provides binocular/monocular display, off-the-visor display projection, 3-D dual vision display picture-in-picture (fixed, pop-up or space stabilized) and distortion correction. Additional capabilities include real time sensor fusion and multi-sensor display, virtual HUD and virtual cockpit.

The system is operational in day, night and brownout flight environments, Elbit said.

Boeing MOU

Boeing signed a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), intended to bring more than $1 billion of new aerospace manufacturing work to India.

The companies said they will explore business opportunities aimed at transferring work packages to India with an initial value of $10 million to $20 million annually, increasing in size and complexity as business opportunities develop. Boeing also will support HAL in developing manufacturing processes and capabilities needed for the production of hardware for Boeing and its subcontractors.

HAL agreed to offer Boeing competitive pricing and to invest in the required manufacturing infrastructure, the companies said.

HAL, based in Bangalore, is involved in the design, development, manufacture and maintenance of advanced fighters, trainers, helicopters and associated engines, accessories, avionics and airborne systems.

Patent License

Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla., entered into a patent licensing agreement with VT Miltope covering several Harris U.S. and international patents for aviation applications.

The Harris Ground Data Link patents cover core inventions in wireless communications that support flight operations, maintenance operations, quality assurance, electronic flight bags and in-flight entertainment data that is exchanged between an aircraft and ground-based systems. The company’s Wireless Engine Monitoring Systems patents cover core inventions in the wireless communication of engine performance and engine monitoring data between aircraft engines and ground-based systems.

VT Miltope, based in Hope Hull, Ala., said the agreement allows it to offer its Terminal Wireless LAN Unit (TWLU) to commercial, business and military customers. The TWLU enables wireless data communications to and from an aircraft without human intervention, the company said.

Fire Scout Control

Raytheon completed initial testing of the Tactical Control System (TCS) of the U.S. Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. The testing was conducted Dec. 15, at the Webster Field annex, Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md.

The TCS can control two unmanned air systems (UAS). It consists of mission planning, command and control and data processing and dissemination capabilities for operation of the medium altitude long endurance UAS.

The control system’s common user interface enables the UAS operator, trained on one UAS system, to control different types of unmanned aircraft systems or payloads with minimal additional training. Planned for deployment on the new Littoral Combat Ship, the MQ-8B Fire Scout is slated for initial operational capability this year. The MQ-8B is being developed by Northrop Grumman, with airframe provided by Schweizer Aircraft.

BATMAV Milestones

The U.S. Air Force Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle (BATMAV) received Milestone C approval and authorization for full rate production, manufacturer AeroVironment, Monrovia, Calif., said in January.

The BATMAV program achieved the two milestones less than a year after contract award, the company noted. The Air Force selected AeroVironment’s Wasp III as the micro air vehicle for BATMAV in December 2006. The U.S. Marine Corps also has ordered the Wasp III.

With a wingspan of 29 inches and weighing about a pound, the Wasp III carries interchangeable targeting payload modules, including an infrared camera, along with two integrated color cameras that transmit streaming video to the hand-held ground controller.

Bee Demonstration

Swift Engineering, San Clemente, Calif., in conjunction with Northrop Grumman, completed another demonstration of the 4th generation Killer Bee tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (TUAV), the company said in January.

During the demonstration, two Killer Bee TUAVs were deployed to link remote ground squads. The aircraft, controlled by a Swift Engineering ground station, established a ground-to-air to air-to-ground network that extended over the horizon communications ranges.

Swift said the demonstration showed the aircraft’s effectiveness as a communication relay platform system keeping data, voice and C4 capabilities connected in rugged terrain with no runway.

JSF Rollout

Lockheed Martin in December debuted the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35B Lightning II.

Designed to replace Marine Corps AV-8Bs and F/A-18s, is one of three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Its first flight is planned for mid-2008 following a series of ground tests.

The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing version began its flight-test program in December 2006. The F-35C, designed for catapult launches and arrested recoveries aboard U.S. Navy carriers, will make its inaugural flight in 2009.

"This generational leap in technology will enable us to operate a fleet of fighter/attack aircraft from the decks of ships, existing runways or from unimproved surfaces at austere bases. We find that capability extremely valuable," said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway.

The F-35B’s propulsion system, developed by Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, consists of a shaft-driven counter-rotating lift fan situated behind the cockpit, a roll duct under each wing for lateral stability and a rear 3-bearing swivel nozzle that vectors engine exhaust in the desired direction.

During vertical or short takeoffs, or vertical landings, doors above and below the lift fan open, and a clutch connecting the lift fan to the engine drive shaft engages. A dorsal auxiliary engine inlet opens to increase airflow to the engine. At the same time, doors beneath the 3-bearing swivel nozzle open and the rear nozzle pivots downward, deflecting engine thrust toward the ground. Roll ducts under each wing also are engaged, keeping the aircraft laterally stable.

In this configuration, the F-35B can hover, land vertically, take off in a few hundred feet fully loaded, or take off vertically with a light load. When the aircraft transitions from jet-borne to conventional wing-borne flight, the doors close and the pilot can then accelerate to supersonic speeds, Lockheed Martin said.


SAAAR Approval

Gulfstream G550, G500, G450 and G350 jets outfitted with the "PlaneView" integrated avionics suite are approved to fly Required Navigation Performance Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (RNP SAAAR) approaches, Gulfstream announced Jan. 2.

Aircraft flying under RNP SAAAR procedures use both GPS and inertial navigation reference systems to fly predetermined paths loaded in their flight management computers.

FAA approval culminated a year-long effort by Gulfstream, NetJets and Honeywell International to secure RNP SAAAR authorization for aircraft operated by the latter two companies (Avionics, November 2007, p. 10).

Gulfstream Aerospace, Savannah, Ga., also has developed an aircraft-specific RNP SAAAR Operations Manual. The completion of the instructional manual, and the provision of aircraft quality data that proved the accuracy of onboard navigation systems, enabled FAA to issue approval for RNP SAAAR 0.3 approaches.

Certification Delay

Aspen Avionics, Albuquerque, N.M., delayed the launch of its Evolution EFD1000 Electronic Flight Display system, citing delays in the certification process.

In a customer letter sent in December, Doug Cayne, Aspen Avionics vice president of marketing, said the company would not make its original fall 2007 delivery date. "The later stages of FAA certification, whether for new avionics or for new airframes, are highly variable and hard to predict with accuracy," Cayne wrote. "Until you’re close to the end of the process, it’s hard to tell where you’ll find issues in testing. In the end, we should have allowed more time for the unexpected. We believe our new schedule does."

Certification of the EFD1000 was rescheduled for the first quarter 2008.

The system development "has come together beautifully," Cayne said, adding that program updates will be posted on the Aspen Avionics Web site.

When the EFD1000 was unveiled in July, Aspen called it the most innovative and affordable glass cockpit system for GA aircraft. At the Experimental Aviation Association convention in Oshkosh, Wis., the company said it had received more than $1.5 million in orders during the first week it was available for sale.

Broadband Support

ViaSat, Carlsbad, Calif., signed distribution agreements with Rockwell Collins and ARINC to supply business jets with ViaSat airborne broadband terminals and satellite services. The contract actions represent additional orders for ViaSat of more than $26 million.

Under the agreements, ViaSat maintains a four-year relationship with ARINC’s SKYLinkSM service and adds Rockwell Collins’ eXchange broadband system as a distribution partner.

Rockwell Collins has ordered additional airborne broadband terminals to be delivered over a five-year period. ARINC has extended its satellite services contract with ViaSat from three years to five.

Flight Deck STC

Avidyne Corp., Lincoln, Mass., and S-TEC Corp., Mineral Wells, Texas, received FAA supplemental type certification to retrofit the Alliant Integrated Flight Deck on Cessna Conquest II twin-engine turboprops.

The Conquest II is the third model that combines Avidyne’s Envision series of retrofit products with S-TEC’s IntelliFlight 2100 Digital Flight Control System, joining the Beechcraft King Air 90 and 200, Avidyne said.

The Alliant Integrated Flight Deck package for the Conquest II includes dual-redundant Avidyne EXP5000 10.4-inch primary flight displays, Avidyne EX500 multi-function display and S-TEC IntelliFlight 2100 digital autopilot.

Avio Ticket

Eclipse Aviation in December said the Avio NG avionics suite of the Eclipse 500 Very Light Jet received FAA certification.

Aircraft 105, the first production Eclipse 500 equipped with Avio NG, received its certificate of airworthiness and was to be delivered to its owner early this year.

Eclipse Aviation, Albuquerque, N.M., said it will ensure a homogenous fleet by modifying all in-service Eclipse 500s with Avio NG by the end of 2008. Last March, the company named a new team of avionics providers for the Eclipse 500, replacing previous supplier Avidyne after certification delays.

"Certifying Avio NG marks one of our greatest accomplishments," said Vern Raburn, Eclipse Aviation president and CEO. "... It sets a new standard for single-pilot aircraft operations."

Waukegan Acquired

Waukegan Avionics, a Chicago-area GA avionics and repair facility, was acquired by local businessmen looking to expand the 20-year-old business.

New owners Ray Wiltgen and Abe Hughes bought the business, which operates from the Waukegan Regional Airport in northern Illinois, for an undisclosed price.

"Through this acquisition, we plan on growing within the company’s traditional core business segments and by obtaining authorized repair shop certifications from some of the newer high-performance aircraft manufacturers such as Diamond, Columbia/Cessna and Cirrus, among others," said Hughes, who is responsible for business development.

"Additionally, we will grow the business through the expansion into aircraft sales (new and used) and by offering the fullest line of general aviation supplies and services available for the northern Chicago and southern Wisconsin markets."

GNS 480 Discontinued

Citing declining sales, Garmin discontinued its GNS 480 GPS system, ceasing production of what the company said was aviation’s first Gamma-3 WAAS-certified GPS/Comm navigator.

On Dec. 31, Garmin, Olathe, Kan., sent a memo to its aviation dealer network explaining the move.

"This decision was based on the fact that sales of the GNS 480 have significantly declined as more and more customers are moving toward the GNS 430W/530W family of WAAS units," Garmin said. "Although production of the GNS 480 has ceased, Garmin would like to assure current GNS 480 customers that Garmin’s number one rated product support will service thousands of units in the field for years to come."

The GNS 480 was introduced in 2004 as the industry’s first WAAS-certified GPS receiver. However, sales declined in 2006 when the GNS 430W/530W family gained WAAS functionality.

FBO Sale

A private equity firm and portfolio company planned to acquire the fixed based operator (FBO) assets of Landmark Aviation, the companies said in December. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Private equity firm GTCR Golder Rauner and Encore FBO, a portfolio company of Platform Partners LLC, of Houston, were to acquire the Landmark FBO division.

The companies are purchasing the Landmark FBO business and related charter, aircraft sales and parts assets from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, which acquired Landmark and Standard Aero last summer for $1.9 billion. At the time of the acquisition, DAE said it would divest the FBO business.

Landmark and Encore FBOs will join to form a network of 42 FBOs across North America and Western Europe. The combined entity will continue to operate under the Landmark Aviation brand, the companies said.

UAV Consultants

Consulting firms American Aerospace Advisors, Radnor, Pa., and UAV MarketSpace, Oyster Bay, N.Y., created a service to support unmanned aircraft (UA) facilities and operations worldwide.

The companies said the joint venture, known as UAS Operations Services, brings together experts in such areas as UA pilot training, airframe and system airworthiness, flight safety, airspace de-confliction and UA range setup and operations.

"Safety is critical to the future of the commercial and public UA industry. UA flight operations are proliferating, yet the number of personnel experienced in UA operations is limited. We recognized the growing need for a UA consultancy to efficiently provide access to leading subject matter experts for emerging UA operations around the world," said Jim Jewell, CEO of UAV MarketSpace, and a senior partner in the consultancy.

According to the companies, the venture will allow customers to establish or improve range and flight operations, including facility development, range operations and scheduling, training, certification and decision support services.


  • L-3 Communications signed an agreement with Boeing to support 189 U.S. Navy Boeing T-45 training aircraft from fiscal 2009 through 2013. The Contractor Logistics Support contract was first awarded to L-3 in 2003, and valued at $450 million through fiscal 2008.

  • CAE won a $158 million contract from the Australian government to provide MRH90 helicopter training systems and services. Under the terms of the contract, CAE will provide two MRH90 full-flight and mission simulators, training facilities and engineering and support services. The simulators will be delivered in 2012.

  • CAE signed contracts valued at $125 million to design and manufacture eight full-flight simulators and associated CAE Simfinity training devices with Continental Airlines, US Airways, Etihad Airways, Air Algérie and Alteon Training.

  • General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems won a $43 million contract modification from the U.S. Navy for full-rate production of 158 Type 3 Advanced Mission Computers for integration in F/A-18E/F and E/A-18G aircraft. The contract includes 24 mission computers for Australia. Work is expected to be completed in 2009.

  • BAE Systems received a $29 million contract from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test an infrared aircraft missile defense system on passenger aircraft. The latest contract is for the third phase of DHS’s counter-man-portable air defense system program’s research development activities.

  • Northrop Grumman won a $23.4 million contract to provide 10 AN/AAQ-28 LITENING AT Block 2 pods and associated hardware and services for the U.S. Navy. All services are being performed in support of the F/A-18 program of Finland. Work is set to be completed in 2012.

  • L-3 Communications was awarded a $17.4 million contract modification with the U.S. Air Force for E-3 AWACS aircrew training.

  • CPI Aerostructures, Edgewood, N.Y., won a $15.9 million contract with the U.S. Air Force under the T-38 Talon jet trainer program. The order is for 134 shipsets of structural inlets as part of the aircraft’s Propulsion Modernization Program.

  • Standard Aero, Winnipeg, Canada, signed two contracts worth a total of $9 million with Lufthansa CityLine for maintenance on auxiliary power units (APUs). One contract is a five-year, "pay-by-the-hour" agreement for service on Lufthansa CityLine GTCP36-150RJ APUs produced by Honeywell, on the carrier’s CRJ200s. The other is for Lufthansa’s Honeywell RE220 APUs on Bombardier CRJ900s.

  • RADA Electronic Industries, Netanya, Israel, received a $5.9 million purchase order from the Israeli Ministry of Defense to develop and produce an advanced airborne video and data management system for the Israeli Air Force.

  • TEAC Aerospace Technologies, Monterey Park, Calif., will provide its solid state digital audio reproducer, the AE-1600SS, for United Airlines. The units will be installed on more than 300 Airbus 319/320 and Boeing 737, 757, 767 and 777 aircraft and will replace existing tape and CD-based audio systems.

  • Panasonic Avionics, Lake Forest, Calif., received an order from Grupo Marsans, the largest tourism and transport group in Spain, to install the eX2 in-flight entertainment system on 12 Airbus A330-200s.

  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries selected Rockwell Collins to provide primary flight control computers for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet’s fly-by-wire system, as well as pilot controls and horizontal stabilizer trim system.


    Avionics Expo 2008 Workshops Emphasize Software

    Avionics software development, certification and reuse will be among the topics examined during a series of workshops at Avionics Expo 2008, scheduled March 5-6 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Speakers from software and embedded-system developers including LynuxWorks, Wind River Systems, Green Hills Software and Adacore will lead the workshops, which complement the main two-day conference and exhibition. Four in-depth "master classes" and a series of exhibitor presentations also are planned.


    With the theme "Operating in Tomorrow’s Airspace," the main conference will cover topics including the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program, FAA’s NextGen air-traffic modernization effort, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, synthetic and enhanced vision, surface movement monitoring and UAVs.


    Bernard Miaillier, head of SESAR and ATM strategy with Eurocontrol, will give the keynote address March 5. Mark Salvin, head of avionics engineering with Eurofighter GmbH, will give the keynote March 6.


    As of December, 78 companies will take part in the exhibition portion of the conference, now in its sixth year.


    The hour-long workshops attest to the growing importance and predominance of software in avionics system design and operation. The sessions will be moderated by Cary R. Spitzer, president of avionics consulting firm Avionicon, of Williamsburg, Va., and a former program manager at NASA Langley Research Center. Among career credits, Spitzer was involved in the first successful soft landing of a spacecraft on Mars and, with Honeywell, the first satellite-guided, automatic landing of a transport aircraft in November 1990.

    Workshop attendees will get a primer on certifying avionics to the emerging DO-178C and clarified DO-254 requirements for software and hardware, respectively, from Tony Baghai, cofounder and president of HighRely Inc., of Phoenix. Baghai and Vance Hilderman of HighRely co-authored the recently published "Avionics Certification: A Complete Guide to DO-178 and DO-254."


    Among other workshops:

  • Frank van den Berg, of Green Hills Software BV, Amersfoort, the Netherlands, with Rafi Horesh, of Aitech Defense Systems, Chatsworth, Calif., and Robert Atkinson, of ALT Software, Toronto, will discuss "Steps To Success for a Certified DO-178B Level A Safety Critical System Design."

  • Michael Friess, technical sales manager with AdaCore, based in New York City, will lead a session entitled, "Easing The Development of Certified Avionics Software With Ada." The presentation will demonstrate how AdaCore’s GNAT Pro High-Integrity Edition for DO-178B, a software development environment and tool set, combined with the Ada programming language, provides a platform for building safety-critical avionics software.

  • Alex Wilson, senior program manager, and Chip Downing, senior industry marketing manager, with Wind River Systems, Alameda, Calif., will lead a session entitled "Toward Incremental Certification With ARINC 653." The workshop will advise how to build integrated modular avionics to the ARINC 653 standard for partitioned operating systems, using guidelines from DO-178 and DO-297 ("Integrated Modular Avionics Development Guidance and Certification Considerations.")

  • Joe Wlad, director of product management with LynuxWorks, San Jose, Calif., will lead "Reuse of Safety-Critical Software: Another Dimension." The session looks at ways to reuse software components, such as board support software, focusing on proper development processes.

Two workshops will deal with UAV software development. Francis Thom, principal consultant with ARTiSAN Software Tools, of Cheltenham, U.K., and Beaverton, Ore., will instruct on how to model a UAV using Systems Modeling Language and Unified Modeling Language. Wilson and Downing of Wind River Systems will discuss ARINC 653 and Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) architecture for UAVs.

There will be three, three-hour master classes on integrated modular avionics system design, automated code review, test and verification of software, and Time-Triggered Field Buses.

A fourth, hour-long session will be a UAV panel discussion. Participants will be Peter Blythenberg, president of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International; John Walker, who has chaired RTCA Special Committee 203; Lt. Col. Jens Fehler, of the multinational Joint Air Power Competence Centre, based in Kalkar, Germany; and Capt. Thomas Mildenberger, of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations.

Avionics Expo 2008, co-sponsored by Avionics Magazine, will be held at Passenger Terminal Amsterdam. For information, see www.avionics-event.com.

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