NextGen Update

The FAA on Jan. 30 released an update to its NextGen Implementation Plan, defining the core set of avionics that will support NextGen operational capabilities deployed by 2018.

The updated plan contains high-level "governing principles" for an integrated avionics equipage strategy taking advantage of operational capabilities in the 2012-2018 time frame, considered mid-term in the evolution to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). The strategy centers on equipping for three core capabilities — Area Navigation (RNAV)/Required Navigation Performance (RNP), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Data Communications.

Among specific "avionics enablers," FAA says standards will be published in 2010 for Cockpit Displays of Traffic Information (CDTI) with receive capability in 1090ES or UAT; in 2011 for CDTI with alerting capability for maintaining desired spacing; in 2012 for ADS-B Guidance Displays for along-track guidance; in 2012 for Ground-Based Augmentation System, CAT II/III; in 2014 for Data Communications based on RTCA SC-214; and for Paired Approach Guidance, which builds on the ADS-B guidance display to address wake vortex and collision risk.

FAA lists five governing principles for equipping, summarized below:

  • Avionics equipage and associated capabilities will maximize operational benefits for specific locations or airspace in order to elevate system performance and satisfy demand. Existing aircraft capabilities will be leveraged and normal maintenance cycles used to minimize disruptions when installing new equipment.

  • There will be "best-equipped, best-served" priority in the National Airspace System for early adopters.

  • FAA may assume portions of the business risk associated with early deployment of NextGen equipage or otherwise incentivize operators.

  • Government-provided financial incentives for new equipment will be targeted to meet evolving environmental requirements.

  • Operations, performance requirements and avionics solutions will be harmonized with global standards to ensure maximum benefits for international operators.

To "help foster deeper industry engagement" in the process, FAA is forming a NextGen Implementation Task Force through the not-for-profit corporation RTCA, an organization representing industry, government and academia that develops consensus-based recommendations. It calls for the task force to provide final recommendations in August on maximizing the benefits of mid-term NextGen capabilities and addressing business and investment issues.

GAO Risk List

After 14 years, FAA’s air-traffic control system modernization has been dropped from the "High-Risk List" of programs compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In a biennial update presented to Congress Jan. 22, GAO said "enough progress" has been made to remove air-traffic modernization from the list of 30 government programs and operations considered management risks.

"Faced with growing air traffic and aging equipment, FAA launched an ambitious effort in 1981 to modernize its air traffic control system," the agency said, explaining its decision. "Key projects, however, were plagued by cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. Because of the program’s expense — estimated at $36 billion — and its critical importance to safe and efficient air travel, GAO added FAA air traffic control modernization to the High-Risk List in 1995.

"GAO is removing this program from its 2009 High-Risk List because of FAA’s progress in addressing most of the root causes of its past problems and the agency’s commitment to sustaining progress. FAA’s efforts have yielded results, including deploying new systems across the country and incurring fewer cost overruns. GAO will continue to monitor the modernization as well as the transition to the planned satellite-based Next Generation Air Transportation System."

Gene L. Dodaro, Acting Comptroller General, released the 2009 update at a Capitol Hill briefing with leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The list is updated every two years and released at the start of each new Congress to help in setting oversight agendas. FAA and industry welcomed the delisting.

"Steady improvements in the FAA’s financial management and strategies for fielding new air traffic technology have shown that we’re committed to keeping these programs on track," said FAA Acting Administrator Lynne Osmus. "Many FAA employees have worked very hard to get us where we are today."

Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, played a key role in accelerating air-traffic modernization as FAA administrator. So too did her former deputy, Robert Sturgell, who departed FAA Jan. 19 after 16 months as acting administrator.

"The removal of air traffic modernization from GAO’s list of high-risk government programs is an endorsement of years of effort to make improvements and should boost development of" NextGen," said Blakey. "...This GAO decision bolsters the case for including NextGen in any list of infrastructure projects to be part of the economic stimulus plan now being considered in Congress."

'Low-Cost’ Surveillance

FAA in January awarded a first contract under a pilot program to install and test a low-cost ground surveillance system that would improve runway safety at small to medium-sized airports.

The first contract was awarded to Thales ATM, based in Shawnee, Kan. to deliver, install and test a ground surveillance system at airports chosen by FAA. Additional contracts were expected.

Low-cost ground surveillance systems would be installed at airports not included among the 35 major airports scheduled to receive the Sensis Corp. Airport Surface Detection Equipment – Model X (ASDE-X) system. ASDE-X uses a combination of surface movement radar and transponder multilateration sensors to display aircraft positions on ATC tower displays.

Thales executives, discussing the contract with Avionics in late January, said FAA has selected six airports, for which vendors will be chosen to build, install, test and operate a ground surveillance system for a period of about two years. The pilot program follows an earlier demonstration in Spokane, Wash., that developed a set of system requirements.

The Thales system consists of a surface movement, non-cooperative radar and a processor that fuses it with terminal radar data and presents the information to controllers on an airport map display. The advisory system already is deployed at airports in Bangkok, Toulouse, Munich and Frankfurt, executives said.

"The solution we’re offering (FAA) is one that is deployed at a number of large airports around the world and is upgradeable," said Todd Donovan, Thales vice president of business development and ADS-B program director.

"They have today a very basic system; they’ll tell us which airports and how many they want to do. We’re giving them a system that is very modular and flexible, so if they decide later they want to enhance it and integrate ADS-B data into it or multilateration, we’re certainly capable to do that for them."

The planned low-cost systems in the United States would give air-traffic controllers basic ground surveillance for aircraft and vehicles operating on runways and adjacent taxiways. The systems would also provide a foundation for future radar-based runway safety systems, FAA said.

European Traffic

The total number of flights in Europe last year increased 0.1 percent versus 2007, the first time in five years the increase has been so low, Eurocontrol said.

Average daily traffic in Europe in 2008 increased on average by 200 flights a day — from 27,470 in 2007 to 27,676 in 2008. Major European markets, including Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, saw declines in traffic of -2.7, -2.1 and -1.7 percent, respectively. Traffic in Eastern Europe, particularly Turkey and Poland, grew overall.

"These annual figures mask a strong downturn in the last two months of the year," the agency said. "In December, traffic overall fell by 7 percent and three-quarters of states saw declines."

Low-cost traffic saw its first drop in 15 years, with 4,600 flights a day in November 2008 compared to 4,900 in November 2007. After three years of strong growth, business aviation traffic has gradually fallen since July. The number of daily business flights in December — 1,450 — declined 16 percent from 1,730 in December 2007.

Despite slowing activity, air-traffic flow management delays caused by air traffic control capacity, staffing, weather and aerodrome capacity increased by 10 percent, to 2.3 minutes in 2008 compared to 2.1 minutes in 2007. Fifty-three percent of all delays were attributed to airlines, 17 percent to airports, 13 percent to en-route flight and 10 percent to weather.

Eurocontrol predicts that flights in 2009 will decline 3 percent, reversing six years of 3-percent average growth.

"2008 was a difficult year for air transport and 2009 is set to be even tougher," said David McMillan, Eurocontrol director general. "However, demand in the longer term is still set to rise substantially, with traffic surging to 18 million in 2030. This is no time to lose sight of the long-term challenges and goals, because the challenges ahead continue to require decisions and actions today."

SafeRoute Berlin

ACSS signed a memorandum of understanding with Air Berlin to implement and certify its "SafeRoute" software for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) functionality.

ACSS, the joint venture of L-3 Communications (70 percent) and Thales (30 percent) will take part in a collaborative program to implement Merging & Spacing using SafeRoute.

Air Berlin plans to use SafeRoute on its Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, and expects to begin equipping the 737 fleet this year. Merging and spacing will be implemented at its hubs in Nuremberg and Palma de Mallorca.

The Merging & Spacing application provides pilots with speed cues that enable an aircraft to reach its approach point with greater precision. The capability allows the air-traffic controller to delegate the task of maintaining in-trail spacing to the flight crew throughout the descent profile, from enroute airspace to the runway. It also will allow Air Berlin to fly Continuous Descent Arrival (CDA) procedures, ACSS said.

In addition to the Merging & Spacing application, SafeRoute functions include Surface Area Movement Management (SAMM), Universal Cockpit Display of Traffic Information (UCDTI) and CDTI Assisted Visual Separation (CAVS).

Cargo carrier UPS was the launch customer for SafeRoute. A program to equip US Airways aircraft with the software was announced in November.

RNP Peru

Naverus, of Kent, Wash., is assisting airline LAN Peru in obtaining regulatory approval for Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approaches at Cuzco, Peru, improving access to the Machu Picchu historical site.

On average, Naverus said, 3.6 percent of LAN’s scheduled 15 daily flights to Cuzco are delayed or diverted due to weather and the surrounding terrain. RNP will allow aircraft to land in adverse weather conditions. The procedures have been designed in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to complement LAN’s fleet and route structure.

"Eliminating dependency on the ground-based, non-precision landing system at Cuzco is an important step in modernizing international airspace," stated Guenther Matschnigg, IATA senior vice president of safety, operations and infrastructure. "Performance-based navigation provides significant benefits to airports around the world, not only in terms of access and reliability, but also in the reduction of environmental impact on surrounding communities."


Air Berlin said it will be the first airline in Europe to carry out Category III-B instrument approaches with its Boeing 737NGs. The airline obtained approval for its fleet of 40 Boeing aircraft from Germany’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation (LBA).

With Cat III-B authorization, the airline will be able to conduct landings with visibility down to 75 meters, reducing diversions to other airports.

Airbus Orders Down

Airbus delivered a record 483 aircraft last year, 30 more than in 2007. But orders declined 42 percent from 1,343 the previous year to 777.

Deliveries included 12 superjumbo A380s — five to Singapore Airlines, four to Emirates and three to Qantas.

Reporting annual results Jan. 15 in Toulouse, France, Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders warned that 2009 "will be a very challenging year for the aeronautics industry," but said the airframer has a solid financial basis.

Earlier in January, Boeing reported 375 deliveries in 2008, down 15 percent from the previous year, and 662 net orders, down 53 percent from 1,413 in 2007.

With 777 net orders last year, valued at $100 billion at catalog prices, Airbus claims 54 percent of market share of aircraft over 100 seats. The orders include 472 narrowbody A320s, 301 long-range A330s, A340s and coming A350XWBs, and nine A380s. Five A310s were cancelled.

Airbus said its backlog at the conclusion of 2008 was a record 3,715 aircraft. It reported 163 firm orders for the A350 in 2008, increasing total orders for that aircraft to 478.

As part of its Power 8 restructuring program, Airbus last summer sold its site in Laupheim, Germany, to the partnership of Thales and Diehl, a contract that included major A350 cabin work packages. In September, it sold its wing component and assemblies manufacturing unit at Filton, U.K., to GKN. German sites at Nordenham, Varel and Augsburg were merged into Premium Aerotec; French sites at Meaulte and St. Nazaire Ville into Aerolia.

A350 Assembly

Airbus announced that construction had begun in Toulouse, France, on the final assembly line for the A350XWB.

The 74,000-square-meter facility, costing 140 million Euros, will house the first stages of final assembly, the joining of the fuselage and wings. Aircraft testing and installation of cabin equipment will be completed at the nearby A330/340 facility, Airbus said.

Concrete and foundations of old buildings are being recycled and reused in the new facility, and photovoltaic roofing will provide much of the electricity requirements of the facility, Airbus said. A streamlined assembly process is expected to reduce the time from start of final assembly to aircraft delivery by 30 percent.

Airbus in mid-January reported 478 orders for the A350 from 29 customers. The widebody is scheduled to enter service in 2013.

"The detailed definition freeze at the end of 2008 and the start of construction work on our new final assembly line confirm that the A350 XWB is making steady progress," stated Tom Enders, Airbus president and CEO.

SYSGO Growth

Embedded software supplier SYSGO AG, of Mainz, Germany, reported 40 percent year-over-year growth in sales revenue in 2008, with 12 percent earnings before interest and taxes.

The company said it closed major deals and increased its manpower 15 percent by opening a new office in Rostock, Germany, and increasing staffing in offices in Paris and Prague.

SYSGO said its flagship PikeOS operating system "has met original company expectations in terms of market penetration, name recognition and contribution to company pipeline," representing 62 percent of total revenue. Among many key wins, Airbus chose PikeOS as its avionics reference platform.

"We are delighted by these results but not surprised", stated CEO Michael Tiedemann. "Our technical expertise already allowed us to succeed with the first industrial grade embedded Linux solution. When we decided to target the most demanding applications in the areas of safety-critical and security-critical, we applied the same combination of innovation and knowledge of customer’s needs. This resulted last year in PikeOS acceptance in the very demanding avionics market. We anticipate 2009 as the year of similar achievement in the area of security."

Software Radios

Custom radio provider Spectrum Signal Processing by Vecima, Burnaby, BC, Canada, announced a partnership with LiveTV LLC to supply its software-defined radios for LiveTV’s inflight email system.

The Kiteline email system by LiveTV, a JetBlue subsidiary, uses a network of air-ground base stations to transmit data from an aircraft cabin to the ground.

With the new, software-defined radios (SDRs), LiveTV will be able to support current voice communications for the general aviation market as well as data services for the commercial and general aviation markets, Spectrum said. Airline passengers will be able to use an on-board Wi-Fi network to connect to the in-flight system, which will route traffic over the Spectrum airborne radio to LiveTV’s ground network.

Spectrum Signal Processing said it will base the new radio on a variant of its "flexComm" SDR-4800 family of embedded radio modules.

British OnAir

British Airways was to launch the OnAir inflight mobile communications service on its twice daily, all business-class route from London City Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Passengers using the service can stay connected during the flight using their own mobile phones or BlackBerry-type devices to send and receive text messages and emails, and to access the Internet.

Mobile OnAir uses the GSM/GPRS network for international mobile communications. OnAir, based in Geneva, also uses Inmarsat SwiftBroadband high-capacity service.

Wataniya Airways of Kuwait also launched OnAir services across its fleet of Airbus A320s, introducing SwiftBroadband technology in the Middle East.


Multifunction Displays

Garmin International unveiled the GDU 370 and GDU 375 multi-function displays (MFDs) developed for the light sport retrofit and experimental aircraft markets. The announcement was made in conjunction with the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Fla., in January.

The GDU 370 and GDU 375 are 7-inch, portrait displays that can be read day or night. The bezel that frames the screen has multiple keys on the bottom and right sides. Soft keys at the bottom of the display control the most commonly used features of the current page, such as turning the weather display on/off.

The backs of the displays have connection ports for external GPS and XM antennas, and a 50-pin connector for power/ground and interfaces. "These rear connectors make it possible for customers to install the MFD easily and elegantly, without unsightly wires protruding from the panel," said Garmin, Olathe, Kan.

Based on Garmin’s GPSMAP 695 and GPSMAP 696 portable MFDs, the non-certified displays are designed to be networked with other Garmin products for both primary flight display (PFD) and MFD capability.

The GDU 370 and GDU 375 were expected to be available this month at a cost of $3,295 and $3,995, respectively.

"The beauty of the GDU 370 and GDU 375 are that they are like building blocks; they’re expandable and can be interconnected with other Garmin components," said Gary Kelley, Garmin vice president of marketing. "Customers will be able to choose one, two or three GDU displays, whatever works best for their aircraft."

European Approval

Aspen Avionics, Albuquerque, N.M., said it has obtained European Technical Standard Order (ETSO) authorization for its Evolution EFD1000 primary flight displays (PFD). Authorization by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) allows for installation of the displays in European aircraft, subject to aircraft-specific approvals.

Aspen said it continues to work with EASA toward broader Approved Model List Supplemental Type Certifications (AML-STC) for individual aircraft.

Astra STC

Universal Avionics announced the first EFI-890R display certification on the Gulfstream Astra 1125 (G100). The FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) was awarded in December to Columbia Avionics, of Columbia, Mo., and includes Universal’s EFI-890R flat panel displays, Vision-1 Synthetic Vision System, Application Server Unit (ASU) and dual radio control units.

The EFI-890R is designed for retrofit applications where interface with existing equipment is paramount, Universal Avionics said. Existing equipment on the STC’d Astra included Universal’s Terrain Awareness and Warning System, flight management system and UniLink Communications Management Unit.

The EFI-890R installation features a three-panel display suite, configured as two primary flight displays and one navigation display. The ASU enables the EFI-890R system to display Jeppesen approach plates, electronic documents, WSI weather and checklists. The WSI AV-300 Weather Data Link provides the crew with real-time weather, including NEXRAD radar, METARs and other information.

Columbia Avionics holds multiple STCs for EFI-890R packages on other platforms, including the Cessna Citation 500 series and 650 series aircraft.

Cessna STC

Southern Star Avionics, of Mobile, Ala., was awarded a supplemental type certificate (STC) by FAA for retrofit of the Avidyne Envision EXP5000 primary flight display (PFD) on Cessna 210, 320, 335, and 340 models.

Announcement of the Cessna STC followed other models added in 2008 to the STC Approved Model List (AML), including pre-2003 Cirrus SR-20 and 22, several models in the Cessna 400 series, and King Airs, Southern Star said. The STC also received Brazilian approval for some of the models listed on the AML.

The Envision EXP5000 display features a 10.4-inch screen, giving owners of early-model Cessnas an upgrade option to a modern glass PFD.

"The EXP5000 PFD works best when paired with an EX5000 or EX500 multi-function display (MFD) and autopilot," Southern Star added.

Pacific Broadband

KVH Industries, of Middletown, R.I., and ViaSat announced Pacific Ocean coverage for their mini-VSAT Broadband satellite communications service.

With the service roll-out, aircraft and vessels have access to Ku-band Internet and voice services in an area including Alaska, the west coasts of Canada and the United States and Hawaii into Asia, the two companies said. The services now are available from the Asian coast eastward throughout North America and the Caribbean, across the North Atlantic, to the Mediterranean.

"We have now successfully rolled out a single, unified broadband service across roughly two-thirds of the world’s major shipping and aeronautical lanes, enabling us to offer commercial, leisure, and government customers a unique mobile communications hardware and service solution," said Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH chief executive officer.

The mini-VSAT Broadband service and the KVH TracPhone V7 antenna comprise an end-to-end VSAT hardware, service and support package available for maritime communications. The system offers Voice over IP phone service and Internet access as fast as 512 Kbps (upload) and 2 Mbps (download) at fixed monthly rates, the companies said.

Satcom PMA

International Communications Group (ICG), Newport News, Va., received Parts Manufacturer Authority (PMA) from FAA for its NxtLink ICS-120A and ICS-220A communication systems, enabling flight deck voice and datalink services over the Iridium satellite network.

ICG said the single channel ICS-120A and dual-channel ICS-220A are its first devices developed and certified to serve both the commercial air transport and business aircraft markets.

The PMA followed a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) granted to L2 Consulting Services, Dripping Spring, Texas, an authorized reseller for system installations in a Boeing 737-700 owned by an unnamed airline. L2 Consulting and ICG collaborated on the STC.

The ICS-120A incorporates a single Iridium transceiver (LBT) and a Short Burst Data (SBD) modem and provides connections to customary and standard flight deck voice and data systems. The NxtLink ICS-220A is a three-transceiver device, which combines dual LBTs providing two channels of global voice with an SBD modem dedicated to datalink services. Both systems support Future Air Navigation System (FANS) and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) as well as ACARS.

The devices also operate with ICG’s new external Configuration Identification Module (CIM) which contains the Iridium SIM cards as well as system configuration information. ICG said the PMA approval also covers the CIM.

Eclipse Acquired

A federal bankruptcy judge in January approved the sale of Eclipse Aviation assets to an affiliate of ETIRC Aviation, of Luxembourg, Eclipse’s largest shareholder.

The ETIRC affiliate, EclipseJet Aviation International, Inc., bid $28 million in cash, plus $160 million in promissory notes and 15-percent equity for the assets of the troubled Very Light Jet (VLJ) manufacturer, the Associated Press reported.

Approval of the sale by Judge Mary Walrath of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware came despite "dozens of objections" from Eclipse Aviation suppliers and customers, AP said.

Eclipse Aviation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 25, 2008. ETIRC Aviation’s chairman, Roel Pieper, has served as Eclipse’s chairman since January 2008 and took over as acting CEO that July.


F-35 BF-4 Completed

Prime contractor Lockheed Martin in January completed the first F-35 Lightning II equipped with mission systems. Flight-testing of the first full avionics aircraft, designated BF-4, is expected to begin this summer following a series of ground tests.

BF-4 is fitted with primary sensors, including a BAE Systems electronic warfare suite and Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar and integrated communications, navigation and identification system ( Avionics, July 2008, p. 36). The systems are driven by Block 0.5 mission systems software, which incorporates more than half of the combat-ready Block 3 software, Lockheed Martin said.

The BF-4 aircraft will be updated with additional equipment and software through Block 3, the last block in the aircraft’s System Development and Demonstration program.

"Testing of this aircraft will represent the fourth tier of our avionics validation process, comprising ground-based laboratory testing, airborne lab testing of individual sensors on surrogate aircraft, airborne testing of the fully integrated mission systems package on the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed, and, finally, airborne testing of the integrated system on an actual F-35," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.

BF-4, a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant, left Lockheed Martin’s factory in Fort Worth, Texas, on Jan. 21. It joined a fleet of five F-35s undergoing testing. Earlier aircraft are validating F-35 subsystems and flying qualities.

FAB-T Review

Boeing completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) for its Family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T) satellite communications program.

The company said its Terminal Test team established log on, downlink, and uplink connections with a Milstar 6 satellite, which it described as a first step toward implementing Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite Extended Data Rate (XDR) capability.

The CDR was conducted Oct. 28-30 for senior military, government and industry officials.

FAB-T includes software-defined radios, antennas and user-interface hardware. The system is capable of hosting multiple waveforms that accommodate data rates in excess of 300 megabits per second. Once operational, FAB-T will provide secure beyond line-of-sight communications via several satellites that support military forces.

Boeing said it expects to begin deliveries of engineering development modules to the Air Force this year for FAB-T Increment 1, which incorporates airborne operational requirements for the Milstar and AEHF satellite systems. The units will be deployed to the airborne users for integration with onboard mission systems. Flight testing of the modules is planned for mid-2009.

In the Increment 2 phase, Boeing will develop terminals to support wideband global satcom on surveillance aircraft such as RQ-4 Global Hawk, with other platforms expected to follow.

Corporate Restructuring

Northrop Grumman Corp. on Jan. 7 announced "structural actions" to its organizational structure, reducing the number of business sectors from seven to five.

The five sectors are Aerospace Systems, Electronic Systems, Information Systems, Shipbuilding and Technical Services.

The former Integrated Systems and Space Technology sectors were combined to form a new Aerospace Systems sector, a $10 billion business providing manned and unmanned aircraft, space systems and missile systems. Gary W. Ervin, formerly president of the Integrated Systems sector, was named to head Aerospace Systems.

The Information Technology and Mission Systems sectors were combined to form a new, $10 billion Information Systems sector, led by Linda A. Mills, formerly Information Technology president.

The company named Alexis C. Livanos corporate vice president and chief technology officer.

"These actions are critical steps in shaping our future," stated Ronald D. Sugar, Northrop Grumman chairman and CEO. "Key to our success is the early anticipation of changes in our markets, and then the adjustment of our business structure to better position us to address our customers’ needs and improve our competitiveness."

Helicopter DIRCM

Northrop Grumman was awarded separate contracts with a combined value of $13 million to equip U.S. Marine Corps CH-53D and CH-46E helicopters with its Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) system.

The CH-53D will be the third Marine Corps helicopter platform to receive DIRCM, which protects against shoulder-launched, heat-seeking missile. The CH-46E will receive enhancements to streamline maintenance and handling in the field. System deliveries will take place this year.

Northrop Grumman in 2007 received contracts for installation design and flight tests of DIRCM on CH-46E and CH-53E helicopters, representing the first integration of the company’s two-color infrared missile warning sensor system with its Mini Pointer/Tracker assembly jam head. DIRCM will now identify threat missiles in the same spectrum the missile uses to track the aircraft, improving missile detection and survivability, the company said.

The DIRCM system is installed or scheduled for installation on 40 types of large fixed-wing transports and helicopters, Northrop Grumman said.

Mini Data Link

L-3 Communications on Jan. 7 reported the first customer shipment of its smallest Common Data Link (CDL) terminal for unmanned aircraft systems.

The Mini CDL 200, a 1.4-pound terminal, is a 45 Mbps transceiver with integrated MPEG2 and H.264 video codecs and NSA Type 1 encryption. It delivers real-time, IP-based video and data.

"We demonstrated Mini CDL technology a year ago at the Surface/Aviation Interoperability Laboratory, Patuxent River Naval Air Station, proving IP-relay and CDL interoperability with three different vendors’ CDL surface terminals," said Susan Opp, L-3 Communications Systems-West president and general manager.

"Our Mini CDL 200 is now a shipping product that will bring high-capacity digital networked communications to small ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) platforms on the front line."

Flight tests to validate Mini CDL 200 performance, witnessed by the U.S. Air Force, used production hardware flying on a 105-pound BAI Viking UAS. The terminal met the upcoming U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) Tier II program communication distance requirements and proved Technology Readiness Level (TRL 7) status, L-3 said.


Selex Galileo will supply its Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance System (ATOS) for four ATR72 Maritime Patrol Aircraft ordered by Italy’s General Management for Aeronautical Armaments. The company said it will integrate the ATOS with the Seaspray AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar for the first time on an Italian aircraft.

As part of Alenia Aeronautica’s contract with the armaments agency, Selex Galileo is responsible for the supply of four ATOS mission systems in a Maritime Long Range Surveillance version, integrating the Seaspray 7300 AESA radar, the EOST-23 electro-optical turret, a tactical data link, IFF, automatic identification system (AIS), communication and electronic support measures (ESM).

ATOS has been selected by five other nations, with more than 40 systems installed or in process of being installed, on platforms including the ATR 42MP, Dash 8, Beechcraft 300, CN235, Piaggio Aero P-166, and AB 412 and AS300B3 helicopters.

Selex Galileo also has delivered integrated ATOS and Seaspray systems to the Ecuador navy and was in the process of delivering the first of 12 systems to Australia’s Customs Coastwatch. The company’s contract with the Coastwatch is the largest for ATOS systems, which will be used for long-range border patrol and surveillance.

In Italy, the ATOS system is in service with the Guardia di Finanza and Guardia Costiera on the ATR42 MP and the Guardia di Finanza on the P166-DP1 light utility aircraft.

DO-254 Certifiable

Data Device Corp. (DDC), Bohemia, N.Y., said it now offers a line of Mil-Std-1553 components certifiable to the DO-254 level A civil hardware standard.

DO-254 provides guidelines for design assurance of airborne electronic hardware and calls out objectives that must be met by avionics equipment manufacturers to ensure continued airworthiness. The certification is required for civil avionics hardware.

"Though not strictly mandated for military aircraft," DDC said, "military contractors are finding DO-254 increasingly important for military aircraft that must fly through civil airspace, as well as in the growing use of military avionics and data buses in commercial aircraft."

For Mil-Std-1553 components, DDC said it can supply a documentation package that provides data specific to the aspects of certification in accordance with RTCA/DO-254 Level A.

In a separate announcement in January, DDC unveiled "Total-ACE," which it describes as the first fully integrated 1553 terminal with all components in a single Plastic Ball Grid Array (PBGA) package.

The Total-ACE integrates dual transceivers, dual transformers, protocol engine, and 4K words of internal RAM, and is fully software and hardware compatible with the company’s Enhanced Mini-ACE series of devices. It is DO-254 Mini-ACE devices. It is DO-254 certifiable and available in RoHS compliant versions.

Unmanned Systems

Global Hawk Support

Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force, valued at $276 million, for operations and maintenance support of the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

The contract calls for continued training and peacetime operations support in fiscal 2009 and 2010 for the current fleet of eight Global Hawks stationed at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., or deployed in theatre. It also provides operational assistance for two new forward operating locations at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy.

Work under the contract, including ongoing engineering, data and configuration management, global supply chain management, spares and repairs, technical data and field services as well as maintenance, will be performed by the 560th Aircraft Sustainment Group at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga.

Other companies working under the contract include L-3 Communications in Salt Lake City, communication system; Raytheon Co., Waltham, Mass., integrated sensor suite and ground station; and Rolls-Royce, Indianapolis (engine).

Skylark Procurement

Elbit Systems in January said it was awarded a $40 million contract by the Israeli Ministry of Defense to supply its Skylark I LE mini UAV for Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Ground Forces battalions, including training and logistics support.

The contract followed an announcement by Elbit in December of its selection to answer a tender for "wide procurement" of miniature UAVs.

During "Operation Cast Lead," Israel’s response to rocket attacks by Gaza militants on southern Israel, the IDF used its operational Skylarks to gather intelligence and improve connectivity between the different operating forces, Elbit said.

The Skylark I LE is based on the Skylark I, which has logged thousands of operational hours in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan. Weighing 6.7 kg, the vehicle is equipped with electro-optic or infrared sensors and operates for three hours over 30 kilometers. It is powered by a quiet electric motor and launched by bungee-assisted hand or rail.

A Skylark I-LE system consists of three UAVs, two daylight cameras, one night camera and a ruggedized laptop ground control station.

ScanEagle Milestone

The Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) completed its 1,500th shipboard sortie in service with the U.S. Navy, Boeing announced in January.

The long-endurance, fully autonomous aircraft carries inertially stabilized electro-optical and infrared cameras enabling the operator to track both stationary and moving targets. Capable of flying above 16,000 feet and loitering over the battlefield for more than 24 hours, ScanEagle has provided persistent, low-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to the Navy since July 2005.

Boeing teamed with Insitu to develop ScanEagle, based on Insitu’s Seascan robotic aircraft. In September 2008, Boeing acquired Insitu.

Boeing said the Navy has used ScanEagle aboard a variety of ships, ranging from the destroyer USS Mahan to the amphibious vessel USS Whidbey Island, as well as on support ships and small combatant craft. The UAS also serves with other U.S. forces and with international customers.

ScanEagle is launched autonomously from a pneumatic "SuperWedge" catapult launcher and flies either preprogrammed or operator-initiated missions. Insitu’s patented "SkyHook" system is used to retrieve the UAS, capturing it with a rope suspended from a 50-foot tower.

Hummingbird Gear Shift

Boeing in December said its A160 Turbine (A160T) Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft shifted gears in flight and surpassed 100 flight hours

Boeing is testing Hummingbird under a $5 million bridge contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The first flight of the A160T took place in June 2007. The aircraft surpassed 100 flight hours on Nov. 20 last year; the gear-change flight took place Nov. 25. Both flights were conducted at the A160T test facility in Victorville, Calif.

"Being able to shift gears in flight is the final significant step in realizing the full potential of our optimum speed rotor technology," said John Groenenboom, Boeing A160T program manager. "It allows us to significantly expand the flight envelope at higher gross weights and at higher speeds.... We now have an unmanned air system with the performance of a fixed-wing (aircraft) and the precision and versatility of a rotorcraft."


  • Elbit Systems Ltd., and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd (IAI) said their respective subsidiaries, Elbit Systems Electro-Optics and ELTA Systems Ltd. (ELTA), were awarded a total of $141 million to supply the Turkish Air Force with combined airborne Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) systems. Elbit was awarded $87 million; ELTA was awarded $54 million. Deliveries will be made over a four-year period.

  • L-3 Communications subsidiary Wescam, based in Burlington, Ontario, was awarded a $90 million contract from the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) for MX-15Di multi-sensor turrets, with deliveries beginning this year. "Wescam’s MX turrets display excellent imaging capabilities, target location accuracy and reliability, and have quickly become the backbone of the Air Force’s ISR aircraft," said John Dehne, L-3 Wescam president.

  • The U.S. Coast Guard granted a 10-year extension to Rockwell Collins for performance-based logistics (PBL) service and support for 213 aircraft. The $35 million, fixed price per flight hour arrangement covers three new platforms, the MH-60T, HC-130H/J and HC-144A, as well as existing HH-65s and HU-25s. The original contract involved 112 aircraft. Rockwell Collins will supply spares management, component reliability improvements, logistical support and field service engineering for its avionics equipment.

  • EADS North America Test and Services, Irvine, Calif., was awarded a five-year, $30 million contract to produce the new Shaft Engine Test Instrumentation (SETI) system for testing U.S. Navy and Marine Corps helicopter engines. The contract is for 19 production units and two pilot units. The SETI system will replace legacy engine testers, providing an intermediate test solution with automated data capture, reporting, and transfer.

  • Rockwell Collins was awarded a $23.8 million contract from Lockheed Martin to provide test capability, training and integration support for F-22 avionics at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga. The 32-month Depot Activation contract was developed by Rockwell Collins engineering services to provide support solutions to Warner Robins and other government customers.

  • Northrop Grumman Corp. was awarded a Foreign Military Sales contract valued at $5.1 million to upgrade weather and navigation radar systems on Iraqi Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft. The contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman’s Sperry Marine business unit by Lear Siegler Services, Annapolis, Md. Sperry Marine will deliver AN/APN-242 weather and navigation radars to replace obsolete AN/APN-59 systems on the aircraft. The contract includes funding to develop a new high-resolution flat-panel cockpit display processor for the radars. Deliveries are to be completed by July.

  • Training and simulation provider BVR Systems (1998) Ltd., of Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, entered into a license agreement, valued at $2.9 million, with an unnamed European defense company, granting a non exclusive license to its Embedded Virtual Avionics (EVA) patents. The EVA virtual avionics suite can be installed on a basic or advanced trainer aircraft to emulate an advanced fighter.

  • L-3 Electron Technologies, Torrance, Calif., said it has received combined orders totaling nearly $1 million for the development of a high-efficiency 600W Ka-band communications helix traveling wave tube (TWT) for airborne communications application. The orders were placed by two U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contractors, L-3 said.

  • Thales said the French Ministry of Defence, through its SIMMAD1 support structure, renewed the company’s fixed-price contractor logistic support contract for the maintenance of French military aircraft avionics for a further five years. The contract covers about 1,500 aircraft.

  • DRS Optronics, Palm Beach, Fla., received contracts for maintaining the mast-mounted optics system used on the U.S. Army’s OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter. The agreement with the Department of Defense resulted from the cancellation of the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter program in 2008.

  • Emteq, New Berlin, Wis., was awarded a contract to supply avionics equipment mounting trays, wire harnessing and lightweight, low loss polyethylene (PFLX) RF coaxial cables as part the Royal Thai Air Force C130 upgrade program. Rockwell Collins is the prime integrator. The Emteq kits are being installed on 12 aircraft, with shipments scheduled for completion in October.

  • Rockwell Collins was selected by China’s Hainan Airlines to provide communications, navigation and surveillance avionics for 13 new Airbus A320s. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2010. The airline specified Rockwell Collins MultiScan Hazard Detection System weather radar and GLU-920 Multi-Mode Receiver (MMR) among other systems.

  • Thales will install its TopSeries inflight entertainment system on 10 Airbus A330-300s owned by China Southern. Each aircraft will be equipped with audio and video on-demand at every seat, with the first delivery scheduled for March 2010. Thales said it now supplies TopSeries on all major China carriers.

  • SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, will install the Multiplexed Passenger Entertainment System (MPES) from Panasonic Avionics Corp., on 12 Airbus A320s. SilkAir flies to 30 destinations in Asia.

  • Charter operator Europe Airpost selected AD Aerospace, of Preston Brook, Cheshire, U.K., to provide its CabinVu-123 camera system, which gives pilots an unobstructed view of activity outside the cockpit door and in adjacent galleys.

First Flight Over Hudson Bay Tracked By ADS-B

Nav Canada in January announced the first flight over Hudson Bay using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), closing an 850,000-square-kilometer gap in radar coverage.

The first use of ADS-B on Jan. 15 involved an Air New Zealand Boeing 777-200, enroute from London to Los Angeles. Karim Mekki, a controller at the Montreal Area Control Center, tracked the flight for about 25 minutes as it flew over Hudson Bay.

Air New Zealand 777s are fitted with dual ACSS XS-950 Mode S Extended Squitter (ES) transponders and triple Rockwell Collins GLU-925 Multi-Mode Receivers, providing precision navigation and autoland capability.

According to Nav Canada, the ADS-B installation must meet standards in EASA Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) 20-24. The Mode S transponder must have the 1090 ES feature, and must broadcast, each second, the aircraft’s GPS position, navigation uncertainty category (a measure of position integrity), unique ICAO 24-bit identifier, flight identification, pressure altitude, special position indicator (equivalent to a "squawk ident") and emergency status (equating to special transponder codes 7500, 7600 and 7700).

Sensis Corp., of Syracuse, N.Y., in 2007 was awarded a contract by Nav Canada to provide ground-based 1090 transceivers for the Hudson Bay ADS-B service. Sensis also was chosen to provide multistatic dependent surveillance (MDS) for Wide Area Multilateration (WAM) surveillance and tracking in the Vancouver Harbor and Fort St. John areas.

ADS-B promises more efficient use of Hudson Bay airspace for some 35,000 flights a year, with savings in fuel costs, flight times and emissions. Nav Canada estimates that 75 percent of the aircraft flying over Hudson Bay have the required avionics.

"Before we can apply the ADS-B separation standard of 5 nautical miles, we have to know that an aircraft is approved by Canadian regulator Transport Canada," the air navigation services provider stated, in response to a query from Avionics. "Our surveillance processing systems refer to a table of approved aircraft, identified by their Mode S 24-bit unique code, and will only display an aircraft as an ADS-B target if there is a match."

To obtain approval, Nav Canada said, operators require Aircraft Flight Manual Supplements from the manufacturer, and in the case of foreign operators, confirmation from their state regulator that their aircraft and crews are qualified.

As of late January, three airlines had approval from Transport Canada — Air New Zealand, Condor, of Germany, and Monarch, of the United Kingdom.

"We are in close touch with most airlines and we expect a significant number of approvals over the next few months based on status reports from these airlines," said Nav Canada.

Canada Backs ‘FronTier’ Avionics Investment

Esterline CMC Electronics (CMC) will invest $149.4 million in research and development over the next five years, with another $52.3 million provided by the Canadian government, to develop an integrated cockpit and communication system for air-transport aircraft, business jets and helicopters.

CMC’s cockpit R&D initiative is called "FronTier." The goal of the project is to create a complete cockpit system with open architecture, which will make components easily customizable and adaptable to changing technologies and varied aircraft platforms. The project is expected to create and maintain high-technology jobs for Canadian engineers and professionals.

"FronTier will help position CMC as a major player in the field of avionics design and integration," said CMC, an Esterline Corp. subsidiary based in Saint-Laurent, Quebec.

The repayable investment by the Canadian government under the Strategic Aerospace and Defense Initiative (SADI) was announced Jan. 13 by Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, and Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services. SADI supports strategic industrial research and pre-competitive development projects in the aerospace, defense, space and security industries. The program is managed by the Industrial Technologies Office, a special operating agency of Industry Canada with a mandate to advance leading edge R&D by Canadian industries.

"Our government is committed to setting the right business conditions to build a competitive and dynamic economy," stated Paradis. "Creating public – private sector partnerships with companies such as CMC will help to ensure that Canada remains at the forefront of the aerospace and defense industry."

CMC aims to develop an integrated cockpit applicable for business jets, helicopters and air-transport aircraft. "This partnership with the federal government will help position CMC as an important player in the high-technology market of integrated cockpits," said Jean-Pierre Mortreux, CMS president and CEO. "By undertaking this R&D project, our company will continue to develop products that are on the leading edge of this ever-changing industry."

United Premium Service To Offer ‘Gogo’ Internet

United Airlines will offer the Aircell Gogo inflight Internet service on its United p.s. premium service between New York and California beginning in the second half of the year.

Gogo, a Wi-Fi system, will initially be available on the United p.s. fleet of 13 Boeing 757s that fly between John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports. Passengers in all seating classes can access the service for a fee of $12.95 per session.

The service enables users to surf the Internet, check e-mail, instant message and access corporate VPNs on their Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

United Airlines is the fifth Gogo customer, joining American, Delta, Virgin America and Air Canada. United and Aircell, Itasca., Ill., said they will assess customer feedback to determine additional rollout plans.

AMC, AEEC Hold Collocated Annual Meetings

The AMC Annual Meeting and the AEEC General Session, hosted by Northwest Airlines and co-sponsored by Avionics magazine, will be collocated this year for the first time in the modern history of ARINC Industry Activities. The two events will take place March 30 through April 2 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis in that city. For more information on the collocated annual meetings, visit Also, look for Avionics Editor Bill Carey’s daily blog from the conference floor in Minneapolis, available at

Global Hawks Serve For Environmental Research

NASA and Northrop Grumman unveiled the first Global Hawk destined for environmental science research, a new application for the autonomous, high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft. The debut took place in January at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.

Two NASA Global Hawks will be returned to flight this year under a Space Act Agreement signed last May. The U.S. Air Force transferred the Global Hawks to NASA in December 2007. They are among the first seven built in the original Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

"Today marks the debut of NASA’s newest airborne science capability," stated Dryden Director Kevin L. Petersen. "These Global Hawks represent the first non-military use of this remarkable robotic aircraft system. NASA’s partnership with Northrop Grumman has made this possible."

NASA plans to use the aircraft for missions to support its Science Mission Directorate and the Earth science community. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is participating in project management and piloting of the Global Hawks and the development of scientific instruments and future Earth science research campaigns.

According to the announcement, Northrop Grumman will share in the use of the aircraft to conduct its own flight demonstrations for expanded markets, missions and airborne capabilities, including integration of autonomous aircraft systems into the national airspace.

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox