Congress Resumes FAA Reauthorization Effort
Long-awaited FAA reauthorization legislation that provides $70 billion to the agency over four years through fiscal 2012, including funding for the NextGen air-traffic control modernization, was progressing through the United States Congress as Avionics went to the printer.
Introduced in the House Feb. 9, the spending bill (H.R. 915) would provide $13.4 billion in funding for FAA’s Facilities and Equipment program, the primary vehicle for the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) effort. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the legislation March 5 in a mark-up session, sending it to the full House.
At this writing, companion legislation had not been introduced in the Senate.
NextGen promises to replace the current radar-based air-traffic control system with a more automated, GPS-based system that backers say will provide improved operational efficiencies, capacity, reduced fuel consumption and other benefits. FAA wants the system in place by 2025.
Sponsors of the reauthorization legislation, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn., and Aviation Subcommittee chairman Jerry F. Costello, D-Ill., say the funding is sorely needed.
The Aviation Trust Fund, the largest source of revenue for FAA’s $15 billion annual budget, declined by more than 11 percent during the first fiscal quarter of 2009 and is "almost certain" to decline significantly further, according to the Department of Transportation Inspector General.
And the multiple funding extensions that have kept the current FAA programs operating — the latest was to expire in March — have been seen by many to be disruptive. "Short-term funding extensions and continuing resolutions are delaying key NextGen and airport development capital projects," Costello has said. "We need to get the FAA reauthorized."
Oberstar vowed speedy action on the legislation, even as lawmakers in the Senate were considering another funding extension. "Modernizing our air transportation system is a national priority," he said following the full committee mark-up.
Included in the FAA reauthorization bill is $353.6 million for the development of NextGen systems and $118 million for demonstration programs. The legislation contains $16.2 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, $38.9 billion for operations, and $1.35 billion for research, engineering and development.
Separately, the Obama administration proposed spending $800 million on NextGen in the President’s budget outline for fiscal 2010, released Feb. 26.
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said the president’s $3.55 trillion budget proposal "provides a sound foundation for national defense, space exploration and modernizing the U.S. air transportation system."
But some in the industry fear that FAA funding might be dependent on user fees, which could re-ignite a battle that helped kill FAA funding legislation in the Senate last year.
"That’s the most contentious issue in and of itself — how much the general aviation industry pays," Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association, said in an interview. "I would imagine that would take on even more of a heated debate, especially in a democratically controlled Congress."
No such fees were included in the House version, but the legislation is far from bipartisan. Both the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., and the ranking member of the Aviation Subcommittee, Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., spoke against the legislation.
"Most of what’s been introduced in this bill is regurgitated from the last Congress’s failed bill, including controversial proposals that doomed the bill in the first place," Mica said in a statement. "If Democrats are serious about this bill, we could sit down and resolve the half-baked, controversial issues in about two hours and ensure that we move a bill that both parties can support." — Ari Natter
EFB Moving Map
Continental Airlines completed the first revenue flight Jan. 30 of a Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB) using an airport moving map display with "own-ship" position, according to a February announcement by software provider Jeppesen.
"This represents an important milestone as Jeppesen partners with Continental to increase efficiency on the flight deck and safety on the ground," stated Thomas Wede, Jeppesen senior vice president and general manager for Aviation. "By retrofitting their existing aircraft with Class 2 EFB hardware solutions and Jeppesen Airport Moving Map, Continental takes a major step forward in transitioning to a paperless flight deck and reducing the risk of runway incursions."
FAA in 2007 approved the use of airport moving maps with own-ship position on Class 2 EFBs, paving the way for increased adoption of the portable devices. In March 2008, Jeppesen became the first company to obtain FAA Technical Standard Order (TSO) authorization for its Airport Moving Map application for Class 2 EFBs. The application has been available on the Boeing Class 3 EFB, with hardware supplied by Astronautics Corporation of America, for several years.
Continental plans to retrofit 58 of its Boeing 757s and 26 767s with the navAero t-Bag C2 squared Class 2 EFB, in addition to the Class 3 EFBs installed on its Boeing 777s.
The first supplemental type certification (STC) for the 757 was executed by Chicago-based navAero in cooperation with engineering firm U.S. Technical, of Fullerton, Calif. The STC was issued Aug. 11, 2008, and includes cross-connected dual t-Bag C2 squared EFB systems with the t-Pad 1500 display.
FAA in late January issued a draft policy memorandum for comment, providing additional guidance on the certification of Class 1 and 2 portable electronic flight bags (EFB).
The memorandum cites a potential safety hazard in the use of EFBs with rechargeable lithium batteries, and requires that such systems meet minimum performance standards or that warning placards be added to prevent their connection to aircraft electrical power.
"An aircraft electrical power source may provide power to Class 1 and 2 EFB systems with lithium batteries. Lithium batteries and charging circuitry may be flammable under certain conditions and could cause an unsafe condition during flight operations," the memorandum says.
"In particular, lithium battery systems have the potential to pose a safety hazard when recharging. The aircraft electrical power source is not certified to mitigate unsafe conditions that occur when connected to portable equipment which contains lithium batteries and charging circuitry."
The memorandum requires that EFBs containing lithium batteries be tested to RTCA DO-311, "Minimum Operational Performance Standards for Rechargeable Lithium Battery Systems," which was intended to test permanently installed equipment. EFBs that do not meet the standards are not eligible for connection to aircraft electrical power sources.
FAA says a warning placard should be added as part of the supplemental type certification, defining what type of equipment can be connected to aircraft power. "The placard, must be legible, easy to see and as close as practical to the docking location(s)," the memorandum states.
Latitude Technologies, of Victoria, B.C., Canada, said it had completed testing and proven the interoperability of its SkyNode S200 satcom voice and data transceivers with the NavAero t-BagC2 squared Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB).
Specifically, Latitude Technologies said the text messaging, telephone dialing and device memory functions work with the EFB. Interoperability also was proven for geo-positioning and other flight data.
The Latitude software utility will allow navAero EFB users to install software that expands the core functionality of their EFBs. Text messages from the cockpit and cabin can be sent and received with Web-connected devices through Latitude’s LWS Sentinel data service. Received messages can be displayed in-flight through the EFB, a PDA or a laptop computer.
SkyNode devices will be able to provide WAAS and GPS position information to navAero EFBs for moving map and real-time, on-screen satellite weather displays for any position along the route, Latitude Technologies said.
Thales in January replaced the head of its Aerospace Division, citing the division’s lagging performance.
Jean-Georges Malcor, 52, formerly head of the company’s Naval Division, was appointed senior vice president of the Aerospace Division, replacing Francois Quentin. Quentin will be offered a new position within the group "at a later date," the company said.
"The objective is to give this activity a new impulse following the insufficient economic performance of this division, particularly concerning the management of some major programs," Thales stated.
Malcor began his career with Thales in 1983 in the Underwater Activities division. He had been senior vice president in charge of the Naval Division since 2004.
Reporting financial results Feb. 26, Thales said its Aerospace & Space segment finished 2008 with revenues of 4.1 billion euros, an increase of 14 percent from 2007. The segment recorded earnings before taxes of 203 million euros, a 10-percent increase. However, this represented 4.9 percent of revenues, down from 6.3 percent in 2007.
"The profitability of the Aerospace business was impacted by problems on the (Airbus) A400M program and the high level of self-funded R&D for new civil aircraft, including the A350," the company said.
Thales said sales of avionics for Bombardier and Sukhoi regional aircraft increased, as did sales of in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems for new aircraft and support services for the installed base of IFE systems. Airbus sales remained largely unchanged from 2007.
Sales of combat systems and electronic warfare systems for platforms including the Dassault Rafale fighter, were higher compared to deliveries on the NH90 and Tiger helicopter programs.
Europe accounted for nearly two-thirds of Thales revenues in 2008, with strong growth reported in the United Kingdom for UAV systems. Thales U.K. is providing the Watchkeeper tactical UAV for the British Army Royal Artillery, in partnership with Elbit Systems.
Rockwell Collins in February adjusted its 2009 sales expectations "to reflect our updated assessment of market conditions," particularly in the business aviation market. Total sales are expected to be $4.7 billion, down from $4.9 billion forecasted in November.
"We are operating in a time of extraordinary volatility, making it very difficult to predict future business conditions," stated Clayton Jones, chairman, president and CEO. "While market conditions for our Government Systems business and the Air Transport portion of our Commercial Systems business are tracking to expectations, we have seen a significant deterioration in the business aviation market. Significant increases in the available inventory of relatively young used business aircraft and sharp reductions in utilization indicate that we will see pressure in our OEM and aftermarket business jet revenues."
Reporting first-quarter, fiscal 2009 results Feb. 3, Rockwell Collins said sales declined by $54 million, or 5 percent, to $1.058 billion, due to the impact on Commercial Systems from the machinists strike and production issues at Boeing and lower air-transport aftermarket sales. Commercial Systems’ sales of $484 million in the first quarter were down $81 million, or 14 percent, compared to sales of $565 million for the prior-year period.
Sales to airlines and aircraft OEMs related to new aircraft production decreased $39 million, or 14 percent, to $244 million. Aftermarket revenues decreased $22 million, or 9 percent, to $219 million, due primarily to lower Boeing 787 simulator equipment sales as well as lower air transport service and support sales, Rockwell Collins said.
Widebody in-flight entertainment products and systems sales declined $20 million, or 49 percent, to $21 million due to the company’s decision in 2005 to stop investing in those products.
First-quarter sales of the Government Systems segment increased 5 percent to $574 million. Part of the growth came from acquisitions of Athena Technologies and SEOS Group, as well as from higher sales from simulation and training solutions, higher production sales on the Eurofighter Tranche 2 program, and higher development program revenues on the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System program.
Citing economic uncertainty, Airbus will scale back production of its A320 family single-aisle aircraft from 36 to 34 a month beginning in October. Production rates of A330/A340 widebody aircraft will be held at the current level of 8.5 a month — and not increased as previously planned.
In a Feb. 19, announcement, the airframer said the slowed production is not expected to impact employment. The company also aims to match its record 483 deliveries in 2008.
However, CEO Tom Enders did not rule out further production cuts.
"We monitor the market continuously and try to be proactive," stated Enders. "Flexibility and adaptability are essential in times of crises. We reached record production rates in late 2008, but now we see a drop of air traffic in most regions. Many airlines are taking capacity out of the market. I do not exclude further production cuts if the need arises."
Eurocontrol said the first meeting Feb. 10 of a new Air Navigation Services Board (ANSB) represented a major step forward in its Single European Sky effort.
The ANSB was created to ensure that all of the major groups involved in air-traffic management are integrated in Eurocontrol’s decision-making structures. The board is comprised of eight representatives of air navigation service providers, five representatives of airspace users, one military representative and one airport representative.
The first chairman is Dieter Kaden, chairman and CEO of German air navigation service provider DFS.
The new body will focus on areas where Eurocontrol provides functions and services, paying particular attention to business plans and business cases, financial commitments and strategic input into projects and activities.
Irish low-fare carrier Ryanair launched in-flight mobile phone service on 20 mainly Dublin-based aircraft, using the OnAir telephony system.
Passengers can make and receive voice calls at non-EU international roaming rates (£1.50 to £3 per minute) text messages (40 pence+) and email (£1 to £2) using their mobile phones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones, Ryanair said. Price tariffs are set by mobile service providers and subject to the customer’s individual price plan.
The Feb. 19 launch was described as the first step in fitting Ryanair’s fleet of 170 aircraft with in-flight phone service over the next 18 months.
The service initially will be available to O2 customers and to customers of more than 50 other mobile phone operators across Europe. OnAir said it is working with other U.K. mobile operators Vodafone, Orange and 3 for in-flight service.
AD Aerospace announced its selection by Air Italy to supply the CabinVu-123 cockpit door monitoring system to improve safety and security on the carrier’s Boeing 737s.
CabinVu-123 provides the pilots a clear view of any activity outside the cockpit door and in the adjacent galleys.
AD Aerospace said FlightVu equipment has been, or is being, installed by Europe Airpost, Boeing, airBaltic, Austrian Airlines, GECAS, ILFC, Neos, Privilege, Orient Thai, Comair, Hong Kong Express, Hong Kong Airways, bmi, British Airways, JetBlue, Thomsonfly, Air Asia, Corsair, easyJet, Hainan, Germania, TUIfly, Sama and MyTravel.
Era Systems Corp. was selected by Thales ATM to provide a national wide area multilateration (WAM) system for Namibia. Era’s MSS system, which uses multilateration and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) techniques for surveillance, will cover 825,000 square kilometers as part of an air-traffic management upgrade managed by Thales.
Namibia is preparing for a significant increase in air traffic associated with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in neighboring South Africa.
Earlier, Era said its MSS system was commissioned for wide area and surface surveillance at Cape Town International Airport, South Africa, and at Johannesburg International Airport for surface surveillance by ATNS, the country’s air navigation service provider.
The WAM system in Cape Town is the first certified system in Africa for ATC separation services in terminal area and en-route airspace, Era said. Completion of the surface and approach systems in Cape Town followed the recent commissioning of an Era system at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Airports Fiji Ltd. (AFL) selected Adacel and Era Systems Corp. to provide a nationwide air-traffic management system for the Fiji flight information region, the companies announced Feb. 6.
The core program consists of a national deployment of Era’s "MSSsm" surveillance system to provide ADS-B and multilateration surveillance, and the Aurora air-traffic management system from Adacel, of Brighton Victoria, Australia. The new system will replace the existing ATM system in the area control center and in the control towers at Nadi and Nausori International airports.
The plan is to install and commission the system within 18 months, eliminating Fiji’s reliance on radar.
The package includes assistance in airspace re-design, development of safety case materials to support operational deployment, technical and operational training, and implementation of a "FlightYield" aviation charging system, which will help AFL accurately assess end-user charges for airspace use.
"Our Aurora ATM system software is already being used in the adjacent FIRs by the FAA and Airways New Zealand," said Fred Sheldon, Adacel CEO.
"With this project, we will provide AFL with equivalent oceanic ATM capabilities as well as en route, approach and tower control in the same system."
Becker Avionics, Miramar, Fla., is supplying its DVCS6100 Digital Intercom System and Cabin Intercommunication and Passenger Address system for the new 60-seat MA600 turboprop under development by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corp. of China.
The MA600 cockpit is equipped with the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite.
The Becker cabin intercommunication system integrates all communications in the aircraft and provides flexible, user-programmable configurations, the company said. Becker equipment includes the CP3100 Control Panel, EB3100 External Jack Box, IC3100 Intercom Amplifier, PA3100 Public Address Amplifier, CB3100 Converter Box, ST3100 Service Station and DP 4100 Digital Player.
Becker said certification flight tests of the MA600 were underway, with deliveries planned this year. First delivery will be to the Civil Aviation Flight University of China in Sichuan Province.
Wind River, Alameda, Calif., announced the availability of VxWorks DO-178B, one of two new software platforms it offers for customers requiring avionics safety certification.
VxWorks DO-178B is based on the commercial-grade VxWorks 6.6 operating system, specialized for stringent avionics safety certification requirements. It allows for portability of existing VxWorks 6 software components and development tools, Wind River said.
Wind River Acquisition
Wind River announced Feb. 23 the signing of an agreement to acquire Tilcon Software Ltd., for $3.5 million. Tilcon, a privately held company based in Ottawa, provides software for creating and deploying graphical user interfaces in embedded devices.
With the acquisition, Wind River said it expected to gain proprietary embedded graphical user interfaces that will enhance its VxWorks and Wind River Linux software platforms across multiple device types and target vertical markets. The company initially will focus on industrial and medical applications.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) in February announced the "No Plane No Gain" campaign to underscore the economic contributions of business aviation.
The campaign, financed by the two associations, is using a multi-media approach that includes a Web site, www.noplanenogain.org, Webinars, YouTube placements, podcasts and paid advertising to advocate for business aviation at a time when corporate jets are being vilified as extravagant. In January, under pressure from the White House, beleaguered Citigroup canceled an order for a new Dassault Falcon 7X.
According to the associations, business aviation contributes $150 billion to the U.S. economy annually, and provides 1.2 million high-wage jobs
"The contributions of business aviation to our nation’s employment, commerce, competitiveness and health are profound but not always well understood," said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce, announcing the campaign.
"It is responsible for well over one million manufacturing and service jobs, and is one of the few industries that contributes positively to our nation’s balance of trade. It is also serving as a lifeline for communities all across the country that are seeing scheduled airline service being reduced or eliminated."
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. will cut production rates for large and mid-size aircraft this year, resulting in 1,200 layoffs, the company announced March 5.
The General Dynamics subsidiary will reduce large-cabin aircraft production from the projected rate of 94 to 73 and mid-size aircraft production from 30 to 24. Gulfstream cited a deteriorating backlog, particularly during February, and continued weak demand.
The layoffs include 550 contractor personnel. Another 1,500 employees will be furloughed for five weeks this summer.
"Despite the current challenges, we continue to believe that Gulfstream’s backlog provides a solid foundation for the business in this tough market environment," stated Nicholas D. Chabraja, General Dynamics chairman and CEO. "We regret the impact of these actions on our employees and their families, and are doing our best to minimize the number of workers effected.
Earlier this year, Cessna Aircraft Co. announced 4,600 layoffs, and Hawker Beechcraft 2,300. In March, MRO Duncan Aviation said 300 workers will be cut, the first reduction in its 53-year history.
Pro Star Aviation, Londonderry, N.H., was "in the final stages" of obtaining supplemental type certification (STC) to install a single Universal Avionics UNS-1Fw or UNS-1Lw WAAS-capable flight management system and LP/LPV Monitor in S-76B and C model helicopters.
Pro Star said it was also nearing certification to install the Kollsman General Aviation Vision System (GAViS) on the S-76. The GAViS low-profile camera enclosure is mounted on the helicopter’s upper nose cowl. A Flight Display Systems video monitor is mounted on either side of the instrument panel, offering a forward view for approach, departure and taxi operations.
The WAAS-enabled FMS allows the helicopter to fly Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV) approaches. The installation includes dual FMS Level Of Service indicators mounted in front of each pilot to display current approach conditions and available minimums, LNAV, LNAV/VNAV or LPV.
Two TSO C190-compliant GPS antennas can be mounted on existing locations on top of the vertical stabilizer. Alternatively the antennas can be mounted on the tail rotor driveshaft cover using the Pro Star STC antenna mount or by modifying an existing location.
"We’re pleased to have developed a low-cost option for Sikorsky operators looking for WAAS approach solutions," said Kevin Harriman, Pro Star Aviation general manager. "This should completely change the dimension of Sikorsky S-76 flight operations in the future."
Honeywell said its latest Mark XXI and Mark XX II Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS) comply with performance requirements of FAA’s recently released Technical Standard Order TSO-C194, setting minimum HTAWS standards. The company plans to obtain formal TSO approval for the helicopter ground-proximity warning systems this year.
"Honeywell’s Mark XXI and Mark XX II systems — our helicopter Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems — are specifically tailored for the dynamics of rotary-wing performance and the flight characteristics of helicopters and help prevent collisions with ground, water and obstacles," said TK Kallenbach, Honeywell vice president of Marketing and Product Management. "The systems provide superior and potentially life-saving information for flight crews, even when flying in changing weather with poor visibility, in rough terrain, or at low altitudes."
Honeywell also announced at Heli-Expo 2009 in Anaheim, Calif., that Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters had selected the company’s Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), becoming the first Grand Canyon tour operator to use TCAS. The system initially will be installed on 12 Eurocopter EC130s, according to Papillon Chairman Elling Halvorson.
Papillion’s certified installation for the EC130 uses two directional antennas, one mounted on the top and one on the bottom of the helicopter, giving the crew maximum surveillance capability.
Honeywell said its "Sentinel" helicopter avionics system, used by helicopter emergency medical service operators in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe, is now available to pilots in the United States.
Priced at $9,000 for the base unit, Sentinel provides a multi-function display and navigation system with high-resolution mapping, terrain, traffic and XM weather data, and vertical down track profiling in a single avionics package. The suite includes a radar altimeter, above ground level readout, night vision goggle option and obstacles database.
The system offers 24GB of on-board data storage, is available in several configurations and can operate as a stand-alone, panel-mounted MFD/Navigator, remote processor, or as an integrated element of the Observer MKIII Mission System.
Honeywell announced United States availability of the system at Heli-Expo 2009 in Anaheim, Calif. Sentinel entered service with European HEMS and executive operators in 2008
"This highly reliable system offers ease of readability of charts, flexibility with data entry via a USB port, the ability to insert flashcards for different map packages, and very easy, intuitive operations," stated Paul Whitefield, chief pilot with LuviAir.
Sikorsky S-76D Achieves Maiden Flight
Sikorsky Aircraft reported the first flight of its upgraded S-76D corporate helicopter Feb. 7 at the company’s West Palm Beach, Fla., test facility.
Sikorsky Chief Test Pilot Greg Barnes and Pilot Mike Hardy flew the prototype through taxi, hover, hover turns and forward flight to 40 knots during the 30-minute test flight. The milestone culminated more than three years of design, development and testing of the first D-model aircraft, Sikorsky said.
The S-76D will feature the Thales TopDeck integrated modular avionics suite and autopilot, composite main rotor blades, new Pratt & Whitney Canada 210S turboshaft engines and optional Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS) for all-weather capability. The latest S-76 will offer an increase in useful load and extended range performance.
The D-model is scheduled to enter production with certification and customer deliveries in 2010. Sikorsky said it had 100 delivery position agreements on the helicopter.
Falcon 50EX Upgrade
Duncan Aviation completed the first upgrade of a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4 avionics suite on a Falcon 50EX to the Pro Line 21.
The open architecture of Rockwell Collins systems allows Pro Line 21 displays to interface with the existing Pro Line 4 avionics package, using existing sensors, radios and autopilots.
The upgrade provides Pro Line 21 functionality, including high-resolution LCDs, graphical weather, electronic charting, Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS) display capability, radar, TCAS, enhanced vision system (EVS) and WAAS, providing for localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) as a future upgrade.
Duncan Aviation has certified Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 installations on the Falcon 50, Hawker 800A, Hawker 800XP and Astra 1125.
The company plans to complete the Pro Line 4 to Pro Line 21 upgrade on a Falcon 2000 this year.
Honeywell’s DU-875/885 flight deck upgrade is being embraced by business jet operators as an alternative to fully replacing an avionics suite, the company says.
The DU-875 (8 x 7) and -885 (8 x 8) replace older-generation CRTs with liquid crystal displays capable of electronic charts, maps and XM graphical weather. The LCDs provide growth capability for functions including Required Navigation Performance, Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and synthetic vision.
The upgrade is designed as a replacement for Primus 1000/2000/2000XP, SPZ-8400/85000 and some SPZ-8000 series avionics systems. The LCDs fit within the same cavity as the older displays and come equipped with a digital video signal interface and built-in graphics server. They weigh eight to 10 pounds less per display — saving upward of 60 pounds in a six-display layout.
Honeywell describes the retrofit as relatively short and painless. "It doesn’t really have any down time; we’re quoting a week," said Chad Cundiff, vice president of crew interface products.
In announcements made last year, Bombardier selected the DU-875 as an upgrade for Global Express business jets equipped with the Primus 2000XP flight deck. And StandardAero said it is working toward a supplemental type certificate, expected this year, to equip the Dassault Falcon 900C and EX series jets with the DU-875.
Avidyne Corp., of Lincoln, Mass., received supplemental type certificate (STC) approval from FAA for installation of the TWX670 Tactical Lightning Detection System in the Cessna 350.
The company said it also expected STC approval of the TWX670 system for the Cessna 400.
Avidyne Entegra-equipped aircraft can display the TWX670’s color lightning on the EX5000 multifunction displays (MFD) and have full support for all modes, including display of close-range strikes, TWxCell and Color Strike mode. This requires that the MFD be upgraded to software Release 8, available for Release 7-equipped MFDs for $495, Avidyne said.
On non-Entegra aircraft, the TWX670 is fully compatible with Avidyne’s MHD300 3-ATI Multi-Hazard Display, which also supports all color modes. A "Compatibility Mode" provides monochrome strike display capability on third-party displays such as the Garmin GNS 430 and G1000.
The TWX670 is available at a list price of $7,995. The company at this writing was offering a $1,000 discount to existing Entegra/EX500/EX5000 owners.
SkyTrac Systems, Kelowna, BC, in February announced the launch of ISAT-200, its next-generation satellite communications transceiver for helicopters, providing automatic real-time flight following, audio interface, text messaging and data transfer using an Iridium modem.
Smaller and lighter than its predecessor ISAT-100 transceiver, the ISAT 200 has more processing power, improved voice quality and superior memory capacity.
The ISAT-200 is installed using a "smart" tray, which stores configuration information such as reporting intervals and aircraft registration number. The tray is available with either ARINC 404 or Blind Mate connectors, SkyTrac said.
The hardware is equipped with a Secure Digital (SD) card reader and USB port, both of which can be used for firmware upgrades. A SD card can also be used to record flight data, which can later be downloaded to a PC and analyzed. The ISAT-200 is equipped with an internal, field replaceable battery.
When transmitting data with the ISAT-200, users can choose either standard or premium data packets. The standard packet includes lat/long, GPS time, ground speed, altitude and heading.
The new premium packet includes the standard transmission and the registration number appended to each position report at the time of generation.
This information provides greater audit capability and better traceability of data, SkyTrac said.
Next Gen Jammer
Northrop Grumman was awarded a study contract by the U.S. Navy to investigate a Next Generation Jammer to replace its ALQ-99 airborne electronic attack system.
The six-month Next Generation Jammer study, valued at $6 million, is the first major step toward development and production of a modular, scalable jamming system for use on multiple platforms, the company said.
Northrop Grumman currently is delivering Improved Capability (ICAP) III jammers for Marine Corps EA-6B Prowlers and a derivative of that system for EA-18G Growlers.
The Growler is now in production and undergoing operational evaluation by the Navy, which plans to stand up the first two fleet Growler squadrons later this year, Northrop Grumman said.
Northrop Grumman received approval from the U.S. Air Force to begin a portion of the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) system verification flight testing.
An Air Force report on the success of the Radar System Level Performance Verification flight testing was due by the fiscal 2009 second quarter. The aim of the test program is to verify the radar meets operational requirements, including synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spot-image capability, SAR Swath imaging and Ground Moving Target Indicator.
The MP-RTIP sensor was to be flown on Northrop Grumman’s Proteus aircraft as a surrogate for the first RQ-4 Block 40 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the MP-RTIP and Global Hawk programs.
"This is a major milestone for the MP-RTIP program," said Duke Dufresne, vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman Strike & Surveillance Systems.
Boeing in February announced the delivery of the first engineering development model (EDM) of the Family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals to the U.S. Air Force B-2 program. The EDM will serve to initiate platform integration and test activities.
The FAB-T system will provide a family of satcom terminals to strategic command and control forces. The airborne and ground-based terminals will communicate with multiple satellites and enable information to be exchanged between ground, air and space platforms.
FAB-T systems are compatible with the existing MILSTAR Extremely High Frequency and the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite constellations, providing a transition as the AEHF constellation replaces MILSTAR.
Additional FAB-T EDM units will be delivered in the coming months to begin integration and flight testing on a Boeing 707 testbed operated by the Air Force and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Labs, as well as on an operational RC-135 at Majors Field in Greenville, Texas.
The second short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35B Lightning II accomplished its first flight Feb. 25 at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility.
The aircraft, designated BF-2, joins a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A and the first flying STOVL F-35B, which have logged 84 total flights, Lockheed Martin said.
BF-2 is scheduled to deploy to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., later this year. It will remain in Fort Worth for the next several months to conduct a series of ground-test events, instrumentation calibration, powered hover-pit testing and airworthiness flights, including STOVL-mode operation. Initial flights will be in conventional mode.
During its first flight, BF-2 went through a series of maneuvers to assess its subsystems and basic handling qualities, and to check on-board instrumentation. Subsequent missions will take the aircraft higher and faster, in a structured series of flights. All F-35 test aircraft to date have been powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan.
"The F-35 program is now entering a period of greatly accelerated flight testing, as aircraft are delivered to the flight line at an ever-increasing rate," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.
"Each aircraft that rolls off the assembly line fulfills a unique verification objective and moves us closer to our customers’ initial operational capability dates."
BF-2 is nearly identical to the first STOVL, designated BF-1. The major difference is in the instrumentation, as the two aircraft have different roles during flight testing. BF-2 will conduct flutter envelope expansion, air-refueling testing, high angle-of-attack testing, performance and propulsion testing, weapons testing and radar-signature testing.
BF-1 will concentrate on initial STOVL flight operations such as short takeoffs, hovers and vertical landings, and will conduct ship-suitability and gun-integration testing. BF-1’s first vertical landing is planned for mid-2009.
In a separate release, Lockheed Martin said the F-35 program expects to complete all remaining System Development and Demonstration (SDD) aircraft, deliver the first production F-35s to the armed services and initiate full-scale flight test operations at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The company had delivered eight of the 19 SDD jets, and was moving aircraft off assembly line at a rate of about one per month.
This year will see a number of "firsts," including the first flight of the F-35C carrier variant, the first vertical landing of the F-35B STOVL, the stand up of test sites at Edwards AFB and Patuxent River, the first training aircraft delivered to the U.S. Air Force and the first international orders, Lockheed Martin said.
The program will continue to validate F-35 mission systems software and hardware, adding to more than 1,100 hours of flight testing and 115,000 hours of laboratory testing already completed.
The initiation of flight testing this summer for the first mission systems-equipped F-35, designated BF-4, will reinforce technical risk reduction efforts.
Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development — the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.
Tornado, Harrier Support
BAE Systems was awarded two contracts worth £119 million by the UK Ministry of Defence to provide additional support to in-service Tornado and Harrier aircraft under the Commodity Availability Procurement Strategy (CAPS).
Under CAPS, the Tornado aircraft availability contract was amended to include an availability service supporting primary warning and defensive protection equipment for both the Tornado GR4 and Harrier fleets. The first availability service contract, worth £103.5 million, will see BAE Systems assume responsibility for the provision of spares and repairs, and technical, software and test equipment support for a range of EW equipment.
A second contract, with a value of £15.5 million, is to provide wheel, tire and brake service across the Nimrod MR2, Harrier, Hawk and VC10 fleets.
"CAPS will optimize existing aircraft availability contracts by removing MOD dependencies, gaining better value for money and assuring operational outputs," said Group Capt. Chris Daykin, the defense ministry’s CAPS director.
"This is the achievement of a major milestone, and the first contractual result for CAPS."
Selex Galileo and Bharat Electronics Ltd., of India signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore opportunities in electronic warfare in the Indian market, including offset requirements and contract manufacturing for export markets.
One immediate opportunity is represented by offset requirements of the Indian Air Force Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition, Selex Galileo said.
Bharat Electronics is a government-owned company involved in the design, development and manufacture of C4I solutions, military communication systems, radars and sonars, naval systems and EW systems. Selex Galileo is the brand adopted by Galileo Avionica SpA and Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems Ltd., both Finmeccanica companies, to present a common identity to the market.
Selex Galileo has dedicated production facilities in Luton and an EW Operational Support center in Lincoln in the United Kingdom. The company provides EW systems for platforms including the Eurofighter Typhoon, AgustaWestland AW101 and AH-64D Apache Longbow.
Boeing conducted functional check flights in late January of two 737-700 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft modified in Australia for Project Wedgetail.
The flights, conducted from the Royal Australian Air Force base at Amberley, followed major aircraft modifications by Boeing Defence Australia, including installation and checkout of the Northrop Grumman Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) antenna, ventral fins and mission system equipment. Boeing said it will finish installing mission system equipment on both aircraft and conduct a series of ground checkouts later this year.
The Wedgetail program includes six 737-700 AEW&C aircraft plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance. Three aircraft were in modification at Amberley; the other three were being flight-tested at Boeing in Seattle.
Sagem and the French defense procurement agency DGA on Jan. 27 carried out the first firing test of the 125-kilogram version of the AASM modular air-to-ground weapon.
The AASM 125 is a Mk81-type 125 kilogram bomb with attached inertial/GPS guidance and range augmentation kits. The kits are used on the 250-kilogram AASM 250 version in service with the French air force’s Rafale fighters.
The precision guidance, extended range and limited effects of the AASM 125 enhance operational flexibility and applicability for fire-support missions near ground troops, since it limits the risk of collateral damage, Sagem said.
The first firing test of the AASM 125 was carried out at the DGA’s missile test range in Biscarosse from a Mirage 2000N based at the DGA’s flight-test center in Cazaux. The AASM 125 was fired from high altitude and guided to its target by its own inertial navigation system. "The flight path and impact accuracy were in line with expectations," Sagem said.
Ametek, Paoli, Pa., acquired High Standard Aviation, of Miami, a provider of electrical and electromechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic repair services to the aerospace industry. The price of the acquisition, announced in February, was not disclosed.
With reported annual sales of $31 million, High Standard Aviation will become a unit of Ametek Aerospace & Defense, based in Wilmington, Mass.
"High Standard Aviation strengthens our capabilities in electrical/electromechanical and hydraulic repair and provides us with a valuable presence in Miami, a key MRO hub for the southeastern United States as well as Latin America," stated Frank S. Hermance, Ametek chairman and CEO. "It also adds to our position in the air cargo segment of the MRO business, broadening our base with a number of key customers."
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, N.Y., selected the "IData" Human Machine Interface (HMI) toolset from Quantum3D, of San Jose, Calif., to support the simulation and embedded display of graphical information on cockpit displays.
Lockheed Martin will use the HMI toolset to more rapidly develop tactical and situational awareness information that is graphically displayed to military pilots and crew on a range of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft.
Instead of employing code generation methods, Quantum3D said, the IData toolset outputs data defining the HMI graphics and behavior. The approach can significantly reduce the time and expense in each phase of the embedded display lifecycle, from prototyping and simulation through development and deployment of the embedded target application.
The IData toolset has a processing engine with a DO-178B certification package that can run on any embedded real-time operating system or real-time executive, Quantum3D said. It offers fully certifiable plug-ins for digital moving maps and 3D scene generation.
"When we embarked on the development of the IData tool suite, we looked to the gaming and simulation business to see how they achieve their extremely high graphics performance," said Mark Snyder, IData director of development. "What we discovered was that these applications achieve their performance by tailoring graphical rendering to each platform, an approach that is not possible with graphics code generation.
"The HMI Specification Language," Snyder added, "is really graphical behavioral data that is processed by a very high-performance, small footprint, processing engine that is optimized for each target system."
Wind River announced March 4 at Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany, that it is working with Intel to market multicore processing solutions for the embedded market. The two companies will align research and development, sales and marketing, professional services and engineering resources, initially targeting the aerospace and defense, network infrastructure, industrial and other market segments.
The collaboration will focus on four technology optimizations enabling the transition to multicore — optimization of Wind River VxWorks and Wind River Linux on Embedded Intel architecture processors; optimization of Wind River’s hypervisor technology for Intel processors, including utilization of Intel Virtualization Technology; increased interoperability of development tools for analysis and tuning of multicore devices; and integration of Intel compiler and performance primitives into Wind River multicore software platforms for Intel processors.
"The pace of multicore technology adoption has been slowed because hardware and software vendors have not been collaborating at this level," said John Bruggeman, Wind River chief marketing officer. "Now two industry leaders are coming together to address the challenges associated with enabling software for multicore processors."
FAA released a fact sheet in February detailing the number of certificates of authorization (COA) it has issued for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to operate in civil airspace.
The agency said it issued 102 COAs in 2006, 85 in 2007 and 164 in 2008. As of Feb. 23 this year, it had issued 17, with 62 applications pending.
"The COA process has functioned well," FAA stated. "It makes possible research and development efforts and provides a way to introduce UASs into the National Airspace System. As FAA experience with COAs has grown, so has the emphasis on safety; certificates issued today typically have more conditions and limitations, particularly those dealing with a UAS’s ability to ‘detect, see and avoid’ other traffic."
FAA said it was reviewing certification requests from several UAS manufacturers, and had issued 13 airworthiness certificates in the "experimental" category, providing an opportunity to collect technical and operational data that will improve the UAS airworthiness certification process
The agency authorized one demonstration flight by the Houston Police Department, on Nov. 16, 2007. It continues to work with the Miami-Dade Police Department on proposed demonstration flights. "Most likely, a COA would permit a limited number and type of tests in an unpopulated area near the Everglades, and eventually provide a way to continue flights for training purposes," FAA said.
Final assembly of the first Mantis unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was reported to be "well underway" in February, according to lead developer BAE Systems, which exhibited a mockup of the large, twin-engine aircraft at Aero India 2009 in Bangalore.
Mantis is a jointly funded program of the UK Ministry of Defence and industry to develop an autonomous UAS. It will be a fly-by-wire, all-electric controlled aircraft. The absence of hydraulics will allow the system to be broken down for transport in a C130 Hercules.
Other partners in the first phase of the program include Rolls-Royce, QinetiQ, GE Aviation, SELEX Galileo and Meggitt.
"Mantis is designed to carry out intelligence gathering at long distances," stated Andy Wilson, BAE Systems business development director, Autonomous Systems and Future Capability. "It’s a large platform with a wingspan of over 20 meters and it carries a significant payload in terms of sensors and potential weaponry. This phase of the program will demonstrate that we have the capability to meet future operational needs."
Final assembly of the first aircraft will be followed by a period of ground testing in preparation for the first flight, "which is due to take place over the next few months," BAE said.
The French Air Force interim medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV, known as SIDM for Systeme Interimaire de Drone MALE, performed its maiden flight in a foreign theater — Afghanistan — on Feb. 17.
EADS Defence & Security turned over the system to the military in January. Based on the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) Eagle 1 platform, SIDM provides French forces with up to 20 hours of surveillance capability. It carries electro optical sensors, laser designator and ground moving target indicator radar.
EADS said the French Air Force had accumulated 200 flight hours while training SIDM operators and ground staff at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base, France, prior to the foreign deployment.
Boeing in March said its ScanEagle long-endurance, autonomous unmanned aircraft system (UAS) completed a ship-based trial with the Republic of Singapore Navy.
ScanEagle was launched and recovered from the helicopter decks of a landing ship and a frigate, flying day missions using an electro-optical camera payload and night missions using an infrared camera payload.
Boeing Defence Australia provided a complete maritime ScanEagle system for the trial, including a ground control station, communication links, launcher and SkyHook recovery system.
A Boeing Insitu team deployed to Singapore for the trial.
ScanEagle has operated from a variety of maritime platforms, including U.S. Navy ships since 2005. It has also operated from a UK Royal Navy Type 23 frigate and from commercial vessels.
New Avionics Corp., of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., introduced what it said is the first in-flight ice sensor for UAVs made entirely of plastic.
The Model 9732-UAV ice detecting transducer probe solves the problem of conductive metallic interference with mission-critical radio antennas on UAVs and other small aircraft, the company said. The sensor body, consisting of Delrin and Acrylic plastics, "is transparent to radio frequencies." The only metal in the sensor assembly is in the wires necessary to connect it to its host system.
The sensor measures 1.5 inches long by.25 inch in diameter, and weighs less than 10 grams. It features an ice detection threshold of 0.001 inch of ice or better. It can be installed virtually anywhere on the fuselage, at any angle of attack, raked forward or aft, and any orientation of the sensor air gap, New Avionics Corp. said. The only requirement is that the air gap be located beyond the airflow boundary layer.
The Model 9732-UAV works as an optical spectrometer, with no moving parts. Its few internal parts are assembled with optical two-part epoxy, and it is physically robust in all six axes, the company said.
BAE Systems was awarded a five-year, £450 million contract from the U.K. Ministry of Defence to maintain British Royal Air Force Typhoons. The Typhoon Availability Service (TAS) contract will create 150 new jobs and sustain a further 350 jobs at its peak, BAE said in March. At the time of the announcement, 200 BAE employees worked on the TAS contract at RAF Coningsby and at company sites in Samlesbury and Warton. The Eurofighter Typhoon has been operational in the air defense role with the RAF for more than a year. Multi-role capability was declared combat ready in July 2008.
Lockheed Martin awarded EMS Defense & Space a contract for production work on the millimeter wave radar antenna of the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) program. Last September, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $122 million technology development contract for JAGM from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command. The team of Raytheon and Boeing was awarded a $125 million contract. The 27-month contracts are for a competitive risk-reduction phase of the joint services missile program. The U.S. Army is expected to award the JAGM contract for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) to one of the two prime contractors in late 2010.
ITT, Clifton, N.J., won a $99.8 million competitive award to supply Advanced Electronic Warfare systems for 30 new F-16 Block 50M aircraft being procured by the Turkish Air Force under the "Peace Onyx IV" Foreign Military Sales program. Under a contract from Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., ITT will provide its Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Systems (AIDEWS) and countermeasures dispensing systems with the aircraft. System deliveries begin in 2010
Boeing received a $45 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to upgrade avionics software on the B-1 heavy bomber. The award is Sustainment Block 15 of an upgrade program begun in 2003. Boeing engineers in Long Beach, Calif., and Oklahoma City produce the software for the Air Force fleet of 66 B-1s. The company in the last year also integrated the Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod on the aircraft.
AeroVironment, Monrovia, Calif., received an order from the U.S. Army for 50 RQ-11B Raven small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) equipped with its new Digital Data Link (DDL). The order, valued at $16.7 million, followed a $41.7 million Raven order placed by the Army in January.
Telephonics Corp., Farmingdale, N.Y., was awarded a $2 million follow-on contract from the U.S. Air Force for "TruLink" Wireless Intercommunication Systems. TruLink enables the medical crew director, flight nurse and medical technicians to move freely around the aircraft, untethered by restrictive cords, while maintaining voice communication.
Becker Avionics, Miramar, Fla., said its WTG900 Warning Tone Generator was selected by the German Armed Forces for the CH-53GA product improvement program. The improvement is being implemented by Eurocopter Deutschland GmbH on 40 of the 80 CH-53Gs of the German Army fleet.
Saudi Arabian Airlines selected "a significant number" of Thales and ACSS products, including the T3CAS integrated surveillance system, for installation on 42 Airbus A320s. T3CAS combines TCAS II collision avoidance, Terrain Awareness Warning System and Mode S transponder updated for DO-260A, with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) In and Out capabilities.
Thales said new Kuwaiti luxury carrier Wataniya Airways selected its TopSeries in-flight entertainment system for nine new Airbus A320s, the first of which was delivered in January. Passengers in first class will have access on-demand entertainment, including video and audio selections, interactive map and games, on 10.6-inch widescreen displays. Wataniya Airways conducted its first flight Jan. 25, departing Sheikh Saad terminal for Dubai. Bahrain and Beirut will be added as destinations in March
Thales will install its TopSeries IFE 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 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, Preston Brook, Cheshire, U.K., to provide its CabinVu-123 camera system, which gives pilots an unobstructed view outside the cockpit door and in adjacent galleys.