New Republican Leadership Faults NextGen Effort
The new chairman of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee promised “rigorous oversight” of the NextGen air-traffic modernization effort, following a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that faults FAA’s goal-setting process.
Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.) was confirmed by the House Republican Conference Dec. 8 to serve as the committee’s chairman in the Republican-controlled House. He succeeds Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), who was defeated in the November midterm elections.
In the prior two congresses, Mica served as the Transportation Committee’s Republican leader. Before that, from 2000 to 2006, he chaired the Aviation Subcommittee and authored the last multi-year FAA authorization to be signed into law. He has been a member of the committee since he was elected to Congress in 1992.
“The committee must pass stalled major surface transportation, aviation and water resources bills, and I will do so as soon as possible in a manner that protects the taxpayers and creates jobs,” Mica stated. “It is critical that Congress jumpstarts transportation projects to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and get people working.”
A week before his expected confirmation as committee chairman, Mica reacted to a 9-page progress report by GAO on FAA’s current implementation and long-term planning of NextGen programs.
The report, signed by Gerald L. Dillingham, GAO director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, found that FAA “has generally identified” near and mid-term NextGen capabilities, but has yet to make “key decisions” regarding long-term capabilities. It faults FAA and the cabinet-level Senior Policy Committee overseeing NextGen for not setting performance goals and metrics.
The report also faults FAA for failing to provide a “business case” that would convince airlines to equip with the necessary avionics.
“In terms of supporting a business case for operators to equip with the necessary avionics, FAA has yet to develop a strategy to address this issue,” the report states. “Two key decisions are whether all scheduled aircraft need to be equipped at all locations and when aircraft should be equipped with various technologies. In addition, although FAA has established a working group to explore best-equipped, best-served focus areas, it has yet to make any specific decisions about how it will put (this) policy into practice.”
According to Mica, FAA’s “failure to set clear goals and make necessary decisions jeopardizes this complex, critical air transportation modernization effort and threatens to waste taxpayers’ money. FAA cannot effectively work toward NextGen with a partially developed plan and risk the United States’ international position as a leader in aviation.... I plan to conduct rigorous oversight of the NextGen program and hold FAA accountable for taking the steps necessary to ensure its success.”
Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), expected to chair the Aviation Subcommittee, also commented on the GAO report.
“We are spending about $1 billion a year on this important initiative that is critical to the growth of our economy, improving safety, and for our environment,” Petri said. “Yet, according to the GAO, the long-term goals remain unidentified and, even if they were identified, the FAA has yet to develop the tools necessary to measure the effectiveness of their efforts in delivering NextGen.
“Preparing for the future of air traffic control is a basic, vital function of the FAA, and the agency needs to get on with it. This is too important and too costly to not get it right.”
Ongoing strength in military aircraft sales bolstered the commercial aircraft sector in 2010, with the same dynamic expected this year, according to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) Year-End Review and Forecast, issued Dec. 15.
Despite a challenging environment, the aerospace industry saw record sales of $216.5 billion in 2010, its seventh straight year of growth. Overall industry sales, which include the civil, military, space, missiles and related products and services categories, are expected to increase to $219 billion in 2011.
After two years of declining orders, the industry recorded $195.7 billion in orders in 2010, a 16.4 percent increase over 2009. The projected end-of-year backlog for 2010 was $421.5 billion, a slight improvement over 2009.
“This return to positive (order) growth is a welcome change after two years of decline,” AIA said. “The improvement in orders suggests that demand for air travel is increasing and global business conditions like credit availability are becoming more conducive to aircraft purchases.”
Civil aerospace sales declined nearly 6 percent in 2010 to $48.2 billion. The expected rebound in 2011 hinges on several factors, AIA said, including the economy, fuel prices, aircraft financing availability and environmental regulations.
Sales of military aircraft increased 8 percent over 2009 to $64.5 billion. Military aircraft sales have nearly doubled since 2000, although this “breakneck pace is likely to ease considerability in the coming years,” AIA said.
“The military market continues to benefit from record defense spending and strong export demand,” the report states. “While fiscal restraints will pressure the U.S. defense budget over the next few years, the fiscal 2011 and 2012 budgets still look substantial, and that means high output through 2014, at least.”
For the second year, general aviation sales dropped in 2010, from $9 billion in 2009 to $7.7 billion, dampened by falling demand, restrictive credit markets and strong competition from used aircraft.
The decline slowed in 2010, but challenges remain, particularly in the market for small to midsize jets. Overall deliveries are not expected to improve until 2012.
A320 Traffic Computer
ACSS announced Dec. 8 that its T3CAS Traffic Management Computer has been certified for the Airbus A320 series.
The T3CAS unit integrates TCAS, Mode S transponder, Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out and In functions.
The A320 certification represents the first certified ADS-B In functions on a new production aircraft, ACSS said. The DO-260A Class A3 transponder provides ADS-B surveillance range in excess of 120 nautical miles.
The TAWS function built into T3CAS is the industry’s only performance-based terrain warning capability with patented Avoid Terrain and Obstacle features, the company said. The TCAS includes the latest Change 7.1 software.
Airbus Airborne Traffic Situational Awareness (ATSA) applications provide operators with enhanced safety and operational efficiency in all phases of flight, including enhanced situational awareness with ATSA-AIRB, flight-level change performances in non-radar coverage areas with ATSA-ITP and Visual Separation Approach with ATSA-VSA.
First T3CAS installations were to start in December on A320s delivered to operators in Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific.
COMAC C919 IFE
Thales in November signed a letter of intent with Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) and a memorandum of understanding with China Electronics Technology Avionics to create a joint venture company that will integrate the Thales TopSeries in-flight entertainment (IFE) system in the passenger cabin of COMAC’s future C919 airliner.
Thales said its installed system will be a scalable platform offering modular entertainment, from interactive audio solutions to full in-seat, on-demand services. Future evolutions may include wireless networks and connectivity.
Rockwell Collins in October announced its selection by COMAC to provide IFE systems as optional selectable seller-furnished equipment. The Rockwell Collins IFE solution for the C919 “includes a variety of system configurations ranging from a high-definition overhead video system to an innovative client centric, in-seat solution with independent control of individual media players.” The options are derived from enhancements to the company’s Programmable Audio Video Entertainment System (dPAVES) system.
Rockwell Collins will team with Shanghai Aero Measurement-Controlling Research Institute. SAMRI will help design, develop and integrate the IFE system solution into the C919.
Designed and built in China, the 156-to-190 seat C919 is expected to fly in 2014 and enter service in 2016.
Several C919 joint ventures were announced last summer involving U.S. avionics suppliers, including GE Aviation (core processing system, displays, onboard maintenance system); Rockwell Collins (communications/navigation systems); Honeywell (fly-by-wire flight control, cockpit controls, brake control system, APU); and Hamilton Sundstrand (electric power system).
Memory chip developer Tego, Inc., of Waltham, Mass., in November announced the availability of aviation-grade RFID tags developed by Marubeni Chemix Corp., of Tokyo, and containing “TegoChip” technology.
The Marubeni TAGAT tags, available with 4 Kbyte of memory, are tested to SAE AS5678 for flyable parts, are compatible with ATA Spec 2000 and are interoperable with standard UHF Gen2 readers, the company said. “The Asian market has been demanding tags like this for quite a while, and we see many opportunities for these products,” stated Yoshihiko Tsujimoto, RFID tag development leader with Marubeni Chemix.
Tego is supplying the 8 Kbyte chip specified by Airbus for the A350XWB, in an order announced Jan. 19, 2010. It will be contained within tags designed by Paris-based MAINtag SAS.
“The TAGAT line offers some of the most rugged and lightest tags we have seen, an important consideration when planning to use several thousand tags on each aircraft,” said Timothy Butler, Tego president and CEO. “Our work with Marubeni Chemix is complementary to efforts begun (in 2010) to satisfy demand for RFID tags on aircraft.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, in a speech Oct. 25, said transitioning to the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is a “major component” of the Obama administration’s transportation vision, and he promised additional resources for NextGen in the next federal transportation bill.
Addressing the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) conference in National Harbor, Md., LaHood recalled the multi-modal transportation spending plan unveiled by President Obama on Labor Day in Milwaukee. The President proposed, and Congress would have to approve, a $50 billion “up-front” investment on transportation infrastructure, connected to a six-year reauthorization of the surface transportation program.
“Even in Milwaukee, much to the surprise of many people, the President talked about NextGen. NextGen will be a major component of whatever we do in terms of a big plan, a big vision for transportation,” LaHood said.
He continued: “I’ve discussed with President Obama, NextGen. He talked about it during the campaign, and he continues to talk about it. He realizes, as we do, that next generation technology will make air travel safer; it will make our skies less congested; it will cut travel times and alleviate delays. It will make the industry’s carbon footprint smaller; it will make the civil aviation sector, responsible for 11 million jobs and $1 trillion of economic activity, more efficient and competitive.
“The bottom line is that America’s next transportation bill will include new resources to move from a national ground-based radar surveillance system to a more accurate satellite-based surveillance system (with) new resources for technology in the cockpit and a broader effort to increase fuel efficiency and cut airport noise for people who live and work near airports.”
Electronic Flight Data
Air traffic control towers at Scotland’s three busiest airports have been outfitted with flight-data technology designed by Nav Canada.
Glasgow Airport became the third tower in Scotland, following Edinburgh and Aberdeen, to implement the flight data system in 2010. Eight control towers operated by U.K. air navigation service provider NATS now use the system.
Known as EXCDS in Canada and the Electronic Flight Progress System (EFPS) in the U.K., the technology allows controllers to manage flight data online with a touchscreen application, eliminating the need for traditional paper flight strips and providing immediate access to key information, according to Nav Canada.
EFPS already is operational at Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, Heathrow and London City airports. Stansted was the first site to deploy EFPS beginning in 2004. Deployment at Aberdeen marked the first time the technology was used for enroute as well as terminal operations.
In Canada, EXCDS is in use at 75 locations. The system has been adapted and licensed for airports in Denmark, Australia and the United States.
ARINC’s VDL (VHF Digital Link) Mode 2 air/ground communications network marked 10 years of operation on Nov. 20.
The VDL Mode 2 system was started in 1998 as a proof-of-concept using a few ground stations in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The first operational flight using the network took place on Nov. 20, 2000. ARINC said it deployed hundreds of VDL Mode 2-capable ground stations between 2000 and 2003, providing coast-to-coast VDL Mode 2 enroute coverage for major airline customers.
ARINC followed in 2003 by deploying VDL Mode 2 infrastructure in Europe and winning the first VDL Mode 2 contract from Eurocontrol for Controller/Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC). The same year, ARINC partnered with Avicom, of Japan, to deliver the first VDL Mode 2 services for the Asia Pacific region.
Since that time, ARINC said, the VDL Mode 2 network has been used by more than 2,500 commercial aircraft, sending and receiving more than eight million messages a month, a figure that is growing by 20 percent annually.
“In response to the initiative by Eurocontrol and the FAA to harmonize their air traffic control systems, ARINC plans to continue to deploy additional VDL Mode 2 ground stations to support their future requirements,” said Ron Hawkins, ARINC vice president, Commercial Aviation Services.
Boeing launched a system of real-time advisories, under the heading “Inflight Optimization Services,” aimed at saving airlines time, fuel and emissions using existing equipment.
In a briefing at the Air Traffic Control Association conference in October, Mike Lewis, Boeing director of Airline Efficiency Services, described the first two of what will be a suite of new services, called Direct Routes and Wind Updates.
The subscription-based services will be available to airlines using Boeing, Airbus or other manufacturers’ aircraft in the first quarter of 2011.
“In-flight optimization services is a suite of capabilities that give real-time, actionable advisories to aircraft in flight, post departure,” Lewis said. The system incorporates real-time surveillance information, weather, winds, traffic and airline-specific inputs, calculates optimal flight maneuvers and sends advisories to airline operations centers or directly to the flight deck via ACARS data link.
The Direct Routes product continuously monitors flights in United States airspace, leveraging a NASA-developed air-traffic control automation tool for its core algorithm. “What this algorithm does is looks for any time you can basically cut a corner that’s wind-optimal,” Lewis said. The advisory route adjustment is “prechecked to be cleared of other traffic, prechecked to be consistent with normal airspace operational procedures (and) prechecked to not run into special use airspace or restricted airspace.” The system’s assessment is updated every 12 seconds.
“Any time a subscribing airline can see two or three minutes worth of potential savings, we fire off one of these messages to the airline’s operations center in a preformatted way,” Lewis said.
Boeing estimates a medium-sized airline can save more than 40,000 minutes of flight time a year, or the equivalent of hundreds of full flights.
Wind Updates provides automatic wind data updates for individual flights, delivered to the flight deck in a format that can be loaded directly into the aircraft’s flight management computer. Boeing estimates potential savings of 100 to 200 pounds of fuel per flight based on FMC adjustments for optimal speed, altitude and trajectory.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has worked with Boeing as a developmental partner, and is using Wind Updates for its Boeing 777, MD-11 and Airbus A330 arrivals into Amsterdam Schiphol airport. More recently, Alaska Airlines started using the wind reporting service.
VIP Joint Venture
Lufthansa Technik AG and Panasonic Avionics Corp., on Oct. 19 signed a letter of intent at NBAA 2010 in Atlanta to establish a joint venture company to supply in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC) and cabin management systems (CMS) for VIP aircraft.
“These new solutions will represent a fresh idea in how CMS/IFEC systems are architected for VIP aircraft,” combining Panasonic Avionics’ X Series commercial IFE system and eXConnect and eXPhone Global Communications Suite, with Lufthansa Technik’s nice (networked integrated cabin equipment) CMS/IFE system, the companies stated.
At an exhibit-hall signing ceremony in the Georgia World Congress Center, Lufthansa Technik CEO August Wilhelm Henningsen and Panasonic Avionics CEO Paul Margis said the joint venture will be limited to VIP aircraft. But they revealed little else of the arrangement, including the brand name of the IFEC/CMS offering, which was to be announced later.
“The demand for a sophisticated system, with the latest and greatest, is our common goal,” Henningsen said.
Margis said the business pairing is “a great opportunity for us to leverage our experience putting systems on air transport airplanes. … For the VIP market, we’re looking to provide a full turnkey package.”
Rockwell Collins has obtained new Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) to provide Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV) upgrades for Dassault and Gulfstream aircraft equipped with its Pro Line 4 and Pro Line 21 avionics.
Certification of LPV was achieved for the Dassault Falcon 50, 50EX, 2000 and 2000EX equipped with Pro Line 4 avionics, and for the Gulfstream G150 equipped with Pro Line 21.
The STC for Dassault aircraft is held by Rockwell Collins; the STC for the G150 is held by Gulfstream. The STCs allow Falcon and Gulfstream operators with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4 and Pro Line 21 avionics to take advantage of the more than 2,300 LPV approaches available today with minimum decision heights as low as 200 feet.
Rockwell Collins said it certified 22 WAAS/LPV solutions in 2010 on a variety of Pro Line 4 and Pro Line 21 equipped aircraft manufactured by Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Hawker Beechcraft and Gulfstream.
Hawker Beechcraft Services (HBS) in November said it is taking orders and scheduling Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) upgrades for Premier IA business jets equipped with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics.
The WAAS installation offers greater mission assurance through the use of WAAS-enabled Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) approaches to more than 2,300 available LPV approaches, HBS said. WAAS LPV approaches provide decision heights as low as 200 feet with half-mile visibility.
The Premier IA installation follows King Air C90GTi and 200/300 series upgrades announced earlier in 2010.
WAAS upgrades for the Premier I, Hawker 400XP/Beechjet 400A and early-model Hawker 800XP aircraft equipped with Honeywell flight management systems were in process.
Falcon 900B Upgrade
Universal Avionics and Western Aircraft, of Boise, Idaho, have partnered to develop a glass cockpit for the Dassault Falcon 900B.
The cockpit upgrade will replace 25 older instruments, and will include five Universal EFI-890R LED backlit LCDs, including an Engine Indication Unit that replaces analog engine instruments, and the Universal UNS-1Fw Flight Management System. Options include Vision-1 Synthetic Vision, single or dual side charts, graphical weather and capability for video and checklists.
Western Aircraft is expected to complete the new STC in mid-2011.
Gulfstream Aerospace in November said it received FAA certification to install the latest version of its high-speed Broad Band Multi-Link (BBML) data system on Gulfstream V jets.
The “Gen 3.0” enhanced BBML system is comprised of a new third-generation dish antenna mounted under the tail radome, an antenna control unit, an aircraft integrated transceiver/router, and Gulfstream’s third-generation enhanced aircraft cabin server.
The system is available for installation at Gulfstream and General Dynamics Aviation Services facilities.
Sandel Avionics, Vista, Calif., announced deliveries of its HeliTAWS helicopter terrain awareness and warning system to aeromedical operators MSP Aero, of Minneapolis, Minn., and Metro Aviation, of Shreveport, La.
The 3-ATI HeliTAWS is a ruggedized, self-contained system with a high-resolution display that replaces an existing radar altimeter indicator. It incorporates an HTAWS computer with “TrueAlert” algorithms, terrain and obstacle databases, interfaces for digital and analog avionics and 3-D terrain display.
With TrueAlert technology, pilots can safely take off, cruise, hover and land at off-airport locations without triggering nuisance alerts, while still receiving Class-A terrain and obstacle warnings during the entire flight, Sandel said.
The NVIS-compatible HeliTAWS meets DO-160F helicopter vibration standards and has a mean time between failures of more than 10,000 hours, Sandel said. The retail price is $18,950.
MSP Aero will install HeliTAWS in Agusta A109 helicopters operated by North Memorial Medical Center, of Robbinsdale, Minn. Metro Aviation will install the unit in one of its fleet of Eurocopter AS350s.
Fuel Kit STC
Shadin Avionics, St. Louis Park, Minn., received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for installation of the Shadin Fuel Management Kit into Bell 212 and 412 helicopters.
The STC enables installation of the Shadin fuel flow transducer that supports Shadin’s Engine Trend Monitor (ETM), Digiflo, Miniflo, Microflo, Digidata fuel flow indicators and air data computers as well as glass displays from other manufacturers.
The Bell 212/412 STC is the latest addition to Shadin’s portfolio of Fuel Management System STCs that includes installations for other Bell, Eurocopter, and McDonnell Douglas Helicopters.
Shadin said it has partnered with Aero Dynamix, of Euless, Texas, to upgrade the latter company’s displays to be NVG compatible. It also is pursuing EASA approval for the Bell 212/412 Fuel Management Kit installation.
NavWorx Inc., of Rowlett, Texas, said it is shipping the first ADS-B Universal Access Transceiver (UAT) designed to receive subscription-free aircraft traffic and aviation weather.
Priced at $2,495, the NavWorx ADS600-B transceiver delivers TIS-B traffic and FIS-B traffic and weather information to a variety of aircraft electronic displays. The transceiver is designed to be fully compliant with FAA TSO-C154c and is FCC approved, NavWorx said.
The company said it introduced the first portable ADS-B receiver and the first fully functional ADS-B receiver for experimental and light-sport aircraft in September 2008.
The NavWorx product line consists of the ADS600 and PADS600, both ADS-B receivers designed for certified, experimental, and light-sport aircraft.
P-3 Plant Closing
Citing the need for corporate belt-tightening, Lockheed Martin in November said it will close its Eagan, Minn., facility by 2013 and move manufacturing work from its Middle River, Md., site by the end of 2011.
The Eagan plant makes avionics components for U.S. Navy P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. The Maryland site makes missile launching systems for U.S. Navy ships.
The company’s Mission Systems and Sensors division will move 650 jobs from Eagan to Owego, N.Y., San Diego and Manassas, Va. Lockheed Martin also will transfer work on ground vehicles from Owego to Dallas.
“In an era of increased affordability, it is essential we drive down costs and optimize capacity at our facilities nationwide,” said Orlando P. Carvalho, president of MS2.
“While these changes will result in layoffs in some locations, they will strengthen employment in others and provide efficiencies that make us more competitive. We estimate these actions are expected to save approximately $150 million over the next 10 years.”
BAE Systems in Warton, U.K., was awarded a $31.1 million contract to upgrade 25 Italian Air Force Panavia Tornado fighters with new Link 16 radios and digital cockpit displays.
The Multi-functional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Link 16 radios will enable the exchange of near real-time tactical information, including both data and voice, between air, ground and sea assets, BAE said. Alenia Aeronautica will integrate kits manufactured by BAE at its factory in Turin, Italy.
Work will take place from 2011 to 2015 on the mid-life upgrade of the Electronic Combat/ Reconnaissance and Interdictor/Strike variants of the Tornado.
The Tornado is manufactured by Panavia Aircraft GmbH, a consortium of BAE Systems, Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica and Cassidian of Germany.
BAE said the mid-life improvement is the last major upgrade of Italian Tornados before they leave service, expected sometime before 2030.
The fundamental building block for all future avionics software on the F-35 Lightning II has entered flight testing, Lockheed Martin said Nov. 15.
Block 1, the first of three principal software-development blocks for the F-35’s mission systems, made its inaugural flight Nov. 5 in the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft known as BF-4. The functional check flight from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., lasted 1.5 hours, and all planned test points were accomplished, the company said.
“Getting this software up and flying in an F-35 is a big step in the process of validating our avionics system,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin F-35 program general manager.
The Block 1 software will enable most of the primary sensors on the F-35. It forms the foundation of all subsequent software blocks, enabling information fusion from the F-35’s radar, electronic warfare system, distributed aperture system, electro-optical targeting system and other sensors, and provides initial weapons-release capability.
The Block 1 software has been undergoing airborne testing since May 2010 on the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed, a modified Boeing 737 that incorporates the entire F-35 mission systems suite.
Rockwell Collins said its RT-1939(C) ARC-210 Gen5 radio has received National Security Agency (NSA) Type 1 Certification. The certification, announced by Rockwell Collins Nov. 30, is the culmination of a development contract awarded by the U.S. Navy in 2006.
The ARC-210 Gen5 radio features a Software Communications Architecture-compliant, software-defined radio architecture, embedded programmable next generation crypto and extended frequencies to 941 MHz.
In addition, the Gen5 radio is upgradeable to a Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) UHF data link and supports insertion of Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and Tactical Secure Voice (TSV) capabilities, Rockwell Collins said.
“The ARC-210 Gen5 radio is the newest generation of Rockwell Collins’ V/UHF communication products,” said Bruce King, Rockwell Collins vice president and general manager of Communications Products. “This radio will provide superior performance in the transfer of point-to-point and networked data, voice and imagery.”
Rockwell Collins said the Gen5 radio is the first military airborne transceiver to provide a modern, embedded, fully programmable information security capability. It provides a form and fit replacement for existing ARC-210 radios.
The Joint Program Executive Office for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS), based in San Diego, released the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) Next Draft Specification, available for download at http://sca.jpeojtrs.mil/scanext.asp.
The JTRS program is developing an open architecture of waveform technology, allowing multiple radio types to communicate with each other.
The SCA facilitates the development of software for software-defined radios. The architecture defines a common framework for the deployment, management, interconnection and intercommunication of waveform components in embedded, multi-processor radios.
The SCA separates the waveform from the radio’s operating environment, allowing waveform portability across various radio types. It also allows radio developers to interchange and upgrade existing radio services and hardware without major system revisions.
“SCA Next” is more scalable, lightweight, and flexible than the SCA 2.2.2 release, the JPEO said. It is compatible with radio sizes ranging from small, single-channel radios to prime-power, multi-channel sets.
As a technology refresh, it incorporates advances in portability for digital signal processor and field programmable gate array (FPGA) processors and new design patterns for its application program interfaces (API).
C-27J Portable Tester
DRS Technologies, Parsippany, N.J., and Alenia Aeronautica, both Finmeccanica companies, announced joint development of a portable maintenance unit (PMU) designed for the C-27J tactical military airlifter to test onboard systems, load software and support ground maintenance and training activities.
DRS will customize its ARMOR X10gx tablet PC to reduce the use of external components. Alenia Aeronautica already is offering the ARMOR X10gx PMU on some C-27Js for logistics support, replacing the previous Portable Maintenance Aid.
The PMU weighs about 2 kg and has a sunlight readable display. Certified to Mil-Std-810G and IP67, the unit is rugged and capable of surviving drops and vibration, extreme hot and cold temperatures and high humidity. It is sealed against water and sand.
Cobham plc on Dec. 6 announced an agreement to acquire the share capital of the privately owned RVision Inc., of San Diego, for an initial $28 million. Additional payment of $20 million is payable between 2012 and 2014 depending on the company’s future performance.
RVision designs, manufactures and integrates electro-optical and infrared imaging systems, including ruggedized pan/tilt/zoom cameras, hardened processors and tactical video hardware.
With 40 employees in San Diego and San Jose, RVision will become part of Cobham’s Surveillance strategic business unit, within its Avionics and Surveillance Division.
Nanocomp Technologies, of Concord, N.H., was awarded a contract from Northrop Grumman under the U.S. Army Manufacturing Technology Program (ManTech) to develop manufacturing best practices for carbon nanotube (CNT) cabling and tapes, intended for insertion into aircraft as a replacement for conventional copper-based wires and cables.
The two-year program includes configuration and material trade studies to define cable design parameters and replicable manufacturing processes.
Nanocomp said the end result will be an optimized manufacturing platform designed to produce efficient and cost-effective materials, so that transition and broad-based implementation of carbon nanotube-based conductors can take place.
Cargo UAS Contracts
The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on Dec. 2 announced the award of contracts to Boeing/Frontier Systems and Lockheed Martin for $30 million and $46 million, respectively, to evaluate cargo-carrying unmanned aircraft systems for the Marine Corps.
The Cargo UAS services activity responds to an urgent needs requirement supporting the Marines in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Both contracts include development of two air vehicles, three remote ground stations and a Quick Reaction Assessment (QRA) the Navy will conduct this summer. The systems will be government-owned and contractor operated.
Lockheed Martin and partner Kaman Aerospace will evaluate an unmanned K-MAX helicopter, which has demonstrated the ability to carry 4,000 pounds of cargo at 10,000 feet altitude. Boeing is providing its A160T Hummingbird.
The Navy intends to field the Cargo UAS in the fall 2011 for a six-month deployment. Leadership will then “assess the value of the capability and determine if an extension or re-compete contract should be pursued,” NAVAIR said.
Northrop Grumman delivered the first production Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for integration on the first U.S. Air Force Block 40 Global Hawk, the company announced Dec. 1. The first flight of the MP-RTIP equipped Global Hawk is planned for early 2011.
Flying at altitudes up to 60,000 feet for more than 30 hours per sortie at speeds approaching 340 knots, the MP-RTIPBlock 40 Global Hawk can persistently see through most types of weather, day or night, says Northrop Grumman.
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems’ Norwalk, Conn., facility is teamed with Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, of El Segundo, Calif. to develop, produce and deliver the radar.
Mercury Computer Systems, Chelmsford, Mass., reported delivering embedded computing subsystems to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) for the Lynx Block 25 Dual Beam ground moving target indicator/synthetic aperture radar.
During flight tests using a Predator-class unmanned aircraft, the Dual Beam radar demonstrated dismount detection performance (personnel walking or running) over its full field-of-regard, Mercury said.
Mercury supplied subsystems with faster processing components and enhanced memory to support the enhanced radar performance.
Mercury consultants also assisted with the development and optimization of algorithms for Space Time Adaptive Processing, a function within the Dual Beam radar.
Northrop Grumman in November said its Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) program, to develop three airships with 21-day persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, achieved several major milestones.
The company in June 2010 signed a $517 million agreement with the U.S. Army for the airships. Since that time, it has completed three program milestones: System Readiness Review, Initial Baseline Review and Preliminary Design Review. Critical Design Review was pending.
“As we move forward, we look to inflate our first vehicle next spring, and our first flight is scheduled for mid-summer,” said Alan Metzger, Northrop Grumman LEMV integrated program team leader. “Upon completion of the development ground and flight testing phase, we expect to transition to a government facility and conduct our final acceptance test in December 2011. It’s a very aggressive, almost unprecedented schedule from concept-to-combat with a first of its kind system.”
In early 2012, the LEMV will be transported for demonstration in an operational environment. The program then transitions from the Army Space and Missile Defense Command to the project manager of the Army’s unmanned aircraft systems.
âž¤ Vietnam Airlines awarded a $100 million contract for avionics and auxiliary power units to Honeywell for its fleet of 36 new and 22 existing Airbus A321s. The selected avionics include Flight Management System, Multifunction Control Display Unit, Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, Air Data Inertial Reference Unit and Air Data Module.
âž¤ Northrop Grumman was awarded a $64 million contract from the U.K. Ministry of Defence to design, develop, integrate, test and support the Mode S upgrade of the Identification Friend or Foe Interrogator for the E-3D Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft based at RAF Waddington.
âž¤ BAE Systems will provide laser warning sensor sets to protect U.S. military aircraft under a $17.7 million contract from Alliant Techsystems, of Minneapolis. The contract provides components for Alliant’s AAR-47 Missile Warning Set, part of the ongoing U.S. Navy road-map of airborne protection and system improvements for Navy, Air Force, Army and foreign allied fleets.
âž¤ Ampex Data Systems, of Redwood City, Calif., received incremental orders of $3 million from Boeing Shared Services Group for Ampex DSRs440 and DSRs500 airborne recorders and high-capacity, solid-state memory modules in support of flight-test certifications. The recorder products will be used in Boeing 787 and other flight test programs.
âž¤ Raytheon received a contract from Boeing for the production of advanced APG-63(V)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array radars for U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard F-15Cs, replacing current mechanically scanned radars. Deliveries will begin in the second quarter of 2011.
âž¤ Emteq, New Berlin, Wis., was awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense for Phase I of a Small Business Innovation Research program to develop a rotor blade tip lighting system. Emteq said the goal of the program is to design and build a reliable, lightweight rotor blade tip lighting system that can be modulated to provide red, green and white navigation lights at the appropriate positions on the azimuth; a hover mode to clearly mark the complete rotor disk circumference to ground crew; and a low-observable, NVG-compatible mode for night formation flight.
âž¤ Teledyne Controls, of El Segundo, Calif., received FAA Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for its enhanced Airborne Data Loader (eADL) and AirLAN wireless communication system for Continental Airlines’ Boeing 737-NGs. With AirLAN and eADL, Continental can electronically transfer software parts directly from the ground to the enhanced Airborne Data Loader.
âž¤ China Eastern Airlines selected the TopSeries in-flight entertainment system from Thales for 16 of its new A330-200s. The first aircraft is schedule to deliver in November 2011. The system includes a touchscreen display 15.4-inch in business class and 10.6-inch in economy; tethered passenger control units and USB connections.
âž¤ Tibet Airlines selected Rockwell Collins to provide a suite of avionics for the airline’s Airbus A319s. The systems will initially be installed on nine of Tibet’s new A319s, with an option for nine additional aircraft. Deliveries will begin in July 2011. The electronics selected include Digital Programmable Audio Video Entertainment System, MultiScan Threat Detection System weather radar and GLU-925 Multi-Mode Receiver.
âž¤ Xiamen Airlines selected Rockwell Collins avionics for 25 Boeing 737NGs. Deliveries will begin in July 2011. The selected avionics include MultiScan Threat Detection System; GLU-925 Multi-Mode Receiver; ADF-900 Automatic Detection Finder; DME-900 Distance Measuring Equipment; VOR-900 VHF Omnidirectional Radio; HFS-900D High Speed Data Radio; VHF-2100 Very High Frequency Transceiver; LRA-900 Low-range Radio Altimeter and Passenger Address Unit.
âž¤ NavAero was awarded a FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for its tBag C22 Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB) on Boeing 767-200, 767-300, 767-300F and 767-400ER series aircraft. The STC, issued Oct. 27 and executed in cooperation with U.S. Technical, includes cross-connected dual tBag C22 EFBs enabling data sharing between the two independent systems.
âž¤ Regent Airways, a private airline based in Bangladesh, has started flight operations with several IT systems from Lufthansa Systems, including Lido/RouteManual navigation charts and the Lido/FPLS flight planning service. Regent Airways also selected the eLoadsheet weight and balance module. The airline has signed five-year agreements for these systems.