Industry Scan

By Jonathan Ray | July 1, 2011
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Honeywell Acquires EMS

Honeywell announced plans on June 13 to pay $491 million to acquire EMS Technologies, based in Norcross, Ga., and the parent company of EMS Aviation. The transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter.

“We believe that becoming a part of Honeywell will provide EMS businesses with the scale, resources and market presence that should benefit our customers and expand career opportunities for our employees,” said Neil Mackay, president and CEO of EMS Technologies.

Honeywell said the acquisition will enhance its existing capabilities in rugged mobile computing technologies and satellite communications within its Automation and Control Solutions and Aerospace businesses.

“EMS is a terrific addition to Honeywell, adding leading positions in attractive markets that are closely aligned with favorable trends in the growing Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) space and commercial aerospace, as well as being highly complementary to our existing Scanning and Mobility business,” said Honeywell Chairman and CEO Dave Cote.

“Honeywell is uniquely positioned to acquire EMS due to the strategic fit across EMS’s Global Resource Management and Aviation divisions. The acquisition brings engineering expertise, differentiated technologies, global reach and profitable adjacent segments that build upon our great positions in good industries and enhance our growth profile,” he said.

Through its $174 million Aviation division, EMS designs and manufactures satellite-based broadband communication systems, serving commercial and defense customers. Additionally, it provides terminals, antennas, in-cabin network devices, rugged data storage and surveillance applications predominantly for use on aircraft and in other data gathering objectives.

“Combining EMS products into our Aerospace business means that Honeywell can now deliver the next big leap in satcom technology, a key growth area for aerospace,” said Honeywell Aerospace President and CEO Tim Mahoney. “Our customers will greatly benefit from these new products and solutions, enabling them to leverage the strong global growth of high-speed wireless and satellite data services.”

Laser Fines

FAA will begin imposing civil penalties against people who point a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft, Randy Babbitt, FAA administrator, announced June 1.

At a press conference at Ronald Reagan National Airport, Babbitt said pointing a laser at an aircraft from the ground could seriously impair a pilot’s vision and interfere with safety. Individuals who violate the FAA’s regulations could be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for interfering with a flight crew.

“We want everyone to realize this is serious, these are not toys and this is dangerous,” said Babbitt. “So what they think is an innocent prank can be deadly and to suffer a loss of vision at low altitudes could have very serious consequences to both the crew and the passengers onboard a commercial airplane.”

With more than 1,100 incidents reported nationwide this year of lasers being pointed at aircraft, laser events have steadily increased 300 in 2005 to more than 1,500 in 2009 and 2,800 in 2010, according to FAA.

“Our top priority is protecting the safety of the traveling pubic,” said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “We will not hesitate to take tough action against anyone who threatens the safety our passengers, pilots and air transportation system.”

So far this year, the Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth areas each have recorded more than 45 laser events. The Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston areas each have recorded more than 30 laser events, an increase likely due to greater awareness and outreach to pilots to encourage reporting. “The potential for real harm exists. That’s why we’re taking such an aggressive stance.... These are dangerous, distractive and they can result in permanent eye damage to flight crew members,” said Babbitt.

ATC Safety

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt reassured Congress in May that the agency is addressing the recent troubles in air traffic control towers and reiterated the steps FAA is taking to reduce air traffic controller incidents.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety & Security on Air Traffic Control Safety Oversight on May 24, Babbitt said FAA has made “significant changes to longtime scheduling practices to reduce the possibility of fatigue — including establishing a minimum of nine hours between shifts. And we will do more,” including adding a second controller on the midnight shift in facilities where there was only one and changing management in “critical positions to ensure that we have the right people in the right places.”

“We’ve also found it necessary to terminate three controllers who slept on the job. This type of behavior is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Babbitt attributed the increase in incidents to an error reporting system, Air Traffic Safety Action Program, instituted in 2008 and designed to foster a voluntary, cooperative, non-punitive environment for the open reporting of safety of flight concerns by FAA employees.

“We are gathering more information than we ever had previously — and that data will allow for more informed decisions moving forward to enhance the safety of our system... Nobody likes to see operational errors, especially me. But we are getting the data we need to improve safety,” he said.

Connectivity Partnership

Row 44, based in Westlake Village, Calif., formed a partnership with MRO provider Lufthansa Technik.

Under terms of the partnership, announced June 6, commercial airlines that select Row 44’s in-flight broadband entertainment system will be able to take advantage of Lufthansa Technik’s installation, certification and integration services. Row 44 said it will work closely with Lufthansa Technik to reduce installation and maintenance time and costs and reduce overall project risks.

“Row 44 is extending our services globally,” said Vice President of Sales Frederick St. Amour. “Working with such a highly respected and successful engineering services firm as Lufthansa Technik gives us tremendous confidence that Row 44’s products and airline partnerships will be well supported and highly successful worldwide.”

“This partnership means an important milestone in our strategy for the expansion of our installation-design engineering and certification services in the in-flight entertainment and in-flight connectivity market. We are happy to be given the chance to bring in our wide ranging experience and knowledge which we could successfully gain from various related projects in the past,” said Stephan Schulte, product manager for aircraft modification and engineering services in IFE at Lufthansa.

“Therefore, we are confident to enhance Row 44’s in-flight-broadband product by contributing quality and forming this strong alliance with each party sticking to its core competencies.”


Carlisle Interconnect Technologies/ECS, based in St. Augustine, Fla., was awarded a FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) for the installation of three configurations of a Class 3 electronic flight bag (EFB) on Boeing 737-600s, -700s, 700Cs, -800s, -900s and -900ERs. The STC was the company’s 100th overall and its 13th related to the EFB installation.

To accommodate the varying needs of airline operators the STC design incorporates three different configurations –– basic (power, ground and Ethernet crosstalk); intermediate (basic plus aircraft data bus connectivity); and heavy user (increased aircraft data connectivity).

“The net result is the ability to satisfy the operational needs of a wide range of airline customers EFB installation programs in a time compressed schedule,” said Randy Dohs, Carlisle Interconnect Technologies EFB product manager.

“Our expertise lies in our ability to bring all the components together, from a simple display mount to a fully integrated EFB installation including design, certification and PMAed kits.”


Honeywell EASy II TSO’ed

Honeywell received FAA Technical Standard Order (TSO) approval for its Primus Epic-based EASy II software package for the Dassault Falcon 900 EASy series business jet, Honeywell announced at the European Business Aviation Association’s (EBACE) annual conference and exhibition in May.

EASy II is the second application of the SmartView family. Features of the EASy II include Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), Satellite Based Augmentation System-Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (SBAS-LPV), the SmartRunway and Automatic Descent Mode features and Automatic Descent Mode. Other new Dassault EASy II flight deck configuration features include FMS improvements, ADS-B Out Transponder, XM Graphical Weather and Dual Jeppessen charts.

Dassault is working to certify EASy II on the Falcon 900 EASy series with an upgrade scheduled for release later this year.

“The progress made by the EASy II avionics suite up to and including today’s announcement of FAA certification has been remarkable,” said Rob Wilson, president of Honeywell Business and General Aviation. “A wide range of upgrades, improving both efficiency and safety performance, will ensure EASy II’s place at the forefront of business avionics for years to come.”

Honeywell CMS

Embraer selected Honeywell’s Ovation Select Cabin Management System (CMS) for its new family of Legacy 450/500 jets, the companies announced in May.

Honeywell’s Ovation Select system enables in-flight connectivity, via passengers’ personal devices. An additional updated feature is the 3-D high-definition moving map application JetMap HD, which allows passengers to view their flight path from up to 18 different perspectives and zoom-in on the terrain below. In addition to controlling the system’s entertainment and productivity components, Ovation Select also puts lighting, seats, temperature, galley and window shade controls. The system also provides surround sound audio, high-definition video and digital communication distribution throughout the cabin. The system is controlled by icon-based, touch-screen interfaces. The Ovation Select is on track for a planned certification in July 2011, Honeywell said.

“The second generation Ovation Select digital cabin system delivers unprecedented connectivity to meet the expectations and needs of today’s business passenger,” said Rob Wilson, president of Honeywell Business and General Aviation. “Moreover, it is scalable to satisfy the growing bandwidth demands of tomorrow’s high-tech communication devices.”

Ovation Select is built on a digital architecture and Ethernet backbone. Honeywell said it has been tested to the current industry standard for greater resiliency of environmental and electromagnetic effects. The system architecture is scalable from general aviation aircraft up to and including air transport category business and personal aircraft.

Pro Line Fusion STC

Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics system received FAA supplemental type certification (STC) on the company’s experimental test aircraft, the company announced May 17.

“This certification affirms the flexibility and adaptability of the Pro Line Fusion system, and enables aircraft manufacturers to more easily install and certify the system on their respective platforms,” said Greg Irmen, vice president and general manager, Business and Regional Systems for Rockwell Collins. “We continue to progress toward Pro Line Fusion’s entry into service and are working with customers to achieve more certifications in the coming months.”

In April, the system received its final FAA Technical Standard Order, certifying the hardware and software.

Features of the system include synthetic vision on the head-up display; airport visualization enhancements, including the synthetic vision Airport Dome that orients pilots before descent and target runway highlighting on the airport diagram; networked capability enabling interoperability to synchronize the aircraft and ground systems and make database updates; and a software-based architecture which simplifies aircraft certification.

Helicopter Merger

Air medical transportation company Air Methods Corp., of Denver, announced plans to acquire OF Air Holdings Corp. and its subsidiaries, including Omniflight Helicopters, of Addison, Texas, in a $200 million cash deal.

Upon closing, Omniflight will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Methods. The transaction was expected to close in July 2011.

Omniflight has a fleet of approximately 100 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

“The operational efficiencies that this combination should create will allow both entities to maintain and enhance the quality of our services, while providing for a more competitive cost structure resulting from greater economies of scale,” said Aaron Todd, CEO for Air Methods.


Processor Contract

The U.S. Air Force awarded General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems a $7.8 million contract to develop an Open System Architecture (OSA) common back-end digital processor for the entire family of Air Force radio frequency (RF) electronic devices, to include radars, SIGINT sensors, electronic-warfare and communication systems.

Under the contract, General Dynamics will use open interface standards to develop modular, “plug and play,” multi-mission electronic back-end processors that leverage technologies developed under other OSA initiatives conducted by the Office of Naval Research. General Dynamics will provide a family of processors capable of handling the digital processing needs of all Air Force RF systems.

Work will be performed in Bloomington, Minn., Fairfax, Va., Waimea, Hawaii, and Ypsilanti, Mich.

“Leveraging our proven open architecture and open business model, General Dynamics will provide the Air Force with an increased airborne and spaceborne processing capability and a significant reduction in life-cycle cost,” said Mike Tweed-Kent, vice president and general manager of Mission Integration Systems Division for General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.

New PMA-209 Chief

Capt. Tracy Barkhimer has taken over as the new program manager Air Combat Electronics, PMA-209, at the Naval Air Systems Command in Paxtuxent River, Md. (Pax River). Barkhimer replaces Capt. Ralph Portnoy, who retired from the U.S. Navy after 26 years of service.

Most recently, Barkhimer was chief of staff to Program Executive Officer, Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs.

Previously, her tours include the V-22 Osprey avionics systems project officer; H-3 assistant program manager for systems and engineering; assault directed infrared countermeasures Integrated Product Team (IPT) lead; F/A-18 EO/IR deputy IPT lead; Navy & Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems IPT lead; Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Source Selection team member; and the deputy director for Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft International Programs.

She also served as the MH-60S program integrator and government flight representative at Defense Contract Management Agency Sikorsky in Stratford, Conn., from 2001 to 2004.


Thales UAV Tests

Thales, along with its partner Boeing, tested the full automatic landing of a one-ton class Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV, the company said June 14.

The automatic landing was carried out on the back of a moving trailer, representing the movement of a ship’s deck, Thales said.

The flight tests took place at the New Mexico SpacePort, using Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird air vehicle. According to Thales, the tests prove the demonstrator, which is based on Thales’ MAGIC Automatic Take Off and Landing System, is able to provide the relative position of the drone in relation to the platform and ensure flight guidance and control with a better accuracy than GPS. The system operates at a long range independently of GPS signals, in all weather conditions.

Thales plans more flight tests, including ones fitting the demonstrator on to a three axis-moving table representing the movements of the ship’s deck.

Sensor Payloads

The Northrop Grumman Firebird intelligence-gathering air system successfully used three different high-definition video sensors and an electronics support payload all at the same time, the company said June 14.

The flight, which took place in May at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., marks the first time three electro-optical, infrared sensors have been used simultaneously with a fourth payload on an aircraft.

“Firebird’s universal interface is what makes this all possible,” said Rick Crooks, director of special projects and Firebird program manager for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “It’s very similar to plugging a memory stick into a computer it’s automatically recognized without needing to load new software. With this ‘plug-and-play’ technology we can place many different sensors on Firebird and operate them in a matter of minutes.”

Crooks said this capability reduces the time needed to replace sensors; the flight team can install the three high-definition full-motion video (HD FMV) sensors, and a communications payload, in less than an hour. “Not only can soldiers on the ground and aircraft crews see the video and data, but they also control the sensors independently,” said Crooks. “This two-way control really puts the power of Firebird’s systems in their hands. By being able to go through a remote terminal or a cellular phone, we’ve made it possible for soldiers on the front-line to more effectively use these systems to gain the edge they need.”

The three HD FMV sensors were supplied by FLIR Systems, with the fourth payload being the Northrop Grumman-produced Common Signals Intelligence System 1500. The team was able to switch between eight different sensors during the exercise.


➤ Raytheon received an $84.7 million contract from U.S. Naval Air Systems Command for continued production of ALR-67(V)3 digital radar warning receivers. The ALR-67(V)3 is the U.S. Navy standard for digital radar warning receiver technology. It is designed for installation on all frontline, carrier-based F/A-18 E/Fs. The ALR-67(V)3 combines fully channelized digital receiver architecture with the power of dual processors. It is able to detect emitters in high-density electromagnetic environments. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2013 with production scheduled at Raytheon facilities in Forest, Miss., and McKinney, Texas.

➤ Boeing subsidiary Insitu, of Bingen, Wash., was awarded an $83.7 million contract from the U.S. Navy for operations and maintenance services in support government-owned ScanEagle unmanned aerial systems (UAS), including training courses ranging from system pilot training, maintenance and operations, mission coordinator and payload operator; multiple kits for sustainment, payload and engine module kits; and multiple spare parts for ScanEagle UAS. Work will be performed in Bingen, Wash., and is expected to be completed in May 2012.

➤ Boeing received a $61 million U.S. Air Force contract for two more C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) kits and two Aircrew Training System devices as part of a low-rate initial production contract that was awarded in 2010. Boeing said it is building two new C-130 AMP Aircrew Training System devices, a Weapon System Trainer and an Avionics Part Task Trainer. The training devices will be developed at supplier CAE USA’s Tampa, Fla., facility and delivered to the Arkansas Air National Guard C-130 AMP training center at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., in 2014.

➤ Becker Avionics, based in Miramar, Fla., will supply its DVCS6100 Digital Audio System for Fairfax County, Va., Police Helicopter Division’s new Bell 429s. The DVCS6100 manages all transceivers, receivers and audio warning sources in one central system and provides simulcast capabilities on eight channels. The main system components are the Remote Electronic Unit 6100, Audio Control Unit 6100 and optional Intercom Amplifier IC3100.

➤ Virgin Atlantic renewed multiple communication services contracts with ARINC, of Annapolis, Md., including comprehensive data link, voice and satellite services. Virgin Atlantic also renewed its contract for ARINC OpCenter message management, a hosted service, which offers carriers global delivery and access to Data Link messages.

➤ Fraport AG, the owner and manager of Frankfurt Airport, will upgrade its Sensis Corp. multilateration system to accommodate capacity expansion and growth at the airport. The multilateration system uses multiple low-maintenance, non-rotating sensors to triangulate aircraft locations based on transponder signals to provide air traffic controllers with precise aircraft position and identification information regardless of weather conditions. Frankfurt Airport was the industry’s first airport to select multilateration for surface surveillance, awarding Sensis a contract back in 1999. Since then, the Sensis system has been expanded or altered several times to meet FRA’s changing geographic and traffic requirements.

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