Editor's Note

Industry Scan

By Joe Milroy | August 1, 2011
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Grizzle Tapped for ATO

FAA’s Chief Counsel David Grizzle has been tapped to lead the agency’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO), Administrator Randy Babbitt announced July 7. Grizzle will replace Hank Krakowski, who stepped down from the chief operating officer spot following a series of high-profile incidents involving air traffic controllers sleeping while on duty.

“David is committed to transparency, accountability and to building a safety culture that encourages collaboration. I am thrilled that he has agreed to accept this critical responsibility,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

Grizzle, who became FAA’s chief counsel in 2009, has been filling the role of chief operating officer since mid-April. Before joining FAA, he worked with Continental Airlines and its affiliates for 22 years.

“David Grizzle has proven to be a strategic thinker and a strong manager as both chief counsel and acting COO for the FAA. He’s been sensitive to the priorities and concerns for the business aviation community, and he understands the industry’s important role in our air nation’s transportation system,” Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association, said following the announcement.


FCC Studies LightSquared

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could rule this month on whether to allow LightSquared to deploy its high-speed broadband communications system, after the agency investigates any potential interference the system may cause to the GPS network.

An FCC-mandated GPS Working Group submitted its report on July 1 on the LightSquared system’s potential for GPS interference, triggering a 30-day comment period. After that, FCC will begin a two-week period of responses to the comments, after which time the agency could issue its ruling.

The Technical Working Group’s (TWG) report said there are no satisfactory fixes to the interference effects that can work across the broad range of GPS receiver designs and applications areas. “The TWG faced an extraordinary challenge of trying to determine if the laws of physics would allow the high-power LightSquared signals to co-exist in adjacent radio spectrum with the low-power satellite signals of GPS over and above the complex regulatory challenges of managing spectrum sharing,” said Charles R. Trimble, chairman of the U.S. GPS Industry Council and co-chairman of the TWG. “In the end, the laws of physics won out.” 

LightSquared is building a wireless broadband network that promises to bring high-speed Internet service to more areas of the United States, adding competition to the market. By 2015, LightSquared said it expects to cover at least 260 million Americans with its wireless broadband network.

However, opponents of the system, which integrates satellite and terrestrial technology, say its high-powered broadband signal will overpower the GPS navigation functions. Companies and industry groups, including the Experimental Aircraft Owners Association, Garmin, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and FedEx, have all come out strongly opposed to the LightSquared system, saying the system would cause serious harm to their business and the economy. “With so much of the early evidence showing that LightSquared’s proposed network would potentially endanger nearly every flight operating in the U.S. airspace, it seems evident that no further development of this system be allowed,” Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association President and CEO Craig Fuller told a congressional panel.

Others are concerned the system could stall the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) modernization effort.

Astronautics Debuts EFB

Astronautics Corporation of America unveiled a new Class 3 electronic flight bag, NEXIS Flight Intelligence system, adding new software capabilities and software improvements to its line of systems. The company released the product in June at the Paris Air Show.

The system uses an Intel Core i7 Processor, with a solid-state hard drive and 4GB of RAM. It is an avionics-grade, DO-160F-certifyable system, according to Eyton Zelazo, business development at Astronautics.

Zelazo told Avionics Magazine the company hopes to receive the supplemental type certification for the A320 by the end of the year, and more STCs on other airframes, including the Boeing 737, as customers demand it. Installations on 35 aircraft for the unnamed U.S. launch customer will begin in the first quarter 2012, Zelazo said.

The EFB was designed for either a window or panel mount installation. It has a Linux operating system and is qualified to host a range of certified applications, including the ACSS SafeRoute suite of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) applications.

Other applications provided with the NEXIS include Enroute moving map with own-ship position, developed in conjunction with L-3 Avionics Systems, that utilize Jeppesen, LIDO or NAVTECH databases. In addition, Astronautics said it will offer document readers, specific aircraft performance applications, as well as airline generated non-certified applications.

Saab to Acquire Sensis

Defense and security company Saab AB on June 29 announced a definitive agreement to acquire Sensis Corp., of Syracuse, N.Y., a provider of air traffic management (ATM) systems and surveillance technologies, for $155 million.

The companies said the acquisition will “strengthens Saab’s existing offer within radar, sensors, ATM, and defense solutions and establishes a stronger market presence globally as well as in the U.S. The acquisition provides a growth platform from which Saab can build on the combined installed base and skills in systems engineering, design and integration. Sensis customers and partners will benefit from Saab’s product portfolio and global support operations.”

Sensis will continue operations in the United States as a subsidiary within the Saab Group.

“This acquisition is in line with our ambition to focus on selected markets and grow our core business. Sensis has complementing product lines and is well-positioned on several key markets. By combining our product portfolios, we gain a stronger position and broaden our market offering,” said Hakan Buskhe, President and CEO, Saab AB.

The transaction is expected to be concluded in the third quarter of 2011.


ADS-B in North Sea

Rockwell Collins completed an evaluation to validate automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) out airworthiness requirements for helicopters operating over the North Sea, the company announced in June at the Paris Air Show.

The multi-year project, which included multiple helicopter operators, EASA, Eurocontrol and the Netherlands Civil Aviation Administration, consisted of flight tests using Rockwell Collins TDR-94D transponder and, in some instances, Rockwell Collins GPS-4000S GPS Sensor.

Based on the project’s results, Rockwell Collins and its collaborators proposed new ADS-B equipment configurations for helicopters to EASA and approval is expected later this year, the company said.

“The complexities of helicopter airframes require a different set of design and implementation criteria than fixed-wing aircraft,” said Claude Alber, vice president and managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Rockwell Collins. “Knowing that GPS interference issues can arise due to the differences in aircraft attitudes during operations, helicopter airframes, engines and rotor blades, creates the need to evaluate each platform independently in order to meet the ADS-B out operating requirements.”


SVS on Thales TopOwl

Thales is adding new capabilities to its TopOwl Helmet Mounted Sight Display (HMSD), the company said in June at the Paris Air Show.

Thales said it is offering what it calls an industry-first augmented reality function, which provides helicopter crews with synthetic vision information superimposed on the actual terrain vision. The 3-D Synthetic Vision System imaging (SVS) will give the crew a virtual representation of the world around the helicopter even in adverse weather, brownout or whiteout conditions, according to Thales. This new function has already been evaluated in flight.

“We leverage Thales expertise in Head-Up Displays for both passenger and fighter aircraft together with our experience in Helmet Mounted Sight Displays for helicopters to provide the market with crew-focused innovations,” said Yves Joannic, Thales vice president, helicopter avionics activities.

“The new SVS function, we believe, will represent a significant step forward in enabling safe helicopter piloting in all weather conditions.”

Thales said the TopOwl is operational on five major helicopter programs –– Tiger, NH90, Cobra AH-1Z, Huey UH-1Y and Rooivalk. An additional program, the T129, is in progress.

B-1 Modification Contract

Boeing in July was awarded a $99.5 million contract by the U.S. Air Force to integrate three major modifications on the B-1 Lancer bomber fleet. This contract is for the first lot of modification kits of a planned multi-lot production contract to upgrade the service’s B-1s.

The upgrades include delivery of kits with parts for the Vertical Situation Display Unit in the forward cockpit and for the Fully Integrated Data Link and the Central Integrated Test System in the aft cockpit. All three programs will be installed concurrently from late 2012 through 2019 in a single modification called the Integrated Battle Station.

“The Integrated Battle Station upgrades will provide B-1 bomber aircrews with a higher level of situational awareness and a faster secure digital communication link,” said Rick Greenwell, B-1 program director for Boeing. “This will enable the aircrews to perform at an even more effective level and will make the B-1 cockpit more reliable and supportable. Combining the separate upgrades into one production kit will enable us to deliver a more affordable upgraded aircraft to our customer in a timelier manner.”

The three upgrades are in various stages of final ground and flight tests in preparation for installation on the B-1 Lancer bomber fleet. The Vertical Situation Display Unit upgrades the B-1’s forward cockpit by replacing two unsupportable, monochrome pilot and co-pilot displays with four multi-functional color displays, giving the pilots more situational awareness data in a user-friendly format.

The B-1 Fully Integrated Data Link will give the aft cockpit new digital avionics including a Link 16 data link, which adds line-of-sight capability to the B-1’s existing beyond line-of-sight Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol (JREAP) data link, and integrates the JREAP data onto new, full-color displays with intuitive symbols and moving maps.

The Central Integrated Test System adds a new color display in the aft cockpit and replaces an obsolete computer that continuously monitors the aircraft’s performance. It also is used by ground support personnel to identify and troubleshoot B-1 system anomalies.


➤ Raytheon has been awarded a one-year, $24.7 million subcontract for support services of the ground station elements of the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Raytheon will provide field support services to the mission control and launch and recovery elements for 10 ground stations.
➤ Elbit Systems, of Haifa, Israel, was awarded a $15 million contract by Elettronica S.p.A to participate in a program to supply the ELT/572 Directed Infra-Red Countermeasures system for installation on various platforms of the Italian Air Force, including the C130J, C27J and AW101.
➤ Taiwan-based EVA Airways has selected Rockwell Collins’ Airshow 4200D 3-D Moving Map system for 36 of its aircraft, including three new Airbus A330s with first delivery later this year, and its fleet of 33 Airbus A330-200s, Boeing 777-300ERs and Boeing 747-400s.
➤ Esterline Control Systems, based in Sylmar, Calif., was selected by Embraer Defense and Security to supply the thrust control quadrant assembly for the KC-390 military transport/tanker program. Esterline will supply the thrust control quadrant assemblies, which allows the pilot to automatically control the engine thrust and aircraft speed.
➤Innovative Solutions & Support, of Exton, Pa., issued an EASA Supplemental Type Certificate for use of its Cockpit/IP Flat Panel Display System on B757-200 and B757-300.
➤ navAero was awarded an EASA STC for its tBag C22 Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag system on the Boeing 767-200, 767-300, 767-300F and 767-400ER Series.
➤ Jeppesen agreed to a five-year charting and flight planning service renewal with Ukraine International Airlines. Jeppesen will provide its Airway Manual digital charting services, including e-Link Online and e-Link for Windows. It also includes flight planning services and aircraft performance analysis.

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