Regional Scan: North America

By by Woodrow Bellamy III | March 7, 2014
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Raytheon Names Kennedy New CEO

Thomas Kennedy.
Courtesy of Raytheon

Raytheon has named Thomas Kennedy as its new CEO, to follow William Swanson who steps down from the post March 31, 2014.

Swanson has served as Raytheon’s CEO since 2003 and will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors during the leadership change. Kennedy will take over the fourth largest defense contractor in the U.S. within a reduced defense-spending environment that has forced other large aerospace and defense contractors such as BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins to expand their commercial offerings.

In October, the company reported that its third-quarter profit fell by 2.8 percent due to U.S. government spending cuts known as sequestration.

Why the US Is Behind in ‘Commercial Drone Boom’

While the FAA made a significant advancement in the integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) for commercial with the announcement of six testing sites, manufacturers and industry experts believe the nation is lagging behind other countries in taking advantage of this new technology. The blame is put on a lack of regulatory development and market-stunting privacy concerns, according to witnesses who testified during a Senate transportation committee hearing about UAS integration.

Companies are looking to use UAS commercially now for surveillance, crop-dusting, aerial photography and filmmaking, among other uses, but they face regulatory limitations. Currently, for the commercial use of UAS, the FAA only issues Certificates of Authorization to public agencies. Experts such as Missy Cummings, the director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, says that this type of regulation is limiting the nation’s ability to reap the economic benefits of UAS technology.

“While I applaud the FAA’s recent, but very late, naming of its six Unmanned Aerial System test sites I, like most experts in this field, agree that it is unlikely that the FAA will meet its charge to open our national airspace to drones by 2015,” said Cummings.

New Option for NextGen Avionics Financing

FreeFlight System’s RANGR 978 ADS-B solution. Courtesy of FreeFlight Systems.

General Aviation (GA) pilots and operators received increased access to financing options for upgrading their aircraft with avionics mandated by the FAA’s NextGen airspace modernization program with a new partnership between NextGen GA Fund and the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA).

NextGen GA Fund, a public-private partnership between the U.S. Congress, the aerospace industry and the private-sector investment community, provides federal loan guarantees for stipulated equipage families to include WAAS-capable GPS, ADS-B In, ADS-B Out, RNAV/RNP avionics, flat panel displays, antennas, and installation and certification costs. AEA’s new partnership provides its member repair stations with a special web portal giving them the ability to quickly and seamlessly refer customers to the NextGen GA Fund as a financing alternative.

Universal Avionics Falcon 900B Flight Deck Ready for Service Entry

The Universal Avionics Dassault Falcon 900B flight deck upgrade is ready to enter service after the company’s partner Duncan Aviation completed two aircraft equipped with the upgrade

Included with the EFI-890R upgrade are capabilities such as Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) and Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC).

Astronics to Acquire EADS T&S

Astronics Corp., has acquired EADS North America’s Test and Services (EADS T&S) unit for $53 million. EADS T&S provides engineered Automatic Test Systems (ATS), subsystems and instruments for commercial aerospace and defense operators.

Peter Gundermann, CEO of Astronics, said the purchase would allow his company to take advantage of EADS T&S’s expansion as a commercial aerospace supplier, a challenge that Astronics has not been as effective at tackling during the recent significant reduction in defense spending in the U.S. and abroad.

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