What’s Trending in Aerospace – December 6, 2020

By Staff Writer | December 6, 2020
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Check out the Dec. 6 edition of What's Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines happening across the global aerospace industry.



Ryanair Places New Order for 75 More 737 MAX Jets

Ryanair placed a new order for Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft. (Boeing)

Ryanair, one of the largest low cost airlines in Europe, has placed an order for 75 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The new order comes two weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the grounded MAX fleet for return to service in U.S. airspace.

"Ryanair's board and people are confident that our customers will love these new aircraft. Passengers will enjoy the new interiors, more generous leg room, lower fuel consumption and quieter noise performance. And, most of all, our customers will love the lower fares, which these aircraft will enable Ryanair to offer starting in 2021 and for the next decade, as Ryanair leads the recovery of Europe's aviation and tourism industries," said Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary.

O'Leary and Ryanair leaders joined the Boeing team for a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. Both companies acknowledged COVID-19's impacts on air traffic in the near-term, but expressed confidence in the resilience and strength of the passenger demand over the long term.

"As soon as the COVID-19 virus recedes – and it likely will in 2021 with the rollout of multiple effective vaccines – Ryanair and our partner airports across Europe will – with these environmentally efficient aircraft – rapidly restore flights and schedules, recover lost traffic and help the nations of Europe recover their tourism industries, and get young people back to work across the cities, beaches and ski resorts of the European Union," O'Leary said.

Honeywell Provides New Solution for “Smell-in-Cabin”

In clinical tests, Honeywell’s fourth-generation Combined Hydrocarbon Ozone Catalyst (CHOC4) has demonstrated its ability to remove undesirable "smell-in-cabin" events. (Honeywell Aerospace)

Honeywell introduced its fourth-generation Combined Hydrocarbon Ozone Catalyst (CHOC4) which is a new catalyst designed to eliminate “smell-in-cabin” events or volatile organic compounds (VCOs) in “bleed air,” according to a Dec. 1 press release.

VCOs enter the cabin from the engines and auxiliary power units for air-conditioning and pressurization. The air can contain VCOs because of fumes or particles from jet fuel, hydraulic oils or deicing fluid and causes unwanted odors in the cabin, according to the release.

“Severe smell-in-cabin incidents can cost airlines up to $50 million per year in flight disruptions and unscheduled maintenance,” said Tom Hart, vice president and general manager, air and thermal systems at Honeywell Aerospace. “CHOC4 reduces VOCs from the engines and bleed air supply, thereby reducing the severity and frequency of these incidents.”



ThinKom Supplies Antennas to GDC Technics for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation IFC

ThinKom Solutions is supplying its ThinAir Ka2517 aero satellite antennas to GDC Technics, the company revealed in a Dec. 4 press release. The Ka2517 antenna will be used to enable Inmarsat’s GX Aviation broadband satellite in-flight connectivity (IFC) solutions, including the new GX+ North American IFC service announced by Inmarsat and Hughes Network Systems earlier this year.

The Ka2517 antenna is based on ThinKom’s Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Stub (VICTS) technology. VICTS antennas have been used for 18 million operational hours on more than 1,550 commercial aircraft.

GDC’s next-generation IFC terminals with ThinKom’s antennas have received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) on Boeing 737-700 aircraft. GDC has planned for more STCs in early 2021 for the Airbus A320 family, additional 737 models, and Boeing 787/777 aircraft.

“The Ka2517 antenna fully complies with new regulatory requirements, including WRC-19 EISM and ITU Article 22, ensuring non-interference with terrestrial 5G cellular networks or with Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellites when being used on Non-Geostationary Orbit (NGSO networks),” said Bill Milroy, chairman and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of ThinKom Solutions. “It also offers the switching speeds and agility to interoperate seamlessly with new multi-layered GEO, Highly-Elliptical Orbit (HEO) and NGSO satellite networks.”


Gogo Offers New Vision 360 as IFE Upgrade

Gogo Business Aviation and FlightPath3D partnered to provide a 3D streaming map. (FlightPath3D)

Gogo released a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) upgrade for business aviation, Gogo Vision 360, which offers unlimited streaming of on-demand movies, TV, news, digital magazines, and a new 3D moving map, according to a Dec. 2 press release. Gogo Vision 360 is available with an AVANCE 4.2 software upgrade and comes in three package options and price ranges.

"Gogo Vision has become an essential part of the inflight experience for many of our passengers and operators," Sergio Aguirre, Gogo's president, said in a press statement. "Passengers want to be productive during their flights, but they also need downtime. The addition of a new 3D moving map will provide a new interactive experience for passengers that we're excited to offer. Vision 360 is an important next step in our commitment to deliver the best in-flight connectivity and entertainment experience to business aviation."

The 3D moving map is a partnership with FlightPath3D that offers an interactive experience with high-resolution satellite imagery, according to the release. It provides information about landmarks and attractions while showing real-time flight data like ground speed, altitude, and heading.

Gogo Vision 360 automatically updates every month through Gogo Cloudport or Gogo Cloud locations.



Spanish Air Force Receives MQ-9A Block 5 RPA & GCS

The Spanish Air Force (SpAF) received the final two MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and a Ground Control Station (GCS) on Nov. 23 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI). (Spanish Air Force)

The Spanish Air Force (SpAF) received the final two MQ-9A Block 5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and a Ground Control Station (GCS) on Nov. 23 from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), according to a Nov. 30 press release. The program is the first MQ-9A Block 5 acquisition by an international partner.

The MQ-9A Block 5 received an Airworthiness Military Type Certificate after completing acceptance test procedures (ATP) at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Operations Facility before being delivered to the SpAF. This marks the first time Spain has issued an Airworthiness Military Type Certificate for the MQ-9A Block 5, according to the release.

“We are proud of our partnership with the Spanish Air Force,” Tommy Dunehew, vice president of International Strategic Development for GA-ASI, said in a press statement. “We appreciate the confidence the Spanish authorities have shown in the MQ-9 by issuing this type certificate and we look forward to seeing the system successfully operate in support of the country´s national Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) requirements.”

The delivery completes the Foreign Military Sales acquisition between the U.S. and Spain for four aircraft and three GCSs, according to the release.


DoD Releases RFI for Gray Eagle AISR Payloads

The MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV (General Atomics Photo)

The Department of Defense (DoD) released a Request for Information (RFI) for industry sources for Aerial Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (AISR) payloads for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) platform made by General Atomics for the Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) environment.

AISR payloads for the Gray Eagle include synthetic aperture radar (SAR), moving target indicator (MTI), electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), air launched effects (ALE), and radar warning receiver (RWR), according to the contract opportunity.

The contract opportunity also provided information about Gray Eagle’s concept of operations (CONOPS) within JADO stating the UASs need to fly in an integrated air defense systems (IDAS)-rich environment while delivering sensing capabilities. According to the RFI, the Gray Eagle flies racetrack patterns tangential to the IADS threat with a range of 80 km.


FLIR Acquires Small Drone Manufacturer Altavian

Altavian's ION M440 small quadcopter UAS. (FLIR Systems)

Adding to its existing portfolio of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), FLIR Systems Inc. [FLIR] has acquired Altavian Inc., a developer and manufacturer of small fixed-wing and quadcopter drones.

The acquisition also gives FLIR a spot on the Defense Department’s Blue sUAS program, which was created to provide trusted suppliers of small drones for military and federal agencies to acquire as the federal government turns away from purchasing the ubiquitous commercial drones manufactured by China’s DJI.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Altavian is based in Gainesville, Fla., and has more than 40 employees. The company manufactures Group 1 UAS, which typically weigh less than 20 pounds.

FLIR, through several acquisitions dating back to 2016, has carved out positions in small UAS and unmanned ground robotic vehicles. In the small UAS space, the company offers the palm-sized Black Hornet nano-UAS, which looks like a miniature helicopter and is used by U.S. and allied militaries.

Check out the full story as first published in Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics International.

Air Taxi

EmbraerX Presents CONOPS for UAM in Australia

EmbraerX, a subsidiary of Embraer, released a concept of operations (CONOPS) for urban air mobility (UAM) in Melbourne, Australia using Airservices’, Australia’s civil air navigation service provider, sophisticated simulation technology, according to a Dec. 1 press release.

While EmbraerX completed the CONOPS, Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions, the new EmbraerX spin-off, will continue the partnership with Airservices to develop UAM solutions.

“This CONOPS proposes a safe method for allowing the UAM industry in Australia to scale,” David Rottblatt, project leader for EmbraerX’s Urban Air Traffic Management and appointed to be the future Vice President of Business Development for Eve, said. “Following this first critical step, we will start gathering feedback from industry stakeholders and the community to further inform how we can co-create this exciting future.”

The simulation uses Melbourne as a model for UAM in Australia to analyze how existing air traffic management can be utilized while also preparing for new technologies, according to the release. The use of Airservices simulation technology allows the CONOPS to have a scientific basis.


Business & GA

Universal Offers Free Trip Support Services for COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Flights

Universal Trip Support will be providing free trip feasibility and consulting services to general aviation operators classified as humanitarian COVID-19 vaccine delivery flights through June 30, 2021. (Universal)

Universal Trip Support will be providing free trip feasibility and consulting services to general aviation operators classified as humanitarian COVID-19 vaccine delivery flights through June 30, 2021 the Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. announced in a Dec. 2 press release.

Even if the mission does not end up flying, the fees will be waived on feasibility assessments, research, and consultation services for any private aircraft classified as a humanitarian COVID-19 vaccine delivery flight, according to the release.

“In the early months of the pandemic, the world needed PPE, masks and tests,” said Universal Chairman Greg Evans. “Many flight departments answered the call for help, and we were proud to donate our services in support of so many of those missions. Now that we have several approved vaccines, the business aviation industry will undoubtedly play an important role in helping deliver them where they are needed most. We want to use our expertise in global aviation restrictions and logistics to help ensure these life-saving missions can happen and are a success.”

Embedded Avionics

Abaco Health Toolkit Gets New Upgrade

Abaco Systems embedded systems health monitoring software suite is getting an upgrade, Health Toolkit 2.0. (Abaco Systems)

Abaco Systems embedded systems health monitoring software suite is getting an upgrade, Health Toolkit 2.0, according to a Dec. 2 press release. The new upgrade features enhance the systems capability and extensibility, provides integration with Abaco Deployed Test components, and offers a “Database connector” feature to subscribe and store health data.

Health Toolkit 2.0 collects voltage, temperature, memory usage, CPU/GPU/disk utilization, BIT and BIT information and publishes the data for analysis, according to the release.

“Interoperability is at the heart of Health toolkit’s core design: not only between HW in the same chassis but also between software at different layers,” John Muller, Chief Growth Officer at Abaco Systems, said in a press statement. “Furthermore, great attention has been given to the software portability across multiple future roadmap products. The concept of “adopt & enhance” not only preserves the same software quality across the product portfolio but speeds up the validation as well. From the R&D phase through deployment, Health Toolkit gives users the valuable information they need to make informed decisions quickly.”


Zephyr HAPS Completes Arizona Test Flight Campaign

During the flight, Zephyr completed take-off, climb, cruise, upgraded flight control, and descent phases. (Airbus)

Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) completed another successful test flight campaign during November in Arizona focusing on aircraft agility, control, and operations, according to a Dec. 3 press release. The campaign tested the Zephyr’s ability to fly at lower altitudes than previous test flights and included a new software control system and specific flight test instruments.

The test flight resulted in demonstrating a more resilient and capable aircraft, according to the release. During the flight, Zephyr completed take-off, climb, cruise, upgraded flight control, and descent phases.

“Having proven stratospheric flight, we continue to further mature the operational system with the objective to be more flexible and robust in order to meet our customer needs,” Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus, said in a press statement. “The outcome of this campaign is a valuable contribution to the full flight program next year.”

Zephyr is a solar-electric, stratospheric unmanned aerial system (UAS) that uses the sun's rays as solar power, according to the release. It used this ability during a July 2018 test flight where it flew in the stratosphere for almost 26 days claiming the longest flight duration an aircraft has ever made without refueling.

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