What’s Trending in Aerospace – March 7, 2021

By Staff Writer | March 7, 2021
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Check out the March 7 edition of What's Trending in Aerospace, where editors and contributors for Avionics International bring you some of the latest headlines and updates happening across the global aerospace industry.



Lufthansa Group to Shed 650 Aircraft by 2023 

Lufthansa Group plans on reducing its total in-service fleet by 650 aircraft over the next two years, the German airline said in its annual report published on March 4.

"Last year, the number of employees fell by around 28,000. In Germany, a further 10,000 jobs will be reduced or the corresponding personnel costs will have to be compensated. The Group fleet will be reduced to 650 aircraft in 2023," the airline says in the report.

Carsten Spohr, CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said the group is also considering whether all aircraft within its fleet that are 25 years or older will remain grounded permanently. Spohr expects passenger travel demand to start picking back up in the second half of 2021.

"From the summer onwards, we expect demand to pick up again as soon as restrictive travel limits are reduced by a further roll-out of tests and vaccines. We are prepared to offer up to 70 percent of our pre-crisis capacity again in the short term as demand increases," Spohr said.






NTSB Issues Investigative Update for United Airlines Flight 328 Engine Failure Event

The National Transportation Safety Board published an investigative update on the United Airlines 328 engine failure. (NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board published an investigative update Friday for its ongoing investigation of the Feb. 20, 2021, United Airlines Flight 328 engine failure.

UAL flight 328 experienced a failure of the right Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport, Denver. There were no injuries reported, and the airplane sustained minor damage, NTSB said in the release.

Facts gathered to date in the investigation, and provided in the update, include:

  • Initial examination of the right engine fire damage found it was primarily contained to the engine's accessory components, thrust reverser skin, and composite honeycomb structure of the inboard and outboard thrust reversers.
  • The spar valve, which stops fuel flow to the engine when the fire switch is pulled in the cockpit, was found closed – there was no evidence of a fuel-fed fire.
    Initial examination of the right engine fan revealed the spinner and spinner cap were in place and appeared undamaged.
  • All fan blade roots were in place in the fan hub, two blades were fractured.
  • One fan blade was fractured 7.5 inches above the base at the trailing edge. The fracture surface was consistent with fatigue.
  • The second fractured blade exhibited indications of overload failure, consistent with secondary damage.
    Initial review of maintenance and inspection data for the blade with the fatigue fracture, revealed it had experienced 2,979 cycles since its last inspection. This blade underwent thermal acoustic image inspections in 2014 and 2016. Inspection data collected from the 2016 inspection was examined again in 2018 because of a Feb. 13, 2018, incident involving a Boeing 777 with Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engines.

The full investigative update is available here​.


American Express Invests in Boom Supersonic 

A computer rendering of Overture, the $200 million supersonic airliner that Boom will use 3DExperience to digitally design. Photo: Boom Supersonic

American Express Ventures made a strategic investment in Boom Supersonic, the company announced in a March 4 press release. Boom is developing the supersonic commercial airliner Overture. 

"We're proud that Amex Ventures shares our commitment to making the world more accessible by bringing sustainable supersonic travel to passengers everywhere," Blake Scholl, Boom founder and CEO, said in a statement. "2021 is a pivotal year for Boom. As we prepare to fly our supersonic demonstrator, XB-1, we are also accelerating Overture development."

Overture will run on 100 percent sustainable fuel and have a 65 to 68 seat capacity, according to Boom. The company predicts it will begin commercial flights by 2029. 

"Boom is building a supersonic passenger aircraft that will make travel faster and more sustainable," Harshul Sanghi, Global Head of Amex Ventures, said in a statement. "Travel has been a key part of American Express' heritage and it remains an integral part of our Card Members' lifestyles. We are excited to support Boom's development and invest in the future of travel."


Europe and US Leadership Suspend Airbus-Boeing Tariffs

In a March 5 press statement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said a recent discussion with U.S. President Joe Biden lead to the two sides agreeing to suspend tariffs imposed in the ongoing Airbus and Boeing trade dispute for an initial period of four months.

"As a symbol of this fresh start, President Biden and I agreed to suspend all our tariffs imposed in the context of the Airbus-Boeing disputes, both on aircraft and non-aircraft products, for an initial period of 4 months," von der Leyen said in a pair of tweets acknowledging the call with Biden.

"We both committed to focus on resolving our aircraft disputes, based on the work our respective trade representatives," von der Leyen said in the press statement.




Air Taxi

Volocopter Raises €200M in Funding 

Volocopter expects to launch eVTOL operations in Singapore within the next three years. (Volocopter)

Urban Air Mobility (UAM) company Volocopter raised €200M in Series D funding, the company announced in a March 3 press release. 

“Volocopter is ahead of the curve in the UAM industry, and we have the achievements to prove it,” Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, said in a statement. “No other electric air taxi company has publicly performed as many flights in cities around the world, with full regulatory approval, as Volocopter has. Our VoloCity is the fifth generation of Volocopter aircraft and has a strong path to being the first certified electric air taxi for cities. Volocopter already has the extensive partnerships necessary to set up the UAM ecosystem for launching both our company and the industry into commercial operations. We are called the pioneers of UAM for a reason, and we plan to keep that title.”

The new funding brings Volocopter’s total raised capital to €322 million, according to the release. The funding will be used to advance the company’s air taxi certification and accelerate the launch of its first commercial routes.


Rolls Royce Electric Powered Test Aircraft Completes First Taxiing

Rolls Royce's Spirit of Innovation all-electric test aircraft is part of the ACCEL programme, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight. (Rolls Royce)

Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the first taxiing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ all-electric aircraft, the company said in a March 1 press release.

For the first time, the plane powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500hp [400kw] electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology, according to Rolls Royce. The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing. The first flight is planned for the Spring and when at full power the combination of electrical powertrain and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300mph.

Rolls Royce is using the aircraft as a research and development platform for next electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

"For the first time, the plane propelled itself forward using the power from an advanced battery and propulsion system that is ground-breaking in terms of electrical technology. This system and the capabilities being developed will help position Rolls-Royce as a technology leader offering power systems to the Urban Air Mobility market," Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said in a press statement.






BAE Systems Begins EPAWSS Production for F-15E Strike Eagles

BAE Systems has begun low-rate initial production of the company's Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) for Boeing F-15Es under a $58 million subcontract from Boeing.

BAE Systems said on March 2 that it has begun low-rate initial production of the company’s Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) for Boeing [BA] F-15Es under a $58 million subcontract from Boeing.

Last Dec. 31, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $189.2 million contract for “government furnished property repair as well as acquisition of Group A and B kits, support equipment, mod line standup, technical orders and interim contractor support efforts for the LRIP of the EPAWSS systems.”

The Air Force tasked Boeing with EPAWSS integration on the F-15E and BAE Systems with developing the system under a 2015 contract, and the service finished the first round of EPAWSS testing in 2019. EPAWSS is to replace the F-15’s Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) self-protection suite, a 1970s-era system which is “functionally obsolete” and costly to sustain, the Air Force has said.



Quad A Cancels 2021 Army Aviation Summit

The Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) said Thursday it has canceled this year’s Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit.

The in-person event was scheduled for April 21 to 23 in Nashville, Tenn. As recently as last week, the organization was still considering holding the event, saying it would make a final decision by March 8.

On Thursday, the association told exhibitors that the final decision was made after Army officials notified event organizers the service would not be able to support the conference based on a health risk assessment with the ongoing pandemic.

“We are cancelling the Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit based on this decision, as we depend on the Army for our key speakers and leader attendance, aircraft displays, and general attendance,” Ret. Maj, Gen. Jeff Schloesser, president of AAAA, said in a statement. “Be safe, be careful, and we hope to see you at future AAAA events as conditions allow.”





CoreAVI to Provide New Software for 11th Gen Intel Core Processors 

CoreAVI will be provided with access to technical data, Intel Airworthiness Evidence Package, and Functional Safety essential Design Package for the processor. (CoreAVI)

Core Avionics & Industrial Inc. (CoreAVI) announced new safety-critical software and hardware based on the 11th Gen Intel Core processor, the company announced in a March 2 press release. CoreAVI’s platform will provide safety-critical cockpit displays, mission computing, and safe autonomous systems. 

With this new software and hardware, customers will be able to achieve RTCA DO-178C and DO-254 DALA, ISO 26262 ASIL D and IEC 61508 SIL three safety certifications, according to the release. 

“We are excited to announce this partnership with Intel to bring to market a true safety critical compute and graphics platform based on Intel’s latest Core processor,” Dan Joncas, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at CoreAVI, said in a statement. “This partnership ensures that our customers are able to harness the full performance of Intel’s latest generation of graphics and compute processing capabilities coupled with rigorous safety certification that spans multiple markets and applications.”

Through Intel and CoreAVI’s partnership, CoreAVI will be provided with access to technical data, Intel Airworthiness Evidence Package, and Functional Safety essential Design Package for the processor, according to the release. 

“Avionics applications continue to demand the highest levels of performance and safety capabilities that are being met more frequently with multi-core processors,“ Tony Franklin, General Manager of Federal and Aerospace IoT Markets at Intel Corporation, said in a statement.  “With our 11th Gen Core processor, we provide compelling compute performance together with the Intel Airworthiness Evidence Package, which provides safety artifacts to enable and simplify the certification of safety-critical avionics systems.”



Business & GA

Gulfstream G280 Meets FAA’s Stage 5 Noise Standards 

A Gulfstream G280. (Gulfstream)

Gulfstream’s G280 has met the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new Stage 5 standards for noise limits for subsonic aircraft, the company announced in a March 4 press release. 

“The Gulfstream team continues its commitment to the future of the G280 program, ensuring adherence to the most stringent standards, whether for safety, performance or noise emissions,” Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream, said in a statement. “Aircraft noise abatement goals are vital to ensuring the livelihood of the aviation and aerospace industries and demonstrating our efforts to be good neighbors to those who live or work near airfields, airports or flight paths.”








SpaceX Gets Closer to Global Coverage with 20th Starlink Satellite Launch

SpaceX successfully launched another 60 Starlink satellites on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center early Thursday. This is the 20th batch of satellites that SpaceX has put into orbit since the project began and the 5th successful launch since the beginning of the year.

This particular mission, designated “Starlink L17,” was supposed to be the 17th Starlink launch, but was pushed back behind its scheduled 18th and 19th launches due to weather issues and delays associated with its droneship recovery system. This was SpaceX’s third attempt at launching Starlink L17, after two delays in February.

The new satellites will join now more than 1,000 Starlink satellites operating in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). While SpaceX said that it could provide global coverage with about 1,200 satellites, the company plans to launch up to 30,000 satellites for the complete constellation. SpaceX Founder Elon Musk said he hopes to take the Starlink business public once the company has enough subscribers to push it into positive cash flow territory.


Telesat Reports Full-Year Revenue Decline, Forecasts $356B Addressable Market with Lightspeed

Telesat headquarters in Ottawa, Canada.

Telesat reported its 2020 financial results on Thursday, with a 10 percent decline in revenue compared to the prior year, and forecasted a $356 billion total addressable market (TAM) for its business in the future with the Lightspeed constellation.

For the year, Telesat reported consolidated revenue of $820 million Canadian dollars ($648 million). The company cited a variety of factors that contributed to the revenue decrease, but CEO Dan Goldberg said on Thursday’s investor call that roughly 60% of the decline was due to the non-renewal of North American Direct-to-Home (DTH) customer Shaw Direct and the completion the amortization of WildBlue prepayment. Other factors include lower revenue on short-term services provided to other satellite operators and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Telesat customers serving aeronautical and maritime markets.





Wavestream IFC Transceiver Earns DO-160G Certification from Global Eagle

Wavestream’s In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) high-power transceiver, the AeroStream 40Ku, has been successfully tested by Global Eagle Entertainment, achieving DO-160G certification. Wavestream is a subsidiary of Gilat Satellite Networks, which announced Wednesday that production units are planned to be shipped for usage in commercial aircraft, starting in the second quarter of 2021.

Wavestream’s AeroStream 40Ku transceiver is designed for high reliability, with a field-reported mean time before failure of greater than 30,000 flight hours. Wavestream said the high-power transceiver incorporates Gallium Nitride technology and enables more return bandwidth from the plane back to the satellite than previous generations.

Mike Pigott, executive vice president of Connectivity at Global Eagle said this certification extends the company’s lead in Ku-band IFC. “Wavestream ensured that the unit is both backwards compatible with traditional modems and is future-proof to operate with the next generation of satellite modem technologies,” he commented.

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