Check out the May 30 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.




United Airlines Commits to Purchase of 15 Boom Supersonic Airliners 

United Airlines will acquire 15 supersonic airliners under a new deal with Boom Supersonic. Pictured here is a computer generated rendering of what United's future Overture aircraft could look like. (Boom Supersonic)

United Airlines made its second major next-generation air transportation investment of the year on Thursday, committing to a purchase of 15 supersonic aircraft being developed by Denver, Colorado-based Boom Supersonic.

Boom Supersonic, which first revealed plans about the supersonic demonstrator aircraft it was building back in 2016, will supply its Overture supersonic airliner under the agreement with United—which includes an option for another 35 aircraft. The supersonic purchase agreement comes several months after United made another major investment in future aircraft technology through a partnership with Archer Aviation for its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.



Heathrow Airport Integrates Sustainable Aviation Fuel into Distribution 

Heathrow Airport has begun integrating sustainable aviation fuels into its aircraft fuel distribution operations on a small number of flights per day. (Heathrow Airport)

Under a new partnership with Vitol Aviation and Newste MY Sustainalbe Aviation Fuel, Heathrow has begun integrating sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) into its aircraft fuel distribution operations, according to a June 3 press release.

The airport hopes to use the new integration as a proof of concept for future fuel distribution at the airport.

“Vitol Aviation’s expertise in the specialist handling of jet fuel will be combined with Neste’s market-leading SAF production capabilities. Neste MY SAF is produced 100% from renewable and sustainable waste and residue raw materials, such as used cooking oil and animal and fish fat waste. Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel in its neat form and over the life cycle, reduces up to 80%* of greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil jet fuel use,” according the release.

“The UK Government now has an opportunity to create a new British growth industry by backing sustainable aviation fuel production and also be leaders in the race to a net zero 2050,” Heathrow Chief Executive Officer, John Holland-Kaye said in the release. “Now is the time for less talk and more action and Ministers should set an escalating mandate to blend SAF into fuel and provide incentives that are stable over 5-10 years to foster investment in production, with a target of 10% by 2030 and at least 50% by 2050.”





Rolls Royce Starts Testing Powerful New Hybrid-Electric Propulsion System

Rolls Royce has established a new testbed for a new hybrid electric propulsion system being developed for next generation aircraft. (Rolls Royce)

Rolls-Royce has started testing the first elements of what the company describes as “the most powerful hybrid-electric aero power and propulsion system in aerospace at a newly-renovated testbed,” according to a June 3 press release.

“Rolls-Royce has begun testing the AE2100 engine element and specialist controls and thermal management system, supported by a system integration generator, at our Testbed 108 in Bristol, UK,” the company said in the release.

The tests are part of the 2.5 megawatt (MW) Power Generation System 1 (PGS1) demonstrator program, for future regional aircraft, according to Rolls Royce.

“Our PGS1 tests will lead the way in finding out what this new generation of hybrid-electric propulsion system is capable of delivering,” Alan Newby, Director Aerospace Technology and Future Programs, Rolls-Royce, said in the release. “For example, our generator is about the size of a beer keg but it needs to produce enough electricity to power around 2,500 homes and do so continuously. By doing these tests we will be able to validate our digital modeling and find out precisely what is physically and technically possible.”




EASA Proposes Use of New Technologies to Support All-Weather Operations

A new regulatory framework proposed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) applicable to all-wether operations (AWOs) and flight crew training would allow new technologies to make more medium-sexed airports accessible to more flight operations.

The concept of all-weather operations refers to the ability of aircraft to take off and land in an airport under low visibility conditions. In such circumstances, technological support can ensure safe operations in situations that would otherwise pose safety challenges, according to a June 1 EASA press release. While large aerodromes are, for the most part, already equipped for such operations, medium-size or regional airports had typically so far been unable to afford the investment required.

“This Opinion is innovative in certifying the use of technologies that are already available to increase safety, while at the same time broadening the commercial network by increasing the accessibility to medium-size airports and bringing environmental and cost advantages by reducing the number of diversions due to poor visibility,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said in the release.  “It takes a performance and risk-based approach to increase safety in a cost-effective way, taking advantage of technological innovations.”




Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit Goes Live June 8-10

The Global Connected Aircraft Summit has gone online for the second consecutive year as the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit, to be remotely hosted by editors of Avionics International and Via Satellite June 8-10. Speakers and panelists for the virtual event include Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink Commercial Sales for SpaceX, Victoria Stennes, VP of Customer Experience at Avelo and Tiina Suvanto, head of customer experience IFEC development at Finnair among others.

Register for the free event here.



Honeywell Rolls Out New JetWave Offering for Military Customers 


Honeywell Aerospace has unveiled expanded its JetWave product family of broadband satcom solutions with a new offering specifically designed for military and governmental aircraft. On June 2, the company announced the JetWave MCX. It is specifically designed for military or government aircraft and can be used for surveillance, combat, or humanitarian missions like search and rescue operations.

Honeywell’s satellite communications systems aims to provide operators, passengers and crew with reliable, consistent connectivity throughout the world. They serve a range of needs, including in-flight connectivity for voice and data-streaming in the cockpit and the cabin, as well as fleet tracking and aircraft management.

“With the release of JetWave MCX, we’ve built upon this success and further developed the technology to create a more customized solution that addresses the unique needs of military and defense customers,” John Peterson, vice president and general manager of Software and Services for Honeywell Aerospace said in a statement.







US State Department Approves $3.5 Billion Sale Of Apache Helicopters To Australia 

An AH-64E at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. (U.S. Army)

The State Department approved a potential $3.5 billion Foreign Military Sale of 29 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and associated equipment to Australia.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the sale on June 3.

This approval comes after Australia said in January it selected the Apache as its next armed reconnaissance helicopter to replace the country’s Airbus Tiger helicopters in a $3.5 billion deal.

The sale to Australia includes the 29 helicopters along with 64 T700-GE 701D engines (58 installed, six spares); 70 AN/ARC-231A Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency radios (58 installed, 12 spares); 85 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; 29 M36E8 Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles; and 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System Guidance Sections.

The sale also includes M230E1 + M139 AWS Automatic Guns; M261 Rocket Launchers; M299 missile launchers; 2.75 inch rockets; 30mm rounds; Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2 (MUMT-X) video receivers; MUMT-X Air-Air-Ground kits; and various other weapons as well as logistics and training support. 







Lockheed to Make Spacecraft for NASA Venus Missions

NASA has selected Lockheed Martin to build, design, and operate spacecraft for its missions to Venus, the company announced on June 2.

"We're very grateful for this opportunity to work with NASA and the missions' principal investigators to fully understand how rocky planets evolved and what it means for our planet, Earth," Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Commercial Civil Space business, said in a statement. "Our team who designed these two spacecraft to study Venus in unprecedented detail – and yield answers to its greatest mysteries – is beyond excited!"

The missions will take place in the 2028-2030 timeframe, according to the release. These missions will use VERITAS and DAVINCI+.






Astro Aerospace Acquisition of Horizon Aircraft Closes

The Cavorite X5 is a hybrid-electric VTOL with a patented fan-in-wing design. It can carry up to five passengers and has a 500 km range. It has a pusher prop in the back which is uses for thurst 90 percent of the time when flying, Robinson said. When taking off or landing, it can use the 16 fans hidden inside its wings. (Horizon Aircraft)

Astro Aerospace, a developer of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has closed its acquisition of Horizon Aircraft, the maker of the Cavorite X5 eVTOL, according to a June 3 release.

The acquisition gives Astro Aerospace three eVTOL aircraft under development across commercial and industrial applications which include Alta, Elroy, and now Cavorite X5, according to the release.

The announcement also states that Brandon Robinson, the co-founder and CEO of Horizon Aircraft, will now be the president of Astro Aerospace.

"This completed Acquisition is a huge opportunity for both companies' eVTOL projects to progress exponentially,” Robinson said. “Astro's respected industry reputation and available funding, together with Horizon's engineering and design talent, will complement Astro's existing product lines, ALTA and ELROY, and will accelerate the development of Horizon's revolutionary eVTOL, the Cavorite X5."



Joby Moves Forward on eVTOL Infrastructure with New Partnership to Build Skyports

Joby Aviation has secured an infrastructure partner to develop takeoff and landing sites for its aircraft—pictured in flight here—in REEF Technology. (Joby Aviation)

Joby Aviation announced a new partnership that will give the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft maker exclusive access to rooftop infrastructure in key metropolitan areas in the U.S. to build skyports for its aircraft, the company announced in a June 2 press release.

Joby is partnering with parking garage operator, REEF Technology, and real estate company, Neighborhood Property Group (NPG) to build skyport infrastructure for its aircraft, according to the release.

“This is a landmark deal on Joby’s path to building a transformational ridesharing service in our skies,” JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby Aviation, said in the release. “NPG and REEF have an unbeatable network of sites across the U.S., and we’re excited to be working with them to identify sites that will become the backbone of our future service. Parking structures are ideal locations for us as they allow us to deliver our customers as close to their destination as possible, while minimizing any local impact and reducing the need for building new infrastructure.”





FAA Asks for Budget Increase for Unmanned Traffic, Sustainability and Safety Oversight 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requesting a budget increase for fiscal year (FY) 2022 as it seeks to update its air traffic control system, make investments in safety and next-generation systems, and address the impact of aviation on climate change.

The budget request was released on May 28 and totals $18.5 billion, a 2.7 percent increase from FY 2021, with $11.4 billion for safety operations including $17.4 million for aviation safety oversight, $1 billion to update FAA facilities including the air traffic control system, and $88.5 million to reduce the impact of climate change including a new aviation climate research program.

“This funding level allows the FAA to make continued investments to safeguard the most complex airspace in the world,” the budget request states. “It also allows the FAA to future proof the nation’s airspace by continuing the deployment of NextGen technologies as well as safely and securely integrating new entrants such as unmanned aircraft systems and commercial space. In addition, the budget request supports our ongoing efforts to address the impacts aviation has on our environment and climate by overcoming barriers to the development of sustainable aviation fuels and accelerating the maturation of technologies to reduce noise, emissions and fuel burn from new commercial aircraft and engines.”



FAA to Host Episodes III and IV Virtual FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium

The Federal Aviation Administration is hosting Episodes III and IV of their virtual FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium this week. The theme for this year’s event is “Above and Beyond” and it will all be hosted remotely on June 9-10, 2021 and Sept. 14-15, 2021.

Episode III keynote speakers:

  • FAA Administrator, Steve Dickson
  • FAA Office of UAS Integration, Executive Director, Jay Merkle
  • AUVSI President and CEO, Brian Wynne

Episode III (June 9-10) sessions will focus on:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education
  • International standards
  • Public safety operations
  • Recreational community
  • Commercial operations

Register for the virtual symposium here.



Skyports and Hanwha Sign MoU

During a project in Scotland, Skyports worked with Kongsberg Geospatial to enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights. (Skyports)

Skyports, the drone delivery company, and Hanwha Systems, the global smart technologies company, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on urban air mobility projects like infrastructure, flight services and a mobility platform, according to a June 3 release.

“Hanwha Systems’ wealth of experience providing smart technology solutions across the aerospace industry make them an important partner for us to advance our vertiport capabilities,” Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, said in a statement. “Their solutions-focused, customer-first approach is highly aligned with Skyports’ own values. We look forward to developing this partnership which will shape our own vertiport offering and enable the wider industry.”


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