5G Providers Agree to Delay Launch

AT&T and Verizon announced they are delaying the rollout of 5G in some towers that are located near certain airports. The delay of the rollout, which was scheduled for Wednesday, January 19, 2022, is the result of concerns and warnings of “dire consequences” for air transport.

5G providers like AT&T are working with aviation industry groups and the FAA to gather more information before initiating those select locations near airports. But AT&T said in a statement, “We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner.” AT&T says they are “voluntarily” limiting their 5G network around airports.

Verizon is also limiting their rollout and also calling out the FAA. “The FAA and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40other countries.

Those two companies say they will continue on with their launches everywhere else. Meanwhile, the White House says they are working on a solution to these concerns that could lead to major delays for the airlines if the rollout proceeded. FAA, FCC (Federal Communications Commission), airlines and OEM manufacturers are working to find a way to proceed safely.

Numerous airlines sent a letter to the White House at the beginning of the week urging intervention saying 1,000 flights a day could be impacted due to “interference with radar altimeters” used in IFR landings. The 5G providers say the concerns are unfounded and that there were no problems in other countries that have already launched the service.

IS&S Mourns Death of Chairman & CEO Geoff Hedrick

Innovative Solutions & Support reports that their founder, Geoff Hedrick died. “It is with great sadness that we announce that Geoffrey S. M. Hedrick, our founder, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, has passed away due to complications from a sudden illness. The entire IS&S family mourns this tragic loss. He will be sorely missed,” said a statement released by the company.

Glen R. Bressner, the vice chairman of the board of directors of IS&S, added: “On behalf of our Board of Directors, management team, and employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Hedrick’s wife, daughter and loved ones. We will miss the creativity, keen intellect and leadership Geoff has shown over the past several decades.” IS&S said Hedrick spent his entire professional career in the avionics industry. Following his electrical engineering education at Cornell he worked briefly in the aviation instrument subsidiary of Bulova. In 1971, Hedrick founded Harowe Systems, Inc. as a joint venture with another company in aerospace hardware. By 1978, Harowe Systems had grown substantially and was spun out and acquired by Smiths Industries. He continued to run Harowe and later served as president and CEO of Smiths Industries North American Aerospace Companies. In 1988, he founded IS&S where he served as chairman and CEO. During the course of his career in avionics, Hedrick held nearly 100 patents in the electronics, optoelectric, electromagnetic, aerospace and contamination-control fields.

Aptiv Announces the Acquisition of Wind River

Aptiv has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Wind River from TPG Capital, the private equity platform of global alternative asset management firm TPG, for $4.3 billion in cash.

Wind River is maker of software for the intelligent edge. Used on more than two billion edge devices across more than 1,700 customers globally, Wind River’s software enables the secure development, deployment, operations and servicing of mission-critical intelligent systems. This edge-to-cloud software portfolio spans the aerospace and defense, telecommunications, industrial and automotive markets and is anchored by Wind River Studio, a highly versatile, comprehensive cloud-native intelligent systems software platform that enables full product lifecycle management for edge-to-cloud use cases. Wind River generated approximately $400 million in revenues in 2021.

“The automotive industry is undergoing its largest transformation in over a century, as connected, software-defined vehicles increasingly become critical elements of the broader intelligent ecosystem,” said Kevin Clark, president and chief executive officer of Aptiv. “Fully capitalizing on this opportunity requires comprehensive solutions that enable software to be developed faster, deployed seamlessly and optimized throughout the vehicle lifecycle by leveraging data-driven insights. These same needs are driving the growth of the intelligent edge across multiple end markets. With Aptiv and Wind River’s synergistic technologies and decades of experience delivering safety-critical systems, we will accelerate this journey to a software-defined future of the automotive industry. In addition, we are committed to further strengthening Wind River’s competitive position in the multiple industries it serves. We look forward to welcoming the world class Wind River team to the Aptiv family as we continue to develop a safer, greener and more connected world.”    

“Wind River has established itself as a worldwide leader in cloud-native, intelligent edge software that delivers the highest levels of security, safety, reliability and performance,” said Kevin Dallas, president and chief executive officer of Wind River. “Combining Wind River’s industry-leading software, customer base and talent with Aptiv’s complementary technologies, global resources and scale will realize our vision of the new machine economy. Together we will accelerate the digital transformation of our customers across industries through best-in-class intelligent systems software. We look forward to working with the Aptiv team to reach even greater heights and provide further growth opportunities for our customers and partners.”

“It has been a privilege to partner with Kevin Dallas and the management team to transform Wind River into a leader in the intelligent systems market,” said Nehal Raj, co-managing partner, and Art Heidrich, principal at TPG Capital. “The mission-critical industries they serve are digitally transforming at a rapid pace, and we see significant opportunity ahead as companies look to adopt innovative software solutions that allow them to leverage data to make better and faster decisions. We are excited to see what Wind River and Aptiv will accomplish together.”

Aptiv says the acquisition allows them to execute against the large software-defined mobility opportunity and expand into multiple high-value industries with Wind River’s team and leading intelligent systems software platform. “The combination will enable multiple end-use innovations and applications, particularly as compute and processing continue to move closer to the edge and connected devices, including vehicles, expand in complexity and capabilities,” a press release says. Led by Kevin Dallas, Wind River will continue to operate as a stand-alone business within Aptiv as part of the Advanced Safety & User Experience (AS&UX) segment.

Vistair’s Leadership Team Evolves to Meet Growth

Vistair, a provider of content, safety and data management solutions to the aviation industry, has opened 2022 with a number of leadership promotions to support their ongoing growth. Ian Herbert, one of the two founders, will move from his role as CEO to vice chairman, taking on a more strategic advisory role. Rob Morgan, former chief financial officer (CFO) will become CEO effective at the beginning of January 2022.

Ian Herbert

Since forming Vistair in 2001, “Herbert has steered the company and played a key role in its success and helping the company to secure its market-leading position through best-in-class capability and service,” the company says.

“It has been a tremendous honour to serve as the CEO of Vistair since founding the company, and I am incredibly proud of everything our team has accomplished together in the last 20 years,” Ian Herbert, vice chairman at Vistair said. “As Vistair continues to develop and grow at such a rapid pace, I feel that this is the right time for me to step back from day-to-day operations and play a more strategic role as we build on our strengths and embrace the new opportunities that lie ahead of us. Over the last five years, Rob has worked closely with me and my fellow founder David Hedley, helping to grow Vistair’s capabilities and teams to proactively support our global partner base. Rob has been so much part of what I have been doing that it will be a very easy and seamless transition for Vistair. I cannot imagine anyone better than Rob to take over the role of CEO and I am very confident in the future of Vistair under his leadership.”

David Hedley will transition from his current role of chief technology officer (CTO) to the role of chief innovation officer. This will allow him to devote more time to ensuring that DocuNet remains at the cutting edge and delivering other high-impact technologies for Vistair’s partners. Wayne Enis will move into the CTO role, taking on Vistair’s Technology function as well as leading the Professional Services teams.

Johnny Bray will succeed Morgan in the role of CFO.

I have worked with Ian and Vistair from its birth in 2001, and the Vistair team have built a hugely well-deserved market reputation for innovation and service excellence. It has been very rewarding to see the team grow and flourish, our solutions continue to evolve, and the relationships with our partners continue to deepen and expand,” Rob Morgan commented. “Both Wayne and Johnny have had a hugely positive impact across our business, and will play important roles ensuring Vistair continues to deliver success for our partners within ever changing markets. It is great that David and Ian, the two founders of the business and architects of Vistair’s culture, will help and support me to build on the success to date.”

AGCO Agrees to Acquire Appareo Systems

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company announced an agreement to acquire Appareo Systems, a leader in software engineering, hardware development and electronic manufacturing. The acquisition is expected to close in January 2022.

Appareo, based in Fargo, North Dakota, specializes in the research, development, design, and manufacture of tangible technology that utilizes A.I., mechatronics, and innovative electronics. The solutions Appareo has delivered are focused on communication, monitoring, sensing, tracking and controlling devices and systems used in the agricultural and aviation industries as well as other off-road businesses.

“Appareo has developed a world-class organization with exceptional capabilities to solve highly complex customer problems in emerging technology areas,” said Eric Hansotia, AGCO’s chairman, president and CEO. “We see Appareo as a great addition to support delivering high quality, smart solutions to our farmers to maximize both their user experience and profitability. The addition of Appareo enhances our portfolio and talent as we execute our strategy to provide advanced technology solutions to farmers around the world.” AGCO intends to retain the Appareo team and maintain its operations in Fargo, North Dakota and Paris, France.

The FAA’s 5G Guidance Took the U. S. by Surprise—and Europe

By: Steffen Ring

Global 5G standards help speed next generation wireless network rollout; altimeter makers should consider coordination and publishing their technical standards. 

The November 2 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bulletin that 5G transmissions in the 3.7-3.98 MHz band could potentially interfere with flight systems (altimeters) in the 4.2-4.4 MHz band took the European telecom and aviation sectors by surprise. The FAA took this action in conflict with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the expert U.S. telecom regulator that studied this issues and designed the rules for 5G deployment in this band. European mobile operators are already using 5G in the same band without reported interference to aviation. Now European regulators must study a problem they did not have before. Had altimeter standards been public, a high school student could assess the compatibility between the highly standardized 5G system and flight systems. To resolve the matter quickly, altimeter makers must publish their product specifications and provide all of the testing data being used to support its position.  A mutual consultation might have mitigated this rift across the pond and an expensive and unnecessary delay in the rollout of 5G in the C-band. 

While Europe has not experienced flight interference from 5G, the FAA’s bulletin has stoked fear. As a result, the European Communications Committee (ECC) and European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications (CEPT) decided to issue an official report and address the aviation systems manufacturers and the European Commission with a view to get the most recent updates of altimeter specifications such that ECC spectrum engineers can investigate the US matter. Fortunately, European 5G systems in the C-band behave exactly as they do in the US because 5G is standardized globally through the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

Transatlantic Cooperation and Standardization of Aeronautical Devices is needed

Ten years ago, the EU and US signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on the telecommunications sector. The MRA facilitates industry and authorities to recognize and approve technical parameters and measurement results developed by each other’s laboratories. This has helped to speed technology trust building and expedite regulatory measures on both sides of the Atlantic. We should push for an MRA on the aeronautical electronics sector to obtain much faster and more credible exchange of vital engineering parameters and a smooth resolution of conflicts.

The de jure standards for mobile wireless technologies are powerfully developed and promoted through 3GPP, where the technology experts from around the world come together to write the technical specifications for new products and services. The US is in 3GPP represented by the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS); Europe by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). 3GPP is open for anyone to find the technical specifications for 5G and assess potential interference scenarios with 5G involved.  Had we had similar official technical standards for altimeters, this situation with alleged unknown device characteristics and the subsequently raised potential flight safety issues could have been resolved very fast—or perhaps avoided all together in the first place.

About the Author:

Steffen Ring is the CEO and owner of Ring Advocacy LLC, (www.ringadvocacy.com ), which he inaugurated in 2015 after retirement from Motorola Inc. (now Motorola Solutions Inc.). The corporation is registered in the European Union (Denmark) and serve clients globally.

Ring served for Motorola Inc. as spectrum, standards and regulatory expert for 39 years, the last 10 years as officer in the Global Government Affairs dept., Washington D.C. 

Ring is inter alia specializing in mission critical radio systems and one of the first chairmen in the ETSI Project TETRA, where the globally accepted TETRA standard was developed from the early ‘90. He also worked close with the NATO HQ in Brussels in order to promote a civil-military spectrum sharing agreement (signed in Ottawa 1994) for public safety authorities’ access to the band 380 – 400 MHz for TETRA in NATO Nations, except the US. Later the TETRA standard was also introduced in the US market, alongside the P25 standard for Public Safety.

Platform Aerospace Selects SKYTRAC to Provide Iridium Certus Connectivity Onboard Vanilla UAV

SKYTRAC Systems, a provider of intelligent connectivity solutions for aviation, announced that Platform Aerospace, an unmanned aircraft systems producer, used SKYTRAC’s Iridium Certus Satcom system, to enable Command and Control (C2), Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) communications, and telemetry streaming onboard their record-setting Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Vanilla Unmanned.

On September 24th, Platform Aerospace launched Vanilla Unmanned and recovered the UAV 8 days, 50 minutes, and 47 seconds later on October 2nd, breaking the FAI world record for unrefueled, internal combustion endurance of an unmanned aircraft. As a long endurance Group III Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) used for multi-day surveillance and inspection operations, this is a significant milestone for Vanilla Unmanned.

Vanilla Unmanned, contracted by NASA, successfully fielded the University of Kansas’ snow radar within the Arctic Circle to collect data on snow and ice thickness. Platform Aerospace selected and tested SKYTRAC’s Iridium Certus mid-band datalink, the DLS-100, to enable BVLOS Command and Control (C2) and telemetry capabilities for this mission.

“Maintaining aircraft C2 during BVLOS flight operations has been challenging since many datalink solutions are limited by range or geographic coverage,” mentions Dr. Dan Edwards, chief technology officer at Platform Aerospace. “This flight in the Arctic demonstrated SKYTRAC’s global coverage, resiliency to extreme weather, and provided a low SWaP solution for connectivity onboard our ultra-long high endurance UAV missions.”

The two copmanies say by leveraging Iridium’s global connectivity and low latency, the DLS-100 supported the polar mission by enabling pilots from Ground Control Stations (GCS) to have real-time C2 with the UAV while simultaneously sending commands and receiving flight telemetry that ensured safe BVLOS operations.

“Congratulations to the Platform Aerospace team for their record-breaking flight,” mentions Jeff Sherwood, director of Business Development at SKYTRAC. “We are proud that our solutions are being used to extend the boundaries of what is possible with UAVs.”

Brazilian Army to Address Communication Challenges in the Amazon with New HF System from Collins Aerospace

Collins Aerospace has been selected by the Brazilian Army to provide its High Frequency (HF) Cellular communications system as part of the Brazilian Army Border Surveillance and Monitoring Strategic Program (SISFRON) to improve communications capabilities for forces operating in the Amazon region.

By networking Collins Aerospace’s URG-IV HF fixed site radio stations with a Collins Aerospace HF Cellular server and integrating it with existing communication infrastructure, mobile HF users will experience a first-time point-to-point call connection rate estimated to be above 95 percent, even in the most challenging environments of the Amazon region. The system improves call reliability and quality of transmission, reaching distances of more than 2,400 kilometers.

“It can be demanding for soldiers to establish reliable and secure long-distance communications in remote jungle regions like the Amazon,” said Marcelo Vaz, managing director for Collins Aerospace in Brazil. “Our HF Cellular system is easy to use, allowing for quick connections and long distances even in tough communication environments for improved capabilities of the existing mobile HF assets.”

The HF Cellular system also provides the Brazilian Army with a way to gain real-time position reporting through HF and allows HF interoperability for ground, naval and airborne assets. The Collins Aerospace HF Cellular system is scalable with the capability to expand beyond the Amazon region to support coverage across the rest of the country of Brazil, especially in remote border areas.

Responsive Satellite Servicing and Sustainable Space Launches Get a Boost Through Astroscale, Virgin Orbit Partnership

Astroscale announced in November that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. The MOU establishes a new partnership in which the two companies will seek opportunities to cooperate on a series of space initiatives that will drive the future of space sustainability and on-orbit servicing ecosystem. Astroscale is planning dozens of missions over the next decade and is in discussions with Virgin Orbit to launch as many as 10 of those on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne. The two companies are also working toward a future joint mission concept focused on satellite servicing.

Astroscale and Virgin Orbit share a vision of creating a sustainable space environment and will explore areas of cooperation on policy and regulatory efforts in the fields of space sustainability, space debris removal, government partnerships, launch and on-orbit servicing spectrum allocation. The MOU also includes a partnership to study the business potential of a joint Global Responsive Satellite Servicing capability, pre-encapsulating Astroscale payloads and storing them at LauncherOne spaceports, as well as promoting U.S.-Japan and U.S.-UK bilateral cooperation with a responsive launch capability from Virgin Orbit’s launch sites in Oita, Japan, and Spaceport Cornwall, UK. The two companies are also discussing a future mission concept wherein Astroscale would utilize its robotic arms payload and/or docking plate on the LauncherOne system.

“The space industry is on the cusp of a new era, with flexible and responsive launch and satellite servicing an emerging reality,” said Nobu Okada, Founder & CEO of Astroscale. “This partnership with Virgin Orbit will bring value to these rapidly developing sectors, not just for technology development, but for business and regulatory innovations as well. Virgin Orbit is a like-minded company that is revolutionizing the way we launch and access space while maintaining a commitment to space sustainability.”

“We at Virgin Orbit are excited to partner with Astroscale to foster the development and promotion of the responsible, sustainable use of space,” said Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart. “Our LauncherOne System already has key features that minimize the impact of space launch on Earth. We’re committed to finding ways to protect the space and Earth environments, and we’re highly motivated to drive forward technologies that will enable orbital debris clean-up.”

In addition to pursuing joint activities, Virgin Orbit recently joined The Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS), an international industry group representing the on-orbit servicing ecosystem. Astroscale is already an active member of CONFERS, which is advancing the on-orbit servicing industry by leveraging best practices from government and industry to research, develop, and publish technical and operational standards for OOS and Rendezvous and Proximity Operations.

C-130J Uses Separation Kernel to Enable Multi-Level Security for Link 16 Situational Awareness

Green Hills Software announced that the INTEGRITY-178 real-time operating system (RTOS) is deployed on the Lockheed Martin C 130J Special Mission Display Processor (SMDP) for the U.S. Air Force. The SMDP requires the RTOS to meet the NSA-defined separation kernel protection profile (SKPP) for “high robustness” security, which provides the ability to host Multi-Level Security (MLS) applications.

Security is a top priority for the SMDP because it controls the flow of secure and unsecure information between aircraft systems and incorporates Link 16 situational awareness into the C 130J. The SMDP is a centralized, scalable, high-performance processing system based on an open systems architecture running the INTEGRITY-178 RTOS. In addition to meeting the SKPP and hosting MLS applications, INTEGRITY-178 provides an ARINC 653 partitioning software environment that runs OpenGL ES-SC 1.0 graphics for the displays. The SMDP can combine TAXI video input from the mission computers with Link 16 data to output Link 16 graphics overlaid onto the TAXI video.

“For over two decades, INTEGRITY-178 has been the chosen operating system for tactical cross domain solutions,” said Dan O’Dowd, founder and CEO of Green Hills Software. “Starting with the Boeing B-1B avionics upgrade and the Lockheed Martin F-35 security software, the INTEGRITY-178 RTOS has an unrivaled pedigree for certified high-robustness security.”

The INTEGRITY-178 high-assurance RTOS from Green Hills Software is uniquely designed to meet both DO-178C DAL A airborne safety requirements and the NSA-defined Separation Kernel Protection Profile. INTEGRITY-178 is the only commercial operating system ever certified to the SKPP, and that certification was done by the National Information Assurance Partnership to Common Criteria EAL 6+ and NSA “High Robustness.” Beyond the separation kernel, INTEGRITY-178 provides a complete set of APIs for use by multi-level security applications within a secure partition, e.g., an MLS guard, which is a fundamental requirement in a cross-domain system. The multicore version, INTEGRITY-178 tuMP™, is also the first and only RTOS to be part of a cross-domain solution certification to NSA’s “Raise the Bar” initiative. INTEGRITY-178 was the first commercial RTOS approved as complying with DO-178B Level A objectives, and INTEGRITY-178 tuMP is the only RTOS to be part of a multicore certification to DO-178C and CAST-32A multicore objectives. INTEGRITY-178 tuMP directly supports a Modular Open Systems Approach, and it was the first RTOS to be certified conformant to the FACE™ Technical Standard, edition 3.0. For more information, visit www.ghs.com/INTEGRITY-178.

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