Tomorrow.io Selected to Provide Weather Forecasting Technology Throughout all of JetBlue’s Flight Operations

Tomorrow.io, the world’s leading weather and climate security program, announced today that JetBlue has selected the company to be its end-to-end weather forecasting technology across all global operations, including providing its on-site EWINS program. The contract was awarded after a request for purchase process in which JetBlue extensively evaluated weather and climate solutions in order to identify the best global partner.

The selection serves as a strategic culmination to a journey that began five years ago when Tomorrow.io and JetBlue first began working together on ground operations at Logan Airport in Boston. After seeing the impact Tomorrow.io was able to have on efficiency, the airline’s venture capital subsidiary JetBlue Ventures participated in the company’s Series A funding round. During the past four years, Tomorrow.io worked alongside both JetBlue Ventures and JetBlue to grow from a single airport to company-wide adoption.

“We’re delighted to see the progress Tomorrow.io has made along with JetBlue in the past few years,” said Amy Burr, president at JetBlue Ventures. “At our time of investment in Tomorrow.io, it was clear that the innovative vision they had was going to be the next-generation of forecasting in the aviation industry, and this relationship is a testament to JetBlue Ventures’ original mission to bring innovative technologies to our parent company.”

With no shortage of challenges facing the aviation industry, including unpredictable weather and heightened sustainability goals, the implementation of Tomorrow.io comes at the perfect time for JetBlue. The number of weather events impacting airline operations are increasing every year, demanding operations teams to be more climate resilient or else risk major delays and cost. By utilizing Tomorrow.io’s industry leading weather intelligence platform, JetBlue has now armed their operations with the technology needed to predict and mitigate weather disruptions.

“The sheer number of weather events and the impact of those events affecting airlines each year has vastly grown over the years,” said Itai Zlotnik, co-founder and CCO at Tomorrow.io. “Having worked with JetBlue Ventures and JetBlue during the past few years, we are extremely proud of the value Tomorrow.io has been able to deliver to meaningfully improve their operational efficiency, and we are excited about what the future holds.”

JetBlue operates more than 1,000 flights per day across 100 global destinations, and mitigating disruptions from weather has been the centerpiece for Tomorrow.io and JetBlue’s partnership from inception. The teams have worked together on tactical solutions such as predictive de-icing programs, estimated to be saving JetBlue $50,000 per month per hub, as well as longer-term projects around how to improve operations against an increasing number of annual weather events.

“JetBlue strives first and foremost to be the innovation leader when it comes to safety and efficiency,” said Steve Olson, vice president of JetBlue’s System Operations Center. “With Tomorrow.io, we have found the right partner for us for both day-to-day operations, as well as sustainability goals related to climate resiliency and our overall ESG strategy. 

From a technology standpoint, the next significant milestone for Tomorrow.io is the launch of the first-of-its-kind, commercial weather satellite constellation equipped with radars and microwave sounders. Tomorrow.io’s space program will democratize access to global weather forecasting and enable organizations across all industries to prepare for and mitigate the business impact of weather.

New Jamco Augmented Reality Technology Creates Efficient Maintenance Service

By Jeremy Hunter, senior sales & marketing manager, Jamco America

A partnership between Jamco America, an established commercial aircraft interior and services provider, Object Theory, an early pioneer in mixed reality, –– has created a new training tool for efficient maintenance service to support customer needs. The augmented reality (AR) technology developed through this partnership provides a much-needed advancement in product maintenance training for the aerospace industry.

Jamco America is a subsidiary of Jamco Corporation in Japan and was established in 1982 as a commercial aircraft interior products and services provider. Located in Everett, WA, Jamco ithe company is an experienced interior products supplier and turnkey aircraft interiors integrator.

As part of the Jamco Corporation, Jamco America, has developed premium class seating for commercial aircrafts, providing forward facing business class seating, such as the Journey seats in 2015 and the new Venture reverse herring-bone business class seat in 2019. Alongside the Venture business class seat, Jamco America is introducing the latest AR technology to aerospace interior training and maintenance. Jamco understands that overall success goes beyond design and delivery. Current product maintenance training – although effective – relies on video tutorials, face-to-face demonstrations, and written training guides with supporting component maintenance manuals. That’s why Jamco says it is investing in this cutting-edge AR technology to develop more efficient maintenance services for its customers.

AR is the process of superimposing a three-dimensional computer-generated image onto a user’s view of the real world. This provides a composite view that can easily guide a user through key maintenance tasks. This technology can be displayed through a variety of hardware, from handheld tablets to the latest Microsoft HoloLens headset.

In 2018, Jamco America established a partnership with Object Theory, an early pioneer in mixed reality located in Portland, OR. Object Theory’s founders, Michael Hoffman and Raven Zachary, alumnus of Microsoft and Apple, have built what Fast Company Magazine named one of the “Most Innovative AR/VR Companies.” Jamco America is very excited about this collaboration, as it will provide a more seamless and repeatable product maintenance training service for their valued customers.

Jamco America’s vision is to ensure that the airlines’ operational efficiency is maximized. With the implementation of the HoloLens, trainee mechanics can work on their product hands-free, in real time, and without the need to refer to a separate manual. This system audibly communicates step-by-step instructions to the user as computer-generated images create a guiding overlay on the product. At the same time, the user has complete control over the pace of their work by selecting when they are ready to proceed to the next step.

In addition, documents like the component maintenance manual will be easily accessible within the AR device. This combination of visual guidance and textual information provides a field ready, efficient, and comprehensive maintenance tool to solve problems as they arise.

Sometimes, aircraft interior products require additional troubleshooting as they travel to destinations across the globe. Jamco America’s AR system will provide the ability for mechanics in the field to access whatever assistance is required, no matter where in the world a problem arises.

AR instruction isn’t the end of Jamco America’s support. A drive for outstanding customer service, paired with this exceptional technology, will allow Jamco America Product Support representatives to communicate in real time with mechanics via remote assist. In those cases, both individuals will be able to see the same product and work together – through AR – to resolve the customer’s concern.

Jamco America says it understands that in-service product support for airlines is critical as well. With the use of AR technology, Jamco says they are “continuing to push the boundaries of current methodologies to improve safety and efficiency for all its customers.”

Greene Tweed Highlighted Xycomp DLF High-Performance Thermoplastic Composite Aerospace Brackets at 2022 NBAA-BACE

Lansdale, PA – Greene Tweed, a leading global manufacturer of high-performance sealing solutions and engineered components, showcased its Xycomp DLF high-performance thermoplastic composite aerospace brackets at the 2022 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), which was held October 18-20, 2022.

Developed as part of Greene Tweed’s role as innovators in the evolution of aerospace, Xycomp DLF high performance thermoplastic composite brackets can endure the substantial demands of aerospace environments, while offering significant weight savings over metallic parts. They are 35 to 50 percent lighter than competitive metallic components, making them an excellent replacement for metal materials.

Greene Tweed uses its proprietary compression molding system to produce complex-contour shapes for near-net, intricate geometry with molded-in features such as bushings or attachment points. The material meets fire, smoke, and toxicity (FST) safety requirements for interior aerospace parts, and offers excellent resistance to aerospace solvents, high temperatures, and high vibrations for extended component life. In addition, Xycomp DLF brackets can be recycled upon removal from an aircraft.

FAA Updates Recreational Drone Flying Guidance

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued guidance on how to become an FAA-recognized community-based organization for recreational drone flying.

Under federal law, recreational drone flyers must follow the safety guidelines of a FAA-recognized community-based organization. The organization is required to develop its safety guidelines in coordination with the FAA and an applicant may wish to tailor them to a particular type of unmanned aviation.

The FAA’s guidance, Advisory Circular 91-57C provides a comprehensive list of recommended safety guidelines that applicants may consider using in their application. Organizations that meet the legal definition of a community-based organization may apply for FAA recognition through the FAA’s DroneZone website.

The updated guidance also provides information on applying for recreational flying fixed sites, hosting sponsored events and educational use requirements.

Collins Aerospace and U.S. Army to Develop Best Practices for Airworthiness Certification of Multicore Processors and Open System Architectures

Collins Aerospace and U.S. Army to Develop Best Practices for Airworthiness Certification of Multicore Processors and Open System Architectures

Collins Aerospace has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center to develop best practices, approaches, processes, and methods for airworthiness certification of multicore processors. This joint effort will address the need to provide faster integration of new capabilities, greater mission flexibility and lower acquisition cost.

“As Army Aviation leads the U.S. Department of Defense in the pursuit of Future Vertical Lift platforms, this collaboration will pave the way in defining Modular Open System Approaches with an emphasis on multicore processor airworthiness certification,” said Dave Schreck, vice president, Military Avionics & Helicopters for Collins Aerospace. “The intent of this cooperative agreement is to improve airworthiness certifications for this emerging technology field that reflect the needs of both Army and industry. Working together, we will focus on shortening certification timelines and enhancing affordability to deliver warfighter overmatch in support of the future and current fleets of military rotorcraft platforms and beyond.”

Collins has been is now applying two decades of experience in civil-certified, high integrity, safety-critical processors for military aircraft to the development of multicore processors and MOSA solutions. The company opened a MOSA Center of Excellence in Huntsville in 2021, and is working closely with Army Aviation on its Future Vertical Lift and enduring fleet modernization programs.

Ansys Named to Newsweek’s List of the Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces for 2022

Ansys Named to Newsweek’s List of the Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces for 2022

Ansys was ranked #13 on the Newsweek annual rankings for the Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces list. The 2022 Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces list is the result of a collaboration with the Best Practice Institute (BPI), a leadership development and benchmark research company.

The results were determined after surveying more than 1.4 million employees from businesses with workforces varying in size from 50 to more than 10,000. The list recognizes companies that put respect, caring, and appreciation for their employees at the center of their business model and, in doing so, have earned the loyalty and respect of the people who work for them.

“As a result of ‘The Great Resignation,’ more companies recognize the importance of focusing on employee satisfaction to not only attract but retain top talent,” said Nancy Cooper, global editor in chief, Newsweek. “The businesses on this year’s list clearly demonstrated that commitment.”

How positive workers feel about their future at the company, career achievement, how much employer values align with employee values, respect at all levels and the level of collaboration at the firm were the five critical areas measured to gauge employee sentiment. In addition, areas such as inclusion, diversity, equity and belonging and company response and adaptability to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as return-to-office rules, were identified and analyzed in relation to the five critical areas measured.

“Ansys’ inclusion on Newsweek’s Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces list is a testament to our culture and shared values across the organization,” said Julie Murphy, vice president of human resources at Ansys. “Our employees are critical to our mission of enabling the design and delivery of transformational products, and we are constantly learning and growing together to make our community a better place for all.”

Dassault Aviation Completes STC for Falcon 900 InSight Display System

Dassault Aviation Completes STC for Falcon 900 InSight Display System

Dassault Aviation has received FAA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for Universal Avionics’ (UA) InSight Flight Deck upgrade on the Dassault Falcon 900B.

Dassault’s STC for the Falcon 900B allows owners to upgrade to a 4-display InSight System while maintaining existing factory-delivered and OEM-supported Flight Management Systems (FMS). The solution is fully compatible with the FANS 1/A+, CPDLC, and ATN B1 solutions already provided by Dassault Aviation and Dassault Falcon Jet.

Introduced in 1991, Dassault says the Falcon 900B continues to be a desirable model making these upgrades essential for ongoing operations. This solution provides a new level of situational awareness to the flight crew, with features such as a 3D Synthetic Vision System (SVS) and 2D interactive digital maps. It improves flight operations by introducing high brightness, large format displays with intuitive interfaces. Finally, the installation increases available payload by more than 200 lbs (91 kg) by removing five Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) with limited brightness and color rendering, three symbol generators and other sources of maintainability and parts availability challenges for flight departments.

“The InSight Display System continues to gain significant momentum in the market, with nine STCs available or in advanced development, demonstrating the scalability of the system for business aviation,” said Dror Yahav, UA CEO. “Upcoming upgrades for Enhanced Flight Vision Systems and Flight Deck Connectivity will bring the updated airplane into the front line of business jets.”

The InSight flight deck features unprecedented situational awareness thanks to UA’s 2nd generation Synthetic Vision System (SVS) and interactive digital maps, embedded Jeppesen™ charting with high-resolution airport maps, and more. InSight is complemented with the latest in Human Machine Interface (HMI) design including touch control interactions with maps and charts, pilot selectable screen layouts, etc., for reduced crew workload. Benefits extend beyond the flight crew by providing unparalleled remote diagnostic capability to increase mission availability. InSight is the building block in preparing the Falcon 900B for other NextGen systems such as UA’s SkyLens Head-Wearable Display, Interactive SVS (i-SVS), and added display options for engine indication.

TRENDS AND ADVANCES IN EMBEDDED AVIONICS SYSTEMS: AN ATR ROUNDTABLE

TRENDS AND ADVANCES IN EMBEDDED AVIONICS SYSTEMS: AN ATR ROUNDTABLE

Embedded systems have multiple functionalities in the aerospace industry and can be basic or highly complex. One thing is certain, this technology is vital for mission-critical tasks, reliability and safety. Aerospace Tech Review spoke to subject matter experts at Rapita, CoreAVI and TTTech to learn about the latest developments in embedded systems technology.

As the world’s aircraft become more sophisticated and data-driven, embedded avionics systems that integrate computer hardware and software to manage specific onboard functions are becoming more common. This is why the trends and advances that are occurring in the embedded avionics systems market are of great importance to the entire aviation industry, and worth monitoring by anyone whose job touches upon aircraft construction, operations and maintenance.

To get a better perspective on this topic, Aerospace Tech Review conducted an “ATR Roundtable” with experts in the embedded systems industry. They are Nick Bowles, head of marketing with Rapita Systems (rapitasystems.com), Neil Stroud, vice president of business development and marketing with CoreAVI Inc. (www.coreavi.com), and Kurt Doppelbauer, vice president strategic sales & business development, Business Unit Aerospace, TTTech (www.tttech.com).

Aerospace Tech Review: Let’s start with you telling us about your company’s work in embedded avionics systems.

Nick Bowles: We provide tools (Rapita Verification Suite) and services to the embedded avionics industry that help with verifying software, as per DO-178C guidelines. (Editor’s note: DO-178C, Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification is the primary document used by the FAA, EASA and Transport Canada to approve commercial software-based aerospace systems.)

Neil Stroud: CoreAVI is focused on the safety domain delivering open standards-based certified software drivers and libraries. They are based on VulkanSC and OpenGL SC that enable companies to develop and deploy the safest graphics and compute applications up to DO-178C DAL A levels.

CoreAVI enables our customers to efficiently scale their massive safety critical software investment and ROI through open APIs (application programming interfaces) accelerating certification cycles and time to revenue whilst maintaining the highest levels of safety. We are people innovating safety in an autonomous world.

Kurt Doppelbauer: TTTech Aerospace provides high-performance deterministic embedded network platform solutions, certified and certifiable to level A DO-178/DO-254. Our products have completed over 1 billion flight hours in Level A safety-critical applications like fly-by-wire, power systems, avionics, engine controls and environmental control systems.

We offer a complete integrated network platform solution, from chip IP, ASICs, on-board hardware to configuration and qualified verification tools that enable simpler system integration and reconfiguration, the set-up of deterministic networks (ARINC 664 part 7 / AFDX, TTEthernet, TTP) that enable the design and integration of advanced integrated aircraft systems that are used by worldwide industry market leaders and their systems suppliers in their large commercial programs. We are also well prepared to serve modernization initiatives with the IEEE 802.1-based TSN standards to support mixed-criticality system needs both on compute level and on the networking side.

Aerospace Tech Review: What trends are influencing the development of embedded avionics systems in terms of the products your company produces, and the market in general?

Bowles: While Agile software development methodologies have been widely used in many industries for a number of years, it is only recently that embedded avionics have started to embrace this approach.

It is an accepted principle in embedded systems development that detecting errors late in the development lifecycle means they are significantly more expensive to fix than if detected earlier. With this in mind, Agile methodologies, where testing happens earlier, and defects are identified and resolved sooner, confer obvious benefits to cost and time-sensitive avionics projects. By emphasizing an iterative, incremental and rapidly evolving approach to development, Agile also enables early communication and feedback from project stakeholders.

TTTech’s Kurt Dopplebauer stressed that products need to be able to accommodate different form factors and network requirements so they can be used for a wide range of applications and systems. Shown here is the TTESwitch Module A664 Pro used in the aerospace industry. TTTech says this switch module is versatile and suitable for different Ethernet-based avionics platforms, not only for current avionic platforms, but also for retrofit use cases. TTTech image.
TTTech’s Kurt Dopplebauer stressed that products need to be able to accommodate different form factors and network requirements so they can be used for a wide range of applications and systems. Shown here is the TTESwitch Module A664 Pro used in the aerospace industry. TTTech says this switch module is versatile and suitable for different Ethernet-based avionics platforms, not only for current avionic platforms, but also for retrofit use cases. TTTech image.

Stroud: Performance requirements, safety, consolidation and scalability are all key trends that are heavily influencing embedded avionics systems.

Bowles: Rapid turnover and change monitoring are crucial in Agile workflows. To support our customers that want to move to an Agile development philosophy, we have developed the Rapita Verification Suite (RVS) to enable a quick testing cycle and integrate with our customers’ existing development environments and toolchains, including source code and requirements management, issue tracking and continuous integration software. This improves the efficiency of software development, verification, and problem resolution processes.

RVS supports rapid turnover by allowing automated generation of test templates and test vectors for boundary values. It also supports change monitoring by integrating with a customer’s configuration management, requirements management and continuous integration software, including dedicated plugins for Jenkins and Atlassian Bamboo.

As the industry moves towards adopting Agile development methodologies, tool features such as integration with CI tools including Jenkins (pictured) support rapid change monitoring and automated testing.

Doppelbauer: There are three key trends we see in the market. Firstly, the trend towards more integrated systems that reduce size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C), allowing for easier handling of equipment and lowering total lifecycle cost. Secondly, the need for substantially higher data transfer rates (versus ARINC 429 or CAN/ARINC 825) as modern avionics systems gather and process a lot more data than their predecessors to handle current needs as well as future upgradability and technology insertion. And thirdly, the need for versatility i.e. products have to be able to accommodate different form factors and network requirements so they can be used for a wide range of applications and systems as well as on different aircraft and rotorcraft programs.

Agile methodologies, where testing happens earlier and defects are identified and resolved sooner, confer obvious benefits to cost and time-sensitive avionics projects, according to Nick Bowles at Rapita. Rapita image.
Agile methodologies, where testing happens earlier and defects are identified and resolved sooner, confer obvious benefits to cost and time-sensitive avionics projects, according to Nick Bowles at Rapita. Rapita image.

We also see the need to support a more Agile development workflow, which has been common in other industries for many years. The same principles apply to integrated modular avionics (IMA) that enable the continuous integration of applications and services into very complex networked architectures. TTTech Aerospace supports customers in mastering architectural complexity with its strong background in networking technology and tools supporting the Software Defined Networking paradigm in highly regulated environments.

Aerospace Tech Review: What are your customers asking for, when it comes to advances in embedded avionics systems, and why?

Stroud: Customers are asking for multiple things to help them solve their challenges. Firstly, accelerated delivery schedules to enable them to certify and deploy more quickly against tight project timelines. From a technology point of view, as well as safe graphics applications such as PFDs, safe computers and safe AI are becoming increasingly important. This requires deterministic execution of neural nets. Support of mixed criticality on single platforms is becoming more pervasive requiring virtualization support.

Bowles: Over the last few years, our customers have been increasingly asking for a comprehensive verification and certification solution that enables the use of multicore processors in embedded avionics systems. While multicore platforms offer improved SwaP (size, weight and power) characteristics and longer-term supply security, their behavior is non-deterministic due to the presence of interference channels. These interference channels, often caused by inter-core competition for shared resources, can impact software execution times and cause timing deadlines to be missed, making the certification of their use in embedded avionics systems challenging.

Designing and certifying multicore hardware and software are key considerations for all major avionics suppliers as we move forward as an industry. Certification guidelines for multicore processors have recently been formalized via “A(M)C 20-193”, which sets out a series of objectives that must be met when developing multi core-based embedded avionics systems. These objectives supplement DO-178C guidance.

Interference, which affects timing behavior for multicore software, can result from contention on shared resources used by different cores in a multicore system

Doppelbauer: Our customers want certifiable, cost-efficient, versatile and high-performance solutions that simplify system setup and maintenance. We have built our aerospace product portfolio on open standards compatibility, reliability and certifiability to the highest standards.

In view of the demand for these high performance, scalable and modular network platforms and supporting products, customers are asking for solution partners that help them build, integrate, test, verify, and certify the systems.

Aerospace Tech Review: What is your company doing to meet these demands, in terms of new products/services and upgrades?

Bowles: To meet the demands of the aerospace and defense avionics industry for a unified solution to address A(M)C 20-193 guidance, Rapita has produced a unique solution – MACH178. MACH178 is an end-to-end solution that supports the certification of multicore DO-178C systems and includes certification artifacts, software tools, engineering services and qualification support. The solution is being used by multiple avionics developers across the globe, including Bell, who are leveraging the benefits of modern multicore processors to meet the demands of their next-generation Invictus 360 rotorcraft.

Interference can result from resources used by different cores in a multicore system. Rapita image.
Interference can result from resources used by different cores in a multicore system. Rapita image.

Stroud: CoreAVI continues to develop stack support based on Vulkan SC and OpenGL SC for an increasing number of GPUs including AMD, Intel, Arm, NXP and more to offer developers ‘port of choice’ for their particular designs. Our product features for both high performance safe graphics and safe compute are being continually augmented. Our certification strategy continues at pace offering up to DO-178C DAL A. More details can be seen at www.coreavi.com

Doppelbauer: This year, we have introduced the TTE-Switch Module A664 Pro. It is the world’s first 1 Gbit/s, fully ARINC 664 part 7/AFDX compatible, TTEthernet switch module for the aerospace market. It is certifiable to the highest aerospace safety standards (DAL A) and can be used at the core of a wide range of certifiable on-board Ethernet networks in fixed wing aircraft, business jets, rotorcrafts, advanced air mobility and UAVs (uncrewed aerial vehicles).

The TTE-Switch Module A664 Pro offers high-performance data transfer with speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s that are needed in modern avionics networks. It allows customers to develop their own flight switch for multiple aircraft/rotorcraft and levels of determinism of Ethernet, including “best-effort” Ethernet (IEEE 802.3), ARINC 664 part 7and time-triggered Ethernet (SAE AS6802). This reduces obsolescence and supplier management costs.

The switch module’s small size, weight and power needs allow it to be used in avionics switches with different form factors such as ARINC 600, 3U VPX, 6U VPX or as a standalone line replaceable unit (LRU). When building such a switch, the TTE-Switch Module A664 Pro covers the complex electronics certification for hardware, software, chip and for the systems aspect, offering a simplified way to reach a complete switch certification.

The TTE-Switch Module A664 Pro can be used in applications requiring the highest aerospace safety standards (DAL A) in DO-178C / DO-254. In the future, there will be additional applications, e.g., in the field of urban air mobility (UAM), where DAL A certification will also be a prerequisite.

Aerospace Tech Review: Finally, what new advances/trends in embedded avionics systems do you foresee in the years ahead?

Bowles: One trend influencing the development of embedded avionics systems is the increased adoption of GPUs for safety-critical functions.

Using GPUs for safety-critical avionics systems raises a number of challenges. For example, GPU Compiler translations and libraries are unlikely to be designed to have predictable behavior, and compiler optimizations are less likely to be documented. Another challenge is that GPU threads and cores may be shared among multiple partitions in parallel.

Rapita is involved in ground-breaking work to enable GPU verification for high-criticality avionics systems, including defining a certification approach with a major European OEM. Building on this research, as well as a close partnership with CoreAVI, Rapita plan to develop off-the-shelf solutions for structural code coverage and black-box timing analysis in the future.

As emerging technologies such as eVTOL systems and the use of AI and machine learning become more popular in the coming years, we look forward to working with industry to provide and develop solutions that support the certification of systems using these technologies.

Stroud: We foresee trends such as increasing levels of safety across a broader range of platforms. Also, we expect to see higher levels of platform integration and consolidation with more functions residing on common hardware. Finally, mass deployment of safe AI will be required across a huge range of applications as we drive towards autonomous operation

Doppelbauer: More automation and autonomy are driving the ever increasing need for processing power and upgradability fielded in shorter time cycles, while at the same time raising the bar for the levels of integrity of the overall system. Thus, the integration of constantly changing and augmented functions, as well as verifying and certifying them, requires specific architectures for networked hardware and software platforms that are enabled and orchestrated by powerful software development and verification environments.

One key element is the underlying network integration platform which the industries have agreed to abstract via Software Defined Networks. The decoupling of the application from the hardware and the network is the fundamental paradigm in a software defined environment that is required to enable a continuous integration development process and to validate/verify the different planes independently from each other. In a market where Zero Trust, endorsing concepts such as Micro Segmentation and Least Functionality, is a fundamental requirement for a system’s cyber resilience, ensuring these principles at design level is the only way to master that complexity. TTTech Aerospace foresees new, deeply vertically integrated platforms that allow development of mixed-criticality applications decoupled from the physical world, i.e. the actual compute hardware as well as the physical network. This will allow to develop new applications as well as reuse existing code more rapidly, while meeting the needs for innovation in a contested environment.

REDUCING SUPPLY CHAIN UNCERTAINTIES AND COMPLEXITY WITH DESIGN FOR EXCELLENCE (DFX)

REDUCING SUPPLY CHAIN UNCERTAINTIES AND COMPLEXITY WITH DESIGN FOR EXCELLENCE (DFX)

Kevin Krot is senior managing director, head of aerospace & defense, for SGS Maine Pointe. Kevin has more than 25 years of consulting and industry experience, with a special focus on the Aerospace and Defense sector, with deep experience in corporate strategy, supply chain management, and operations.

Chris Brumitt is managing director for the aerospace & defense sector of SGS Maine Pointe. He has worked within the business operations consulting industry for the past 34 years to help CEOs and senior management realize the acceleration and execution of significant strategic goals.

Complexity of design puts further strain on an aerospace and defense supply chain that is already suffering geopolitical, economic, ESG transformation, and talent pressures. Design for Excellence (DfX) has emerged as a systematic approach and crucial methodology for controlling complexity and achieving targeted objectives through cross-functional enterprise-wide collaboration early in the design process.
DfX has been defined in many different ways with no clear, unified, universally accepted definition. In this article, DfX encompasses four dimensions: architecture, operations, supply chain, and sustainment.

The Four Dimensions of DfX. SGS Maine Pointe diagram.
The Four Dimensions of DfX. SGS Maine Pointe diagram.

For DfX to be effective, all functional groups in an organization should be consulted and given a voice throughout the product development lifecycle. DfX and complexity management are powerful levers for mitigating today’s volatile market conditions.

Drivers of Complexity

The drivers for complexity are similar across most companies and industries. In a typical model, sales asks for additional versions to penetrate new markets, so engineers develop additional parts leading to additional product development and production costs, while supply chain and production are not consulted. These cost increases typically lead to rising supply chain costs and decreased sales volumes, which causes sales to look for new markets to penetrate – and the cycle repeats.

The situation at one aerospace industry giant demonstrates the effects when engineering, manufacturing, and procurement do not work together early in the development process. Sales had no clear understanding of customer needs and limited understanding of the true costs of various options, leading to complex requirements. Engineering created designs without getting supply chain input on supplier capabilities, availability, lead times, and costs. The question of whether to manufacture parts in house (make-buy process) was based on whether they could manufacture in-house, not whether they should. Manufacturing built parts that could be purchased for less than half the true costs. Sales was broken into various product lines which ran independently. There was limited communication or common language (taxonomy) between development teams across the business lines. Drivers of complexity for this organization included lack of collaboration, unclear lines of responsibility, limited understanding of true costs, lack of process and tools for architecture management, and unclear understanding of customer needs.

Companies need to approach DfX and understand the true cost of complexity by involving every part of the enterprise through the entire end-to-end supply chain – sales, marketing, finance, procurement, operations, and engineering – from the planning stage through fulfillment. They need to look at DfX and complexity control through a new lens of cultural change, optionality, technology, stressing cross-enterprise collaboration.

Achieving DfX through Cultural Change & Governance

When aerospace and defense companies recognize that the pursuit of DfX involves the entire enterprise, they take the first steps toward addressing cultural and governance issues such as accountability, collaboration, and information sharing. DfX has emerged as a crucial methodology for planning, designing, and manufacturing new products and improving existing products but is only effective when everyone within the enterprise engages – with equal seats at the decision-making table.

Elements of End-to-End Supply Chain Optimization. SGS Maine Pointe diagram.
Elements of End-to-End Supply Chain Optimization. SGS Maine Pointe diagram.

With a focus on breaking down silos and increasing cross-enterprise collaboration, DfX ensures that new and redesigned products deliver high ROI in procurement, operations, and logistics. To help break down corporate silos and increase governance, companies can use tools such as:

• A 3C assessment (capability, capacity, and cost) of current operations

• Operating model framework addressing organization, roles and responsibilities, systems and tools, processes, performance management, and capabilities and culture

• Change Ambassador Network to increase ownership of change and decrease resistance

• Common language and taxonomy adoption

• Value stream mapping

• Trackers, dashboards, and master schedules to monitor KPIs and metrics

• Data analytics to enable fact-based decisions

• Coaching and training.

These processes and tools find the areas where functions and business units overlap and where they diverge; establish a common language and taxonomy to bring uniformity in the definition and understanding of KPIs, metrics, and values; provide the leadership and knowledge the workforce needs to meet their objectives; and provide executive management with timely, reliable data that improves governance, control, and accountability. For DfX to succeed, it needs a supportive and sustainable culture that understands and is committed to complexity management.

Achieving DfX by Enabling Optionality

DfX is constrained when the supply chain is constrained; that is, when the company fails to fully analyze its options and evaluate their risks and costs. For example, shifts in consumer and government demands have become more difficult to predict at the same time that suppliers have become more reluctant to take on lower volumes. By using standard or identical parts across multiple projects and reusing modules or subsystems, DfX reduces the number of supplier tiers, increases the volume handled by the prime suppliers, makes it easier to pivot with customer demand, and prevents the accumulation of legacy inventory that no one wants. With complexity management, suppliers will be more attracted to working with the company, which increases the company’s buying leverage.

For example, when determining which suppliers to work with, procurement might meet with all suppliers to explain the company’s current and future needs, evaluate the ability of each supplier to meet those needs, and listen to suggestions by the suppliers themselves, as well as the suppliers’ suppliers. By leveraging its spend, a company can drive cost reductions and begin win-win negotiations.

Achieving DfX through Technology Enablement

Engineering is core to mission of most aerospace & defense companies, and important for maintaining their identity as agile technology companies. The pace of change and proliferation of digital applications requires a thoughtful approach to establish a clear adoption path and drive meaningful impact in an evolving landscape. Technology is the key enabler, but only a fraction of the challenge; implementing digital engineering with business strategy alignment, change management, capability building, process development and adherence, customer engagement, supply chain interfacing, and performance management is equally critical.

The potential benefits of utilizing technology include improvements in efficiency, throughput, quality, and consistency from planning and forecasting through delivery. Digital engineering can promote the objectives of design for excellence and help reduce complexity if approached with reference to the end-to-end supply chain.

Supply chain optimization must come before automation. Automation alone cannot fix a process that is already rife with bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and regulatory compliance issues. In fact, layering automation on top of a misaligned process can bring production to a halt. Total Value Optimization (TVO) examines planning, procurement, operations, and logistics for opportunities to create value throughout the supply chain, identifying areas where automation will lead to increased EBITDA, growth, and profits. Once processes are optimized, the benefits of a manufacturing management operating system (MMOS), procurement management operating system (PMOS), and similar methodologies can be fully realized.

By the same token, advanced data analytics must precede the technology of supply chain simulation, which creates a twin of the end-to-end supply chain. The simulation bolsters DfX by sending a proposed option, change, or innovation through the simulation first to expose the associated risks. To build an accurate simulation, the company needs timely, reliable data; here is where collaboration, universal KPIs, and information sharing are critical.

An accurate simulation demonstrates how one alteration could affect the entire plan-buy-make-move-fulfill supply chain and how well it aligns with the company’s and the customer’s needs. What is the benefit and ROI of a proposed innovation or additional customer option? What are the risks and rewards of changing suppliers? How will new standards or regulations affect procurement, logistics, and operations? What is the true cost of added complexity? The answers to questions like those point the direction to greater excellence and less complexity throughout the supply chain.

Conclusion

The ability of DfX to manage complexity and the benefits of reduced complexity are known. When complexity is left unchecked, companies may find itself constantly renegotiating with suppliers, retooling machinery, and adjusting its supply chain without ever delivering on time or on budget. Complexity weakens the resilience of its supply chain.

DfX through an End-to-End Supply Chain Lens. SGS Maine Pointe diagram.
DfX through an End-to-End Supply Chain Lens. SGS Maine Pointe diagram.

By approaching Design for Excellence through an end-to-end supply chain lens, the C-suite gains control over complexity. That approach ensures that the full product life-cycle requirements and supply chain impacts are considered for each innovation, change, or potential event. As DfX and complexity management take hold, aerospace companies are better able to contain costs and risks and increase profits throughout the supply chain.

DIRECTOR, AIRCRAFT DATA & EDGE SOLUTIONS, FLYHT AEROSPACE SOLUTIONS WILLIAM CECIL

DIRECTOR, AIRCRAFT DATA & EDGE SOLUTIONS, FLYHT AEROSPACE SOLUTIONS WILLIAM CECIL

William Cecil has a robust history in avionics technology development and currently is Director, Aircraft Data & Edge Solutions at FLYHT Aerospace Solutions. FLYHT is known for delivering long range voice and data communication, new aircraft network edge technology and actionable intelligence solutions to airlines around the globe. We asked him a wide range of questions to see what we could learn not only about him and FLYHT, but his outlook for the industry.

First, let’s talk briefly about the last two years. It’s been a crazy time in aviation. How did the pandemic impact FLYHT?

FLYHT took the opportunity of this very quiet time in aviation to invest in building new services and avionics products to serve emerging requirements to upgrade current and legacy technologies. We grew the business in staff, products, services, geographic locations, and capabilities. I joined the company because my own vision was in perfect alignment with the direction the company was headed which intersected beautifully with the needs the industry would have as it recovered and beyond.

What strategies did the company use to survive that tumultuous time?

Shortly after the pandemic began, the company replaced the CEO with a veteran who did an inventory of people, tools, technologies and polled customers and prospects on what they saw as critical requirements for them to recover their businesses when the time came. From that came the definition of an onboard platform, the AFIRS Edge, and a suite of applications hosted on our AWS JetBridge platform that would help airlines recover as they merged post pandemic. We’ve executed on that, and we’re now enabling clients with Actionable Intelligence to the clients using data from their assets that is uniquely enhanced by our AFIRS technology.

How is the recovery going – are you optimistic?

We are very bullish about the demand from customers and adoption of our new and legacy products to help them achieve the incredible growth they need post pandemic with more reliable, more efficient operations. Our expanded product portfolio now gives airlines a major assist with digital transformation in Operational Technology and our expanded weather technologies positions airlines to meet growing ESG requirements. We have a full compliment of staff that have been building solutions and working with customers ahead of this recovery and we are in great shape to participate and help our customers achieve their goals.

You recently completed the first of 20 AFIRS 228S units on ARJ21 aircraft ordered by China Express Airlines. Tell us what that process was like, any challenges and where the program is going.

Everything that we have achieved over the years in China we refer to as dancing with elephants. The rules and processes required in China are very strict and missing a step can mean the end of a program. The ARJ program has been an investment we’ve been working on for over 10 years. We are proud our system was chosen to be installed on the first test aircraft that did cold weather testing in Canada and subsequently has been specified on every aircraft that China Express has on order. China Express has been a great partner in getting the necessary approvals from CAAC and it has been a pleasure to work with ADCC on tuning our AFIRS functionality to match requirements from the government.

Coral Jet has placed an initial order to become the launch customer for the AFIRS Edge, an aircraft interface device (AID). Tell us more about that product and its capabilities. FLYHT has been delivering Automatic Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) avionics and services to airlines for around 20 years, uniquely providing onboard analytics and voice and data communications using Iridium satellite connectivity.

FLYHT has been delivering Automatic Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) avionics and services to airlines for around 20 years, uniquely providing onboard analytics and voice and data communications using Iridium satellite connectivity. The AFIRS Edge is FLYHT’s answer for Industry 4.0 in aircraft avionics. It is a revolutionary digital avionics solution that leapfrogs and combines various legacy avionics used today. It’s easy to install and is available in two models that give airlines flexibility to use the same technology on both large transport category aircraft, regional and turboprop aircraft and even in the general aviation and UAV market.

Some avionics tech used today is old! Some avionics systems have been around for 10, 20 years or more and with multiple units from multiple suppliers and they are getting more costly to maintain. I coined the phrase a few years ago “floppies and fax modems” to describe Airborne Data Loader (ADL) technology based on 1.44 MB floppy disks still in use, and ACARS real-time messaging still the main data comm channel on aircraft. ACARS is essentially Telex over narrowband VHF and Satcom services (varying between 2.4 Kbps and 31.5 Kbps max). People outside of aviation are surprised to hear this. Other elderly systems currently in service include Aircraft Interface Devices (AIDs) that allow crew tablets to safely interact with aircraft data and connectivity and 2G/3G Wireless Quick Access Recorders (WQARs) which use dated cellular technology to harvest aircraft sensor and operational data in bulk post flight. And then there’s Aircraft Condition Monitoring Systems (ACMS) technology that dates back over 30 years that is used to perform onboard data analysis and in-flight reporting for health monitoring as well as weather and turbulence forecasting.

The AFIRS Edge is essentially an onboard edge computing and connectivity platform that provides or augments all the above functionality in a single unit. It brings new capabilities, new technologies and various industry firsts that will provide immense benefits for airlines. It has been exciting to guide our product strategy.

Can you explain some of these industry firsts?

Well, to begin with we are the first to offer global air and ground connectivity combining 5G and Iridium Certus in an AID / WQAR package that is essentially a plug-in replacement for 2G/3G/4G legacy systems.

Another is the AFIRS Edge features Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT technology including AWS IoT Greengrass which enables FLYHT and airlines to extend key AWS services securely and seamlessly onto aircraft.

This enables another industry first which is how our avionics unit and its applications are managed in service. Line mechanics are normally required to touch every single aircraft to make changes or load new applications to traditional systems. In modern Industrial IoT outside aviation this has already changed with deployment of software configuration changes, new algorithms and security updates being performed Over-The-Air (OTA). The AFIRS Edge includes this kind of capability enabling deployment of OCI compliant containerized applications to the aircraft and even Machine learning inference on-wing. Together with our integrated system health and security monitoring we are making it easier for airlines to interact with and use our avionics.

The AFIRS Edge also serves as a data port for the Actionable Intelligence services such as fuel management, aircraft health monitoring and real-time engine data reporting. Explain how this will benefit operators.

The airline industry is still unwinding itself from the decades-old paradigm where all aircraft operational (QAR) data collected from the aircraft is considered “safety data” and is often owned and controlled by airline safety departments. While this is changing, legacy data flows from the aircraft to the ground make it difficult for airlines to free up the data for application outside of flight safety for maintenance or flight operations or general business intelligence. With airline flight safety departments having the keys to decoding the data, and the amount of data generated by aircraft and engines expanding, how to manage the data to derive value from it outside of flight safety is a real problem.

We are helping airlines better harness their data in two ways. First the AFIRS Edge harvests more data in-flight and post-flight and at a lower cost than has been possible before. Application of AI and machine learning for improved planning and Predictive Maintenance technologies off the aircraft is data hungry and success has been limited to date, and with the AFIRS Edge we aim to change that with expanded data harvesting.

The second way we help is through our JetBridge ground platform which serves as a data lake for the airline and as the data stack for our applications such as FuelSense, FleetWatch and ClearPort which provide Actionable Intelligence in support of fuel and environmental initiatives, real-time operations alerting and turn process management respectively. Our JetBridge AFIRS Gateway application gives airlines total data control and enables decoding and distribution of flight data flowing from the aircraft. The airlines can use their data as they see fit and derive value from any service providers they chose.

FLYHT recently retained Satichi Consulting Inc. for corporate development and capital markets communications services. Why? What will they do for the company?

As a public company, we work hard on making sure our investors are informed of the progress we are making. We are a different company than we were pre-COVID and we need to make sure that the investment community knows what is new, how we have evolved, how we have taken the investments in technology made over the last many years and made them relevant to the industry as it stands today, and how it will look with evolving changes occurring globally in OT data handling and security, cellular networks and access to information. Satichi will help us make sure the right people get to hear the facts about the exciting future FLYHT has.

The company recently joined IATA’s Aviation Cyber Security Strategic Partnerships program. Why is this important? What cybersecurity concerns should operators be most concerned with?

Our strategic partnership with IATA provides us the opportunity to closely collaborate with key aviation cybersecurity leaders and experts from around the world. Not just in protecting aircraft, passengers, and crew against cyber threats, but by contributing to the development of industry standards and regulatory initiatives.

One of the key concerns we’ve heard from operators related to the increasing digitization of the industry – particularly the continuing evolution of the ‘connected aircraft’ – and how to effectively mitigate the cybersecurity risk that comes with this, both from an efficiency, cost, and overall efficacy perspective. Airlines want to see aviation cybersecurity standards and regulations that are risk-based, not generalized application of controls that don’t mitigate any identified threat. They’re also looking to implement cybersecurity controls that both integrate and account for the differences between Information Technology (IT) systems and Operational Technology (OT) systems, the former being more applicable to protecting the airlines’ corporate networks and reservations systems, the latter being more applicable to aircraft avionics and industrial IoT devices. Finally, operators are concerned about mitigating cascading vulnerabilities that can result from the connectedness and complexity of modern aircraft technology, where the vulnerability in one device or system may lead to the exploitation of vulnerabilities in critical interconnected systems. We believe developing and implementing standardized cybersecurity certification processes is critical to helping operators in mitigating these vulnerabilities.

FLYHT recently added two industry veterans to its senior leadership, Scott Chambers and Murray Skelton. What do these leaders bring to the table?

In short – they bring a lot! I personally have a long history with both Scott and Murray. Together they have over 55 years of relevant experience and I’ve worked with them both previously bringing to market new and innovative aircraft data solutions. Both Scott and Murray are well known in the industry and they bring passion, vision, enthusiasm, and an understanding of both the airline business and FLYHT’s technology space. One reason I joined the company was the culture and values here, and I know that’s one of the reasons Murray and Scott have joined too. They fit in perfectly at FLYHT and I couldn’t be more thrilled they’ve joined the leadership team here.

Can you give our readers a taste of something new that you all may be working on for the future?

There are a couple of things I would like to share where we expect fresh demand for in the future where we are well placed to serve the industry.

The first relates to advances in black box flight data recorder data (FDR) harvesting. Over a decade ago, FLYHT first demonstrated what might be considered getting “a camel though the eye of a needle” by using our AFIRS technology to transmit black box data in real time in-flight via a legacy Iridium narrowband link. We subsequently participated in the Boeing Eco-demonstrator in 2018 with an end-to-end solution performing black box data streaming and real-time visualization of that data on the ground. Now, ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) initiative is driving a need for timely recovery of flight data (TRFD) but while this is focused on future new build aircraft for accident investigation purposes, I believe that expanding real-time data transmission has immense value yet to be realized. With Iridium Certus the AFIRS Edge supports real-time transmission in-flight, whether it is for real-time black box data transmission or for real-time aircraft health monitoring.

With the AFIRS Edge the airline can also automate FDR downloads after landing. FDR data is troublesome to download by hand, but the data has great value in cases where the aircraft has experienced extreme stresses such as during turbulence or a hard landing. The AFIRS Edge FDR download capability makes it possible for Line Maintenance to avoid lengthy inspections and flight cancellations by examining decoded FDR data which includes details about the aircraft stresses that can be compared against OEM published limits

The second exciting product area relates to improving weather forecasting not only for flight operations but also for the world at large. Aircraft Based Observations (ABO) and Aeronautical Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) technology for weather and turbulence data reporting in place at many airlines continues to rely on legacy ACMS and ACARS technology which means it is expensive to implement and operate. With ABO/AMDAR what we are talking about here is essentially using the aircraft as a flying weather station or Radiosonde weather balloon and turbulence sensor. With the combination of AFIRS Edge ACMS function and Iridium Certus connectivity and our Water Vapor Sensing System (FLYHT-WVSS-II) technology, which FLYHT recently acquired, we will soon be delivering a technological overhaul for legacy ABO/AMDAR solutions to provide more data, more efficiently enabling additional benefits beyond the systems in service today. Water vapor data has been a missing component from most AMDAR reporting, and the expectation is that this data will enable up to 15% improvement in short term Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models. This water vapor data will also provide further environmental benefits as it is the key to enabling contrail avoidance for airlines and the consequential environmental benefits.

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