Collins Aerospace Teams up with Intel to for Future Flight Computing

Collins Aerospace Teams up with Intel to for Future Flight Computing

Collins Aerospace announced its Perigon computer will be the first certified aviation solution to use the Intel Atom x6400E processor. The advanced processor will underpin Perigon’s ability to support customers’ next-gen flight control and vehicle management needs across a broad range of commercial and defense platforms.

To bring advanced capabilities like single pilot and autonomous operations to life, future aircraft will require an order of magnitude increase in onboard computing power. Supported by Intel’s Atom x6400E, Perigon will deliver 20 times the processing power of Collins’ existing flight control computers and allow customers to load a variety of complex software applications, including fly-by-wire and autonomous flight control.

In addition, since the Atom x6400E delivers some of the highest processing power per watt of any processor on the market, it will strengthen Perigon’s ability to operate in harsh aircraft thermal environments by minimizing its power consumption and heat generation. The Intel Airworthiness Evidence Package will also help make Perigon FAA certifiable to facilitate aircraft level certification.

“Perigon connects decades of experience in flight control computing from Collins with industry-leading processing expertise from Intel,” said Henry Brooks, president, Power & Controls for Collins Aerospace. “This powerful combination of cutting-edge technologies will provide customers with a unique, next-gen solution to enable new performance capacity in future commercial and defense platforms.”

“We’re pleased to expand our longstanding relationship with Collins, as we work together to enable and simplify the certification of safety-critical aviation systems,” said Tony Franklin, GM of the Federal and Aerospace Division for Intel Corporation. “The Atom x6400E’s enhanced computing capabilities with Intel’s Airworthiness Evidence Package will play an integral role in enabling Perigon’s support of flight safety and time-critical applications for the next generation of aircraft, allowing customers to modernize their flight control and vehicle management for today’s and tomorrow’s aviation applications.”

With its unique combination of performance and flexibility, Perigon will enable customers to meet the flight computing requirements of tomorrow—with broad potential applications from commercial air transport, to sixth-gen fighters, to the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift program, to aerial firefighting. Depending on the customer’s needs, Perigon can be configured as simplex, duplex or triplex redundant, and will be available for commercial or military rotary and fixed wing platforms.

Avionics Software Testing

Avionics Software Testing

Avionics software testing ensures that avionics technology delivers its intended functions and that it does so safely and securely. What do industry experts consider best practices in the domain of avionics software testing? What are the standards of reference and the qualifications of those conducting the tests? And what are the current and coming testing developments? Here’s what the experts had to say.

Early and Often

One key question about avionics software testing is how often it should be conducted. There are several aspects to consider, according to Ricardo Camacho, director of safety and security compliance at Parasoft. “It is important that testing be performed as early and often as possible. For example, during requirements decomposition and architectural design, many organizations have adopted modeling because the complexity is so great that the need to abstract from text to pictures is required,” he said. “SysML or UML is the modeling language of choice. It gives the system engineer the ability to build a logical architecture, test it through simulation, further refine the design, and follow it with a physical architecture that can also be tested before handing it over to software development.”

Ricardo Camacho, Parasoft
Ricardo Camacho, Parasoft

While early testing of avionics software applications is usually performed in a simulated environment, i.e. “on-host testing,” DO-178C guidance requires the testing of software applications on the final hardware on which they will be hosted, said Nick Bowles, head of marketing at Rapita Systems. “This type of testing is known as ‘on-target’ testing and usually happens further along in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). On-target testing provides vital evidence that the software will perform as expected when hosted on the real avionics platform it is designed for.”

Nick Bowles, Rapita
Nick Bowles, Rapita

Across the industry, there are multiple avionics software testing techniques in use, Bowles noted. “While informal testing can take place, formal tests that count towards the certification of avionics software (such as DO-178C guidelines) should map directly to specific software requirements that are defined before software development begins,” he said. “To achieve higher-level testing, more of the final production software needs to be integrated together, so lower-level testing is possible earlier in the SDLC.”

To ensure that a sound system is built, it’s necessary to use a model execution or simulation to test the architecture and interfaces between the system’s parts, according to Camacho. “Testing will be performed again and again as the system evolves to the point that it is handed over to the software team for implementation,” he said. “In addition, system engineers define test cases on what and how the system should be tested for the quality assurance team to realize the test cases and perform the testing.”

cockpit

The “early and often” principle of avionics software testing changes when the software team determines a solid and deliverable codebase and hands it over to the quality assurance team, Camacho said. “As an independent third party, the QA team exercises the code and system to flush out any unidentified bugs or functional flaws. Compliance to standards like DO-178C and others is also often required. A lot of work goes into this, and it can take a QA team many months to achieve.”

Standard of Reference

Indeed, DO-178C (ED-12C in Europe) is the primary document that provides guidance for developing airborne software systems. “DO-178 was developed in the 1970s and defined a prescriptive set of design assurance processes for use in airborne software development focused on testing and documentation,” Bowles said. “In the 1980s, DO-178A was released, which introduced the concept of different software criticality levels and prescribed different activities for different levels. Released in 2012, DO-178C clarified details and removed inconsistencies from DO-178B. DO-178C also includes supplements that provide specific guidance for design assurance when specific technologies are used.”

Benjamin Brosgol, AdaCore
Benjamin Brosgol, AdaCore

The DO-178C standard for airborne software places a strong emphasis on verification in general and on testing in particular, according to Benjamin Brosgol, senior software engineer at AdaCore and vice chair of The Open Group FACE Consortium’s Technical Working Group. “The standard’s approach to testing has an important distinguishing characteristic: In contrast to so-called ‘white-box’ testing, in which test cases are derived from the source code’s control structure, DO-178C specifies that testing is always based directly on the software’s requirements,” he said. “Additionally, the major change from DO-178B was not so much in the ‘core’ document but rather the formulation of specialized supplements on model-based development and verification, object-oriented technology and related techniques, and formal methods. Using any of these technologies affects the nature and extent of the requirements for testing.”

programmer at screen

Regarding where avionics software test automation is headed, Camacho believes that the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning will bring about transformations that were not previously considered. “Just as new requirements to address security concerns have been developed, I believe that new requirements around autonomous avionic systems, particularly in civil aviation, is where we will see new standards arise,” he said.

According to Brosgol, a current industry trend is the increasing emphasis on cybersecurity, and this trend can affect testing in several ways. “One is the growing usage of ‘fuzzing’ as a technique for detecting vulnerabilities.

Another is the adoption of sophisticated static analysis techniques, including formal methods, to supplement testing and to prove security-based program properties such as correct information flows,” he said.

Conducting the Tests

There is no official accreditation for performing avionics software testing, and this means that potentially anyone can do so, Bowles pointed out. “However, there are certain qualities and skills that are important to be a good avionics software tester or ‘verification engineer’ as this figure is sometimes known. A background in software or system engineering is advantageous, as understanding how a system is developed is key in being able to effectively test it,” he said. “Furthermore, some software tests might need to be written in scripting languages that require programming knowledge.”

Typically, software engineers who perform software development and software engineers who become part of the QA team are allowed to conduct avionics software testing, Camacho said. “They are ‘allowed’ because they have the software background to develop software test cases needed to verify and validate avionic systems. There is no particular training required, except being a software engineer. The only type of training required for software engineers will be on the tools that help automate and perform testing.”

To help ensure that all the test cases needed have been created, C/C++test can perform code coverage, which highlights the code that has been exercised during testing, Camacho said. “Code that is unexecuted means that there is no test case that addresses that code. There are other software tools that compile and build test code, archive test files, execute test scripts that automate testing, capture test results, and produce test reports for proof of compliance and auditing purposes. So, just to reiterate, software engineers have the necessary education and background to be allowed to conduct avionics software testing.”

Current and Coming Developments

In the evolution of testing, the drivers have been safety and security. “This appears to be further expanding into multiple condition coverage (MCC), which is more thorough than modified condition decision coverage (MC/DC) and requires a much greater number of test cases — two to the power of the number of conditions in the code statement,” said Camacho. “MCC is not officially mandated, but it’s another level of safety that could be adopted in the future.”

Security boils down to securing the data, and that data exists in different forms at various levels of abstraction within the scope of the aircraft and avionics systems, Camacho explained. “Since these avionic systems are connected, one must secure them at every entry and exit point, including down to the subsystems and units of software that exist. Data at all these levels needs to be secure,” he said. “Testing to ensure that the data is secure is done through various test methods. Some of these include security scanning with coding standards like CERT, unit testing, system testing, fuzz testing, penetration testing, brute force attacks, and checking ingress and egress points for unauthorized networks.”

The software security objectives that avionics software testing also has to satisfy include the ones described in DO-326A and ED-202A, titled “Airworthiness Security Process,” said Paul Butcher, senior software engineer and AdaCore’s lead engineer in the UK for HICLASS. “These publications, and their supporting guidelines DO-356A and ED-203A, describe testing methodologies that differ from standard verification testing and instead introduce the term ‘refutation.’ The goal behind refutation testing is to plan a test strategy that aims to refute a claim that the system is not secure. More specifically, we utilize refutation testing techniques to measure security assurance by purposefully adopting the mindset of an attacker and trying to identify and show the exploitation of any application vulnerabilities.”

There are two distinct categories in security refutation testing techniques: dynamic and static, Butcher explained. “Static analysis techniques, including source code analyzers and formal verification, aim to identify potential run-time and logic errors prior to code execution. Dynamic analysis techniques, including constraint checking run-time environments and negative testing techniques such as fuzz testing, are exercised as the application is executing,” he said. “One way to consider the difference is to think of static analysis as the act of identifying known categories of vulnerabilities within the application, whilst dynamic analysis is more about finding unknown categories of vulnerabilities. Both techniques are complementary to each other, and the recommendation is to adopt a layered approach where multiple testing methodologies are used to argue security, and therefore safety, assurance.”

Presently, one of the biggest challenges facing the industry is the testing and certification of avionics software designed for use on multicore platforms, observed Bowles. “The adoption of multicore processors in the avionics industry is growing due to their improved SWaP characteristics and the long-term supply chain issues of sourcing single-core processors,” he said. “However, the use of multicore processors for safety-critical avionics applications presents a range of challenges due to their nondeterministic behavior. Guidance addressing the testing of multicore avionics software applications has been incorporated into DO-178C (ED-12C) via EASA’s recent A(M)C 20-193 document, with the FAA’s AC 20-193 version expected to be released shortly.”

Things are headed in the direction of incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning as part of avionics software testing, according to Camacho. “Testing is expensive for software avionics, so the next horizon in cutting cost, labor, and time needs to include artificial intelligence and machine learning. Testing where humans are involved is also error-prone, and these errors could be expensive. If artificial intelligence could analyze code and automatically determine how to test the code to ensure high-quality, safe, and secure avionic systems, that would be a dream come true for all industries developing software,” he said.

Cycle of Startup Disruption Continues to Advance the Aerospace Industry By Chris Brumitt, Vice President, Maine Pointe

Cycle of Startup Disruption Continues to Advance the Aerospace Industry By Chris Brumitt, Vice President, Maine Pointe

As the aerospace sector faces new competition and changes, how will long-time industry giants fare compared to the upstarts?

IBM, TWA, American Airlines, Nokia, Kodak — what do all these companies have in common? They were all stratospherically successful leaders in their industries that were brought down to earth by disruptive and innovative companies that entered their respective markets with aggressive business plans, technological innovation, flexible decision making and a heavy dose of brashness. And for many reasons, including hubris, inflexibility, entrenched thinking, and prioritizing cost over innovation, these companies were too slow to respond to their new competitive threats and paid a heavy price.

For decades, IBM was “Big Blue,” the most dominant stock on the New York Stock Exchange, with the company manufacturing as much as 70% of all business computers. Then along came a few upstart companies, including Apple, Dell and Compaq, that turned the computing world upside down, with more customer-friendly, intuitive and cost-effective approaches to bringing the world of computers into homes and small businesses. As the 1980s and 1990s wore on, these IBM clones’ ability to be nimble, creative, lean and mean turned IBM into just another competitor in a very congested market. By 2005, Lenovo had bought the last of IBM’s personal computer business and IBM was now a “business services” company — transformed and still relevant, but no longer the NYSE darling it had been.

So, why is this story an important lesson in today’s world? Because history really does tend to repeat itself, and there is no other business sector that is a better example of this concept right now than aerospace, specifically commercial space. For nearly 70 years, this sector has been dominated by a handful of stalwart players, including Boeing, Raytheon (now RTX), Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, and for most of that time, these giants (both in size and historical significance) have acted nearly as part of the U.S. government, with massive contracts that can last decades. These entities built their dynastic influence through dominant engineering organizations, top-notch physics, nearly unlimited R&D budgets and production capabilities that have allowed them to control customer mind share, unchallenged since the days of Eisenhower…until now.

Enter Blue Origin, Virgin, Rocket Lab and a host of others in commercial aerospace, including another little company called SpaceX. In just under a decade, these ‘upstarts’ have been able to turn commercial aerospace and the aerospace sector in general on its head. Unencumbered by the long-term, engrained models that the vanguard of aerospace primes have relied on, these well-funded, fast reacting businesses are able to utilize large investment dollars in IRAD (Internal Research and Development) to innovate with a more “off the shelf” product mentality. This approach has allowed them to achieve cost, quality and delivery at a much faster pace and with an approach to the customer that may not be the perfect design, but meets most of the specifications and is sold for far less than the primes can deliver. Faced with restrictive funding limitations and delivery timelines, the customer (NASA, etc.) has very little choice but to work with the “disruptor.” The result of course is that more and more contracts are being won by this new breed of aerospace companies that model themselves more closely with other high-tech, rapid development sectors like robotics, computers, and mobile phones.

The upside to all of this disruption in commercial aerospace is that new technologies and innovation are happening at speeds we have not seen since the early space race. Aided by powerful cloud, AI, digital and model-based systems engineering, these newer aerospace sector players are utilizing capabilities they learned in other industries like technology and computers, automotive (Tesla), and supply chain/distribution (Amazon/AWS). The outcome of these new innovative approaches is an exponential growth of new and previously unthought-of capabilities like first-stage re-entry and vertical landing on a drone ship and launching hundreds of mini-satellites into LEO. Additionally, the other lesser-known benefit from this disruptive influence is that competition breeds cost reduction and speed to market. The trick is to be able to accelerate the overall development time while reducing cost for the customer and still meeting/exceeding quality expectations. The balancing act that must take place in this bid-award-design/develop-produce process is complex and involves creating a highly collaborative organization that allows for creativity through design and engineering excellence while continuously monitoring and evolving what should be vertically integrated or partnered with outside sources in order to optimize cost while reducing production time.

The benefits of this increased competition go far beyond just the amazing technology that we see being launched into orbit on a daily basis. The results of the race to win the next contract and create the next new innovation ha been a plethora of spin-off technologies that have benefited we earth-bound humans in ways that many of us never realized. Most people know about Velcro and Tang (think Gemini and Apollo days), but there are many products and technologies that are currently being spun out of the commercial aerospace race that impact our lives every day. Products like aerogel insulation, collaborative robotic technology, controlled environment agriculture, environmental sensors and even ventilators that have been used during the pandemic. NASA actually released a publication, Spinoff 2022, that describes thousands of innovations that are being utilized to better our world today.

As always when there is a fundamental sea change in an industry sector, the question becomes, how will the long-standing giants deal with their new aggressively innovative interlopers? In the case of the aerospace sector, and particularly commercial space, how will the primes respond and how quickly can they adapt to match the speed and cost advantages that the smaller, more flexible organizations employ to gain market share? Will they adapt and evolve to find even greater success (Apple, Amazon) or will they lose relevance in the coming years?

Most importantly, how will this new level of competition, in such a dynamic and demanding environment, enable us in our quest to continue exploring beyond our world and benefit us through new and creative technologies with our critical need to make our current home safer and more habitable for generations to come? One thing is for sure, if the vanguard aerospace primes and the disruptors can match each other in innovation capability and perhaps work together from time to time, this Space Race 2.0 has the potential to do more for humanity than ever before.

Chris Brumitt is vice president and industry partner 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. His responsibilities include market analysis and business engagement to help clients accelerate improvements across the end-to-end supply chain and operations. Brumitt’s past experience working with top performing, Fortune 500 companies has been across many industry areas, including aerospace-defense, aviation, industrial manufacturing, electronics, high tech/computer systems, energy, airlines and financial services.

Implementing Emergency Management: The Necessity for Airline Preparedness By Brad Pond, VP, Transportation, Juvare

Implementing Emergency Management: The Necessity for Airline Preparedness By Brad Pond, VP, Transportation, Juvare

Addressing threats to flight is a constant challenge for airlines. In January 2022, Verizon and AT&T’s 5G c-band spectrum rollouts halted flights as fears rose over 5G’s interference with altimeters, the instrument used to measure a plane’s height above the earth. In a statement penned by CEOs of multiple major airlines, the cell providers were warned of an impending catastrophic aviation crisis if the rollouts continued.

Threats to flight are generally clear-cut — natural disasters, mechanical malfunctions, or hijackers — but the A4A’s request to stop rollouts is a reminder that new threats emerge in aerospace, as they do in any other industry. And as threats emerge, we need adequate systems and mechanisms to help prepare for and respond to them.

Aviation disasters can cost airlines millions of dollars and create irreversible reputational damage while also threatening the life of every single passenger. An airline’s direct cost of a crash averages around $9.1 million, with indirect compensation costs rising even higher if the airline is found at fault for a crash. Thus, airlines must be fully prepared to deal with any emergency and mitigate further calamities when disaster strikes. Additional costs and damages will be significantly reduced when airlines invest in comprehensive emergency management.

Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act

In an aviation accident, an airline must evaluate a crisis and determine the cause and impact while at the same time communicating with the passengers’ families. This is a complex series of workflows. Emergency response and disaster relief plans incorporating automation, connection, and management create a more efficient communication network. Under the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996, airlines are required to:

• Provide a toll-free telephone line for victims’ families.

• Inform families of the death of family members.

• Help families travel to the accident. location and provide them room and board

• List all passengers on the flight and tell families before publicizing the list.

This is an incredibly fractured process if the right communication, data management, tracking system, and response plan are not in place.

Elements of Emergency Management

One of the most crucial elements of emergency management is the need for effective internal and external communication networks. Airlines and their employees should be able to access critical data without undue delay or administrative friction. A significant issue facing airlines’ emergency preparedness is a lack of coordination between airlines, airports, and personnel. Airlines must be able to disseminate information efficiently in any situation. Far too often, the airlines and their crews face barriers to effective communication, with information or correspondence failing to reach key stakeholders in a timely fashion. With so many lines of communication that appear in response to a crisis, antiquated systems can lead to errors and wasted time. Airlines need to respond to a disaster without taking time to bridge data boundaries and communication gaps while simultaneously reacting to an emergency. With the proper emergency management, these detrimental communication gaps will no longer hinder operations.

The foundation of excellent emergency preparedness is situational awareness. Airlines can easily keep pace with current activities while automating event management 24/7 when deploying emergency management plans. There is often a lack of critical information provided to key players when disaster strikes. If safety managers do not understand precisely what to do, they will inevitably have difficulty managing the crisis. No airline member should be left out of the loop, and the entirety of an organization must receive the appropriate level of information in a timely fashion.

Airlines also need to adequately train their employees in crisis management to have a comprehensive emergency management system. An airline must be able to act swiftly and effectively from the ground up. All employees must be trained in emergency response, from operations to passenger service agents. This will ensure that response efforts holistically reflect the airline’s commitment to safety while also empowering every team member to serve a purpose effectively.

Emergency preparedness mechanisms will provide tracking for passengers and crews that will significantly help abide by the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act. With the proper data management and visibility in place, airlines can quickly organize while informing the necessary parties. Tracking elements will provide all the information on passengers and crew involved in a crisis, denoting any specific aid required during an incident.

Inevitably, having adequate emergency preparedness will also reduce business costs. Emergency preparedness plans can help cut costs by reducing duplication of efforts and consolidating work. By implementing collaborative operations systems, havoc can be captured, reshaped, and redirected to make work more productive.

Fly High with Situational Awareness

While emergency preparedness and response platforms require investment, they provide an incredible level of security and value for both airlines and their passengers. An airline’s reputation will hinge on its preparedness and response in an industry where a crisis lurks in the shadows. An emergency management system is the difference between being credited for handling a bad situation well or being blamed for an avoidable disaster.

Brad Pond serves as vice president of the transportation vertical at Juvare. He is a 21-year veteran of the WebEOC adventure. A former U. S. Navy submariner, Pond earned his BS in computer science from Limestone College and his MBA from The Citadel. Juvare is a worldwide leader in emergency preparedness and critical incident management and response technology. Juvare solutions empower corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, healthcare facilities, and volunteer organizations to leverage real-time data to manage incidents faster and more efficiently, protecting people, property, and brands.

TruWeather Solutions Forges Partnership with Iris Automation for UAS Weather-enhanced Ground-based Surveillance

Micro weather data and analytics firm Weather Solutions has joined forces with safety avionics pioneer Iris Automation to integrate TruWeather’s micro weather services and cost-effective weather sensors into Iris Automation’s Casia G ground-based surveillance system (GBSS). 

This meshed network will provide real-time integrated communications, collision avoidance and micro-weather data to operators.

Micro weather or low-altitude local atmospheric conditions can often substantially differ from that in higher altitudes, injecting uncertainty into the safety equation. This can significantly impact uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced air mobility (AAM) operations and revenue.

According to an FAA-funded MIT Lincoln Lab study, currently only 3% of the U.S. has accurate surface weather and cloud ceiling report measurements. 

“This is what we refer to as a data desert,” said TruWeather CEO, Don Berchoff. “Up to 40% of crewed aviation flights that are either canceled or delayed due to weather could have flown. Even higher scrub rates will occur for UAS’ flying beyond-visual-line-of-sight, with no pilot on board to spot problems, unless the surface and low altitude weather measurement gap can be closed. The industry requires even more low altitude weather measurements to increase data fidelity and flights per airframe. Without this, uncertain micro weather and wind conditions will result in conservative business decisions. Failure to resolve this problem will result in fewer flights, disgruntled customers and significant revenue losses.”

That’s where additional weather sensors come into play. TruWeather recently turned its focus to sensor placement and density optimization to capture microscale features with rapid update, at the lowest cost possible. Incorporating weather sensors into Iris Automation’s non-radar based passive ground based system, Casia G, simply made sense for both companies.

Casia G is a ground-based detect and avoid solution, to allow operators to better detect approaching aircraft and avoid collisions. It leverages the same artificial intelligence and computer vision technology used in the company’s Casia® series of onboard integrated systems, including its 360 degree / 6-camera system, Casia X. The Casia product line provides unparalleled situational awareness for intelligent decision-making, including alerts and manual or autonomous collision avoidance.

All Casia onboard systems can detect a small general aviation aircraft at an average distance of 1.2 km with a 93.2% detection rate. Comparatively, Casia’s milliseconds reaction time exceeds that of human pilots, who take about 12.5 seconds on average to avoid collision threats.

Because Casia G is sensor agnostic, it can be easily integrated with weather sensors to add real time weather data to nodes (the UA, Casia G, the command center), in addition to its already seamless air and ground-based communications. 

“Micro weather information is critical to commercial drone operations, avoiding aborted flights and unnecessary risks and overhead in order to meet the FAA 107 weather minimums. combined with Casia G, the TruWeather solution provides up to the minute, highly localized climate information to ensure safe drone operations in one easy setup,” said Lori DeMatteis, VP of sales, marketing and customer success at Iris Automation. “This meets the FAA’s stringent requirements and offers the ability to bring together all the required data in one dashboard. This partnership will drive the expansion of BVLOS safety best practices, offering clients immediate value to ensure operational safety, and rapidly changing climate information for emergency preparedness activities, ensuring both public and personnel safety.”  

The vast deployments expected around the world with this solution will also feed continual learning and reporting improvements into TruWeather’s micro-weather products and services.

ICELAND’S ISAVIA ANS OPERATIONAL AIRSPACE WIDE WITH AIREON DATA

Isavia ANS, Iceland’s Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), has achieved new levels of operational efficiency with expanded use of data from Aireon, a leader in space-based ADS-B for enhanced air traffic surveillance and aviation data analytics.

Isavia ANS has been at the forefront of ADS-B surveillance since 2014 when it first went operational with ground-based data. Isavia ANS has continued its modernization of surveillance with a successful partnership with Aireon, going operational with Aireon data in 2020 in its southern airspace. Now, for the first time ever, thanks to Aireon’s best-in-class ADS-B data, Isavia has surveillance for its entire airspace, which consists of 5.4 million square kilometers of controlled airspace that extends from the North Pole to Scotland and from the prime meridian in Greenwich to west of Greenland.

“The addition of Aireon’s space-based ADS-B in Isavia ANS’s North Sector increases the safety of our service and presents the opportunity for efficiency gains in the future. This implementation adds to Isavia ANS’s current combination of space-based and ground-based ADS-B stations, thus improving Isavia ANS’s existing transatlantic surveillance corridor connecting Europe and North America. Once again, Aireon’s implementation team were exemplary and we are proud to be working with Aireon,” said Kjartan Briem, Isavia ANS CEO.

“Isavia ANS is a perfect candidate for space-based ADS-B, given its location near the pole and oceanic routes. We are proud to partner with Isavia and look forward to seeing all the benefits ADS-B can bring to this airspace,” said Don Thoma, Aireon CEO.

Dr. Carol Marsh OBE joins Celestia UK in Edinburgh

Celestia UK has announced that Dr. Carol Marsh OBE, CEng FIET, chair of the IET Council and of the Engineering Policy Group Scotland, has joined the business as its new head of Digital Systems.

Dr. Carol Marsh

Dr. Marsh joins Celestia UK from Leonardo, where she held various senior roles and most recently was Deputy Head of Electronics Engineering. She will expand the digital systems capabilities for satcoms, signal processing algorithms and distributed platforms which augment Celestia UK’s RF and antenna expertise.

Her appointment comes at a pivotal moment for the business, supporting its current growth trajectory. Celestia UK is developing the next generation of Ka-Band very high throughput gateways for satcoms and aero terminals, with engineering design teams at both Heriot-Watt University Research Park, Edinburgh and Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.


A Chartered Engineer, EUR ING and Past President of the Women’s Engineering Society, Dr. Marsh has had a distinguished career in industry and academia, winning a plethora of awards in technology and for inspiring women in engineering.  In 2020, she was awarded an OBE for services to diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Marsh was awarded the degree of Doctor of Engineering in System Level Integration from the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Strathclyde in 2011 and holds an HND in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Edinburgh Napier University.

She brings more than 30 years of industrial experience at senior engineering levels including Senior Design Engineer for GEC Marconi Avionics, becoming their first engineer to produce a design using an FPGA.  She then went on to hold principal digital design and FPGA engineer roles at BAE Systems and ECS Technology, respectively.

In her previous role at Leonardo, she was responsible for overseeing the business’ electronic processes, tools and resource planning as well as promoting STEM, diversity and was the Firmware design authority.  

Malachy Devlin, CEO of Celestia UK says, “We are indeed fortunate that one of the country’s most experienced, award-winning women engineers with so much knowledge has joined our business. 

“Carol brings a wealth of expertise in creating advanced architectures and driving technology strategy for mission-critical systems, alongside extensive managerial experience, which will continue to expedite our growth and technical success,” he says.

“The Celestia UK team is working on really exciting innovative technology that is creating new options for the satcom marketplace, and I am very excited to be getting involved in the design and ultimately the production processes at such an important juncture,” said Dr. Marsh.

“For me, it’s the chance to get back to engineering development as well as be involved in the space industry which here in Scotland is growing faster than anywhere else in the UK,” she adds. “I’m looking forward to being able to put all the experience I’ve gained in the field to help Celestia UK achieve its aims, as well as continuing to promote engineering, STEM and women engineers.”

The NASA/JPL Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Team Awarded the 2021 Robert J. Collier Trophy


The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) awarded NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Team the 2021 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, thereby opening the skies of Mars and other worlds for future scientific discovery and exploration.”

Since 1911, the Collier Trophy has been awarded annually for “… the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.” The list of Collier recipients represents a timeline of air and space achievements, marking major milestones in the history of flight. The 525-pound bronze trophy is on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“While NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter team expanded the flight envelope by 100-million miles, we know we didn’t do it alone,” said Larry James, Interim-Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “For it was the efforts and ingenuity of those women and men who developed and tested cutting — edge vehicles before us that helped make powered-controlled flight on another planet possible. That our Mars Helicopter name will now appear on this iconic trophy alongside so many of these air and space giants is an honor, and fuels us to continue exploring the skies over the Red Planet.”

One hundred and seventeen years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first powered flight on our planet, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter performed this amazing feat on another world. On April 19, 2021, Ingenuity lifted off from the surface of Mars, climbed to the prescribed altitude of 10 feet, and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight, thereby becoming the first aircraft in history to make a powered-controlled flight on another planet.

Since its first flight, Ingenuity has accomplished all of its technology demonstration goals and successfully transitioned into service as a science scout for the Perseverance rover, investigating promising science targets and safe routes of travel for its companion and demonstrating the efficiency and safety benefits of the first multi-robot explorers on another planet. The helicopter’s color camera has also been used to collect high-definition imagery to assist the science team in identification and assessment of intriguing, and in some cases previously unknown, geologic features. To date, the mission’s official logbook has entries for 24 flights and a cumulative flight time of over 43 minutes.

“The challenges of autonomously flying a helicopter in the atmosphere of Mars cannot be overstated,” expressed NAA Chairman, Jim Albaugh. “This accomplishment truly warrants and has earned this year’s Collier Trophy.”

NAA President, Greg Principato added, “Almost no one thought a helicopter could be flown on Mars. There were many who thought the project was not worth the effort. It is by overcoming such doubts that great achievements happen and that’s what the Ingenuity Team did. It is our honor to present them with the 2021 Collier Trophy.”

The Collier Trophy Selection Committee, comprised of 44 aviation and aerospace professionals, reviewed presentations from four nominees and selected the NASA/JPL Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Team as the recipient of the Collier Trophy on March 31, 2022.

Click here to see related story about Ingenuity from the Autumn 2021 issue of Aerospace Tech Review.

FAA Commissions New Air Traffic Control Tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today dedicated the newly commissioned and environmentally sustainable air traffic control tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

“Aviation is an invaluable part of our American life and our national economy. The new, taller control tower will enable the airport to continue to expand its flight operations to grow alongside the vibrant Charlotte economy,” said FAA Deputy Administrator A. Bradley Mims.

The 370-foot-tall air traffic control tower has an 850-square-foot tower cab that provides air traffic controllers a bird’s-eye view of the airfield. At the base, a 42,000-square-foot building houses an expanded terminal radar approach control (TRACON) that handles flights departing and arriving into the Charlotte airspace. Both are designed to accommodate current and future operations.

“The commissioning of the new air traffic control tower by the Federal Aviation Administration is a testament to the importance of Charlotte in the National Airspace System,” said CLT Chief Executive Officer Haley Gentry. “The tower is equipped with the latest state-of-the art NextGen technology to keep up with the current and future demand of our growing airfield. This modern infrastructure is another display of the strong partnership we have at CLT and we are grateful to the FAA for this investment to make air traffic more efficient.”

The new Charlotte tower is the second-tallest tower in the nation after the 398-foot-tall tower at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The existing tower was commissioned in 1979. The facility’s operational growth, new air traffic control technology and the airport’s addition of new runways and taxiways made the height and size of the old tower obsolete.

A total of 179 FAA employees work at the Charlotte tower and TRACON – 136 in air traffic services and 43 in technical operations. Technical Operations employees install and maintain air traffic control equipment. The tower became operational in late February 2022. The estimated final cost of the project is approximately $94 million. 

GE Achieves 400 Million Flight Hours and 37 Years of Navigation Database On-Time-Delivery

GE Aviation recently achieved 400 million flight hours and 37 years of on time delivery of their navigation database to airlines globally.

GE’s navigation database (NDB) provides worldwide coverage and access to more than 18,000 airports. Each NDB is customized for the customer and allows the ability to include their own tailored terminal procedures and company routes from a GE navigation database and test them against FMS flight planning and predictions software. GE’s experts provide 24 hour per day, seven days a week customer service.

“We are grateful to have the dedicated team, technology and experience to enable us to produce and make 150,000 navigation database deliveries to our airline customers,” said Jeremy Barbour, general manager, Connected Aircraft for GE Aviation. “This support of our flight management system portfolio provides a range of compatibility and functionality for an airline’s navigation data requirements.”

GE Aviation offers a variety of tools, data products and services in support of its flight management systems, and with a wide range of compatibility and functionality designed to meet the many navigational data needs of the airline community. One such tool is GE’s NDB Explorer which enables an interactive view into the content of the navigation data through browse, search and compare functionality, and even allows customers to view NDB content graphically.

GE has long-standing partnerships with leading global data-service providers. These partnerships and supporting processes have been in operation for decades and ensure that deliveries are on time and compliant with relevant international quality standards. GE also works closely with the data-service provider to explore opportunities to enhance data-service offerings and deliver increased value to the airlines.

GE’s flight management system (FMS) assists military and airline flight crew in managing and optimizing a flight from takeoff to landing. Included in GE’s FMS advancements are the TrueCourse FMS and Connected FMS providing connectivity and new software architecture allowing FMS functions to be developed as modular components for ease of update.

GE continues to make advancements in its flight management technology to help customers and operators stay ahead of the technology and below the cost curve. With GE’s Connected FMS, operators will be able to achieve even greater gains for their fleet through applications that take advantage of on-board high bandwidth connectivity and electronic data exchange.

GE Aviation’s flight management software provides increased situational awareness and operation efficiencies on more than 14,000 aircraft including Airbus A320/330/340/A330 MRTT, Boeing 737 (all variants), P-8, E-6B, USAF E-4, C-130J, LM-100J and KC-46. GE certified their first flight management system in 1984.

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