How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity
INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

How to Thrive in the Face of Adversity

There’s no shortage of quotes to be found on finding strength and resolve in times of crisis, but this one struck a chord. Eight months since COVID-19 gripped the aviation industry and we’re realizing that the infection scenario forecasts weren’t dire enough and our seemingly robust industry has been severely impacted.

Many lives have been lost or upended. But in times of crisis, we need to come together and summon the courage to learn, grow and move forward with a common sense of purpose.

As a prolonged downturn continues to threaten the existence of some of the most highly respected brands in our industry and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands, we must find that commonality and seize every opportunity to become more innovative than ever. Our ability to reliably deliver a safe flight experience is nothing short of miraculous given the environment and Herculean requirements that are part and parcel of aviation, but now we have to achieve that same level of excellence on the efficiency front, overnight.

Leadership requires honest and objective assessments of opportunities, strengths, weaknesses and threats. As I consider possible future industry outcomes from my vantage point, what worries me the most? A stubborn reluctance to evolve.

“Pushing the envelope” implies increasing risk and testing boundaries, something best left to daredevils and domains in which the stakes aren’t as high as in aviation. We don’t need to recklessly innovate, but we do need to rapidly evolve with urgency. I fully acknowledge that the idea of change can be scary when we’ve been historically driven by process and procedure, but risks can be creatively mitigated.

As I look at new ways for the AireXpert team to use our problem-solving skills and technology in this challenging environment, I’m growing increasingly concerned that we’re collectively underemphasizing the need to become more efficient and leaner. In conversation with leadership teams, a common theme seems to be that we’re not being nearly aggressive enough to solve many of our most pressing problems which threaten the viability of aircraft operators and MRO’s large and small.

In the world of airline technical operations, it’s difficult to cut costs in a meaningful way particularly when the reduction target number is large. No one relishes the thought of slashing costs via layoffs, yet as aircraft remain parked for long term storage or eventual retirement, yet it could happen. Where do we look to find answers that result in significant gains without a devastating people’s lives?

Much of the opportunity can be found in purpose-built, technology based solutions focused on extracting more ROI from existing resources. We’ve already seen the enormous improvements and advancements that technology delivers in the areas of passenger experience and above-the-wing product delivery, but we’re way behind below-the-wing.

Technologies which only recently seemed to be sidelined by regulatory resistance suddenly have traction and are not only to accelerating the pace of maintenance, but increasing safety. Regulatory agencies across the world, while still hyper vigilant, have opened their minds to alternative means of maintaining quality control and assurance standards in this restrictive travel environment. The door has been opened.

Innovators recognize that they have to overcome two primary obstacles; a) the perception of risk b) their solution has to truly be a solution, not just a tool. For example, a drone (for aircraft inspections), by itself, is not a solution. It has the potential to become a solution when it seamlessly integrates with other aspects of a maintenance operation.

Since this is truly a collaborative effort, we all have to expand our perspectives to adopt new technologies and solutions. When I started working in aviation, I’d never have dreamed that certain RII tasks (Required Inspection Items) could be witnessed and approved without a physical presence being onsite. Today, it’s become a reality and we’re already seeing the results. That’s just one example that has enabled us to become much more efficient without sacrificing high standards.

To those on the front lines, you have a unique perspective and window into a problem which simply can’t be comprehended by those who don’t intimately understand your role. Speak up, use your voice as an individual. Use your collective voices.

To those at the top of the organizational chart, your view can become obscured. You may miss huge opportunities to grow revenue, reduce costs or simply become much better because of blind spots which limit your visibility. Those of you who spend time on the hangar floor or routinely connect with those on the front lines get it. Trust and listen to those voices.

What else concerns me? We remain too isolated. At this crucial moment in time when we could be an incredibly powerful force, we’re not nearly as cohesive as we should be. We’re millions strong with a unifying commonality, but we haven’t yet scratched the surface of what’s possible when we’re truly connected across city, country and the world.

I’m always surprised at how little we seem to know about the company across the airfield or twenty miles down the road and often shocked at the number of messages across social media platforms which indicate a lack of knowledge about job or business opportunities outside of a very small personal radius.

We need the power of social networking to source and fill whatever openings exist. As technically minded individuals, we tend to underemphase the necessity of connecting with peers and building professional relationships. We also need to adopt an inclusiveness mindset.

I’m seeing glimmers of hope. The velocity of change is another conversation I’m always willing to have with engaged teams. Notwithstanding social distancing guidelines, we’re decidedly better together.

As the founder of AireXpert, Andy Hakes enjoys using his lessons learned during decades in the airline industry to solve real-world problems. He can be reached at andy.hakes@eng.io.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

New Drone Technology Aims to Improve Ability to Forecast Volcanic Eruptions

Specially-adapted drones developed by an international team have been gathering data from never-before-explored volcanoes that they say will enable local communities to better forecast future eruptions.

The cutting-edge research at Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea is also improving scientists’ understanding of how volcanoes contribute to the global carbon cycle, key to sustaining life on Earth.

The ABOVE project was an international endeavour, bringing together leading experts from Bristol with others across the world, all with previous hands-on experience of using aerial robotics to study volcanic emissions.

The team included researchers from Earth Sciences, Aerospace Engineering and Geographical Sciences at Bristol, as well as specialists from the USA, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, led by Dr Emma Liu at UCL. Together they co-created solutions to the challenges of measuring gas emissions from active volcanoes, using modified long-range drones.

Volcanic emissions are a critical stage of the Earth’s carbon cycle – the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and ocean – but CO2 measurements have so far been limited to a relatively small number of the world’s estimated 500 degassing volcanoes.

Measurements need to be collected very close to active vents and, at hazardous volcanoes like Manam, drones are the only way to obtain samples safely.

The team’s findings, published in Science Advances, show for the first time how it is possible to combine measurements from the air, earth, and space to learn more about the most inaccessible, highly active volcanoes on the planet.

By adding miniaturized gas sensors, spectrometers and direct sampling devices, the team was able to fly the drone 2km high and 6km away to reach Manam’s summit, where they captured gas samples to be analysed within hours.

Calculating the ratio between sulphur and carbon dioxide levels in a volcano’s emissions is critical to determining how likely an eruption is to take place, as it helps volcanologists establish the source of its magma.

Project lead Dr Emma Liu (UCL Earth Sciences) said: “Manam hasn’t been studied in detail but we could see from satellite data that it was producing strong emissions. The resources of the in-country volcano monitoring institute are small and the team has an incredible workload, but they really helped us make the links with the community living on Manam island.”

Dr Kieran Wood, from the Bristol’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, worked closely with Dr Liu, to plan and organize the expedition. The trip in May 2019 was Dr Wood’s third to PNG, where he was involved in co-ordinating logistics, building cooperation with the other teams, and providing training for staff at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory.

“The ABOVE campaign was the successful culmination of several years of development and planning. This was a rare and exciting opportunity to have so many leading researchers from around the globe, all with previous field-work experience, focused on the same goals. It was very important that we  were as ready as possible for this one, hence we had refined the technology over several prior expeditions,” said Dr Wood, who served as technical expert and pilot for the Bristol team.

As well as being co-author of this study, Dr Wood is lead author of a complimentary paper: BVLOS UAS Operations in Highly-Turbulent Volcanic Plumes, published this week in Frontiers in Robotics & AI, which focuses on the flight mechanics and the drone used by the Bristol team.

Dr Matthew Watson, a volcanologist from Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences added: “This was a really great project with a number of key outcomes. We learnt a lot about little studied volcanic systems using a suite of state-of-the-art measuring systems”

Understanding the factors that control volcanic carbon emissions in the present day will reveal how the climate has changed in the past and therefore how it may respond in the future to current human impacts.

Co-author Professor Alessandro Aiuppa (University of Palermo) described the findings as ‘a real advance in our field’, adding: “Ten years ago you could have only stared and guessed what Manam’s CO2 emissions were.

“If you take into account all the carbon released by global volcanism, it’s less than a per cent of the total emission budget, which is dominated by human activity. In a few centuries, humans are acting like thousands of volcanoes. If we continue to pump carbon into the atmosphere, it will make monitoring and forecasting eruptions using aerial gas observations even harder.”

Co-author Professor Tobias Fischer (University of New Mexico), added: “In order to understand the drivers of climate change you need to understand the carbon cycle in the earth.

“We wanted to quantify the carbon emission from this very large carbon dioxide emitter. We had very few data in terms of carbon isotope composition, which would identify the source of the carbon and whether it is the mantle, crust or sediment. We wanted to know where that carbon comes from.”

Following the fieldwork, the researchers raised funds to buy computers, solar panels and other technology to enable the local community – who have since put together a disaster preparedness group – to communicate via satellite from the island, and to provide drone operations training to Rabaul Volcanological Observatory staff to assist in their monitoring efforts.

Paper:
Aerial strategies advance volcanic gas measurements at inaccessible, strongly degassing volcanoes’ by EJ. Liu et al., in Science Advances.
The DOI for this paper will be 10.1126/sciadv.abb9103.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Xenex Awards Exclusive Contract to Astronics for Manufacturing Support of LightStrike Disinfecting Robots

Astronics Corporation  provider of advanced technologies for global aerospace, defense and other mission critical industries, and Xenex® Disinfection Services Inc. (“Xenex”), the world leader in UV disinfection for healthcare facilities, today announced Xenex has awarded a $20 million contract to Astronics to assist in the manufacturing of Xenex’s unique LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots.  Xenex’s patented pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection technology is proven to achieve a 99.99% level of disinfection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in two minutes.   

“We have had the honor of knowing Xenex for over a decade and were in an ideal situation to support the rapid expansion of their cost-effective, reliable and durable disinfecting robots,” Michael Kuehn, president of Astronics’ Connectivity Systems and Certification operation (CSC), said. “Our manufacturing expertise and capacity have put us in a position to support Xenex’s efforts to ramp up their business in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

LightStrike robots emit bursts of high energy UV light to quickly destroy harmful viruses, bacteria, and spores, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.  The high intensity UV light spans the entire germicidal spectrum (200-315 nm), deactivating the pathogens at the wavelengths where they are most vulnerable.  Over 40 published peer reviewed studies support the efficacy of the LightStrike technology, and unlike continuous single spectrum UV light generated by mercury bulbs, the pulsed UV light produced by LightStrike does not damage expensive materials present in hospitals, hotels and other environments.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

FAA Concludes UAS Pilot Program, Announces New Program: BEYOND

A Presidential Memorandum established the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) on October 25, 2017. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) instituted it as a three-year program to enable state, local, and tribal governments, in collaboration with industry to advance more complex UAS operations in the National Airspace System (NAS). Under the IPP, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) executed Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with 10 state, local, and tribal governments to conduct advanced UAS operations to advance safe and secure integration. One of those participants, the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida, withdrew from the program in early 2019.

The nine IPP lead participants accomplished many achievements under the IPP, and the FAA shared the relevant data and lessons learned with the appropriate policymakers and regulatory teams within the FAA and DOT to inform regulations, policy, and guidance. The FAA concluded the IPP on October 25, 2020 as mandated by statute, and decided to continue the partnerships and progress it made under the IPP to continue to address remaining challenges.

Program Overview

The FAA is tackling the remaining challenges of UAS integration through a new program called BEYOND. These challenge areas are:

  • Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations that are repeatable, scalable and economically viable with specific emphasis on infrastructure inspection, public operations and small package delivery.
  • Leveraging industry operations to better analyze and quantify the societal and economic benefits of UAS operations.
  • Focusing on community engagement efforts to collect, analyze and address community concerns.

The BEYOND program started on October 26, 2020 to continue the partnerships with eight of the nine IPP participants.

The program will focus on operating under established rules rather than waivers, collecting data to develop performance-based standards, collecting and addressing community feedback and understanding the societal and community benefits, and to streamline the approval processes for UAS integration.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

AirBridgeCargo Airlines Partnering with Sonoco ThermoSafe to Use New Pegasus ULD Passive Container

AirBridgeCargo Airlines, part of Volga-Dnepr Group, expands its Master Lease Agreement with Sonoco ThermoSafe to enable its customers worldwide to transport life-saving and healthcare products within Pegasus ULD passive container (passive container – ULD capable to maintain internal temperature environment during a certain period of time without charge). The latest Sonoco addition will guarantee secure, trackable, and reliable transportation of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments of up to 998 kg. The new ULD has been engineered to create an enhanced cargo operations experience for all the stakeholders with the cutting-edge smart capabilities for data capturing, recording everything from temperature to tilt. Apart from that, Pegasus ULD loads optimally into the cargo airplane, being easily handled and repositioned, which is time- and labor-saving, especially when one deals with pharmaceutical cargo, and maintains the temperature range from +2C till +8C.  

Yulia Celetaria, global pharma director for AirBridgeCargo Airlines, comments: “We are delighted to move one step further together with Sonoco ThermoSafe and introduce this revolutionary ULD to our customers which creates a number of benefits and simplify the operations process. Since 2019, we have been working with Sonoco to guarantee safe and reliable healthcare logistics, which has become of paramount importance this year. Sonoco ThermoSafe has been able to quickly adjust to the market demands and engineer the new Pegasus ULD, which will be highly appreciated by the Life Science and Healthcare community, especially for large volumes of pharmaceutical shipments”.

“The inclusion of our Pegasus Passive Unit Load Device to ABC Pharma, will offer our mutual customers peace of mind performance-wise; and a more cost-effective way for transporting life-saving drugs around the globe,” Bourji Mourad, Director, Global Logistics & Partner Management, Sonoco ThermoSafe – Leasing Services adds.

With over two-fold surge in healthcare shipments which tipped over 40,000 tonnes for the first eight months of 2020 and the industry prep for COVID-19 vaccines transportation, AirBridgeCargo has been strengthening its relations with container lease providers, expanding the number of passive and active container options for its customers across the globe. On top of this together with Volga-Dnepr Group, it leverages demand for return shipments working under various logistics solutions to position containers back to their original stations, including using charter flight options.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Nasmyth Group Signs Multi-Million Pound Engineering Contract with Incora

NasmythGroup confirmed that it has signed a multi-million pound contract with Incora to manufacture precision engineered components for multiple platforms including new and aftermarket OE (Original Engine) Build and support to Legacy Engines.

The seven-year contract will be carried out by the Nasmyth Bulwell team, from their manufacturing facility in Pinxton, Nottinghamshire and Nasmyth Group’s manufacturing team in Asia. For 60 years, Nasmyth Bulwell has provided high quality, uniquely integrated precision engineering and manufacturing solutions for the global aerospace industry.

Nasmyth Bulwell specializes in the manufacture of solid machine solutions including precision parts, kits, airframe assemblies and sub-assemblies using the latest CAD/CAM technology to interface with customer design teams.

Excellence in engineering and cutting-edge up to 5-axis technology has positioned Nasmyth Bulwell at the forefront of precision machining, producing quality assured components in steel, aluminium, nimonics and super alloys.  

Nasmyth Bulwell offers a engineering service to their global customers by utilizing world-class manufacturing in the UK and its supply chain in Asia.  This offering provides options in terms of cost, quality, delivery, risk mitigation and relationship.

Incora, formerly Wesco Aircraft and Pattonair, is a leading provider of innovative supply chain management services to the global aerospace and other industries. Incora incorporates itself into customers’ businesses, managing all aspects of supply chain from procurement and inventory management to logistics and on-site customer services.

“This contract builds on our existing partnership with the Incora team,” Eddie Jones, director of Nasmyth Bulwell, commented. “We look forward to strengthening that partnership as we work together on this new contract.”

Andrew Jones, chief procurement officer of Incora commented, “This contract solidifies our longstanding relationship with the Nasmyth Group and we look forward to continuing to grow our partnership to provide best in class solutions to Incora’s customers.”

Nasmyth Group’s COO Simon Beech added, “This is a positive contract win for UK aviation manufacturing as we look to future growth.”

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

D2H Advanced Technologies and Ansys Speed NASCAR Race Car Development with Next-Generation Automated Simulation Workflow

  • NASCAR racing teams are using a cutting-edge automated simulation workflow pioneered by D2H and Ansys to optimize high-performance stock cars that are engineered with speed, efficiency and affordability 
  • The workflow greatly reduces hands-on development time and integrates high-performance computing (HPC) to enhance designs exponentially faster, resolving design issues in hours instead of days

NASCAR racing teams are leveraging a state-of-the-art automated simulation workflow created by D2H Advanced Technologies (D2H) and Ansys to improve high-performance stock cars that are engineered with speed, efficiency and affordability. Through this collaboration, D2H and Ansys are significantly streamlining the development and improving the aerodynamics of race cars by enabling teams to nearly eliminate wind tunnel testing.

With only one week to prepare between races, NASCAR racing teams have traditionally spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on rigorous and time-consuming wind tunnel testing to advance their cars’ aerodynamics. Ansys Fluent provides teams with tremendous production efficiency and cost savings by delivering leading-edge aerodynamic models that enhance stock car performance across every track scenario, empowering drivers to outpace the competition and cross the finish line first.  

D2H and Ansys created an automated Fluent workflow that nearly eliminates wind tunnel testing. Drastically accelerating the teams’ simulation process to engineer more aerodynamic race cars, the workflow slashes engineering workloads and integrates HPC to optimize designs much faster. This enables teams to produce 3x more designs without extra development time and resolve issues in hours instead of days.

“This cutting-edge workflow makes an incredible impact on our mutual customers’ aerodynamic designs, with racing teams realizing heightened modeling fidelity and markedly faster run times,” said Noah McKay, engineering director at D2H. “Using this workflow, NASCAR teams overcome design issues sooner and maximize production efficiency within a tight developmental window, resulting in major performance advantages, which promises more track championships.”

Relying on simulation to ready their stock cars for each race, teams are laser-focused on reducing the design time.

“80% of the modeling process involves cleaning up ‘dirty’ geometry, in which an engineer must spend countless hours removing the extraneous components that aren’t needed to run a simulation,” said Jason Pfeiffer, vice president at Rand Simulation, D2H’s dedicated Ansys channel partner. “This automated workflow delivers a push-button solution that compresses the development process, helping engineers create designs faster to address challenging aerodynamic issues.”

Track surfaces, weather conditions and competition rules change weekly, generating complicated design issues to address. By nearly excluding wind tunnel testing from the developmental process, teams are more agile and more precise than ever.

“Our mutual NASCAR racing team customers require substantial speed of design and peak fidelity, which presents major obstacles for optimizing the design of high-performance stock cars,” said Shane Emswiler, senior vice president at Ansys. “By collaborating directly with D2H, our shared resources enable racing teams to pivot from costly and laborious wind tunnel testing to a customized, automated end-to-end workflow — delivering highly advanced race cars that can conquer the competition.”

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGYMRO iT

Rolls-Royce to Accelerate Future Aerospace Technologies with ATI Program

A new project led by Rolls-Royce with support from the ATI Program will make future aerospace servicing technologies a reality.

Engineers will work on 20 technologies that will reduce disruption for airlines and lessen our environmental impact by repairing components rather than scrapping them. Other industries such as nuclear and off-shore renewables will also benefit from the project.

Technologies include:

  • Snake robots which travel inside jet engines to access complex parts, enabling repairs which are not possible with today’s tools;
  • Engine sensors which send us data from the sky and allow us to better predict when engines need maintenance;
  • Inspection and analysis tools to inspect parts buried deep within engines while they are being repaired;
  • Advanced automated repair technologies targeting parts which cannot currently be repaired, meaning they do not need to be scrapped. Miniature maintenance and inspection tools as well as new repair technologies will be used on our existing engines such as the Trent XWB, while engineers will explore how to repair and maintain aerospace materials and components for future low-carbon engines, including electric technology. They will work on inspection and repair solutions for composite fan technology, which reduces the weight of a jet engine and will be used in our next-generation engine design, UltraFan. The new technologies have the potential to avoid substantial amounts of CO2 every year by:
  • increasing the time engines are available to fly, avoiding unnecessary maintenance;
  • reducing scrappage by repairing more components, rather than replacing them;
  • reducing the movement of people and parts by using more digital inspection techniques and key-hole surgery for engines. Some of the technologies will have multiple uses and will benefit several other industries. For example, miniature chemical analysis tools can be used in nuclear power generation where human access is restricted. High-tech cameras and algorithms will help to identify damage on components in sectors as diverse as security and off-shore wind turbines.

“Our latest engines are quieter and cleaner than ever before, substantially reducing CO2 emissions,” Dr. Ian Mitchell, chief of Technology – Repair and Services, Rolls-Royce, said. “This program will take that one step further by improving how we service our engines, creating technologies which will reduce waste, avoid emissions and minimize disruption, while laying the foundations to service the gas turbine and hybrid-electric engines of the future.”

Mark Scully, head of Technology for Advanced Systems & Propulsion, ATI, said: “Through-life services are a critical aspect of ensuring propulsion systems continue to perform efficiently and with minimum impact on the environment. The ATI welcomes this project to the ATI Programme portfolio and are pleased to see a wealth of expertise from the supply chain and academia supporting this important development.”

Ian Campbell, executive chair of Innovate UK, which is the funding agency for the ATI Program, added: “This project represents the coalescing of aerospace innovation excellence in the UK supply chain and academia, and is the culmination of research and development to deliver technologies that place the UK at the forefront of in-service engine performance.”

Work has begun on the project – known as REINSTATE – in Derby, UK and will continue for more than three years, in conjunction with universities and SMEs including Roke Manor Research, BJR Systems, Clifton Photonics, the Manufacturing Technology Center, the University of Nottingham, the University of Sheffield, and the University of the West of England.

The REINSTATE project is supported by the ATI Program, a joint Government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. The program, delivered through a partnership between the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK, addresses technology, capability and supply chain challenges.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

Nokia Selected by NASA to Build First Ever Cellular Network on the Moon

Nokia has announced further details after being named by NASA as a partner to advance “Tipping Point” technologies for the Moon, deploying the first LTE/4G communications system in space and helping pave the way towards sustainable human presence on the lunar surface.

Nokia Bell Labs’ pioneering innovations will be used to build and deploy the first ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution on the lunar surface in late 2022. Nokia is partnering with Intuitive Machines for this mission to integrate this groundbreaking network into their lunar lander and deliver it to the lunar surface. The network will self-configure upon deployment and establish the first LTE communications system on the Moon.  

The network will provide critical communication capabilities for many different data transmission applications, including vital command and control functions, remote control of lunar rovers, real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video. These communication applications are all vital to long-term human presence on the lunar surface.

Nokia’s LTE network – the precursor to 5G – is ideally suited for providing wireless connectivity for any activity that astronauts need to carry out, enabling voice and video communications capabilities, telemetry and biometric data exchange, and deployment and control of robotic and sensor payloads.

“Leveraging our rich and successful history in space technologies, from pioneering satellite communication to discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation produced by the Big Bang, we are now building the first ever cellular communications network on the Moon,” Marcus Weldon, chief technology officer at Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs president, said. “Reliable, resilient and high-capacity communications networks will be key to supporting sustainable human presence on the lunar surface. By building the first high performance wireless network solution on the Moon, Nokia Bell Labs is once again planting the flag for pioneering innovation beyond the conventional limits.”

Nokia’s lunar network consists of an LTE Base Station with integrated Evolved Packet Core (EPC) functionalities, LTE User Equipment, RF antennas and high-reliability operations and maintenance (O&M) control software. The solution has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space. The fully integrated cellular network meets very stringent size, weight and power constraints of space payloads in an extremely compact form factor.

The same LTE technologies that have met the world’s mobile data and voice needs for the last decade are well suited to provide mission critical and state-of-the-art connectivity and communications capabilities for any future space expedition. LTE is a proven commercial technology, has a large ecosystem of technology and component suppliers, and is deployed worldwide. Commercial off-the-shelf communications technologies, particularly the standards-based fourth generation cellular technology (4G Long Term Evolution (LTE)) are mature, proven reliable and robust, easily deployable, and scalable. Nokia plans to supply commercial LTE products and provide technology to expand the commercialization of LTE, and to pursue space applications of LTE’s successor technology, 5G.

Through the Tipping Point solicitation, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate seeks industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions. The public-private partnerships established through Tipping Point selections combine NASA resources with industry contributions, shepherding the development of critical space technologies. NASA plans to leverage these innovations for its Artemis program, which will establish sustainable operations on the Moon by the end of the decade in preparation for an expedition to Mars.

INNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

The Switchblade Flying Sports Car and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” Have Something in Common

The Switchblade flying sports car hit 88 mph in runway test runs recently, which was calculated to be the take-off speed of the vehicle. Coincidentally, that is the same speed the famous DeLorean had to reach before it could travel through time in the epic Robert Zemeckis movie “Back to the Future.”

The Switchblade is touted as being a personal “time machine” by the company because of the amount of time it can save people. The vehicle was designed to turn a 10-hour regional driving trip of 500 miles into a 3 ½ hour drive/fly trip, door-to-door. As regional airports exist within a 15-minute drive of where most people live, this kind of use may appeal to those who desire a simplified method of regional travel. “Say goodbye to traffic congestion, weather delays, and rental car/Uber hassles. Say hello to freedom,” says Sam Bousfield, designer of the Switchblade and CEO of Samson Sky, the company behind the vehicle.  

The popularity of the $150,000 flying sports car has continued to grow, with Samson recently gaining what they called “lucky” Reservation Position 1313. Samson reservations manager, Martha Hall Bousfield, reports that Switchblade reservationists hail from an unprecedented 38 countries, including all 50 States in America. 

The Switchblade flying sports car is classified as a motorcycle by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but the Samson Sky team calls it a flying sports car because of its high performance. The engine is a turbo-charged, lightweight 200 hp liquid-cooled V4 that is capable of 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 125+ mph. In the air it is designed to cruise at 160 mph, with a top speed of up to 190 mph and a range of 500 miles. Using Road & Track‘s slalom testing parameters, the Ground Test Vehicle out-performed everything in its wheelbase per Road & Track’s historical data base.

LOGIN or SUBSCRIBE

Enter you REGISTERED email

Aerospace Tech Review Magazine - Subscription Popup

Already a subscriber? Log in