In spite of the challenging situation we find ourselves in with a global pandemic and economic downturn, things are happening in aerospace. In some cases it is obscure and hard to see. Other times it is breathtakingly obvious, right in front of our eyes. During this time of reduced travel, I believe we will see unique innovations coming to fruition.
Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” comes to mind. We are in need of change – change so we can work more efficiently and remotely; change so we can travel again with the assurance that our health will not be negatively impacted; change so we can keep our businesses alive.
Second, we have a reduced pace of operations currently. This slower drumbeat can, given the right environment, encourage growth, innovation and change. There is time in the day to implement and try new things, whereas before, when the pace of operations was furious and chaotic, it may have been all we could do to simply keep up with each launch, plus irregular operations, as they occurred.
Businesses should be looking at projects in their pipeline that had not been getting done previously. Whether it be a new software implementation, new procedural flows, training, better project management, improved communications, improving task hand-offs or reducing bottlenecks, now is the time to find out what is working and improve what is not. In this way, companies can be better prepared to operate more smoothly when the industry rebounds.
As Andrew Reilly points out in his article on the complex world of avionics testing, the challenge is “how to keep pace with innovation without exploding your product budgets and development cycles.” Sophisticated onboard computing has the goal of making flying safer and more predictable. But testing these advancing systems can be demanding and time-consuming. Andrew spoke with leaders in avionics testing like AdaCore, Parasoft, Rapita, VIAVI and others to learn what makes this process work and how some experts say the next generation of airborne technology will beget further innovations in testing. Andrew does a great job of making this highly technical subject fascinating to learn about. See his story, “Avionics Testing Is Meeting Complexity Challenges Head-On,” starting on page 20.
Award-winning journalist Kathryn Creedy provides a look at how aircraft connectivity is impacting air traffic management. She points out that it has been a year since the FAA’s mandate for ADS-B Out and says the industry is leveraging that data as a powerful tool for innovation. Collins Aerospace’s Gene Hayman, director of FAA and Government Programs says now is a perfect time to look at new technology from a safety perspective. Read that story on page 26 to learn how this sector is using this time advantageously.
We continue to see rapid development in predictive maintenance. In our story on predictive maintenance, writer Ian Harbison, an industry expert who has been covering this topic since its inception, takes a look at where this technology is currently and where it is heading. Harbison spoke with Etihad Aviation Group because not only were they early adopters of the Airbus product Skywise, they also assisted Airbus in its development. He spoke with Etihad’s vice president Design, Engineering and Innovation, Bernhard Randerath, to learn how they are mining for, and utilizing, the massive amounts of data coming from their fleet. Check out Ian’s story on page 34.
James Careless looked into a couple of topics for us this issue. First, he takes a look at electronic flight bag mounting solutions. It’s not as simple as it might at first appear. Regulatory concerns dominate what happens in the cockpit with these now-essential tools. Achieving an STC (special type certificate) for installation requires very specific design and certification expertise. We spoke to Hugo Fortes from Avionics Support Group, Airbus and ABC Completions as well as took a look at Flyboy’s Pivot mount. Did you ever imagine seeing an EFB mount for an iPad in a DC-3? Amazing. See page 40. He also looked at the latest in borescopes for us on page 46.
Our cover story, written by former FAA and NTSB safety expert, Jeff Guzzetti, is about what we will need to put in place before the world of urban air mobility can be a reality. Landing zones, airspace corridors and charging stations are just a few of the many areas in need of development before this sector of aviation can begin to achieve its potential. It’s coming, and soon. Be ready by reading Jeff’s thought-provoking piece on page 54.
Last but not least, we have added a new category of coverage to the publication – space. There is so much happening in this area right now it is inspiring. From NASA’s upcoming Mars expedition Perseverance (due to land as we go to press), the European Space Agency, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Russia to small start-ups like bluShift Aerospace planning to launch satellites out of the former Air Force base in Brunswick, Maine, there is a lot happening. We will continue to look at this sector in each issue and post news regularly at www.aerospacetechreview.com.
In this issue, I was delighted to write about SOFIA — the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy — a flying observatory utilizing a former United Airlines Boeing 747 as a platform for the telescope and data collection. The aircraft just finished an extended maintenance visit at Lufthansa Technik and is now flying missions from Cologne Bonn Airport during the next two months. Check out the out-of-this-world discoveries SOFIA has made for the advancement of mankind and space exploration on page 50.
After all, we aren’t called “Aerospace” Tech Review for nothing!