AIN Alerts
August 25, 2020
View in browser   •   Email Editor

Hill Helicopters Developing Turbine Light Single

UK-based Hill Helicopters on Monday unveiled the HX50, a new five-seat, light turbine single helicopter powered by an as-yet-unspecified 500-shp powerplant. Design features include an all-composite, three-blade main rotor, retractable landing gear, and a ducted tail rotor.

Performance targets for the HX50 include a 140-knot cruise speed, a maximum payload of 1,760 pounds, and a maximum range of 700 nm. Hill reports that the HX50 is currently in the advanced design phase, with three prototypes scheduled to begin flight testing in 2022. Pre-orders will begin in the fourth quarter, with first deliveries planned to commence in 2023. 

“The helicopter industry has long awaited an Elon Musk-style disruption that redefines the modern helicopter. The wait is over,” said Hill Helicopters CEO Jason Hill, the founder of Dynamiq Engineering who previously worked at GKN Westland (now Leonardo). “The only way to create something that is truly groundbreaking is to design from the ground up, giving equal focus to aerospace design, performance, and safety as well as to the artistic and experiential aspects, including comfort, ergonomics, intuitive technology, and luxury. The HX50 brings all of this together to deliver a truly unique aircraft and experience.”


Gogo Bizav Reaches Avance Installation Milestones

Gogo Business Aviation’s Avance L5 air-to-ground connectivity system has been installed and is now flying on 1,000 business jets, the Broomfield, Colorado-based company announced today. The milestone was reached in less than three years of the first installation, which Gogo claims is the most successful adoption of any high-speed broadband connectivity system in business aviation.

Additionally, Gogo is nearing 450 installations for its Avance L3 system. “Our team hit it out of the park with both the Avance L5 and L3 systems,” said Gogo Business Aviation president Sergio Aguirre. “And what’s so exciting to me is that we still have so much opportunity ahead of us.”

Launched in late 2017, Avance L5 has been active on more than 325,000 flights, with 150 million megabytes of data consumed by users. “We couldn't have achieved this milestone without the great partnerships we’ve built over more than 25 years with the market-leading business jet manufacturers, our dealers, and charter and fractional operators,” Aguirre said. “Even during the Covid-19 pandemic that has had such a dramatic impact on all of aviation, we continued to see a healthy demand from the market for our Avance systems.”

On a retrofit basis, more than 200 STCs have been approved by the FAA for Avance L5 and L3 installations, the company noted.


NBAA Seeks Training To Guard Against DEF Contamination

Concerned about the number of incidents surrounding diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) contamination, NBAA welcomed the FAA’s proposed changes to an Advisory Circular to highlight these issues. However, NBAA believes the draft guidance could go further to emphasize the hazards of such contamination and the need for proper training at both Part 139-certified and non-certified airports.

The U.S. EPA requires the use of DEF in ground vehicles but the additive's close appearance to the fuel system icing inhibitor (FSII) additive has led to several incidents of DEF contamination, including clogging of a turbine airplane's fuel system and subsequent loss of engine power. Groups including NBAA and NATA have joined the FAA in an education campaign to urge awareness of contamination possibility and have encouraged the agency to release guidance.

Released last month, draft AC 150/5230-4C – Aircraft Fuel Storage, Handling, Training, and Dispensing on Airports remained open for comment through August 24.

NBAA recommended that FAA mandate DEF training for ground personnel working at non-certified airports, in addition to certified airports. The association also sought strengthened language around the importance of proper DEF handling and inclusion of such guidance in training programs.

Read More

GAO Seeks Better Oversight of FAA’s Compliance Approach

While the FAA’s shift to a compliance-oriented approach rather than enforcement stance has generally received positive reviews, a government watchdog recommends that the agency step up oversight of the compliance program and better evaluate its effectiveness.

In a recent report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the FAA lacks controls to ensure the program works as intended. The FAA has not appointed a central authority to serve as a lead oversight of the program agency-wide, GAO said, nor does any office regularly collect and monitor data on the program’s use. 

“FAA lacks information to help it holistically manage the day-to-day functioning of its compliance and enforcement efforts, as well as the means to communicate information to Congress and industry. Second, FAA has not evaluated this new approach to enforcement to determine whether the approach has met its goals,” the GAO said. “Without such an evaluation, FAA cannot know the true effect of the compliance program." 

The agency implemented the compliance program in 2015, moving from an enforcement-oriented philosophy to one that strives to resolve unintentional compliance issues through education and collaborative remediation. “FAA views the compliance program as a necessary step to evolve the oversight of aviation safety,” the GAO noted, adding that agency officials have credited the program with helping to contribute to safety improvements.

Read More

K-Max Leaps From Unmanned to Autonomous Operations

Kaman's K-Max helicopter is making the leap from unmanned to autonomous operations as Near Earth Autonomy and Kaman Aerospace, with support from Naval Air Systems Command, have developed an intelligent autonomy system for the aircraft helicopter. The new system builds on previous work that began in 2014 as the autonomous aerial cargo utility system project and continued on small and medium-sized vehicles under the joint capability technology demonstration military program.

Near Earth says it has demonstrated that one architecture can work across a wide range of different aircraft types and sizes. Using sensors and onboard computing, the aircraft senses its environment to make real-time flight decisions, including flying around objects and selecting landing/drop zones.

The technology has military and civilian applications, including cargo delivery and urban air mobility. “This program will serve as an important milestone in making autonomous logistics a reality,” said Near Earth CEO Sanjiv Singh. “Our past efforts laid a strong foundation for solving complex autonomy challenges for small, medium, and large vehicles.”

According to Near Earth, its technology allows aircraft to autonomously take off, fly, and land safely—with or without GPS—and can be applied to aircraft ranging in size from small drones to full-size helicopters.

Read More

U.S. Agencies Issue Advisory on Drone Mitigation

A quartet of U.S. federal agencies and departments issued an interagency advisory earlier this month regarding the use of drone mitigation and detection technologies by state, local, and private entities. While the agencies—which included the FAA, Federal Communications Commission, Department of Homeland Security, and Justice Department—noted that the advisory was non-binding and merely meant to provide information, its underlying intent was clear: to re-affirm the primacy of the federal government when it comes to airspace and all aircraft in unambiguous language. 

“As the number of drones in our airspace continues to rise, it is unsurprising that the availability of counter-drone technologies has likewise increased,” said deputy attorney general Jeffrey Rosen. “Because these technologies may be presented for sale without a full discussion of important legal requirements, this advisory steps forward to provide an outline of the relevant legal landscape.” 

The advisory presents a plethora of applicable federal laws that could potentially snag non-federal drone detectors. They include federal statutes prohibiting wiretapping, recording and decoding, computer fraud and abuse, airspace and communication interference, and statutes governing airports, airport security, and radio frequencies. State and local authorities are urged to “take the advice presented in this advisory seriously."

Read More

ARC Offers Upgraded SMS Risk Assessment Tool

Safety management system (SMS) software provider ARC has made available an upgraded risk assessment tool with an expanded approval process for higher-level risk assessments. Available for free to existing ARC clients and priced starting at $800 for new clients, the multipurpose ARCrisk module can be used by flight departments, ground services, maintenance departments, FBOs, and drone operations.

The Washington, D.C.-based company said the new tool works by users submitting a risk assessment. An assessment that rates a medium or high-risk score allows the operator to optionally begin a review and approval step, which then pushes the assessment to a supervisor for review and approval or rejection. The requester and all individuals involved in the process are alerted when the assessment is approved or rejected, which also appears in the status column.

Initially developed for the U.S. military by request, ARC officials said it can also be used by private aviation operators. Following beta testing by ARC users, additional refinements were made to the module.

“This enhancement gives operators the ability to have more oversight and visibility into what is happening within their flight departments,” said ARC Safety Management CEO Mark Baier. “Now when an operator is alerted to assessments that might need further review, they can instantly interact with people performing the task and help make better decisions related to risk assessments.”


Self-charging Diamond Batteries Set To Power Aircraft

California-based startup NDB claims it is poised to offer a diamond-based alternative to current battery technology that will be more efficient and sustainable for electric aircraft. On August 25, the company announced it has completed proof-of-concept tests on its self-charging nano-diamond battery, achieving what it claims is a breakthrough 40 percent charge, compared with charge collection efficiency rates of just 15 percent with commercial diamonds.

NBD also announced it signed two undisclosed launch customers—an aerospace, defense, and security manufacturer, and a Europe-based nuclear fuel cycle products company—for a beta version of the technology. Electric aircraft and vehicles are among the anticipated early adopters of the technology.

The privately-owned company is now working on the first commercial prototype of its nano-diamond battery and aims to have this available by year-end. It said the proprietary self-charging process will provide a charge for the full lifetime of any device or machine, with up to 28,000 years of battery life.

The power source for the nano-diamond battery is intermediate- and high-level isotopes that are shielded for safety by multiple levels of synthetic diamond. According to NDB, the energy is absorbed in the diamond through a process called inelastic scattering, which is used to generate electricity.

Read More
People in Aviation
Kai Seymour is stepping into management training at Sheltair, formally joining the family business founded by his grandfather Jerry Holland, who is chairman, CEO, and owner; steered by his mother and company president Lisa Holland; and also managed by his father Frank Seymour, who is senior v-p. Kai Seymour, who brings the next generation to the business, has a background of management, marketing, sales, and customer services to the company, founding the marketing firm Xplicit Promotions and previously serving with Vector Marketing, Faircount Media Group, and with the customer service and line teams at Sheltair.
West Star Aviation promoted Lisa Hall to global program manager at its Grand Junction, Colorado facility. Hall has more than 30 years of aviation experience, previously holding senior positions with Bombardier and West Star.
The city of Colorado Springs named Joe Nevill air service development manager for Colorado Springs Airport (COS). Nevill has more than 27 years of network and schedule development experience and more than 30 years in the airline industry, most recently as senior manager for charters/network planning for United Airlines in Chicago.
Embraer named Martyn Holmes chief commercial officer of Embraer’s Commercial Aviation business. Martyn, who joined the company in 2012 after serving with an engine manufacturer, most recently was v-p for Europe, Russia, and Central Asia for Embraer. Cesar Pereira, a 17-year Embraer veteran, is relocating from the company’s Singapore office to Amsterdam to take over as v-p of Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) for the commercial business. Raul Villaron, who was v-p of the Middle East and Africa to Singapore, has moved to the new position of v-p of Asia Pacific for the commercial business, and Mark Neely, formerly regional v-p of sales in North America, was appointed v-p of The Americas for Embraer Commercial Aviation.
Bart Biggers is joining Sidley Austin as a partner in its Dallas office, serving as a member of the mergers and acquisitions and private equity practice groups and co-leading the aviation practice. Biggers previously was the chair of both the Corporate, Commercial Transactions & Outsourcing Practice Group and the Airlines Industry Group at Winstead PC.
AINalerts News Tips/Feedback: News tips may be sent anonymously, but feedback must include name and contact info (we will withhold name on request). We reserve the right to edit correspondence for length, clarity and grammar. Send feedback or news tips to AINalerts editor Chad Trautvetter.
Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn  YouTube
AIN Alerts is a publication of The Convention News Company, Inc., 214 Franklin Avenue, Midland Park, New Jersey. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited.
Manage Subscription Preferences