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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Boeing and ANA begin 787 Service Ready Operational in Japan

Boeing and ANA Begin 787 Service Ready Operational Validation in Japan
Dear World Design Team Member,

Boeing and ANA officially began an important validation of their readiness for the 787 Dreamliner's entry into service. The week-long service ready operational validation (SROV) will simulate in-service operations across several airports in Japan. ANA pilots, together with Boeing, will fly a 787 on actual airline routes in Japan using airline dispatch and flight rules. ANA's maintenance crews will perform typical ground servicing activities, fit checks of airplane jacks and maintenance hangar stands, towing and refueling the airplane and other routine maintenance operations.

This marks the 787 Dreamliner's first visit to Asia and is an important milestone for the airplane as it gets closer to first delivery. See highlights of the 787's service readiness validation at

We've also updated the 787 Design Highlights and launched a new feature with photos and video of the 747-8 Freighter's visit to Cargolux in Luxembourg. Check out all of this new content at

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sunny Summer 787 Sortie

Sunny Summer 787 Sortie
BOE006 lifts off from Boeing Field on the first day of summer

USS Carl Vinson Air Power Demo

USS Carl Vinson Air Power Demo
June 11th, 2011. USS Carl Vinson, CVN-70 AIr Power Demonstration Fly-over for Tiger Cruise (guests) from Hawaii to San Diego. EA-6B Prowler from VAQ-134 in foreground.

Tiger Australia Fleet Grounded

Australian aviation regulators have temporarily grounded Tiger Airways Australia due to safety concerns.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) issued the suspension with immediate effect from July 2, and it will extend at least until July 9. Beyond that date CASA must ask for court approval to continue the suspension. “If the Federal Court supports CASA’s application the court can continue the suspension for a period of time which will allow CASA to finalize investigations into the safety matters,” the regulator says in a statement.
Highlighting the serious nature of the concerns, CASA says it is taking these measures because “permitting the airline to continue to fly poses a serious and imminent risk to air safety.”
CASA says the suspension came when Tiger did not satisfactorily solve safety issues raised in a “show cause” notice in March. After the notice was issued, CASA imposed conditions on Tiger’s air operator’s certificate.
These conditions required the carrier to make certain improvements to the proficiency of its pilots, pilot training and checking processes, fatigue management, maintenance control, and “ongoing airworthiness systems.” Tiger was also told to ensure “appropriately qualified people fill management and operational positions.”
The regulator says it has been “closely monitoring the operations of [Tiger] throughout 2011, with surveillance undertaken at a range of locations.” Since the March warning, CAA says there have been “further events raising concerns about the airline’s ability to continue to conduct operations safely.”
“In the circumstances, CASA no longer has confidence in the ability of Tiger Airways Australia to satisfactorily address the safety issues that have been identified,” says the regulator.
Tiger Airways Australia says the suspension is in effect while CASA “conducts further investigations into two recent operational incidents.” The two incidents are believed to have involved aircraft flying too low while on approach to Melbourne airports.
“The airline is currently working with the safety regulator to achieve a satisfactory outcome to its investigation at the earliest opportunity, as was achieved with the recent show cause notice,” Tiger says. It adds that it “has fully complied with the conditions required by CASA as a result of this process.”

U.K., France Fine-tune Libyan Air Ops

Initial lessons learned from air operations over Libya have been both encouraging and embarrassing for European air forces. The Royal Air Force has found itself dependent on capabilities that the U.K. government plans to cancel, and France found itself with the wrong weapons.
While the RAF believes it is too soon to talk about lessons learned from the ongoing Libya operation, it is clear from April speeches by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, the chief of air staff, and his deputy, Air Vice Marshal Barry North, that platforms scheduled for termination have been of vital importance. Dalton told the Royal Aeronautical Society that Britain’s support of the NATO no-fly zone, known as Operation Ellamy by the U.K. Defense Ministry, “has proved further validation of the Combat Istar (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) concept, with a layering of—and cross-cueing between—dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and Combat Istar assets and capabilities achieving a synergy that is greater than the sum of their parts.”
That synergy is provided by three Istar platforms—E-3D Sentry, Sentinel R1 and Nimrod R1—of which only E-3D remains part of the RAF’s long-term future. The electronic intelligence-gathering Nimrod R1 was due to leave service at the end of March. The capability is to be replaced by the acquisition of three RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft, which the RAF will call Air Seekers. The first of these is still undergoing conversion work in the U.S., and the platform is not due to be operational until 2014. The Nimrod’s out-of-service date was postponed because it was needed over Libya. DTI understands that the two aircraft will go out of service on June 28, but any capability gap will be short. Joint RAF and U.S. Air Force crews will co-crew USAF-owned Rivet Joint aircraft ahead of delivery of the U.K.-owned airframes. British aircrew have been training with their American counterparts at Offutt AFB, Neb., since early this year. Co-crewed operations will begin in the summer.
Less clear is the future of the capability provided by the RAF’s Astor (airborne stand-off radar) platform, Sentinel R1. Sentinel’s ability to switch between synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) modes makes it the fulcrum of the “scan, cue, focus” methodology the RAF practices. In their speeches, Dalton and North outlined how, on a hypothetical “typical” Ellamy mission, Sentinel performs initial assessment of both wide and specific areas of interest to inform further investigation by other platforms, as well as pointing out possible targets when in GMTI mode.
The coalition government’s Strategic Defense and Security Review of 2010 opted to retire the Sentinel force (comprising five Raytheon-modified Bombardier Global Express business jets and associated systems) once operations in Afghanistan end. While this date is not yet known, neither is the route by which the capability will be replaced. The Defense Ministry has a requirement for a future unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), called Scavenger, which is expected to include key elements of the Sentinel capability, but no preferred solution is due to be identified until 2012, so an operational system is some years away.
Reaper and the soon-to-be-fielded British Army Watchkeeper UAV offer SAR, and both Reaper and Sea King 7 have a GMTI capability; but neither Reaper nor Sea King is likely to be risked in contested airspace, and neither has been deployed to Libya.
The unexpected Libyan conflict has pointed to crew management challenges in the RAF’s fast-jet fleet. The need for ground-attack-capable Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and crew forced a reordering of operational priorities for the force, which had been concentrating on transitioning Britain’s air defenses from Panavia Tornado F3s to Typhoons (the last F3s were retired from service on March 31). Result: When the Libya operation was stood up, the RAF had—as planned for that timeframe—only eight pilots trained and current in the ground-attack role.
DTI understands that several of these were instructors on the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), and this meant that OCU activities were wound down for some days as qualified crew deployed to Italy, the staging area. OCU activity has since restarted, with training priorities realigned in light of the changed operational need. The RAF now has 20 Typhoon pilots combat-ready for ground-attack missions.
Tactics initially adopted partly to take account of the crewing situation have become established best practice. The most challenging part of single-seat, fast-jet operations is laser-target designation, and in Typhoon’s first combat missions, the aircraft flew with a GR4 to “buddy lase.” Deployed Typhoon crews are now able to self-designate, but most missions are still flown in Typhoon/Tornado pairs.
This enables commanders to use the most appropriate munitions, conserving higher-cost precision weapons for missions where low-collateral strikes are needed. And crew tours are being kept relatively short—aircrews typically spend 6-8 weeks in Italy—to ensure that skill fade is reduced. This is a lesson learned with Harrier crews in Afghanistan. The RAF found that due to mission demands, skill sets such as night-flying or aerial refueling were not being used in-theater and had to be regenerated once crews returned home from six-month deployments.
For the French air force, the principal lesson learned from operations in Libya is that it needs smaller and more precise air-to-ground missiles. The Sagem AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire), in the 250-kg (550-lb.) version in service, is too big. It’s like using a brick instead of a fly swatter to kill that pesky fly on the window.
“Everyone has precise, expensive, complex armaments which carry a heavy military charge,” French observers, who spoke on condition they not be named, told DTI. “We need to be able to use our air forces to very precisely destroy targets with low value and we are missing small effectors to do it with,” they say. “What we need, and nobody, not even the Americans have it, is something much smaller, such as a multiple missile-launcher. Everyone wants weapons that can do everything but the result is that we end up with things that are over-dimensioned for the job.”
In the absence of the Brimstone missile used by the RAF, which is smaller and more accurate than the AASM and can take out targets embedded in towns, the French air force decided to use inert AASMs in some situations. These weigh the same as live AASMs, but rubber or concrete replace the explosive. RAF Tornados destroyed Iraqi tanks with similar concrete bombs in 2003.
The inert bombs are equipped with the same GPS navigation systems as the real ones and are also accurate to within 1 meter (3.3 ft.). Dropped from a Rafale, they hit their target at a speed of 300 meters/sec. and do a good job of destroying a tank without causing collateral damage in a 200-meter-dia. circle around the point of impact.
The live AASM has two modes—programmed ahead of the mission if the target is a building or ammunition depot, for example; or programmed by the aircraft crew during the mission in Time Sensitive Targeting (TST) mode. Laser and infrared (IR)-guided versions of modes are in development and are not being used in Libya, a spokesman for manufacturer Sagem tells DTI.
The French air force was first to strike, on March 19, when it used AASMs to destroy a column of armored vehicles near Benghazi in eastern Libya. AASMs were also used to destroy a Russian-made S-125 (SA-3 Goa) surface-to-air missile system base from beyond its effective range, and, on March 24, to destroy a Yugoslav-built Soko Galeb jet trainer that had broken the no-fly embargo and was detected by an AWACS. The decision was made to destroy it once it had landed.
There is also an agenda that lies just below that of actual operations over Libya, one that has been brought into sharp focus over the past month: export sales. India’s decision to eliminate the Lockheed Martin F-16IN, Boeing F/A-18E/F and JAS 39 Gripen means that the aircraft downselected—the Typhoon and Dassault Rafale—are in their first head-to-head sales battle to date (see related story on p. 38). One of the ways each side will try to differentiate itself is by showing that its aircraft is truly “proven in combat.”
Dassault, backed by Thales and Snecma, will automatically say its product has been tested in battle already—Rafale first flew sorties over Afghanistan in 2002, although initial flights were limited to refueling Super Etendards involved with air-to-ground activities, and combat air patrols.
Once fully integrated into the NATO air-to-ground strike infrastructure, the Rafale has been included in close-air-support activities over Afghanistan. The first reported missions were in 2007, with Rafales flying from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. However, little was made of these missions at the time, and the news tended to seep out through conference papers and the Internet, rather than being exploited for marketing purposes.
The trend of information arriving in the public domain about Rafale on operations, almost as if by osmosis, has continued with Libyan operations. French Rafales were seen from Day One armed with the Safran/MBDA AASM multi-seeker guided-bomb system, including the INS/GPS/imaging-IR version, apparently being carried for the first time. But one would be hard-pressed to know this from the downbeat French defense ministry press releases.
The U.K., on the other hand, has been far more upfront in trumpeting the multirole claims of the Typhoons deployed to Gioia del Colle, Italy. An April 13 press release announced the first operational drop of an Enhanced Paveway II (1,000‑lb.) laser/GPS-guided bomb by an RAF Typhoon, although its impact was reduced by the dispute about whether the RAF had enough qualified air-to-ground pilots.
—With Francis Tusa in London.

Innovative New Chinese UAV Emerges

The latest unmanned aircraft pictures from China show a reconnaissance truck with a joined wing and tail that could considerably increase range and payload and produce better handling at high altitudes.
U.S. analysts already are suggesting that the new Chinese UAV design — with its 60,000-ft. cruising altitude, 300-mi. radar surveillance range and low radar reflectivity if it uses the right composite structure — could serve as the targeting node for China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles. The ASBM threat against carriers finally has U.S. Navy officials worried.
Photographs emerging from Chinese Internet sources, depicting the aircraft on what is likely Chengdu Aircraft Corporation’s (CAC) ramp, show a new design featuring a novel joined-wing layout. In the same size class as the General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems Inc. Avenger, and powered by a single turbofan engine, the new UAV is the most advanced Chinese design seen to date and the largest joined-wing aircraft known to have been built.
The company also makes the J-10 strike fighter, the J-20 stealth fighter prototype and a Global Hawk-like maritime reconnaissance UAV called the Xianglong, or Soaring Dragon, which flew in December 2009. CAC officials say it has a wingspan of 75 ft., length of 45 ft. and a cruise altitude of 55,000-to-60,000 ft. Chinese sources credited it with a 7,500-kg (16,500-lb.) takeoff weight and 3,800 nm range. The forebody is bulged to accommodate a high-data-rate satcom antenna.
Joined wings — a subset of closed-wing systems — comprise a sweptback forward wing and a forward-swept aft wing.
In the new Chinese UAV (as in many such configurations) the rear wing is higher than the forward wing to reduce the effect of the forward wing’s downwash on the rear wing’s lifting qualities. The rear wing has a shorter span than the front wing and its downturned tips meet the front wing at a part-span point.
Advocates of the joined wing claim that its advantages stem from the fact that the front and rear wings are structurally cross-braced.
This allows a higher aspect ratio while keeping down weight and staying within flutter limits. A higher aspect ratio reduces drag due to lift, and because the wings are both slender and short-span (relative to a single wing with equivalent lift) the wing chords are short, which makes it easier to achieve laminar flow. The joined wing also can reduce trim drag.
Studies of joined wings go back to the earliest years of aviation, but modern work is traceable to Julian Wolkovitch, a California aerodynamicist.
Wolkovitch worked with Burt Rutan on an early design study, the Model 58 Predator agricultural airplane, and drew up plans to develop a flight demonstrator based on the fuselage of the Ames-Dryden AD-1 skewed-wing aircraft. However, the project was still unfunded when Wolkovitch died in 1991. (Rutan went on to build a different Predator design.)
More recently, Boeing used a joined-wing configuration in its contribution to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) SensorCraft project, aimed at developing an aircraft capable of carrying an airframe-integrated, 360-deg.-coverage, high-resolution radar and remaining on station for 30 hr. at 2,000 nm range.
A small, low-speed free-flight model known as VA-1, with a 14-ft. wingspan, was completed by AFRL in 2003 and test flown.
A model of Boeing’s Joined Wing SensorCraft was tested last year in NASA Langley’s Transonic Dynamics Tunnel under the Air Force’s Aerodynamic Efficiency Improvement program.

BA Ops Change Hints At Possible Airbus Orders

British Airways (BA) is restructuring its flight operations unit into Airbus and Boeing divisions, fueling speculation that the airline may still be considering further Airbus acquisitions, including the Airbus A350-1000.
The restructuring along fleet lines is thought to be aimed at streamlining crew training and support requirements, and moves the airline away from the former long-haul and short-haul divisions that have been in place since the merger of British Overseas Airways Corp. and British European Airways in 1974. Airline insiders say the change reflects the airline’s view that aircraft type and flight deck philosophy have now become more important to operations than route structure and flying style.
However, because the change emphasizes the division in fleet, it also exposes the gap in the BA Airbus fleet line-up between the short-haul Airbus A320 family now in service and the yet-to-enter-service fleet of 12 Airbus A380s on order.
The airline previously said that, despite ordering six Boeing 777-300ERs, it still is considering the A350-1000 as part of its future large-twin fleet. BA chief Willie Walsh has acknowledged that the 777-300ER is a potentially obvious replacement for the Boeing 747-400 but, at the same time, has insisted the acquisition never indicated a longer-term preference over the A350 in the airline’s evaluation process.
BA already has ordered 24 Boeing 787-8/9s, which will replace 767-300ERs, but ostensibly selected the 777-300ERs as a stopgap, capacity-filling measure to cope with 787 delays. The long-haul fleet “big twin” contest is therefore still officially open, with the now revised A350-1000 up against whatever upgraded 777-300ER design Boeing may field from 2017 onward.
As it currently stands, BA crew aligned with the Boeing fleet have a relatively easy career progression through 737-400s and 767-300ERs and its 787-8/9 successors, to 777-200ER/300ERs and 747-400s. The Airbus crew, on the other hand, have a more cohesive training system, based on the common flight deck design approach adopted early on by the European airframer.

Air Asia To Expand Operations In India

Malaysia-based Air Asia is planning to boost its flight operations and develop more routes to India, realizing the potential generated by growing travel demands in the country.
The carrier plans to penetrate the South Indian market by expanding its network to Bangkok by next year, Suresh Nair, country head of AirAsia, tells Aviation Week. “AirAsia will soon operate 14 flights weekly from Chennai and almost 100 flights froE x s@ |xr:lEU P )SwP Dg POST / HTTP/1.1
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Air Asia’s expansion plans in India are expected to bring more competition to the country’s domestic low-cost airline IndiGo, especially as both airlines placed major orders for Airbus aircraft at the Paris air show last week. AirAsia Bhd. placed an order for 200 Airbus A320NEOs (new engine option), worth $18 billion, followed by IndiGo’s order for 180 A320 and A320NEO aircraft.
According to reports, the Malaysian airline is likely to use the new orders to expand its operations in India and China. The company is also considering establishing new ventures in the Philippines and Vietnam to become more competitive through a larger presence in Southeast Asia.

Senators Ask DOT To Keep BARR Program

More than two dozen Senators yesterday urged Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to scrap a plan to dismantle the Block Aircraft Registration Request (BARR) program, saying the change to lift privacy protections “sets a dangerous precedent.”
The letter, spearheaded by Senate General Aviation Caucus co-chair Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and co-signed by 24 other senators, says the new limits on use of the BARR “is a troubling reversal of a decade-old policy put in place to uphold the privacy rights of thousands of Americans.”
FAA, under direction of DOT, June 3 published a notice that it intended to prohibit use of BARR except in cases where an operator has a verifiable security threat. Managed on behalf of 3,000 operators by the National Business Aviation Association, the BARR program enables operators to request that their aircraft tail number be withheld from real-time flight tracking software.
The senators acknowledge DOT’s stated reasoning that the changes are necessary to promote greater transparency. “While all Americans support an open and transparent government process, maintaining the BARR program is about the preservation of personal citizens’ right to privacy and has nothing to do with shedding light on our federal government.”
“Transparency has everything to do citizens being able to see how the government carries out its business, not the other way around,” adds. Roberts. “I doubt any Kansan would associate allowing strangers to stalk the movements of private individuals as transparency.“
The letter further disputes claims that the changes will enable the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies from monitoring national airspace system users. Those agencies, the senators say, have always had the ability to monitor and track aircraft and limits on BARR won’t change that. “BARR simply prevents unauthorized, non-government actors from knowing the location of private citizens,” they say.
They also express concerns that that scaling back BARR will facilitate cyber-stalking of general aviation aircraft owners. “We also are concerned this decision sets a dangerous precedent for the ability of the government to disseminate the travel information of any citizen, regardless of the mode transportation.”
The senators point to concerns expressed over the changes by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, the American Civil Liberties Union and the aviation community. Further, they say, Congress is debating the issue as part of the FAA reauthorization bill. “It is premature to unilaterally implement a regulation on a legislative issue currently before Congress,” they say.

Congress Targets Corporate Jet Tax Loophole

A top Republican indicated last week he may be willing to consider a Democratic proposal for deficit reduction that targets the owners of corporate jets.
Democrats, including President Barack Obama during a press conference June 29, are pledging to close a “tax loophole” for the owners of corporate jets.
Ed Bolen, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), blasted the president over remarks he made during the press conference. “The president has inexplicably chosen to vilify and mischaracterize business aviation – an industry that is critical for citizens, companies and communities across the U.S., and one that can play a central role in the economic recovery he says he wants to promote,” he charges.
The idea under review in Congress appears to be a rollback of legislation signed into law less than a year ago, allowing an extension of faster depreciation of commercial and general aviation aircraft one year after the aircraft are purchased, though little documentation has been circulated.
Republicans largely objected to the Democratic proposal as an example of a tax increase.
But asked June 28 whether there was some room for compromise with the White House in areas such as the corporate jet loophole, Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, indicated he might be open to it.
“I would have to look at that – but I’m not sure I think corporate jets are so valuable that they’d need a tax break,” says Sessions, adding, “we could consider that.”
Business aviation advocates who lobbied hard last year to keep rules for accelerated depreciation in place, are questioning the policy change, saying that details about it are sparse and that it seems carefully crafted to tap into populist outrage.
The tax break helps the aviation manufacturing industry, particularly while the economy was in a fragile situation.
Bolen, meanwhile, charges that Obama “has inexplicably chosen to vilify and mischaracterize business aviation.” Noting that just last fall Obama backed accelerated depreciation schedules to stimulate jobs, he says, “Now he seems to want to reverse course and push ahead with punitive treatment for general aviation, an industry that creates jobs, helps companies succeed and serves communities all around America.”
Bolen vows to fight the movement to change the tax policy, saying “The Obama proposal is bad policy and cynical politics. We will oppose the idea vigorously.”
According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Congress seems to be “attacking” corporate jets. “That talk may appear to be good politics, but the reality is it could hurt one of the leading manufacturing industries in the U.S,” says GAMA spokeswoman Katie Pribyl.

Chinese Acquisition of Cirrus Completed

The Chinese have continued their expansion into the general aviation market with the completion of China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company’s (CAIGA) acquisition of Cirrus Aircraft. Terms of the transaction were not released.
Cirrus announced the planned acquisition in late February, saying, “This transaction will have a positive impact on our business and our customers because we share a common vision with CAIGA to grow our general aviation enterprise worldwide.”
Cirrus President and CEO Brent Wouters today reiterated that, “CAIGA has the resources that will allow us to expedite our aircraft development programs and accelerate our global expansion.” Wouters has been optimistic that the acquisition also will help Cirrus bring to market its single-engine Vision Jet.
He also believes it will help the company infiltrate the Chinese market, where less than two dozen of the Cirrus aircraft had been based earlier this year.
Wouters reemphasizes that plans calls for Cirrus to continue production at its plant in Grand Forks, N.D., which employs 500 workers, as well as Duluth, Minn., where the final assembly plant is located. “Our partners at CAIGA understand the strength and the talent of Cirrus’s workforce,” he says.
Cirrus is one of the most dominant single-engine plane-makers, typically competing with Cessna Aircraft in terms of units sold. The company delivered 264 of its single pistons last year, in addition to 130 used models.
CAIGA President Meng Xiangkai, says Cirrus has “has a very strong record of consistent product excellence, comprehensive safety features, an outstanding management team and a highly skilled workforce who operate from advanced production facilities.”
CAIGA will work with the Cirrus management team to expand production volume, Xiangkai adds.
The acquisition was completed over the concerns of Minnesota politicians, who questioned whether the state-owned CAIGA would adapt some of the technologies for weapons systems and/or transfer work to China.
The acquisition, in the works for nearly two years before the deal was finalized, is the latest step the Chinese have taken to increase its reach into the general aviation market. Last year the Chinese purchased Teledyne Industries’ Continental Engine Co., along with the rights bankrupt kit plane producer Epic Aircraft

LightSquared Reports Major GPS Interference

LightSquared has formally presented a revised plan for its nationwide wireless broadband network as the final report on interference testing shows that its original deployment plan is “incompatible with aviation GPS operations.”
Without significant mitigation, the report says LightSquared’s plans to deploy 40,000 high-power terrestrial transmitters across the U.S. “would result in a complete loss of GPS operations below 2,000 ft. above ground level over a large radius” from metropolitan areas.
The final report by a technical working group formed by LightSquared and the U.S. GPS Industry Council, representing receiver manufacturers and users, was submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on June 30.
“For the originally defined LightSquared spectrum deployment scenarios, GPS-based operations are expected to be unavailable over entire regions of the country at any normal operational aircraft altitude,” the working group’s aviation sub-team concluded.
Acknowledging the interference, LightSquared has revised its plans and now proposes beginning service using only the lower of its two 10-mhz-wide blocks of frequency spectrum. This lower block is farthest away from GPS frequencies, and tests show interference is limited.
“Analysis performed by RTCA suggests that a shift to using only a lower 5-mhz channel likely would be compatible with aviation GPS operations,” the final report says, but adds, “compatibility of aviation GPS operations with a single lower 10-mhz channel could not be determined definitively without additional study.”
LightSquared says testing “demonstrates that, while additional analysis needs to be done by the FAA with respect to its airborne receiver standards ... of the approximately 400 million GPS devices in use today [in the U.S.] well over 99% ... can be expected to experience no meaningful interference from LightSquared operations in the lower 10-mhz channel.”
Meanwhile, opponents of LightSquared’s plans have stepped up calls to move the service to a different band in the wake of the report.
As LightSquared’s original deployment plan was to use both of its frequency blocks, “that’s what the [FCC-mandated] working group studied,” says Jim Kirkland, vice president and general counsel of receiver manufacturer Trimble Navigation, founding member of the Save Our GPS coalition. “Testing of transmissions in the lower block of frequencies only “was a very late addition, but the limited tests results in the low band still show significant interference.”
LightSquared believes filters could be developed that prevent GPS receivers being overloaded by its transmissions, but did not produce any for testing, Kirkland says. “There are no actual test results relative to mitigation because no filters are available. There is no retrofit option because there is nothing to retrofit receivers with,” he says.
LightSquared says its proposed solution has already cost it “over $100 million to shift the timing of its access to portions of the frequency bands it shares with Inmarsat” with further costs expected from delays in using its full set of frequencies at full power.
The GPS industry’s position “that LightSquared should simply ‘go away’ is both ironic and troubling,” the company says, arguing the industry “has built an entire business based on a large subsidy from taxpayers — estimated to be worth $18 billion — in the form of free access to the government’s GPS satellite infrastructure and frequencies.”

NASA Foresees 2-Year Final Shuttle Retirement Phase

HOUSTON — NASA’s long-running shuttle program will transition quickly into a two-year final retirement phase – marked by thousands of reassignments of federal civil servants and contractor layoffs – once Atlantis touches down at the conclusion of the 12-day STS-135 supply mission to the International Space Station.
“The program will end 30 days after wheel stop,” NASA Space Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon told a June 30 news briefing.
Atlantis is expected to return to Kennedy Space Center on July 20 — if the orbiter and its crew of four astronauts lift off on July 8 at 11:26 a.m. EDT as scheduled.
Shannon counts a 5,500-person contractor workforce and 1,200 federal employees, most of them stretching from Utah to Texas, Louisiana and Florida, as the STS-135 countdown nears a July 5 start. Shuttle retirement activities, which began three years ago, have claimed orbiters Endeavour and Discovery, which concluded their final flights on June 1 and March 9.
The workforce will fall by 3,200 personnel, most of them at Kennedy, within days of Atlantis’s anticipated Florida homecoming. By late August, the combined shuttle workforce will drop to 1,000 as the orbiter’s initial de-servicing is completed, Shannon says.
Over the next two years, the numbers will continue to decline as NASA dispositions shuttle hardware. The dwindling retirement team will start with shuttle equipment at NASA installations and finish with property at off-site facilities, according to the program manager.
The program counted 16,000 contractors and 1,800 government personnel during the early phase of space station assembly a decade ago.

BASA Should Lower MRO Compliance Cost

Industry groups this spring were encouraged that the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) took the initial steps to implement a long-awaited Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA). The agreement formally took effect on May 2, and one of the first orders of business was to lay the groundwork for maintenance.
The BASA enables FAA and EASA to validate each other’s work, cooperate and harmonize on regulations. Industry officials have said the agreement creates a “one-stop shop” for certification and other approvals.
“The entry into force of the new BASA between the U.S. and the European Union is great news for the U.S. and European civil aviation industry that serve customers on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Aeronautical Repair Station Association Executive Director Sarah MacLeod. “The BASA will enhance efficiencies for government and industry, reduce regulatory duplication and lower compliance costs, all while ensuring effective oversight and allowing our members to build on their outstanding safety record.” ARSA believes this is particularly important as the global civil aviation maintenance market topped $50 billion in 2008. Maintenance is a major export for North America with a positive $2.4 billion trade balance, the association says.
The implementation got underway as ARSA released its study on the importance of BASAs to the repair station industry. The study was the third prong in the association’s Positive Publicity Campaign, designed to educate the public and decision makers about the repair station industry and its impact on the economy.
Released in mid-June, the study’s findings basically confirm that BASAs have a substantial impact on repair stations that do work on foreign aircraft or in foreign locations, says ARSA Executive VP Christian Klein. “The reality is this is a global industry, and for U.S. companies to compete, we must have a level playing field,” Klein says, adding that’s what BASAs create.
The study included surveys of about 30 different companies—both large and small—that hold about 65 different repair station certificates worldwide. In general, the study finds that the cost of obtaining foreign certification is roughly two to three times greater when no bilateral exists. An average FAA certificate costs a U.S. company about $15,000 to obtain. The addition of certification from Europe, where a bilateral is in place, would cost an average of $11,000. But certification from China, where there is no bilateral, would cost $30,000.
When companies operate on thin margins, the impact of a BASA has a greater impact on the percentage revenues that must go toward certification renewal. FAA certificate renewal would cost companies an average of 0.02% of revenues. European renewal would account for about 0.04% of a company’s revenues, while Chinese renewal would take up 0.16% of revenues, on average. Renewal at other civil aviation authorities where there is no BASA in place would cost 0.41% of revenues.
This disproportionately impacts small businesses. For a company with a few million in revenues, certification costs could reach 0.5%, compared with a fraction of that for a company with hundreds of millions in revenues. “While the percentages are small, it’s very significant for small businesses,” says Michael Holland, associate consultant for AeroStrategy. “BASAs are extremely important to promote the wellbeing of the maintenance industry, particularly in the U.S.”
The implementation of the U.S./Europe BASA follows two years of sometimes tenuous negotiations between officials from both regions. The completion of the BASA was threatened by U.S. dissention over EASA fees and charges, along with Europe’s objections over a proposal in past House FAA reauthorization bills that would have required two annual inspections of foreign repair stations. But the House language was dropped, and on March 15, FAA and EASA were able to sign the long-awaited agreement.
In implementing the BASA, FAA and EASA first turned their attention to maintenance. On May 3, the agencies released the Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG), the underlying document that will direct U.S. and European approvals for maintenance.
The 153-pg. document details the actions required for a repair station in the U.S. to receive EASA Part 145 approval, as well as for a repair station in the European Community to receive U.S. Part 145 approval. The MAG also acknowledges differences between U.S. and EASA Part 145s and cites them as special conditions. And it permits FAA and the EC to rely on each other’s surveillance systems “to the greatest extent possible,” the MAG says, adding “FAA and EASA have agreed to conduct surveillance of each other’s compliance with the special conditions.”
The MAG is broken in to three sections dealing with the authority interaction, the certification process for U.S.-based repair stations and the certification process for EC-based MROs. The agreement will be phased in over two years for repair stations. Regulatory authorities will train on management and oversight during the phase-in period.

Jetstar Pacific Signs P&W CFM56 MRO Deal

Pratt and Whitney has signed an exclusive two-year maintenance services agreement with Jetstar Pacific Airlines for overhaul services on five CFM International CFM56-3 engines. The airline is the first CFM International CFM56 operator based outside of China to sign an exclusive agreement with Pratt and Whitney Global Service Partners.
Pratt and Whitney