Author Archives: MS

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Continental Introduces Diesel For Helicopters

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Continental Aerospace Technologies has introduced a diesel engine for helicopters at Aero Friedrichschafen in Germany. The CD-170R is expected to be certified in Europe next year. The turbocharged engine puts out 170 horsepower and is direct drive with no gearbox. That saves 37 pounds. This is a major innovation milestone in Continental’s history that will allow us to serve even more pilots and operators in the general aviation industry,” said Dr. David Dörner, Vice President of Global Research and Development.

Like the airplane versions of the engine, the 170R has FADEC and the company is expecting a fuel burn of 7.9 gallons per hour or better. It will start with a time between replacement of 1,200 hours and that’s expected to increase with time in service. Flight schools and owner-pilots are expected to be the main customers.

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Honeywell Creates AI-based Tool for MROs, Manufacturers

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Honeywell Performance+ for Aerospace uses the Forge platform to offer AI and machine-learning efficiencies

Honeywell today unveiled a cloud-based platform through its Forge technology that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help manufacturers and MROs modernize production and lower operational costs. Honeywell Performance+ for Aerospace is part of an overarching effort by the aerospace manufacturer to support the advance of automation, the company said.

“During a time of increasing workplace complexity and operating costs, operators need to be able to leverage data to inform critical decision-making and embrace automation,” said Karen Miller, general manager of Honeywell Connected Aerospace. “As the aviation industry grapples with issues such as aging fleets, higher maintenance costs, and ongoing supply chain challenges, Honeywell Forge Performance+ for Aerospace can help organizations achieve key outcomes such as quicker turnarounds, increased asset utilization, and decreased maintenance times.”

The platform is designed to increase operational awareness and improve asset management, such as quickly locating assets. In addition, it is designed to help better manage data that may be siloed, combining predictive maintenance, site optimization, and workforce intelligence into a single site.

“Today’s aerospace companies need to improve their operational efficiency and gain better visibility into their assets, but disconnected and manual processes hold them back,” explained Michael Rowe, v-p of industry analyst Aerospace & Defense at Frost & Sullivan. “A smaller MRO team may have more than 1,200 open maintenance actions to tackle. Instead of focusing initially on work that seems easiest to complete, software solutions such as Honeywell Forge Performance+ for Aerospace can enable companies to first address those tasks with the highest impact on operations that improve productivity and decrease costly downtime.”

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CFM CEO Expects Leap Engine To Hit CFM56 Benchmark Soon

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HAMBURG—With some 75% of the new single-aisle engine market and the worst post-pandemic supply chain issues in the rearview mirror, CFM International’s focus is now on increasing the time on wing of its Leap engines.

Speaking at Airbus’ Hamburg Finkenwerder site as easyJet took delivery of its latest Leap-powered Airbus A320neo, CFM CEO Gaël Méheust told Aviation Daily that the durability of the Leap is set to meet the standard set by the previous generation CFM56.

“When it comes to time on the wing of the CFM56, it took us probably 25 years to reach that level where we are right now—we have to keep that in mind,” Méheust said.

The Leap went into service eight years ago. “We are already way higher than we were in terms of time on wing with the CFM56 at a similar time of the program,” he adds.

However, the Leap is not where many airlines upgrading from the CFM56 want it to be in terms of cycles before it has to be removed for maintenance.

Shane Lord, easyJet’s director of strategy, network and fleet, told Aviation Daily that the Leap engines on its A320neo-family fleet “maybe come a bit earlier from the wing than we would like. It is part of the maturity—introducing new components, that gets us to where the CFM56 benchmark is. There is a lot of work we do with CFM to improve the engine.”

Méheust acknowledged that there are nagging issues that need to be resolved. “We have a couple that are left for which we have certified solutions that we are going to bring to the product in the coming months,” Méheust said. Once these new components are introduced, he sees no reason why the Leap cannot reach the CFM56 benchmark.

The supply chain issues that plagued the engine-maker at the tail-end of the pandemic when demand returned are now largely resolved. “We have far less [trouble] than we had two years ago where suppliers had difficulties, but still [we have] a few problems,” the CEO said. “We are managing them very closely, but we are the [engine] OEM in the industry with the highest ramp-up.”

Leap engine deliveries in 2023 were up 40% on 2022. “And for this year, if you look to the output versus 2023, we will be somewhere between 20% and 30% [higher]—this is another big step,” Méheust said.

CFM is now producing a similar number of engines as before the pandemic. “For 2024, we should be around somewhere between 1,800 and 1,900 engines [production],” he said.

Leap engines delivered so far have flown some 14 million hr. and 20 million cycles. While the Leap’s time on wing could be longer, CFM customers are achieving higher utilization than those airlines which opted for the A320neo family’s other engine option, Pratt & Whitney’s GTF.

As Pratt-powered A320neos have been grounded for inspections, CFM has seen an uptick in interest from GTF operators. “They are currently coming and knocking on our door and asking if we can deliver,” Méheust said. “We are making proposals.”

“For us, we have sold so many engines that we have covered almost all of our capabilities in terms of MRO,” he continued. That lack of capacity is why CFM opened the Leap MRO network to third parties. “That has always been CFM policy. And now, licensed third parties are stepping in and offering solutions to customers. I think in a combination with having those MRO stepping in providing solutions and capacity, that will open up ability for us to accept more orders from customers who are willing to fly the Leap—and there are many.”

One improvement that CFM has now introduced on the Leap is a new reverse bleed system (RBS) designed to prevent a fuel nozzle problem—coking—linked to carbon deposits. Coking occurs when core engine hardware releases heat, or soaks back, after shutdown. The RBS is designed to eliminate the issue as well as related maintenance inspections and nozzle swaps in place now to mitigate risk.

Regarding the challenges Boeing faces in producing fewer 737 MAXs than planned because of quality issues, Méheust said CFM is doing what it can to support the OEM. “We have a very close relationship with Boeing, and we are trying to match their requests as closely as we can. It is an active dialog, and we deliver the engines that they need,” the CEO said.

CFM International is a 50-50 joint venture between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE Aerospace.

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Cessna unveils enhanced pistons

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WICHITA, Kansas — Textron Aviation has revealed the first deliveries of its enhanced Cessna Skyhawk, Cessna Skylane, Turbo Skylane, and Turbo Stationair HD aircraft.

“These latest product investments aim to provide a modern and stylish tone that aligns with the newest Cessna Citation jets, while maintaining the renowned comfort, durability and performance of the iconic Cessna piston lineup,” company officials said.

The new interior designs include:

  • New seats with additional support and padding
  • Power headset jacks at every seat
  • A and C USB charging ports at every seat
  • New instrument panels
  • Cell phone pockets throughout the aircraft
  • Integrated overhead air conditioning on equipped aircraft
  • A new center armrest available on certain models

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Textron eAviation Shows Off FAA-approved Velis, Works on Nexus eVTOL

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Pipistrel subsidiary is driving electric aircraft innovation at the Textron division

This week at the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo, Textron eAviation is showing off its first Pipistrel Velis Electro to receive an FAA exemption from light sport aircraft (LSA) regulations. The exemption came March 4 and permits the electric-powered, two-seat airplane to be operated under LSA regulations in the U.S.

Kriya Shortt, the president and CEO of Textron eAviation, said at the show that the company’s goal is to now deliver exempted Velis Electro demonstrators to its dealer network. With the battery providing about 50 minutes of endurance (not including reserves), she noted that the small airplane is ideal for near-airport flight training, meaning practicing takeoffs and landings, as well as pattern work, because of its more muted noise profile.

In addition, Shortt said the Velis Electro’s lower acquisition cost and 60 to 70 percent lower operating costs versus piston airplanes will result in reduced aircraft rental costs, saving flight students money. “Cost is really a big barrier for flight students,” she said, adding that flight schools are a primary target market for the all-electric airplane.

Pipistrel designed a proprietary battery monitoring system for the Velis Electro. According to Shortt, this system takes battery health and charge state into consideration to present the pilot with an accurate display of remaining endurance and power.

Meanwhile, the Wichita-based company continues to work on the Nexus eVTOL aircraft and is currently building a full-scale vehicle that is expected to fly next year. “The fuselage is coming together, and first flight is planned for the first half of 2025,” Shortt said.

Textron eAviation took over the Nexus project from sister company Bell in March 2022 and since then has made refinements to the design. Bell is designing and manufacturing the aircraft’s two aft fixed rotors, while sister company McCauley is responsible for the tiltrotor propellers.

On the battery front, she said Nexus will leverage Pipistrel’s expertise in this area. “Many in the industry see Pipistrel as the leader in aircraft battery technology,” Shortt noted. “We have a really interesting group of people with doctoral degrees in physics and chemistry, not to mention aerospace engineers.”

The Velis Electro is using Pipistrel’s second-generation battery. “We’re always testing new battery types—this area is always evolving,” Shortt concluded.

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Riyadh Air and Artefact join forces to innovate AI solutions for aviation industry

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Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia’s digitally native, world-class airline, and Artefact, a global data and AI transformation services consultancy, have signed a strategic partnership to revolutionize the aviation industry through AI applications. Utilizing cutting-edge cloud and AI technologies, the partnership will focus on building Riyadh Air’s data analytics platform and developing AI solutions across its main business and corporate functions.

Through these AI solutions, Riyadh Air will be able to hyper-personalize its guest experience and elevate its guest service through intelligent channels, optimize its flight and ground operations through real-time data insights and predictions, and launch fit-for-purpose offerings of air and non-air products through highly efficient and targeted sales channels.

Abe Dev, vice president digital and innovation at Riyadh Air, said: “Our partnership with Artefact signifies Riyadh Air’s dedication to leveraging cutting-edge technologies to enhance guest experiences at every stage and every moment of their journey. This partnership with Artefact builds upon our recent collaborations with leaders in the aviation industry. Through AI integration, we aim to redefine travel standards, offering personalized, seamless digital-first experience to our guests ahead of our maiden flight in 2025.”

Rahul Arya, CEO and managing partner of Artefact MENA, said: “Our partnership with Riyadh Air marks a significant milestone in our commitment to pioneering AI solutions tailored to the unique needs of the aviation industry. By combining Riyadh Air’s forward-thinking approach with Artefact’s expertise in data and AI solutions, we’re poised to set new standards for innovation in the airline sector.”

Riyadh Air, set to make its maiden flight in 2025, is poised to revolutionize the future of air travel and exceed guests’ expectations of their travel experience. With an unwavering dedication to cutting-edge thinking and innovation, Riyadh Air aims to set new standards in the industry, connecting the Kingdom to more than 100 destinations worldwide. This initiative supports the ambitions of both the National Aviation Strategy and National Tourism Strategy, which aim to bring 330 million annual visitors to the Kingdom by 2030.

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Funding Confirmed for Cranfield Hydrogen Integration Incubator

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Aerospace university will be a hub for developing hydrogen propulsion for aviation.

The UK’s Cranfield University is to establish a research hub to advance the development of hydrogen-powered aircraft with £69 million ($87 million) in new public-private funding announced this week. The new Cranfield Hydrogen Integration Incubator (CH2i) is backed by £46 million injected by industry partners including Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Marshall, and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, and a further £23 million from the UK government’s Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF).

CH2i is intended to be a platform through which multiple partners can join forces to work on the production, integration, and use of hydrogen to support net-zero objectives to decarbonize air transport. It will be connected to Cranfield’s new Centre for Doctoral Training in Net Zero Aviation, which is intended to stimulate research in areas such as production technologies, catalysts, materials, structures, storage tanks, aircraft designs, and engines. Academic partners include Imperial College London, the Midlands Innovation Energy Research Accelerator, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the UK Aerospace Research Consortium, the UK Collaboration for Research on Infrastructure and Cities, and the National Physical Laboratory.

The Centre for Doctoral Training is expected to provide paths for PhD students to work with private sector companies. On Wednesday, Lyte Aviation said it plans to offer opportunities to be involved in the development of its LA-44 SkyBus hybrid-hydrogen-electric aircraft.

“CH2i will integrate with other large industry research areas at Cranfield, including our novel hydrogen production programs and our Aerospace Integration Research Centre and the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre,” explained professor Karen Holford, chief executive and vice-chancellor of Cranfield University. “Working with research and industry partners nationally and internationally, we will unlock some of the most significant challenges around the future development and deployment of hydrogen in aviation. It’s a very exciting prospect for our researchers, partners, and for the aviation industry. It will help to build the pathway to net zero emissions aviation.”

The Cranfield campus in southern England includes its own airport, research aircraft, and air traffic control facilities. The site has a controlled airside environment that can demonstrate, test, and advance new technologies, systems, and processes at scale.

The new CH2i facility will consist of the existing Hydrogen Integration Research Centre and the new Enabling Hydrogen Innovation test area with two test beds for work on gaseous and liquid hydrogen, as well as fuel systems, storage, and propulsion system integration and increased capacity for testing hydrogen demonstrator aircraft and powertrains. The new funding will be committed to providing new equipment, project management, and staffing to support the project.

Other industry partners in CH2i include Toyota, Siemens Engineering, London Heathrow Airport, Element 2, Hywaves, GTI Energy, Modular Clinton Global, and Equilibrion. Cranfield is one of four universities to receive RPIF support that has now totaled more than £1 billion.

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions is based on the campus, where it is working on its plans to develop a hydrogen-powered version of the Britten-Norman Islander. Earlier this month, the company completed the integration of its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain into the nacelle of a testbed aircraft as it prepares to start flight testing with a technology demonstrator by the end of 2024.

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Air Astana announces settlement with Pratt & Whitney

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Air Astana Group has reached a settlement with Pratt & Whitney in connection to its PW1100G engines fitted to the carrier’s A320-200neo aircraft.

In a Kazakhstan Stock Exchange filing on March 27, the Air Astana (KC, Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev) and FlyArystan parent said the settlement “will help address costs and will supplement the existing range of robust operational initiatives to address these issues in a sustainable manner.” It did not disclose a figure on the settlement.

The engine type powers the group’s twenty-nine A320neo Family aircraft. The company said it expects to have 34 engine removals throughout 2024.

“To mitigate the ongoing maintenance issues concerning the PW1100G engines, Air Astana Group has five spare engines and plans to obtain six additional engines by 2028,” a January 2024 preliminary prospectus reads. “Furthermore, Air Astana Group has access to Pratt & Whitney’s pool of spare engines.”

The module reveals that the PW1100G is fitted to thirteen A320-200Ns, four A321-200Ns, and twelve A321-200NX(LR)s among the group’s fleet. Eight of the A320-200Ns operate on behalf of FlyArystan with the remainder flying for Air Astana. Six of the A320-200Ns are currently out of service.

The settlement draws a line under Air Astana Group’s second major engine dispute in as many years. In February 2023, the company withdrew an appeal at the New York Supreme Court after it lost a 2021 damages claim against Embraer. Alleging five E190-E2s delivered on lease from AerCap in 2018 were unsafe to fly, it grounded the planes and sued Embraer for breaches of contract and warranty. However, the court dismissed Air Astana’s claim for damages in September 2022. Air Astana appealed that decision before deciding to withdraw it.

Separately, this week’s stock exchange filing disclosed that Air Astana Group had executed a purchase agreement with International Aero Engines for a sixth spare PW1100 engine. IAE will deliver it in April and the transaction is “aligned with the airline’s engine issue mitigation planning.” The group further advised that it had signed a lease for two A320-200s to help offset the capacity issues caused by the out-of-service A320neo. Those two aircraft are due to arrive in the first quarter of 2025.

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Electron Unveils All-electric Five-seat Utility Aircraft

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The Dutch start-up aims to be ready to start deliveries in 2028

Electron Aerospace is stepping up work to bring a five-seat all-electric aircraft to market by the end of this decade. The Dutch start-up unveiled an updated design for the Electron 5 model, for which it intends to start deliveries in 2028.

As battery technology continues to improve incrementally, the company believes the Electron 5 model will have an operational range of 500 kilometers (310 miles), including anticipated safety reserves for energy equal to an additional 250 km. According to co-founder and CEO Josef Mouris, for the regional air mobility market, the company initially intends to address city-pair sectors of around 370 km and at a speed of 350 km/h.

When it was launched in 2021, Electron’s initial business plan was to lease and operate electric aircraft. “But we soon found there wasn’t anything suitable out there,” Mouris said “The [two-seat] Pipistrel [Electro] is too small and the [nine-seat] Eviation Alice still had uncertifiable engines on the wing tip back then and is simply too big for the market we want to address. We didn’t want eVTOL aircraft because we don’t think these fit existing certification and operating standards and will not have the required range nor the low operations costs of a pure electric eCTOL. What we needed was something like an electrified Diamond DA62, but unfortunately retrofitting does not work.”

Having resolved to develop its own aircraft, Electron decided to offer this to other operators initially to establish where it might fit in the market. It has previously signed memorandums of understanding with South Korea’s Mint Air and Australian aircraft distributor FlyOnE. Along with an agreement with Danish-German logistics group Danx Carousel, it said the value of pre-orders now totals more than €230 million (about $250 million).

The Electron 5 design features a long wingspan, a canard, and a T-tail. With its twin pusher propellers, the aircraft is (in appearance) somewhat reminiscent of Piaggio’s Avanti turboprop. Operating with a single pilot, it would seat up to four passengers or carry 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of freight on a standard European pallet and be able to operate from short landing strips of less than 800 meters (2,600 feet).

The company presented the new design to investors in late January, before making it public this week. “Taking inspiration from the albatross, our Electron 5 features an aerodynamically efficient body, robust wings, and windows that mimic the bird’s vigilant eyes,” explained Electron’s head of design, Alexander Klatt. For freight operators, the aircraft can include a cargo door in the side of the fuselage.

So far, Electron has built a pair of cabin mockups to validate use cases with customers that could include cargo and emergency medical support, as well as passenger flights in single-pilot operations. It is working with Dassault Systèmes’ design and engineering software with plans to forge further agreements with partners to supply key technology such as the propulsion system, batteries, avionics, and other components.

More Funding Needed to Get to Market

Having raised an undisclosed seven-figure amount for the program, Electron is now seeking additional financial backers. Mouris acknowledged the current environment for finding investors in electric aviation is proving challenging, with more money having gone previously to eVTOL start-ups than to new fixed-wing models looking to unlock transportation options from numerous under-utilized small airports.

“Our main goal is to convert ground trips involving four- to eight-hour drives [into sub-regional flights],” Mouris explained, pointing to sector examples, such as Dutch towns Groningen, Twente, and Maastricht to larger cities like Copenhagen, Paris, and Berlin. This approach would also avoid travelers having to make inefficient trips to larger hub airports like Amsterdam Schiphol.

Mouris, a former airline pilot with FlyBe, founded Electron with Marc-Henry de Jong, a management consultant with extensive experience in sustainability businesses. Electron’s engineering team has previously held senior roles with companies including Fokker, Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Embraer, Lockheed Martin, and General Atomics.

Initially, the business began in the UK but in the wake of the country’s Brexit departure from the European Union (EU), Electron is now incorporated in the Dutch city of Rotterdam so that it can work directly under EASA’s jurisdiction. Mouris said that government funding opportunities in the EU are better suited to product development than in the UK.

The company aims to complete EASA type certification by the end of 2027. It is preparing to file an application for a design organization approval from the European air safety regulator but has not yet indicated when it intends to build and fly a full-scale prototype.

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FAA Consults on Special Conditions for Safran Electric Engine

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The EngineUs family of electric motors has been selected for several new aircraft

The FAA this week opened a consultation on proposed special conditions for certifying Safran’s EngineUs 100 electric motors. The propulsion systems have been selected for use on multiple new electric and hybrid-electric aircraft, including the nine-passenger eSTOL model being developed by Electra and Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer family.

In a document published on March 20, the U.S. air safety agency said that special conditions will be required since the characteristics of electric engines are not adequately covered by the requirements of the existing 14 CFR Part 33 rules developed for turbine and reciprocating engines. It has given interested parties until April 19 to comment on its proposals for handling the type certification application that France-based Safran Electrical & Power filed back on Nov. 27, 2020.

The special conditions would require Safran to comply with Part 33 airworthiness standards, apart from those specifically applicable to turbine and reciprocating engines. Additionally, the manufacturer would need “to establish engine operating limits related to the power, torque, speed, and duty cycles” specific to the EngineUs powertrain.

The FAA is proposing additional requirements covering materials, fire protection, durability, cooling, and attachments for engine mounting and accessories. Safran will also have to prove the safety with regard to potential consequences from rotor overspeed, unstable torque, and variances in temperature, vibration, and high-intensity radiated fields. The conditions cover the reliability of electronic control systems and data collection, as well as mitigation for system failures.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Safran Electrical & Power is in the advanced stages of work to secure EASA type certification under the European regulator’s existing CS-23 rules. Last year, the business unit of the French aerospace group obtained an EASA design organization approval and began certification testing. During the June 2023 Paris Air Show, the company indicated it was targeting EASA type certification by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

The EngineUs 100 covers a power output range of 100 to 180 kilowatts and a power density of 5 kilowatts per kilogram. It has also been selected for hybrid-electric aircraft being developed by French start-ups VoltAero and Aura Aero, as well as for Volocopter’s next-generation eVTOL aircraft and the E20 eVTOL being developed by China’s TCab Tech.