lørdag 24. februar 2018

EA-18G Growler -Terrifying flight - Twitter

Cat-launch fra USS Theodore Roosevelt - UAS vison video

F/A-18 Catapult Launch from USS Theodore Roosevelt


An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the Fighting Redcocks of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 22, and an EA-18G Growler, assigned to the Cougars of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139 takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

Droner offshore Norge - UAS Vision

Drones Could Deliver Cargo to Offshore Vessels and Platforms

 

Four Norwegian companies – including offshore vessel owner Olympic Subsea – are collaborating to investigate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to transport cargo between offshore vessels and offshore installations.
In addition to Olympic Subsea, the partners in the ‘Safer Logistics from Unmanned Logistics Helicopter’ research project include Griff Aviation, Norut (the Northern Research Institute), and STABLE, which specialises in motion-compensation technology.
Griff Aviation develops and manufactures drones that have capacity to carry heavy cargo. Norut is leading the project and has experience in developing autonomous control systems for unmanned air vehicles and of operating them in challenging weather conditions in northern waters.
The project is drawing on expertise from the research community at the faculty of engineering and technology at the Arctic University of Norway in Narvik, which has extensive experience in automated drone operations.
STABLE’s role is to develop a control system so that drones can operate from a moving platform. The company is developing a stable platform for take-off and landing of the drone. The platform would be placed in a container on a ship’s deck, which would also act as a hangar for the drone.
Olympic Subsea is an active development partner in the project, which is supported financially by the Research Council of Norway.
The partners in the project note that weather conditions play a major role in determining when cargo can be lifted from the deck of a vessel onto a rig or other installation.

Norwegian og Sør Amerika - DN

Må Norwegian ekspandere for å overleve? (Red.)

Norwegian drar til Brasil for å snakke om ekspandering
Flyselskapet Norwegian skal møte brasilianske transportmyndigheter og luftfartsorganet ANAC i mars angående planer om å ekspandere i landet.
Det skriver Bloomberg News fredag og viser til den brasilianske finansavisen Valor Econômico, som ikke oppgir kilde til informasjonen.
Norwegian har allerede fått autorisasjon fra argentinske myndigheter til å fly fra Argentina til 13 brasilianske byer.
Konsernsjef Bjørn Kjos i Norwegian har tidligere sagt at selskapet har blitt kontaktet av andre søramerikanske land enn Argentina angående drift av både innenlands og internasjonale flyvninger.

B737 nr. 10 000 er under bygging - Twitter


fredag 23. februar 2018

SAAB ruller ut Global Eye - AW&ST

Saab Rolls Out First GlobalEye

GlobalEye: Saab










LONDON—Swedish airframer Saab has rolled out the first of three GlobalEye airborne early warning aircraft destined for the United Arab Emirates.

NATO on tankers and MPA - AIN


NATO Joint Tanker/Transport and MPA Programs Advance
 - February 21, 2018, 5:12 AM


Canada has joined the multinational MPA program with an eye on replacing its CP-140 Aurora aircraft. In recent years they have been supporting Operation Impact, the Canadian anti-Daesh effort over Iraq and Syria - Photo: Per Gram

Last week, two of NATO’s high-profile multinational programs took major steps forward. On February 14, Belgium signed up to become part of the European multi-national tanker/transport force, joining Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway. On the following day two more countries joined NATO’s joint maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) program, adding impetus to a growing effort to replace aging MPAs in Europe and Canada.
Known as the MMU (MRTT Multinational Unit), the tanker/transport effort was launched in July 2016 to provide a pool of refueling and troop/freight-carrying aircraft, thereby reducing European reliance on U.S. airlift and tanker assets. The program was initiated by Luxembourg and the Netherlands, which placed an initial order for two Airbus A330MRTT (multi-role tanker transport) aircraft. With additional nations­—notably Germany—subsequently joining the program, the order had been increased to seven.
Now, with Belgium joining after acting as an official observer for some time, an eighth A330MRTT has been added to the order. The country has also acquired the rights to up to 1,000 flight hours per year, which can be accessed as soon as the first aircraft is delivered. The fleet is due to be delivered between 2020 and 2024, to be centrally based at Eindhoven in the Netherlands, currently home to the KDC-10 tanker/transports of the Dutch air force. There will also be a forward operating base at Cologne in Germany. The aircraft can be configured for air-to-air refueling, the transport of passengers and cargo, as well as medical evacuation missions.
On February 15, a day after Belgium’s announcement, a signing ceremony was held in Brussels to welcome two new members—Canada and Poland—to the multinational “Cooperation on Multinational Maritime Multi Mission Aircraft Capabilities” initiative. This was launched in June 2017 by France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey, which signed a Letter of Intent concerning the joint acquisition or development of new aircraft to replace aging maritime anti-submarine and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft.
“This joint effort recognizes the fact that the majority of Allies’ maritime patrol aircraft fleets will be reaching the end of their operational lives between 2025 and 2035,” said NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller during the signing ceremony. She further encouraged the participants to “push on to the implementation phase. The goal here isn’t just a drawing board design—we need a new generation of aircraft, in the air, fulfilling what is an increasingly important mission.”
At some point this year the participating nations are scheduled to have completed a definition document outlining future MPA capability requirements. This should provide the foundation for developing and fielding follow-on solutions.
Canada has operated the P-3 Orion-based CP-140 Aurora in the MPA role for many years, while Poland has earlier outlined a maritime patrol requirement under the program name Rybitwa. The initial partners have a need to replace P-3 Orions and Atlantiques, or to increase their anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.
Possible candidates to meet the multinational requirement are expected to be from the “high end” of the MPA marketplace, with a robust and modern ASW capability, but also with the ability to perform some overland ISR duties. Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon has already been selected independently by Norway and the United Kingdom, and is likely to be promoted heavily on account of its interoperability and the potential for centralized servicing and maintenance. However, the inclusion of Canada in the group may influence the selection of a Boeing product. Saab’s Global 6000-based Swordfish could be a contender, and it is likely that Airbus would offer an MPA version of its A319 airliner.

Indonesia turns to Russia for weapons - AIN


Indonesia Places Firm Order for 11 Su-35 Multirole Fighters
 - February 20, 2018, 9:03 AM


Indonesia has followed China in acquiring the Sukhoi S-35S, the export version of Russia’s most capable operational fighter.
Indonesia and Russia have signed a contract for 11 Sukhoi Su-35S multirole fighters. According to Indonesian Defense Ministry spokesman Totok Sugiharto, the $1.14 billion contract has been finalized. "Two units of Sukhoi jets will be delivered in August 2018," he added, noting that six more would be delivered 18 months after the contract becomes effective, and the remaining three would be delivered five months after that. The contract brings to an end a long-running procurement for an “F-5 replacement,” which drew competition from a number of Western types such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, and Saab Gripen.
Other details of the deal have yet to emerge, but it is already known that part of the cost will be paid with Indonesian traditional export items, such as palm oil and rubber. In addition, according to the recent Indonesian regulations, the deal should involve offset obligations on the exporter.
With this order, Indonesia becomes the second overseas customer for Russia’s “4++” generation supersonic fighter. China placed an order for 24 such jets in 2015 worth $2.5 billion. An initial batch of four went to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) the following year, and 10 more in 2017, according to Yuri Slyusar, president of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which controls the Sukhoi design bureau and KnAAPO plant that assembles the Su-35S. The remaining 10 aircraft are due to be delivered this year, while some of the ground equipment and weapons will be provided in 2019 when the contract materialization should be complete. PLAAF pilots began training in Russia in the fall of 2016.
Indonesia firmed up its first order for Sukhoi jets in 2003. Since then it acquired five Su-27SK single-seat interceptors and 11 Su-30MK2 twin-seat multirole fighters, the last of which were delivered in 2013. Negotiations on the more advanced Su-35S opened in 2014, shortly after the Russian air force confirmed its initial order for the type.
Although the Su-35S deal had long been agreed in principle, with numerous official confirmations from officials in Jakarta, it proved difficult to formalize. Speaking to AIN earlier, director for international cooperation and regional policies with Rostec state corporation Victor Kladov said the previous U.S. administration applied heavy pressure on Jakarta to stall its military technical cooperation with Moscow. The Obama Administration lifted the U.S. sanctions on Indonesia’s arms imports imposed for human rights abuses in the Aceh and other regions, including those applicable to the F-16C fighters and air-launched munitions. The U.S.-made F-16 and F-5 fighters in the Indonesian air force inventory had been grounded for long time due to shortage of spare parts and the halt of support from manufacturers.
According to Kladov, the Su-35 deal would be the first of a series for Russian equipment. Next in line is “a major shipbuilding program,” of which details are yet to be made public, and a similar one concerning rotorcraft. Rostec member Techmash will see to production of munitions in Indonesia, including 30mm and, possibly, 100mm shells for BMP-3F infantry fighting vehicles in service with the Indonesian marines.

Biometrisk ansiktsgjenkjennelse funker - Check-In

Biometrisk ansigtsgenkendelse testet i Boston. Foto: SITA.

Succes for biometrisk ansigtsgenkendelse

Testen af det biometriske ansigtsgenkendelses anlæg i Boston International Airport har været så god, at de amerikanske myndigheder ønsker at tage systemet i brug for alvor.
Den biometriske ansigtsgenkendelse har været så succesfuld og populær under testen i lufthavnen i Boston, at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) nu aktivt vil gå ind i sagen og undersøge i hvor vidt omfang ansigtsgenkendelse kan benyttes i lufthavnskontrollerne, siger en seniormedarbejder i CBP til ATW.
Ansigtsgenkendelse “har et reelt potentiale til at ændre hele oplevelsen i lufthavnen”, sagde John Wagner fra CBP på IATA Aviation Day kongressen i New York.
Genkendt på 2-3 sekunder
CBP indgik sidste år et samarbejde med SITA og det New York baserede flyselskab JetBlue Airways om at teste biometrisk ansigtsgenkendelse for at fastslå, om den nye teknologi kunne anvendes til at identificere passagerer på flyselskabets rute fra Boston til Aruba.
“Vi kan bekræfte passagerernes identitet på 2-3 sekunder baseret på flyselskabets data. Der er reelt ikke noget behov for at vise boardingpas”, beretter John Wagner.
Han mener ikke, at boardingprocessen er det eneste sted, hvor den nye teknologi kan benyttes: ”Vi kan forestille os, at ansigtsgenkendelse kan benyttes ved indgangen til sikkerhedskontrollen og i øvrigt alle de steder i en lufthavn, hvor den rejsende skal kunne identificere sig”.
Vejen til ny dynamik
Til at begynde med vil CBP bede om tilladelse til at bruge systemet ved flyankomster, så rejsende, der kommer til USA, hurtigt kan blive identificeret. ”I Boston har vi skåret procestiden ned til det halve, og vi føler for alvor, at der her er tale om et springbræt til at ændre dynamikken i de internationale ankomst- og afrejseprocesser”.
American Airlines sikkerhedschef Jose Freig, der også talte på IATA-kongressen, sagde, at flybranchen har bemærket JetBlue/SITA testen i Boston. ”Den har været yderst succesfuld og mange af os overvejer, hvordan vi kan benytte dette system. Vi imødeser den dag, hvor den rejsende går hen til en automat og får taget sit billede, som herefter kan identificere den rejsende alle de steder, hvor der er behov for det i lufthavnen. Nu er grunden lagt”.

SST - Qatar Airways har vist interesse - Kina vil fly fortest - Check-In/Curt Lewis

Boom Technology XB-1 - også kendt som "Baby Boom". (Foto: Boom Technology)

Qatar Airways vil have supersoniske fly


Supersoniske fly har vakt interessen hos Qatar Airways, og det mellemøstlige flyselskab skal endda være klar til at være lanceringskunde.
Supersoniske passagerfly kan efterhånden anes i horisonten, selv om der efter al sandsynlighed fortsat går en håndfuld år, før sådanne fly kan komme i kommerciel drift.
Hos Qatar Airways er man imidlertid bevidst om udviklingen inden for supersoniske fly, og det store flyselskab melder sig nu klar til selv at stifte bekendtskab med disse typer fly.
Koncernchef i Qatar Airways, Akbar al-Baker, sagde for nyligt, at flyselskabet var ”meget interesseret” i supersonisk flyvning. Han omtalte blandt andet de private forsøg, der er på at udvikle og producere et supersonisk fly.
”Qatar ville være meget interesseret i at se på et sådant projekt. Vi ville ikke tøve med at være en lanceringskunde,” udtalte han ifølge FlightGlobal i forbindelse med den første levering af en Airbus A350-1000 tidligere på ugen.
Akbar al-Baker understregede dog, at hvis Qatar Airways vil forpligtige sig i et supersonisk flyprojekt, afhænger det af yderligere analyser af udviklingspotentialet – især inden for elproduktion. Han påpegede desuden, at der endnu ikke er fundet en fabrikant af motorer. Når disse oplysninger foreligger, vil flyselskabet være interesseret i et lille antal fly.
“Baby Boom” på vej i horisonten
Ovenstående udtalelser fra Baker al-Baker kommer i relation til Boom Technology, der er en privat udvikler af supersoniske fly. Her har man i nogle år arbejdet på at udvikle et lille fly ved navn XB-1 med plads til cirka 45 passagerer, og som skal kunne opnå en marchhastighed på Mach 2,2 (2.335 kilometer i timen, red.).
Boom Technology arbejder fra en hangar i Denvers Centennial Airport, og virksomheden udvikler på det supersoniske fly i samarbejde med Virgin Galactic. Flyet har allerede fået det passende tilnavn ”Baby Boom”.
Concorden kunne i sin tid flyve med Mach 2,0, mens almindelige passagerfly opererer med en marchhastighed på Mach 0,85. XB-1-flyet vil med Mach 2,2 kunne tilbagelægge strækningen fra New York til London på tre timer og 15 minutter.
Hvis alt går efter planen, vil ”Baby Boom” kunne indgå i kommerciel passagerflyvning fra 2023.
Lydsvagt supersonisk fly
Også i Boston er der aktivitet inden for udvikling af et supersonisk passagerfly. Virksomheden Spike Aerospace er således i gang med at udvikle et lydsvagt supersonisk jetfly med plads til 18 passagerer.
Flyet har fået typebetegnelsen S-512 og vil kunne opnå en hastighed på Mach 1,6 – det svarer til 1.770 kilometer i timen. Rækkevidden bliver på 11.500 kilometer.
S-512 skal efter planen i produktion fra 2023, og producentetn regner med, at der potentielt vil være 700 aftagere til det nye supersoniske fly. Det bliver imidlertid en bekostelig affære; flyet vil nemlig have et prisskilt på 100 millioner dollars, hvilket svarer til cirka 600 millioner danske kroner.
Det seneste supersoniske fly var i luften helt tilbage i efteråret 2003, da Concorden gennemførte den sidste flyvning inden sin pensionering. Både Air France og British Airways ejede fly af denne type, og en strækning fra New York til London kunne klares på tre timer og 30 minutter.

CHINA ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR HYPERSONIC JET ABLE TO REACH NEW YORK FROM BEIJING IN TWO HOURS
  • The team's hypersonic jet design features two layers of wings / Science China Press
  • A research team claimed the plane would travel at 6,000km/h

A team of Chinese researchers has claimed to have designed a hypersonic jet that could travel at 6,000km/h, five times faster than the speed of sound.

The team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said the plane would be able to transport passengers and cargo from Beijing to New York in two hours - the journey currently takes an average of 13 and a half hours.

Cui Kai, who headed up the research, published a paper on the new design in this month's Physics, Mechanics and Astronomy journal, in which he said: "It will take only a couple of hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed".

The team said they had tested a scaled-down model of the jet in a wind tunnel, and that it reached speeds of 8,600km/h with low drag and high lift. To compare, Concorde's top speed was 2,179km/h.

The design, dubbed the I Plane, features two layers of wings to reduce turbulence and drag while creating more lift.

Talk of hypersonic travel has been ramping up of late. "It's certainly within the realm of possibility," Dr Kevin Bowcutt, senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics for Boeing Research and Technology, told NBC last month. "I think we have the technology now where we could actually do it."

Boeing has dipped its toe in the water with its X-51A WaveRider, and it is now reportedly working with Lockheed Martin to develop a jet-powered hypersonic aircraft - although both are keeping schtum about the design.

Supersonic commercial planes - those that travel faster than 1,236km/h, the speed of sound - are likely to be the precursor to hypersonic jets. Boom Supersonic, for example, plans to produce passenger aircraft that can travel at MACH 2.2, or 2,335km/h, that will enter service in 2023.

These jets could carry 50 passengers, flying from New York to London in three hours and 15 minutes. But it won't come cheap; fares are expected to cost $2,500 one way.

Helikopter - Airbus kikker inn i krystallkulen - Air taxi - AW&ST

Airbus is approaching urban air mobility from multiple directions, from gaining experience with on-demand helicopter service in gridlocked cities to designing vehicles optimized for the short-duration air taxi mission. 
The helicopter service Voom is the first project to graduate from Airbus’ Silicon Valley incubator, A3, and has become a subsidiary of Airbus Helicopters. Voom began operations in April 2017, in Sao Paulo. With backing from Airbus Helicopters, the service soon will expand into Mexico City, which has similarly congested road traffic, but with the additional challenge for helicopter air taxis of hot-and-high operating conditions. 
Since the online booking service began, using approved Part 135 helicopter operators and licensed heliports already in place in Sao Paulo, Voom says monthly growth has exceeded 200% in number of trips and 220% in riders. The service now makes “several dozen trips a day” between eight heliports, six in the city center and two at Sao Paulo’s domestic and international airports, says CEO Uma Subramanian. “And we have just scratched the surface.” 
  • Voom on-demand helicopter service to expand into second city
  • Ground testing under way for CityAirbus eVTOL demonstrator
Crucially for Airbus’ urban air mobility initiative, “we are learning a lot about how people fly, where they want to go, and what they think about luggage,” she says. “That’s important to the next-generation vehicle and what operating costs should look like for future vehicles.” 
Most electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) air taxis are being designed for four passengers, but if they bring a lot of bags, “it could radically change the equation,” Subramanian says. 
When booking with Voom, customers must say how much luggage they plan to bring, as it can require a larger helicopter, which drives up the cost. Some 60% of riders come with one or more checked bags, so Voom has paid one of its operators to add a luggage tray to its helicopter for airport routes. 
Voom also is learning what routes customers want to travel. “It’s not just the airports. We have fairly regular business travelers who want to get from one end of town to the other,” Subramanian notes. “This is important to scaling the network in the future and to what we do [with larger helicopters] in quiet times.” 
Airbus also is learning what passengers consider a fair price. “We have to think about vehicle design as a function of willingness to pay for an air transport service,” she says. If the goal is to offer lower operating costs per mile than a premium helicopter service, to increase usage, the questions are: “What is the delta, and what does the next-generation vehicle look like at that price?” 
Already flying in Sao Paulo (pictured), Voom is to expand to Mexico City. Credit: Voom
What Airbus thinks that vehicle could look like is the four-seat CityAirbus eVTOL. At roughly 26 ft. (8 m) in length and width, this will be smaller than any helicopter Airbus produces and, while styled to resemble the twin-turbine H160, it will be a rather utilitarian aircraft. “It is not a sports car,” says Marius Bebesel, Airbus head of urban air mobility. “People will only spend 15-30 min. in this vehicle, so it will be more like a London taxi.” 
Propulsion for the  4,850-lb. (2.2-metric-ton) demonstrator aircraft is provided by eight 100-kW Siemens SP200D motors, a total output more than twice what is needed to hover. “We are still learning. The motors are oversized, as are many of the systems onboard, so there is room for optimization,” Bebesel says.

Safety is one driver for this conservative approach, with a high level of redundancy applied to major systems. If one motor shuts down, the other seven will more than take the strain without passengers noticing. Each of the eight motors drives fixed-pitch propellers, mounted in contra-rotating pairs with one inside the duct, the other raised just above it. The ducts increase performance but also are aerodynamically shaped to reduce drag in forward flight while providing some additional lift in cruise.

The propeller shafts are the only mechanical parts on the aircraft, which will have a “big impact on operational costs,” Bebesel says. “We have an image of maintenance on this aircraft being done by one guy with a torque meter,” while the rest of the systems onboard will be self-monitoring.

One key focus is on passenger comfort, particularly in the first seconds after takeoff as the CityAirbus transitions to forward flight. There is concern that a helicopter-like nose-down transition could be uncomfortable for some, so Airbus is working on maintaining level flight throughout the mission. The company is filing for a patent on technologies that could achieve this. 

Safety and low noise are driving the design of the CityAirbus. Credit: Airbus
Because the CityAirbus is designed to operate in sensitive urban areas, engineers are studying how to keep noise levels low. Electric motors help, but using contra-rotating propellers in the ducts can result in unwanted noise from blade interactions, so tip speed is reduced to 395 fps (120 m/s) compared to the 690 fps in a traditional helicopter. 
Behind the cabin, Airbus is suspending the four 100-kWh lithium-ion batteries on a rail that allows them to be moved to adjust the center of gravity during flight testing. Suspending them high in the fuselage also improves handling and flight characteristics, Bebesel says. 
Airbus powered up a ground-test rig for the CityAirbus propulsion and flight control systems at the end of 2017 and is aiming to fly the demonstrator, unmanned, at the end of 2018. The first hop will take place in Donauworth, Germany, before testing is transferred to the nearby military airfield at Manching. 
Once early testing is complete, the aircraft will be converted for manned flights. While initial commercial flights could be piloted, ultimately the CityAirbus would fly autonomously between preassigned stations. Passengers would walk under the ducted fans to enter the cabin, but as they are 6.4 ft. off the ground, only a handful would have to duck. 
Props can be stopped within 2 sec., which should speed up turnaround times, allowing passengers to leave the vehicle moments after landing, unlike on a helicopter, where they might wait for rotor blades to stop turning before exiting. 
Because the CityAirbus is carrying its 1,100-lb. (500-kg) energy source at all times, a key driver has been to keep weight low. The airframe itself is only about 10% of the vehicle’s empty weight. Motors and inverters feature separate liquid cooling systems, although Bebesel says production systems likely would have a more simplified approach. Artificial intelligence also would play a role, with the electrical systems calculating the temperature and charge status so it can be optimized for the upcoming flight. 
Another lesson from Voom’s first 10 months of operations in Sao Paulo? “Weather can be a real problem. In January, we had to cancel 21 trips in 1.5 hr.,” Subramanian says. “We need to be thinking how weather factors in, and we need to design the vehicle to deliver a reliable product, even in inclement weather.” 

Helikopter - Airbus og H225 MGB monitoring - AW&ST

Airbus is exploring the potential of widening the scope and capability of its future Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) to provide earlier detection of potential problems with the moving components inside helicopter transmissions.
The research—an in-house project—is an offshoot of the company’s engineering work following the fatal crash of one of its H225 helicopters in Norway in April 2016.
In simple terms, helicopters’ HUMS use a series of accelerometers placed at critical points in the aircraft’s dynamic system such as the main and tail rotor gearboxes to monitor vibration levels. Variations detected can provide imperative early warning of a potential issue.
In the Norway accident, Airbus and Norwegian investigators believe the accident likely was caused by spalling within the outer ring of one of eight planet gears within the main gearbox. This resulted in a crack that propagated, causing it to split in two between two teeth and collide with a tooth on the sun gear.
  • Airbus using new generation sensors to spot degradation in moving elements of a helicopter transmission
  • Company plans to install sensor kit on 10 H225s to understand the “healthy” operating regime
Within moments, the inertia of the helicopter’s main rotor sheared off the top section of the main gearbox, which resulted in the main rotor head and blades separating from the aircraft.
But trying to detect a potential problem in this section of the gearbox—where the planet gears are operating and dozens of parts are intermeshing simultaneously and at different speeds depending on the mission and environment in which they are operating—is a significant challenge.

“It is like attempting to find an irregularity in the heart of child while they sit in a classroom with other children, using sensors placed out on the outside of the building,” says Regis Magnac, Airbus head of customer relations.
“There are hundreds of points of connection that are turning very fast at different rhythms. . . . It is very noisy and there are so many frequencies,” he says.
But data collected during test bench trials and flight tests suggest new-generation sensors combined with advanced algorithms and data processing could provide extremely early warning of component degradation.
As part of the engineering work, Airbus has been assessing H225 gearboxes on a static test bench. The gearboxes hold additional sensing equipment. Artificial degradation was added to components to see how it would evolve.
The new sensors, capable of seeing higher bandwidths of frequencies than previous generations, have been providing a lot of new data, says Magnac. This data was then worked through different algorithms, and an “evolution of the propagation,” has been tracked through those algorithms.
“I am not saying we have found the gold solution, but we’ve seen some interesting developments; interesting enough for us to continue to deep dive into it,” says Magnac. “It’s not for the near future, that’s for sure.”
The trials may be at an early stage, but Airbus is working with several customers on the installation of monitoring equipment, separate from the HUMS. Ten H225s will be outfitted to supply operational data in the coming months.
“If you want to understand and detect an irregularity in a heartbeat, you obviously need to know what a healthy heart is doing,” says Magnac. “We need to go through that in order to make sure our understanding of what is good is right in order to better tune our algorithms to what we want to look at,” he adds.
Airbus is working with H225 operators to install a sensor to better understand a “healthy heartbeat” within the main gearbox. Credit: Airbus Helicopters
By using customer aircraft, Magnac says Airbus will able to build data from aircraft operating in different environments as well as gather it far more quickly than it would simply by using its own test aircraft. The company is preparing a data center to collect the information from the aircraft to feed the research program.
A key part of the work has been studying the best positioning of the additional sensors around the transmission.
“Where a doctor places his stethoscope, you will hear different things . . . so the algorithms need to be tuned for a certain position,” says Magnac.
Rotary-wing aviation may be evolving toward multirotor systems, but while the traditional helicopter remains in operation, the main gearbox will always be what Magnac describes as a potential “single point of failure,” which cannot be resolved through redundancy like other aircraft systems. Additional monitoring can provide additional reassurance, he says.
The H225 is the focus of the company’s research now, but success could lead to the technology eventually having implications beyond helicopters.
“Cyclic gear trains are used in many industries, not just helicopters, but also in cars and wind turbines,” -Magnac says, adding, “There is criticality in anticipating what happens in those [wind turbines], but such a system does not exist.” 

Helikopter - Oppdatering av markedet - AW&ST

Some manufacturers see 2017 as a year of consolidation; others regard it as a year of stability. No matter the perspective, it clearly was another challenging year for the commercial helicopter market. With oil and gas prices remaining stubbornly low, orders for more lucrative larger helicopters have remained stagnant.
Even as energy prices begin to edge up, albeit slowly, the increases seem unlikely to absorb the overcapacity in the market that has seen dozens of aircraft languish in storage.
Few if any orders have been placed for heavy aircraft for the oil and gas sector over the last two years. Instead the biggest market for these aircraft has been a resurgent defense sector; Airbus’ Super Puma family enjoyed a bumper year, thanks to several key government orders. Just a handful have made their way into the commercial market, largely to serve the para/public-service sector missions such as law enforcement and search and rescue.
  • 2018 should see certification of Bell’s fly-by-wire Model 525
  • Price-sensitive market killed off Airbus’ H120 and Bell’s LongRanger during 2017
The market has prompted Airbus to rethink the launch of its Super Puma replacement, the X6.
Sikorsky also, with only two commercial products in its lineup, is struggling to shift both the medium-twin S-76 and S-92 heavy models. Industry sources suggest just one S-92 was delivered during 2017, and Lockheed Martin Chief Financial Officer Bruce Tanner admits that the situation was bleak, stating the company is not expecting a large increase in commercial aircraft for 2018. “Frankly,” he told financial analysts, “we are looking pretty flat in 2019 as well.” 
Instead, the energy industry now seems to favor newer super-medium aircraft such as the Airbus H175 and Leonardo AW189. Bell’s 525 will join this segment in 2019.
Waypoint Leasing, which analyzed the super-medium market late in 2017, concluded that this new segment of aircraft has delivered platforms that are more cost-effective than the heavier types such as the H225 and Sikorsky S-92, particularly on shorter-range, high-passenger-density flights.
Waypoint says it expects the super-mediums to sell well in the rebounding oil market.
Helicopter OEMs are increasingly seeing wind-farm support  as a growing market for light  and medium helicopters. Credit: Airbus

This appears to match forecasts from consultancy Westwood Global Energy, which predicts an uptick in activity for the oil-and-gas helicopter operators. It says the new oil finds and the exploitation of untapped reserves in the Mediterranean and East Africa will require new bases and the return to service of some surplus and stored aircraft.
The company says the industry is emerging from record lows, with fleet use falling to 54% during 2017 because of reduced demand for offshore flights.
For Leonardo, 2017 was a difficult year. Its helicopter division was spooked by production problems for the AW169 and AW189 models, which pushed up cost and led to significant delivery delays. One of the problems was the company’s push to chase orders and be overly flexible with aircraft configurations, even as they were on the production line. Helicopter division Managing Director Gian Piero Cutillo says the company lost discipline but is now in the process of restoring order.

However, the issues illustrate the highly competitive nature of the market and the small number of orders the manufacturers are having to chase.
The news is more positive for the lighter end of the market, with sales of light-single and twin-engine helicopters appearing stable. Airbus, whose deliveries and orders were announced in January, secured most of its orders from its single-engine family, though 76 of the 388 aircraft ordered in 2017 were its H145 twin-engine model. Leonardo, which faced struggles with its helicopter division during 2017, said it was confident of a growing market.
Its analysis suggests the commercial market will grow around 5% over the next five years, about 9% of which will occur in what he calls the “intermediate segment”—aircraft weighing 3-8 metric tons.
Stiff competition is ongoing at the lighter end of the market, particularly from Bell’s 505. The Robinson R66 did manage to kill off the Airbus H120 Colibri and Bell’s own 206L LongRanger during 2017, indicating the sensitivity of pricing in this busy sector.

It is possible that some critical markets may hold the key to future success. The long-heralded Chinese scene may not have fully opened as expected by now, but the vast market potential here is beginning to be realized. In 2016, China was Airbus’ biggest market and since then Chinese companies have placed several large orders with Western OEMs. Airbus also will start to build its H135 twin-engine medium helicopter in Qingdao this year following an order for 100 aircraft, of which 95 will be assembled from kits transferred from Airbus’ plant in Donauworth, Germany.
Last June, Bell took orders for 100 of its 407GXPs from Shaanxi Aviation Industry Development Co. and Xi’an Helicopter, while 110 of its 505 JetRanger Xs have been ordered by Reignwood Investments (these encompass several disparate buyers). Leonardo also recorded a sizable order for 30 of its AW139 and AW169 medium helicopters in late 2016 to serve emergency medical missions.
“We continue to feel very good about China in terms of how we’re doing and particularly on the light [helicopter] side,” said Textron President Scott Donnelly during the company’s fourth-quarter financials presentation at the end of January.
Of course, 2018 should also be a milestone year for first flights and certification. Bell’s long-awaited fly-by-wire 525, which resumed flight-testing last July after its fatal crash a year earlier, is targeting FAA certification by the end of this year, possibly paving the way for customer deliveries in early 2019. Meanwhile, market newcomer Turkish Aerospace Industries plans the first flight of its twin-engine T-625 medium twin-engine helicopter for September.
Aircraft such as Leonardo’s AW189 are seeing increased sales as oil-and-gas operators seek more cost-effective platforms. Credit: Leonardo

Although initially being developed to meet Turkish military/parapublic requirements, the company wants to achieve European Aviation Safety Agency certification of the aircraft in 2020 and compete in the space currently occupied by the Bell 412, Leonardo AW139 and Sikorsky S-76D.
Avicopter’s AC352, the Chinese-built derivative of the Airbus H175, is also expected to achieve certification this year. The aircraft is awaiting local certification of its WZ-16 engine, which is expected in 2019.
However, several programs encountered additional delays, pushing service entry into 2019. Market newcomer Kopter Group, previously Marenco Swisshelicopter (see page 52), hopes to introduce its SH09 single-engine light helicopter to the market after certification, now planned for the first quarter of 2019. Airbus, in the meantime is continuing the development of its H160, targeting an mid-2019 certification and market entry. 
Industry had been anticipating that Leonardo’s AW609 commercial tiltrotor also would be certified by the end of 2018, but an internal review has prompted the company to adjust the timing; late 2019 is now projected.
Also rejoining the market should be the Schweizer 300 piston-engine light helicopter. RSG Schweizer, which took over Sikorsky’s light helicopter product line in January, is planning to restart production of the aircraft in Fort Worth by the end of the year. The restart could bring with it renewed hope of improved spares and service support for the helicopter. A lack of spares has sent availability tumbling, forcing training schools to look at alternative platforms such as the Guimbal Cabri G2 or the Enstrom family of machines.