Volume 01 | Issue 16 | September 22, 2020
Supersonic Avionics, UAM in Vancouver, Responsive Space

Welcome back to the Future of Aerospace, where each week we dive into a few of the trends rapidly defining the next generation of aircraft and aerial markets.

Airbus has unveiled three climate neutral zero-emission commercial aircraft concepts that will use hydrogen as their primary fuel source. The three concepts, codenamed ZEROe, could be put into service by 2035.

Universal Hydrogen, the end-to-end aircraft power logistics company profiled in last week’s edition of Future of Aerospace, has a new partnership with magniX to supply the electric propulsion system for the retrofit conversion kit being developed for the De Havilland Canada DHC8-Q300.

THIS WEEK: We feature our recent interview with Aerion and Honeywell Aerospace regarding their progress on designing the AS2 supersonic business jet’s avionics and connectivity (Connectivity).

The Canadian Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a nonprofit promoting the sustainable, beneficial use of eVTOL aircraft and drones throughout the Vancouver region, released a white paper exploring the path to Vancouver’s potential emergence as the first “Advanced Air Mobility [AAM] City in North America,” (Electrification and Sustainability)

NASA has a new partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder and Lockheed Martin to begin working on a new space exploration mission, “Janus,” using twin, 80-pound spacecraft (Longshots).

Thanks for reading.

—The Future of Aerospace Team
Aerion Makes Supersonic Avionics Progress for AS2
Image: Aerion

Aerion COO
Steve Berroth said the company has progressed to the joint definition phase of avionics and connectivity development for the AS2 supersonic business jet with Honeywell Aerospace.

The latest development update for its 8-10 passenger jet designed to fly at a max speed of Mach 1.4 includes achieving the joint definition phase of avionics and connectivity with Honeywell Aerospace and a supplier partnership for its fly-by-wire flight control system, including active inceptors from BAE Systems.
  • Aerion first began working with Honeywell in 2018, three years after establishing FlexJet as the launch partner for its $120 million supersonic business jet. In a Sept. 14 press release, Aerion confirmed it has reached "the joint definition phase for avionics and connectivity," which will keep the development of the AS2 on track to achieve type certification by 2027, Berroth said.

  • Both the Honeywell and BAE agreements, announced last week, will borrow from existing and new aircraft network and pilot user interface systems such as Honeywell’s Forge data analytics platform synced with the initial design of the flight deck.

  • BAE Systems described the active inceptors it will supply in a Sept. 15 press release as providing pilots with both static and dynamic tactile force feedback where “the active inceptor includes electronic controlled actuators that send tactile feedback to the pilot through the flight stick. The feedback warns pilots of structural or aerodynamic operating limits,” the company said.

  • Berroth: “Our plan is three large format, touchscreen displays and three small format iPad size displays. The goal here with Honeywell’s avionics development is to use automation and touchscreen interface control where possible to reduce the pilot's workload. We want to achieve unsurpassed levels of situational awareness based upon our different phases of flight, transitioning from transonic to supersonic and Boomless cruise.”
Mike Ingram, VP of Honeywell Aerospace: What you will see in the cockpit will be very new and something that hasn't been released into the market yet. It will be a combination of customizing some of the existing Honeywell Primus Epic software, and leveraging some of the newest touchscreen interface and controller technologies. We will be able to show the best Boomless cruise path for the aircraft based on how our algorithms determine that using the latest updated flight plan information.

Read more on the AS2's avionics and connectivity development here.
Vancouver Eyes Development of Early eVTOL Infrastructure
Image: Uber Elevate

The Canadian Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a nonprofit promoting the sustainable, beneficial use of eVTOL aircraft and drones throughout the Vancouver region, released a white paper exploring the path to Vancouver’s potential emergence as the first “Advanced Air Mobility [AAM] City in North America.”

Vancouver is considered by many as one of the most promising early adopters of eVTOLs.

It is a densely-populated city with residents that are accustomed to helicopters, has 54 existing helipads, and local and provincial governments are invested in promoting positive environmental impact.

Key insights from the white paper:
  • Infrastructure costs for the region are expected to be $181 million in ground infrastructure — adapting current landing pads and building 10-12 new vertiports — and $78 million for new traffic management systems. This compares quite favorably to the proposed costs of metro line extensions and new tunnel projects.

    “While certain aspects of vertiports remain to be determined, it is safe to say that the development of infrastructure to support an eVTOL network has significant cost advantages over heavy-infrastructure approaches such as roads, light rail lines, bridges, and tunnels.”

  • Population for the region is expected to grow to 3.6 million by 2050. The cost of congestion was estimated in 2015 to be $500 million and will rise to $1 billion annually.

    “Unlike many large cities, Vancouver has no freeways into or through the downtown area. Hemmed in by water and mountains, the area is almost completely built-out with few opportunities for new roads. Widening roads and freeway corridors and building more bridges is not only cost-prohibitive but flies in the face of Vancouver’s Transportation 2040 plan, which aims to de-emphasize cars and fossil fuels," according to the white paper.

  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and the region’s 11 other airports are also well-positioned to play even more of a key role in the region with eVTOLs, and local helicopter operators like HeliJet are eager to adopt these aircraft to expand their network and reach.
A study conducted by NEXA Advisors — one of the authors of this white paper — on urban air mobility markets released last year expects eVTOLs to provide trips for 683,000 passengers per year by 2040.
Read the full story here.
NASA Mission to Examine Binary Asteroids Fits With Wider, 'Responsive Space' Vision
Image: Lockheed Martin

As the nascent U.S. Space Force envisions a "responsive space" future in which the newest military service is able to launch low-cost rockets carrying small satellites and cube satellites, NASA is getting into the game with a new space mission – Janus, named after the two-faced Roman god – to examine the heretofore mysterious binary asteroids using twin, 80-pound spacecraft.

This month, NASA approved the University of Colorado at Boulder and Lockheed Martin to begin working on the project and coming up with a baseline budget and schedule for the planned 2022 launch.

The mission is to scrutinize two pairs of binary asteroids – 1996 FG3 and 1991 VH, which orbit around each other in space, akin to the movement of the earth and the moon.
  • Josh Wood, the Janus project manager for Lockheed Martin, said that Janus holds promise in creating small and nimble space exploratory vehicles, as Janus' twin spacecraft are each to measure the size of a carry-on suitcase.

    "We see an advantage to be able to shrink our spacecraft," Wood said in a statement. "With technology advancements, we can now explore our solar system and address important science questions with smaller spacecraft."

  • In 2022, the twin Janus vehicles are to travel millions of miles to track closely two pairs of binary asteroids, and the project's investigation into these asteroids could reveal how they evolve, according to University of Colorado aerospace engineering Prof. Daniel Scheeres, the main investigator for Janus.

  • Scheeres said that scientists do not have high-resolution data on binary asteroids and that Janus would provide that data.

  • The University of Colorado at Boulder leads Janus and is to analyze the mission images and data, while Lockheed Martin is to build, manage, and operate the spacecraft.

Wood said that the twin, Janus spacecraft will travel farther than any small satellite thus far. The Janus are first to orbit the sun, then head back toward earth before moving into deep space beyond the Mars orbit.

Read more on Janus here.
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