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Aerospace - Aviation Power Electronics

Power Electronics Engineers in Aerospace are in short supply

Power Electronics Engineers according to Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc., is “one of the oldest branches in engineering.” As new branches of engineering have continued to evolve, power electronics engineers have continued to play a critical role in advancing technology. From the earliest application of the mercury arc rectifier in 1902 to the present, power electronics engineering has provided other engineers with the electrical power necessary to drive their technological advances.

One area of engineering where these specialized engineers have enabled rapid technological advances is aerospace engineering. In the realm of aerospace, power electronics engineers develop the infrastructure for converting and distributing the electrical power generated by jet engines, fuel cells, and solar arrays into the voltages and currents required by aircraft and spacecraft.

Advances in power engineering have been mainly related to the large-scale alternating current voltages and currents required by cities with power measured in mega- or gigawatts. In contrast, most aircraft and spacecraft operate on a 28-volt direct current bus with power levels measured in kilowatts. Traditionally, the distribution and control of power in aerospace applications involved the use of the same mechanical breakers and instruments that have been in use for the last century.

Power electronics engineering has become forefront as aerospace engineers seek to decrease weight and maximize performance of aircraft and spacecraft. The mechanical breakers and instruments are being replaced by solid-state controllers that utilize computerized advanced control algorithms to optimize the distribution of power to the avionics of aircraft and spacecraft.

As aviation has become more electrified, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, reports that the use of Thyristors, GTOs, IGBTs, and silicon-based technology plays an increasing role in how aircraft operate. The sensitivity of these electronic components, which are used in both military and commercial aircraft, and the critical role these components play in ensuring safe flight, mean that without properly developed power distribution systems, these components may be exposed to power fluctuations that could cause the failure of the entire aircraft.

According to NASA, in spacecraft applications, power systems involve the input of power from solar arrays, the output of power to individual spacecraft components, and the system control circuitry that enables the effective transmission and storage of the power. Although the use of power systems onboard spacecraft has evolved greatly since the Space Race, this evolution has resulted in a larger gap between traditional power electronics engineering and how power is generated, stored, and distributed onboard spacecraft. As space agencies around the world continue to push further beyond Earth’s orbit, the need for more advanced power engineering technology will require a new breed of power electronics engineers.

To take advantage of new technologies, power electronics engineers must be able to understand computer technology and the development of the algorithms that make these new power distribution and control systems function. Yet, for many current power electronics engineers, learning how to operate in a digital world after spending decades in an analog world may seem impractical, especially when there are analog systems still in use in other engineering applications.

New Engineer reports that the world is facing a general shortage of engineers because engineers are retiring faster than new engineers are being trained. This is especially true in the United States and Europe, where many students are choosing career paths unrelated to engineering and technology. One area that is particularly hard-hit with this engineering shortage is power systems engineering. This is because, despite its importance, power electronics engineering is a relatively unknown field.

The EETimes has identified this shortage of power engineers as a danger to military readiness. The role of aerospace in the military – from advanced fighter jets and bombers to space-based assets like GPS or monitoring satellites – has enabled the twenty-first century warrior to wage a new type of war. These advances, and their counterparts in commercial, scientific, and educational aerospace, have been made possible, in part, by the sift to digital power control and distribution systems. However, without new power electronics engineers who understand these digital systems filling the gaps left by the retirement of the previous generation, advancements in aerospace may be in jeopardy.

Power electronics engineers have enabled the growth of other fields of engineering over the last century. The role of power engineering in aerospace has led to advances in aviation and spacecraft technology over the last century. Yet, as aerospace technology continues to embrace the use of digital power distribution and control, the lack of power engineers with an understanding of these digital systems is becoming more apparent.

If you have a need for an executive search at the C-level, functional leadership, or key sales or engineering role, call Craig Hufford today.

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Aerospace - Aviation

The Future of Drones in the American Market

Use of Drones in Different Industries

Drones American MarketIn terms of the technological advancement that the aviation industry has seen in the current decade, the drone industry has experienced a significant improvement in design and application from how the military has used it in its surveillance operation into how other industries such as agriculture, photography, and logistics have used drones to their advantage in improving their business operations.

As the current design and capability of drones available in the market continuously improve, the industry and businesses where its application looks feasible also continuously grow. Currently, industries that have looked to use drones in their operations include the following:

● Agriculture – The use of drones in the agriculture industry gave farmers and farm operators the advantage of efficiently monitoring their crops and livestock. Recent advances in drone design and capability enabled the use of drones in the aerial application of fertilizers and insecticides. Also, with the use of advanced imagery, farmers have been able to monitor crop health and the possibilities of irrigation problems and pests.

This industry will certainly look for improvement in drone capability in terms of increasing its payload to handle more volume of fertilizers and improve the onboard imaging capability to capture crop and livestock data that the naked-eye are not able to do.

● Photography – Seen before as the game-changer in the photography industry, drones have enabled both professional photographers and hobby-level operators to produce images and videos that improve the cinematic value of their products.

This industry continues to grow as the demand by hobby-level operators increases and the price of drones in the market becomes more affordable.

● Logistics – Envisioned by Amazon to improve its customer service by decreasing its delivery time to customers, the use of drones in the logistics industry enables seamless delivery as drones can simply bypass land traffic by simply flying over them.

The use of drones in the Logistics industry proves to be promising as there is a current need from logistic organizations to further improve the drone design and capability. We expect that the drones to be used in this industry will further improve in design to accommodate larger and heavier parcels while at the same time increase its travel distance.

● Disaster Response – Drones have provided emergency responders the capability to inspect accident sites that may be deemed dangerous for humans to enter.

In the future, we expect drones to be able to conduct maritime search and rescue operations wherein an increased operating range is important. Drones that are also designed to operate in poor environmental conditions and treacherous terrain will be considered a game-changer.

● Law Enforcement and Other Government Agencies – By simply considering drones as an eye on the sky, we can easily see the reason why Law Enforcers and other Government Agencies have increased their dependence on this technology.

In the future, we can see drones having the capability of facial recognition as what current state-of-the-art CCTV has been designed too.

● Air Travel – The application of drones in the aviation industry specifically to transport passengers and a large amount of cargo has a lot of hurdles to overcome.

First, the technology needs more improvement to ensure that it can duplicate the decision making of what an experienced and coveted airline pilot would possess. This task would also need education and information dissemination to prospective passengers in helping them overcome any doubts in the safety of a flying aircraft without a pilot on-board.

Second, the cost of developing and maintaining such technology must become more affordable to entice prospective buyers and operators in placing orders.

Market Statistics

Drone Market StatisticsAs drone design and capability continuously improve, the industries where it can be possibly used is continuously growing.

Based on the latest statistics reported by Business Insider, the estimated 2019 figure of the investments made on drone hardware stood at around USD 11 Billion. A huge portion of this investment came to form by government purchases through what we perceived are from government agencies and military purposes.

Estimates also show that the current trend is likely to continue upwards as estimates predict an increase of investment of more than USD 12 Billion come 2021. Interestingly and which further supports our analysis, the group with the next largest market share to the government for drones are the basic consumers which consists of enthusiasts and non-professional or small-time videographers. We believe that the bulk of the amount is purchases made by individuals in retail.

Current Headwinds

Current Drone HeadwindsHowever, this technology and its access to the US market comes with its own problem. In compliance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 which was signed by President Donald Trump and made into law on December 12, 2019, any U.S. Government Agency is banned to purchase or operate existing drones in their inventory that has been manufactured in China. The ban includes spare parts that may be either used to repair or assemble any drones in any U.S. Agency’s drone inventory.

Although the law stated that the purchase of drones and its spare parts are prohibited against what the U.S. Government calls as “Covered Foreign Entity”, it is obvious that the law is targeting Chinese made products which are a center of concern in respect to the U.S. national security. Reports say that Chinese drone manufacturers with a special focus on the state-backed DJI use its product with the help of its built-in app to spy on private and government users by collecting their personal information data and flight logs.

This law does not cover private individuals and business owners from purchasing Chinese made drones. Interestingly, the U.S. Government responded to this by including drone products on the additional tariffs imposed by President Trump. This resulted in the leading drone manufacturer in the world which is surprisingly the Communist Party of China-backed DJI to increase the prices of its product sold in the U.S.

Who Will Stand to Benefit

From a separate point of view, the tariffs imposed on China-made products can also be considered a help to local US drone manufacturers that are struggling to compete with the ridiculously cheap price China has been supplying.

Perhaps, if there is someone who would truly benefit amidst this whole fiasco, it is the real “Made in USA” drones. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Made in America” pertains to products that have all been virtually made in the USA. This includes all the significant parts, processing, and labor that must be all sourced within the USA.

The current notable “Made in the USA” drone manufacturers include the following:

Auterion – Auterion’s platform is the only cloud-enabled solution that smoothly integrates the data captured by your drones into your existing workflows, by linking software on the drone and ground station with advanced cloud management tools.

Skydio – Skydio Autonomy™ has the skills of an expert pilot. It uses AI to understand the world around it and predict the future to make intelligent decisions. Skydio drones can fly themselves through the most demanding tasks or keep you safe from obstacles when you want to take control.

Altavian – Altavian is one of the few American-based companies that still designs and produces their systems in-house. Altavian blends its experience in the commercial and defense markets to create open, modular systems.

InstantEye Robotics – Boasts of developing advanced autonomous algorithms for additional payloads and functionality that specifically target very low size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) hardware. Ultimately, this allows the overall vehicle to be smaller, lighter, and faster, which translates into better wind performance and longer flight times.

Draganfly – Draganfly has more than 20 years of experience designing and manufacturing professional drones for military, public safety, energy, agriculture, and insurance.

Impossible Aerospace – Impossible Aerospace builds high-performance electric aircraft that save lives. Founded in 2016 by former Tesla engineer Spencer Gore, the company unveiled its US-1 aircraft in 2018, unique for its long endurance and US origin. The company is backed by Bessemer Venture Partners, Eclipse Venture, and Airbus Ventures.

TerraView – Focused on the application of drones in agriculture with a product whose strengths goes into the use of drones in vineyards.

UAVAmerica – UAV-America provides custom and off-the-shelf aerial systems (drones, UAV, UAS, sUAS) for both complex and routine challenges. UAVA products limit exposure to cyber vulnerabilities. Their products are closed systems and never require an internet connection.

AgEagle Aerial Systems – AgEagle designs, manufactures, distributes and supports a diverse line of advanced, high performance, “tractor tough,” precision drones capable of capturing thousands of ultra-high resolution images and producing actionable intelligence that get quantifiable results.

Even with the current tariff, we have compared the drone prices from different manufacturers that are readily available on the web and have seen that the best selling China-made DJI drone is still cheaper compared to the other U.S. made drones. It is important to note that the DJI Mavic Air 2 drone is designed to be sold for enthusiasts while U.S.-made drones are designed for more specialized applications such as law enforcement, surveillance, and inspection.

Going back to the existing market demography, the second-largest market for drone products are consumers which is where China made DJI has its advantage because of its cheaper price and simple operation and control. While the design of U.S. based manufacturers is considered more advanced, its target market is for business organizations and enterprises which have the smallest share of the drone market.

We can see that the U.S.-based manufacturers will eventually gain support as the current administration has banned the use of China-made drones on any U.S. Government Agency which will surely pave the way for U.S. based manufacturers to win government contracts and sales.

Another potential business strategy that U.S. based manufacturers can look into is designing a low-end drone product which can rival the price point of China-made drones while at the same time providing an off the shelf product that is simple to use and operate.

Market Decisions

Considering how untapped and ready for expansion the drone industry is in the U.S. Market, time will only tell when the next “Amazon”, “Google” or “Apple” of the drone industry will eventually take center stage.

From what we are seeing now, the US government through its efforts by passing laws and tariffs against the “competitor-killing price” scheme of the China Communist Party-backed business ultimately helps American made products to eventually develop and in the long term lower their price to be competitive while still leading the industry with state-of-the-art ideas and innovation.

For this whole scheme of things to play out in U.S. interests, the public through its spending behavior must start to rally and support local businesses. Again, the fruit is ripe and it is for anyone to take. If you’re looking for your next “A Player” in the drone market, reach out to Craig now.

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Aerospace - Aviation

SWaP-C – Transforming the Future of Aircraft Components

SWaP-C what it is, what it means to the Aircraft industry. When it comes to the design and operation of the aircraft, cost and efficiency are part of the pillar of every decision making process. Owners and executives will always look at how to get the optimum performance, weight, capability and cost out of every possible component installed on the aircraft.

Taking into account the current economic environment and how it has affected the aviation sector, businesses will be more eager to get more value out of their money. This principle is currently called the SWaP-C or Size, Weight, Power and Cost. The SWaP-C principle looks on how every component would be made lighter, efficient, packed with more superior performance and within reasonable cost

Current Use

The SWaP-C principle has largely found its way on the avionics components of both transport and military aircraft. Sensors, computers and display have been the primary focus on the application of SWaP-C however the integration of this principle is being already tested on structural and aircraft system application.

Among the notable providers and market leaders of SWaP-C components are the following:

1. Vicor – Vicor provides next generation power bricks that are two to three times smaller than its previous product using their DCM packaging approach.

2. VPT Incorporated – VPT with their SVPL series DC-DC converters offers radiation powered electronics devices that are used in both space and high-altitude aircraft.

3. Data Device Corporation – DDC provides a power converter that supplies 28 volts that are mainly used for in-flight entertainment and USB charging ports aboard passenger aircraft.

4. Curtiss-Wright – Curtiss-Wright provides different components in miniature form for greater savings such as Data Storage, Processor System, Sensor Processor and Routers.

Ideal Design

Upon careful scrutinization of what the aviation industry expects as the next generation of components, the ideal SWaP-C component should have the following characteristics:

➔ Commonality – Allows the component to be installed regardless of aircraft type. This feature provides a potential increase in revenue as the chances of potential purchase is directly related to the number of aircraft types where it can be possibly installed.

➔ Lightweight – While it can easily be overlooked, lower component weight directly affects the amount of fuel the aircraft consumes. This may be considered small on a per flight basis but when compounded over a long period of time, this can bring a significant amount of savings.

➔ Digitalization – With the push of the aviation sector to provide ergonomically designed cockpit, manufacturers and operators have already started to shy away from analog instruments and have openly adapted digital display by LED. Cockpit displays are now more compact as the previous design of multiple panels containing analog instruments are now combined and refined into a single LED display unit.

➔ Improved Performance – May it be an electrical, communication, navigation, sensor or any other aircraft system component, SWaP-C looks into having an improved performance and capability from each component’s predecessor.

➔ Cost – While SWaP-C components might not be cheaper coming off the shelf, the reduction in cost comes from the reliability of each component against unplanned or unscheduled replacement. SWaP-C components allow longer accumulation of flight hours and flight cycle before mandatory replacement due to their improved design and durability.

SWaP-C - Transforming the Future of Aircraft Components

Future of the SWaP-C Market

While it is still too early for actual and reliable statistics on the current value of the SWaP-C market, we have decided to take the lead and determined the leading PMA (Parts Manufacturer Approval) holder that is registered with the FAA. From this, we can have a rough idea of the potential value the SWaP-C components hold in the future by analyzing the revenue of the leading parts manufacturers based in the USA.

We are fairly confident that these major industry players would adopt the SWaP-C principle and the share of revenue of their SWaP-C initiated projects would increase in the years to come.

PMA Holder Name

Regardless of the company and where their line of products focus into, the call for the survival of the industry favors those who are welcome and equipped to handle change. Change requires evolution of products and the trend for evolution includes the application of the SWaP-C principle. If you are interested in learning more about this subject or the Aviation industry in general please click here to reach out and speak to Craig

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Aerospace - Aviation

IoT – Making a Case in Aviation Application

The use of IoT technology allows different types of sensor to monitor, locate, and report specific data to centralized servers or be uploaded in the cloud for data analysis. With all the different industries wherein the use of IoT is applicable, the aviation industry presents an excellent economic and technical benefit from this technology.

Airlines and manufacturers that have used IoT have experienced positive results in improving performance and driving down costs. The application of IoT on airlines allows airline personnel and passengers to track the location of their respective baggage.

Manufacturers such as Airbus and Rolls Royce have used the technology to implement a preventive maintenance program by allowing them to monitor the health of the aircraft and engine in real time, this capability also gives engineers a lead time to analyze the transmitted data and prepare for the corrective action even before the aircraft arrive.

IoT-Aviation-Application

With the prevailing trend of autonomy in transportation, it is only fitting that companies would look into further developing this technology that would allow a lean and effective oversight on all branches of operations both on the ground and in flight. If you would like to know more about this subject or are currently interested in finding an “A Player” in this industry, get in touch with Craig now.

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Aerospace - Aviation Articles

Military Stealth Tech What’s Coming – Looking Ahead

When the United States’ military stealth tech bomber was rumored and then when it made a public debut, it was the first-time advanced stealth technology was a reality instead of something out of a science fiction novel.

Even as the US was working on the tech to hide the profile of the bomber, work was underway on how to detect it. Since unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now an internal part of the world’s major militaries, stealth tech is integral to these aircraft. Again, the US is leading the pack, but China, France and Great Britain are also making major strides with China closing the gap rapidly.

Hide

 

Where concealment is concerned with military matters the top things that must be hidden are:

  • Sound
  • Heat
  • Movement
  • Visibility
  • Signals: radio, electrical or laser

Sound Off

 

Staying as quiet as possible is critical as next generation long-wave infrared search-and-track sensors worries some analysts about the engine and propeller noise.  Anyone who’s ever heard a small civilian drone knows the buzz. Helicopter pilots say they do not fly but beat the air into submission and create a lot of noise at the same time. Prop and jet-driven UAVs are sound machines.

The private sector is making strides in killing propellor noise. While the Rowe brothers creation, a shroud around the prop, is designed for drones in the movie industry, the sound-killing tech can easily translate across to UAV applications with a few tweaks. Another company has tweaked the propeller blade to get a noise reduction.

Silencing the jets on UAV may also take a page from the civilian world.   Georgia Tech and Lockheed Martin are tackling the jet noise issue on several fronts.  NASA is investing heavily into a new generation of supersonic passenger planes that promise “60 to 65 decibels per boom (at least as heard from the ground).” A normal conversation is 60-70 decibels at 3-5 feet.

Heating Things Up in Military Stealth Tech

 

 

Combustion is hot. Electrical motors cut way back on the heat produced, but batteries add weight which reduces flight time. One solution being explored by some is a combination UAV. It runs off a fueled engine until it closes in on a target, then switches to battery operation. This cuts the heat signature and the noise when noise-reduction measures are also included. Mission accomplished, it eases away and restarts the engine to either recharge the batteries for another run or the ride home.

Move It

 

It may appear that sacrificing stealth to move is a trade-off that must happen. Not precisely. A UAV must fly, but it the body of the UAV does not have to change shape. In a conventional aircraft, ailerons move. These dictate how a plane turns, climbs and descends by changing the shape of the wind foil (wing or rudder). The blades on a stealth helicopter are often a giveaway.

A new military stealth tech drone from BAE Systems in MAGMA in-flight trials has no moving external parts. As Popular Mechanics reports, ‘Control surfaces can also affect an airplane’s carefully shaped stealth profile, as the fin-like device moves upward or downward, momentarily making the aircraft slightly more visible to radar.”A slight advantage is all that’s needed to get a lock and take measures against the incoming craft.

See Me Now

 

Hiding by color is the oldest form of stealth around; think stripes on a tiger. Mirrors that reflect the surroundings are great for hiding, depending on the surroundings. But cloaking tech vis a vi Harry Potter invisibility cloak or a Klingon cloaking technology may not be as silly as it sounds. It is a step closer to reality. This kind of tech has the possibility of blocking everything but sound; muffling technology will take care of that.

Electrical and Radio

 

Hiding transmission signals is very difficult to do. Radio waves, even a tight beam, are going to spread. Using code, rapid frequency jumping and burst communications are ways around eavesdropping. Laser communication is the best we can do right now to avoid detection. Since lasers spread very little, intercepting means being in the direct line of transmission, which then becomes easy to detect because of signal degradation or transmission delays.

Seek

 

The arms race does not have a finish line. As soon as a new advancement comes online, someone is hard at work trying to defeat it.  The South China Morning Post says the military there has a “T-ray,” terahertz radiation, radar that penetrates anti-detection coatings on manned and UAVs. This is not new tech, but a modification of existing technology. T-rays are used in industrial applications to spot defects in layered metals.

As Defence Aviation says, the key to defeating the military stealth tech may be as simple as incorporating a whole suite of detection systems into one array. While a UAV may beat one, two or three of the detection methods, that means it must compromise on something else.

The U.S. Navy and Lockheed are already working in these areas of stealth technology thereby creating the need to develop even more sophisticated sensors that cue radars about the invisible blackbirds that roam our skies,” the website says.Retired USAF officers Maj. Gen. Mark Barrett and Col. Mace Carpenter sought to answer in a report, “Survivability in the Digital Age: The Imperative for Stealth,” produced by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “Over the long run, the U.S. will engage opponents who field increasing numbers of powerful digital multi-band radars,” the authors wrote.

To see what tomorrow can bring, look to science fiction. What was pure speculation 50 years ago is now held in your hand, so you can watch funny cat videos downloaded from a server on the other side of the planet. The race for better military stealth tech can be in two camps.

military-stealth-tech-300x171Cloaking technologies which are already underway and anti-gravity. Conspiracy theory websites are full of stories of government work on anti-gravy devices but have little in the way of concrete proof of the claims.

So is anti-gravity going to be a thing? No one knows. But it is being researched. Get past the “how could it work” to “what could it do” and the implications are stunning. We already know gravity can bend light so using the tech to thwart detection systems should be even simpler.

However, making anti-gravity happen is many years off, if ever.  Newer military stealth tech aircraft are on the horizon in the USAF B-21 and the Navy’s X-47B UAV.

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Aerospace - Aviation Articles

Renewable Jet Fuels Viability in Commercial Flights

Renewable jet fuels changed in 2016 when regular flight operations of United Airlines started using RjF.  This marked the beginning of commercial-scale usage of the alternate jet fuel by aviation industry.  As of today the commercial viability has been achieved for renewable jet fuels through demonstration of techno-economic feasibility for production path-ways (processes) namely HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids) technology and FT (Fischer-Tropsch) technology.

Next in the line is DSHC (Direct Sugar to Hydrocarbons) which is currently undergoing pilot projects for demonstration of its viability. Similarly, development work is under way for renewable jet fuels production through other technologies like HDCJ (Hydro-treated Depolymerized Cellulosic Jet), ATJ (Alcohol to Jet) and APR (Aqueous Phase Reforming).

Renewable Jet Fuels Development

 

Such development projects are now receiving funds from the governments and additional support may be forthcoming in the form of government incentives regarding tax breaks and mandatory use obligations) essentially required for reducing the production-cost-differential of renewable jet fuels and petroleum jet fuel for commercial aviation and aerospace by the EPA has established procedures for analyzing submitted petitions for life cycle GHG emissions associated with new fuel pathways.

Specifications for jet fuels are defined under ASTM D1655 and they mainly focus on performance properties like heat content (BTUs per lb), combustion properties, freezing point, viscosity, thermal stability, material compatibility and related safety hazards.

For standardizing purposes ASTM D7566 is the standard for certification of Synthetic Fuels, which also include renewable jet fuels, in consultation with ASTM D4054 for guidance related to testing as jet fuel alternative RJF. The drop-in RJF need to be additionally certified for equivalence in specification to jet fuels under the ASTM D1655 for direct mixing in aircrafts with being separately tracked for approval.

Renewable-Jet-Fuels-1-300x201

RJF is now available as a “drop-in” alternate fuel with performance and safety specifications equivalent to petroleum jet fuels. As such, RJF use does not require any modification in jet engines and this provides an opportunity window for the aviation industry to contribute towards reducing emission of greenhouse gases.

After proving its technical viability, the remaining major obstacle for viability of renewable jet fuels is related to production and consumption “scale-up”. This is expected to be overcome soon as commercial airlines start making medium to long-term fuel supply contracts with commercial producers of renewable jet fuels.

Commercial use of RJF will also get a boast as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed global market based measures (GMBM): “Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) to address any annual increase in total CO2 emissions from international civil aviation (i.e. civil aviation flights that depart in one country and arrive in a different country) above the 2020 levels, taking into account special circumstances and respective capabilities.”

Investments in Renewable Jet Fuels

 

Blending is another area where RJF power generation producers are actively engaged with RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels) for certifying blended fuels which are a mix of petroleum fuel and biofuels from special crops grown for the purpose. In South Africa Sunchem’s nicotine-free tobacco plant Solaris is an example of producing RJF through blending of biofuels with petroleum Jet-A fuel.

Such efforts will standardize the production and use of blended RJF while ensuring economic, environmental and social concerns of the society. The biofuel industry is targeting to achieve a 50% reduction in GHG emissions over the life-cycle through use of blended RJF in a ratio of 30% biofuel mixed with 70% of petroleum fuel.

An innovative approach to achieve the economy of scale and to reduce the financial costs in production of RJF is manifested by equity investment by United Airlines and Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific in Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc., Nevada, California.

Both the airlines, Cathay Pacific and United Airlines, in addition to equity investment have long term renewable jet fuels RJF supply contracts with Fulcrum BioEnergy. The Nevada based production facility having a capacity to produce 11 million gallons of fuel is expected to be operational in 2018. It is evident that aviation industry is gearing itself to implement the GMBM by the year 2020 for which renewable jet fuels is the light on the horizon.

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Aerospace - Aviation Articles

Ai Impacts Aerospace Power Management Systems

Ai impacts aerospace power management in the way it can collect data and make decisions on conversion, generation, and distribution.  In our modern technological society, controlling the flow of electricity is necessary to powering buildings, maintaining efficient computer systems, and providing energy to vehicle accessories. And it is critical to operating systems on airplanes and spacecraft. Engineers are turning to efficient design to conserve and control power by looking to how Ai impacts aerospace power management systems for smart solutions.

Perhaps the best example of this quest for improved aerospace technology through Ai is being done at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2015, The Boeing Company joined with the university to establish the Boeing/Carnegie Mellon Aerospace Data Analytics Lab. Boeing’s CIO called it “a unique aerospace partnership”.  And the company sank $7.5 million into the project.

 

​​​​​​​​Boeing studies Ai impacts Aerospace Power Management

 

“The goal is to find ways to use artificial intelligence and big data to capitalize on the enormous amount of data generated in the design, construction and operation of modern aircraft,” according to a Carnegie Mellon news release. The author Byron Spice writes that aircraft are constantly generating data.  He calls aeronautics “one of the most data-intensive industries”.

In coverage of this partnership, Wired Magazine proclaimed:  “And now, Ai invades the skies.” James Carbonell, project leader and a computer scientist at the university, sees great promise in this endeavor.  “We’re working to develop algorithms that can process all that, understand it, and create a unified way of analyzing information,” he said.

The implementation of Ai impacts aerospace power management systems on airplanes and space ships extends to all areas and subsystems. Just as car makers have entrusted much of the decision-making to onboard computers, the aerospace industry is installing smart technology into air and space vehicles. In fact, the European Space Agency (ESA) is developing space applications for the same Controller Area Network (CAN) technology being used in automobiles. In the ESA paper “Artificial Intelligence for Space Applications”, the authors identify the subsystems of a spacecraft, all of which may be guided by Ai:

Where Ai Impacts Aerospace Power Management

 

  • attitude determination and control
  • telemetry tracking and command
  • command and data handling
  • power
  • thermal structures and mechanisms
  • guidance and navigation

Load Shedding and Ai

 

 So, what can artificial intelligence do to improve the power subsystem, both in planes and spacecraft?  Perhaps the most important task in learning how Ai impacts aerospace power management is making sure you’ve got enough to get home safely. And to do that, sometimes you must turn off everything except the most critical of systems. In aviation — as well as in the electric power industry — that process is called “load shedding”.

Ai-impacts-aerospace-power-management-300x220That’s how NASA brought the Apollo 13 crew home. Smart people used intelligent methods to limit the power consumption in the spacecraft to direct energy to where it was most needed. Many people credit the contracting firm Kepner-Tregoe and their problem analysis method for saving the astronauts. And who hasn’t seen the movie “Apollo 13 directed by Ron Howard?

In dramatic fashion, astronauts in a mock lunar module simulated actions required to control the use of onboard power.  What if a computer system could make all those calculations and decisions for you? That’s the principle behind AI-based load shedding. One aviation blog defines load shedding as “reducing demands on the aircraft’s electrical system when part of that system fails”.

The author gives us three principles that apply to the process (which he believes will also work in load shedding our personal workload):

  • Know when to load-shed
  • Know what to load-shed
  • Know how to load-shed

The journal Air Facts says that using AI in the cockpit is nothing new. “In fact,” writes author John Zimmerman, “many pilots have been flying with very primitive forms of Ai for years, even if they didn’t realize it: autopilots, FADEC, and load-shedding electrical systems all use computer power to make intelligent decisions.”

​​​​Smart controllers/ smart software

 

Making aircraft and spacecraft smarter requires advancements in both hardware and software. Just as innovations in drones and unmanned vehicles are making strides, innovations for manned and unmanned aircraft continue to get show promise.

A power controller from Data Device Corp offers smart system management. A company spokesman says, “DDC’s new high-power density SSPC offers a reliable and efficient solution, optimized for aircraft mission systems that can benefit from the functionality provided by smart aerospace power management,

Space News writer Debra Warner tells how NASA is putting artificial intelligence into everything. In the article ”Beyond HAL: How artificial intelligence is changing space systems”, she quotes NASA scientist Kelly Fong:  “Work we are doing today focuses not so much on general intelligence but on trying to allow systems to be more independent, more self-reliant, more autonomous.”

Current Ai impact on aerospace power management systems may not be as smart as the HAL 9000 unit in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the smart software being developed and used today is still capable of predictive analytics that could help prevent future disasters like those experienced in the Apollo and Challenger space programs.

Conclusion

Of course, how AI impacts aerospace power management systems in other ways besides load shedding. Just as the electric smart grid keeps the lights on, intelligent power systems on planes and space ships can keep pilots, astronauts, and passengers moving toward the completion of their journey. Whether it’s improved power distribution, error control, load shedding, or guarding against disaster, artificial intelligence shows great promise for continued advancement in aerospace system control. It seems that we are just getting started.

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Aerospace - Aviation Articles

IFEC Profit Margins Wireless Connectivity for Airlines

IFEC profit margins for business jets and commercial airlines is of  vital importance.  In the not too distant past, airlines depended on essentially the same technology for IFEC, aka In-Flight Entertainment Connectivity, as in most any movie theater.

A film was shot directly onto a screen using a projector, and customers could listen to the film via proprietary headsets or listen through in-cabin speakers.  For many passengers, this was not an ideal situation.

This has changed and changed drastically in a very positive way for all parties involved.  The main reason for going to this new system is the same as any reason a business makes changes – to increase IFEC profit margins and satisfy shareholders.  It all comes down to weight on the plane.  Weight is a major issue on flights.  Some airlines have removed the seat back screens from their airlines, cutting weight by 1,200 lbs.  A lighter plane means less fuel; less fuel means a better profit.

People have not seemed to mind this change for IFEC.  The main reason is the advent of newer and newer technologies as gone are the bulky, heavy laptops of old (remember that weight issue) requiring lots of storage space.  Touchpads, smartphones, and the like have changed computing in a way like Bill Gates did with Windows 3.1.  Research already points to handheld devices reaching over 2 billion this year based on previous information from 2014.

Weight is Equal to IFEC Profit Margins

 

This is a welcome change for airlines, where again, weight is equal to profits.  IFEC has certainly gone through its own growing pains from silent films to bulky 8mm, grainy machines to DVD’s and projectors.  Along the way, passengers have been kept happy, entertained, and not as concerned about long delays, waits and unforeseen circumstances that kept a plane grounded for an indeterminate amount of time.

IFEC profit marginsJump forward several years, and now we have streaming video, movies and more coming in over wireless and data from cellular providers.  For the airline industry, this is an absolute goldmine in IFEC profit margins.  

Gone will be the days of the same film showing for all passengers, young and old.  Finding a movie suitable to keep all passengers entertained for a flight can be virtually impossible.

Instead, passengers will be able to use personal devices to log into the plane’s on-board wi-fi system.  

Watching personal devices for Netflix, Hulu and YouTube is obviously a preferred method of IFEC over a single, one-size-must-fit-all movie.

 

 

Power of Choice will Increase IFEC Profit Margins

 

A customer, or in this case a passenger, who has some degree of choice in a situation is likely to be much happier and willing to accept certain situations and possible additional fees for the trade-off of continued in-flight entertainment.  Families traveling with young children certainly understand the value and power of a portable DVD or gaming system to entertain, and adults benefit just as much when left in a similar situation.  In other words, on a plane, everyone is a child wanting to know, “Are we there yet?”

On-Board Servers

 

The early Internet was certainly filled with its share of mistakes, drops and vicious lag that kept most everyone more annoyed than anything.  Companies who provided Internet needed vast storage often kept at temperatures where a jacket or coat would be necessary due to the enormous amounts of heat generated by the systems.  Today is a completely different story.  Adding a server and the wiring for a completely wireless system in an airplane is almost no different from wiring a new business and networking computers and printers.  The chief difference is the use of the Internet for pleasure over business, but one can realistically expect business to be happening as well during flights with free Internet as essential for IFEC profit margins.

Advertising Revenues

 

While many would like to think of the wireless as free, nothing is free.  Passengers interested in using the on-board wireless may have to listen to the occasional commercial interruption or pause during their movies or videos, but it is a small price to pay for the absolute convenience this offers.  Consider this: many of the YouTube channels that are run by commercial entities often preview their own videos with a brief commercial often about their own product.  An airline would do quite well with this content marketing strategy, particularly when they have a captive audience of sorts.

Future of IFEC Profit Margins

 

There is and will be plenty of room to grow from this point with IFEC profit margins.   Commercial lines still must balance their customer needs and wants with shareholder expectations and desires.  Wireless connectivity and IFEC on an airplane, however, is quickly advancing like the ideal window seat.