Monday, August 16, 2010

ITAR & Exporting Aviation Technology

Welcome to Wired!

Aviation is an industry with global reach and international relationships, but national borders still matter, especially when it comes to US aviation technology. For use beyond America’s shores it must be properly licensed under the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR), established in 1976 to improve national security.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with aviation, peruse the United States Munitions List. On page 39, under Item 9—Category II, you’ll find “instrumentation, navigation, and direction finding equipment,” which includes “integrated flight instrument systems.”


Item 10—Category II covers “Flight Control Systems” and its technology, including the “integration of the flight control, guidance, and propulsion data into a flight management system.”

And Item 11—Category II covers “Avionics,” with special interest in radar and laser radar systems (including altimeters), GPS, and systems capable of terrain mapping.

All of these systems can be easily modified to fly an unmanned aerial weapon to its target, says Luke Ribich, ASIG’s managing director, so the government likes to keep track of them.

It starts with the State Departments’ Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, keeper of the Munitions List. Another important player is the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which publishes the Commerce Control List. Intimately connected to multinational agreements and international relations, the CCL changes frequently.

labyrinth touch The point, Ribich says, is that export requirements for aviation technology is a complex regulatory labyrinth, and the penalties for taking a wrong turn can be expensive, often measured in seven figures, with jail time. Things have gotten even more serious since 9/11.

Earning and maintaining an export license is a substantial investment, Ribich says. Given its complexity and consequences,  it demands the full attention of dedicated resources. That’s fine for companies like ITT, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, and ASIG, but an operator who periodically needs this expertise, not so much. 

Serving operators worldwide, ASIG maintains its export license as part of its comprehensive menu of engineering and certification services. By drawing on this international expertise for out of the ordinary projects, operators can focus on the demands of their daily operations, Ribich says. “Export can be easily done,” he continues, “if you’re set up with a State Department-approved ITAR-licensed export program.”

With many transport category aircraft owned by international leasing companies, export regs are important considerations. Giving an example, Ribich says several years ago a US operator sold its N-registered aircraft to an overseas company who, in turn, leased them to an European operator who registered them in its homeland.

“The leasing company is now leasing them back to the original owner,” and ASIG is reconfiguring them to the new (original) operator’s standards, taking care of all the government approvals so they will be FAA-approved when they return to America.

“We didn’t have any ITAR items in that project,” Ribich says, but ASIG knows that because it checked every system against the applicable regs. When it comes to national security, the government isn’t known for a lenient sense of humor, and ignorance is no excuse for not complying with the requirements.

Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready, and Wired!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Best of AirVenture Oshkosh 2010

Welcome to Wired!

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is America’s annual cornucopia of aviation. Drawing all segments of the industry, it is the premier stage on which to debut new products and report the progress of innovations under development. Many things captured our attention, and the following made our Best of AirVenture list.

GE Aviation & Electric Aircraft

AV5-052 GE Aviation sponsored the inaugural Electric Aircraft Symposium, on July 30, and the Aviation Learning Center, home to related exhibits.  When it comes to transport category aircraft, electric propulsion is not yet practical, but it’s perfect for  aircraft systems because it  replaces “big and hot with small and cool,” GE Aviation President Chet Fuller told the roughly 300 participants.

With its generators producing 1.4 megawatts, the Boeing 787 is aviation’s first electric airplane, right down to anti-icing, he said. It replaces  pneumatic and hydraulic systems, which leak, and eliminates bleed air systems, explaining that heat and composites do not go well together.  Looking to the future Fuller said smart grids would deliver electricity without waste, variable frequency power would eliminate AC and DC systems, and that fuel cells would eventually replace wasteful APUs.

Sikorsky Innovations Preparing Electric Firefly

AV5-042 The technology development arm of its parent company, Sikorsky Innovations debuted Project Firefly, an electric powered helicopter. A a high-efficiency U.S. Hybrid electric motor and digital controller drives the S-300c’s stock rotor and transmission. Side-mounted Gaia lithium ion energy pods  provide the power. Approaching its first flight, the Firefly’s initial endurance goal is 15 minutes, said Sikorsky Innovations Director Chris Van Buiten. Upcoming flight tests will prove the system’s reduced complexity, noise, maintenance, and vibration. With no carbon footprint, it will deliver full power at altitude. This research will likely spawn new systems, he said, like an electric anti-torque tail rotor, which  promises numerous power, noise, and vibration benefits. 

Aspen Avionics Geo-referenced Charts

Evolution_georef_ChartDataAspen Avionics, working with Seattle Avionics Software, a software developer and data provider, has introduced geo-referencing  on its Evolution EFD1000 and EFD500 multifunction displays (recently approved for Class III aircraft, which weigh 6,000-12,500 pounds). Besides displaying the aircraft’s relative position on AeroNav (formerly NACO) instrument approach charts and airport diagrams, this new capability comes at no cost, other than a  database subscription. When users load the the July 28 Seattle Avionics chart update it automatically upgrades their systems with the new capability.

Avionics & Autopilots Act When Pilots Distracted

When multitasking in complex instrument airspace, single pilots can easily get distracted from their primary job of flying the airplane. Two avionics OEMs are addressing this problem from different angles.

Avidyne's DFC90 autopilot now offers speed-based Flight Envelope Protection. Currently, it’s STC’d for Cirrus SR20 and SR22 piston singles with Avidyne’s Entegra avionics system and S-Tec55X autopilot. With the autopilot engaged, it provides aural and visual warning when nearing high and low-speed parameters. If the pilot does not act, the DFC90 adjusts the pitch to maintain a safe speed while continuing to issue its warnings.

Garmin's Electronic Stability and Protection (ESP) System  maintains safe and stable flight when the autopilot IS NOT engaged. Driven by G1000 and G3000 avionics, ESP monitors attitude and airspeed—and tells the autopilot servos to make corrective pitch and roll inputs when the aircraft approaches unsafe attitudes and airspeeds. Recoveries are programmed to not exceed airframe g-limits.

AeroLEDs Frugally Bright Landing & Nav Lights

AV6-076 Amateur aircraft builders have been using LED aircraft lighting for some time. In 2007, AeroLEDs produced the first all LED nav/strobe system that meets the requirements of TSO C30C and C96a-C2, giving operators of certificated aircraft access to the reliable lights that use up to 80 percent less power than their incandescent counterparts. Just joining the landing light line is the SunSpot 64, a 35-ounce unit that produces 17,000 lumen on 224 watts and 8 amps at 28 volts.

New iPad EFB Applications

Jeppesen has introduced its Mobile TC application that searches and views terminal charts. Subscribers to JeppView get iPad access at no extra charge. Seattle Avionics Software is providing its ChartData to four new iPad apps: Flight Guide’s iEFB; Hilton Software’s WingX; Radenna’s SkyRadar; and Zivosity ‘s Beacon North America.

Until next time, stay 5x5, mission ready, and Wired!