ICAO, UNWTO to strengthen collaboration: Recognising that aviation and tourism are critical tools in the environmental, economic, and social development of countries in every world region, ICAO and the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) formalised a new Memorandum of Understanding. Signed by ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano, and by UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, the new agreement aims to strengthen the relationship between air transport and tourism in research, policy and management areas, improve coordination on efficient border management priorities, and support travel and tourism recovery and transformation in light of climate change imperatives. It will also address improved coordination on technical and policy advice for countries, as well as joint advocacy, events, and fundraising efforts. “This agreement is an important step to help our organizations address joint data and research initiatives, the modernization and financing of aviation infrastructure, and the alleviation of economic regulatory constraints to enhance air connectivity and seamless travel,” said Sciacchitano. Key air passenger facilitations areas addressed in the new agreement included the implementation of the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme (TRIP) strategy and increased international utilization of the ICAO Public Key Directory, which is a central repository for exchanging the information required to authenticate ePassports.
H3 Dynamics launches drone charging station: H3 Dynamics announced the launch of DBX-G7, a new vertiport system for autonomous drone operations. DBX was designed to scale on-going digitisation efforts in safety compliance, maintenance and crisis management. Applications range from smart cities across Asia to various types of industrial sites worldwide. Developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, DBX-G7 is a direct response to the new tele-presence and remote work paradigm. DBX performs all the functions of an on-site drone pilot: navigation, docking, stowing, battery charging, data retrieval, transmission, and cloud-based processing. Autonomous systems such as DBX help reduce the need for on-site presence and can help alleviate rising labour shortage pressures. H3 Dynamics has been deploying its AI-enabled digital inspection solutions to address the many thousands of high-rise buildings that require regular inspections in Singapore, most of which use using piloted drone operations. The company has expanded its solution through strategic partnerships, including on an SAP connectivity to send repair work orders directly from H3 Dynamics’ digital platform (see video). Enterprise software giant SAP and H3 Dynamics are now working together on an increasing number of industrial use cases. Through its global partnership with air traffic control leader THALES, H3 Dynamics is working on real time airspace integration through a multi-pronged approach around the world. DBX is the start of autonomous urban air mobility – one that builds immediate commercial experience with lower risk, 5-kg drones operations, a living laboratory for cities considering 4-5-ton air taxis designed to carry passengers, a market to reach over $1 trillion by 2040 according to Morgan Stanley.
Embraer named most innovative company in Brazil: Valor Econômico Brazil Innovation Awards has named Embraer the Most Innovative Company in Brazil. This is the fifth time Embraer has won the Most Innovative Company award. The Valor Econômico Brazil Innovation Awards are organised by the newspaper Valor Econômico, the leading daily newspaper in Brazil, and supported by Strategy & Consulting – a PwC consultancy with more 100 years of experience. The awards assess the innovation practices at companies operating in Brazil. The ranking is based on five pillars: intention to innovate, effort to carry out innovation, results obtained, market assessment, and knowledge generation. The objective is to analyze how each of these pillars are embedded in the participating companies and distinguish the truly innovative companies from those that only follow the technological trends. “It is a great pleasure to be recognised once again as the most innovative company in the country! As a five-time title holder it clearly demonstrates we are on the right path in our transformation process. Our focus on sustained growth and value creation will lead to continuous investments in innovative businesses. I dedicate this award to all of our 18,000 employees around the world, who overcome challenges every day, with great skill, focus, and energy,” says Francisco Gomes Neto, Embraer’s CEO.
Cebu Pacific’s active flying crew now 100 percent vaccinated: Cebu Pacific has attained a 100 percent vaccination rate for its active flying crew through its employee vaccination programme, COVID Protect, and various partnerships with LGUs in the country. “We are very pleased to share this news with everyone as we prepare to ramp-up our domestic network to cater to the pent-up travel demand. CEB continues to boost its safety protocols and we know having a fully vaccinated crew will strengthen the trust and confidence of the public in air travel,” said Felix Lopez, vice president for People Department at Cebu Pacific. The COVID Protect programme is part of the Gokongwei Group’s initiative for all its business units. Through this, CEB employees received free inoculation for themselves and their dependents, as well as third-party workers, such as check-in agents and bag handlers. Apart from this conglomerate-led program, CEB also worked hand-in-hand with various local government units these past months to ensure its employees will be inoculated with whatever vaccine is available, at the earliest time possible.
Adani Group to invest in Cleartrip: The Adani Group in India announced that it is investing in Cleartrip Private Limited, an online travel aggregator (OTA) and part of the Flipkart Group, India’s homegrown consumer internet ecosystem. As part of this investment, the Adani Group will acquire a significant minority stake in Cleartrip. Through this investment, the Adani Group and the Flipkart Group will benefit from synergies that will deliver superior travel experiences to consumers as the travel industry in India sees a resurgence. Since the acquisition by the Flipkart Group, Cleartrip has seen 10x growth in flight bookings. Also, trends observed by Adani airports indicate that the number of passengers at airports has increased, reaching close to pre-covid highs. This partnership will further enable Cleartrip to transcend digital boundaries and bring end-to-end travel services online. The investment will further enhance the strategic partnership between the Adani Group and the Flipkart Group, as both parties work towards serving Indian consumers with a wide gamut of digital offerings. As a part of the investment, Cleartrip will also serve as the Adani Group’s OTA partner.
New Embry-Riddle drone safety initiative: Research currently being conducted at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s College of Aviation could play a major role in expanding restrictions on small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), or drones, being flown beyond the visual line of sight of their operators — marking an important milestone that would pave the way for advancements like drone delivery and urban air mobility. “The proposed system would serve as a backup to the primary flight computer, in the case of an in-flight loss of communications or control,” said Robert Moore, lead graduate researcher on the project and first-year student in the Unmanned and Autonomous Systems Engineering master’s programme. Backed by funding from NASA’s University Student Research Challenge, the Assured Autonomy Research Initiative, as the project is called, aims to improve the safety and reliability of sUAS by creating a redundant flight control system. If successful, Moore believes that the project could help push the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) toward easing current regulations, which would allow for wider use of autonomous aircraft in the National Airspace System. “A secondary goal of this project is the development of a low-cost, variable-speed propeller for sUAS integration,” Moore added. “The use of variable pitch propellers in larger aircraft has proven to be an effective tool for increasing endurance, range and efficiency.” But first, to make the secondary safety system work, Moore and his team have to reverse-engineer software in the aircraft to send, rather than just receive, telemetry data, remote control directives and information from the aircraft’s various sensors. “It’s been a challenge,” said Moore, a Longmeadow, Massachusetts, native. “But we’ve been attempting multiple software script approaches to overcome it.”
Air Astana starts Sri Lanka services: Air Astana will launch scheduled services between Almaty and Colombo, the commercial centre of Sri Lanka, on 3 December. The twice weekly service will be operated by Airbus A321LR aircraft on Tuesdays and Fridays. Departure from Almaty will be at 05:30 and arrival in Colombo at 11:30, with the return flight from Colombo departing at 12:30 and arriving back in Almaty at 19:40. All times local. Respective flight times are 6hours 30 minutes and 6hours 40 minutes. Return airfares in economy class start at US$512, including airport, fuel and other charges. “Air Astana successfully operated charter flights between Almaty and Sri Lanka between February and April 2021, with almost 3,000 passengers carried on the route,” said Air Astana Sales Director Islam Sekerbekov. “Given the proven popularity of the earlier service, we are very pleased to be returning to the market with regular scheduled flights.” Sri Lanka accepts all vaccines. Unvaccinated passengers, including children above 2 years old, are required to provide a negative PCR test certificate obtained no longer than 72 hours prior to departure.
DART Aerospace’s SkyCannon gets FAA STC: DART Aerospace has received FAA Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for its SkyCannon Fire Attack System on the Sikorsky UH-60/S-70 helicopter. The UH-60/S-70 is the third helicopter type certified to operate the SkyCannon after the Airbus EC225 Puma and Avicopter AC313. “This revolutionary firefighting system raises the bar for urban firefighting efforts and solidifies DART’s leadership position in the aerial firefighting equipment market,” says Steve Ghaleb, Vice President of Commercial Operations at DART. “While originally requested by an Asian customer for firefighting efforts in dense city centres, operators of other aircraft types started asking about it. It is our mission to meet our customer’s needs, and we’re pleased to now offer the SkyCannon on the UH-60/S-70 in direct response to a specific customer request.” DART worked closely with Nevada-based Skydance Helicopters to flight test and certify the SkyCannon for the UH-60/S-70. The SkyCannon was designed to control and contain high-rise fires by providing the ability for helicopters to reach beyond ground-based firefighting efforts with a directed low-pressure, high-volume water stream. The SkyCannon works with DART Fire Attack Tanks to pump water through an extended boom off the nose of the aircraft to deliver precision applications on high-rise structures. The boom extends one meter beyond the rotor diameter to avoid rotor wash and the system includes an infrared camera and distance measuring equipment for accuracy. Equipped with a hover refill snorkel, the system can rapidly refill from any body of water and can be installed and removed in 30 minutes. The first UH-60/S-70 SkyCannon is planned for initial installation on an in-service aircraft this fall and enter into service in early 2022.
Frequentis installs 201st voice switch for FAA: Frequentis and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently completed installation of the 201st Air Traffic Control (ATC) voice communication system (VCS) in a replacement program that has been running since 2004. The latest system was installed and accepted by the FAA at the Monroe Regional Airport, in Monroe, Louisiana, as planned on 26 August 2021. This marked the 10th system installed this year. The Frequentis VCS3020X IVSR baseline is under a multi-year FAA contract to replace legacy equipment. The system provides enhanced resilience for voice communications and improved efficiency by streamlining ATC workflows. Under this contract, Frequentis has been replacing Enhanced Terminal Voice Switch (ETVS), Small Tower Voice Switch (STVS) systems and Rapid Deployment Voice Switch (RDVS) at Air Traffic Control (ATC) towers, and radar approach control facilities in the US National Airspace System (NAS) and globally. The original contract, awarded in 2004, led to a competitively awarded contract in 2012. The Frequentis VCS has since become the de facto standard within the Department of Defense (DoD) community. The U.S. Army has installed numerous systems around the world at Army Airfields (AAF).