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First Airbus A220 at JetBlue enters service

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First Airbus A220 at JetBlue enters service

JetBlue Airways has entered into service its first Airbus A220, which is powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.

The event was commemorated with a gate ceremony at Boston Logan International Airport, attended by representatives from JetBlue, Airbus and Pratt & Whitney, after which the plane departed for Tampa International Airport.

JetBlue ordered 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft in 2018 and later expanded the order to 70 aircraft in 2019. The airline has also ordered 85 GTF-powered A320neo family aircraft, including 13 A321LR and 13 A321XLR aircraft.

The airline currently operates 16 of the A321neo variant powered by GTF engines, 193 A320ceo family aircraft powered by V2500 engines, and 60 Embraer E190 aircraft equipped with the APS2300E auxiliary power unit (APU).

“The entry into service of the GTF-powered A220 for JetBlue is a milestone moment. Pratt & Whitney and JetBlue have collaborated closely since the airline’s first flight in 2000. We are honored that JetBlue is confident that GTF’s game-changing technology will provide true value for their next-generation fleets,” said Rick Deurloo, chief commercial officer and senior vice president at Pratt & Whitney. “We’re honored to be a part of this momentous milestone and we look forward to supporting JetBlue’s expansion and their commitment to sustainable aviation.”

The A220, powered exclusively by GTF engines, offers significantly lower operating costs compared to previous generation aircraft. The engines deliver double-digit improvements in fuel and carbon emissions. They also provide a 75% reduction in noise footprint, based on a 75 dB noise contour, and produce NOx emissions 50% below the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) CAEP/6 regulation.

www.airbus.com

www.prattwhitney.com

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Starlink teams up with Google for ground infrastructure

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TAMPA, Fla. — SpaceX will install ground stations within Google’s data centers for its Starlink broadband satellites under a new cloud partnership.

The alliance aims to expand the reach of Google Cloud customers to their data, services and applications without the need for nearby cell towers. 

After connecting to a Starlink constellation that is becoming increasingly available worldwide, they can increase performance by running applications within Google data centers.

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said that, in return, Starlink customers will leverage Google’s infrastructure and capabilities for secure connections.

Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of infrastructure at Google Cloud, said in a statement: “Applications and services running in the cloud can be transformative for organizations, whether they’re operating in a highly networked or remote environment.

“We are delighted to partner with SpaceX to ensure that organizations with distributed footprints have seamless, secure, and fast access to the critical applications and services they need to keep their teams up and running.”

They expect to provide enterprise customers with new services based on this partnership in the second half of this year.

Although there are currently more than 1,550 Starlinks in orbit following SpaceX’s latest launch May 9, the company remains in beta testing.

Battle in the clouds

Starlink’s Google partnership appears to be more integrated than an alliance announced in October with Microsoft, which will also use the satellites to expand cloud services.

Microsoft said Starlink will support its new space-focused, modular cloud business called Azure Space, which will offer mobile cloud computing data centers that can be deployed anywhere in the world. 

O3b internet satellites that SES operates in medium Earth orbit (MEO) also empower that initiative, supporting customers who use space-based data but are unwilling to invest in ground infrastructure directly to process and analyze it.

SES is jointly investing with Microsoft in Azure Orbital ground stations and MEO gateways, primarily targeting the Earth observation market.

The Luxembourg-based company became the first satellite operator in 2019 to implement ONAP, an open-source platform telecoms companies use to automate their networks, with network functions virtualization (NFV) technology on Azure cloud services.

Cloud computing companies and satellite operators are increasingly coming together to drive down costs and improve network access amid improving virtualization technologies.

In September, Microsoft unveiled a “ground-station as a service” business called Azure Orbital to compete with AWS Ground Station, which is part of Amazon’s cloud-computing branch Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Meanwhile, Amazon is developing its own LEO broadband constellation called Project Kuiper.

Although Project Kuiper has yet to launch a single satellite, Amazon has set aside $10 billion to accelerate its development.

In 2018, established LEO satellite operator Iridium Communications partnered with AWS to develop a network called CloudConnect, targeting the market for connecting internet of things (IoT) devices to the internet.

Established broadband operators with satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) have also been ramping up their cloud partnerships in recent years.

Intelsat, Inmarsat and Viasat, for example, are working with Microsoft as an ‘ExpressRoute’ partner, helping send customer data to the Azure network of fiber-linked data centers.

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Source: https://spacenews.com/starlink-teams-up-with-google-for-ground-infrastructure/

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OneWeb agrees SoftBank alliance to get Japanese regulatory approvals

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TAMPA, Fla. — Japanese internet giant SoftBank has agreed an alliance with OneWeb to expand its low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband services in Japan and worldwide.

The collaboration with SoftBank, which has invested in OneWeb, is an important step toward getting regulatory approvals and setting up ground stations in Japan for the startup’s growing constellation.

SoftBank owns stakes in technology, energy and financial companies worldwide, and also operates a telecoms business in Japan where it serves more than 45 million mobile consumer and enterprise subscribers.

OneWeb said their alliance will promote their combined communications services, including platforms SoftBank is building to digitize company operations.

SoftBank posted net income equivalent to nearly $46 billion for its fiscal year ending March 31, a record for a Japanese listed company. 

Successful bets in the company’s $100 billion Vision Fund and its successor boosted these figures, including gains from South Korean e-commerce company Coupang and food-delivery service DoorDash when they listed on public markets.

The results will grow investor confidence in SoftBank founder Masa Son, who often speaks about investing for a future when ubiquitous connectivity meets “singularity,” when machines can outthink humans.

Son blamed COVID-19 after SoftBank reported its first annual loss in 15 years in 2020, an operating loss of 1.36 trillion yen ($12.7 billion). 

The Japanese company was an early investor in OneWeb. At one point it tried to engineer a merger between the startup and established satellite fleet operator Intelsat, which operates spacecraft in geostationary orbit (GEO).

Holders of Intelsat’s debt shot down that deal in 2017. 

Struggling under nearly $15 billion of debt as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, Intelsat entered bankruptcy protection in May 2020 in a process it is still working through a year later.

COVID-19 also pushed OneWeb into bankruptcy in March 2020. 

After the British government and Indian telecom company Bharti Global rescued OneWeb from Chapter 11 in November, SoftBank returned with a $350 million capital infusion. Hughes Network Systems, which is developing parts of OneWeb’s ground segment, invested $50 million.

On April 27, French satellite operator Eutelsat paid $550 million to buy 24% of OneWeb. 

OneWeb expects to raise the rest of the money it needs to complete its constellation, estimated to be around $500 million, later in 2021.

It has already launched more than a third of its 648 LEO satellite fleet, ahead of its goal to launch partial services before the end of this year, and globally in 2022.

As part of plans to create a new government subsidiary for selling its services, OneWeb said May 10 it will buy Texas-based managed satcoms provider TrustComm for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition comes after OneWeb, which expects the Department of Defense will be its largest customer, secured a demo contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for strategic Arctic locations. Hughes is the prime contractor for that contract.

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Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-agrees-softbank-alliance-to-get-japanese-regulatory-approvals/

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The sky’s the limit

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The sky’s the limit

Rolls-Royce and Electroflight’s all-electric aircraft ushers in the third age of aviation

Douglas Campbell, technical director of energy storage solution specialists, Electroflight examines the design and manufacturing process of the battery for Rolls-Royce’s zero-emissions aircraft, and how Ansys played a crucial role in simulating materials selection, structural integrity and balanced cooling.

Together, Rolls-Royce and Electroflight are ushering in the third age of aviation, with an all-electric aircraft capable of speeds exceeding 300mph. A primary challenge is optimising the 475kg battery pack for structural strength, thermal management and other critical performance criteria. As the team raced to introduce the world’s fastest zero-emissions aircraft, multiphysics simulation via Ansys, played a crucial role by accelerating battery development and verification.

Rolls-Royce is an aviation pioneer, but the company is focused on the future with an innovative all-electric aircraft. If propeller planes and jets represented the first two ages of aviation, then the third age is certainly focused on sustainable design and zero emissions.

Any new aircraft designs must be as carbon-neutral as possible

Developed as part of Roll-Royce’s ACCEL initiative ― which stands for Accelerating the Electrification of Flight ― in 2021, the aircraft will attempt to shatter the existing 210mph speed record for an all-electric design. The airframe has already reached speeds of over 300mph, fitted with a traditional internal combustion engine, so the ACCEL team has high hopes. Just as impressive as the aircraft’s speed is its range. It is capable of making the 200-mile trip from London to Paris on a single battery charge. In addition, a further objective for both the Rolls-Royce and Electroflight teams was to track and document the sustainability for the overall project, which they are proud to have offset, to make the project net zero emissions.

A battery with wings

Energy-storage performance at this level requires novel engineering approaches and revolutionary battery design. Instead of relying on in-house resources, Rolls-Royce turned to Electroflight, a Gloucestershire-based start-up that develops high reliability energy storage solutions for aerospace electrification applications.

The resulting lithium-ion battery pack incorporates three separate battery assemblies that provide electricity to three high-power electric motors, developed by Oxford-based YASA, a manufacturer of lightweight electric motors and controllers. Based on a proprietary axial-flux design, YASA has been able to deliver a small, lightweight engine configuration that produces more than 500hp, to support the aircraft’s record-breaking speeds.

While a lightweight engine design may be achievable, even the most power-dense lithium-ion batteries are by necessity, heavy. With more than 6,000 battery cells and an impressive 90% energy efficiency, the battery assembly, designed by Electroflight, produces enough energy to power 250 homes. It also weighs in at 475kg and commands a great deal of space in the aircraft’s fuselage, leading some observers to call the aircraft a battery with wings.

The battery’s size and weight might be viewed as disadvantages, but Rolls-Royce and Electroflight capitalised on these features by leveraging the battery pack as a key structural element for the one-seater aircraft. This meant the airframe and the battery pack had to be optimised simultaneously to ensure that both elements were integrated to balance energy and propulsion with lift.

Another potential downside was the well-documented thermal effects of lithium-ion batteries. To manage the battery packs’ natural propensity to generate heat, Electroflight engineers designed an innovative cooling system that pumps a liquid coolant mixture, composed of water and glycol, through plates between the batteries. Thermal loads are managed as the lithium-ion cells contact the cooling plate, even during the high-power demands of the aircraft performance.

Electroflight’s advanced battery management system gathers thousands of data points per second, providing the pilots with the information needed to extract maximum performance from the battery system when making record attempts. With safety in mind, the Electroflight team engineered the aircraft to land safely with just a single battery pack in operation.

Simulation speeds design

To model and solve many of the advanced challenges involved in the battery assembly’s design, Electroflight relied on a suite of Ansys simulation solutions, including Ansys Mechanical, Ansys Discovery, Ansys Fluent and Ansys Granta Materials Selector. Engineering simulation helped the Electroflight team address three critical issues: materials selection, structural integrity and balanced cooling.

The electric aircraft has been developed as part of Roll-Royce’s ACCEL initiative

With the battery pack’s sheer size, relative to the aircraft itself, Electroflight concluded that the pack needed to be a structural member for the small craft, transferring flight loads from the power system to the airframe throughout the aircraft operating and performance cycles. Fulfilling this function required careful analysis and optimisation of the battery assembly design. The team wanted to minimise weight, while also ensuring both effective transfer of the flight loads and avoiding vibration modes that may align with any of the system operational frequencies.

Supporting the Electroflight team, Ansys provides full structural and frequency analysis of the battery assembly using Ansys Mechanical. This led to various adjustments to the assembly design, notably the design of new clamps to adjust the stiffness of the full assembly, avoiding resonant frequencies aligned with the propellor operating frequencies.

The individual battery cells are mounted in a compact, back-to-back arrangement located on a polymer mounting plate. The 3D printed frame material originally intended for use was found to have reduced stiffness properties as temperatures increased. Electroflight needed to select a material with a glass transition temperature that was greater than the battery operating temperature, which was a difficult challenge. The team used Granta to down-select materials based on specific requirements. Using Ansys Mechanical and Granta, a 30% glass fibre-filled polycarbonate was identified to be the optimal material. Simulation helped the team meet this difficult material challenge during the design phase.

Optimisation keeps it cool

Because thermal load is a central concern for lithium-ion batteries, Electroflight engineers leveraged Discovery and Fluent to model the battery cooling system and study the thermal performance for the full battery assembly in real-world operation conditions. The team applied adjoint solution methods in Fluent, which were developed specifically for confined inner flows, to characterise the battery’s innovative cooling system performance. The software automatically explored the operating envelope for a given design, morphing the arrangement to a more-optimal shape, guiding the Electroflight team to an optimised design. Because adjoint simulation provided a roadmap showing which regions of the battery were most sensitive to overheating, developers could focus their efforts accordingly.

Together, the Ansys solutions helped the Electroflight team understand a host of sophisticated issues ―from sustainability and manufacturability, to operating limitations ― and optimise the battery design accordingly. The team was under significant time and cost pressures to meet the milestones associated with the recent test flights, and simulation via Ansys helped solve key engineering challenges rapidly and effectively. Ansys not only helped Electroflight verify the battery pack’s final design prior to the test flights, but answer a number of incredibly complex questions on the way there.

Sustainability takes flight

As the global aerospace industry looks ahead, clearly any new aircraft designs must be as carbon-neutral as possible. This creates an entirely new set of challenges for engineering teams, from materials selection to the many facets of energy production and efficiency. Granta tools were able to support this sustainability effort, developing new processing and approaches to fully understand and minimise the project environmental footprint.

Backed by Rolls-Royce’s tradition of aviation leadership and Electroflight’s unique expertise in battery systems ― and armed with best-in-class tools from Ansys ― the Electroflight team is successfully taking on those challenges. With a series of test flights now completed, the partners’ confidence in the future of sustainable aviation is soaring.

www.electro-flight.com

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Broaden your horizons

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Broaden your horizons

Joe and Tricia D’Cruz, founders and managing directors of Catalyze Dallas

Do you want to broaden your reach and extend your cross-industry operational expertise and speed of execution? Catalyze Dallas’ managing director, Joe D’Cruz reveals how the company can help its customers open possibilities to new prospects and advance their technology commercialisation.

Companies invest billions in R&D to stay competitive and innovative in today’s global economy. And yet a surprising number of products that result from this R&D never make it fully to market because of lack of resources or focused attention. With experience in a wide range of industry sectors, Catalyze Dallas’ team widens the aperture for monetising these technologies on a broader scale.

Q) Firstly, please provide an introduction to the company?

Catalyze Dallas creates scalable businesses that commercialise intellectual property and products sourced from aerospace, global defence, and industrial companies, monetising significant investments in R&D, and accelerating innovations into new commercial markets.

Alpine’s HX5 can be injection moulded, extruded, or machined, allowing manufacturers to make complex but strong shapes

Defence contractors are seeking ways to retain access to (for defence purposes) and accelerate the development of many closely held innovations that are strategic yet underfunded. We facilitate the acceleration of these strategic projects by supporting defence company opportunity capture, which we couple with our operational capability and shared services platform to reduce the risk of spin out. This creates high value by giving purpose-built aerospace and defence products new life and increased revenue streams through rapid commercialisation.

Q) What areas of the aircraft are your products most suitable for?

Currently, Catalyze Dallas has two affiliated operating companies, Alpine Advanced Materials and Metro Aerospace. Alpine is a leading materials applications company that designs and manufactures lightweight custom-engineered parts and products, while Metro specialises in additive manufacturing for aerospace and defence, transportation, and industrial solutions.

Q) And what do they consist of?

Alpine’s flagship HX5 military aviation-grade thermoplastic nanocomposite developed by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works is used in high-performance components in the world’s most demanding aerospace, defence, space, and outdoor applications. In aerospace, Alpine’s advanced materials and part designs are ideal for replacing aluminium in anything non-structural that would benefit from lightweighting without loss of strength or performance. These include galleys, seats, cabins, latrines, as well as electronic enclosures and racks and other non-structural elements of the aircraft.

Microvanes have proven to be the single most cost-effective improvement for rear cargo aircraft with airdrop capability

Metro Aerospace holds the exclusive global rights to design and supply Microvanes and other additively manufactured drag-reduction technologies to enhance performance and reduce fuel for both military and commercial operators.

Q) What benefits do they offer over and above traditional offerings?

Alpine recognises that lightweighting is one of the keys to reducing carbon emissions in aerospace – every gram saved translates to less fuel paid for and more distance travelled. With a high strength-to-weight ratio, thermal stability, environmental resistance, and manufacturing flexibility, Alpine’s HX5 can be injection moulded, formed, extruded, or machined like aluminium, allowing aerospace component manufacturers to make complex but strong shapes.

Metro’s additively manufactured parts for performance improvement and sustainment are currently used by fleets across five continents. One example is Microvanes, which are surface mounted on the aft body of rear cargo airframes to reshape tail section airflow, reducing the significant amount of drag created on aircrafts like the C-130, C-17, L-100, and KC-135. They have been proven to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions, and engine wear through lower turbine inlet temperatures (TIT), allowing fleets to extend time on mission, increase both range and payload capabilities, and reduce refuelling.

Q) Are there any customer success stories you can relate to?

Alpine’s HX5 has now been implemented on more than 25 independent designs as over 120 customers have engaged with the company. Stronger and lighter, HX5 is furthering more environmentally sound solutions as Alpine ensures more audiences know about it, design with it, and use it in place of traditional metals or carbon-filled peak.

The year it was founded, Metro Aerospace was awarded Aviation Week’s prestigious 61st Annual Laureate Award for Defence, Supplier Innovation. Today, Microvanes have proven to be the single most cost-effective improvement for rear cargo aircraft with airdrop capability. We not only accelerated the C-130/L-100 programmes, but, through Metro, also accelerated the market availability of Lockheed’s next design for the C-17.

Q) How easy is it to get your products through stringent and rigorous testing and accreditation procedures to certify it for flying aircraft?

With HX5, we’ve taken the last year as an opportunity to explore the characteristics of the advanced material with rigorous testing to aid in further certifications of actual manufactured components. We now have data on extreme radiation exposure, EMI shielding, UV resistance, and plating to help add to the body of evidence on its superior handling.

Because of our agile model, once we launched Microvanes through Metro, within six months we achieved AS9100 certification and began delivering on orders. It soon became clear there were significant benefits to spinning out the technology with Catalyze Dallas after we also achieved FAA certification on the L-100 commercial variant quickly.

Q) What have you been doing to get through the pandemic crisis?

One of the interesting things we’ve observed since launching in 2014 is that when times are hard for other businesses, they actually present real opportunities for us. Heightened pressure on the bottom line makes the prospect of spinning out technology for aerospace and defence companies more appealing. In the midst of Covid, our model has struck a chord. We’ve probably had more conversations about potential spinouts in the last six months than ever before.

Q) Do you think companies should be using this pandemic enforced downtime to effectively ‘reset’ and look at how efficiently they are running their businesses?

Yes, absolutely. While we always aid our clients widen their lens for evaluating commercial viability, this last year has been particularly active. With companies having the time, incentive, and need to take a closer look, the pandemic has been a great opportunity for us to help our clients find ways to accelerate the go-to-market for their promising innovations.

Q) What kind of industry landscape will we be faced with when everything gets back to normal?

Air travel is already starting to return. As it does, there will continue to be a focus on reducing emissions and fuelling green initiatives – this is exactly where our focus and ultimately our products shine and are purpose-built. We see this pandemic as a temporary purchase slowdown, but as we come out of it, we expect strong results in our commercial aerospace initiatives.

Q) Would you say that your long-standing partnerships – both with the client and supplier – have brought huge benefits, particularly as trusted relationships can lead to a better way forward for all?

The last few years have yielded many new opportunities with our partners who are making a general move towards turning their underutilised or purpose-built assets into commercial off-the-shelf products. Further, we grew closer to our clients and our suppliers during the pandemic as we shared best practices and supported each other.

Q) Finally, where to next for your company?

This is a year of economic discovery, recovery, and development, and we’re excited about the potential. For Catalyze, the field of innovations is ripe for harvest. As aerospace, defence, and industrial companies examine technologies that may not be serving their bottom lines, we expect our portfolio of affiliated companies will expand. As for our operating companies, the prospect of proliferating solutions for improving performance and reducing the carbon footprint is bright.

https://catalyzedallas.com

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