NRC Outlines Autonomy Impacts Within Unmanned Aerial Systems

As unmanned systems evolve rapidly from remote piloting through automated flying to autonomous decision-making, civil aviation will not escape unscathed. Beyond unmanned aircraft, the technology is expected to find its way into aircraft cockpits and air traffic control centers to increase efficiency and safety.

Ensuring safe and reliable behavior by systems that can adapt to their environment is the barrier to increasing autonomy in civil aviation, says a report by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC), commissioned by NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate The report identifies key barriers and provides a national research agenda for enabling the introduction of autonomy into civil aviation.

Bloomberg: ANA Orders $16.6 Billion in Airliners From Boeing, Airbus

Boeing Co. (BA)’s 787 Dreamliner gained a vote of confidence as ANA Holdings Inc. (9202) ordered 14 more of the jets as part of a $16.6 billion shopping spree a year after regulators grounded the composite aircraft.

ANA’s 70-plane purchase today tilted toward Boeing, with the U.S. company accounting for all 40 long-haul models in the deal, with a list value of about $13 billion. Toulouse, France-based Airbus Group NV (AIR), seeking to crack Boeing’s grip on Japanese airlines’ wide-body fleets, sold 30 narrow-body jets.

Fortune: El-Erian-How the markets should read Ukraine’s crisis

With the fluid situation in Ukraine dominating the geopolitical narrative — and rightly so — many global investors are wondering what it means for their portfolios. Here are some key  takeaways: On a standalone basis, Ukraine is not systemically important. With a relatively small GDP (around $175 billion), its external economic links are limited… continue reading

AvWeek: China To Announce Large A330 Contracts In March

China will announce large contracts for the Airbus A330 next month, say two industry officials familiar with the negotiations.

Orders or intended orders for at least 70 and possibly 200 A330s will be revealed when President Xi Jinping and other leaders visit France next month, the officials say. The exact number remains undetermined, and the aircraft may not immediately go into Airbus’s books as definitive orders.

Theaters, Budgets Shape USAF ISR Future Focus

WASHINGTON — The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will leave lasting changes on the US military, but their biggest legacy on the Air Force has been the impact on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

The service’s ISR mission underwent a renaissance during the decade-plus missions in the region, transforming from a support tool to a vital part of every combat operation, with unmanned systems such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper seen as defining symbols of the conflicts.

But as the US moves away from the region, the Air Force is facing new realities — both strategic and budgetary — for its ISR mission, forcing service officials to make big decisions on laying the groundwork for what is to come.

To begin that process, Maj. Gen. John Shanahan, head of the Air Force’s ISR agency, issued a 14-page “Strategic Plan” in 2013 laying out the direction for the service’s ISR mission through 2023.

The report can be summed up in a line from his opening summary: “We must transition rapidly from a target-based, inductive approach to ISR centered on processing, exploitation and dissemination to a problem-based, deductive, active and anticipatory approach that focuses on ISR operations.

“We have to help shape the future or risk being shaped by it,” he concluded.

The most obvious challenge facing the service, and one identified by the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh, as key, is the movement away from “permissive” environments toward contested ones. That includes a planned move away from technologies such as the MQ-1 and MQ-9, which can be victimized by advanced anti-aircraft systems, in favor of different technologies and strategies.

In Memoriam: Gilbert W. Speed 1933-2014

It is with great sadness that we have to report the passing of Gil Speed,  the founder of Speednews.

It has been a privilege to know Gil over the years and speak at, or attend, several of the Speednews events.

Here is a short excerpt from Gil Speed’s bio:

“Gilbert Speed spent more than 60 years in the aviation industry, beginning as a student apprentice in 1952 at The Bristol Aeroplane Company, now part of BAE Systems.

In 1957 he moved to the US and worked for Eastern Airlines in New York as a development engineer on the DC-8 and Lockheed Electra. In 1959, he joined Pan Am as a structures engineer, and later as an aeronautical engineer. At Pan Am, he worked on the specifications of the Boeing 727 and 707 freighter, Concorde, and the Dassault Fanjet Falcon.

In 1968 he founded Transequip, now part of Telair International, which manufactured composite panels, cargo and baggage containers and cargo systems.

In 1979, he founded SPEEDNEWS, the industry’s newsletter of record and the first newsletter to accept advertising. He later added two more publications, SPEEDNEWS DEFENSE BIWEEKLY and AIRCRAFT INSIDER, to the portfolio. And, in 1987, he launched the first annual SpeedNews Aviation Industry Suppliers Conference, beginning a successful line of SpeedNews conferences.

He was the recipient of the 2010 ISTAT Award.”

Our thoughts are with his family tonight.

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