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FAA and EASA promise closer regulatory collaboration

The FAA and EASA have pledged to work together to meet the challenges of a fast-changing and evolving aviation industry. “Our aim is to promote a cooperative and collective approach to aviation safety and modernisation,” said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker. “The aviation industry is in the fastest period of change since commercial flights began. New technologies are urgently needed to make the industry more sustainable. Other innovations, for example in artificial intelligence, are emerging rapidly,” said Florian Guillermet, Executive Director of EASA. The organizations said they will expand cooperative efforts at all working levels and to “reduce duplication of effort, taking a risk-based approach.” They also agreed to expand cooperation on rulemaking work earlier in the development process. Additionally, EASA and the FAA pledged to renew their focus on implementing the objectives of the Bilateral Enhancement Roadmap. Other commitments are related on an increased focus on emerging risks such as operations in conflict zones, cybersecurity, and interference with global navigation satellite systems, as well as boosting the use of sustainable aviation fuel.


World’s first industrial-scale solar fuel plant

Last week Synhelion inaugurated DAWN, the world’s first industrial-scale plant to produce synthetic fuels using solar heat in Jülich, Germany. DAWN features a 20m-high solar tower and mirror field, which contains a solar receiver, a thermochemical reactor, and a thermal energy storage that enables solar fuel production around the clock. Solar radiation is reflected by the mirror field, concentrated, and converted into high-temperature process heat. The generated heat is fed to the thermochemical reactor that produces syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Syngas is then processed by standard gas-to-liquids technology into fuels, such as jet fuel, gasoline, or diesel. Excess heat is saved in the thermal energy storage to enable continuous operation. On site, the plant will produce synthetic crude oil, syncrude. The syncrude is then processed into certified fuels in a conventional oil refinery. Production is expected to start this year.

Synhelion was founded in 2016 as a spin-off from ETH Zurich. Synhelion will begin building its first commercial plant in Spain in 2025. The plant will produce a total of around 1000 tons of fuel per year. Planned future plants will offer a much higher production capacity. Synhelion aims to achieve an annual production volume of around one million tons of solar fuel within ten years.


GE Aerospace advances hybrid electric engine development

GE Aerospace is developing a hybrid electric demonstrator engine with NASA that will embed electric motor/generators in a high-bypass commercial turbofan to supplement power during different phases of operation. This includes modifying a Passport engine with hybrid electric components. It’s one of several efforts GE Aerospace has underway to mature technologies for more electric aircraft engines and is being advanced as part of the CFM International RISE program. 

Embedded electric motor/generators will optimize engine performance by creating a system that can work with or without energy storage like batteries. This could help accelerate the introduction of hybrid electric technologies for commercial aviation prior to energy storage solutions being fully matured. Unveiled in 2021, the RISE program encompasses a suite of pioneering technologies, including advanced engine architectures like Open Fan, compact core, new combustor designs, and hybrid electric systems to be compatible with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The CFM RISE program targets more than 20% better fuel efficiency with 20% lower CO2 emissions compared to the most efficient engines in service today. In another NASA collaboration, GE Aerospace is maturing an integrated, megawatt (MW)-class hybrid electric propulsion system.


People: Kim Ernzen joins StandardAero as Chief Operating Officer

Victor CEOs Toby Edwards (left) and James Farley (right)

StandardAero has appointed Kim Ernzen to serve as Chief Operating Officer. In this role, she reports directly to Russell Ford, StandardAero Chairman and CEO and is responsible for global operational performance. She replaces Kerry O’Sullivan, who is retiring from StandardAero, and will be located at the company’s Scottsdale, Arizona headquarters office. Prior to joining StandardAero, Ernzen served as President of Naval Power for Raytheon Technologies overseeing a $6 billion division with programs supporting the U.S. Military and its global allies along with a full range of Raytheon’s offerings, while managing a complex portfolio across all life cycle phases.  She is a seasoned aerospace and defense industry executive with more than 25 years of experience working at Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft and Raytheon/RTX Corporation.

An aerospace engineer by training, she spent the early part of her career in general aviation with a core focus in manufacturing operations, as well as aftermarket and technical support.  Later in her career, Ernzen served in increasingly responsible executive roles in both operations and general management serving military, defense and space markets. Ernzen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering and an MBA degree – all from Wichita State University.  In addition, she completed Raytheon’s Executive Leadership, Engineering Leadership Development and Principles of Leadership programs and is a recipient of the Raytheon CEO award.

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