Jill Albertelli Succeeds Matthew Bromberg as President of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines

Pratt & Whitney has named Jill Albertelli President of its Military Engines business, succeeding Matthew Bromberg, who has elected to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. Albertelli, most recently Pratt & Whitney’s senior vice president of Transformation and Strategy, will lead the Military Engines organization effective today, and will work closely with Bromberg through the end of this year to ensure a smooth transition.

“Pratt & Whitney’s Military Engines business is well-positioned for long-term success thanks to its technology and product offerings across a strong portfolio of major platforms such as the F-35, B-21 and KC-46,” said Chris Calio, Pratt & Whitney president. “That momentum will continue and grow with Jill, who brings 30 years of technical and leadership excellence to the role. I’m confident the Military Engines business will continue to deliver on our customers’ high expectations.”

Albertelli brings a history of demonstrated excellence in a broad range of leadership roles to Military Engines, with experience in roles of increasing importance in engineering, operations, program management, sales, commercial aftermarket and product quality. Most recently, she led the company’s Transformation and Strategy organization, including overseeing digital technology, the building of Pratt & Whitney’s world-class turbine airfoil production facility set to open in 2022, in Asheville, N.C., and leading the company’s innovative Office of the Future initiative, with 80% of headquarters salaried staff afforded greater flexibility in work-remote options.

“We thank Matthew for his leadership in Military Engines, and for his 20 years of distinguished service at Pratt & Whitney and the former United Technologies,” Calio said. Bromberg has held leadership roles that spanned former United Technologies, Hamilton Sundstrand and Pratt & Whitney, including leading United Technologies Strategy & Development Group, and the last five years as President of Military Engines. His leadership was instrumental during the Goodrich acquisition, the establishment of the GTF network, and most recently, the successful ramp and deployment of the F135 engine program with the U.S. Government Joint Program Office. A former U.S. Navy Lieutenant, Bromberg was an executive sponsor of the Pratt & Whitney Veterans employee resource group, a member of the MIT LGO Board of Governors, and board member for the USO. 

Advancing Metrology at Mach Speed – Drone Mounted Inspection Breaks Barriers for F-35

Moving to aerial digital inspection will enable Lockheed Martin to accurately and safely improve the manufacturing metrology of the F-35.

The F-35 Lightning II is an all-weather stealth combat aircraft that is intended to perform warfare strike missions and electronic surveillance capabilities at speeds up to 1.6 Mach. Composites comprise 35% of the airframe weight, with the majority being bismaleimide, as well as some carbon nanotube-reinforced epoxy – which has a tensile strength of approximately 100 times greater than steel. Any deviations in external dimensions can interfere with stealth capabilities, and at supersonic speeds, prove catastrophic to both plane and pilot.

Therefore, it is critical that the “as built” metrology is confirmed as “near perfect” to the design. Currently, inspection is done by hand at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. Gantries are assembled above the craft and workers use handheld scanners extended at arm’s length. This manual process introduces variables and also puts workers at risk as they attempt to straddle the smooth contoured surfaces of the aircraft.

In an attempt to generate faster results, while increasing accuracy and safety for all involved – factory worker, customer and user – the transition to digital inspection is required.

“There needs to be a bold first adopter of aerial digital inspection in the industry, and Lockheed Martin hopes to fulfill that role with this use case,” says Chris Colaw, Lockheed Fellow, Quality & Mission Success. “This is important in the quality space because it helps us peel away the reliance on so much human involvement.”

Measuring Lightning

Many devices currently allow for digital measurement of assemblies on a small level. However, the problem is how to scale up existing commercial equipment to inspect large, completely constructed projects, such as a large-body aircraft, ships and even submarines, while still holding to tight tolerances.

“For 100 years in aviation we have been using humans for quality assurance, but roughly 75% of my costs come from inspection, and 66% of that requires humans to perform, which involves some degree of subjectivity,” notes Colaw. “But in our digital future we need to embrace things in a different way.”

Lockheed Martin sought to find an automated metrology solution to confirm and document measurements to the tightest tolerances in a faster, more accurate, and more repeatable process.

“We were doing our own research on what a digital future would look like, but we opted to work with CAD / CAM since they presented an opportunity to partner with a scanner company and the University of Texas on drone control,” says Colaw. “That saved us from having to do all the work on our own. The collaboration was a natural fit.”

In the spring of 2021, CAD / CAM Services (https://www.cadcam.org/) won a Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) award to solve surface metrology issues for the F-35 fighter jet. Its job was to assemble a team of industry-leading suppliers that would deliver to Lockheed Martin a drone-mounted scanner that can accurately (± 0.025mm) measure large assemblies, and transmit that data to a system that ultimately creates CAD files for first article inspection or maintenance purposes.

The company, based in Texas, has provided 3D modeling and CAD conversion services worldwide since 1988. Its customers include Boeing, Litton-Ingalls Shipbuilding, the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

“We are taking various commercial, off-the-shelf components, slightly modifying them, and tying it all together to create a new system to solve a problem that is needed by industry,” says Scott Shuppert, CEO of CAD / CAM Services.

Integrating the elements

The synergistic result started with the drone and the camera inspection software, which had to actively search for issues such as: dents, cracks, deformations, corrosion, and alignment issues, and then reconcile the measured results to the design model.

“Our team decided we needed to have both a drone and a robot to inspect on the assembly line,” continues Shuppert. “The drones will fly above and around the craft, while the wheel-mounted robot will work underneath the plane. For the drones, we went with Airgility because they had most of what we were looking for.”

Based in College Park, MD, Airgility, Inc. specializes in integrating AI and autonomy into their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Their drones met the requirements for maneuverability (continuously adjustable tilt motors), control accuracy (ability to hold a flight path to ± 6mm), compliance (NDAA and TAA) and carrying capacity.

The guidance and control (G&C) system utilizes a multi-loop architecture that computes the error between a desired reference position and the current drone position, and then synthesizes the desired 3-axis movements of the rotors at an 80 Hz sampling rate. This allows the drone to operate without the benefit of global positioning satellites.

“Since GPS signals can’t penetrate a heavily built aircraft hangar, the drone has to rely on the internal G&C system,” says Pramod Raheja, CEO and co-founder of Airgility. “This system regulates the angular orientation of the drone via an independent thrust vectoring system so it can follow a 3-D reference trajectory based on the physical dimensions of the aircraft.”

Raheja explained how situational awareness is achieved by an algorithm that incorporates data from numerous, redundant, sensors. This allows the craft to fly in narrow spaces, like over and under a gantry or aircraft wing. Also included in the intelligence is a self-contained on-board AI failsafe mechanism, so if the software crashes for any reason the drone will simply back away, avoid any obstacles, and land itself.

Collision avoidance is extremely important, since in addition to the aircraft itself, the Lockheed Martin factory floor presents numerous physical obstacles including scaffolding, pilot ladders, auxiliary power units, tails, canopies, and people.

“Before we let a drone fly next to an $80 million jet, we wanted to test it within a lab environment,” notes Lockheed Martin’s Colaw.

This is where Animesh Chakravarthy, Ph.D., Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Flight Control at the University of Texas at Arlington, was brought in. Chakravarthy’s research in collision avoidance has been recognized by his receiving a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The goal is to have the drone performing multiple precise orbits around the aircraft, at just the right speed, while at the same time ensuring that the scanner is properly oriented towards the aircraft,” explains Chakravarthy. “The trick is not getting so close as to cause a collision, but not so far away as to distort the readings.”

Chakravarthy’s advanced students will develop the mechanical robot that carries the scanner under the plane along the plant floor. It will be equipped with its own G&C system—conceptually similar to that of the drone—that will autonomously track the reference trajectory while ensuring collision avoidance.

“Sometimes drone technology gets a lot of attention because it is neat and intriguing, but there has to be a business value behind it,” observes Colaw. “Using drones and this type of scanning technology really opens the door to better understand our product and to cost-effectively substantiate the quality of our products in a way that we can’t currently do because we are limited by human bandwidth.”

Expanding the capability of drone-integrated metrology

The current STTR award includes options for even further advancements. Of great importance to Lockheed Martin is identifying any delamination within the composite skin of the F-35. Since separation of the layers and voids cannot always be seen or measured from the surface, a non-destructive testing method is necessary.

This is where highly sensitive IR cameras can be used to inspect beneath the composite surface of the craft to effectively visualize and identify any anomalies.

“The IR flash lamps act as an excitation source to transfer heat through the material,” says Desmond Lamont, Global Business Development Manager for Teledyne FLIR. “Since voids and gaps don’t transfer heat as efficiently as a solid does, the heat will build and the camera identifies these hot spots and points out the adjacent fault areas.”

Cutting the cord

While there were a number of challenges the team encountered, the issue of removing the wiring tether from the scanner was considered one of the most significant. A wireless approach is much safer and more capable of dodging personnel and physical infrastructure on the factory floor.

The Airgility team will solve this problem by utilizing AI drones that only transmit crucial data, thus greatly reducing bandwidth.

“Since the intelligent drone knows what anomalies to look for, it only sends that info and ignores the expected results,” points out Raheja. “Therefore, you don’t need to transmit a lot of data continuously.”

The ultimate result of this collaboration is a reliable, highly accurate (plus or minus 0.025mm) inspection platform for large body craft that removes human error and safety risk from the manufacturing environment.

“With the F-35 there certainly is a use case to employ this technology where it has a successful chance of entry,” concludes Colaw. “The idea is to scale it across the other Lockheed Martin business units, and then become a major proponent for using this technology in other applicable industries.

Lockheed Leases 650,00 Square Feet of Office Space at Denver South

LDenver South, located along the I-25 corridor south of Denver and the economic development organization for the region, has recently welcomed the expansion of Lockheed Martin into approximately 650,000 square feet of office space (nearly half that amount in the past year alone). Denver South also recently joined Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance (another major aerospace company headquartered in Denver South) and the Colorado Space Coalition (a Denver South partner) to celebrate the Lucy rocket launch, the first mission to the Trojan Asteroids (https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/lucy/overview/index).

In addition to the recent leasing activity and rocket launch, Denver South is home to nearly 200 aviation and aerospace companies, including Sierra Nevada Corporation, Lockheed Martin, UP Aerospace Inc., Jeppesen: A Boeing Company, Oakman Aerospace, BYE Aerospace, and General Atomics, among others. It has become a hub for “flight”.

“The number of Aviation and Aerospace companies in Denver South has increased every year over the last 10 years, nearly doubling since 2011, with a highly educated workforce and significant assets in and around the region supporting both industries,” said Christine Shapard, vice president of Economic Development, Denver South.. “As private companies continue to develop new space technologies and the U.S. military is increasingly focused on space, companies in the Denver South region continue to hire and grow here to advance critical national security and defense missions across the U.S.”

The Denver South region represents 14 percent of all Aviation and Aerospace employment in the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region and 16 percent of all Aviation and Aerospace companies in the nine-county region are located in Denver South. The Denver South region is home to nearly 19 percent of the nine-county region’s Aerospace subcluster’s total employment. The nine-county region ranked first in the nation for its high concentration of private aerospace jobs and ranked first out of the 50 largest metro areas in total private-sector employment. The Aerospace subcluster had a record year in 2020, with blockbuster employment growth of 7.4 percent over-the-year.

Industry Snapshot for Denver South (U.S. data in parenthesis)

• Companies: 190
• Average Wage: $122,500
• Direct Employment: 6,810
• Direct Employment Concentration (2020): 1.9% (0.9%)
• 5-Year Employment Growth (2015-2020): 9.6% (4.6%)
• 1-Year Employment Growth (2020): 4.5% (-6.5%)

“Denver South’s robust educational system and access to major research centers help prepare the future Aviation and Aerospace workforce with vital skills and nearly 6,810 workers in the Denver South region support the Aviation and Aerospace cluster, with a large number of rocket scientists, pilots, engineers, and other high-tech, highly skilled workers,” said Tom Brook, president and CEO, Denver South. “The nine county region’s universities are among the nation’s top producers of high-tech jobs and STEM graduates, including many specializing in Aviation and Aerospace. All of these attributes, combined with the region’s tremendous quality-of-life, continue to make Denver South a great location for industry growth and prosperity.”

Cementex Announces Belt Pouch Combinations

Cementex announces the availability of Cementex Belt Pouch Tool Combinations, featuring all tools designed for safe use in Arc Flash environments. With 13 different combinations to choose from, the company says there is an ideal Cementex Belt Pouch Combo for any technician.

All tools in the Cementex Belt Pouch Combos feature innovative Cementex double insulation technology. The double insulated tools feature a yellow warning layer underneath the outer orange layer; if the outside insulation is damaged, posing a safety risk, the yellow layer begins to show, and technicians can know that they must replace the tools.

The 13 different configurations of belt pouch and tool kits feature a wide range of tools, including Linesman’s universal crimping, needle nose, and diagonal cutting pliers, various sizes of Phillips, Robertson, and Cabinet screwdrivers, nut drivers, and various task-specialized tools. In addition, customized configurations are also available.

Cementex double insulated tools are tested to 10,000 VAC and rated for 1,000 VAC when working on or around live parts. The pliers comply with ASTM F1505 and IEC 60900 standards, and help meet the requirements of OSHA 1910.331-335, MFPA 70E, and CSA-Z462.

RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Preserves Heritage of Iconic Second World War Aircraft with RWS

RWS is helping the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) to preserve the heritage of its iconic Second World War aircraft by digitizing its original paper-based technical documentation.

Based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight maintains a fleet of iconic piston-engined aircraft to commemorate those who have fallen in the service of Great Britain, and to promote the RAF and inspire future generations of Service members. This fleet comprises six Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Lancaster, a Douglas Dakota and two Chipmunk training aircraft.

Keeping these aircraft airworthy has become increasingly difficult with technicians retiring and the younger generation being only taught to use digital technical information, alongside the challenge of managing the original paper-based maintenance and support documentation.

“Our Second World War aircraft belong to the memory of all those who served for their country,” explains Wing Commander Andy March, Deputy Chief Engineer for the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Project Team. “Our role is to ensure that we maintain the integrity of these priceless artefacts to commemorate our fallen heroes, and inspire the next generation of Service members.”

The Defence Equipment and Support team (which equips and supports the UK’s armed forces) took the decision in 2019 to digitally transform all maintenance manual and illustrated Parts Catalogue data into the ASD S1000D specification, providing technicians and engineers with a new Interactive Electronic Technical Publication Viewing (IETP) solution. This will ensure that future generations of technicians will continue to sustain and maintain the aircraft’s suitability for safe flight.

LiveContent S1000D will be help to reduce mean time to repair, facilitate the delivery of maintenance knowledge to the maintainer and keep these invaluable aircraft up-to-date and available.

“The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is taking an innovative approach to protecting and future-proofing its second world war aircraft,” explains Thomas Labarthe, president of RWS’s Language Services and Technology division. “We’re extremely proud to be involved in this project and look forward to working closely with the organization to ensure we’re supporting its digital future.”

AMADA WELD TECH Announces MM-410A Handheld Resistance Weld Checker

AMADA WELD TECH announced the new MM-410A handheld resistance weld checker, ideal for both monitoring and troubleshooting issues in production. The compact unit supports a wide range of resistance welding technologies, including AC, DC inverter, AC inverter, transistor, and capacitive discharge. Featuring a simple and intuitive user interface and color touch panel display, the MM-410A provides information on current, voltage, weld time, and force.

The MM-410A is ideal for use in process troubleshooting, where it can be used to correlate waveform and numeric data with process results and provide detailed weld data for process optimization and validation. If used continuously in a production environment, it reduces scrap by detecting drifts in the weld process and alerting operators before process failure. The MM-410A also reduces the frequency of destructive testing and provides an independent way of monitoring the welding power supply by detecting any drifts in welding power supply calibration.

The unit provides ISO17657-compliant measurement for current (when used with available ISO-compliant toroidal coil). It offers easy set up using the 5.7-inch color touch panel. The unique seam welding mode monitors AC current and voltage or DC voltage for up to 5 minutes. Data storage is available using an onboard flash drive. The MM-410A offers Ethernet (TCP/IP), and RS-232/485 communication. Multi-language support includes English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German, and French.

Available accessories for the MM-410A handheld resistance weld tester include toroidal coils, force sensors, and current/force sensors.

Wencor Group Acquires ASC Industries

Wencor has announced the acquisition of ASC Industries.

“We are excited to welcome ASC Industries and its team of talented employees to Wencor.  This acquisition is a great fit that continues to enhance our strategy around the defense and OEM markets.  It will also bolster our aftermarket hardware product offerings and allows us to provide our customers with even more comprehensive solutions,” said Wencor CEO, Shawn Trogdon.

“The addition of ASC broadens our capabilities and product offerings, allowing Wencor to deliver differentiated supply chain solutions, value-added inventory services and customized kitting solutions. This acquisition aligns with our market and product expansion strategy into the military and defense marketplace providing access to over 30 premier authorized distribution lines. We look forward to serving many of the world’s leading aerospace and defense original equipment manufacturers, their subcontractors and the warfighter,” said Scott Herndon, Wencor’s president of Defense, .

Established in 1951, ASC Industries is currently celebrating its 70th year servicing the aerospace market. ASC has supported domestic and international military and commercial customers as a full-line stocking distributor of aerospace fasteners, fittings, and hardware, from its 50,000 square feet facility in Arlington, Texas.

“We are thrilled to be joining the Wencor team, who like us, is dedicated to providing the customer with exceptional customer service at the highest level of quality,” said Ollin Taylor, president and Owner of ASC Industries. “We are excited about the substantial growth Wencor has experienced in the aftermarket over the past number of years and are confident that with this partnership we will see the same kind of growth rates in the defense and OEM markets.    

Field Aerospace Upgrades m ore than 50 USAF T-1A Flight Decks

Field has completed over 50 CSO and Special Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) aircraft and 14 simulators on time and on budget for the USAF as part of the Air Force Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) contract to upgrade the fleet of 178 T-1As over a period of 7 years.

Field Aerospace was selected by the USAF as the prime contractor and teamed with subcontractors Nextant Aerospace, Collins Aerospace, HEBCO and FlightSafety International to bring advanced capabilities to the next generation of U.S. Air Force pilots. The modernization included updating the T-1A to the Collins Aerospace Pro Line 21 system, which enables the aircraft to meet the FAA’s ADS-B Out mandate eliminating avionics obsolescence issues for the aircraft.

“Field Aerospace is proud to provide a critical capability to our warfighters and help support the U.S. Air Force meet its pilot demands for the future,” stated Matt Carreon, Vice President, Field Aerospace.

The T-1A aircraft are medium-range, twin-engine jets used for advanced-phase training of airlift and tanker pilots. They are stationed across five U.S. operating bases.

Pond and FSB Begin Design of First Fuel Cell Hangar for B-21 Aircraft

Pond and its joint venture partner Frankfurt-Short- Bruza Associates (FSB-Pond JV) was awarded its first task order to support the U.S. Air Force beddown of its newest stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider.

The first location for the B-21 aircraft is Ellsworth Air Force Base, near Rapid City, South Dakota, currently home to the B-1 “Lancer” bomber. The $49 million, single-bay fuel cell hangar will include maintenance shops, training spaces, and administrative facilities to support fuel cell maintenance activities. This new structure will connect to an adjacent hangar to share spaces between the two facilities.

“Aircraft hangars are unique for every Installation. The wide variety of associated facility requirements that support aircraft maintenance and training operations requires a broad expertise in both the aircraft being bedded down and in the associated facility and infrastructure design,” said Bob Ruch, executive vice president of Pond. “This is a vital and historic moment for the Air Force, and we’re proud to help further its mission.”

As part of a shared $200 million capacity, seven-year contract, FSB-Pond will provide full design of the new hangar on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Omaha District. The team will work closely with USACE, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC), the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), the Ellsworth AFB B-21 Program Integration Office, and the Ellsworth AFB Civil Engineering Squadron to develop a design to meet project requirements.

“FSB and Pond have 15 years of experience working together on large beddown projects for both the federal government and commercial aviation industry,” said Gene O. Brown, PE, LEED AP, project manager and director of Federal Programs at FSB. “This long-awaited program is a critical element of the Air Force’s strategic deterrence capability, and we are proud to play a role in advancing this initiative.”

FSB-Pond has assisted the Air Force with more than 50 hangar designs at installations around the world. As planners, design architects, and engineers, our team knows firsthand what it takes to design new facilities and alter existing facilities. This knowledge allows the team to better assess hangar needs and provide the most efficient and cost-effective solution.

Platinum Equity to Acquire Pelican

Platinum Equity has signed an agreement to acquire Pelican Products, manufacturer of protective cases and rugged gear and temperature-controlled supply chain solutions for the healthcare industry.
The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021.

Pelican operates in two primary segments: Pelican Products designs and manufactures high-performance rigid protective cases, advanced portable lighting systems, and outdoor consumer products for government, commercial and consumer markets. Peli BioThermal provides a comprehensive portfolio of passive temperature-controlled parcel solutions for high-growth clinical trials and commercial biopharma markets.

“For more than 45 years Pelican has built a powerful brand with a well-earned reputation among its demanding and loyal customers for making some of the most indestructible products in the world,” said Platinum Equity Partner Jacob Kotzubei. “We are committed to building on the company’s rich heritage and investing in continued innovation.”

Headquartered in Torrance, CA, Pelican maintains 12 manufacturing sites, 17 service centers and network stations, and 23 international sales offices across 25 countries.

“With a global manufacturing footprint and broad distribution network, Pelican is an outstanding platform for acquisitive growth with substantial opportunity in both its core markets and adjacent categories,” said Matthew Louie, Platinum Equity managing director. “We look forward to working with the company’s management team and deploying our operational and M&A resources in support of the next phase of Pelican’s growth and expansion.”

Pelican CEO Phil Gyori will continue to lead the company following the transaction.

“As we move forward with the backing of Platinum Equity, I’m confident Pelican’s growth trajectory will remain strong, and our products and services will expand to meet the needs of our diverse customer base,” said Mr. Gyori. “I look forward to rolling up our sleeves, working alongside Platinum’s experienced team, and creating an exciting new chapter in the Pelican story.”