Episode 28: Improving Flight With The Hughes App (w/ Chris Baur)

Post by Alyce Shingler on May 16, 2024, updated on May 17, 2024



Chris Baur of Hughes Aerospace returns to the show to tell us about The Hughes App, a new all-in-one flight aid, complete with maps, charts, camera feeds, weather data, risk assessment functions, and many more flight supplements.

Hughes Aerospace working to improve SWFL airplane traffic with Naples Airport

Post by Alyce Shingler on April 2, 2024


Even as Naples Airport Authority studies the possibility of moving the airport in 20 or so years, it is working on improving flight patterns, how high planes fly over Naples, shared airspace with Marco Island Executive Airport and safety.

Texas-based Hughes Aerospace is in the middle of a feasibility study to develop conceptual designs for plane departures, approaches, missed approach waiting areas and shared airspace. Company executives gave the airport authority board of commissioners an interim report in March that had members hopeful of higher takeoffs, quieter approaches, more efficiency and less noise overall – a big complaint among area residents.

Hiring Hughes Aerospace in December came after a $2 million 2019 Airport Noise Compatibility study referred to as a Part 150 study and the noise abatement measures that came out of it and were submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“They have developed conceptual designs for new arrival procedures for every runway and all four runway ends that would increase the altitude of aircraft 2(00) to 400 feet over the community compared to what exists today,” Naples Airport Authority Executive Director Chris Rozansky told the board on March 21. Hughes Aerospace also developed conceptual designs for arrivals to runway 23 and for arrivals on runway 14-42, he said.

Naples Airport layout shown with runways.

Hughs Aerospace also developed some concepts for Collier County’s Marco Island Executive Airport that will require Naples Airport Authority to work with Collier to implement the concepts “that are going to help deconflict the airspaces,” Rozansky said. That could lead to an increase in the 2,000-foot hold altitude, he said. Currently, all aircraft must hold at 2,000 feet after taking off before gaining altitude following permission from air traffic control.

“You want to take and integrate all of the airspace around the Southwest Florida area,” said Alyce Shingler, head of Hughes Aerospace day-to-day operations. “So we want to include the Marco Island and RSW and try to make a holistic approach to fixing the problems. In order to do that, you have to work closely with air traffic, the surrounding airports and the community.”

Additionally, Shingler said, “we also want to reduce the noise impacts of Marco Island.”

Marco Island Executive Airport is located just north of the island off Mainsail Drive, about 12 miles south of downtown Naples. The Florida Department of Transportation estimates that the Marco Island Executive Airport has a local total annual economic impact of $258 Million. By comparison, FDOT estimates the Naples Airport has a $781 million annual economic impact.

Keep planes over the water longer

Planes land at the Naples Airport on Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

Hughes Aerospace in its interim conceptual report recommends keeping planes over the water longer so they can cross the shoreline higher, “hopefully mitigating the noise impact,” Shingler said.

“The concept is that we’re going to push all the aircraft on the same trajectory at a higher angle so they’re going to cross the shoreline at a higher altitude and if they go missed approach they’re going to go back offshore,” said Hughes Aerospace Chief Executive Officer Chris Baur.

For Marco Island, Bauer wants the airport’s planes to go out over the water on missed approaches instead of over Naples, just like Hughes’ plan for Naples Airport planes.

Opening up the crowded southwest Florida airspace is “a linchpin for increasing that 2,000-foot hold,” Rozansky said.

Airports, communities, FAA, air traffic control to have say

Collier and Marco Island airport officials would have a say in any plans presented to the FAA, as will any community affected, Baur said.

“Anything that we would design would be a collaborative effort between the community, air traffic control, the airport, pilots,” Baur said. But no meetings will be scheduled until air traffic control representatives are consulted, he said.

Hughes officials will be meeting with air traffic controllers in mid-April, Baur said.

Hughes Revolutionizes Helicopter Navigation with the Launch of Groundbreaking COPTER ZK Route Network

Post by Alyce Shingler on February 28, 2024


Hughes has implemented the first Helicopter Performance Based Navigation (PBN) Network in commercial service, comprised of ZK Routes, RNP APCH & Departures.

Hughes, working closely with the FAA and Garmin, have been able to create a safer, more efficient pathway for IFR helicopter operations with the implementation of the first COPTER PBN Network”

— Chris Baur, CEO Hughes AerospaceANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, February 28, 2024 /EINPresswire.com/ — Hughes Revolutionizes Helicopter Navigation with the Launch of Groundbreaking COPTER ZK Route Network

Hughes Aerospace, a leading innovator in aviation navigation technology, is proud to announce the successful development and implementation of ZK routes, the first-of-its-kind low-level IFR airways designed specifically for helicopter operations. In collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Hughes has spearheaded the creation of these routes to enhance safety and efficiency for helicopter pilots by allowing operations closer to the ground, thus mitigating the risks associated with icing conditions as well as terrain and obstacles.

The ZK routes, part of a COPTER Performance Based Navigation (PBN) network, are a testament to Hughes’ commitment to advancing aviation technology. Through rigorous testing and evaluation conducted with the Hughes own R66 flight test helicopter, Hughes has worked meticulously with the FAA to establish the criteria for these innovative airways. This initiative also included the development of COPTER RNP-APCH LPV Instrument Approaches, and RNP 0.3 Departures, further showcasing Hughes’ dedication to enhancing navigational precision and safety in challenging day/night weather conditions.

Garmin®, a key collaborator, played a crucial role in developing the navigation databases necessary for both the testing and subsequent implementation of these advanced navigation procedures. Together, Hughes and Garmin introduced several technological enhancements, including operator ZK database route selectivity, which allows for greater flexibility and customization for helicopter operators.

Reach Air Medical Services, a leader in medical transportation, has become the first operator to successfully implement an entire IFR network of ZK routes, equipped with RNP-APCH approaches and RNP 0.3 RNAV Departures. This achievement marks a significant milestone in aviation, providing Reach Air Medical Services with unprecedented operational enhancements and reinforcing the importance of technological advancement in ensuring the safety and efficiency of air medical services.

Chris Baur, CEO of Hughes Aerospace & Industry Chairman of the US Helicopter Safety Team, expressed his enthusiasm for the project: “Hughes, working closely with the FAA and Garmin, has been able to create a safer, more efficient pathway for IFR helicopter operations with the implementation of the first COPTER PBN Network. This innovation not only enhances operational capabilities but also sets a new standard for navigation and safety in the vertical flight community.”

“We are very excited to be part of what Hughes Aerospace is doing with their launch of ZK routes. Providing our Garmin Navigation database with ZK routes capability will allow helicopter operators to utilize advanced navigation procedures, simplifying their everyday missions.” –Carl Wolf, Garmin Vice President of Aviation Sales and Marketing

The introduction of ZK routes is a clear indication of Hughes’ leadership in the aviation sector and its unwavering commitment to incubating technology for safer, more efficient flight operations. As the aviation industry continues to evolve, Hughes remains at the forefront, dedicated to developing technologies that improve safety, efficiency, and the overall piloting experience.

For more information about Hughes Aerospace and its innovative solutions, please visit Hughes Aerospace website. To learn more about Reach Air Medical Services, please visit Reach Air Medical Services website.

About Hughes Aerospace
Hughes Aerospace Corporation is recognized globally as a fully credentialed Air Navigation Services Provider, dedicated to delivering the safest and most advanced instrument flight procedures. We serve a diverse clientele, including the FAA, government authorities worldwide, and the aviation industry at large. Hughes expertise spans designing, implementing, and maintaining both public and special instrument flight procedures, with endorsements from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other regulatory bodies globally. Hughes’ services are crucial for airspace projects across North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, making them a key player for airlines, airports, helicopter operations, and urban air mobility (UAM) sectors. Hughes is the only 14 CFR Part 97 certificated FAA Service Provider. Please visit www.hughesaerospace.com for more information.

About Reach Air Medical Services
REACH Air Medical Services, headquartered in Sacramento, CA, provides critical care air and ground emergency medical services to communities throughout California, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, Texas, Colorado and Hawaii. REACH employs hundreds of highly trained nurses, paramedics, pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians to provide service to patients using their fleet of medically equipped helicopters, airplanes and ground ambulances. REACH is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS), which is the gold standard for patient care and safety in the medical transport industry. For more information, visit www.REACHAir.com.

REACH is part of Global Medical Response. With nearly 36,000 team members, Global Medical Response delivers compassionate, quality medical care, primarily in the areas of emergency medical and patient relocation services in the United States and around the world. GMR was formed by combining the industry leaders in air, ground, mobile healthcare services, and community, industrial/specialty and wildland fire services. For additional information, visit us on LinkedIn or at www.GlobalMedicalResponse.com. 

About Garmin
Garmin products and services have revolutionized flight and become essential to the lives of pilots and aircraft owners and operators around the world. A leading provider of solutions to general aviation, business aviation, rotorcraft, advanced air mobility, government and defense, and commercial air carrier customers, Garmin believes every day is an opportunity to innovate. Recipient of the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy for Garmin Autoland, Garmin developed the world’s first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency to control and land an aircraft without human intervention.

New RNAV Approaches Improve Access, Reduce Noise at Boeing Field

Post by Alyce Shingler on November 22, 2023


Aug. 31, 2023

Four new RNAV instrument approach procedures were recently published for Washington state’s Boeing Field/King County International Airport (BFI), including the RNAV(GPS) Y 14R, RNAV (GPS) Y 32L, RNAV (RNP) Z 14R and RNAV (RNP) Z 32L.

These approaches were the result of the airport and airport users collaborating with Hughes Aerospace and lead to improved access, especially when the ILS is out of service, and reduce neighborhood overflight noise.

The new RNAV Y RWY 32L approach closely follows the existing ILS RWY 32L approach path. Instead of flying the long final segment of the ILS RWY 14R, the RNAV Y RWY 14 R uses a series of intermediate legs that routes traffic to a shorter extended final approach over Elliott Bay instead of noise sensitive neighborhoods.

The RNAV RWY Y 14R can also reduce the number of potential conflicts and coordination required if BFI is employing both approaches to Runway 14 Right.

Another benefit of the new procedures is they offer alternative approaches with approved vertical guidance, which helps ATC to manage wake-turbulence spacing and other separation requirements with the mix of traffic at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and the satellite airports while offering approaches with precision-like minimums when the ILS is out of service.

The procedures have the same flight tracks as the GPSs and might be of interest to business operators with RNP capabilities.

Pilots must request the new approaches, and ATC will do its best to accommodate those requests. And if the ILS is out of service, the new RNAV procedures could be a good standard operating procedure.

USHST Summit Illuminates Helicopter IFR Issues

Post by Alyce Shingler on September 20, 2023, updated on November 22, 2023


U.S. Helicopter Safety Team summit presses for wider adaptation of weather cameras, FAA reforms

By MARK HUBER • Contributor – Rotorcraft

September 19, 2023

The important role of weather cameras in helicopter safety was reaffirmed at the recent U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) Copter/IFR Weather Camera Program Summit, which was held at the headquarters of the Helicopter Association International (HAI). “Our participants experienced a day of learning, identifying problems, and shared experiences as it relates to copter IFR,” said Chris Baur of Hughes Aerospace, USHST industry co-chair.

Summit presenters noted that weather cameras in Alaska have produced an 80 percent reduction in the accident rate. However, weather camera usage in the Lower 48 is scarce and they are urging Congress to fund weather camera implementation in all U.S. states.

In addition, presenters pointed out that the current monopoly on National Weather Service-approved weather sourcing does not meet the needs of the aviation industry. They stressed that advisory weather and weather camera images must be accessible to pilots via ADS-B and wireless electronic flight bag platforms.

They also said the FAA policy allowing for the use of LNAV minimums only for alternate planning purposes negatively impacts accessibility to preferred aerodromes.

And, finally, they said the inclusion of all instrument flight procedures into FAA digital repositories, particularly the 28-day National Airspace System Resource, is essential to allow ease of access to IFR infrastructure. The exclusion and bureaucratic delays in the adaptation of special instrument departures and airways create unnecessary challenges, they added.

Post by Alyce Shingler on July 8, 2023


Preflight Your Passengers


For many helicopter pilots, flying with passengers is part of the job. That means these pilots must heed the importance of an effective passenger preflight briefing to help ensure everyone remains safe before, during, and after the flight.

This rang true for Chris Baur, who, while flying helicopters for the U.S. Coast Guard in the 1980s, was also a charter captain, flying passengers between Coast Guard missions. Baur, now president and CEO of Hughes Aerospace and the industry co-chair of the United States Helicopter Safety Team, recalls a flight that required some action to keep his passenger safe. The flight landed safely at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after picking up a famous comedian and Saturday Night Live alum from a northern New Jersey heliport at night. The passenger exited the rear of the helicopter while it was still running and before the arrival of a marshaller — a person designated to open aircraft doors and escort passengers to the terminal. This passenger had flown many times with Baur and was briefed and familiar with the procedures, especially embarking and disembarking from the front of the helicopter.

Photo of helicopter.
Rotorcraft pilot Chris Baur in April 1989.

Baur locked the controls and jumped out of the helicopter, stopping the passenger just in time from walking into the spinning tail rotor that was invisible in the darkness. The passenger turned to him with the look of “why did you just grab me?” Because of the noise, Baur then pointed to the tail rotor and ran his finger across his throat to indicate to the startled passenger that he could have been killed.

“He looked at me again, and gave me a big hug,” Baur said. “I pulled him away, and said, ‘Let’s go farther away from the tail rotor,’ and then sent him on his way.”

To help keep your passengers safe and prepare them on what to expect during a helicopter flight, watch the FAA’s Rotorcraft Collective video called Preflighting Your Passengers at youtu.be/xpMQNHvxC7c.