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Sayonara, USS Kitty Hawk

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

The USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, the oldest active ship in the U.S. Navy, made its final departure from the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan this week. After 47 years of service, the Kitty Hawk will stop at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and then travel to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wa., to be decommissioned.

I live in Washington state and I am thrilled at the prospect of seeing the Kitty Hawk, the oldest active ship with the longest total period of active service in the Navy. Yet, my excitement is nonetheless tinged with some sorrow at seeing the carrier “retired” and replaced.

Kitty Hawk is the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier in the Navy, and it will be replaced by the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered carrier, in the coming months.

"The Kitty Hawk has been a visible symbol of strength in a rapidly changing world," U.S. Ambassador to Tokyo Thomas Schieffer said during a ceremony last week. "Goodbye Kitty Hawk, hello George Washington."

The replacement of the Kitty Hawk by a nuclear-powered ship is not without some controversy. Earlier this month, a fire near the auxiliary boiler room and air conditioning and refrigeration space in the rear of the George Washington left one sailor with minor burns and 23 others with heat stress. Navy personnel say the fire spread through a passageway for cables. Regardless, the George Washington is scheduled to be based at Yokosuka, Japan, beginning in August.

Goodbye and Sayonara, Kitty Hawk.

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Memorial Day weekend

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Posted by John McHale

I spent mine in the Philadelphia area with my family.

Some of that time was spent watching various Memorial Day tributes with my parents and reading articles online about experiences of veterans from various wars. Two of them stood out.

My parents watch the PBS National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C. every year. On Sunday I did too. The music was outstanding as were the tributes.

Actors Denis Leary, Gail O'Grady, and Caitlin Wachs told the story of Staff Sergeant John Faulkenberry by playing the roles of Faulkenberry's friend PFC Chris Pfeifer and their wives, Sarah and Karen, who became friends during their training in Germany. Faulkenberry and Pfeifer were together in Afghanistan. Faulkenberry died as a result of wounds received in battle there.

After the scene there was a not a dry eye in that audience or in my house.

There was also a tribute given to actor Charles Durning (pictured here), who received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle in World War II (WWII). It was dedication to him and those soldiers who served during that time.

During WW II soldiers like Durning were called GIs or government issues, while during the first World War they were called doughboys. According to Wikipedia, there are various origins of the term, the most likely stemming from the Mexican War, "in which the infantry were constantly covered with dust from marching through the dry terrain of northern Mexico, giving them the appearance of unbaked dough." Also the helmet worn by infantrymen during WW I was called the Doughboy helmet, "even though it was the Brodie helmet design used by the British army."

Did you know that there is only one doughboy/American serviceman still alive from World War I? His name is Frank Buckles and he is 107 years old. I'm sure many of you have heard of him as he's on T.V. every year, but this weekend was the first time I'd read about his life.

I came across a George Will column - "The Last Doughboy" - that told his story and how he is getting along at such an advanced age. According to Will, Buckles says "he is feeling fine, thank you for asking."

I urge you to read more about Frank Buckles, Staff Sergeant John Faulkenberry, Charles Durning, and other veterans when you have a moment and remember the sacrifices they made.

Thank you to all who served and continue to serve - especially to my grandfather, Albert Volpe who like Buckles served during World War I, and my cousin Steven Caucci, who lost his life in the Vietnam War.

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In life, and COTS supplies, there are no guarantees

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

Rumors are rampant that Apple Inc. management, having just acquired P.A. Semi of Santa Clara, Calif.,
seeks to end production of various chips used by the military, including the high-performance, low-power PWRficient processor. The PWRficient CPU is employed in programs through most, if not all, branches of the U.S. armed services, say P.A. Semi representatives. In fact, one unnamed defense contractor expects to employ tens of thousands of the chips over the next decade—that is, if the processor is still available.

Defense customers, including primes, subcontractors, and systems integrators, have approached and sought the help of officials at the U.S. Department of Defense out of concern.

P.A. Semi’s PA6T-1682M, released in February 2007 as a lower-power, dual-core, and 64-bit variant of PowerPC CPUs, was rapidly adopted in defense applications—a rarity for new processor releases, which are oft met with the common “wait-and-see” mindset.

When news hit in April that Apple planned to acquire the company, P.A. Semi executives reported that they could no longer guarantee supplies of its chips. The startup did not identify the acquiring company but said that company may be willing to supply the chip on an end-of-life basis, if it could successfully transfer a third-party license to the technology. A single military program can span more than a decade, and yet supply of the chips cannot be guaranteed—not for a week, month, or year.

This news is particularly concerning for defense customers—a growing number of whom, such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, reportedly use P.A. Semi processors.

Should the DOD step in, and confront Apple officials with the concerns? Perhaps more importantly, does the DOD and mil-aero market have any clout with big commercial businesses?

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Posted by John McHale

Just like our advertisers we are always looking for ways to grow our business and did that recently when our parent company, PennWell, purchased Avionics Expo Limited, a U.K. company which owns and produces the successful Avionics conference and exhibition.

Established in 2003 as an annual event, Avionics was most recently held March 5-6, 2008 at the Passenger Air Terminal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Avionics comprises a significant trade exhibition, two-day conference program, workshops, and technology demos serving more than 1,400 attendees. The next Avionics will be held March 4-5, 2009 in Amsterdam.

PennWell will manage Avionics from its London office and will retain the show's founder, Adrian Broadbent, as a consultant. Broadbent will assist PennWell in the continued development of this growing conference and exhibition for the global aerospace industry. Gareth Watkins will also remain as the sales manager and joins PennWell as an employee in its London office under the management of Glenn Ensor, PennWell Director of International Events.

Our President and Chief Executive Officer Robert F. Biolchini says that Avionics is highly strategic because it complements PennWell's magazines, events, and information products serving equipment and technology intensive global industries from its headquarters in Tulsa and several worldwide offices. "Since air travel is expanding globally and nearly 10,000 new commercial aircraft are expected to enter service over the next 10 years, the Avionics show is essential to avionics manufacturers and professionals involved in new cockpit technologies and procedures developed for both civil and military aircraft," he adds.

The event has strong synergy with our Military & Aerospace Electronics franchise. It expands PennWell's strategic position in this $8 billion market which it serves with its international magazine, Military & Aerospace Electronics, and its annual U.S.-based conference and exhibition, Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum, most recently held March 11-12, 2008 in San Diego.

Broadbent says, "The integration of Avionics into the PennWell business with its greater investment potential and existing media products will enable the show to continue to grow but at a far greater rate. I am pleased to be a part of the exciting new stage of development for the event."

The addition of the Avionics conference is a perfect fit as Military & Aerospace Electronics has provided leading coverage of avionics trends and technology since its founding.

I was fortunate to attend the event this year and found it to have strong content, relevant and expert speakers, and healthy floor traffic during the exhibition. It was the first time I'd attended in two years and was impressed with its growth - 30 to 50 percent each year during the past few years.

We're very excited about the acquisition and working with Adrian and Gareth. Adrian and I have already started planning next year's event and will be releasing the Avionics 2009 Call for Papers next month.

Keep an eye on our website for that and other announcements regarding Avionics 2009 and our continued editorial coverage of avionics issues in the defense and commercial markets.

See you in Amsterdam.

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Watch this space

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

Very soon, the staff of Military & Aerospace Electronics will launch The Mil & Aero Command Post, an online community devoted to you -- our colleagues in the mil-aero market. We invite you to join us and (hopefully thousands of) your peers in the online community right here, at

I know... I've thought all the same things at one point or another. I don't have time. It won't be any fun. I expressed the same sentiments, and I'll admit it -- I was wrong.

It takes little time to connect with friends and colleagues in an online community. I joined such online community sites as LinkedIn, Facebook, and others. I took part in and contributed to the community, at first, for just a few minutes a couple times a week. After fleshing out my online profile, my own page, it didn't take long til I was getting messages, questions, postings, and just a friendly "hello" from old friends and colleagues in the industry.

Through online communities, I have reconnected with old acquaintances, learned new technologies, gained new insights, gotten questions answered, and had enlighting exchanges. All the while, I was also networking and, I would hope, helping contribute to, advance, or leave my mark on the community or the industry as a whole.

I hope you'll give it a try, and join the community at The Mil & Aero Command Post. You'll definitely find me there. C'mon in and say "hi."

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Posted by John McHale

I had a nice lunch last week in Tempe, Ariz., with R. Dale Lillard, Lee Mathieson, and John Redding of Lansdale Semiconductor where we discussed the troubling issue of counterfeit parts finding their way into critical military systems.

Lillard, president of Lansdale, said the problem is that the counterfeits are so easily available and cheap. He says these parts will most likely fail and could end up costing lives.

He gave me an example of a component Lansdale produces called the MC3356. "We are the only true manufacturer, having purchased the tooling from Motorola," Lillard says.

He said that if you do a Google search on the part "any potential customers would find five pages of other suppliers selling who knows what on Google before we show up." Lansdale does have a paid "advertisement on all our parts in hopes they find us. Google doesn't seem to care."

Lillard said without the paid advertisement -- which appears on the right of the first search page -- his website would not come up till after five or seven pages.

When I did the search it took me 10 pages to find a Lansdale link - Lillard wasn't kidding. Some of the sites that came up were the China IC Mart and IC-Town. The China IC Mart was on the first page of the search

Mathieson, operations manager at Lansdale, says the scary thing says is that these parts may work at first and seem just fine but they are not fully qualified and tested and when it comes down to it not the real MC3356, just a counterfeit.

Buy at your own risk.

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Posted by Courtney E. Howard

Bombardier Aerospace of Belfast in Northern Ireland has released its annual forecasts for the business and commercial aircraft markets. The new forecasts offer predictions of a 10-year period in the business aircraft market, and a 20-year run in the commercial aircraft market.

The global aircraft market is robust, yet concern exists over waning U.S. consumption. These concerns are founded on the weakened U.S. dollar, economic downturn, and continued plight of airline companies (as evidenced by posted losses, bankruptcies, consolidation through mergers and acquisitions, and operations closing their doors). In contrast, the European jet market is described as having continued vigor, and causing Bombardier to revise its deliveries forecast upward from 2007 levels (from 9,950 in 2007 to 13,200 in 2008).

"As we transition to a more international customer base that features less emphasis on the U.S., as well as a structural shift towards larger and more cost-effective aircraft, Bombardier's key product families -- business jets and regional aircraft -- are expected to continue to generate strong interest across all markets," says Mairead Lavery, vice president, strategy and business development, Bombardier Aerospace. "With its comprehensive portfolio of business and commercial aircraft that encompass state-of-the-art technologies and innovative design solutions, and its focus on customer services, Bombardier is well positioned for the future."

In the 10-year period from 2008 to 2017, Bombardier's Business Aircraft Market Forecast predicts that business aircraft manufacturers will deliver a total of 1,320 business jets annually -- a substantial increase from the industry average of more than 620 business jet deliveries annually during the 1998 to 2007 period. The total forecasted 13,200 deliveries over the 10-year period represent revenues of approximately $300 billion for the industry, say company representatives.

Despite strong concerns over a possible downturn in the U.S. and world economies that could create a decrease in overall orders over the next two years, Bombardier officials believe industry deliveries should continue to increase until 2017. Demand for business jets is growing within the company's international base of customers. In fact, international business represented 67 percent of Bombardier orders for 2007.

According to Bombardier's Commercial Aircraft Market Forecast, demand for 20- to 149-seat commercial aircraft is expected to reach approximately 12,900 new aircraft in the 20-year period from 2008 to 2027, totaling approximately $528 billion.

The forecast reflects the shift in demand to larger commercial aircraft. In the 20- to 59-seat aircraft segment: the forecast expects a demand of approximately 500 aircraft. In the 60- to 99-seat aircraft segment: demand is expected to reach approximately 6,100 aircraft. In the 100- to 149-seat aircraft segment: the forecast predicts a demand for approximately 6,300 aircraft.

The trend towards larger aircraft, coupled with sustained higher fuel prices, will reinforce operators' requirement for modern aircraft with low operating costs, says the Bombardier forecast.

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Blogger Guy said...
Hi I just wanted to say that out of all the forecasts I read this seems to be most professional and accurate.

Nicely done.

Cant wait to read more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009 2:56:00 AM EST  

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Posted by John McHale

The impact of Apple's purchase of chip provider, P.A. Semi last week was the hot topic among attendees and sponsors at the Critical Embedded Systems Media Fest held in Scottsdale this week.

P.A. Semi makes a high-performance processor - the PWRFficient - which has the low power attributes needed for rugged military embedded applications, and seen as the low-power alternative to the PowerPC and Intel chips.

Many companies have designed product lines around the P.A. Semi device, and are concerned that Apple might not see the need to continue producing it because of the low volume market it represents.

One of those companies, Extreme Engineering is taking a positive look. Extreme's vice president of sales and marketing, Brett Farnum, says he believes that Apple will do the right thing and off load the technology to a third party manufacturer and that it will continue to be supplied.

During his opening remarks, Ray Alderman, executive director of VITA – the standards organization that runs the event – said that the federal government is looking to get involved to ensure continued supply of the P.A. Semi technology because it supports mission critical military applications.

However, some of the other attendees are not as optimistic about the continuation of the part. Peter Cavill, managing director of GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, said during his keynote address that he hopes the chip will still be available but is doubtful. Cavill also said that without the low power chip, the industry will be forced to design systems with less thermally efficient processors such as the Intel devices and that this may inspire new unique cooling solutions to solve the thermal management challenges that accompany the high-performance commercial processors.

Right now it's a wait and see and embedded vendors are coming with alternative plans for their customers in case the P.A. Semi technology does disappear.

The Critical Embedded Systems conference itself was smaller than it had been in the past when it was called the Bus and Board conference. There seemed to be a third of the attendance than when it was in its heyday.

Notable absences were the RTC Group publications – COTS Journal and RTC Magazine – and past sponsor Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing.

However, despite those factors I still felt it was an effective event. It's not a news making conference, but one of the best networking events for embedded media and vendors. I enjoy meeting with embedded defense suppliers and the market outlook presentations.

In fact I thought this year's keynotes were the best I've seen in the decade I've attend the event. Doug Patterson, vice president of sales and marketing at Aitech and Peter Cavill gave informative presentations on COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) procurement and defense market analysis without turning their presentations into blatant commercials.

I enjoy coming to this event and networking with familiar and new faces in the industry. I find much more value in face-to-face meetings than conference calls or email threads. Maybe I'm just a bit old-fashioned.

I hope the Critical Embedded Systems Conference continues in some form.

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Blogger RapidIO Executive Director said...
Maybe I'm just a bit old-fashioned. TOO.
Thanks for the update on the buzz, I missed this years event; travel and event overlaps. Critical Embedded Systems play a key role in driving the advancement of applications, the quick advancement of high speed fabrics with VPX and VSX are a great example or new technology and applications that scale to the job at hand. This is an important and unique event. RapidIO members in attendance tell me they too enjoyed the interaction.
Thursday, May 8, 2008 9:53:00 AM EDT  

Blogger VITAed said...
John...the event was down about 40 attendees and about 8 exhibitors. That was my fault for moving it to May and changing location.

And, you did not mention VITA's new initiative, announced at the beginning of the conference : IOTSO (Innovate Outside Traditional Semiconductor Offerings). With the PA Semi mess, and the prediction that the present 450+ semi companies will consolidate into 50 or less in the next few years, we must take such action. Many of VITA's new standards efforts will concentrate on the IOTSO principle. Many of our recently released standards have also been focused on IOTSO.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 6:24:00 PM EDT  

Blogger SBL Software Solutions said...
"Embedded System" is not an exactly defined term, as many systems have some element of programmability, such as the operating systems and microprocessors which power them — but are not truly embedded systems, because they allow different applications to be loaded and peripherals to be connected.

SBL Software Development Solutions
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 12:24:00 AM EST  

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Send us your industry videos

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

A week ago today, we, the editors with Military & Aerospace Electronics, began complementing our up-to-the-minute industry news stories with informative videos. Peruse the Web site, and you will find embedded in news items more than 18 videos total -- and that number will continue to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming weeks and months.

We invite you to share professional videos that would be of interest to the military and aerospace community with us. Show us your latest technology demonstration or installation, for example.

Among the videos you will currently find on are: a demonstration of the iRobot PackBot's capabilities, the innovative Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle at work, U.S. Marine Corps personnel setting up a remote satellite terminal, the U.S. Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft deployed for a search and rescue mission, and even comprehensive information about the Military & Aerospace Electronics franchise, which includes a monthly trade publication, digital media such as weekly and monthly eNewsletters, conferences and expos, and more.

We will soon launch the Mil & Aero Command Post, an online community environment in which to share your experiences, opinions, technologies and trends, and more. Would you like to share your amateur videos -- such as videos of your recent deployment, technology you trust and rely on in the field, and more -- with the rest of the community via the Command Post? We hope so.

If you have any questions or if you are interested in authoring videos for potential use on, please feel free to contact me ( or Military & Aerospace Electronics' resident video guru, chief editor John Keller (

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Welcome to the lighter side of Military & Aerospace Electronics. This is where our staff recount tales of the strange, the weird, and the otherwise offbeat. We could put news here, but we have the rest of our Website for that. Enjoy our scribblings, and feel free to add your own opinions. You might also get to know us in the process. Proceed at your own risk.

John Keller for MAE
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Courtney Howard for MAE Courtney E. Howard is senior editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine. She is responsible for writing news stories and feature articles for the print publication, as well as composing daily news for the magazine's Website and assembling the weekly electronic newsletter. Her features have appeared in such high-tech trade publications as Military & Aerospace Electronics, Computer Graphics World, Electronic Publishing, Small Times, and The Audio Amateur.

John McHale for MAE John McHale is executive editor of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, where he has been covering the defense Industry for more than dozen years. During that time he also led PennWell's launches of magazines and shows on homeland security and a defense publication and website in Europe. Mr. McHale has served as chairman of the Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum and its Advisory Council since 2004. He lives in Boston with his golf clubs.