#PAS19 Day Three: The Right Flight Stuff

It’s Day Three of PAS 2019 and we were fortunate to spent some time down on the flight line with the skilled pilots of aircraft such as the F-35 and the KC-46, who were excited to pose for photos with fellow flying enthusiasts.

These pilots have the Right Stuff: they have honed their tactical training flight skills for thousands of hours in order to do their jobs to ensure our safety and security. When you see them in action— the Boeing A350, behemoth that it is, flying in what seems like slow motion without falling straight out of the sky or the F-22 flying low and faster than the speed of sound, then up so high it seems it will touch the sun and back down in a nose-dive spiral—you can sense, if only vicariously, that these pilots are consummate professionals.

But these aviators are the first to tell you that they are only part of a larger team: they need their mechanics, their flight engineers, and their ground crew in order to fly these exquisite machines. Mercury is part of this larger team as well.

The Mercury team’s commitment to safety, innovation, agility and security delivers the Right Stuff to these pilots, mechanisms, engineers, and crews that allows them to practice their skills and to maximize the potential of their aircraft in order to accomplish their missions. We salute them.

#PAS19 Day Two: Agility and Mobility

We’ve just wrapped Day Two at the Paris Air Show and much like the latest Parisian fashions, “agility” and “mobility” are all the rage. Today’s climate demands our collection of offerings is versatile,  runway-ready, with the ability to adjust on the fly, literally.

In this video Philippe Weber, Sr. Director, International Sales at Mercury explains how our RES series rackmount servers provide the latest in battle management resiliency and thrives in handling multi-domain combat operations. RES Mini fits in a brief case and is smaller and lighter than a carry-on.  Completely modular and composable. If that isn’t pret-a-porter, we’re not sure what is.

#PAS19: Cleared for Takeoff!

Day one of the Paris Air Show is in the books and it was all systems go. Our stand was packed with our product displays and partners from Daedalean attracting a crowd. Watch this short video of Daedalean’s Boris Videnov talking through their demo and you’ll see why.

The floor was overflowing and full of energy, and we at Mercury had our fair share of the action. Over the course of the day, we hosted over 30 of our valued customers and even scored a visit from Italy’s the Prime Minister , Giuseppe Conte! Other notables included: the AIA Roundtable with Ellen Lord conversations with Acting Air Force Secretary, Matthew Donovan and a meeting with Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Dr. Will Roper. We even ran into  President  Macron.

President Macron

Tomorrow will be another full day. Stay tuned as we share some of the technology highlights from the floor!

#PAS19: Forklifts and Nail Guns and Drills, Oh My!

Paris Air Show - yellow and orange safety vests
Paris Air Show 2019 – Arriving on the Scene

Arriving on the scene at le Bourget today, was akin to being immersed in the first sketch of a pointillist painting dotted with “hi-vis” yellow and orange safety vests. Those wearing them are the smart, safety-conscious people who are working to get the 53rd International Paris Air Show ready for launch (pun intended). It doesn’t look like much now (truthfully, we’re struggling to fathom how it will all come together in time), but by Monday, thanks to the long days and all-nighters of talented carpenters, electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, IT/AV professionals, security and law enforcement officers, among many others, it will be spectacular, fully realized Seurat of 142,000 professionals blending together to create their own Sunday Afternoon at Le Bourget.

Our exhibition space (Hall 4, stand B41) will be host to myriad flight-safety assurance offerings including the ROCK-2 mission computing platform, as well as our esteemed Mercury ground team, nine GIFAS delegations and in our conference room, upward of 50 meetings with both existing and prospective customers and partners. Stay tuned for daily updates and a vlog or two so you can share in the action of the Mercury stand!

Safe AND secure avionics? You can do that? Yup!

Although we all love connectivity and the benefits it brings us, there is a downside. By now, we’ve all heard about cars that have been hacked. Wired magazine even has an entire section of their website dedicated to the subject. Anytime you connect to a network, you open up your system to vulnerabilities.

Avionics systems are the same. These critical systems operate our airplanes, helicopters and airborne unmanned vehicles. Everything is moving to digital and they are increasingly being networked.

Digital display in cockpit
Increase use of digital cockpits

Historically (despite the recent 737 max 8 incidents), avionics systems have been remarkably safe – much safer than driving. One example of this can be found in this USA Today article quoted below.

“In absolute numbers, driving is more dangerous, with more than 5 million accidents compared to 20 accidents in flying. A more direct comparison per 100 million miles pits driving’s 1.27 fatalities and 80 injuries against flying’s lack of deaths and almost no injuries, which again shows air travel to be safer.”

How has air travel achieved such safe success? Through very diligent design methodologies combined with testing and verification procedures. These procedures are captured in the certification process known as DAL (Design Assurance Level). And the intensity of the testing and compliance depends on the system involved as noted below.

Design Assurance Levels

There are two components of this process, one for software and one for hardware:

The move to digital

But now the world is changing. These platforms are being networked for a number of reasons:

  • Connections to satellites for flight information, on-board entertainment and more
  • Nose-to-tail connectivity
  • Increasing use of AI and machine learning algorithms
  • Predictive real-time system monitoring

Even when a plane isn’t flying, it gets connected to testing equipment that receives updates through the internet. Any of these networks can introduce security issues.

Add to this, there is a push for open system architectures. For avionics, FACE is one of these important design paradigms. The goal of FACE is to make military computing more robust, interoperable and portable through use of a common operating environment.

So now design engineers need to balance the needs and requirements of safety with open architectures and security. Here are a couple of recent articles on the topic:

  • From Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine:
    Safety- and security-critical avionics software
    Functionality of avionics software continues to expand. Additional software capabilities bring many more lines of code, and greater opportunity for error. At the same time, the more critical an avionics software suite becomes, the higher its risk of cyber terrorism and of being hacked, so current and future avionics software offer safety and security through software development tools, testing and verification utilities, and operating systems that are tamper-proof.

What to do?

Mercury has invested in security for defense electronics for many years. We have designed techniques to detect and prohibit intrusion to key systems. Combined with our avionics safety capabilities, we are uniquely prepared to address the convergence of safety, open architectures and security.

Listen to this podcast

Scott Engle, Business Development Director for Mercury, was just interviewed for a podcast entitled Wheels Up! In this episode, Scott talks about the coexistence of safety and security in world of avionics and why the key to security in aviation may be tied to the reclassification of security-related failures.

And to learn more about secure design and manufacturing, read our recent whitepaper entitled: Next Generation Defense Electronics Manufacturing

City Year – Spring Into Service

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
– Elizabeth Andrew

Boston City Year Spring Into Service Volunteer Event
March 22nd, 2019

On a rainy March day, 5 Mercury employees based in Andover trekked into Boston to participate in our first Boston City Year volunteer event. Cutting a wide swath across functions (HR, Engineering, Marketing, and IT) we represented Mercury with a good cross section of the company.

City Year, a part of the Americorps national service network, strives to place college graduates, who commit to one year of service, in schools throughout the country. Their mission is to support at risk children based on 3 key indicators: attendance, poor behavior, and failure in math and English. Through “near-peer” relationships, City Year members work to provide academic and social-emotional support.

Our role was to support the City Year members any way we could so we made pencil and pen holders that would be part of an MCAS kit students would receive. With duct tape in every color imaginable, the competition was on.

Susan Steward wins the day!

After our shift was over, it was time for lunch and to talk about future volunteer endeavors. I think we all had almost as much fun talking about our different day jobs as we did volunteering. Many thanks to the Andover Engagement Team for their support and to Emma Woodthorpe, CHRO, for her advice and guidance.

If you have a volunteer idea, make sure to contact your Site Engagement team and get their support. Start small and just get out their and do something. Remember, big things often have small beginnings!

Multi-Domain Operations: Becoming Today’s Swiss Army Knife

Defense News recently released their annual Outlook . If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a great read consisting of a few dozen essays by world leaders looking at the trends and issues, like multi-domain operations, that will most impact the global defense industry.

This year, one essay in particular jumped out at me. General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, wrote an insightful article about multi-domain operations. His analogy of lanterns from the Revolutionary War is very apt, and it helps put into perspective the challenges we face today. Perhaps this quote from his essay is most concise:

“Whoever figures out how to quickly gather information in various domains and
just as quickly direct military actions will have the decisive advantage in battle.”

When General Goldfein talks about multi-domain, he is referring to the military’s work on land, at sea, in the air, in space and in the electromagnetic and cyberspace realms. Traditionally, most defense forces have focused on one domain at a time – in silos. Hence, why we have the Army (for land), Navy (for sea) and Air Force (for air). But domains are not mutually exclusive. They need to work interactively in order to gain the most benefit. As was quickly discovered as early as WWI, air supremacy can significantly improve land operations.

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Veterans at Mercury Systems Series

Veterans @MRCY: Dennis Vied

Dennis Vied, Lieutenant (retired), a native of Wyatt, Missouri, began his service in the US Navy after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1960. Reporting to the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) aircraft carrier, he served as an Assistant Navigator and Radar Navigation Officer with collateral duties as Officer of the Deck and CIC (Combat Information Center) watch standing.

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Veterans at Mercury Systems Series

Veterans @MRCY: Tim Willis

Timothy Thor Willis, Electronics Petty Officer (retired), grew up in the Trinity Mountains of Northern California. He was studying psychology in San Diego when the attack of 9/11 occurred. When this devastation hit the country, Tim felt compelled to do something and joined the US Coast Guard in 2002. After completing Basic Training in Cape May, New Jersey, he attended various electronics schools and specialized training courses. Tim was then stationed on the 378′ High Endurance Cutter “Rush” out of Honolulu, Hawaii (WHEC-723) for three years.

Timothy Thor Willis, Electronics Petty Officer (retired), Veterans at Mercury

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Veterans @MRCY: Mike Schneider

Mike Schneider, Colonel (retired), was a soldier for over 30 years and held a variety of US Army and Joint Command and Staff positions at all echelons of the Department of Defense. He served in operational assignments in Europe, the Pacific, the Middle East, and throughout the United States, commanding multiple units at the company level, an air assault battalion, and an airborne brigade. Mike served in a variety of strategic and operational planner positions at US Army Pacific, Multi-National Force Iraq, and both the Joint Staff and Army Staff in the Pentagon.

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