How Knight Aerospace Is Fueling Growth With Strategic Partnerships

On May 20, Knight Aerospace announced that it will join forces with Rossell-Techsys, the Aerospace and Defense division of Rossell India Limited. Rossell-Techsys is an India-based original equipment manufacturer that offers global services. Together, Knight and Rossell will, “work to provide quick-change roll-on/roll-off palletized solutions for cargo aircraft conversions to one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies,” according to a press release from Knight Aerospace.

Next Stop for Knight Aerospace: India

The Indian Air Force operates 11 Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs. These have the same need for reconfigurability as the aircraft used by other nations, and so present a natural opportunity for Knight. However, there is an obstacle: To do business in India, foreign companies doing business in India require a domestic partner.

To satisfy this requirement, Knight entered into an agreement with Rossell Techsys. Rossell is a major player in aircraft electrical wiring, interconnects, electronic systems, and integration, while Knight is renown for its roll-on/roll-off palletized solutions. Together, Knight and Rossell will be able to capitalize on aerospace opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Knight Aerospace and Military Cargo Aircraft 

Military cargo aircraft like the C-130, C-17, KC-390, and KC-46 have standardized fittings for securing freight. Knight saw how these could be used for airworthy palletized interior modules that increase flexibility and versatility. Starting with seating, this has grown to aeromedical modules and the Air Transportable Galley/Lavatory (ATGL) system.

Designed for quick changeover with roll-on/roll-off functionality, these let aircraft operators increase utilization and lower costs. They enhance comfort, safety, and cleanliness for crew, military personnel, medical staff, and patients. At the same time, they also offer a replacement for older designs that no longer meet airworthiness requirements.

“Our roll-on/roll-off systems can be used across multiple platforms. If you’re flying on a C-130 and you need a seating pallet for it, you roll one on,” explains Michael Knight, the senior vice president of international sales for Knight Aerospace. “Maybe you get to your destination and the C-130 can’t run again, you can take that pallet, roll it off the C-130 and roll it onto the C-17.”

The Rise of Aeromedical Modules

In 2014, with the Ebola epidemic raging in Africa, infected patients were undergoing medical evacuation by aircraft. The problem was that minimizing the risk of transmission while on board entailed sterilization protocols that took aircraft out of service for days, if not longer.

The team at Knight recognized they had the specialized knowledge needed to develop and implement a solution. Thus was born the Aeromedical Bio-Containment Evacuation System (ABES). This is a self-contained medical module, complete with negative pressurization and everything needed for patient care. Using the quick-change, roll-on/roll-off approach, this is moved in and out of the aircraft as needed, enabling faster turnarounds and improved safety.

Flying Tankers

Aircraft for in-flight refueling are highly specialized, but palletized seating increases their flexibility and utility. This was the mission Knight undertook with Northrop Grumman. Roll-on/roll-off palletized seating modules provided a way to safely use these aircraft for personnel transport. As a bonus, greatly enhanced comfort reduced fatigue and made long flights a more pleasant and safer experience.

The Military Aircraft ATGL System

Military aircraft lack the amenities enjoyed on civilian flights. In addition, primitive “blue water” lavatories are unpleasant both to use and to empty, and risk “spills” during maneuvers. What’s more, units in service today are outdated, difficult to service, and don’t meet all current airworthiness requirements.

Working together, Collins Aerospace (a division of Raytheon Technologies Corporation) and Knight developed a solution: the ATGL.

The ATGL combines a galley with two lavatories, all on a pallet easily moved in and out of aircraft like the C-130, C-17, KC-135 and KC-46. Knight developed the reconfigurable galley, while Collins contributed the other aspects. The result: a big improvement in facilities for those traveling on such aircraft.

“We saw a need and a requirement for airworthiness and adaptability and decided to partner with credible experts in aircraft interiors,” says Bianca Rhodes, President and CEO at Knight Aerospace. “That is where Collins Aerospace’s interior division comes into play. They supplied the lavatory and we built the galley and the palletized system for a design that greatly surpasses the 30+ year design used by many countries today.”

Enhancing Aircraft Flexibility and Utility

Modular, roll-on/roll-off palletized solutions let cargo and military aircraft perform a wider range of functions. “You have versatility on the pallet to provide what the operator needs,” adds Rhodes. Still, meeting airworthiness requirements is no easy task. With Knight Aerospace’s expertise and proven history in aerospace manufacturing, partnering with other industry specialists benefits the development of these innovative products and helps bring them to market. These partnerships were key to rapid development of quick-change, roll-on/roll-off medical modules and palletized systems for cargo aircraft interiors.