DALLAS – Honeywell began on May 30 the Honeywell’s Power of Connected World Tour with its Boeing 757-200 (N757HW) test aircraft, debuting the ability to connect with customers in the form of both airline clients and passengers.
The airplane, a vintage 1983 former Eastern Air Lines Boeing 757-225, has historically been used as an engine testbed for Honeywell business aircraft, in addition to testing new avionics and airborne weather radar. Its latest mission has turned it into the Connected Aircraft.
The Connected Aircraft, as Honeywell calls it, is one which can transmit, receive, analyze and share data which results in a cost reduction to the operator.
Erica Brinker, Senior Director of the program, explained that “the idea behind this is to have the airplane self-monitor and report things that need to be done. For example with an airborne maintenance issue. The airplane will tell the company what needs to be done or fixed before the next flight so that maintenance can be waiting at the gate at the end of the current flight and mitigate or eliminate a future flight delay, which costs the industry 25 billion annually.”
By enabling advanced troubleshooting, Honeywell estimates that the costs to diagnose an issue can be reduced by up to 25%. An example of this technology is Honeywell’s smart brakes installed on N757HW.
Airplane brake wear is measured by pilots and mechanics on walkarounds by looking at brake wear indicators, located in various parts of the brake disc. If the indicator is positive and not flushed with the index, the brake is not worn and is safe for flight.
If the indicator is flush with the surface or below it, the brakes must be replaced. Honeywell has designed software to measure and transmit the brake condition to maintenance control to actively monitor and preempt the necessity for brake changes, saving potentially thousands on delayed flight costs.
The JetWave modem, not the antenna, has two receivers. The dual receivers allow the JetWave hardware to talk to two beams on the satellite at the same time and allows for seamless switching between beams. That’s where the consistent experience comes in.
GX Aviation has consistent global coverage regardless of being over water or land. The dual receivers allow users to stay connected while in one beam, while the second receiver acquires the new spot beam as an aircraft moves from one beam to another. GX users use one beam at a time.
Perhaps the most important passenger experience enhancement is the ability to live stream and FaceTime with little or no interruption. Using two receivers to have the best-blended WiFi signal ensures constant coverage, even over water, where historically WiFi has had issues.
Further, Honeywell now offers an integrated flight planning software – GoDirectFlight Services, that can enable flight dispatchers to better plan flights at scheduled air carriers.
The software can optimize ATC routes and available runways at the departure, arrival, and destination alternates based on ATC flow, weather, and incorporate graphical turbulence to plan a flight to mitigate flying through areas of rough air.
“This can and has saved up to 5% on fuel costs per flight,” explained Nate Turner, Project Marketing Manager for Flight Services, and a former airline pilot himself.
The system can be used to supplement existing flight dispatch suites, such as Sabre and LIDO/Flight.
“We also have a general aviation version of this product for use by corporate pilots and general aviation pilots so that they too can use the system to their advantage. On the pilot side of things, with this App, pilots have the ability to interactively review an approach before flying it. Terrain is integrated so a pilot can better picture where their airplane is in relation to surrounding obstacles while in the clouds on an approach. With a signal, they can view their airplane with georeferenced terrain, and even offline, can view it with downloaded terrain. It is a great situational awareness aid,” Nate explained.
Approach charts from the U.S. government are integrated into the App, as well as Lido charts. Lufthansa’s proprietary charts are now sold to airlines around the world.
The 757 is the perfect platform to test and show the capabilities of the GoDirect Network, in pre-flight planning, flight monitoring, and passenger experience. On May 30, the 757 began its world tour, with the first leg to the Bay Area, the tech capital of the world. On May 31, it flew a media demonstration flight out of San Francisco (SFO).
Airways caught up with N757HW on the second stop of its world tour at Dallas-Love Field (DAL) on June 1st. Briefed on all the onboard technology, we headed to board N757HW on a demo flight at 10 a.m.
At 10:10 a.m., we departed Love Field’s Runway 13R, on a flight planned with the GoDirect software. We were in the cockpit for the takeoff. Of note, the crew actively used Honeywell’s new weather integrated flight monitoring software to avoid areas of turbulence throughout the flight.
In fact, until we started our descent for Dallas, we were able to navigate mostly clear of developing summer thunderstorms (not an easy thing to do in June at Texas).
Cruising at 23,000 feet, we went back to the cabin to explore the test equipment and see the GX Aviation WiFi in action. Sure enough, with our blended two signal WiFi, our connection was indeed significantly faster (34 Mbps) than using standard WiFi. We were able to FaceTime with no interruptions, watch NetFlix and Live Stream.
Customers with GX Aviation WiFi include Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and Air Astana. JetConnex is the solution designed for use with corporate flight departments and business aircraft.
Also, they have a few more airlines in their announced list: All the Lufthansa Group, Germanwings, Eurowings, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Air Caraibes, Ethiopian, Qatar Airways, Sri Lankan, Vietnam, Air New Zealand and Air Asia.
This Boeing 757 also has quite the history for the AvGeek. It was just the fifth 757 to roll off the production line at Renton, in 1983. And first flew on February 4, 1983, to be delivered to Eastern on February 28 as N504EA.
After 1991, the aircraft did not find a buyer until 1995, where she was reregistered as G-JALC with MyTravel Airways in the UK. Between 1995 and 2005, the airplane flew in the United Kingdom before being sold to Honeywell, where it would eventually replace the Boeing 720 testbed, which flew in a similar role prior to being retired.
Flying North towards Ardmore, we eventually turned south back towards Dallas, the only turbulence being on descent into Dallas (unavoidable in a Texas summer). We landed smoothly on Runway 13L in DAL at 11:27 am and taxied back to the FBO.
With our demonstration flight complete, thoroughly impressed with GX’s capabilities, N757HW’s work was really just beginning. Dallas was just stopped number two on the world tour.
N757HW would demonstrate a flight to an undisclosed customer after ours within Dallas and then would continue on to Toluca, Mexico for the evening. June 2 saw the airplane in Panama City, and it will make its way to New York and London, as well as other stops before making it to the Paris Air Show on June 19.
Continuing on, N757HW will conduct customer demonstrations and media presentations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia before making it back to her base at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) in about two months.
For more information about GX Aviation and Honeywell’s aviation technologies, visit Honeywell.com and check out their Twitter feed with the #HoneywellRocks.