Internet Travel Monitor - Marketing, Research & Tech
June 7, 2017
3 In-Flight Tech Improvements Passengers Should Know from Honeywell's Dallas Demo
As travelers bring more and more connected devices aboard planes, airlines are racing to install the next generation of in-flight WiFi that promises speeds to rival your home internet.
But the arrival of faster WiFi is just one part of a technology revolution that’s poised to change aircraft from the cockpit to the brakes.
Last week, Honeywell Aerospace, a leading manufacturer of avionics, engines and other aviation products, offered a glimpse of what that future might look like when it showed off its Boeing 757 test aircraft at Dallas' Love Field as part of a 26-city tour to visit clients and potential customers.
Crammed with more electronics than seats, the demo aircraft is a mobile laboratory for technologies the company says will make the ride smoother and more enjoyable for passengers while improving operating efficiency for airlines.
“The big vision is nose to tail (connectivity). Giving operators and passengers a safer, more productive and efficient experience,” said Erica Brinker, Honeywell’s senior director of connected aircraft. “What we say is 'anticipate the possibilities,' because we want to give people the ability to anticipate.”
Here’s a look at three ways new technologies are changing flights:
Streaming at 35,000 feet
After more than a decade of relying on ground antennas to beam signals to aircraft, airlines and their technology partners are quickly moving toward satellite-based systems that promise significantly faster speeds offering the ability to stream movies and music in-flight.
Both Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Dallas-based Southwest Airlines struck deals in 2016 to bring faster satellite-connectivity to larger portions of their fleets.
Honeywell has struck deals with more than 20 airlines, although it hasn’t disclosed which ones, for its JetWave technology that provides the hardware to receive signals from the satellite network operated by Inmarsat.
During the company’s Dallas demonstration, the system provided download speeds as fast as 30 megabits per second.
In addition to faster speeds, Honeywell’s technology also promises to minimize disruption to the flow of data by using a pair of receivers in the JetWave modem to provide continuous coverage, even over open water, Brinker said.
While pilots are always attentive to weather forecasts and the potential for turbulence, sharing that information has often been done by word of mouth as pilots communicate with each other and air traffic controllers. Honeywell is working to bring more of that information into the cockpit in a format that can be pulled up on a tablet, making it easily used by commercial airlines and corporate or general aviation fliers as well.
With a few swipes through the app, a pilot can pull up live maps showing the weather conditions and where they’re likely to encounter turbulence.
The company is also working on software that optimizes flight plans to adjust the aircraft’s position to minimize turbulence and maximize fuel efficiency. According to Honeywell, these technologies can help cut fuel costs as much as 5 percent, which translates into tens of millions of dollars for large airlines.
The largest commercial aircraft sport tens of thousands of sensors that collectively generate hundreds of terabytes of data.
Aerospace manufacturers are looking at new ways to capture that data and put it to use, with Honeywell identifying maintenance as one of the most promising areas.
For now, the technology is focused on pulling maintenance records for a given airline or aircraft -- which often takes the form of a mound of paperwork -- into a single system that can be easily navigated on a tablet.
It’s also testing connected equipment like a new version of auxiliary power units that can alert ground crews if there’s a problem, allowing more time to secure a replacement part if needed and cutting down on delays.
As the amount of data captured from aircraft increases, it will open up new possibilities to better predict when parts will wear out and need maintenance.
“The biggest piece is [that] you need to be able to understand the data,” said Honeywell product marketing manager Nate Turner. “The benefit to operators is they can anticipate repairs or issues that come up and be proactive.”
Copyright 2017 The Dallas Morning News Inc. All rights reserved. From http://www.dallasnews.com. By Conor Shine, Aviation Writer.
To view the Internet Travel Monitor Archive, click https://www.tripinfo.com/ITM/index.html.