Long-term Approach Underscores Honeywell’s China Plans
Honeywell’s long-term investments in the Asian marketplace are paying off, according to Briand Greer, the Shanghai-based president of Asia-Pacific for aerospace. “This is a big show for us with what’s happening with business and general aviation [BGA] in the region,” he said. Key Honeywell BGA programs in China include the LTS101 engine for Avicopter’s AC311 helicopter, which was certified by the CAAC last year and represents the first new airframe for that engine in many years. Honeywell is also working with CAIGA on its concept for a midsize business jet and with Comac on the C919 airliner.
Honeywell’s 22nd annual business aviation forecast projects deliveries of 600 to 1,000 new jets in China in the next 10 years, according to Greer. “We’re still projecting that the large cabin jets are going to be 50 to 55 percent by numbers and 80 to 85 percent of dollars,” he said. “People [in China] are buying the Cadillac, not the mini-van, relative to business aircraft.”
In the satellite communications arena, Honeywell’s selection as the exclusive provider of hardware for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation high-speed Ka-band satcom for the BGA market will impact the company’s Asia-Pacific customers beginning in 2015, when the three-satellite constellation begins service. GX Aviation offers download speeds to the aircraft of up to 50 Mbps, and Greer believes this will be an attractive product for Asia-Pacific operators of larger business jets.
“Ka-band is really going to make a difference in the experience people will have,” he said. “It’s like sitting in Starbucks, you can truly stream movies and do all the things you can do at home on the aircraft. That is going to have a huge impact.”
At the same time, cockpits will take advantage of GX Aviation’s high-speed connectivity, for example, by allowing avionics database updates over the Internet instead of the current method using discs. Pilots will be able to transmit information about maintenance problems to their operations departments, speeding up repairs. “That’s going to make a big difference on reliability,” he said. “The whole connected aircraft [feature] is a big deal in both the front and back of the airplane.”
Another Ka-band benefit, due to the lower cost of data transmission, will be new applications in real-time flight tracking. In May, ICAO is holding a special meeting of state and industry experts on the global tracking of airline flights. “We have the technology now,” Greer explained, “but it’s just a matter of having bandwidth at the right price. You’ll see those kinds of things happening, there may be some mandates involved, but we’ll see how that develops.”
At its ABACE 2014 booth (P310) Honeywell is also highlighting the Ovation Select cabin management system, which offers high-definition video and the ability to connect to Honeywell satcom systems for passenger Internet access and telephone calls. Honeywell’s combined vision system is also featured and marries enhanced vision with Honeywell’s SmartView synthetic vision system to provide pilots a clear view of the runway on the primary flight display during approaches in inclement weather. At its lab in Arizona, Honeywell is exploring new technologies that will help pilots fly safely during instrument approaches.
In China, Honeywell employs about 400 engineers. This helps the company win aerospace contracts in China but also supports aerospace product efforts worldwide, in concert with Honeywell’s engineering centers in the Czech Republic and at its Phoenix headquarters. Fifteen engineers from the Shanghai facility have been through Honeywell’s two-year systems engineering program in Phoenix, and now they can help train their colleagues back in China. One of the results from the Chinese engineers is development of Mandarin callouts for Honeywell’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System as well as Mandarin on cockpit displays. As aviation grows in China, Greer explained, “there’s going to be a lot of people flying who are not proficient in English.” Chinese pilots typically will respond much faster to an EGPWS callout in Mandarin than in English, he said.
“This is the second largest economy in the world,” Greer concluded, “with 1.3 billion people and only 1,000 general aviation aircraft. They’re really starting from scratch, and 50 to 100 years from now we’ll say this is when commercial aviation really started to take off in China. There is lots of space for a lot of aviation players to be here for a long time, and that’s why we’re taking a long-term approach.”