Honeywell’s “Connected Aircraft” demonstrator reached India last week, after appearing at the Paris Air Show and heading east via Copenhagen, Moscow and Dubai. And while most of the company’s briefings in and around the Boeing 757 testbed have stressed the advantages to be gained from real-time connectivity by commercial operators, and their passengers, the technology has clear military applications. Honeywell invited a large number of senior officials from the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy (IN) on a flight from Delhi on July 4.
“We have had a good response from our aviation customers and we are in talks with Indian carriers for deployment of connected technologies,” said Neelu Khatri, president, aerospace, Honeywell India. However, she refused to comment on the military aspect of the product.
But the IAF and IN are experiencing high AOG rates with their mixed fleets of Western and Russian aircraft, and both are interested in predictive maintenance techniques as pushed by Honeywell in these demonstrations.
“Predictive maintenance is of utmost importance today,” a senior IN maintenance engineer told AIN. “Along with it goes the need for inventory management. One should be able to anticipate when a part needs to be replaced. This greatly improves serviceability and cost effectiveness,” he added. The engineer also noted that most of the Russian legacy platforms in the Indian inventory are no longer supported by their OEMs. He did not see a problem in adding the necessary sensors for predictive maintenance to those platforms.
Honeywell was displaying the fact that before the aircraft lands, engineers can identify components that will require maintenance or replacement—and ensure spare parts are available and ready for installation when it touches down. The company says that it “is improving predictive analysis by wirelessly connecting more mechanical systems. For example, capturing and analyzing aircraft data on usage and wear will enable the connected auxiliary power units, environmental control systems, and wheels and brakes to be inspected more efficiently, undergo more rapid and streamlined maintenance processes, and realize lower costs.”
Other companies such as Swedish-based IFS Applications are offering military logistics solutions that enable an integrated approach to strategic planning of support, including acquisition, fleet and asset management, MRO, storage, distribution and disposal. “This is being seen increasingly as an imperative by militaries,” a senior IFS official told AIN.
Other technologies showcased by Honeywell on the 757 demonstration flights included a weather radar with real-time data, high-speed Ka-band Wi-Fi, and a flight preview product for accurate awareness of the runway and its surroundings.