Honeywell opens Prague center

Farnborough Air Show » 2006
November 16, 2006, 7:34 AM

Honeywell Aerospace (Hall 1 Stand A9) is expanding its presence in Europe with a new Prague-based research and development facility that will employ up to 150 people by the end of 2006, increasing to 475 next year.

Dedicated to taking advantage of “valuable, unique technologies” under development in Europe, the U.S. company admits that much of the incentive for the move is to position Honeywell to reap some of the new European Union funding being made available for aerospace research and development.

Bob Smith, vice president of advanced technology at Honeywell, said the European content of global aerospace programs has “changed dramatically” since 1985 when its share of the total was just 22 percent. “Today it stands at 40 percent and is growing,” he said, adding that 25 percent of Honeywell’s revenues, worth $7 billion, are generated in Europe.

The new facility, which became operational this month, occupies two floors in a recently completed building in Prague and joins existing research and development activities in Brno and Mora. Smith told Aviation International News that the Czech Republic is attractive because it offers a strong technology base and a lot of enthusiasm for aerospace technologies. “There is a big talent pool and a lot of investment coming in which we feel we can leverage better by being located here,” he commented.

Honeywell has identified five “specific areas of emphasis” for European R&D spending: surveillance and safety systems; navigation; green technologies; more electric aircraft and small unmanned air vehicles.

One of the most lucrative funding areas is in European air traffic management (ATM), which Smith said is structured better than it is in the U.S., “where there are a lot of starts and stops.” The Brno facility will lead the Honeywell portion of a new Eurocontrol contract awarded under the Erasmus program, announced at Farnborough, to study the potential impact of automation to improve European air traffic management efficiency. The study will focus on air-ground cooperation, increasing data accuracy and improving the man-machine interface.

Smith also points to the environmental benefits that improved ATM technology will bring. “Europe is taking a much bigger stand than the U.S. on the environment,” he stated. “It realizes that it is the largest driver to improving efficiency. An aircraft sitting on the ground wipes out all the efficiency benefits the manufacturers can provide.”    –J.M.

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