Honeywell, NASA Test Sonic Boom Technology

 - May 3, 2016, 10:27 AM
Honeywell is evaluating the use of its INAV Interactive Navigation technology to tell pilots when and where a sonic boom will occur. [Image: Honeywell]

Working with NASA, Honeywell recently flight-tested new cockpit displays that help pilots see sonic booms before they happen. As part of a joint study, Honeywell is looking to prove that the displays could allow pilots to reroute and reduce the effects of aircraft noise over populated areas.

Honeywell was awarded a two-year contract in 2015 as part of NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology (CST) project. The goal is to overcome the issue of sonic booms as a regulatory roadblock to commercial supersonic flight. The conceptual designs used for cockpit displays in the CST project are a part of Honeywell’s Interactive Navigation (INAV) technology. INAV is a system that provides the simultaneous display of traffic, terrain, airspace, airways, airports and navigation aids.

“Important to our progress in reducing the sonic boom impact over land is to have a predictive sonic boom display in supersonic aircraft cockpits that ensures our future quiet supersonic aircraft remain below acceptable noise levels,” state Brett Pauer, NASA CST subproject manager at Armstrong Flight Research Center. “We have partnered with avionics companies like Honeywell to translate our NASA algorithms into an integrated avionics system that is tested and evaluated by pilots.”

Although the research work has not been conducted with any particular supersonic jet program in mind, the INAV technology is already a feature of Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics suites used in the cockpits of Dassault, Gulfstream, Pilatus and Beechcraft aircraft. Dassault and Gulfstream have both previously pursued supersonic business jet programs, and neither company has absolutely ruled out plans to restart theses projects.