Honeywell is pursuing FAA STC approval for its Aspire 200 lightweight satellite communications system in the Bell 407 and is planning to integrate it with a real-time health usage and monitoring system by the end of next year. The company also said that it is working on a smaller version of the system for UAVs.
The $100,000 Aspire 200 system provides a single L-band channel of SwiftBroadband using the Inmarsat I-4 network. It incorporates a long-burst interleaver that rebuilds the data packet and minimizes the loss due to the rotor interference. The system allows data transfer at rates between 200 and 650 Kbps depending on antenna type pairing—low, intermediate, or high-gain. The system consists of five LRUs: the antenna, the high-speed data unit, the integrated high-power/low-noise amplifier diplexer, the communications convergence unit, and the satcom configuration module.
Honeywell recommends pairing the system with the AMT-1800 intermediate-gain antenna (332 Kbps voice and data) of the AMT-3800 or AMT-700 high-gain antennas (432 Kbps voice and data). A high data rate software upgrade provides data rates up to 650 Kbps on systems using high-gain antennas. However, even with smaller antennas, the system delivers high-quality airborne video, said Honeywell Aerospace product director for satellite communications Mark Goodman.
The Aspire 200 already is certified on the Airbus AS350 series, Leonardo AW139, Bell 429, and Sikorsky UH-60. The company said it is working on three to four more helicopter installation approvals including the 407 and the Sikorsky S-92A.
“We’ve marketed [Aspire 200] around the mission,” said Rick Buchanan, senior director of retrofit, modifications, and upgrades at Honeywell Aerospace. “The missions where we see a lot of benefit are EMS, where you can transfer a lot of patient data back and forth to a hospital; parapublic, where you can transfer FLIR [forward looking infrared] data on and off the aircraft; firefighting; search and rescue; VIP; and potentially oil and gas. Those are primarily the missions were marketing to. There’s no limitation on the size of the aircraft. Our STC development is based on those missions and that’s how we’ve prioritized our STC process.” In fact, Buchanan said Honeywell made getting the system STC approved on the AS350 an early priority because of that helicopter’s widespread use by federal, state, and local law enforcement.
The system is particularly useful because it enables communication and data transmission beyond visual line of sight, such as when flying in mountainous terrain, he added.
Customers can pair the Aspire 200 with one of Honeywell’s GoDirect data services plans. Goodman points out that Honeywell does not “throttle back” data speeds for customers who choose more economical plans.