Real-Time Black Boxes in Honeywell ‘Connected Aircraft’

Honeywell’s growth strategy for the future sees connectivity and software representing a big portion of its innovation in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). One such innovative device is the ‘Black Box in the sky’ that Honeywell is currently developing with Curtiss-Wright Corporation; innovative technology that will help overcome the major barrier of black box retrieval,  paving the way for 24/7/365 information streaming  to aid aircraft incident investigations.

Briand Greer, President of Honeywell ASEAN shared in an interview with EITN, “Our innovative connected devices allow us to collect and analyze huge amounts of data from our edge sensors to deliver insights that not only help transform our customers’ businesses but also help to create a smarter, safer and more sustainable world.” He adds that in the event of an emergency, the data on board will be quickly and more easily accessible to investigators.

“The real-time black box will see critical aircraft data sent to and stored in the Cloud, allowing for predictive maintenance and operational insight through data analytics.” 

The ‘Black box in the sky’ is the result of the collaboration between aviation leaders Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright Corp, to use real-time connectivity to reinvent the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder — commonly referred to as “black boxes” — for the commercial airline, cargo transport and business jet markets.

Briand shares that in the recent two years, there has been a surge in air travel that are driven by the aggressive promotion and expansion by ASEAN-based airlines.

ASEAN’s middle-income class is poised to become the key engine of growth in the next decade, equating to almost half a billion people with the propensity to travel. The demand for air travel is set to soar with an expected CAGR growth of 5.8 percent from 2016 to 2036. This surge in demand and the liberalization of air traffic means an increase in plane capacity; and an increase in supply coupled with an increase in price competition between carriers translates to greater availability of affordable air travel options to more destinations.

With the rise in passenger travel, airlines are investing heavily to fit their new fleet with the adequate connected technologies that ensures the safety of passengers and airline crew, as well as to maintain the costs for aircraft parts systems and devices.”

Honeywell’s development of the ‘Black box in the sky’ as part of its bigger ‘Connected Aircraft’ strategy, takes advantage of new regulatory requirements in the face of increased airline disasters.

“The importance of reliable Cockpit Voice and Flight Data Recorders cannot be overstated.  As a rich source of aircraft data, black boxes have helped improve aviation safety standards since their introduction in the 1950s, providing vital information on thousands of variables including fuel levels, altitude, engine performance, temperature, direction and speed.”

This ensures that, in the event of an accident, investigators can use the data to learn more about the chain of events leading up to it. However, black boxes can be difficult to locate and retrieve in the aftermath of an accident to extract this vital information.

Briand believes that airline operators will benefit from real-time information streaming and server storage capabilities, enabled by Honeywell’s Connected Aircraft software, which allows for the swift and remote retrieval of data from the aircraft for storage or analysis.

Honeywell in Penang and ASEAN

In Asia, Honeywell Aerospace has a 220,000-square foot integrated avionics system manufacturing facility in Penang that supplies the world’s most advanced avionics safety equipment, including its flight management system for Malaysia Airlines.  Briand shares that Honeywell Aerospace products and services are found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft. The Aerospace business unit builds cockpit and cabin electronics, wireless connectivity systems, mechanical components and more. Honeywell is also the largest producer of gas turbine auxiliary power units (APUs) found on many leading aircrafts.  It is also one of Honeywell’s top performing businesses, among the 4 strategic business groups, , the rest being Honeywell Building Technologies (HBT), Performance Materials and Technologies (PMT), and Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS).

In Asia, ASEAN ranks amongst China and India as high growth markets for Honeywell as the USD35 Billion company continues to implement its strong “East-for-East”, “East-for-Rest” and “becoming the Chinese Competitor” strategies. It established its ASEAN regional headquarters in Kuala Lumpur in 2015 as the first MNC to join the Malaysian government’s Principal Hub initiative. Today, it employs 1,500 employees in six locations across Malaysia with plans to continue to grow.

Honeywell, a brand synonymous with making physical ‘things’ that help make the world smarter, safer and more sustainable; today is obviously developing software, services and digital solutions to help address some of the world’s toughest challenges in energy efficiency, clean energy generation, safety, security globalization and worker productivity.

With its extensive portfolio in automation and control, sensing, data capture and its smart, strategic partnerships across many industries, this Fortune 100 company is uniquely-positioned to lead the charge and win. Today, Honeywell’s innovative technologies help detect toxic gas by listening for it; build predictive analytics that maintain jets while they fly and help streamlines e-commerce with artificial intelligence, just to name a few.