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Honeywell Aerospace’s Latest Offering Brings Internet to Passenger Jets
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Honeywell Aerospace’s Latest Offering Brings Internet to Passenger Jets
  • By Matthew Weigand
  • June 17, 2016, 05:30
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Honeywell technicians install JetWave hardware on their Boeing 757 test aircraft at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport.
Honeywell technicians install JetWave hardware on their Boeing 757 test aircraft at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport.

 

Honeywell technicians install JetWave hardware on their Boeing 757 test aircraft at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport.
Honeywell technicians install JetWave hardware on their Boeing 757 test aircraft at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport.

 

Honeywell Aerospace’s Boeing 757 test aircraft readies to take reporters on a test flight at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport on May 11.
Honeywell Aerospace’s Boeing 757 test aircraft readies to take reporters on a test flight at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport on May 11.

 

It’s a little hard to pin down exactly what Honeywell Aerospace does, because it does just about everything. You think you’d be able to summarize it by saying “airplanes,” but no, they do a little bit with cars too. Then you think you’d be able to summarize it with “transportation,” but again, no -they also do Internet connectivity. And if that’s not enough, they also have a little 3D metal printing thing going on, though you probably haven’t heard of it.

The most exciting thing, though, is that they’re bringing WiFi to commercial jets. It wasn’t too long ago that connected devices would have to be turned off completely, or at least set to the infamous “airplane mode,” while in the air, which eliminated all signals going into and out of the device. However, Honeywell is turning that all on its head with their JetWave system.

JetWave is a new suite of hardware devices that enables airlines to connect to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band satellite network in order to access the Internet. Inmarsat has 3 satellites up in the sky, with another on the way, that give global coverage to every plane flying in the sky, which is what that’s all about.

There are over 25 different aircraft models that can use the JetWave system, most important among them being the Boeing 757, which most airlines still have a lot of. And a lot of airlines have already announced that they are going to be using JetWave on their flights. Lufthansa is installing it on its short and medium-haul flights this summer. Singapore Airlines is putting JetWave on several 777s and A380s. Qatar Airways is connecting their aircraft fleet to the system in their own way. Air China is testing it, and Vietnam Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Air Caraibes have all selected JetWave tech to be installed on their airlines in partnership with Thales, a Honeywell partner.

Honeywell technicians install JetWave hardware on their Boeing 757 test aircraft at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport.

Korea Missing Out?

It seems that Korean Air and Asiana Airlines have missed this particular Internet boat, at least for now. And that is strange, especially in light of Honeywell’s existing partnerships with Korean companies.

Most recently, Honeywell Aerospace renewed its aftermarket support contracts with Jeju Air in Feb. of this year. Under the new agreement, Honeywell will continue to provide support to Jeju Air’s fleet of 20 Boeing 737-800 planes. They have a wheels and brakes exchange program with the low-cost carrier for the next seven years. They also do maintenance on their own-branded Auxiliary Power Units that the airline utilizes. “Honeywell has been a trusted partner of Jeju Air in aftermarket maintenance for our fleet of Boeing 737-800 wheels and brakes and APUs for the past eight years,” said JW Louis, Kim, purchasing team leader, Jeju Air. “We are confident Honeywell’s aftermarket programs will continue to support our operational needs with the highest standards and without compromise on quality and safety, even as we continue to expand our routes and reach in the Asia Pacific region.” The company must have mentioned its flashy new JetWave technology to the carrier at least once during these negotiations.

Also, late last year Honeywell agreed to supply their technology to the T-50 Golden Eagle aircraft that Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. sold to the Royal Thai Air Force in Sept. 2015. Honeywell agreed to supply its Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (EGI), radar altimeter, lighting and Electric Flight Instrument system for the aircraft.

“This contract with Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI) cements our commitment to the South Korean defense market as the country strengthens its position as a defense manufacturer,” said Mark burgess, APAC vice president of defense and space for Honeywell Aerospace. “Honeywell is working very closely with KAI as it seeks to grow market share for the T-50 globally and build on its successes in Indonesia, Iraq and the Philippines. We will also continue to support KAI on its T-X program for the United States Air Force.”

But even before that, Honeywell partnered with Korea-based Navcours in Sept. 2015 to produce and maintain Honeywell’s TALIN inertial navigation system in Korea. The TALIN system works for vehicles and artillery and enables them to navigate very precisely even when GPS satellite guidance is unavailable. Navcours is a Korean defense company that specializes in navigation systems.

Honeywell Aerospace’s Boeing 757 test aircraft readies to take reporters on a test flight at the company’s hangar in Phoenix, Arizona’s Sky Harbor airport on May 11.

Honeywell licensed the design, hardware and expertise to assemble, test and build TALIN production kits to Navcours. The Korean government, specifically the Korea Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), wants small companies like this to gain the expertise to create jobs and enable faster production and maintenance turnaround in critical defense-related industries such as this one. And Honeywell helped Navcours accomplish that objective.

“Since 2013, DAPA has supported more than 100 domestic defense-related SMEs by implementing a consulting program named SmAll Day in order to promote SMEs’ participation in offset programs,” said Gi-in Han, director of the Offset Division at DAPA. “Navcours is one of the beneficiaries of this consulting program, and this offset program is especially meaningful in that a competent SME has been identified and export of its manufactured defense products is also secured. DAPA will continue to make every effort to promote and activate participation of SMEs in offset programs.”

Navcours was enabled by this partnership to secure an US$80 million deal with HanhwaTechwin to deliver over 1,000 TALIN navigation systems to artillery pieces owned by the Korean army by 2017. The company has made it.

Falling Behind

In a ranking of the best airlines for in-flight WiFi by Gizmodo last year, no Korean airline companies even got on the list. For a country like Korea that prides itself on its fast Internet connectivity, that is hard news to take. Perhaps Honeywell and Korean Air should have a little talk, maybe do a little technology transfer. Their customers will certainly appreciate it.