How fly is Honeywell?

March 10, 2016 | Author: Andrew St. Juste

Honeywell has been in the aerospace industry for more than 100 years. Many of the engineers and employees are patent holders and have developed some of the most advanced systems in the entire industry. So how does the leading name in aerospace fly? I headed down to the flight test department where the chief test pilot gave me a tour.

Honeywell flies a very balanced fleet, including two Gulfstream G550’s, Gulfstream 650, Dassault Falcon 7X, Dassault Falcon 900EX, Bombardier Challenger 300, and an AgustaWestland AW139. We also fly a few smaller turboprop planes - a King Air and Convair 580. Last, but not least, is the most important part of the fleet, the Boeing 757 test plane.

The legendary 757 plane is integral to the development and quality testing of Honeywell’s products and services. Each new product is custom fitted to the aircraft and can include anything from new avionics and services to engine and product testing. (The picture shown is testing a new engine which is attached to the top of the plane on a custom arm.) The B757 is usually our launch plane where the latest and greatest technology is explored. Most recently it was used to complete the JetWave™ GX supplemental type certificate (STC)  testing where the FAA approved Jetwave installations on all Boeing 757 airplanes.

The flight operations team starts with three pilots who man the 757 flying laboratory as well as the other test planes. Flight operations racks up approximately 100 tests and 300 + flight hours a year! All flights consist of two pilots and an IT technician.The remaining crew varies and is dependent on the products tested and number of engineers needed to record and monitor the data. The flight list is usually capped at 12 people. Depending on the equipment or parts that need testing, the flights may go around the world or be a simple up and down trip. The longer trips usually fly in eight hour legs, where every eight hours they land, re-fuel and check on the status of the installed test equipment. Most recently a test flight to Asia was completed to test satellite communications components internationally.

There are three primary facets that flight operations support:

  • Product development and testing
  • Certification process that provides federal approval to sell our products
  • Customer and marketing support which includes demonstrations, marketing collateral development and even topics for blogs

How Fly is Honeywell?

Inside, the test plane is completely stripped out and filled with multiple data centers and servers to record information collected during testing. With a 757 at our disposal, I imagine we test every idea engineers can cook up. However, due to flight costs, there are stringent requirements that must be met before any product owner can get their product tested. With the rise in 3D modeling and CAD systems, the flight ops teams pushes the engineers to exhaust all the digital options before they take any product up to 30,000 feet. Aside from new product testing, they also do extensive quality assurance. Flying products to ensure accuracy and safety before delivery. Imagine if Apple tested iPhones for six months, continuously calling and texting before release. There would probably be fewer errors. Special thanks to the flight ops team for the tour and we’ll see you in the clouds.


Andrew St Juste

Andrew St Juste

Andrew is a Senior Specialist for Marcom here at Honeywell, with a focus on channel partners and short term sales. He has previous experience at a major technology company, enjoys writing, and is a board member of a non-profit in Haiti.

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