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Four Ideas That Will Change Your Future Aviation Experience

Four Ideas That Will Change Your Future Aviation Experience

We all want to get to our destination faster, cheaper, with utmost safety, in reasonable comfort and, of course, with the least impact on the environment. That’s a pretty long shopping list but the aviation industry is working hard on a variety of tech fronts. Let’s take a look at four revolutionary developments in aircraft performance that are actually right around the corner.


One. Supersonic flight…for everyone!

The industry proved the technical feasibility of “faster than sound” flight in 1947 with the Bell X-1 rocket-powered research plane. And, as recently as 2003, thousands of fare-paying, OK, high-fare-paying Concorde passengers were taking advantage of Mach 2 intercontinental air travel. Of course there was that pesky sonic boom. As the Smithsonian’s Air & Space magazine pointed out, “In the politics of supersonic transport, ‘boom’ led to bust.”

However, in 2017, NASA and Honeywell completed a two-year test using our Primus Epic integrated avionics suite that integrated predictive software and cockpit display technology on a business jet cockpit. The test demonstrated how pilots can use display technology to predict where and how sonic booms generated by business jets flying faster than the speed of sound will impact populated areas on the ground within their flight path.

NASA has not set an official date for flight testing to begin with its Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) testbed, but the agency says it could begin as early as 2021. The mission objective for the low boom flight demonstration X-plane is to fly at supersonic speeds while generating a “soft bump,” instead of a sonic boom, according NASA.

Meanwhile, Colorado-based OEM Boom is using Honeywell avionics in its XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator aircraft and announced orders for 76 aircraft at the 2017 Paris Air Show.


Two. It’s all in the wing.

Almost 120 years ago the Wright Brothers came up with a revolutionary concept — well, it would have been revolutionary if there had been anything to revolt from — called “wing warping.” This is where the entire shape of the wing can change in flight and was quite an elegant concept of twisting, or warping, the wing structure itself . . . in its day. However, modern airfoils are designed for a specific mission, for example, short or long range, and are, therefore, not ideal for different route lengths.

But what if we could somehow morph a wing’s shape in-flight for optimal fuel burn and reduce the impact on the environment?

In fact, engineers over the past 30 years, have developed a range of technologies that can enable aircraft to attain the optimal wing shape, or even change shape, for the least possible fuel burn throughout the entire duration of each flight.

Jonathan Cooper of the University of Bristol (UK) points out that it could be many years before morphing becomes commonplace on the aircraft but “we are likely to see their use on much smaller aero structures in the near future.”

Should be quite a sight watching the wing shape-shift from the comfort of your window seat.


Three. Neural sensing: It’s all in your brain

Imagine the pilot of your aircraft simply thinking “bank right” and the aircraft banks right. Although it sounds like it’s right out of the latest Avengers movie (22, but who’s counting?), one of Honeywell’s advanced neuroscience research labs has developed algorithms to match what a human pilot is thinking to the controls in an aircraft.

The lab features a computer monitor hooked up to a neural sensing headset cap, which ultimately aims to allow pilots to control the aircraft using only their thoughts.

Four. Taxi! Taxi!

What’s your least favorite part of a flight? Is it the endless boarding process? Rummaging around to find an overhead space for your carry on? One big contender for the “Least Favorite” honor is probably taxiing along the runway. You’re neither flying nor standing still. And if you look out your window, you’ll notice a lot of other aircraft all vying for runway real estate.

But at Honeywell's flight simulator lab, engineers are researching and developing improvements to our SmartView synthetic vision software to aid pilots taxiing from one area of an airport to another. Honeywell’s Taxi View technology will provide a three-dimensional bird’s-eye representation of the taxiway. While taxiing, graphical information presented to the pilot on the display is increased at staggered intervals, and includes ground speed, altimeter setting and the navigation source.

This may not shorten your actual taxi time, but at least you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that your flight crew is “on top” of things.

Kathryn Kearney
Content Marketing Specialist
Katie Kearney is the global content marketing specialist for Honeywell Aerospace.


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