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Honeywell In-Flight Satcom Demo Tour: BVLOS, Jetwave MCX, Aspire, and VersaWave

Honeywell In-Flight Satcom Demo Tour: BVLOS, Jetwave MCX, Aspire, and VersaWave

There simply is no substitute for seeing and experiencing new technology firsthand. That was the whole idea behind a trip the Honeywell connectivity team took to the Asia Pacific region in late February and early March to demonstrate our breakthrough resilient and secure beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) satellite communications capabilities with Jetwave MCX, Aspire, L-Band, VersaWave and Airtime Services products.

We flew to Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore before culminating the demonstration tour at the Avalon Airshow in Australia. In all, we showcased our Satcom solutions on demonstration flights for more than 250 people across the region.

Our team met with representatives of military organizations, aircraft manufacturers, current and potential partners, and media outlets, among others. They all jumped at the chance to fly with us and see and personally experience our ready-now resilient BVLOS satellite communication solutions in action.


Honeywell Testbed Loaded with Satcom Systems

It’s great to be part of a dedicated team of pilots, engineers and sales professionals and it’s a lot of fun to show off Honeywell’s leading edge connected aircraft technologies for our customers and other interested people from across the aerospace industry. A lot of great people do a lot of great work to make these demonstrations possible, but seeing the interest and excitement on our passengers’ faces makes it all worthwhile.

Along for the ride – or more accurately providing the ride – was one of our team’s most valuable assets. It’s Honeywell’s one-of-a-kind Boeing 757 flying testbed, which we use to develop, test and demonstrate Honeywell solutions like aircraft engines, weather radar and, of course, satellite communications systems.

On this trip, we were all set up to demonstrate the latest in our BVLOS technology using several of our most advanced Satcom systems including the JetWave MCX, developed to meet the specific needs of military operators for BVLOS communications that are global, secure, multinetwork, multi-orbit and highly resilient. Also onboard was our Aspire 350 and Aspire 400 next-generation cockpit Satcom systems for voice and data communications.

Our guests enjoyed looking around the aircraft and seeing the hardware stacked in test racks in the cabin, which looks a lot like a busy engineering lab on most flights. This was a great opportunity for them to see and discuss the hardware and its performance. They also got a sense of its size, weight and power requirements, which was very useful for assessing which solutions fit on which platforms, and what is better suited for each type of mission.

During the flights we flew missions designed to demonstrate in a real-world environment how Honeywell and Inmarsat enable military and government aircraft to use our resilient BVLOS communications capabilities to stay connected in every phase of flight by switching seamlessly between satellite networks. We showed how our portfolio of Satcom solutions provides a PACE capability, which is vital for military operations where lives may depend on the availability of robust communications.


Technology Keeps PACE with Military Needs

PACE stands for “Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency.” We started each briefing with a high-level analogy using an example everyone can relate to – a cell phone. Cell phones use a primary network, 5G, when it’s available. When it’s not, the phone uses the alternate 4G/LTE network, then the 3G contingency network, followed by an emergency alternative such as 2E and Wi-Fi networks.

This analogy helped our passengers understand PACE in a military operational environment, which we mimicked during our demonstration flight regime. We conducted live Microsoft Teams calls using JetWave MCX (40 Mbps to the aircraft, 3 Mbps from the aircraft) and the Inmarsat Global Xpress Ka-band satellite network in the first mission (primary) phase.

Throughout the mission scenario, we moved between satellite networks on the L-Max, SwiftBroadband networks to simulate how the system will constantly search out and connect to the best-available network to deliver seamless global connectivity.

We also pushed video feed from onboard cameras down to the ground using L-band L-MAX capabilities through the HSD-400 high-speed data transceiver and SCPC satellite modem. This is a new solution providing an enhanced L-Band capability and boosting the average typical performance of the SwiftBroadband system from 500-600 Kpbs to around 1.9 Mbps to and from the aircraft (specific to this demonstration). This represents a game-changing step in capability for traditional L-Band systems.

The fact that people on the ground were able to watch the progress of these flights live illustrated how a secure, robust, high-capacity Satcom configuration can provide real-time HD video essential for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and airborne command and control missions.

We also encouraged our passengers to connect to the onboard Wi-Fi using their personal devices to make video calls and share data over the JetWave MCX Satcom, which proved the system can handle multiple sessions running seamlessly at the same time.

Feedback from participants was overwhelming positive about the live demonstrations, which showcased just how far BVLOS technology has come thanks to innovations pioneered by talented Honeywell and Inmarsat engineers.

As one senior executive from a leading aircraft manufacturer put it, “This opportunity is much better than receiving a PowerPoint presentation. Honeywell and Inmarsat were able to demonstrate that truly resilient airborne beyond visual line of sight communications capability is real and it’s available now.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Paul Page is the Honeywell Aerospace Technical Sales Director for military wideband satellite communications, with responsibility for the Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East, Africa and India regions.  

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