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Bigger Airports and Flights in the Sunshine: How COVID is Changing the Way Air Cargo Flies

Bigger Airports and Flights in the Sunshine: How COVID is Changing the Way Air Cargo Flies

John-Paul Gorsky, known to his colleagues simply as JP, is a former Navy pilot who now leads sales for Honeywell’s air transport products. He works closely with some of the world’s biggest cargo companies, helping to increase their capacity.

We recently sat down with JP to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting air cargo operators:

Q: Please tell us about your background in the aviation industry.

A:  I’ve been around aviation all my career and started as a Navy pilot immediately after college. I flew several different types of missions, including flying a C-130 cargo aircraft all over North America and Europe.

My academic background is in computer science and engineering. My entire career has been around computers, and today’s avionics are effectively special-purpose computers.

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected cargo operators?

A: One of the first things that happened during the pandemic was the need to move large amounts of materiel from where it was stored to where it needed to go. Cargo was called upon to fill that role.

After that, the ceasing of passenger operations exacerbated the need for cargo. This pandemic has shifted commerce in general (toward e-commerce), and that has accelerated the trend. Now a lot more people want things brought to their homes.

As a result, cargo aircraft and operators are working in airspaces and during times of day that they perhaps didn’t do before.

Cargo flights usually occurred overnight when the airspace is less crowded. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore. Similarly, cargo airlines and operators that have usually operated at secondary or tertiary airports are now being called upon to operate at the busiest airports worldwide.”

One of the essential things changing as their mission profile is expanding is that cargo operators are very interested in getting the aircraft close to par with their passenger counterparts.

That means upgrades to the flight management system because there is value in moving aircraft through the terminal area faster with Required Navigation Performance approach and CPDLC or Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications.

Other examples include upgrading the weather radar to provide the most advanced tactical info. Convective (storm) activity is more prominent during daylight hours. Having a state-of-the-art radar has a different value proposition now that (cargo flights) are alongside aircraft during the day.

Q:  How does Honeywell and its technology come into play with the air cargo industry?

A: Well, for example, look at what we’re doing for the Boeing 757 and 767, two workhorses of the cargo fleet. Many generations of Honeywell flight management systems have been on these platforms and provided increasing automation and take full advantage of airspace modernization.

For air cargo specifically, where and how these aircraft operate has changed. The requirement for state-of-the-art FMS functionality has increased, particularly in the last few years with the introduction of CPDLC.

That is what led to the development of Honeywell’s Pegasus II upgrade; it’s the latest evolution of the FMS for 757s and 767s.

This type of innovation equips aircraft for today’s modern airspace and can serve the aircraft for several more decades. If you look at the major cargo operators in the US, they plan on operating their current platforms at least 30-40 more years. The Pegasus II represents not only an FMS for today’s aerospace, but one that can evolve and support new demands that emerge in the coming decades.

Q: Reliability is a crucial factor for air cargo operators. How has Honeywell addressed this concern?

A: Here’s an example: Equipment like the IntuVue RDR-4000 weather radar represent a step-change as far as automating a lot of the processes that provide tactical weather avoidance for the crew. And because it’s a more modern system, it offers things like a dual-redundant antenna drive.

There’s an opportunity to have a redundancy level that didn’t exist with some legacy radars and to address reliability issues for cargo operators. The RDR-4000 enables aircraft to be available and dispatchable with a single radar or antenna drive failure.

Q: As a technical expert for Honeywell, how do you interact with customers to improve their operations?

A: I work with customers alongside my colleagues all the time. Most recently, I’ve been helping one of the largest air cargo carriers evaluate the Pegasus II. I’ve spent a lot of time in flight simulators as customers have assessed different technologies. I help to develop scenarios to help verify the enhancements and improvements to the platforms.

As a former instructor pilot, I spent a lot of time developing training exercises for students, and having that experience as a flight instructor has directly helped in my current role.

Kyle Krone
Senior Marketing Communications Specialist
Kyle Krone is the Senior Marketing Specialist for Customer & Product Support within Honeywell Aerospace. Kyle joined Honeywell in June 2019 and focuses on how to improve the experience for and reputation with customers

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