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Strengthening the Supply Lines: Honeywell Tech Helps Cargo Airlines Keep the World Moving

Honeywell Tech Helps Cargo Airlines Keep the World Moving

When it must be there, ship it by air.

Air cargo has become an important lifeline as the COVID-19 virus shuts down communities and disrupts supply lines worldwide. Cargo aircraft are rushing medical supplies to hard-hit areas, supplementing food shipments and enabling people to stay safe by shopping from home. Some airlines are flying cargo in their passenger cabins due to the demand.

Honeywell plays a key role in keeping cargo aircraft flying, and in recent years it has rolled out upgrades that are paying off now in increased capacity. They include:

Smarter cockpits for cargo

Many cargo operators fly older flight management systems with limited memory. This can require them to maintain and load multiple databases for different regions. That wastes precious time, especially when aircraft are shuttling supplies to multiple regions in a single day. 

To solve this problem, Honeywell developed its Pegasus II Upgrade to boost the memory capacity and functionality of FMSes in Boeing 757s and 767s. The company recently sold 16 of these upgrades to a major cargo carrier.

Honeywell is also developing cockpit retrofits for Airbus A300s in the UPS fleet, bringing the state-of-the-art technology of our Primus Epic flight deck system to these cargo workhorses.

The upgrade adds new features like localizer with vertical guidance approaches, known as LPV approaches. These allow more accurate guidance at airports without ground-based instrument landing systems.

Keeping cargo crews connected

Honeywell communication systems deliver weather and route information to the cockpit and keep far-flung crews connected to home base and their families. 

Honeywell’s SmartSky system uses cell phone networks and a small antenna to deliver Internet when flying over land. Honeywell’s JetWave satellite system works over land and sea.

The company has been upgrading the software of Communications Management Units on Boeings and the Air Traffic Services Units on Airbuses. This improves airline operational control datalinks with dispatchers, known as AOC. In addition to improving service, the upgraded software also saves airlines money on airtime.

As aircraft taxi up to the gate, Honeywell’s Aircraft Data Gateway downloads information from the flight data recorder and Central Maintenance Computer and uploads databases and software updates, enabling faster turnaround.

Handling packages, protecting workers

Honeywell also makes the systems that handle and track packages: barcode scanners, handheld computers, labels, high-speed label printers, Vocollect voice recognition headsets and more. Honeywell also makes personal protective equipment to keep workers safe.

Honeywell has been able to bundle these products with its other systems to save cargo carriers money.

Predicting maintenance needs

Honeywell Forge crunches the data streaming from aircraft components to anticipate maintenance needs, a key concern for cargo airlines that may only have a few hours of downtime to service dozens of planes before the 3 a.m. freight runs begin. The same system delivers advice on routes and power settings to help cargo airlines squeeze the most out of their airplanes.

Lighting up the night

Nighttime is peak time for cargo flights, so powerful and reliable lights are critical for these aircraft.

Honeywell’s LED aircraft lights last longer than traditional bulbs, reducing maintenance costs by up to 70 percent. They also reduce fuel burn because of their lower weight and drag.

Lab tests show Honeywell’s lights are also brighter than competing LEDs, increasing the visibility of planes in flight and boosting safety on the ground. Because of this, a major package carrier just chose Honeywell for its fuselage anti-collision lights.

Turning wrenches

Many cargo carriers depend on Honeywell shops and maintenance service plans to keep aircraft in the air. That includes overhauls of the auxiliary power units on Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

Last year the company expanded its services for carriers in Latin America by opening a new avionics service center in São José dos Campos, Brazil.

Cargo airlines often go unrecognized: they work at night, unseen by passengers, loading and unloading from parts of the airport where most people never go. They fly cargo for a multitude of better-known brands.

But the coronavirus pandemic has put a spotlight on their work, and Honeywell technology is a key part of it. As cargo airlines look to optimize their aircraft and operations, Honeywell stands ready to help.

Chris Hawley
Director of Marketing, New Technologies

Chris Hawley leads marketing for new technologies at Honeywell Aerospace, helping to introduce customers to the company’s latest advances in aviation, directed energy, materials and other fields.

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