honeywell debuts new communications tech for helicopters
March 8, 2019
At this year’s HAI HELI-EXPO, Honeywell (NYSE: HON) introduced a new Mission Communications Terminal and the latest supplemental type certificate for the installation of the Aspire® 200 satellite communications system on the Bell B429.
“Our latest technologies and certifications are helping the helicopter market reach a level of connectivity it has never reached before,” said Rick Buchanan, senior director of Commercial Helicopters and Aftermarket Partners, Honeywell Aerospace. “For helicopter operators, Honeywell can provide a full suite of connectivity solutions that creates increased efficiency and more reliable transmission of data no matter the mission or platform.”
New Mission Communications Terminal
Honeywell’s new compact digital Mission Communications Terminal (MCT) satellite communications controller improves upon previous messaging and monitoring technology used by fleet operators. It does so via the addition of two-way texting and push-to-talk capabilities that make it easier to exchange information between flight dispatchers and aircraft. This enables a radio-like communications service regardless of distance. It also significantly improves safety by delivering weather and mission updates quickly, as well as saving money for operators by minimizing the need to make voice telephone calls.
Available for delivery in late spring, the MCT is the smallest satellite communications controller supporting all Iridium-based services, including tracking, messaging and push-to-talk. This provides more capabilities for existing and future customers, while taking up less room in the helicopter.
Air Methods, the largest emergency air medical service provider in the U.S., plans to upgrade its helicopters with the MCT controller to enhance flight data monitoring and satcom connectivity.
“Air Methods is a leader in evaluating and adopting enhanced safety products, and products that provide better operational efficiency for its helicopter fleet,” said Teri Short, vice president of Engineering, Air Methods. “Keeping an aircraft connected is critical in every mission. In one product, operators get a robust solution that provides access to talk and text, making sure that a helicopter can be tracked and communicate with home base from anywhere.”
Aspire 200 Supplemental Type Certificate
Honeywell is committed to bringing reliable connectivity services to the helicopter industry with the attainment of the Federal Aviation Administration-approved supplemental type certificate (STC) for the installation of the Aspire 200 satellite communications system. Honeywell was awarded an STC for the Bell B429, which joins the Leonardo AW139, the Airbus Helicopters H125 (formerly AS350) and the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk platforms with approved STCs.
The Aspire 200 satellite communication system is Honeywell’s smallest system for the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband network. It enables simultaneous voice and high-speed data connectivity at rates up to 650 kbps on all helicopter classes.
Helicopter operators can now enjoy the same level of connectivity as their fixed-wing counterparts without being impacted by the rotor blades. The system supports communication of real-time weather, video feeds from forward-looking infrared cameras or similar devices, and communications in flight.
The Aspire 200 system also supports seamless communications during helicopter travel or beyond-line-of-sight operations, which increases efficiency, allows for real-time security operations with streaming video, and lets emergency medical services operators transfer patient health data to a hospital.