|By Gulshan Luthra||Published: August 2017|
New Delhi. It was a nice flight recently on board Honeywell’s Boeing 757 Flight Tests Aircraft to see the company’s new high speed satellite connectivity innovation.
Everybody wants to be connected these days, through mobile phones and tablets for personal reasons like love for someone in the family or a friend, and indeed for work. And the first thought that came to my mind while flying on this plane for nearly an hour was the 1970s song by John Paul Young and Tom Jones ‘Love is in the Air.’
Young ones and elders, particularly those in their teens and twenties and thirties are often seen everywhere literally swiping their fingertips on keyboards all the time to connect with their loved ones. A passenger could sing, nearly real time – satellite connectivity does delay communication a bit – Love is in the Air or whatever to his or her family and friends.
I myself used onboard wi-fi, and was able to call my grandchild for a small chat during the flight into Rajasthan after taking off from New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA)
Connectivity onboard flights, which has been slow, or not available, has been an issue but from now on Honeywell and Inmarsat are resolving this with their hardware and software.
WhatsApp, Google, our office emails, all were easily accessible from my iPhone and Blackberry.
Neelu Khatri, a former Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who is now President Aerospace for Honeywell India, pointed out that uninterrupted connectivity is required for flight operations, civil and military, and Honeywell is about innovations with presence on nearly everything that flies, from aircraft to spacecraft, with some piece of its equipment.
Aircraft connectivity is crucial for pilots and ground control, and in this age of mobile phone connectivity, equally important for passengers. Businesswise also, the potential in the coming years globally, would be around US$ five, six or seven billion.
Neelu, as the pleasant young lady is known among friends, patiently answered all questions, showed the bank of computer consoles and a dish onboard the aircraft to invited journalists and earlier, civil aviation and airline officials. “It’s about future, just as Honeywell is,” she said with a smile.
Sasi Kancharia, or Sunny as he is known, gave details of various systems on board, saying that the computers and antenna and receivers could easily be fitted onboard all aircraft.
Asked if the high speed connectivity, a step farther from what exists today, would help in preventing mishaps like that of the missing Malaysian MH 370 jetliner, he replied it certainly would help but only if the aircraft are connected with some communication satellite, particularly those operated by Inmarsat which provides connectivity to the ships over the vast oceans.
An expert on air traffic modernisation, Sunny said that in the coming years, the number of satellites would increase leading to better and wider connectivity all over.
The Honeywell-Inmarsat venture would actually help an airline save costs by informed decisions like selecting best routes and navigation, cutting on flight delays, and everything that efficient communication can do in personal and technological terms.
Singapore Airlines, which is generally the first to adopt any innovation, has already opted for Honeywell’s new system.