Synthetic vision, inertial navigation systems, and NextGen key technology drivers for avionics industry, says Honeywell leadership

Posted by John McHale
PARIS AIR SHOW BLOG, 20 June 2011. Key technology drivers for the avionics industry over the next few years will be the implementation of synthetic vision technology, GPS technology for NextGen and SESAR air traffic management systems, and the continued use of inertial navigation systems (INS) as the back-up for satellite navigation systems, says Mike Madsen, president of space and defense for Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix. Madsen says synthetic vision technology is creating a lot of excitement in the business jet market, which is starting to turn around . Madsen made his comments during an interview at the Paris Air Show today.

The largest change in avionics is being driven by air traffic management overhauls in Europe and the U.S. -- with governments investing billions in the technology.
There are several pieces that must come together for Europe's SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) and the U.S. NextGen (Next Generation air
Transportation System) to work -- equipage in the airplanes, rules and protocols and regulatory cooperation between different countries, Madsen says. The last part will be the most difficult, he adds.
It will be important also that both SESAR and NextGen have similar rules and standards just to help with pilot training, Madsen says. The airlines are anxious about this, but in the end it should be implemented, he continues.
Even though satellite navigation is the future of air traffic management, INS technology will not go away, Madsen says. There is even more of a need for it now, as there will be times when the GPS signal will not be available and pilots will need a back-up technology and that back-up will be INS, he says.
The future for INS is strong as the commercial avionics as a whole, Madsen says. There is especially high demand in aftermarket systems, he adds. "The backlog at Boeing and Airbus is at an all time high" and because many avionics suppliers who are installed on those aircraft will see their business really pick up once those orders are utilized, Madsen explains.
India and China together represent the biggest growth area long term for commercial aviation with the Middle East not far behind, Madsen says. "The Middle East is increasingly becoming an important hub not just for air travel but for maintenance as well."
Business aviation has also recovered, notably in the mid-size category, "which was hit the hardest during the recession," he continues.
Synthetic vision technology is really in demand in this market segment as well, Madsen says. He adds that the technology will also be migrating quickly to helicopter applications such as air ambulances due to its safety efficiency.
The military is also looking into it in more of a "grass roots effort as there is no program of record" for synthetic vision at this time, Madsen says.


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