Business & GA, Commercial, Connectivity, Embedded Avionics, Military

Connectivity Prompts Honeywell Lab to Test EMI

By Juliet Van Wagenen | December 19, 2014
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[Avionics Today 12-19-2014] Honeywell has partnered with the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) to design, develop and build a new high-technology laboratory in Puerto Rico to test Electromagnetic Interference (EMI). As aircraft become more and more entrenched in connectivity, it also becomes necessary to know exactly how electromagnetic forces, such as those from Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs), will interfere with aviation. Honeywell’s new facility aims to scrub up some of the uncertainty surrounding electronics and provide a clear picture of how and when EMI is an issue for both operators and regulators.

Bahrain International Airport
Bahrain International Airport. Photo: Bahrain International Airport

“In the aerospace industry, EMI refers to electromagnetic forces that disrupt the function of aircraft equipment. To counteract EMI from uncertain atmospheric conditions, the increasing use of personal electronic devices, and a growing amount of complex equipment aboard aircrafts, the FAA and aviation industry continue to research EMI and test the Electromagnetic Capability (EMC) of equipment,” Bob Smith, vice president of engineering and chief technology officer at Honeywell Aerospace, said in an interview with Avionics Magazine. “This research will ensure the safety, security and performance of aviation solutions.”

Specifically, the 73,000-square-foot laboratory will be testing electromagnetic compatibility with products Honeywell designs for navigation, electromechanical and cockpit systems. The company hopes to add an extra layer of verification as to the safety of these products, ensuring reliability. While this is beneficial in the way of their own products, researchers hope to help regulators better understand EMI as well.

“We plan to influence specific guidelines that address the issue of EMI in the aerospace industry once the high-technology laboratory is in place,” Smith said. “It will be critical to ensure testing parameters are clearly identified to help regulators understand the types of EMI testing performed, test results and descriptions of how EMI interactions were handled.”

The need to connect shows no signs of slowing down, as a 2014 Honeywell survey on In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) reports that 66 percent of passengers say their flight selection is influenced by a Wi-Fi offering. As technologies take to the skies and evolve to deliver faster, more reliable and more secure Internet connections in-flight — particularly on smartphones, laptops and tablets — the need to understand the impact becomes imperative.

“The expectation of continuous connectivity is a reality for today’s travellers,” said Smith. “As a result, Honeywell Aerospace continues to invest in developing solutions that directly address safety and security issues.”

Alongside PRIDCO, Honeywell has been collaborating with local universities in Puerto Rico to recruit new and effective talent to the facility when construction is complete in October 2015. These jobs offer another advantage to the facility, as much to the aerospace supplier as to the region itself.

“We chose Puerto Rico for this project based on several considerations, including its compliance with all federal regulations for defense activities, economic incentives, and the opportunity to collaborate with local universities to develop new talent,” Smith said. “The project represents an important milestone for the growing Puerto Rico aerospace industry and the local economy overall. This facility will help create job opportunities for dozens and stimulate economic activity for several local contractors and suppliers.”

This is the second aerospace facility that Honeywell will build in the region and Smith confirms that it will consider more opportunities should they align with Honeywell Aerospace incentives. In the meantime, the company will focus on breaking ground with new EMI research. “The EMI laboratory will help advance all sectors of the aerospace industry — from business to commercial and military,” said Smith.

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