Home > Press > Latest Media Release
Latest Media Release
Contact Now
Please contact us to discuss your requirements and learn more about our solutions.

Phone: +86 21 51559030

Honeywell Sees Consolidation and Longer Path to Market for eVTOL Makers

Mar 28,2024

The next two years for the advanced air mobility (AAM) sector will see a wave of consolidation as some eVTOL aircraft developers drop out of the intense competition to make it to market, according to Honeywell Aerospace, a strategic partner and supplier to multiple new programs. Leaders with the U.S. group¡¯s Uncrewed Aircraft Systems/Urban Air Mobility business unit told journalists at a briefing in London on Friday that it does not expect to see air taxi operations launching until 2026, with another two years beyond then before these scale up significantly.

However, uncrewed middle-mile cargo services could be up and running by the end of this year or early 2025, according to the company¡¯s chief technology officer for AAM, Daniel Newman, who predicted a ¡°culling of [eVTOL program] offers.¡± During the briefing, he and product management director Sapan Shah demonstrated a ground control station Honeywell is developing to allow ¡°mission managers¡± to direct multiple flights simultaneously. The company believes eVTOL freighters will make same-day delivery a reality anywhere.

At least two U.S. eVTOL manufacturers are still committed to completing type certification by the end of this year, in time to start commercial flights in 2025. However, Honeywell sees plenty of work still to be completed before this point is reached.

For instance, Shah indicated that it could take another 12 months for both FAA and EASA regulations to be fully established. He also flagged uncertainties over available funding, the need for companies to conduct far more impactful community engagement, and a willingness to launch services using existing infrastructure because few purpose-built vertiports are likely to be ready.

Honeywell started its direct engagement with what was to become the AAM sector when it opened its uncrewed aircraft systems center of excellence back in 2017. Then in March 2020, it established a fully-fledged business unit with a dedicated laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona, and a remit to tap and repurpose technologies from across the group for new applications.

Some of the electric aircraft manufacturers it is supporting include Archer, Pipistrel, Supernal, Volocopter, and Eve. It is also an investor in Vertical Aerospace, Lilium, and Volocopter, as well as being a key supplier to these eVTOL programs.

Honeywell is adapting technology already applied in sectors such as business aviation¡ªfor example, its Anthem flight deck, which will feature in Supernal¡¯s S-A2 aircraft. It is also directing a lot of effort to so-called simplified vehicle operations (SVO) that it says could pave the way for far less experienced pilots to be able to take the controls of eVTOL models. In fact, according to Shah, they might not even be designated as pilots in an approach that would significantly expand the gene pool of recruits for the new sector of air transport.

Increasing Automation, Not Rushing to Autonomy
Expanding the scope for increasingly automated flight is viewed as a necessity both in terms of safety and efficient operations. ¡°During hover, eVTOL vehicles will be very power-hungry, so they can¡¯t spend a lot of time doing that over a landing site,¡± Newman explained. ¡°So we need very intuitive displays so that highly skilled test pilots and 500-hour pilots can come to a full stop over the landing point each and every time because it¡¯s too expensive power-wise to stop the aircraft and adjust position just a few meters above the ground.¡±

Newman was eager to stress that Honeywell advocates a gradual approach to flight automation. ¡°Autonomy [with no pilot on board] is an aspiration, and trying to jump ahead to autonomy is scaring some people and getting in the way [of progress],¡± he maintained. Existing regulations do not cover specific SVO requirements, but Honeywell and other partners are working to map these out as part of the FAA-funded Modernization of Special Airworthiness Certification (MOSAIC) project.

Beyond avionics, flight controls, and navigation sensors, Honeywell is also developing electric propulsion systems for new aircraft, as well as electro-mechanical actuators, connectivity systems, and thermal management systems. The actuators and propulsion systems will be integrated with fly-by-wire controls.

Shah said that, for its ground control station, the company¡¯s engineers have taken a lot of inspiration from the proven intuitive layout of consumer electronic devices. The concept is that each operator would be assigned missions from a fleet summary shown on one of three adjoining displays. They will manage all aspects of each flight remotely on the central screen and will be able to view the current status of each vehicle on the third screen.

The process starts with each flight plan being validated by the third-party uncrewed traffic management service provider. The mission controller can switch between flights on the screen and is alerted to any changes in flight or vehicle status by color-coded messaging on the screen.

© 2013 Galleon Corp. All Rights Reserved.