Honeywell is in hot pursuit of a new family of cockpit aids to help airline pilots better manage the takeoff and landing phase of their flights.
The avionics maker is close to rolling out a takeoff performance alert software upgrade as part of its enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS), and is in the midst of researching a more comprehensive upgrade that will include a dedicated visual display to help pilots manage aircraft energy during takeoff and landing.
The technology is directed at the growing problem of runway excursions, both from flawed approaches and problematic takeoffs.
Boeing data on accidents between 2003 and 2012 show that 16% of accidents occurred in the takeoff and initial climb area, with runway excursions after a high-speed rejected takeoff a key factor.
In an Airbus study of incidents and accidents between 1985 and 2010, overruns ranked number one, accounting for 400 of the roughly 1,000 reported incidents. Airbus also found that the rate of “landing roll incidents,” which includes excursions, hard landings, incursions, loss-of-control and other causes, has been steadily increasing at about one per year since 1985.
While Honeywell is already marketing excursion preventatives in the form of its SmartRunway or SmartLanding systems, both add-ons to EGPWS, the new performance monitors will be the first to give pilots a visual real-time prediction of runway performance based on the aircraft’s expected acceleration or deceleration, weight, braking action, winds, reported runway conditions and other factors.
“The key challenge is all taking into account all the different operational variables required to generate the alert,” says Ratan Khatwa, senior chief engineer for human factors at Honeywell Aerospace. “This was considered when the A380 and the 777 were on drawing board but problems with nuisance alerts were the key thing holding back the introduction.”
Where The Airplane Will Land
For aircraft equipped with the option, SmartLanding already provides too high, too fast, unstable and long-landing callouts if the aircraft’s energy state is too high for the length of the runway, alerts for the most part meant to initiate go-arounds. If the aircraft lands anyway, the system provides distance-remaining callouts.