Honeywell launches new unit to develop UAM and UAS aircraft


Honeywell has launched a new business unit to develop the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM) sectors. Backed by Honeywell’s technology, software, services and certification expertise, the new unit will focus on a broad spectrum of applications.

Mike Madsen, President and CEO, Honeywell Aerospace, said: “Urban Air Mobility and Unmanned Aerial Systems will play an increasing role in the future of aerospace, with potential applications in all-electric urban air taxi vehicles, hybrid-electric unmanned cargo drones, optionally-piloted air planes, delivery drones and everything in between.”

Drawing on dedicated engineering and sales resources, the UAS business unit will develop new products and services focused on individual markets. It will also act as a systems integrator for all Honeywell products and services that could be used in this industry. Included within its remit will be: aircraft systems such as avionics, electric and hybrid-electric propulsion and thermal management, flight services such as unmanned air traffic management, and ground operations services, such as predictive aircraft maintenance analytics.

‘Single point of contact’

“Beyond technology development, this business will be a single point of contact for innovative aircraft designers or operators to easily do business with Honeywell,” according to the company.

Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager of the newly-formed business, said the new unite would re-enforce Honeywell’s position at the forefront of a new era in aviation. “By forming this new organisation, we will be able to harness the power of our engineering resources and know-how to transform urban air taxis, drone delivery of parcels and all forms of autonomous flight from a future vision into an everyday reality.”

Heavily focused on software development, key areas of development will be a ‘fly-by-wire’ autopilot system and detect and avoid algorithms. Read more details below.

‘Fly-by-wire’ autopilot system

The company pledged to continue its collaboration with other industry leaders such as Pipistrel, Vertical Aerospace, Volocopter and Jaunt Air Mobility. Discussions are also underway with customers designing other unmanned flight operations, such as drone package delivery.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Kirsten Bartok-Touw, MD Air Finance, told 600 delegates at Corporate Jet Investor’s online Town Hall meeting that the Covid-19 global pandemic was likely to encourage the development of UAM aircraft. “I’m as bullish as ever,” Bartok-Touw told delegates. “We do not want congestion. One of the interesting functions that will come out of Covid-19 is that people will probably live further away from city centres and they will need a way to get there there.” Listen to Bartok-Touw’s comments in full, together will all the other speakers, here.

Honeywell’s new UAS business unit: Project examples:

  • A ‘fly-by-wire’ autopilot system that automatically ensures aircraft stability even if the pilot is ‘hands off’ for long periods
  • Detect-and-avoid algorithms that automatically fly an aircraft around oncoming traffic
  • Artificial intelligence software that tracks landing zones for precise vertical landings.