Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Honeywell is showing airlines a software suite that promises to reduce substantially the knock-on effects of delays caused by air traffic control (ATC) or weather.

The company is conducting simulations with major North American carriers and hopes to launch formally the "airline resynchronisation system" later this year, says Bob Johnson, president of Honeywell's aerospace business. "It should be working in less than two years," he says.

Johnson says detailed studies by Honeywell show that most delay causes can be addressed by the airlines. Hold-ups caused by weather and ATC account for about 14% of the total disruption to an airline's schedule, he says. Most are caused by knock-on effects on the airline's schedule-driven services, from in-flight catering to maintenance.

The schedule disruptions that follow an ATC or weather delay result from the inability of different operational elements within an airline to share information, Honeywell says. Its new system consists of a software suite that allows the airline to run "what if?" scenarios to identify the quickest way to recover from a delay.

"Most delays are caused by a lack of data, because the systems are unconnected," Johnson says. "We can bring in the tools that let them connect previously unconnected processes, in return for a share of the savings." Honeywell estimates delays and cancellations cost airlines $3 billion a year. "That is our profit pool," he says.

Johnson says the concept combines the factory scheduling experience of Honeywell with the broad aerospace expertise resulting from its merger with AlliedSignal. This enables the company to offer airlines "gate-to-gate" support, encompassing pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight operations. "This is a 'surround' system," he says.

Honeywell is looking at ways to market the system. The likely approach will involve a partnership with the airline that will allow the company to share in the cost savings generated by the resynchronisation system.

Honeywell's system will target the same operational problems as Rockwell Collins' Integrated Information System (I²S), which is undergoing trials with German charter airline Condor. I²S is also intended to provide a fully integrated, end-to-end communication system for airlines, aimed at reducing operational costs and minimising disruptions.

Source: Flight International