Transfer of technology from military to commercial aerospace products is a well-recognised process, but some companies are seeing the trend reverse.
Walter McConnell, Honeywell's vice-president and general manager of Defense Avionics Systems, believes that the practice of applying advanced commercial aerospace technologies to military programmes will become more widespread. A prime example, says McConnell, is seen in technology developed for the Boeing 777 commercial airliner.
Honeywell, which is teamed with Lockheed Martin to bid for the US multi-service Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, is using the avionics platform that it developed for the 777 as the basis of its proposal for the JSF.
"The 777 systems has very good features, such as partitioned software, that are particularly well suited to something like the JSF," says McConnell. "Critical and non-critical software can be run in the same computer, which was not possible before, because we have been able to partition software.
"We have demonstrated that capability and it allows you to modify software for new applications without re-testing it."
In terms of cost and time, that can add up to substantial savings - an important factor in the JSF project and in military programmes in general, says McConnell.
McConnell says that in the JSF demonstrator aircraft that Lockheed Martin intends to build, if it is down-selected to that stage of the programme, the integrated modular avionics platform will share a high degree of commonality with that of the 777.
"This is a very important step," says McConnell. "This is different to what the military is used to, but it represents a great opportunity.
"I feel this is the beginning of a significant trend. With the accelerated technology of commercial electronics and the tightening of budgets in defence departments, we are seeing for the first time in a long time that it is commercial technology at the forefront."
Source: Flight Daily News