Honeywell sees strong interest in satellite connectivity for helicopters, as well as for engine upgrades.

Derek Lockett, sales director for Honeywell in the Asia-Pacific, says that a major feature of its discussions with regional helicopter operators is satellite connecivity.

The need appears to be especially strong from operators of VIP helicopters.

Honeywell has developed a product called Aspire 200 that can be retrofited to existing types. Currently it is certificated for the Leonardo Helicopters AW139, but Honeywell hopes to certiifcate nine addition types in 2017, and eight in 2018.

Hardware involved in the system includes a receiver on the helicopter's tail.

"One challenge is that satcom is line of sight," says Lockett. "Helicopter blades chop up the signal, causing disruptions, dropouts, and slow connections. We've been able to use a technology called interleaving where we can rebuild the signal. We now get much more robust and reliable signals at broadband speeds."

This provides connectivity of 1MBPS, allowing for high bandwidth applications such as video streaming and conferencing. The bandwidth can be shared by both the flight crew and passengers. The system allows prioritisation of traffic if, for example, a VIP is participating in a video conference or engaged in some other bandwidth intensive activity.

In addition, Lockett says helicopter engine upgrades are going well. Major engine upgrade initiatives include the LTS101-850B-2 engine upgrade for the Airbus Helicotpers BK117 and AS350 platforms, and the HTS900 upgrade for the Bell 407.