Honeywell is rolling out an analytics platform, Forge, that will provide operators with a holistic approach to mission management from connectivity, to flight operations, navigation databases, and maintenance. The Forge platform evolved from what had formerly been known as Honeywell’s GoDirect portfolio, building on connectivity and data services with an integrated approach that enables operators to manage multiple aspects of a flight from end-to-end through a single dashboard
“Honeywell Forge is a powerful suite of technologies that enable operators to prevent problems and have ongoing visibility into their fleet status in real time," said John Peterson, vice president and general manager of software and services at Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Aerospace. "This information helps them focus on their work with the assurance that any issues will immediately be brought to their attention.”
Through the dashboard, flight departments can see and fix issues as they arise and have a better understanding of fleet operations, Honeywell said. The end result will be lower costs to the operator. “We're going to take the tens of thousands—up to $100,000—[it costs] to collect information on an aircraft, and we're going to turn it into low-thousands of dollars,” he said.
The dashboard is customized to the operator and provides alerts enabling directors of maintenance and flight operations to know where each aircraft in the fleet is at a given moment.
It further provides real-time views of connectivity issues, changes in flight plans, navigation database availability, and maintenance events. If there is a connection issue, it is flagged, and the operator can take a deeper look to determine service and satellite coverage areas to see if it is an area that has weaker coverage or whether the service was turned off or has a problem. It also provides a view of ongoing streaming or other heavy data use and whether an operator may be approaching limits. These capabilities can be used with different types of connectivity services.
Providing 24/7 support, Honeywell also has the capability of tracking issues and helping the operators troubleshoot them. “Our new portal incorporates many different services associated with flight-planning, datalink, and cabin [management],” Peterson said.
With the overlay of flight-planning services, operators can see things such as weather both locally and throughout the trip, he added. Forge is designed to accommodate the operator’s own flight-planning services, whether from Honeywell or another provider. He further said, “where we're going with scheduling and where we're going with maintenance is going to be so much better than what we've done so far.” Additionally, the portal provides security capabilities.
Honeywell unveiled Forge to its customer advisory board early last week and said the response was “overwhelming” with operators wanting it immediately and asking for as many capabilities as soon as possible with “a sense of urgency.” In fact, 100 operators have immediately signed on, but Peterson expects to have the company’s entire customer base moved over in the next several months.
The first release went live at the unveiling with initial capabilities. He added that the company will update it with new releases and added capabilities every six to 12 weeks. This will involve more integration and additional partners. “We're going to grow and develop this thing rapidly over the next 90 days.”
Peterson pointed to the launch of GoDirect in 2016, saying “It was an exciting launch for us. We really wanted to do something different for business aviation.” The service has provided alerts on connectivity to ensure operators “didn’t break the budgets” and a number of other tools for operators to control services. “We have saved operators hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, just by putting the information in their hands and giving them control.”
Forge expands on that based on customer feedback, he said, noting they were asking for services such as scheduling on the same platform. Operators have had to log in separately and use separate computers, smartphones, or other devices, to obtain that information. Customers also wanted flight-planning, but didn’t necessarily use Honeywell’s service, he further cited as an example.
“We started looking at this,” he said, "and realized how operators and Honeywell’s capabilities have matured in the areas of connectivity. Business aviation is really looking for something much more than just a service provider; just the megabytes and minutes.”