Charting the Path to Sustainable Aviation: Honeywell’s Innovations and Initiatives in Energy Transition
Honeywell spokesperson: Mohammed Mohaisen, President & CEO, Middle East, and North Africa
1. With Honeywell moving towards Energy Transition and technology for the Aviation and Aerospace sectors, what initiatives are being done in the UAE and the MENA regions?
The UAE, alongside other nations across the MENA region, has made clear its commitment to long-term sustainability goals, as part of a national vision in which technology is at the heart of advancements in safety, security, predictivity, productivity, and efficiency of critical industries. This includes the region’s aviation sector and reflects the changing role innovation is playing at a global level.
The Middle East boasts of some of the worlds most advanced airplane fleets, and numerous hub airports that employ cutting edge technologies. Its operators are known for demonstrating latest advances in technology, exemplified by Emirates’ recent biofuel flight on a Boeing 777-300ER, which saw one of the aircraft’s engines and its Honeywell Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) powered by 100% biofuel.
Honeywell’s approach to sustainability is threefold. We work with customers to apply data to make changes that can enable meaningful impact toward sustainability metrics. We innovate to create new and more sustainable solutions and to adapt existing solutions to be more efficient. We also enable the adoption of alternative fuel sources. In doing so, we provide customers access to ready-now proven technology today while also innovating for the future of aviation, driving advancements that will help enable more sustainable operations both onboard the airplane and across the airport infrastructure.
We also offer airports in the region decades of experience combined with proven, advanced technologies that address both current and future needs. Honeywell and Riyadh Airports Company signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the use of Honeywell technologies to enable integration and automation at King Khalid International Airport (KKIA). The technology aims to help deliver on key outcomes including operational efficiency, uptime and continuity, sustainability, and the passenger experience.
2. How significant is the Middle East and the UAE to Honeywell’s growth strategy?
Honeywell has a long history of presence and partnerships in the Middle East. We understand the region and its economic objectives, which we support through localization of world-class technology and talent. The MENA region is one of the strongest growth regions globally for Honeywell, driven by a combination of its visionary leadership, focus on innovation-led growth and, increasingly, its ambitious commitments with regards to sustainability.
That’s why our operations across the region span everything from advanced R&D, to product development, product testing, and customer training, with key locations including Masdar Innovation Center and Customer Solutions Center in Abu Dhabi, the Honeywell Technology Experience Center and Honeywell Industrial Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Dubai, and Customer Solutions Center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, as well as a number of local production facilities across Saudi Arabia for the localization of innovative solutions for the oil and gas sector, among others.
3. Where is Honeywell’s R&D mostly focused?
Sustainability is at the core of our R&D. A total of 60% of Honeywell’s R&D is dedicated to technologies that improve environmental and social outcomes for our customers. For aviation, our technology remains focused on advancing connectivity to help customers to conquer and apply data to make changes to their operations. We also believe that sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is the easiest way to get to carbon neutrality on an aircraft and we are proud to be a key technology enabler for the development of SAF.
Our teams are creating new technologies to meet our customers’ sustainability goals in new, innovative ways. But we’re also evolving existing technologies to help them operate more efficiently today. For example, our new High-Efficiency Mode upgrade for our 131-9B APU for the Boeing 737 aircraft which is designed to provide fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions while increasing time-on-wing.
Looking ahead, we are researching hydrogen’s role in aviation, and we are excited about the possibilities. In the coming years and decades, we are going to see more work done in hydrogen to scale this to commercial platforms that we fly today.
4. What are some examples of the most disruptive technologies you have introduced to the aviation market?
We recently launched several exciting technologies that we are very excited about. Honeywell’s Anthem integrated flight deck is ushering in an unprecedented era of connectivity in the aviation industry, increasing flight safety with a design as intuitive as a smartphone and packed with industry-leading safety features. One of the key attributes of Anthem is its ability to fit any aircraft. It rises to meet the complexity and needs of modern aviation, and then leaps forward to set a new path for the future of flight. It recently achieved its first flight on Honeywell’s Pilatus test aircraft and will be at the heart of many advanced air mobility vehicles.
On the landside, the Honeywell NAVITAS™ software suite platform is driving greater visibility and helping airport operators and air navigation service providers make more informed and accurate decisions across airside operations – from approach to gate. The latest updates enable automation and digitalization of air traffic services to help achieve efficient ground movement, improve situational awareness, control and monitoring of airside and Air Traffic Management (ATM) equipment, information management and integration.
5. The GenZ travelers, who grew up with heightened awareness of climate change and global crises, needs more promising catering. Do your solutions promise to shape their future?
Honeywell’s innovative technologies aim to deliver higher levels of safety, security, efficiency, and connectivity across the passenger experience – with sustainability in mind now and for the future. Tomorrow’s aircraft will be powered by ultraclean electric, hybrid-electric, and hydrogen-burning propulsion and onboard power systems that use hydrogen, SAF or both, instead of fossil fuels. Flight operations will be more efficient, too. Operators will use advanced connectivity technologies, on and off the aircraft, to enable more efficient use of airspace, runways, and airports, even as passenger numbers soar. Technology will help optimize routes, making airline travel faster and more efficient, improving on-time performance and reducing fuel consumption. Essentials like hydrogen and SAF will be readily available worldwide to support sustainable flight operations. Honeywell’s technology will support these advancements at every stage.
6. Can we look to achieving the Net-Zero 2050?
The future looks promising, but it is going to take a coordinated effort for us to get there, in which multiple technologies sit at the heart. Success will require a roadmap that balances long and short-term sustainability goals with ongoing operational requirements, technology-led advancements that will enable and track the reduced environmental impact and close partnerships with all stakeholders along each step of the journey. This includes commitment from the public sector to drive climate accountability and continued evolution of regulatory frameworks that supports sustainability-led innovation. It also requires a global energy sector that will drive forward a sustainable energy transition using the right technologies to do it equitably and at scale. And it will require end users across all sectors to keep to their climate commitments by investing in technology that makes their operations more profitable while also ensuring their environmental footprint is reduced.
Aviation may only contribute a relatively small proportion of global emissions, but it is a sector that is seen as hard to decarbonize, and one that is set to grow. That is why airlines, aircraft manufacturers and technology companies – like Honeywell – are devoting considerable time and resources now to find the best ways to deliver the air-travel experience we all crave, which is one that is safe, efficient, economical and, crucially, more sustainable. Our own commitment to achieving carbon neutrality in our operations by 2035 informs how we work with our customers to meet their net zero targets. We’re in this journey together and we will continue to bring ready now game changing technologies to aviation.