UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, hover over a Jalalabad Airfield landing zone in eastern Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2015. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Defense Department
Honeywell’s Aspire 200 in-flight Wi-Fi solution was awarded a supplemental type certificate by the FAA for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Airbus Helicopters AS350 in October. According to Honeywell, the Black Hawk nod came at a good time.
“The timing is ideal as the U.S. Army continues to sell surplus UH-60s to allied countries and other qualified commercial operators for a range of applications,” Honeywell said. “Many older Blackhawks ‘A’ models have been supplied to allied countries for use in military training and other government missions. Others are being converted for civilian uses as diverse as executive transportation, firefighting, law enforcement and air ambulance services.”
And no matter their new mission, the company continued, United Aero Group can fit the helicopters with the Wi-Fi system. United Aero Group is Honeywell’s channel partner. Honeywell said United Aero Group’s associate company, Arista Aerospace, operates an extensive aviation modification facility for multiple aircraft platforms and provided Honeywell with critical flight time aboard a UH-60 to complete the certification requirements. Arista Aerospace has several Black Hawk upgrades in process, Honeywell said.
“We operate in more than 40 countries,” said Jamie Gelder, United Aero Group president and general manager. “United Aero Group has extensive experience with Sikorsky platforms, including the UH-60. Our relationship with Honeywell allows us to create new opportunities for the upgrade of avionics and communications systems on this amazing helicopter to extend its service life and meet our customers’ requirements.”
Along with onboard Wi-Fi, Aspire 200 also allows for video transmission and telemedicine capability. It is combined with the SwiftBroadband High-Data Rate software package.
The system is also FAA-certificated on the Leonardo AW139. As of October, Honeywell has applied for FAA certification for Aspire 200 on the Bell Helicopter 429 — Transport Canada has already awarded certification. The solution was recently used on a Canada-based 429 as it circumnavigated the world’s northern hemisphere. A father-son duo, along with one other crewmember, used Aspire 200 to document and share the trip on social media.
"There has always been a need for in-flight connectivity on helicopters, particularly to support VIP, air ambulance, police and military ISR applications," Mark Goodman, product director for Honeywell Aerospace, said in October. "The small, lightweight Aspire 200 provides a robust, reliable link that works through helicopter rotors."