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Honeywell Aerospace is poised to enhance runway safety with the introduction of Surf-A, a cutting-edge runway surface alert system designed to serve as a “third set of eyes” for pilots. This initiative comes in response to a rise in runway safety incidents, including incursions, excursions, and wrong-surface events.

Last week, Honeywell showcased the Surf-A system during a series of demonstration flights between Seattle and Yakima, Washington, utilizing its Boeing 757 testbed. The company aims for Surf-A to achieve FAA certification and be available for retrofit within the next 12 to 18 months.


Surf-A provides direct alerts to pilots regarding potential runway safety hazards. By leveraging GPS and ADS-B data within the runway engagement zone, the system monitors traffic and issues an aural alert when it determines that an aircraft is on a collision trajectory within the next 30 seconds. Pilots can receive four distinct alerts: “traffic on final,” “traffic behind,” “traffic on runway,” and “traffic intersecting runway.” These alerts are also displayed as text messages on the pilot’s navigation screen.


“The pilot is the ultimate decision-maker on what to do with this information,” said Thea Feyereisen, a senior technical fellow at Honeywell Aerospace, during a briefing at Boeing Field in Seattle. “Just as if your copilot had said, ‘Hey, there’s someone on the runway,’ this is a third pair of eyes for the pilot.”


Surf-A builds on Honeywell’s established runway awareness and advisory system and its SmartRunway/SmartLanding software. These existing systems use GPS and geographical data to alert pilots about potential runway overruns, wrong-surface landings, unstable approaches, and other critical conditions, such as improper takeoff flap settings.


The next advancement in Honeywell’s technology is Surf-IA (Situational Awareness on the Airport Surface with Indications and Alerts), which enhances flight displays with sophisticated visual indicators. Honeywell has been testing Surf-IA since 2018 in collaboration with Airbus and Dassault. While Surf-IA is intended for new aircraft, the more basic Surf-A system is designed to be an affordable and straightforward retrofit option for a wide range of existing aircraft.


“Our goal is to make this capability accessible not just for new aircraft but also as a retrofit option,” Feyereisen explained. “We want to ensure that all levels of capable aircraft can benefit from this enhanced safety feature.”


Honeywell’s commitment to advancing runway safety through innovative technologies like Surf-A underscores the company’s dedication to improving aviation safety standards worldwide.

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