Honeywell Unveils 'Anthem' Avionics Suite

Jason Bialek, Honeywell Anthem product line director, pilots a concept demonstrator.
Credit: Bill Carey

NEW YORK–Honeywell Aerospace on Oct. 5 unveiled a new integrated avionics system, initially developed for business and general aviation aircraft, that will see its first application on the Lilium Jet urban air mobility (UAM) vehicle.

Designed to be nearly 50% lower in size and weight than its current flight deck equipment, easier for pilots to manage and “always on” for air-ground connectivity, the fifth-generation “Anthem” suite represents a step change in integrated avionics systems, the manufacturer says. Anthem succeeds Honeywell’s SPZ-series avionics, first certified on aircraft in the 1980s, followed by the Primus 1000, Primus 2000 and Primus Epic/Epic 2.0 systems.

“Honeywell Anthem is a scalable flight deck avionics suite, with the most intuitive user interface,” said Vipul Gupta, Honeywell Aerospace vice president and general manager for avionics. “It provides unprecedented situational awareness to the pilots. It is designed to make the flight connected and set us on the path forward to the future flight deck.”

Honeywell announced Anthem during an event on the 101st floor of a building offering a panoramic view of New York City. The avionics manufacturer says it has been working with the FAA on Anthem for a year and a half and has already submitted certification planning packages and had them approved by the agency. It also approached the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) after forming a partnership with Munich-based Lilium earlier this year.

A Honeywell-operated Pilatus PC-12 turboprop based at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport has accumulated 100 flight test hours with the Anthem system installed on one side.

Honeywell has devised Anthem’s cockpit interface with an eye toward single-pilot operations and future reduced crew and simplified vehicle operations (SVO)—concepts that take advantage of automation to reduce pilot workload. A typical panel layout will consist of two to four touch screen forward displays, which will be available in different sizes to fit different aircraft. A “pilot display unit” replaces the traditional multifunction control display unit on the pedestal, providing pilots with a new way of interacting with the flight deck.

Touch capability is integral to the Anthem cockpit interface, which is meant to approximate the user experience of consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets. Another planned “modality” is speech recognition, including the use of basic voice controls and transcription of air traffic control (ATC) communications.

Sidesticks, or inceptors, that allow pilots to have an unobstructed view of the forward displays, will be the likely means of flight control unless otherwise specified by the aircraft manufacturer. 

 The Anthem system is architected on an ARINC 664-specification Ethernet data communications network, technology originally implemented on the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 to replace earlier ARINC 429 and 629 avionics data buses. Distributed processing modules residing as nodes on the network host safety-critical avionics applications and communicate via data paths to destination end systems on the flight deck. Switches regulate data traffic between source and destination end systems. 

An Integrated Network Server Unit on the network provides high-speed, two-way connectivity to the outside world and is designed to be agnostic to the communications medium, routing messages by satellite communications, cellular LTE, Wi-Fi and short-range Bluetooth. 

Similar to Apple CarPlay, which enables a car dashboard unit to display maps, audio controls and settings when connected to an iPhone, Anthem will be able to host third-party applications and websites in the cockpit. 

The Anthem embedded network can be scaled based on the size of the aircraft and its need for processing power. Honeywell “from the get-go” will certify quad-core processors, containing four central processing cores per module, with capability for up to gigabit Ethernet data rates.

Honeywell is providing its compact, fly-by-wire flight control system as well as the Anthem platform for the piloted, six-passenger Lilium Jet electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which Lilium expects to certify with aviation regulatory authorities by 2024.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.