Quest for a smarter, online cockpit

Published: 08 Jan 2018

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As the new president of Honeywell subsidiary BendixKing, Gregg Cohen is focused on bringing new avionics products to market quickly, particularly where they meet the demand for in-flight connectivity

How did your career in aviation begin?

When I graduated from college, I was looking for a position in a technology company. After a number of interviews, I met with Sperry Flight Systems, the company that later became Honeywell. It was after that interview that I knew beyond doubt I wanted to work in aerospace. How did you work your way up? By taking difficult roles that no-one else wanted. If there was a challenging, ambiguous position that needed definition, I took it. Along the way, I had great mentors who provided input on the skills I needed to learn to be successful in these positions.

What roles have you enjoyed the most?

Positions where I was responsible for the business results like delivery and quality, and financial results. I’ve had many roles in my career like this, and I find that I’m able to stretch myself and use my background in supply chain, programme management and the financial skills I picked up along the way. I’ve also really enjoyed the positions where I’ve had responsibility for customer and product support.

As the new president of BendixKing, what are your key objectives for the company?

The first is a focus on execution and enhanced product support that maps to what our customers are telling us they need. We’re adopting a right and fast model, grounded in making smart decisions to move the business forward. We are focusing on introducing innovative technology for general aviation pilots to help simplify, streamline and enhance flight safety. My second goal for BendixKing is accountability. I want to revitalise the company’s “culture of win”. A big part of this is putting in place the right structure and the right people to reinvigorate the business so that we can get back to doing what we love: making flying easier and more intuitive for pilots. We’ve created a go-forward plan with strategic milestones and goals to hold sales and development teams accountable.

What are the main challenges facing the general aviation avionics market?

I think of challenges more as areas for innovation. One of the biggest areas for innovation right now is around connectivity. You’re seeing that across the aerospace industry, and general aviation is no different. Pilots want high-speed connectivity that won’t break the bank. That’s why we came up with AeroWave inflight internet. Pilots get high speed connectivity but only pay for what they need. However, it’s not just about basic in-flight connectivity any more. There’s a larger story, and a unique challenge in the general aviation space, and that’s making the connected aircraft a reality for smaller planes and smaller budgets. Bringing more reliable connectivity to the plane in order to increase aircraft maintenance and safety is a big challenge, but also a place we see some really interesting innovation happening. Everything we make from now on should be connected or have the capability to be connected at some point. There are many general aviation pilots who use apps and other third-party software, so we need to think of ways that we can capitalise on this shift in general aviation and we need to make sure our products will work with and complement third-party software.

What technologies can we expect from the industry over the next decade?

Connectivity is going to be something that runs through every product that comes out over the next decade. We already have the sensors on an aircraft monitoring mechanical equipment like engines and APUs; now we’re connecting them and using that data to make aircraft, pilots, maintainers and operators smarter. We also already have sophisticated avionics inside the instrument panels, and these will be connected with new data sources and applications to provide pilots and passengers with a new range of connected services such as global in-flight weather, flight planning assistance, expert advisories and concierge service.

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