MORRISTOWN, NJ – Honeywell Aerospace, manufacturer of aircraft engines and avionics and a producer of auxiliary power units (APUs) and other aviation products, has retired its Convair 580 test aircraft after 67 years. It was built in 1952 and has been with the company since 2000.
The aircraft – with registration N580HW – flew for United Airlines between 1952 and 1966. After 14 years of service for United, it was owned by several airlines across the country, like; Frontier Airlines, Gem State Airlines, Aspen Airways, Renown Aviation and finally the aerospace company’s Allied Signal and Honeywell.
The aircraft took its last flight for Honeywell earlier this month. It’s last flight ever will be soon to Kelowna, British Columbia in Canada. Barry Lapointe of KF Aerospace is planning an aviation museum.
The aircraft conducted countless risky test flights for Honeywell, helping to develop some of the most important safety innovations in the world of aviation, like flying in the direction of mountains to test the Ground Proximity Warning System (GWPS), into thunderstorms to test a 3D weather radar. But it also simulated collisions with other aircraft or terrain to test the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS).
The company experienced a boom during World War II, when it equipped bomber planes with avionics and invented the auto-pilot. After WWII, it transitioned to a heavier focus on peacetime applications. Today, Honeywell produces space equipment, turbine engines, auxiliary power units, brakes, wheels, synthetic vision, runway safety systems, and other avionics.
A Honeywell APU was used in the incredible emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson river in NYC, and a Honeywell blackbox survived under sea for years, thus exceeding by far its specified limits to reveal the details of the crash of Air France Flight 447. The company was also involved in the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey and in 90 percent of U.S. space missions. It’s involved in the U.S. NextGen program and Europe’s SESAR program for advancing avionics.
Honeywell Aerospace has a large fleet of test aircraft; 2 Gulfstream G550s, a Gulfstream 650, a Dassault Falcon 7X, a Dassault Falcon 900EX, a Bombardier Challenger 300, a Beech King Air and an AgustaWestland AW139 and a Boeing 757-200, Honeywell’s largest test aircraft.
It’s a blessing to many aviation lovers that this beautiful and iconic Convair 580 will end up in a museum, while many other iconic planes sadly end up in aircraft boneyards in the desert. It’s amazing and probably also comforting to many avgeeks that there are still old Convairs flying around the world up to this day. Estimated numbers show that there are less than 100 flying.
(Top photo: from D Birk on YouTube)