U.S. Firm Developing Software to Decode Indian Accents to Improve Air Travel Safety

New software being developed by Honeywell International Inc. will make it easier to understand Indian pilots who communicate in English with thick local accents.


India will serve as a testing ground for a new software being developed by a U.S-based multinational firm for better understanding of Indian accents. The new software, being developed by Honeywell International Inc., will try to make it easier to understand Indian pilots who communicate in English with thick local accents, Bloomberg reported.

The software is being developed following a request by the Indian government to make air travel safer. The software would decode as many as 100 Indian accents and then transcribe automatically what is being said for the air traffic controllers.

“One of the biggest problems in India has been that we Indians don’t understand each other’s English because of the dialects. This, we thought, works very well for the regional connectivity scheme, because you have regional pilots coming in, people don’t know what he said and what he understood,” Neelu Khatri, president of Honeywell’s aerospace business in India, was quoted as saying in the report.

The Indian government’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme for regional connectivity has led to an increase in demand for pilots who may speak English in local accents.

The project will be implemented in India first, and Honeywell sees a possibility of expanding it in other countries, Khatri said, adding, “It’s a real time problem and therefore, these kinds of problems don’t have ready-made solutions. We just try to put our people who can understand the problem and then try to create something.”

The New Jersey-based firm has been working with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for over 40 years. In April this year, it announced that it is working to finalize some collaborations with Indian companies for local production of defense technologies, the Hindu BusinessLine reported.

The company is looking at a tie-up with Tata Power’s Strategic Engineering Division for domestic inertial land navigation systems. “We saw there was a big need for making inertial navigation system and hence we partnered with Tata. The ‘made in India’ Akash missile had Honeywell’s inertial navigation system,” Khatri had earlier said.

Honeywell’s employs over 16,000 people in India, and has three technology centers, and manufacturing facilities in the country.

India is the world’s third largest market in domestic aviation when it comes to the number of tickets sold, according to the recent economic survey report. From April to September 2017, domestic airlines carried 57.50 million passengers, showing a growth rate of 16 per cent over the corresponding previous year period, with 10.30 percent domestic cargo handled.

The air route between the Mumbai and Delhi is the third busiest domestic route in the world, with an average on-time performance of 59.14 per cent and a total of 47,462 flights operating between the two cities, a survey conducted by a global provider of digital flight information revealed in January this year.

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