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Flying in Honeywell's experimental connected jet

We took to the skies in Honeywell's test plane to see how connected technology will help flights be smoother and more enjoyable.

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Andrew Hoyle
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1 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Scared of flying? I am. But Honeywell's new connected aircraft technology might help ease that just a little.

As well as much stronger Wi-Fi -- which will let you stream Netflix while in the air -- the new technology will even help pilots avoid areas of turbulence in the sky. 

The result is a smoother, more entertaining flight.

We took a flight on Honeywell's test plane to see some of this technology in action.

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2 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This is no ordinary passenger Boeing 757. Most of the seats have been stripped out, leaving just enough for a handful of crew and invited guests.

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3 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Huge banks of computers, servers and other expensive-looking things fill the plane.

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4 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It's not often that you can just wander into the cockpit while the pilots are flying in the air. 

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5 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

At the front is an iPad, with Honeywell's new pilot apps. It shows all of the critical flight information that pilots would typically need to carry on in paper form. 

Once in the air it can show in real-time where pockets of particularly bad turbulence are up ahead. The pilot is then able to manouevre the plane through the turbulence, resulting in a smoother flight for everyone on board.

The clear, sunny weather meant our one-hour flight around the South-East of England wasn't exactly a turbulence hotspot, but it was nice to know they could avoid it if needed.

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6 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I had to work hard to not push any of these buttons.

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7 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In the back of the plane are a stack of servers and routers, which provide the wifi for the plane.

Honeywell has worked with satellite internet company Inmarsat to get stronger, faster Wi-Fi on board. While previous planes get their wifi beamed up to them from the ground, Honeywell and Inmarsat's solution uses satellites to beam the connection down to the plane. 

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8 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The internet connection was so stable that I was able to FaceTime my mother from about 25,000 feet in the air. 

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9 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It's not just the pilots that benefit from all this connected tech; there's around 25,000 sensors on board the plane which can feed information about the plane's status to ground maintenance crew ahead of landing.

When the plane touches down, the crews know exactly which parts of the plane needs to be serviced.

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10 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

We took off from the Harrods terminal at Stansted Airport.

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11 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This 757 was built in the early 80s and has been mostly used as a test plane ever since.

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This weird protrusion is actually there to allow the team to attach a third engine onto the plane. Although it's off-centre, I'm reliably informed it won't simply cause the plane to spin in a circle.

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13 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The engineers were monitoring seemingly endless sets of data while on our flight.

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14 of 15 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

As someone who is utterly terrified of flying, I was glad that our route from -- and returning to -- Stansted was quite short.

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Not a single game of "Solitaire" in sight.

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