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NEWS Last modified on June 17, 2015

Airlines signing up for new flight tracking system

SITA OnAir today revealed that the airline industry is beginning to sign up for its ready-made solution for tracking aircraft in flight.

Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Royal Jordanian and Norwegian after the latest customers to adopt AIRCOM FlightTracker product and another 11 are set to join them shortly.

Speaking at the Airport Transport IT Summit in Brussels, SITA OnAir’s CEO, Ian Dawkins, said: “This system is available now, doesn’t involve any new hardware and for the 90 plus airlines already using AIRCOM FlightMessenger can be implemented within in a couple of days.

“No new equipment has to be installed onboard the aircraft, which is important, as is the fact that exceeds IATA and ICAO requirements.”

The new technology, developed in association with a number of airlines, uses existing Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS–B), Future Air Navigation System (FANS)and ATC radar information systems to pinpoint the location of aircraft.

More than 40,000 aircraft are already equipped with the above technology.

AIRCOM FlightTracker is in effect a ground-based, cost-effective software upgrade that uses existing equipment to allow airlines to follow aircraft positions and identify any unexpected deviations or gaps in position reports.

According to SITA the fact that it uses multiple sources of data can guarantee tracking intervals of as little as every 60 seconds, although the industry requirement is currently 15 minutes.

It was developed after ICAO and IATA called for global tracking technology that uses existing equipment and procedures as much as possible.

Dawkins adds: “Following recent discussions wiith ICAO discussions we are also working on the definition and development of a new system to detect and report unusual situations.”

“As part of our commitment to the air transport community we will, during an emergency, provide AIRCOMFlightTracker position reporting free of charge to SITA member customers.”

He said that although like existing GPS technology it could be turned off, if this was done with this system it would immediately and automatically alert the airline to a problem.

Dawkins said it might also be possible to remotely download/stream the contents of the black box flight recorders on aircraft at this point, although it was something SITA and the industry was still working on,

Norwegian Air Shuttle’s chief operating officer, Geir Steiro, says: “Norwegian Air Shuttle has a strict selection process for every new solution we introduce. This is particularly true for something as important as aircraft tracking.

“It quickly became clear that SITA OnAir is the only provider that could give us exactly what we need. It is the most complete solution available.

“Using multiple sources of data, we can track all our aircraft at 15-minute intervals or less. It also provides the most accurate data, using ‘smoothing’ to combine position sources.

“And of course, safety is paramount for a solution like this. FlightTracker’s automated alerting system allows us to manage our fleet of 100 aircraft and the additional 200 that will enter the fleet in the coming years safely and efficiently.

“A bonus feature is the unique way it integrates ATC data into our systems- it will give us valuable insight into our operations and how we can improve them,” said Chief Operating Officer Geir Steiro atNorwegian Air Shuttle.

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