The objective of the project is to provide a reporting system which will enable the in-flight reporting of airline operational data over satellite communication systems. The reporting system will provide the Flight Crew and Cabin staff with the ability to issue reports during all phases of flight. A ground based server will make the reports available to authorized personnel and legacy airline systems in real time over the Internet. The ability to transfer important data en-route means the aircraft turnaround cycle will be performed more efficiently.
The diagram below illustrates the main components of the project architecture.
The ability to assign value to data is a key requirement for effective use of available communication channels. For data of high value, e.g. critical defects or important operational data, it is essential to transfer the data en-route via satellite. For data of lesser value, e.g. manuals or updated schedules, data can be transferred during the turnaround cycle using low cost GSM/GPRS or WiFi links. This concept, referred to as Policy Based Routing, enables airlines efficiently use the available underlying communication channels.
Through the application of Satellite and Internet technology an effective platform has been developed to enable the reporting of airline operational data in-flight, thereby facilitating the more efficient processing of aircraft during the turnaround cycle which will result in significant economic gains for the airline.
The system is comprised of onboard and ground based components. The onboard components enable a user to generate reports and ensure the propagation of these reports over the appropriate communication channel, including, but not limited to, satellite, WiFi, GPRS and SMS. The ground component makes the received reports available to authorized personnel via the WEB, email or SMS alerts. The reports are also translated and forwarded to existing airline systems.
The ability to assign value to data is a key requirement for effective use of available communication channels. For data of high value, e.g. critical defects or important operational data, it is essential to transfer the data en-route via satellite. For data of lesser value, e.g. manuals or updated schedules, data can be transferred during the turnaround cycle using low cost GSM/GPRS or WiFi links. This concept, referred to as Policy Based Routing, enables airlines to efficiently use the available underlying communication channels.
In-flight Reporting Tool
- System Requirements Specification (6 months): to capture the requirements of the onboard report generator and ground based report server, including workshops with airline customers
- System Development (8 months): to develop the onboard report generator and ground based report server, to produce test specification and procedures
- System Testing and Validation (4 months): to validate the system over the Satellite network (Inmarsat) in a simulated environment
Project duration is 18 months.
The project was completed in November 2005.
The In-flight Reporting Tool project (ESA Contract Number 17630/03/NL/AD) was initiated to address a commercial opportunity that AMT identified whilst marketing its initial product. The opportunity identified was the provision of a reporting system that enabled in-flight reporting of airline operational data over satellite communication systems. In order to exploit this opportunity, the solution would need to manage the routing of data based on both the value and the cost of communication. This was a major concern as airline operational data is extremely variable in value.
The system AMT designed comprised of both airborne components and ground components. The airborne components provide the user with the ability to generate reports and communicate them to the ground in a cost effective manner. The ground components supplied a repository for the storage of data generated by the airborne system. These ground components also provided interfaces for managing the system and data.
As the project progressed AMT actively marketed the in-flight reporting solution. This marketing effort resulted in two discoveries. The first was that the reporting tool was not a requirement of most customers. However, the second discovery highlighted that the component that provided value based routing, the Air Communications Manger (ACM), was extremely important to customers. The decision was made at this point to remove the reporting tool.
The revised design was implemented in full and the result is a product that allows any airborne application, to avail of the services offered by the air communications manager (ACM). The ACM has achieved significant success in the market place and AMT's resellers are actively marketing the product to commercial airlines. In addition to the commercial success experienced, the ACM also makes a number of new applications technically feasible. These include the smart update of large content, such as navigation charts and engineering manuals.