Monthly Archives: December 2013

Although complaints arose over the Christmas period as delays grounded passengers around the globe, the move to long haul flight communications for low-cost airlines is set to light the fires of competitive costs within the industry.

Long-Haul Flight Communications Solutions ProvidersRecently, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced a new strategy that promises discount flying to long-haul routes such as Bangkok, Florida and New York and has ordered a fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

Ryanair are also making noises about plans to introduce long-haul flights once prices for wide-body aircraft come down.

Long haul flight communications ensure that global coverage is achieved. High Frequency Data Link is the answer. Communications can be transmitted and received via a network of ground-based stations and satellite networks that can provide truly global, seamless coverage, critical for long-haul flights across oceanic expanses and Polar Regions, where ground-based stations are intermittent.


Airport Perimeter Security Solutions ProvidersTwo separate incidents of an airport perimeter security breach on Christmas Day have highlighted the importance of effective surveillance – industry-wide.

Each incident happened at different airports – one at Newark International, where a man breached the airport perimeter security fence and remained undetected as he crossed two runways to reach a terminal before being spotted by an airline employee.

The second incident occurred at Phoenix Sky Harbor International later that day. The man scaled a nine-foot high fence and ran onto the tarmac waving his arms at a plane before being captured by airport security.

Although both airports had airport perimeter security surveillance, neither detected signs of the trespassers.

Questions have now been raised, especially as the Transport Security Administration has no mandate in place for the requirement of full-time surveillance of airport perimeter security fences.

This appears not to be an isolated problem. There is an industry-wide call for greater importance to be addressed for airport perimeter security.

ARINC Headquarters Complex at AnnapolisIowa-based aviation equipment supplier, Rockwell Collins has announced the completion of the acquisition of ARINC Inc, also confirming that two subsidiaries have been sold and that the Annapolis employees will not be immediately affected.

The ARINC Industry Standards Organization has been sold to SAE International and plans to divest ARINC’s Aerospace Systems Engineering and Support, based in Oklahoma City are underway. Both sales and integrations are expected to take six to nine months to complete. For the foreseeable future, Rockwell Collins has no plans to close the Annapolis Headquarters or relocate any staff.

Similarly, the 300-strong workforce in Oklahoma City will see business as usual for the time being.

Rockwell Collins announced its intention to buy ARINC in August this year for $1.39 billion and expect revenues of more than $600 million within the next quarter.

The Cessna Aircraft Company, owned by Textron Inc is celebrating today after the first deliveries and FAA type certification of the Citation M2 jet is achieved. Announced in September 2011 and the prototype first flown in March 2012, the development and certification process has involved over 150,000 hours in addition to almost 1,000 test flight hours over 360,00 nautical miles.

Cessna’s senior vice-president of business jets, Mr Brad Thress said, “Cessna is once more redefining the light jet segment with the Citation M2. We’re proud to get the M2 into the marketplace and see the aircraft begin to set the standard for the next generation of business aviation.”

Cessna M2 Business JetThe beautiful jet is certified for single-pilot operation and has a flight capacity of 1,300 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 460 miles per hour. With an operational ability to work on short runways and able to climb to 41,000 ft in 24 minutes, the Citation M2 is flexible and efficient, featuring two Williams FJ44 engines.

“The Citation M2 is a versatile aircraft that fits many markets and missions, attracting owner-operators looking for an advanced, innovative aircraft of this size, capability, and value. Our launch customer, Stuart Woods, represents this type of customer: owners moving up from their Citation Mustang. Further, many new M2 owners are upgrading from a turboprop, while still others are moving laterally to a newer, same-size business jet. With its single-pilot certification, the Citation M2 has room for six passengers and is faster than many comparable aircraft, making it a strong performer in this segment,” continued Mr Thress.

The Citation M2 certainly has style and this continues into the cockpit and the roomy cabin, with Garmin 3000 avionics, high-resolution displays and touch-screen interactivity.

The six-passenger capacity cabin has eight large windows and adjustable seats and provides an aisle height of 57 inches.

Critical Messaging for Aviation Weather DataWeather issues in aviation can cause disruption on many levels, which is why critical messaging is high on the list of operational priorities for most airlines.

Although not all airlines seem to handle these adverse conditions too well, as was apparent in Delhi over the last few days. Passengers were left stranded, some since Tuesday evening with little or no information, food or indeed luggage, as flights were delayed and cancelled due to foggy conditions.

There were closed desks and mobbed airline staff as the situation reached fever pitch with some passengers left standing on tarmac for more than an hour.

Traveller Annamma Sam George, who had lost her baggage enroute from America earlier in the week said, “I will never come to Delhi again in the winter. The airport authorities are probably too busy handling the cancelled and delayed flights, but my valuables are in the bag and I’m running out of cash.”

The T3 visitors lounge was packed with anxious, stranded passengers simply left with nothing.

Nothing can be done about the weather – that much is clear – but with advanced messaging solutions within aviation, there is certainly room for improvement upon passenger services and facilities in adverse conditions and situations.

Provision of Passenger Data to Enhance SecurityConcerns are growing for security chiefs about the increasing risk of potential terrorists being allowed to travel freely around Europe after the release and use of passenger data was blocked on human rights grounds earlier this year.

Cressida Dick, Assistant Commissioner of the Met expressed a warning that young men are able to fly to Turkey, hire a car and drive across the border into Syria. Her concern is that a ‘small number could fall under the spell of terrorists and return to Britain with deadly skills and motivation’.

Passenger data has been effectively used to identify potential high-risk passengers, alerting government agencies and border control before those passengers touch down at their destination. Supporters of the share of this data, referred to as Advanced Passenger Information (API) say that the information is critical to help track terrorists, people traffickers and serious criminals that regularly traverse international borders.

The system was developed after the terror attacks of 9/11 and is mandatory for passengers travelling to and within the U.S. and other parts of the world.

API is delivered electronically via the DCS of airlines. Providers maintain reliable, secure delivery and limited access to the information.

The Civil Liberties Committee of the EP claim that the passenger data storage system raises privacy concerns and critics are unhappy about the data being kept for five years, which could lead to passenger profiling.

As the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator points out that the numbers of fighters travelling to Syria is increasing, it has made a call to put airline passenger information availability back into practice, giving security officials the ability to track the movements of particular groups across Europe.

The head of MI5, Mr Andrew Parker, revealed that spies had observed ‘hundreds of people’ travel to Syria and added that some had indeed returned to the UK.

It is unclear how, when or even if, the use of passenger data may return to the forefront of aviation travel in Europe.

Cabin Services Solutions ProvidersAtlanta-based Delta Airlines have announced that they will not allow in-flight voice calls on their flights ahead of the impending final ‘vote’ by the FAA to lift the ban on cell phone usage.

In an internal memo, Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta said, ‘Last week the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to seek public comment in consideration of lifting its ban on in-flight cell phone use. Delta will not allow cellular calls or internet-based voice communications onboard Delta or Delta Connection flights.

Our customer research and direct feedback tell us that our frequent flyers believe voice calls in the cabin would be a disruption to the travel experience. In fact, a clear majority of customers who responded to a 2012 survey said they felt the ability to make voice calls onboard would detract from – not enhance – their experience. Delta employees, particularly our in-flight crews, have told us definitively that they are not in favour of voice calls onboard.

Delta has moved quickly when technological and regulatory breakthroughs provide opportunities to make flying better for our customers. That is why we were the first to file our plan with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to allow customers to use portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet. Similarly, if the FCC lifts its ban on cellular use in flight, Delta will move quickly to enable customers to use text, email and other silent data transmission services gate to gate.’

Since no decision has yet been reached on the proposed lift, it is still unclear whether passengers may yet be chatting about their journeys using in-flight voice calls – certainly, Mr Anderson has made Delta’s position clear on the subject.

Today, however, there is an ever-growing demand for cell phone use in-flight. Business aviation in particular experience high levels of expectation from their executive passengers as they operate the office-in-the-sky.

Industry-leaders, such as ARINC, offer high-speed passenger connectivity for emails and broadband, as an understanding within the industry realises the need to enhance cabin services, therefore increasing competition and allowing airlines to stay ahead of the game.

Many critics say that there is no real need for in-flight voice calls, with the level of connectivity now available in the cabin. It remains to be seen whether the ban will be lifted and it seems that opinion is divided. Maybe we will see ‘voice-call-seats’ or areas of the plane that will be designated ‘non-voice-call’ to be booked in advance like the years-old ‘non-smoking’ seats – the jury is still out on this moot point.

Electronic Borders SolutionsIt has been announced that the UK Border Force have awarded a contract for the upgrade and installation of electronic borders solution – eGates – to Portugese company, Vision-Box. Vision-Box have previously installed 46 first generation eGates and will now deploy a further possible 180 new, second generation gates at airports across the country.

The second generation eGates are designed to make the most of limited space in today’s airports and in particular, immigration halls. The project will help to further enhance and streamline passenger processing, improving passenger experience and effectively increasing security aspects.

Gatwick airport is the first to announce completion of the installation of 15 new generation eGates.

Haroona Franklin, Director of Border Systems Strategy & Capability said that “this deployment will represent the biggest ePassport Gate project in Europe. The new gates will allow Border Force to improve the passenger experience while maintaining security at the border and enabling the effective deployment of our resources to areas of highest priority”

Electronic border technology is a fast-growing industry that maintains critical border security while enhancing and streamlining the process to provide greater productivity, improved efficiency and passenger experience.

Aircraft Datalink SolutionsVHF coverage is now extended with a combined effort from Satcom Direct, TAG Farnborough Airport and SITA, who have based their new VHF ground station equipment in Hangar 2.

The new equipment and subsequent VHF coverage will enable the airport to provide enhanced services to operators and aircraft owners with the addition of the aircraft datalink services.

CPDLC is a growing requirement in the aviation industry, with mandatory regulations for Europe coming into play at the end of this year and the beginning of next year. Although business and private jets are exempt from the ruling, it is only a matter of time.

CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) give greater flexibility in the cockpit and on the ground and eliminate many previous problems that are encountered during communications. The mandates will open up better opportunities for flight operations as the airwaves become less congested. Streamlining communications with aircraft datalink is not only more efficient, but also globally recognised, without interruption, given provision from a reliable and reputable supplier.

Companies such as SITA and ARINC have global ground stations to aid the facilitation of aircraft datalink messaging.

Solutions for Reducing Aviation Operational CostsAccording to reports issued by EUROCONTROL, the U.S. is outperforming Europe in terms of aviation operational costs. The Performance Review Commission (PRC) issued two reports and notes that while the two ATM systems show similarities in size and traffic density area, they differ wildly in terms of organisational aspects and regulatory operational variance.

The report regarding air navigation services showed that, when taking a look at the cost-per-flight-per-hour, the U.S. costs are 34% lower than those of Europe.

The cause can be largely attributed to the difference in funding. European ANSPs are funded by route and terminal charges, when the FAA relies upon the airport and airways trust fund in addition to congressional appropriations.

Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) in Europe number 37, which oversee 63 area control centres and 260 approach control units. The U.S. has only one – the FAA’s Air Traffic Organisation, which oversee 20 air route traffic control centres and 162 terminal radar approach control centres.

The report “confirms that the observed gap in cost-efficiency performance arises from considerably higher productivity and lower support costs in the U.S. compared to Europe,” the PRC states. “Air traffic controllers in the U.S. have higher annual working hours and more flexible working arrangements, which allow the U.S. ATO to accommodate changes in demand more easily than European ANSPs.”

Aviation operational costs cover a wide and far-reaching topic, from ANSPs to the individual airport environment. In a global economically challenging era, it has never been more important to continue operational productivity in order to keep the wheels of business turning, but to ensure that costs are kept to a mangeable level. Global companies, such as ARINC, offer products and services operating within a web-based environment that can allow seamless reliability, but with a cost-efficient, integrated framework with cost-sharing capabilities.