Last month security concerns were raised after Indira Ghandi International Airport (IGI) received a bomb threat. Not unused to hoax messages, IGI have taken the threat seriously for many reasons, including the fact that this one arrived just three days after threats were made to bomb flights from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kochi – all three airports were also put on high alert.
The ensuing review revealed areas of vulnerability at IGI, including parts of security fencing that are completely concealed with overgrown, dense foliage. These areas have already twice experienced security breaches in the past year.
Airport physical security has been stepped up, which involve vehicle checks and monitoring, additional personnel on-site and a review of the overgrown areas located behind airport buildings, including the offices of the Airports Authority of India, the Bureau of the Civil Aviation Authority and New Customs House – all of which could be potentially targeted.
All over the world, airports are realising an increasing need for airport physical security measures to be tightened and more securely monitored. The aviation industry as a whole relies upon physical security to ensure that passengers, aircraft and personnel are kept safe at all times, both on the ground and in the air.
Gulf Air, Bahrain’s principal airline carrier has announced a renewal of network services, critical messaging and voice services in a comprehensive global infrastructure designed to streamline operational messaging and allow DCS access at airports around the world via its VPN.
SITA, air transport IT specialists, will provide the airline with continued service and are delighted to renew the partnership that has spanned more than four decades.
Hani El-Assaad, President of Middle East, India and Africa at SITA, said, “SITA is helping Gulf Air optimise its network, messaging and voice services. This will reduce operational costs and improve service quality and availability. It will also enable the airline to communicate with the entire air transport industry quickly and efficiently using the SITA messaging distribution network, the largest and most versatile network in the industry.”
Reliable, secure access to VPN via a complex network of integrated airport systems is essential for the smooth flow of passengers and air traffic. Airport hub systems can streamline the entire Type B messaging process and handle operations from the baggage handling department to the apron.
Following community feedback, the Washington State Department last year started the process of bringing back the deactivated, privately-owned weather reporting system for the Methow Valley State Airport facility in Winthrop.
Located near the airport, the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) will provide weather updates and flight planning access to local pilots via radio.
A small airport, operating mostly for private aircraft and national services, such as wildfire co-ordination, Methow Valley will benefit from the weather reporting system as the nearest current system is located around 30 miles away at Omak Municipal Airport, who experience different weather patterns.
Weather reporting systems are vital to flight operations, giving pilots access to up-to-date weather changes or adversities enhances safety.
Modern commercial aircraft cannot operate without reliable weather reporting and many modern systems provide radar overlays, graphical weather and wind speeds data information.
As the deadline for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), a keystone in the NextGen initiative, approaches, concerns are being raised that the larger percentage of operational aircraft are not climbing on board. It is thought that just 10% of general aviation aircraft and a meagre 3% of major carrier aircraft will be ADS-B compliant by the end of this year.
ADS-B, within the NextGen satellite-based air traffic control system has two elements – Out, which refers to the communications sent from an aircraft to the system which relates to its position, and In, referring to area traffic information transmitted by the system itself to equipped aircraft that can receive and read the data.
The multi-billion dollar system is well into construction, with 624 radio stations deployed by April this year. There are ‘significant risks and challenges’, however, according to a system audit by the Department of Transportation which include a lack of testing, certifying avionics, monitoring and cost management, all fading into the background when it comes to actual uptake of the initiative by operators.
Many operators are concerned at the moment that the only benefit for the industry in terms of the installation of ADS-B is regulatory compliance.
The biggest concern is that non-ADS-B equipped aircraft will be prohibited from entering controlled NextGen airspace after January 2020 and a statement from the FAA reiterated their position, which clarifies their position as a firm one, “You cannot get ADS-B traffic unless your aircraft is properly equipped to participate in the ADS-B system.”
A Canadian passenger on a Singapore Airlines flight left us all with a valuable lesson last week after he racked up a whopping $1,171 bill for Wi-Fi connectivity on a flight from London to Singapore.
Mr Jeremy Gutsche was stunned to receive the bill after purchasing a 30 megabyte internet plan for less than $30. He unknowingly used his allowance and although aware that he would be responsible for charges beyond the 30MG usage, was shocked to realise that viewing 155 pages and uploading a PowerPoint document landed him with such a huge bill.
The provider of the onboard Wi-Fi connectivity service for Singapore Airlines, Swiss-based OnAir, argued that the charges offer ‘complete transparency’, and give passengers the choice to end sessions when charges reach a certain amount and graphic data usage displays consumption.
Mr Gutsche said, “Just because someone agrees to terms and conditions doesn’t mean those terms are ethical. I think the overage model is excessive and I can imagine someone like my mom, or a family, or a backpacker going aimlessly over.”
According to Euroconsult, satellite and communications consulting firm, just 6% of flight passengers use in-flight services – perhaps for this very reason. The demand for in-flight provision in the modern world is increasing and cost-efficient solutions are becoming a growing part of the competitive side of the business for airlines worldwide.
The latest Gulfstream family of business executive aircraft promise to deliver faster speeds in addition to larger cabins and an increased range.
Unveiled earlier this year, the Gulfstream G500 and G600 look set to deliver the greatest capabilities yet and straight into the hands of the consumer with a growing need for speed over long distances. Business jets with longer range capabilities are in demand more and more as executive travellers expand their business circles in the hunt for the contracts.
The G650 is a luxury jet with a range of 7,000 nautical miles and with space for up to 18 passengers and a price tag set at $64.5m. The two new additions to the family share some of the characteristics of the G650, in terms of size and flight deck technology, but come with a smaller price tag of $54.5m with a range of 6,200nm for the G600 and for the G500, $43.5m with a range of 5,000nm.
Although the business aviation industry is showing some regrowth, after the economic meltdown left many corporations cutting costs, the longer-range jets are clearly still in favour and the focus for speed without costly refuelling stops is a definite plus for Gulfstream.
Gulfstream announced a big deal last month for up to 50 examples of the G500, G450 and G650 with Flexjet, the US fractional aircraft operator. This is also a sector of business aviation that is fast growing in popularity as costs and operating hours are shared, rather than the outright purchase with all the additional operational costs that inevitably go hand in hand with that.
Qatar Airways also committed to an order of up to 20 G500 and G650ER aircraft for its corporate charter fleet.
According to Georg Hasse, Senior Product Manager of the Portfolio of Electronic Identities at Secunet, leading German IT security company, this year has been an excellent year in terms of sales and industry technological advancements. Europe is expected to dominate the automated border control market over the next five years, so recent research from Acuity tells us, and Germany are embracing the latest technology for biometric border control.
What is being dubbed the ‘border control revolution’ in some corners of the industry, involves the use of biometric recognition in the form of electronic passports, VISAs and residence permits – a growing trend that is quickly spreading as the entire system offers enhanced border security, while keeping operational costs to a minimum.
Across the globe, border security is a hot topic as the threat of terrorism is tackled with a bid to track and monitor the movements of potential persons of interest.
Secunet has been working closely with the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) in the field of biometrics for many years, notes Mr Hasse. Secunet prefers to look at the subject of identity protection as a process, rather than a single solution. He said, “This is a decisive advantage for our customers: our biometrics specialists have a better understanding of the effects a new project will have on previous or subsequent process stages than anyone else. For our customers, this guarantees smooth integration of their solution into the overall process. Within the biometrics industry we are well known for our BioAPI 2.0 compliant biometric middleware Secunet biomiddle that is being used by various public authorities in Europe as a platform for their border control and visa applications. This middleware is also an integral part of our eGate solution Secunet easygate that is currently being rolled out at German airports within EasyPASS, the German ABC project. In addition we offer a modular Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) solution called Secunet eID PKI Suite that is being used in the border control context with modern eMRTDs.”
Earlier this month, the UK government raised issues about the provision of Advance Passenger Information to further strengthen directives to protect European borders. Currently the E.U. carry strict policy restrictions for the handling of passenger data. It will be interesting to watch the debate continue in light of the growth of biometric border security solutions industry.
Air Canada, the country’s largest domestic and international airline, has renewed a three-year agreement with Rockwell Collins for the provision of its ARINC Managed Services (AMS) radio support services for ground handling operations.
Through the agreement, 24×7 on-site technical support will be provided for the UHF ground-based communications and radio equipment for the management of the airline’s ground handling operations. Also, repair and response time is expected to be improved for the airline’s depot maintenance facility that provides centralised inventory, parts and spares management.
Rockwell Collins’ ARINC Managed Services Managing Director, Mr Kenneth Schreder said, “We’ve been providing Air Canada with fully managed radio services since 2005. The extension of the agreement is a key milestone with our relationship with them and demonstrates our ability to provide comprehensive, cost-effective radio support service for airlines throughout the region.”
Rockwell Collins’ ARINC physical airport security services continue to deliver consistent enhanced security and communications solutions to facilities with seamlessly reliable technology.
“As Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, our ground-to-ground communications are a critical part of ensuring our flights depart on time and safely,” said Derwin Cady, manager of Airport Technology and Product Development for Air Canada. “Air Canada has consolidated our radio support with Rockwell Collins’ ARINC Managed Services, which saves us time and money by having a single, knowledgeable point of contact for all of our maintenance needs.”
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) has signed a contract with M/s Wateen Telecom for the lease of managed services of Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) via SITA’s network of voice and data solutions.
In a statement issued by the PCAA this week, the move is to ‘help radar controllers to establish a data and voice communication link from Karachi and Lahore on a 24/7 through 365 days basis.’
Using CPDLC and HF datalink communications, aircraft flying from any part of the world can communicate with the PCAA radar controller with an enhanced link that will improve the conventional VHF and HF wireless communications connectivity, particularly on long-haul flights.
The move comes as the PCAA strive to strengthen the Pakistan Airspace with CPDLC integration into the air traffic management system.
The use of CPDLC is gaining momentum as providers aim for the enhanced capabilities, reducing pilot and flight crew workload in commercial and business aircraft across the world. CPDLC can give flights access to faster routes, which can also help to manage costs in terms of fuel and airspeed, maximising operational productivity.