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Providers of Inflight Messaging with GLOBALink ACARSHong Kong Airlines this week became the launch airline for the latest Rockwell Collins service that offers live credit card authorisation using WiFi over the ARINC ACARS infrastructure.

The first service of its kind in the industry is offered via an agreement with the DFASS Group, retail options providers for Duty Free luxury brands.

The introduction of the service will eliminate losses for HKA due to credit card fraudulent activity and will offer them greater scope for the provision of high value items in addition to immediate seat upgrades with the safe removal of credit card spending limits.

“In-flight credit card sales represent an important revenue stream for our airline,” said Mr. Stanley Kan at HKA.  “However, without the ability to conduct live credit card authorization, we faced the risk of loss due to fraudulent transactions.  Now, by validating transactions in real time, we can significantly decrease our risk.”

“Our Wi-Fi over ACARS solution allows airlines to capitalize on their existing equipment to conduct live credit card authorizations without the need to invest heavily in expensive connectivity equipment,” said Heament John Kurian, managing director, IMS Asia Pacific for Rockwell Collins. “With this cost-effective new service, we can help airline customers around the world increase security by identifying individuals involved with fraudulent credit card activity.”

Aircraft Tracking ProvidersFurther discussion are encouraged once again by Tony Tyler, Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to implement global flight tracking as three months pass since the disappearance of flight MH370. Many airlines simply do not want to wait for an industrywide solution to real-time tracking.

IATA plan to put aircraft tracking proposals to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in September and believe standards could be in place within two to three years. Some airlines, however, do not want to wait and are looking into making arrangements much sooner than that. Qatar Airlines, for example, hosted a recent meeting of IATA in Doha last week and said that the ‘technology to track planes is available today’, and cited the possibility of adapting the ACARS system as an example.

The adaptation of ACARS, which delivers information in short bursts, is a real possibility for airlines to ensure tracking information is consistent without incurring extensive retrofit costs; using equipment that is already installed in the aircraft.

Qatar Airlines are amongst many that are expressing a serious interest in exploring the possibilities for the provision of real time flight tracking.