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A report has been submitted to IATA by the Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) this week, which will deliver its findings for consideration in the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) development.

Airline Operational Messaging Solutions ProvidersAlthough the contents of the report are not yet public, Tony Tyler, CEO of IATA said that the report ‘recommends that airlines evaluate their current tracking capabilities against the performance criteria and close any gaps within a 12 month time frame.”

According to Mr Tyler, airlines will need to complete phases in order to achieve complete, worldwide aircraft tracking capability:

Short-term – make use of the current capabilities within their fleets and operational areas

Near-term – look at the business case for upgrading equipment to meet performance criteria

Parallel – explore the possibility of making tamper-proof systems with other industry stakeholders and manufacturers

The recommendations included in the report encompass many improvements, particularly within the communications systems, such as Controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) and ACARS to the space-based ADS-B, which, in the long-term is seen as the solution to seamless global aircraft tracking.

With mandatory equipage of these technologies fast approaching within European and Canadian airspace, new aircraft are already seeing these technologies coming as standard onboard installations.

For global tracking to become a certainty, technological capabilities must be installed and a ground-based ADS-B infrastructure is already in place.

“The public should be aware that there is no silver bullet solution on tracking,” said Tyler. “The industry is working to improve, but some issues such as tamper proofing, will take time to address and implement.”

Providers of Aircraft Tracking Services for Business AviationThe European Space Agency (ESA) have outlined the Iris program this week in a collaboration with the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) program, with a view to increasing the efficiency of global aircraft tracking through a satellite-based communications system.

Making improvements to future Air Traffic Management techniques is a key part of the initiative and Iris will potentially leverage a satellite-based system with current VHF ground-based communications systems that may bear the weight of overcrowded airwaves in the near future. It is planned that data link channels and ATM operations will become accessible and give new opportunities for aircraft tracking in a four-dimensional capacity – latitude, longitude, altitude and time. The system is known as 4-D trajectory management and it is hoped that it will be fully accessible by 2018.

In spite of various delays with upgrades to aircraft, the Iris program is designed to dramatically improve communications and bring the increased efficiency to operational productivity that has been sought by airlines, ATM and operators for more than 20 years.

Aircraft tracking via satellite communications will work in real time and use aircraft positioning reports, in addition to the complement of voice communications. Both continental and oceanic airspaces will be reliably covered to give truly global, uninterrupted coverage.

Business aviation enjoys the reliability of real-time aircraft tracking with providers delivering a satellite communications service over a robust system architecture, such as the Rockwell Collins’ ARINCDirect service, which provides seamless coverage via Inmarsat SwiftBroadband and Swift64 in conjunction with Iridium satellite communications. Real-time flight tracking is a sought-after service that is growing in demand, particularly since the disappearance of flight MH370 earlier this year.

As air traffic grows, demand upon the airways increases and the latest technological developments are needed to ensure utmost safety and reliability for all aircraft, both commercial and private.

Other Real-Time Flight Tracking ProvidersIt has been announced that Skyservice Business Aviation operators have signed a deal that will give real-time flight tracking benefits on a global scale.

The solution, to be installed on Learjet 45’s that make up the Skyservice Air Ambulance fleet, will also offer data collection for maintenance purposes and monitoring functions to enable issue fixing and thus minimising potential downtime and helping to increase operational productivity.

The agreement has been signed initially for five years at an estimated value of $550,000, based on potential flight hours and list prices. Skyservice has signed a contract with Star Navigation Systems Group Ltd, a Canadian-based technology company with a focus on aerospace solutions.

Sam Cimone, President of Skyservice Business Aviation said “Our company is continuously looking at improving its operations and efficiency and more importantly, the safety of our passengers and clients. The STAR-A.D.S. (TM) solution, with the precise data it continuously and globally provides, coupled with its analysis abilities, will enhance our performance, and assist us in monitoring the aircraft in real time. This will ensure better utilization of the aircraft and safety for the passenger”.

As we enter the fourth month following the unprecedented disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, more airlines and operators are looking to real-time flight tracking solutions.

Global Flight Support Services ProvidersInmarsat, the British satellite company that suggested the new search area for flight MH370, has offered its current customers free basic aircraft tracking in light of the tragedy.

Inmarsat have 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft amongst its customers, equipped with their satellite technology and have made their offer as an immediate address to the subject of aircraft tracking that has graced many boardroom tables since the aircraft was reported missing.

“This offer responsibly, quickly and at little or no cost to the industry, addresses in part the problem brought to light by the recent tragic events around MH370,” said Inmarsat CEO, Rupert Pearce.

In addition, Inmarsat have discussed the provision of an ‘in-cloud black box’ system that would be capable of streaming historic and real-time flight data, including cockpit voice recording. The ICAO will be taking these discussions further during the meeting in Montreal this week to discuss the technological requirements for the provision of the necessary equipment to ensure that the tragic events of MH370 are not repeated.

A set of standards are expected to be released following these talks, which will be attended by more than 40 representatives of all areas of aviation, airports, ATS and airlines.

Providers of Global Communications for Flight TrackingCanadian aerospace company, Flyht has launched a new portable SATCOM system, based on Iridium network technology that promises global communications at low prices for the aviation industry. At an initial cost of less than $10,000, the Dragon system will allow pilots and passengers to communicate for less, with no certification needed.

Using iPads, pilots and passengers will be able to use the Dragon iPad app to make telephone calls, send and receive emails and texts. The App will also be utilised by ground-based operations to deliver NOTAMs and weather updates to the cockpit, globally, via the Iridium satellite network.

As the world of aviation requests global flight tracking in the wake of flight MH370’s disappearance, the advent of the Dragon could not be better timed. With its ability to feed ASD systems, the Dragon is capable of flight following and has been tested by Chinese company, Aircraft Data Communication for input into its global aircraft management system.

Real-time flight tracking and delivery of automated OOOI messages is set to be high on many operators agenda’s this year. Other providers of technology based upon the Iridium network, particularly in the world of business aviation, are stepping up in the face of the competition.

Global Flight Support Services ProvidersThe entire aviation industry have scratched its proverbial head in the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370. It has led to a call from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for improvements to the 50-year old ‘black box’ system, using advancements in technology to produce a real-time flight tracking system.

According to ITU, there ‘should be a mechanism to ensure that aircraft can be tracked in real time using state-of-the-art cloud computing’.

The black box recorder is mandatory on all flights, to record vital aircraft data regarding flight operations, aircraft systems, performance parameters, magnetic heading, positioning and other critical information. It is today being argued that this information should be available in real-time, with no possibility of being manually disconnected or the need for the recorder to be physically located in the event of an incident.

There is little doubt that the strength of feeling is running high at this stage. The industry as a whole is being urged to find solutions for flight tracking that cannot be manipulated.

Data Link Communications ProvidersSince the disappearance of Malaysia flight MH370, questions have been asked about the ability of radar to track aircraft worldwide. We know the technology exists, so how is it possible to ‘lose’ an aircraft to such an extent.

According to NZ Airways, who are responsible for the country’s 30 million square kilometres of airspace, a mere 60% of flights were tracked using satellite. Head of Auckland operations, Tim Boyle said, “It’s either radio or via what we call data link… through satellites.”
‘If data link updates were missed, and the aircraft remained out of radio contact, then Airways would have no way of knowing where the aircraft was’, he added.

The only route that has data link satellite mandates in place is within the North Atlantic route, according to Inmarsat senior vice-president of external affairs, Chris McLaughlin. It was an Inmarsat network that picked up data ‘handshakes’ from the missing Boeing 777 for up to five hours after it had left Malaysian airspace.

Black spots exist across the globe, for airlines that choose not to ‘opt into’ a contract for data-link systems. Neither Australia or New Zealand have any mandatory regulations to specify position reporting and it is thought that many aircraft are flying for long hours without reporting their positions.

 

Global Flight Tracking Services for Business AviationHoneywell GDC Aircraft Datalink clients of WSI Corporation can now look forward to global flight tracking as part of the WSI Fusion Package. The announcement is a part of the WSI and Honeywell agreement to enhance business aviation operations.

Global flight tracking enables operators to stay ahead and facilitates operational decision making that will keep flights on time, reducing the impact of disruptive events, such as adverse weather conditions in the planned flight path.

WSI Corporation, based in Massachusetts with offices in Birmingham, U.K. bring weather data to aviation and rely upon aircraft datalink communications to deliver up-to-date, reliable information. Business aviation operators are flying increasingly greater distances and global flight tracking is a valuable tool for the industry sector.

ARINC Direct is another provider of business aviation services to the sector and offer global flight tracking as part of their Flight Support Services package. Global flight tracking is made possible using the network partnership of Inmarsat and Iridium satellites, which can bring seamless connectivity for aircraft datalink  communications.