Innovative solution responds to industry demand for improved aircraft monitoring
SITA, which provides IT and communications solutions to the global air transport industry, today discussed its innovative technology to track aircraft with leading members of the Indian airline community. SITA’s AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker is being introduced to allow airlines efficiently and cost effectively track their aircraft. The solution, which is currently being evaluated by several airlines for testing, will utilize technology that is already installed in aircraft to provide advanced tracking capabilities.
SITA’s new solution was discussed at the Aircraft Services Workshop jointly hosted by SITA and DGCA. The workshop was inaugurated by Shri. Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the keynote address was delivered by Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Director General, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Leaders and executives from all major airlines and airports in India attended the workshop.
The SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will enable interested airlines to track aircraft movement by merging SITA’s airline dispatcher center system and airline operations center system (AIRCOM) Server, with its Future Air Navigation System (FANS) ground application, which is available to Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs). The FANS system is already installed in many aircraft, so the solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment by the airlines.
Shri Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), said: “In the last 10 years, air passenger traffic in India has witnessed tremendous growth with the compounded annual rate reaching13%. Aircraft tracking mechanisms are increasingly important for the safety of passengers. Through this workshop, SITA has provided Indian airlines a great opportunity to discuss the global standards and developments in aircraft tracking mechanisms. With its growth in passenger traffic and new airlines and airports, the Indian aviation industry has the potential to become one of the top three globally by 2020.
Adopting global standards and leading the way in important areas such as aircraft tracking will cement India’s leading position and provide comfort to those who fly and their friends who wish them safe landing.”
DGCA had recently made it mandatory for airlines and private operators to use all means to track their aircrafts’ flights on a real-time basis and ensure that necessary devices are functional before take-off.
Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Director General Civil Aviation, said: “Tracking of aircraft on a real-time basis is one of the biggest needs of the industry today not just in India but across the globe. This calls for robust technology that will work with existing systems to make it more efficient and most cost effective.
Implementation of datalink based application -VHF or HF as required- along with airborne ACARS/ADS-B by Indian carriers will support the vision of DGCA regarding real-time aircraft tracking. I hope that initiatives like this joint workshop with SITA, providing valuable information on tracking solutions, will enable Indian carriers to move ahead in this important area.”
The SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will allow end-to-end flight tracking on conditions and parameters the airline sets through their own ADS (Automatic Dependent Surveillance) contract. This in turn will help the airline to react to different aircraft events, including adapting the pace of tracking as appropriate. The solution can be fully managed from the ground and is not dependent on actions from the crew or cockpit as the data is sent automatically after initialization.
Maneesh Jaikrishna, Vice President – India & Subcontinent, SITA, said: “The strong upside of our innovative solution is that it can be developed quickly and it will only add minimal cost to the airlines as it will utilize existing systems on the aircraft. SITA has worked with its aviation industry partners to define next-generation technology for more than 65 years. This workshop is our endeavor to address the airline industry’s concern regarding aircraft tracking as well as to showcase technology solutions that can help improve efficiencies for the airline industry.”
Using the new SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution, airline flight dispatchers will be alerted to unexpected aircraft movements by using the FANS Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) application to request aircraft position reports across the ANSPs borders. This will avoid any gaps between ANSP tracking of the aircraft and will cover areas where ANSPs do not yet have FANS ground systems. Airlines will also be able to see any unexpected loss of contact between their aircraft and air traffic control FANS ground systems by monitoring their aircraft’s use of FANS Air Traffic Services (ATS) Facilities Notification exchanges to log on to and hand off between ANSP FANS ground systems.
The catalyst for developing the solution is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Special Meeting on Global Flight Tracking of Aircraft held in May where airlines were encouraged to use existing equipment and procedures to the extent possible to support flight tracking. The meeting resulted in the development of a Task Force led by both ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to further evaluate possible solutions to enhance flight tracking. SITA will comply with any mandated solution determined by the Task Force.
The airlines using the new SITA solution can also benefit from the latest Inmarsat proposition for aircraft tracking reports. SITA provides over 150 airlines, flying more than 10,000 aircraft, with communication services for their Aircraft Communications and Reporting Systems (ACARS) cockpit data link systems through its global AIRCOM network. This network consists of 1400 VHF radio stations and links via satellite.