Progress announced for Blue-Box Aircraft Tracking System: Certification of L-3 Recorders on Airbus A320
FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd. (FLYHT) has announced that its partner L-3 Aviation Recorders (L-3 AR) has received Airbus’ formal notification of certification for the L-3 Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) 228S for the Airbus A320 family of aircraft as it announced in a press release July 14.
FLYHT has been working with L-3 AR to develop and certify AFIRS’ Iridium Satcom capability for the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.
“The final stage of certification was the in-service evaluation with a live customer and that was completed a short time ago. We are very pleased to have the formal notification of certification verified by our partner L-3 AR,” remarked Bill Tempany, CEO of FLYHT.
The AFIRS 228S Iridium SATCOM system provides aircraft crew with voice and data services for Air Traffic Control (ATC), Aeronautical Operational Control (AOC) and Air-to-Air Communication (AAC) using Iridium’s global satellite network. The system also provides Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) over Iridium messaging capability.
FLYHT has patented and commercialised three products and associated services currently marketed to airlines, manufacturers and maintenance organisations around the world. Its AFIRS™ UpTime™ allows airlines to monitor and manage aircraft operations “anywhere, anytime, in real time.” If an aircraft encounters an emergency, FLYHT’s triggered data streaming mode, FLYHTStream™, automatically streams vital data, normally secured in the black box, to designated sites on the ground in real-time. FLYHT’s latest product, The Dragon, is a lightweight portable satellite communications device that blends existing FLYHT technology with that of the iPad.
Various options have arisen for advanced aircraft tracking technologies after the disappearance of MH370, including offers of free service by Inmarsat (which provided the data it gathered on the movements of MH370 to help guide the search for the missing aircraft), and a proposal by SITA to provide aircraft tracking using existing equipment and infrastructure. The FLYHT system is the only solution thus far which offers complete voice and data exchange in regions where ground systems do not support communication, and option of triggered flight data transmission in the event of an unexpected event–which might eliminate the need for a costly search and recovery mission to retrieve existing “black-box” systems.
FLYHT’s President Matt Bradley explains FLYHT tracking systems
A working group led by ICAO in collaboration with IATA will look into the various options available for aircraft tracking and flight data management, as a response to the MH370 tragedy. From the IATA announcement:
ICAO and IATA are working together to conduct a survey of vendors to identify options. Over the next few months, the ATTF will develop a set of performance-based recommendations to better ensure global aircraft tracking—meaning that there will likely be a number of options that airlines can consider. These recommendations will be developed through an assessment of available products and services used for tracking commercial aircraft against specific criteria, including factors such as performance parameters, coverage, security, and cost. Additionally, the ATTF will define a minimum set of performance requirements that any system should achieve.
The ATTF includes representatives from IATA, ICAO, Airlines for America, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, Civil Air Navigation Services Organization, Flight Safety Foundation, International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Airbus SAS, Bombardier Aerospace, and Embraer Commercial Aviation.
“Aviation stakeholders are united in their desire to ensure that we never face another situation where an aircraft simply disappears,” said Kevin Hiatt, IATA Senior Vice President, Safety and Flight Operations. “While States work through ICAO to develop and implement performance-based global standards as a mid- to-long-term solution, the industry is committed to moving forward with recommendations that airlines can implement now.”
Sources have advised Flight Chic that the time-line for ATTF to develop these recommendations on what systems will be most effective is considerable–possibly longer than the next five years–and that a deadline of 2020 is likely most realistic. This date coincides with the established deadline for implementation of NextGen flight management systems in the US and Europe, but, though certain NextGen systems would facilitate flight tracking, the two programs have not been directly tied together.
As the ATTF has stated that it will consider a number of options, it is possible that the FLYHT system will be among them. Systems which provide less functionality, but incorporate existing equipment are favoured by some.
The hardware investment required for a FLYHT system is $100,000 per aircraft, less than the cost of a single business class seat on many airlines.
Whatever the final recommendations of the ATTF, a solution to an aircraft just disappearing is expected by the entire world. The timeline to reach those recommendations might be reasonable, in light of the number of factors to consider, but it is unclear whether the public will have patience to wait that long.
Featured Image: FLYHT AFIRS 228B Boxes, by FLYHT