Transport Airlines

SITA Enters the Flight Tracking Systems Business

Jun 02, 2014 2:00 pm

Skift Take

SITA is one of the major industry players and by moving quickly and keeping costs manageable for airlines, it positions itself at the primary competitors in this, now, highly sought after market.

— Samantha Shankman

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Jason Lee  / Reuters

A delegate of the 68th International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting is pictured through an IATA logo in Beijing June 11, 2012. Jason Lee / Reuters


In time with the dialogue taking place at the IATA Annual Global Meeting in Qatar, where flight tracking has become a key issue on the agenda, SITA has announced that it will introduce a technology solution for aircraft tracking. This solution, which SITA indicates “is currently being evaluated by several airlines for testing,” will use existing technology, already installed in aircraft to “provide advanced tracking capabilities.”

As SITA explains, the AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will merge 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).  Because the FANS system is already installed in many aircraft, SITA indicates that this solution will not represent “extensive” costs for the airlines.

“SITA is 100 percent owned by the air transport community and has worked with its aviation industry partners to define next generation technology for more than 65 years. Pending development, trials and testing, we will be able to bring this advanced aircraft tracking solution to the industry meeting a pressing need,” says Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA. “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 indicates that the AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will enable flight tracking based on parameters the airline sets through their own ADS (Automatic Dependent Surveillance) contract. Airlines will be able to react to any events which take place with their aircraft, and modify the frequency of tracking as the situation requires. AIRCOM can be managed from the ground, and functions automatically and independently of any actions from the crew or cockpit. Once the system is triggered, data streams automatically to the ground.

The SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution, will also alert airline flight dispatchers to any unexpected aircraft movements, request aircraft position reports across the ANSPs borders, eliminate any gaps between ANSP tracking of the aircraft, and cover areas where there are no established ground systems for navigation.  Airlines will also be able to monitor their aircraft’s use of FANS Air Traffic Services (ATS) Facilities Notification exchanges, to be aware of any loss of communication from the aircraft.

The aviation information technology leader, explains it has been spurred on to bring the AIRCOM system forward as a solution by 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, as much as possible, to support flight tracking.

Before this ICAO meeting, Inmarsat offered to provide free tracking of aircraft and a “black box in the cloud” service, which would send data back to the ground, based on events triggered onboard the aircraft.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said at the time:

“We welcome and strongly support ICAO’s decision to place the delivery of next-generation aviation safety services at the heart of the industry’s agenda at its meeting on 12 May.”

The ICAO meeting resulted in the creation of a Task Force led by both ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to evaluate possible solutions to enhance flight tracking.

In their announcement today, SITA advised that they “will comply with any mandated solution determined by the Task Force.”

SITA points out that airlines using the new SITA solution can also benefit from the latest Inmarsat proposal for aircraft tracking reports.

Marisa Garcia has worked in aviation since 1994, spending 16 years on the design and manufacturing of cabin interiors and cabin safety equipment. She shares insights gained from this experience on Flight Chic and Tweets as @designerjet.

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