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After the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH370, the aviation industry has considered a number of established aircraft tracking solutions but most airlines are still undecided.
Recently, though, a few have confirmed their selection of SITA OnAir’s AIRCOM Flight Tracker. Singapore Airlines, Royal Brunei and Norwegian Air Shuttle are the latest airlines to decide on this system of aircraft tracking, which will give them oversight over the status of their aircraft both over ground and when crossing the oceans. They follow Malaysia Airlines, which was the first to adopt SITA OnAir’s AIRCOM FlightTracker.
SITA announced that it was planning to offer a solution for airlines last year, which it has since developed and brought to market, after its merger with communications provider On Air. The result is the new SITA OnAir company.
“With the airlines’ invaluable support, we have designed the solution to make it simple for airlines to implement flight tracking,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of SITA OnAir. “For the 90-plus airlines already using our AIRCOM FlightMessenger, we can deploy the solution in a few days. Following the recent ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) discussions, we are also working on the definition and development of a new system to detect and report unusual situations.”
AIRCOM shows an aircraft’s position on a map, not unlike the aircraft tracking maps already used by hobbyists and travelers, with the difference that airlines can apply specific filters focused on their operational needs, using multiple sources of aircraft communications. Should an aircraft veer from its intended course, personnel manning the aircraft-tracking system are alerted.
“Norwegian Air Shuttle has a strict selection process for every new solution we introduce,” said Chief Operating Officer Geir Steiro at Norwegian Air Shuttle.. “This is particularly true for something as important as aircraft tracking. It quickly became clear that SITA OnAir is the only provider that could give us exactly what we need.”
“SITA OnAir’s FlightTracker is the most complete solution available. Using multiple sources of data, we can track all our aircraft at 15 minute intervals or less. It also provides the most accurate data, using ‘smoothing’ to combine position sources,” Steiro adds. “FlightTracker’s automated alerting system allows us to manage our fleet of 100 aircraft, and the additional 200 that will enter the fleet in the coming years, safely and efficiently. A bonus feature is the unique way it integrates ATC (Air Traffic Control) data into our systems—it will give us valuable insight into our operations and how we can improve them.”
Airlines, under the IATA framework, have worked towards compliance with an ICAO initiative to adopt aircraft tracking solutions, but issues of equipment selection and installation, as well as the costs of aircraft data transmission have kept many from moving forward.
Officials at SITA OnAir credit airlines with the functional design of the platform. “Several airline customers and SITA OnAir have worked very closely together to define the functions and features of AIRCOM FlightTracker, as well as validate and test the solution. Singapore Airlines for instance has provided SITA OnAir with requirements for the next generation of AIRCOM FlightTracker,” the company states.
While the Aircraft Tracking Task Force was established last year, IATA CEO Tony Tyler said at this year’s IATA general meeting that 2016 might be too soon for implementation. AIRCOM, however, is already moving forward.
The company has committed to offering FlightTracker position reporting free of charge in cases of aircraft emergencies.
More airlines in Europe and the Middle East are assessing AIRCOM FlightTracker, and SITA OnAir expects to make further announcements on new AIRCOM customers soon.
The following infographic explains more of how AIRCOM works.