As the connected aircraft continues to evolve, the data collected off aircraft has been integrated into solutions that improve operational efficiencies for business aviation. Aviation stakeholders have access to data from the air traffic surveillance system that can track an aircraft anywhere, from taxiing and lift off, to landing. The data, which improves predictability of flight tracking, is also being integrated into solutions that increase efficiencies, expand capacity, and lower costs.
Mark Duell, Vice President of FlightAware, recently sat down with Connected Aviation Today to talk through the data applications and solutions for business aviation. Duell has been with the company since it was founded and focuses on global operations, aerospace development, and industry partnerships. FlightAware is recognized by aircraft service providers as a leading enabler of ADS-B technologies. Just a little more than a year ago, they introduced Space-Based ADS-B in partnership with Aireon. By integrating with the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, this innovation introduced the world’s first and only truly global aircraft tracking solution.
“The ADS-B mandate for 2020 has played a significant role in enabling applications like ‘Ready to Taxi’ that are derived from the technology,” Duell told us. “To meet the mandates, aircraft already have implemented the needed avionics to report on situational awareness and the location of each aircraft.”
“Stemming from this evolution, now the tracking can improve predictability of the aircraft with the data providing insight into everything that happens before take-off and landing on the airborne side, and the same for the landing side,” Duell explained.
That data is integrated into applications that are offered by FlightAware, including airport solutions like the Ready to Taxi™ application. The system sends alerts as soon as the crew arrives, the pilot powers the aircraft, and the aircraft begins taxiing.
“Ready to Taxi is available at a least 2,500 airports and over 8,000 business aircraft have it enabled,” Duell noted. “It’s an extraordinary capability to get all of that insight of an aircraft on the ground.” Historically with ACARS, Duell explained, “It would just say the aircraft is out but didn’t have the context of where it came from. ADS-B gives exact location and context.”
Duell explains several use cases for Ready to Taxi™:
Power On Alert: “Out in the field, we’ve talked with both fixed-base operators (FBOs) and operators who are making an unbelievable number of phone calls to the dispatcher operations center asking, ‘Is the crew there?’ and ‘Is the airplane getting ready?’” according to Duell. In fact, the customer service desk is often fielding these calls most of the day. Real-time alerts alleviate the required staffing to keep up with inquiries while also giving FBOs and operators real-time updates needed for planning. “It’s all about providing awareness,” Duell said.
Always Enabled Tracking Alerts: “Larger business aviation aircraft often come equipped with ACARS capabilities that operators use to track their active flights ” Duell said. “Yet, mid-size and lighter business aircraft often don’t have the capability, or the flight department hasn’t enabled it because it’s unnecessary for their unique operational needs.” With ADS-B, Ready to Taxi™ tracking capabilities are available to all aircraft regardless of size, even if they are not equipped with ACARS capabilities at all.
Out Alerts: This is for the dispatcher operations center to know that the passengers have arrived, and the aircraft is on its way. “It takes that worry off of their minds,” Duell explained. “For many, especially in charter operations business, they are judged by how the passengers view an ‘on-time’ departure. This alleviates that stress point.”
In Alert: Operators want to know that the aircraft has arrived, it is parked, and which FBO the aircraft parked at. Oftentimes, aircraft are misplaced or crews go to the wrong location, Duell explained. The notification of the aircraft arriving back to home base also has a broader impact for operators. It means that maintenance now knows it is there and can prepare to perform necessary maintenance on the aircraft, as needed.
“Anyone involved in the airport operations has access to this data and alerts and they can be delivered to mobile devices,” Duell concluded. “We are also using historical data for predictive applications to better update runway departure times, arrival times to the destination airport, and using real-time alerting to predict future flights.”
Business aviation operators, dispatchers, and owners all are seeing the benefits of ADS-B and the resulting applications for tracking, predicting, and creating more efficient operating plans.