Rockwell Collins / Airbus introduce ‘self-reporting’ flight tracking

Earth as seen from spaceRockwell Collins has teamed with Airbus to introduce a new Onboard Aircraft Tracking (OAT) solution that monitors aircraft information to detect and alert when abnormal flight situations occur.

It will come as standard on the Airbus A350 XWB and A380 and as an option for A320, A330 and A340 aircraft.

The OAT solution monitors a specific set of aircraft parameters that could indicate a problem with a flight, including low altitude, low speed, excessive pitch, engine failure and others.

If triggered, the aircraft automatically begins to emit aircraft position information at an increased rate.

The OAT function is implemented as an update to the Airline Operational Control (AOC) avionics software and is available for both forward fit and retrofit.

David Nieuwsma, Senior Vice President, Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins, said: “This solution enables an aircraft to detect specific abnormal conditions and self-report to the airline the moment something occurs.

“When every second counts, the ability to automatically and instantaneously identify a possible issue can provide a significant advantage for airline operators interested in tracking their aircraft, particularly when flying over polar or oceanic regions.”

The OAT solution is designed to meet IATA’s Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) and concept of operations of ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) standards for aircraft tracking.

These call for aircraft identification at least every 15 minutes during “normal operations” and at least once a minute during “abnormal operations.”

Rockwell Collins says that once the OAT solution sends an alert to the ground, the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) position reporting frequency increases to meet the one-minute interval recommendation.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation Council adopted the new tracking standard for certain international flights that requires crews to report their aircraft’s positions at least every 15 minutes in 2015. It became effective in March 2016 and will  be applicable from November 8, 2018.

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