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Integrating Technologies into Aviation Operations

Dec 3, 2012


In today's global world, Bluetooth technology is an essential part of our business, private and social lives. Integrating this core technology and its companion applications into the various aspects of the day-to-day operations of airports, airlines and ground handling services can provide a cost-effective, highly efficient alternative to archaic, redundant and often inefficient routine procedures.

As a proprietary open wireless protocol for exchanging data over short distances, with its ability to handle several varied devices without the need for a "line of sight" access, it lends itself ideally to a variety of aviation facility uses. Providing a secure way to connect everything from mobile phones, telephones, laptops, PC units, GPS and hand held field devices. Airport authorities, DCA offices, airlines and Ground Servicing now have the ability to integrate systems, IT data and even security and emergency responder functions into one seamless operating system.

Operating in the 2.4 GHz short range radio frequency band, Bluetooth's frequency hopping spectrum and unobtrusive wireless function lends itself ideally to both airside and landside operations as illustrated on the chart below:

Implementing an integrated Bluetooth network can eliminate redundant paperwork from Customer Service Agents, Bag Handlers and Gate Agents, while providing "real time" passenger and manifest data to airport authorities, security, customs and immigration departments. Duplicate and triplicate copies of forms normally "handed off" to various agents and agencies, can be input in a matter of seconds by the originator and made available in real time to authorized network users – reducing cost, manpower, resources and time. 

Aviation Security

Perhaps there is no singular better example of comingling technologies than the Integrated Computer Assisted Passenger Profiling System. The ICAP system integrates individual field hand held devices, Customer Service Agent terminals, bag and cargo handling scanning units, security monitoring systems and operational servers into a proactive envelope of protection for airports, aircraft and passengers.

Utilizing specially trained security personnel within the terminal, equipped with Bluetooth enabled devices, suspect individuals can be approached under the guise of taking a customer satisfaction survey.















Simultaneously, information on the specific ticket, checked and hold baggage accompanying the individual, passport, photo, immigration status input at the airline counter appears within the security IT system and is made available to security monitors. In real time, specially designed software matches the individual's photo, video feed from terminal surveillance cameras, and survey data acquired during the conversation, with Law Enforcement, Immigration and Customs IT data bases. Within seconds what was thought to be a potential threat can either be confirmed or dismissed with little or no disruption of services, personnel or innocent travelers.

Emergency Response

Accessing the same integrated network, airport emergency responders interact with ground handling operations, airport security, and airline agents receiving real time data on the transit of hazardous cargo, possible in-flight emergencies, localized weather conditions and assessing any need to respond to potential security incidents.

More mundane day-to-day applications might include supply chain management – instant inventory analysis for essential firefighting supplies, communication of operations and personnel scheduling to airport authorities, instant access to airport maps emergency action checklists and cross-agency data such as flight schedules, cargo manifests and items of special interest – such as passengers taken ill in flight or the need to prepare emergency medical assistance PRIOR to the arrival of the affected flight.

Chiefs, administrators and line personnel now have instant access to airport libraries, local, national and international regulations as well as equipment specifications, current status and replacement costs with the simple touch of a hand held screen. Training scenarios can be augmented with instructional videos and checklists drawn from the airport library data base and made instantly available to individual responders on their personal handheld devices at any time during an exercise.

Coordination, Command and Control

With proper forethought and planning such a Bluetooth enabled Information Management System can be far less costly than one would think. By combining the activities of airport authorities, air operators and ground handling services, the system is capable of reducing costs for each element while providing a unified data flow benefiting all concerned.

Key to its effectiveness is in the pre-planning coordination among end users and an analysis of what specific information each element requires in order to perform its daily operations. Armed with this data, administrators can then assign tasks, construct data flow pathways and arrange for the proper access and exchange with outside agencies – such as law enforcement, customs, immigration and local medical facilities.

Today's trend towards a cyber business environment (as exemplified by Deutsche Post's new paperless business service) coupled with aviation's need for mission critical, real time information to be shared by a number of agents and agencies simultaneously; creates the ideal venue for a Bluetooth enabled Information Management System.

In a competitive world where airport and airline value is often measured in terms of efficiency, customer service and the ever present bottom line, enhancing effectiveness while reducing costs is vital to a company's survival.


Article by Frank Spranza

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