SITA to introduce enhanced aircraft tracking capability

Date: 2 June 2014
Location: Geneva


Innovative solution responds to industry demand for improved aircraft monitoring

SITA, who is at the heart of the air transport industry being community owned and driven, today announced that it will introduce an innovative technology solution which will allow airlines to efficiently and cost effectively track their aircraft. The solution, which is currently being evaluated by several airlines for testing, will utilize technology that is already installed in the aircraft to provide advanced tracking capabilities.

The SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will enable interested airlines to track aircraft movement by merging 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).  The FANS system is already installed in many aircraft, so the solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment by 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,” stated 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.”

The SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will allow end-to-end flight tracking on conditions and parameters the airline sets through their own ADS (Automatic Dependent Surveillance) contract. This in turn will help the airline to react to different aircraft events, including adapting the pace of tracking as appropriate. The solution can be fully managed from the ground and is not dependent on actions from the crew or cockpit as the data is sent automatically after initialization.

Using the new SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution, airline flight dispatchers will be alerted to unexpected aircraft movements by using the FANS Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) application to request aircraft position reports across the ANSPs borders. This will avoid any gaps between ANSP tracking of the aircraft and will cover areas where ANSPs do not yet have FANS ground systems.  Airlines will also be able to see any unexpected loss of contact between their aircraft and air traffic control FANS ground systems by monitoring their aircraft’s use of FANS Air Traffic Services (ATS) Facilities Notification exchanges to log on to and hand off between ANSP FANS ground systems.  

The catalyst for developing the solution is 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 to the extent possible to support flight tracking. The meeting resulted in the development of a Task Force led by both ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to further evaluate possible solutions to enhance flight tracking. SITA will comply with any mandated solution determined by the Task Force.

The airlines using the new SITA solution can also benefit from the latest Inmarsat proposition for aircraft tracking reports. SITA provides over 150 airlines’, flying more than 10,000 aircraft, with communications services for their Aircraft Communications and Reporting Systems (ACARS) cockpit data link systems through its global AIRCOM network. This network consists of 1400 VHF radio stations and links via satellite.