The Marketplace.aero ‘digital store’ is set to provide a wealth of air transport software and services capable of tackling industry inefficiencies, enhancing productivity and reducing costs. 

Why shouldn’t air transport companies be able to shop at a digital store to simply and quickly select and pay for a range of applications, software and other solutions that are specific to the industry?

That’s the idea behind the on-demand Marketplace.aero platform, which is becoming the air transport industry’s single online point of reference for everything from air transport services to networking solutions, mobile apps and software.

Making available SITA and third party vendor solutions – including services and consultancy – the online marketplace exploits the software-as-a-service delivery model. It’s an approach that’s potentially useful for any company working in the air transport industry.

‘Perfect‘

According to Benoit Verbaere, Portfolio Director, ATI Cloud Platforms & Solutions, SITA: “In the early days we’re expecting most interest to come from smaller airlines, regional airports, airfreight, and other regionally focused service companies – for whom Marketplace.aero offers a perfect approach.

“A new local or regional airport, for example, will find a wide selection of information and communications technology in the marketplace – including services and consultancy, networking and software.”

Common themes

As more vendors join Marketplace.aero, we start by looking at three of them: Genaker, GCR and Testia.

“A common theme across these vendors is the need to save time and money by improving efficiency and reliability,” says Verbaere.

In the words of each vendor, there are a number of drivers for the new approaches enabled by their software.

Those drivers include current airport and airline inefficiencies, the need for better and more consistent communication channels across airports, more effective collaboration, and the ability to reduce current demands and strains on employees.

“Each vendor also underlines the need to provide end users with more mobility and autonomy as they go about their jobs, while ensuring accuracy, timeliness, and proper reporting across organizations,” he adds.

Push-to-talk... And text

Top of mind for Genaker are more efficient and cost-effective mobile communications and collaboration across airports. Genaker provides an IP-based push-to-talk (PTT) solution using secure, real-time walkie-talkie communications over cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

Using smartphones, ruggedized handsets and IP-based two way radios, the solution is not restricted to in-airport communications (unless chosen), because of its use of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. And by not using spectrum frequencies there are no restrictions in the number of channels used.

“Our approach is to avoid the limitations of existing airport radio communication solutions which are used for mission-critical users, such as airport fire brigades or police officers,” says Miquel Teixidor, CEO Genaker.

“Many stakeholders in the air transport industry don’t like the radio communications limitations and will find them costly, restrictive or inflexible for their ‘off airport’ needs.

“So we target airlines, catering services, ground handling, airport shops, cafeterias, airport services, crews, check-in or boarding teams, fuel operations teams and so on,” Teixidor adds.

Collaboration

Teixidor believes that it’s vital to fully exploit ubiquitous coverage and emerging advanced communication services based on global standards, because the growing air transport industry needs its stakeholders to collaborate closer than ever.

“All airport-based workers need to be empowered to quickly exchange information,” he says, “and using our standards-based approach there’s no restriction in rotating a limited number of radio units.

“Also they can exchange information via text not audio, meaning fewer mistakes with certain  operations being completed faster, such as embarking by counting outstanding passengers and baggage handling, which helps to increase overall flight punctuality.”

Safe and secure

Airport collaboration and the gathering and sharing of critical information are central to GCR Inc., our second profiled Marketplace.aero vendor, which offers AirportIQ Safety & Operations Compliance System.

Used daily in over 30 US airports and now moving into Europe, ASOCS gives airports both large and small a solution for operations, safety, security, wildlife, law enforcement information management, and enterprise-wide communications.

It enables these airports to meet ICAO’s Annex 14 or FAR Part 139 requirements for safety, security and certification.

As well as ensuring compliance reporting, the solution performs intelligent data sorting of incidents. That includes tracking incidents by category and department, sending notices and alerts to staff and supplying supporting documentation, tracking related actions and more.

“Using ASOCS to its fullest potential, airports can gain efficiencies across many areas,” says Tim Walsh, Associate Vice President Airline Services, GCR Inc.

“It facilitates communication across all parties: airport management, tenants, and regulatory agencies. Effective communication is the foundation for increased safety and efficiency.”

Maintenance edge

In keeping with the theme, Testia, our third profiled vendor, brings the potential of huge efficiency gains in the area of maintenance.

Its Online Maintenance Assistance (OMA) mobile teleservice system enables wireless and intuitive live video and audio communication between mobile device-enabled technicians in the field and the experts on hand to advise them.

“In a context-driven way, the service optimizes browser-based real-time communication and document sharing between remote inspectors and those experts able to provide support,” says Holger Speckmann, CEO, Testia Germany.

“So we’re able to provide communication and additional functions while focusing on the inspection context, meaning that communication about maintenance happens at the very place where an issue may occur – such as at the aircraft in the field or in the hangar.”

Productivity

“This increases productivity and reduces the high incidence of idle time that’s often a characteristic of usual maintenance communications,” adds Holger.

Beside inspections, OMA tackles other maintenance tasks, for support of suppliers, for test support (large scale tests) and for any other task where a direct support is needed on a short and immediate term basis.

Endorsement

As Marketplace.aero evolves, bringing to market the software and services to streamline air transport processes remains very much a goal of the relatively new industry portal.

As SITA’s Verbaere says: “As a community player, SITA is committed to constantly enhancing efficiencies and reducing costs in air transport. Our vendor program, in which we endorse vendors with solutions complementary to SITA products and services, is central to that commitment.”

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