Technology specialists at SITA’s New York-based development and delivery lab are vital in supporting the global air travel marketplace. We look inside this air travel industry center of tech expertise.
With nearly every passenger flight relying on technology from SITA, air transport IT teams working at SITA’s facility in Bohemia, New York, have a huge role to play in keeping the wheels of the industry in motion.
They’re tasked with driving much of the development and innovation that helps airlines and airports optimize operations and improve the passenger experience.
The SITA Bohemia Lab combines integration and quality control activities – taking care of integration and final quality testing prior to releasing SITA’s common use platform solutions.
Since opening about 35 years ago, SITA’s Bohemia facility has quickly become not only the main Americas hub where all airlines’ circuits terminate, but also a strategic development center of airport-based products.
From software developers and quality assurance to product managers and technical trainers, more than 200 Bohemia employees are focused on building, implementing and supporting technology solutions that are deployed at approximately 400 airports around the world.
Since the early 1980s, SITA has invested in Long Island; and Long Island has returned the favor. With its proximity to New York City and the four airports that serve the region, Long Island provides access to national and international markets – making SITA’s Bohemia location ideal.
In addition, Long Island has become a leading area for technology development, and its higher education institutions include six community colleges and 16 universities offering numerous degrees and technical programs that provide SITA the opportunity to recruit top talent.
For years, SITA has offered annual internship programs and recently launched a 12-month internship with a permanent-hire option.
From its original East Meadow office shared with Lufthansa, Air Berlin and Scandinavian Airlines, SITA’s Long Island workforce has grown from 20 to more than 200 employees.
The range of expertise and collective industry knowledge across disciplines – including sales, product management, architecture/design, development, integration, quality control and certification – in one location has created a unique synergy that has driven SITA Bohemia’s success.
As the air transport industry well knows, CUTE (common use terminal equipment) offers any airline the ability to use any agent desk, gate position or self-service kiosk for passenger check-in and bag drop and to reconcile passengers boarded.
As one of the mainstays of today’s air travel industry, the easy-to-use and efficient CUTE service was created by SITA’s Bohemia-based tech teams in the mid-1980s.
Later, SITA Bohemia teams initiated and developed AirportConnect Open, SITA’s flagship common-use platform to deliver airlines’ host traffic to airports over common use networks.
This eliminated the need for airlines to order individual communications connections to each of their sites and instead order a single connection to the SITA network aggregated to all operating sites.
These same teams are currently working to transform the industry yet again with a next generation common use platform based on pure cloud technology that will make it even easier for airlines and airports to manage their solutions, however and wherever they choose.
The evolution of common use has created local employment opportunities as well, since site administrators and field engineers were needed to manage and operate site airports, customer service managers needed to work with individual airlines and area managers needed to manage multiple airport support.
SITA Bohemia boasts an impressive history of development and innovation that has greatly impacted the air transport industry.
Following the introduction of common use, SITA teams in Bohemia introduced the integration of IBM OS/2 in the early 1990s.
CUTE on Windows NT came several years later. Bohemia-based SITA teams also pioneered the first enterprise-managed Windows XP-based CUTE solution in the early 2000s followed by a Windows 7-based solution the following decade.
Much of the foundation for the switch from magnetic stripes to bar codes on boarding passes and other travel documents – a big change that simplified transmitted data and saved the industry millions of dollars – was laid at SITA Bohemia as well. Nearly 430 airlines have been validated and modified as a result.
Bohemia continues to play an increasingly important role in SITA’s ability to more closely collaborate with customers and showcase our ongoing commitment to driving innovation in the air transport industry.
More recent innovations include the use of biometrics to facilitate an end-to-end self-service passenger experience as well as the first PCI-compliant common use, multi-merchant payment solution.
“Bohemia continues to play an increasingly important role in SITA’s ability to more closely collaborate with customers and showcase our ongoing commitment to driving innovation in the air transport industry," says Randy Pizzi, SITA President, Americas.
SITA regularly hosts airline customers at its New York Bohemia facility.
SITA’s Bohemia facility is also home to a certification facility where airlines work closely with SITA employees to ensure their airport deployments meet International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards.
As part of this engagement process, SITA customer service managers regularly gather customer requirements which are then brought back to Bohemia for SITA engineering teams to work on.
Similarly, SITA’s Bohemia technology ‘display center/airport echo lab’ displays numerous SITA products in an environment that physically resembles an airport.
This includes a common use check-in area with self-service kiosks and areas featuring flight information displays, an integrated public address system, security check and verification, boarding/self-boarding and arrivals/baggage.
Innovation is the cornerstone of SITA’s ability to fulfill its vision to make travel easier every step of the way. At SITA Bohemia, together with our customers we are committed to exploring the technologies that can create an exceptional passenger experience.
These and other products developed mainly by SITA on Long Island help the air transport industry reduce costs, improve profitability and generate new revenue opportunities.
The focus on simplifying travel through technology and innovation is relentless.
In the words of Balwin Atwal, Director, Product Development, SITA Bohemia: “Innovation is the cornerstone of SITA’s ability to fulfill its vision to make travel easier every step of the way.
“At SITA Bohemia, together with our customers we are committed to exploring the technologies that can create an exceptional passenger experience.”