A history of building commercial flight booking engines for airline carriers has now positioned the Conducive Technology Corporation well within the airport market. The FlightStats travel brand, produced by Conducive Technology, provides a data solution for airports to publish and distribute pertinent travel information to passengers in an intelligent and consistent manner using various channels of communication. Comments VP of business development Meara McLaughlin, “Our job is to make sure we get the right information to the right people, and that we never send excess information to those for whom the information isn’t relevant.”
Conducive Technology is formerly known as Sight and Sound Software, the technology company that built the first online booking engine for American Airlines back in the mid-90s, as well as for many other carriers as well, says McLaughlin.
“I have been with the company for six years … but half of the company has been here since those original days in the ‘90s; the team is seasoned and used to building mission critical systems for the aviation industry.
“FlightStats started building booking engines for airlines, were acquired, and spent three years under a non-compete; we built the platform that FlightStats is on but we could only utilize it within the air freight industry. So before we sprang from the egg wholly-formed as FlightStats in late 2005, we had already been tried by fire, and we already knew we had better real-time status information than anyone had ever produced before.”
A Data Powerhouse
FlightStats collects the critical real-time flight status data, explains McLaughlin, by starting with OAG (Official Airline Guide) schedules updated every week, then it applies to that the FAA ASDI (aircraft situational display to industry) feed; ATC (air traffic control) advisory; and weather information. “We also pull in data direct from the movement control systems of airlines as well as the airline-supplied flight information through all of the GDSs (global distribution systems) including Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo, Apollo, etc.,” she says.
“We power the information either for web display or FIDS (flight information display system) at some 100 airports. In many cases, those airports also push back to us any data that is input locally.
“We also have regional partners that work with airlines internationally to push data back to us.”
The information is better than what most airports can produce for themselves, remarks McLaughlin. “Not only does FlightStats have more data sources ... ” she says.
“The real secret sauce of our system is that we monitor and intelligently interpret all of these systems that have different standards, and are in different data formats … and often they conflict.
“We have an entire intelligence layer that interprets the information and applies data precedence to it. The goal is to be able to go back in time and look minute-by-minute at a flight — which system told us the right information? How reliable is it? And how consistent is that the case?”
What airports have to do to have this type of data can often be very time consuming, says McLaughlin. With FlightStats, an airport can be given a data drop that has all of the sources and data aggregated, everything updated minute-by-minute, and it can be dropped in for use on FIDS or a website.
The Airport Communication Challenge
“We started being contacted by airports in the U.S. because passengers were walking into terminals and standing in front of a FIDS with a mobile device and asking why the flight information display had inaccurate information while the mobile device they were holding had the correct data,” explains McLaughlin.
“The membrane that used to sort of encapsulate the sphere of interest that an airport had has been punctured. Travelers can now get better more reliable information on their own digital devices; the standard has changed.”
TPA had best on-time departure performance among major North American airports with nearly 89 percent of flights departing within 15 minutes of schedule