By Jodi Prill
Fixed base operations are also jumping on the wireless train, for public and operational use.
Clark Tesh, president of New Millennium Aviation, an FBO at Davidson County Airport in Lexington , NC , has been offering free wireless Internet access to his customers since early summer.
The young general aviation airport (some four years old) is located 25 minutes from Winston/Salem and 30 minutes from Greensboro . Tesh, who is also a pilot, explains its frustrating for customers who need Internet access to be tied to a phone jack. "My whole intent was to make our terminal completely wireless," he says. I didn't want to have a lot of extra phone lines, and it was just something to offer corporate pilots so they could sit anywhere they want in the terminal and we don't have a long line waiting to use the phone."
Beyond customer usage, the 802.11b (the current wireless standard) system has a range of some 14 miles, says Tesh, and is designed to allow line operations, particularly daily fuel quality checks, to be performed, documented, and stored on a server in real-time. "I'm a true believer that any activity should be recorded at the time you do it," he says.
Tesh is currently developing a program in which fuel check standards will be built. The program will prompt employees to perform each task, such as the white bucket test. An interface will also email Tesh a notice, at a time that he selects, if any inspections are not completed, and the FBO manager will receive a message on his beeper. "We'll be beta testing that in the next 30 days," he adds.
New Millennium Aviation has also installed wireless cameras for security, which allow Tesh to monitor the FBO from a secure website.
"All of our daily applications are going to end up being wireless at some point in time," Tesh says. Eventually, fuel sales will be completed right at the truck, with a wireless PDA (personal data assistant) and infrared printer installed in the fuel truck so fuel receipts can be printed immediately.
"It's for productivity and accuracy, and I want everything Web-based so when I'm away, I have the ability to look at it," says Tesh, who calls himself an absentee owner.
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In speaking with some Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) vendors at the recent annual meeting of Airports Council International-North America in Tampa , as well as conversations with some airport folks, it would seem that there's a lot of confusion when it comes to wireless. And not just with the tech-talk that sends many of our heads spinning with questions.
The confusion for some airports and vendors starts with simply not taking the time to understand each business. One vendor thought it atrocious that an airport would ask it to foot the bill for all installation costs, plus pay a rent fee, and even give up a percentage of the revenue from wireless usage. Talk to the fast food venue or bookstore in the airport and this isn't a bizarre concept — it's the way most airports handle concessions.
When you want to do business with an organization, it's important to take the time to gain a clear understanding of the way the prospective partner operates.
Airports and Wi-Fi vendors will have the opportunity to learn from each other at the Third Annual Wireless Airport Association Conference & Exposition, October 19-21 in Washington , D.C. The tentative agenda includes: Transportation Security Administration's position on security issues related to wireless; radio frequency interference; finding the right wireless business model; roaming/billing; latest technology; and airport/airline experiences. For more information, visit www.wireless-airport.org
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