AeroMechanical Services Ltd. TSX-V Trading Symbol "AMA" A Tier 2 Industrial Issuer
CALGARY , June 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - AeroMechanical Services, Ltd has completed testing of an upgrade to its Automated Flight Information Reporting System (afirs(TM)) that allows continuous streaming of GPS position and aircraft parameter data from aircraft to ground in addition to the currently deployed event-driven reporting of position and selected aircraft data. The prototype development started several years ago with Aloha Airlines, but was interrupted when Aloha ceased operations in 2008. Because of afirs(TM)'s use of the Iridium satellite constellation and its own GPS receiver, afirs(TM) can report from any point on the earth to any other point through its internet delivery system.
As the data are analyzed to find the causes of the Air France Flight 447 tragedy, calls are being made for a "live black box", a method of streaming critical flight information in real time to provide insight into incidents in the event that an aircraft's Flight Data Recorder cannot be recovered. Even though the aircraft may have been operating out of radar coverage, Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A330-200, was very well equipped with a system that transmitted aircraft status and position data via a satellite communications method, without which the aviation community would have limited information with which to proceed with the accident investigation. Yet even aircraft equipped with these advanced technologies (and many are not) are subject to the limitations inherent in any system that is not programmed to automatically "stream" (continuously transmit) position and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) data in real time under a set of pre-defined conditions (e.g., loss of cabin pressurization, rapid change in altitude or attitude, engine failure, or excessive "g" loads). At a time when calls are being made for new technologies and changes to legacy systems, it should be made clear that such solutions currently exist, are certified for aviation use, and are commercially available.
Under the brand of FLYHT, AeroMechanical Services (AMS) of Calgary, Alberta, Canada manufactures and markets the afirs(TM) 220, a "smart" box capable of being programmed with any number of specific conditions that would trigger a streaming mode for position and FDR data. afirs(TM) provides an automated link between onboard avionics (including GPS and the FDR), a global satellite network called Iridium that has no coverage gaps anywhere on the globe, and a ground based web server called UpTime that automatically routes messages to any designated recipient, all within seconds. afirs(TM) also provides an independent 2-way voice capability for crews to contact ground personnel, also over Iridium with no coverage gaps anywhere in the world. The afirs(TM) system uses an Iridium satellite modem that is capable of streaming data to the ground at a rate of 2400 bits per second from anywhere around the globe. Iridium provides sufficient bandwidth for afirs(TM) to send pre-defined parameters recorded each second by the Flight Data Recorder. Unused bandwidth is available to send additional data recorded every second by the AFIRS system, including valuable GPS position and certain discrete parameters not usually recorded by FDRs. In normal operations, reports are typically sent every 5 minutes, but that reporting interval can be adjusted either by the operator or automatically by an event on board. The periodic data stream occurs automatically when the afirs(TM) system functions in "normal" mode and transmits key operational data by means of short burst data (SBD). When a critical condition is detected, the afirs(TM) system can automatically switch to emergency mode and start streaming data. The combination of normal transmissions of short burst data and emergency streaming of critical position and FDR data is a significant contribution to aircraft safety and efficiency as well as being cost effective.
In addition to pre-programmed events that trigger position and FDR streaming, the system's emergency mode can be manually initiated by the pilots via a cockpit "event button" in hijacking or other non-system related emergencies. Once the emergency mode is initiated automatically by a systems event or manually by the flight crew, any number of alerts and displays can be generated at the airline operational control center (AOC), and any person or facility anywhere on the planet that has internet connectivity or a phone can be alerted automatically, including air traffic control. Redundant ground-based IBM host servers within the UpTime(TM) system receive the data from the aircraft and generate alerts and messages in the predetermined manner selected by the airline, sent out by e-mail or other messaging formats, all within seconds. This functionality is easily customizable by the airline. An operator can generate the streaming request from the ground by sending a secure message to the aircraft through the UpTime interface.
"Our afirs(TM) UpTime(TM) technology has since 2004 been tracking aircraft in all parts of the world using Iridium for satellite communications, and sending pre-defined data from the aircraft periodically during routine and non-routine operation of the aircraft, including previews of events that are outside normal ranges. This new extension of our afirs capability will allow an operator to receive all data on a continuous basis from an aircraft if it encounters a major in-flight issue, or if the crew choose to initiate continuous streaming of data and position reports", stated Richard Hayden , President of AMS. "This capability is not only valuable in improving responses to in flight issues, but in the rare case where an aircraft goes down, this data stream can provide immediate insight into the exact flight path and possible cause of the accident".
One of AMA's customers who flies long over water routes to remote areas of the world is North American Airlines, a charter operator based at JFK Airport in New York . Paul Sterbenz , NAA Vice President for Strategic Development, states "North American Airlines has equipped all of its aircraft with afirs over the past eighteen months. We are very pleased with the results that we are experiencing to date. Still, we believe that we are barely scratching the surface in the use of this cutting edge technology. We look forward to further development and additional functionality, such as streaming data, that will come on-line in the months ahead."
Unless the aircraft black boxes are recovered from the ocean's mountainous bottom in mid-Atlantic, it is doubtful that the precise cause of the AF447 tragedy will be known. What little data were received, however, was due to real-time satellite-based communications capability that should be standard on all aircraft flying outside of radar and terrestrial-based data communications coverage, especially given that streaming position and FDR information is available today. afirs(TM) is certified by Transport Canada, the FAA, EASA, and CAAC ( China ) for use on over 30 aircraft models. Currently, 31 operators in 6 continents have contracted with AMS for afirs(TM) and many are tracking aircraft on transoceanic flights and in remote areas that are not fully served by ground based receivers and radar.
About AeroMechanical Services Ltd.
AeroMechanical Services Ltd. provides proprietary technological solutions and services designed to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in the airline industry. The company has successfully patented and commercialized three products and associated services currently marketed to airlines, manufacturers and maintenance organizations around the world. Its premier technology, afirs(TM) UpTime(TM), allows airlines to monitor and manage aircraft operations anywhere, anytime, in real-time.
SOURCE AeroMechanical Services Ltd.