Calgary, Alberta, August 11, 2009 – Pre-deployment testing has been completed on new communication technology that has the ability to stream data from aircraft to ground anywhere, anytime, in real-time. AMS and an unnamed customer will perform an aircraft-in-service evaluation of the Automated Flight Information Reporting System (afirs™) Emergency Mode data streaming within the next few weeks.
Under the brand FLYHT™, AMS manufactures the patented afirs™ 220. In certain conditions, this “smart box” can trigger a streaming mode to begin transmission of essential position and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) information. The system provides a continuous automated link between onboard avionics (including GPS and FDR), the Iridium global satellite network and a ground-based web-server that automatically routes messages to any number of designated recipients, all within seconds.
AMS president Richard Hayden, said, “We at AMS are excited to offer this important capability to the entire aviation community. This capability is not only valuable in improving responses to in-flight issues, but in the rare case where an aircraft is lost, this data stream can provide immediate insight into the exact flight path, location, and the possible cause of the accident.”
Following the June 1, 2009 Air France (AF 447) tragedy, whose FDRs are yet to be recovered, calls were made by industry and airlines to develop a “live black box” capable of streaming critical flight information in real time. Doing this can provide insight into in-flight incidents and aid in rescue missions and accident reconstructions in the event that an aircraft’s black box cannot be recovered. Although AF 447 was well equipped with satellite communication technology and ACARS, not having the ability to automatically stream position and flight data in real-time meant that the messages were limited in available diagnostic information.
The afirs™ system solves this dilemma through a combination of normal transmissions using short burst data, and emergency streaming of critical position and FDR information. The use of Iridium means that there are no coverage gaps in the afirs data streaming anywhere on the globe. This development is a significant contribution to aircraft safety and operational efficiency, especially for aircraft flying outside of radar and terrestrial-based communication coverage areas.
A common complaint with data-streaming technology is that it isn't economically viable due to the massive bandwidth and infrastructure requirements. But AMS’s technology compresses flight data to fully use available bandwidth, allowing it to send many times more information than an aircraft with a standard satellite communications system. The emergency mode data streaming enhancement to the afirs 220 system is the subject of a new patent application filed by AMS.
Currently, more than 30 operators on six continents have contracted AMS for the afirs 220 system and these operators will be immediate beneficiaries of this new application of the existing technology.
The system also has a 2-way voice capability so crews can contact ground personnel, and also an event button that can be manually initiated in the case of a hijacking or other non-system related emergency.