Tech Bytes

Oct. 19, 2005
Speaking with vendors at the annual Airports Council International-North America convention in Toronto, it’s exciting to note the advances they have made with technology applications and what we can expect to see in the near future.

Speaking with vendors at the annual Airports Council International-North America convention in Toronto, it’s exciting to note the advances they have made with technology applications and what we can expect to see in the near future.

ARINC Incorporated, a provider of transportation communications and system engineering, demonstrated its advances in airport kiosk and passenger handling systems at the Toronto convention. According to John Dungan, airport systems director, global product management for ARINC, the company’s SelfServ™ common-use kiosk is now hardware-independent, enabling airports to install nearly any type of kiosk within a single common-use check-in system.

Dungan says the new, flexible common-use self-service (CUSS) platform will allow airports to choose from a variety of manufacturer-specific and customized kiosks. Also at ACI-NA, Catherine Mayer, VP of airport services for SITA, comments that the outsourcing of IT at airports will continue. “Airlines and airports are learning that they need to stick to their core business.” She relates that currently, airlines are ahead of airports in terms of IT outsourcing.

Something to watch, according to Mayer, is (yet another acronym) the development of CUPPS (Common Use Passenger Processing System). An industry working group has been established to develop standards for this technology which Mayer says will “go beyond CUSS in providing a shared use environment. It’s the next generation.” The working group expects to present its research to IATA in Fall of 2006.

SITA recently released the results of its 7th Annual Airline IT Trends Survey, commissioned by SITA and Airline Business. Responses to the survey were received from senior IT executives representing the “world’s top 200 airlines, together with key players in cargo, charter, and regional markets.” Here are some of the highlights:

  • North American airlines spend an average of 1.4 percent of revenues on telecommunications and IT.

  • 67 percent of airlines expect their IT budget to increase in 2006.

  • Only 11 percent of airlines expect to offer some form of in-flight voice or data connectivity by 2007.

  • 56 percent of airlines have deployed self-service kiosks for check-in.

  • 85 percent of airlines sell some tickets online.

  • Customer service or marketing advantage projects were rated the highest IT priority by most airlines — 56 percent. Short-term projects with proven payback were ranked highest by 44 percent.

  • 63 percent of all tickets are sold online; of these, 55 percent are sold on the airline’s own website.

  • 61 percent of all tickets are fulfilled as e-tickets.

  • 67 percent of airlines currently use bar coded boarding passes.

    Comments Mayer, “It will be even more interesting to compare the results from the airline IT survey to the airport IT trend survey,” which will be released this fall;

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    Meanwhile, state aviation directors are exploring technology that will aid in security as well as safe operations at airports.

    In Des Moines, IA at the 74th Annual National Association of State Aviation Officials Convention and Tradeshow (see page 8), association president/CEO Henry Ogrodzinski says the group is working with TSA and FAA to create a general aviation security self-assessment tool.

    The web-based program will allow an airport to enter its parameters online and the program will offer a security profile and recommendations on what the airport can do to encourage safe and secure operations.

    NASAO members are also partnered closely with FAA to enhance the navigational facilities across the United States. Says David Greene, director, bureau of aeronautics, division of transportation infrastructure development, Wisconsin DOT, “As technology enhances our world, we want to make sure that those applications are made in the aviation arena. We want to start moving the old applications to get new technology in so the technology in the ground navigational systems matches the technology in the airplanes.”

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    At Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, passengers will have an opportunity to learn about wireless technology in an exhibited hosted at the airport.

    According to the airport, “as the airport moves toward a totally wireless environment, its information and technology systems specialists aim to educate the traveling public about the various options in wireless technology.” The exhibit will allow travelers to learn about different vendors offering services and equipment and is scheduled to take place this fall.

    On October 3, the airport will begin offering wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) over more than 5.8 million square feet of the terminal. The service is based on a neutral host business model, where the airport is the owner and administrator of the system — designed to offer travelers more options when choosing a wireless provider;