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FOCUS: Information Wherever and Whenever...
by Carlton van Putten, Blue Sky Network

Today, most people can’t imagine taking a road trip without a cell phone. What would happen if you got lost trying to follow directions, or ended up on the side of the road with a flat tire? Each scenario could be a problem if drivers didn’t have at their fingertips the ability to call and speak with a friend who could get them going in the right direction, or for the assistance of a local tow-truck driver who could replace the tire. Given this reality, why would one fly in any aircraft without these same sorts of reassurances? Affordable technologies exist enabling every aircraft to be equipped with devices that ensure they are never off the radar and are in constant communication with those on land and in the air.

Higher Levels Of Control
Devices that allow for the tracking of aircraft anywhere on the globe while providing constant communication are Blue Sky Network’s D1000A and D1000C satellite communications kits. The GPS tracking of aircraft ensure managers have near real time details on a fleet. With tracking technologies, it is made known where a flight is going, if it is delayed, tracks the current speed, the amount of fuel onboard, or if the flight is off path.

With a proven Iridium transceiver and compact control unit, the D1000A is able to be connected to a laptop, PDA, or EFB. This device can send and receive messages between aircraft and ground including automated aircraft position reports. The D1000A also offers a built-in, or remotely mounted, control head that has an On/Off switch, LED indicators for signal and message waiting along with a Mayday alert button. Furthermore, through Blue Sky Network’s web-based asset management portal, SkyRouter, information can be accessed from anywhere.

With this sort of information comes increased flight safety as managers know the location of a flight at all times and can respond accordingly. Combine proven tracking with voice capabilities and a flight becomes even more secure. If any issues arise en route pilots are able to contact controllers on the ground and get necessary assistance. Likewise, those on the ground are able to speak or text message those in the air and exchange information. Blue Sky Network’s C1000A offers ultimate versatility for Iridium satellite voice and dial-up data. With the option of integrating the solution with an existing telephone system or wire analog handsets throughout the aircraft for voice connectivity.

Increased Manageability
With the D1000A supported by Blue Sky Networks’ SkyRouter, air transport and flight operations managers, dispatchers, and even customers have the power to control aviation assets from their desk, or anywhere, with an Internet connection. SkyRouter is an entirely unique global web portal designed to support dispersed critical assets worldwide. This web portal provides a global mapping solution with near real-time views of fleet activity. Operators are able to use the built-in flight planning tools for scheduling flights for an entire day and calculate the effect of re-routing and re-scheduling. In the event of an emergency, SkyRouter has built-in alerting notification mechanisms, either in the map display or via e-mail/SMS.

Accessing SkyRouter allows aviation asset managers to:
  • Access advanced flight following on a global, layered map
  • Configure/update transceiver remotely
  • Receive event notifications for emergency, take-off, landing, minimum en-route altitude, quick position /Mayday alerts, inactive units and more
  • Send and receive two-way email messages
  • Manage alert settings
  • Create FAA-type flight plans
  • Receive telemetry data
  • Create additional user accounts
  • Manage account, such as billing, data usage, and account information
Cougar Helicopters (Newfoundland, Canada) uses SkyRouter in the tracking of its helicopters and work boats. This enables Cougar’s managers to login and locate any equipped supply vessel or helicopter, eliminating the need for them to call ahead for updates on its location, or to find out if they can beat bad weather. Before having such capabilities, logistics mangers spent a significant amount of time determining where cargo shipments were in relationship to their route.

Now, managers find those cargo shipments more easily and can even offer access to the information to their customers so they, too, can track their shipments. Not only did the Cougar experience direct cost savings, improved communications, and higher levels of control, but their customer satisfaction increased as well.

The benefits and needs for tracking capabilities aboard aircraft are clear, the most obvious being in the event of an emergency, every aircraft should be capable of sending a distress signal, which can be traced to its location. A craft should never go down undetected and a technology such as the D1000A ensures such does not happen. Furthermore, if you are a fleet and logistics manager looking to streamline business as you increase security — voice and data technologies are critical to have aboard your craft.

About the author
As Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Carlton van Putten is responsible for worldwide sales and marketing for Blue Sky Network. His responsibilities encompass sales and channel management, corporate communications, and product marketing activities. In more than a decade of senior management experience, Carlton has filled several senior management positions at start-ups and multi-national corporations, including COO of Maredy Corporation, President of Rivus Internet Group, and as Vice President of Marketing at Stream International and Focus Enhancements.