Aviation - Satellite Solutions

Spirit Wireless has a variety of GPS (Global Position System) aircraft tracking systems to give position reports over a satellite. This information is typically accessed from a web-based mapping interface where current and historical information can be viewed. These devices come in many different forms: some are portable devices that can be moved between aircraft and others are fixed installations.

 

GPS aircraft tracking systems report aircraft-specific information such as speed, bearing and altitude and sometimes have built in voice or data communications capabilities. These systems have varying configurations for reporting intervals, typically from one-minute to fifteen-minute time intervals. Some devices also have the ability to report for AFF.

 

The satellite networks utilized by the equipment in the Aviation section of Spirit Wireless include Iridium and Globalstar Satellite Constellations.



Why should you consider one of these solutions?

Safety
Unless an aircraft is in an air traffic control zone it is not being tracked, and this is especially true for the general aviation market. Most general aviation aircraft frequent remote locations where the traditional check system includes calling the base upon arrival using a satellite phone. If the aircraft were to go down, someone would have to alert search and rescue who typically spend multiple days searching for a missing aircraft. GPS aircraft tracking reduces the time spent searching for aircraft by giving position reports indicating the last known location of the aircraft, the altitude, the direction it was heading and at what speed.
Accountability
Aircraft operators are required by law to report hours flown per aircraft and per pilot to their respective government agency. By having GPS aircraft tracking on board an aircraft, aircraft operators are given access to real historical information for each aircraft to verify logs. Also, this is a way for aircraft operators to verify the information recorded by pilots, possibly saving hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by reducing the frequency of maintenance and repair.
Government contractors are required to have GPS aircraft tracking by law. This is called Automated flight following (AFF) is GPS aircraft tracking that is mandated by a government agency (or other governing body) for its contractors.  The following criteria must be met:
  • The device must transmit position reports every two minutes
  • The position reports must be pushed into the third-party database (where they are automatically tracked by dispatchers)

Common uses for AFF devices are contractors flying for USDA during fire season and contractors flying for utility companies.


Situational Awareness
Situational awareness of one's entire fleet of aircraft gives an aircraft operator several advantages. The first is the classic peace of mind. Some GPS aircraft tracking systems have the ability to track aircraft remotely from a PDA or SmartPhone, or to receive alerts by e-mail upon certain events such as OOOI.  OOOIis an acronym for Out, Off, On and In times of an aircraft which indicates the beginning and end of a trip.
Out – Leaving gate or parking position
Off – Takeoff
On – Touchdown
In – Arrival at gate or parking position

This type of data is important to aircraft operators to know the current status of their aircraft. OOOI is acquired differently in commercial aircraft than in general aviation aircraft. 

 

How is OOOI Information Utilized?

OOOI can be very useful for aircraft operators in several ways. First, some GPS aircraft tracking devices have the ability to send notifications by e-mail upon the OOOI events, therefore notifying an aircraft operator immediately upon leaving the gate, take-off, touchdown and finally the arrival at the gate. These status updates keep the operator informed of expected arrival times and help with scheduling. Second, the reports and trip history generated by GPS aircraft tracking devices acts as proof of flight hours as required by law. Third, since this information is used to calculate many other statistics, the delivery of OOOI data allows for more accurate predictions for costs and maintenance.


The second is the ability to improve operational efficiencies from identifying late arrivals and otherwise unexpected events, and plan for them in advance of landing.