Ground To Cockpit
New Technology Expands Real-time Communications To
And From The Cockpit
Taking the connected cockpit to new levels, newly released Sabre AirCentre eFlight Manager enables airlines to digitize flight data, streamline procedures, connect the cockpit with operations control, save costs through recalculation and enrich post-flight analysis.
During the last decade, many airlines have replaced their heavy physical flight bags with electronic flight bags (EFBs) to reduce operating costs and increase flight-operation efficiencies. Yet airlines often struggle with the next phase, which is creating a holistic EFB solution. Often, they use a variety of vendors that deliver specialized applications that are difficult to integrate with their already-existing systems and tools.
Clearly, a new approach is needed so EFB programs can adapt to current business requirements, seamlessly integrate into operational processes and grow to support an airline’s evolving business needs.
Enabling The Connected Flight For Confident Decision Making
With the right technology, multiple users with different devices can share the same information anytime, anywhere.
Sabre AirCentre eFlight Manager enables airlines to begin or augment their EFB program. It enables them to digitize flight data, simplify procedures, connect the cockpit with operations control, realize cost savings through recalculation (a new-to-the-industry capability) and improve post-flight analysis. To allow integrated operations and avoid complex and costly integration projects that often result in incomplete programs or solutions that fail to address business goals and give a shared view of the flight between the cockpit and operations control, eFlight Manager fully connects the flight-planning environment at the ground with mobile devices (such as Windows and iOS tablets) in the cockpit through a two-way communication between Sabre AirCentre Flight Plan Manager and eFlight Manager.
This connected approach simplifies pre-flight procedures because it enables pilots to collect the configurable and automatable Flight Plan Manager briefing package with up to more than 50 different product types such as:
- Operational flight plan,
- NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) briefing,
- Weather briefing,
- Significant weather chart,
- Terrain report,
- RAIM (Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring) report.
What’s more, pilots can access the information from any location that has Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connectivity. Together with the Flight Plan Manager briefing package, pilots collect the flight plan, as well as the NOTAM and weather briefing, in the digital air-ground data and message exchange format (ARINC 633) during the trip download for either the complete flight chain or individual flight legs only.
The mobile delivery of digital flight data enables two major advantages — electronic and digital data. With electronic data, airlines can remove gate printers and pilot self-service stations, saving hardware costs and a lot of time during the briefing process. With digital data, pilots now have access to real-time data and can quickly find relevant information in an easy-to-view format.
To ensure a continued common view of flight data between pilots and dispatchers, the downloaded data must be regularly updated on all devices. Pilots using eFlight Manager can choose which type of flight data to refresh during all phases of the flight. They can also make use of the graphical presentation of weather and NOTAM data for improved situational awareness and more-precise decision making.
A Blended Environment
Opportunities exist to clear the often-seen rigorous split between flight planning and flight execution and create a blended environment to realize additional cost savings and operational efficiencies.
In case of rerouting or diversion, assuming inflight connectivity is available, the flexibility is given outside of the preflight briefing package by allowing the retrieval of digital NOTAM and digital weather data for a much wider area not covered by the original briefing. The crew can select and request additional information for a set of airports or FIR’s (flight information regions) directly from eFlight Manager, leading to improved ground support by flight dispatch sharing the same information..
Reducing operations costs is one of today’s major concerns for airlines. To support fuel-saving initiatives, eFlight Manager offers a state-of-the-art recalculation module that allows flight-parameter changes and recalculation with the latest weather and load data directly on the mobile device, resulting in more precise flight-planning, potential fuel savings and reduced need for extra fuel.
For situations where connectivity is not available, a short flight plan with offline fuel and weight adjustments can be used by the crew. The short flight plan summarizes the most important flight information on one page and allows simple modifications such as alternate changes, entry of actual zero fuel weight or adding extra fuel by either entering the extra time or extra fuel amount.
When connectivity is available, the recalculation module will allow a full recalculation with changed flight parameters through eFlight Manager/Flight Plan Manager integration, considering all flight-planning data that is available in the Flight Plan Manager database on the ground.
For example, the raw data for wind-file-creation updates are published every six hours and can trigger a major difference in savings if flights are recalculated with the latest data closer to departure time.
Trip Log Reporting
The navigation log is automatically populated with the ARINC 633 flight plan from Flight Plan Manager to capture in-flight data and ease the pilot usage while flying. At the end of the trip, the information is downloaded and made available within the eFlight Manager flight data center for improved post-flight analysis and future planning.
To seamlessly integrate eFlight Manager into operational processes, an airline’s current workflow needs to be analyzed in detail to understand:
- How flight plans are prepared,
- Which parts of the flight preparation are automated,
- When the last calculation is scheduled before the dispatcher releases the flight,
- If interface updates flowing into the system from various other applications are being intentionally stopped X hours before departure time.
All those questions and many others need to be answered to find the best model and workflow that provides maximum benefits, reduces operating costs and increases flight-operation efficiencies.
In addition, the trip-log module (showing all waypoint segments of the planned route with planned values and environmental information) will be automatically populated with the ARINC 633 flight plan to allow comparison of planned versus actual data.
For example, fuel on board, times, flight level, directs, fuel checks and notes can be captured inflight. The system will automatically calculate differences between planned versus actual values and present them to the crew. After arriving at the destination, all captured data can be transmitted back to a centrally-hosted ground server to archive so the post-flight data that was transmitted from the cockpit to the ground can be analyzed.
This fosters improved post flight-data analysis and future planning on the ground server. For example, the fuel consumption of an airline’s fleet will be measured and analyzed to identify deviations from plan and consequently correct the aircraft performance data for the appropriate aircraft registrations.
Also the integration with an airline’s data warehouse through a Web service will be supported to gain the advantages and opportunities of centralized data.
Prior to its recent release, eFlight Manager was beta tested with selected partner airlines to ensure the highest quality and reaffirm readiness. Program partners provided a trusted source to accurately define and prioritize ongoing features, delivery and usability requirements.
Considering the recent growth in the aviation sector and the forecasted future growth on flights and passengers a year, it is essential for airlines to modernize and use technologies and procedures that will support their growth objectives and reduce costs per flight.
Today’s often-seen rigorous split between flight planning and flight execution needs a turnaround, shifting to a new mindset that will produce new opportunities for a more connected approach. However, the prerequisite is a change in philosophy of flight-operations participants.
Gone are the days when flight efficiencies were realized strictly with route optimization, tankering and flight prioritization. The time has come for stakeholders to integrate their operations and workflows by using the right technology.