Paris Air Show

SITA expands .aero domain

 - December 13, 2006, 11:01 AM

Three years after its introduction by airline-owned information technology and telecommunications specialist SITA, the .aero domain name is expanding to become the development platform for Internet-based services that use the well-established
aviation naming and coding conventions.

Business applications such as the interconnection of voice-over- Internet protocol systems, interline e-ticketing and radio frequency identification device identifier processing could all benefit from the combination of a predictable naming structure and the domain name system (DNS) technology that underpins .aero, SITA maintains.

As the aviation industry’s migration to Internet-based solutions accelerates, SITA points out, airlines find themselves with increasingly automated systems for ticketing, itinerary and passenger tracking and baggage processing. To be effective, all these systems must communicate with each other on a real-time basis.

“The idea behind .aero is to facilitate industry transition from a single centralized network to an Internet environment by developing a predictable naming structure for industry systems to communicate with each other,” said Marie Zitkova, .aero business manager.

SITA sees the .aero top-level domain as a natural evolution in its 55-year history of serving the aviation industry’s telecommunication needs. It sponsors, operates and maintains the .aero naming structure on a not-for-profit basis as a platform for secure, predictable and innovative Internet-based communications.

Why use .aero? The domain name can be used like any other except that all concerned have agreed to ensure it is used in the best interests of the aviation community. So a Web site offering guidance on breaching customs rules, for example, would generally be refused. And if it were a spinoff from a genuine .aero Web site, SITA could close it down.

Being global, moreover, the .aero domain also provides branding opportunities for anyone involved in aviation–branding whose value is underlined by the process of eligibility verification that each applicant has to satisfy.

The domain name system is a distributed database that maps structured names to things. Records defined in the system may contain host IP addresses or e-mail server addresses as well as VoIP addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, individual e-mail addresses or even public cryptography keys.

The database can be fully controlled by the owner of each node independently of the actions of others, and the information contained in the DNS database itself is publicly available to all users of the network although distinctions can be made between the public Internet and various private networks with regard to what information is available. So for public users, explained Zitkova, “It is like knowing where someone lives but not being able to get into their house.”

There are now around 3,800 .aero domains registered by 1,732 entities. SITA operates an on-line directory of these firms.