Appropriately enough, the .aero Worldwide Web domain is sponsoring the Internet café here at EBACE. The Internet’s first industry-specific domain is growing in popularity among aviation companies wanting to set themselves apart from all the dot-coms, dot-nets and dot-orgs on the information super highway.
But according to .aero’s creator, information technology group SITA, the domain promises to be more than just a select Internet address. It has the potential to form the foundation for online applications that could, for example, track every conceivable bit of air transport hardware and provide a channel through which partner companies can instantly and securely share vital real time data. Functions such as the interconnection of voice-over-Internet protocol systems and radio frequency identification device identifier (RFID) processing stand to benefit from the combination of a predictable naming structure and the domain name system that underpins .aero.
Unlike the standard public domains on the Internet (.com, .org, and so forth), .aero strictly defines its own access and usage policies to safeguard the integrity of the domain. The identities of companies applying for the .aero domain are vetted to ensure that they are legitimate members of the aviation community.
Other domains simply register firms on a first-come-first-served basis. This can result in confusion for Internet users since registrants from wildly different backgrounds can all too easily secure domains that users from a wholly unrelated industry would instinctively log on to. For example, in the U.S., the National Air Transportation Association (a general aviation lobbying group) was glad to register its Web site as www.nata.aero to set itself apart from the National Athletic Trainer’s Association at www.nata.org. Similarly, with a .aero domain name, the National Aircraft Finance Association has been able to avoid confusion with bodies as disparate as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the North American Falconers Association (which is not a group of Dassault operators).
The integrity and exclusivity of the .aero top-level domain is a key factor in its suitability as a channel for secure online voice and data communications between aviation companies. SITA is now actively developing processes whereby aircraft engines, seats, spare parts and individual passenger bags can have their own Internet Protocol address, allowing them to be tracked in real-time within a worldwide operation, such an executive charter firm with aircraft spread around the globe or a manufacturer’s service center network. In practice this would mean sharing data from RFID chips (or some other tracking technology) over a secure part of the Internet.
Geneva-based SITA recently appointed a new registry service operator for the .aero domain. This has resulted in technical improvements such as enhanced security and disaster recovery procedures. The new service provider has also made it faster and easier to register a name, as well as bringing down registration fees to as low as €45 ($54).