NBAA Convention News

Air Support makes jump across the pond

 - October 19, 2009, 6:38 AM

Air Support is making its debut appearance as an NBAA exhibitor this year (Booth No. 4749), marking the company’s first entry into the North American market. The Billund, Denmark-based company’s preflight planning software (PPS) system has been available to European and Middle Eastern customers for a number of years but, for the first time, it is now available to North American operators as well.

The PPS system produces a computer flight plan that calculates routes, flight levels, distance, time and fuel needs, including reserves. It also provides surface weather briefings, Notams for flight information regions (FIRs) and airports, flight level wind charts and cross sections with a two-dimensional view that shows icing and turbulence.

The system can also calculate optimal flight levels, alternate airports and weather at en-route airports, as well as ETOPS/EROPS (extended twin-engine operations) requirements for an aircraft on any overwater route, as well as oxygen system requirements. The flight plans can be downloaded into electronic flight bags.

The PPS system is PC-based, which gives Air Support’s product a number of advantages over competing systems, according Jens Pisarski, director of sales and marketing. “A majority of the other flight planning systems are mainframe-based,” he said. “They are built around a big, central computer and are running on technology that was developed in the 1970s and ’80s. With the birth of PC technology, our founder–Per Jensen–realized that we could have a decentralized software system.”

With a decentralized system, all the necessary algorithms, navigation databases, aircraft performance databases and user-related databases are installed on the user’s PC or laptop. And as long as the PC or laptop is connected to the Internet, the databases can be updated every 15 minutes.

The PPS system retrieves navigational data from the Lufthansa Lido navigational database in Zurich, Switzerland. That database is updated every 28 days. Users can retrieve other information, such as weather and Notams, via Air Support’s Web-based crew briefing program, which is updated every second and works in conjunction with the PPS system.

“The user has a fully updated system at any given time,” Pisarski said. “But even if the Internet is offline for a period of time, the user can still use the system to do the calculations for a flight plan. This is what military clients like about the system. They can carry the PPS on a laptop and, even without an online connection, they can still do flight plans in the desert.”

The price for the system is tailored to an operator’s individual needs. For an operator with three large business jets, the program costs approximately $30,000 for the first year, and $11,000 each additional year for update service charges. Annual rental charges range from approximately $4,500 for an operator with one aircraft to $22,000 for a large fleet, plus the cost of service updates.

“With two or three planes, the system will pay for itself within the first year,” Pisarski said, noting that an operator can save thousands of dollars in fuel and routing costs.