NBAA Convention News

Hawker to offer real time flight recording for bizjets

 - October 19, 2010, 4:50 PM

Hawker Beechcraft Global Customer Support (Booth No. 947) announced it will begin offering satellite monitoring for the Hawker 750, 800XP, 850XP and 900XP.

The Automated Flight Information Reporting system (Afirs) built by Calgary, Alberta-based FlyHT (Booth No. 1713) transmits black box-like data over an Iridium satellite connection. Using the system, operators, owners, maintenance crews and OEMs can receive near-real-time information from aircraft, such as voice recordings and engine information. It can even link with the pilots' electronic flight bags. The company is also offering its Web-based UpTime service, which disseminates the data gathered through Afirs.

"The information can be sent to anyone with an IP address and authorization," FlyHT president Richard Hayden said at the show.

When the system's emergency mode kicks in–that is, should the airplane deviate from its scheduled flight plan or exceed limits of either the aircraft flight manual or parameters set by the operator–the box on the aircraft switches to an instant data streaming mode. When in this mode, it only takes about 15 seconds to send a message.

"We hope this can be used so if a plane should go down, they'll know exactly when and where instantly, allowing the operator to get emergency response there faster," Hayden said.

The company unveiled the system to the business aviation community at the NBAA Convention last year. At the time, company representatives pointed to the June 1 crash of an Air France-operated Airbus A330-300 in the Atlantic.
"That aircraft was in the water for a matter of hours before [parts of it were] found in the water because ATC lost contact with it," Hayden said at this year's show. "That wouldn't happen with this system."

Not only does the system replicate black box information, but it also helps to cut down on AOG time for unscheduled maintenance.

"By installing the Afirs/UpTime system our operators can be proactive about troubleshooting maintenance issues and taking necessary actions to reduce unscheduled downtime," said Hawker Beechcraft vice president of global customer support Christi Tannahill.

"We have a large fleet operator we had hoped would be here [at the show]," Hayden said. "We've been flying a Hawker aircraft with them for some time now and they believe they've saved more than $100,000 per aircraft per year by being able to respond better to unscheduled maintenance."

Hawker's demonstration aircraft will also be equipped with the system so they can educate customers on the system.