Aeronautical Data Systems has added a feature to its Ergo 360 safety planning app, a vessels tab that shows the location of ships in case a dire emergency requires a water landing.
Developed by airline pilot Jim Stabile, Ergo 360 allows pilots and flight planners to maximize the benefits of onboard oxygen supplies to minimize the amount of fuel that must be carried. The original Ergo 360 presentation shows two range circles on a map with the aircraft’s own position and planned diversion airports. One circle shows the airplane’s fuel range (blue) and the other (green) is the airplane’s oxygen range during an emergency diversion. If something happens that means the airplane can’t reach an airport, such as an engine failure after decompression, the flight crew might have to plan to ditch. Pressing the vessels tab in Ergo 360 pulls up a near real-time display of all ships that participate in the Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel-tracking service. Touching any blue vessel symbol pulls up speed, ship type and track. On the app’s SOS tab, Stabile plans to add a method for contacting the ship via Apple’s FaceTime app for aircraft equipped to connect to the Internet.
The new vessels feature can be used offline, for aircraft without Internet connectivity. In this case, Ergo 360 should be updated just before departure, then once in the air it will display ships’ predicted positions.
In an emergency where a water landing is inevitable, for example, a fire requiring an immediate ditching, it would be better to land near a suitably sized ship that could help effect a rescue, and Ergo 360 is a tool that can help operators mitigate risks of overwater flying, a requirement for a safety management system. There are about 220,000 ships on AIS at any given time, according to Stabile. While developing the vessels feature, he has used Ergo 360 to find ships on over-water legs that he has flown. Often he can spot a nearby ship on Ergo 360 then find it visually or using binoculars.
“It gives you a good feeling,” he said. “If something should happen you’ve finally got someplace to go.”