Posted on: 10 March 2015 by Ross McSweeny
Rockwell Collins has unveiled its new ARINC MultiLink flight tracking service, which merges six different data sources to provide a solution for airlines in compliance with ICAO’s new recommendation of a 15 minute tracking standard.Available this spring, ARINC MultiLink will be offered as an add-on to Rockwell Collins’ ARINC OpCenter/WebASDSM or Hermes/Skyview products (currently used by 125 airlines around the world) or as a data feed that can be streamed to a carrier’s own situational display solution.
“In today’s global aviation environment, no single source of data is sufficient to track aircraft globally,” stated Jeff Standerski, Rockwell Collins’ SVP information management services. “By merging multiple data sources, many of which airlines already receive, we can automatically select the right combination of data feeds to allow airlines to pinpoint an aircraft’s location anywhere in the world, in the most economical way.”
ARINC MultiLink uses ADS-C, ADS-B, US Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI) radar data, EUROCONTROL position information and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS).
The sixth feed, however, is what Rockwell Collins argues makes ARINC MultiLink unique: The High Frequency Data Link (HFDL) made possible by its own industry standard global air/ground data link network. Previously used for maintenance, up until now network performance data from the HFDL has been delivered to directly to Rockwell Collins and used in retrospect to help airlines troubleshoot problems. For ARINC MultiLink, the HFDL system has been repurposed to provide a real-time data feed. The company estimates at present there are 2,500 aircraft flying with HFDL capability.
Rockwell Collins uses a proprietary algorithm to merge these six data sources to provide more accurate and higher fidelity position reporting. The system also harmonises the data with important flight information such as the aircraft, the flight ID, destination and estimated arrival time.
Furthermore, ARINC MultiLink has been developed with the ability to incorporate future third-party data sources. Tim Ryan, director of programs and services management; and Dave Poltorak, vice president of airline and network services, confirmed in a Rockwell Collins webcast that both Inmarsat and Iridium are keen to provide data as part of the solution and that as of this week the company is already investigating its 7th possible data feed.
Ryan and Poltarak also explained the benefits of the new solution: “If an aircraft goes silent, we’ll know.” They claimed that with only one data feed it’s not abnormal to miss a reporting cycle, meaning it takes two or three cycles to properly establish if there’s a problem. However, if all six of ARINC MultiLink’s data feeds go silent in quick succession, it’s immediately obvious there’s a problem.
Rockwell Collins is keen to emphasise the scalability of the solution and says it will work with carriers to help selectively augment the fidelity and reliability of their standard data feed as needed to generate additional data for a selected aircraft or geographic region.
In terms of a timescale to implement the system, Poltarak predicted it would take no longer than two months to sift through a carrier’s existing data, provide an audit for where they need extra data (depend on how often they want to track their aircraft), and put ARINC MultiLink into action.
The company has not yet shared its new product with ICAO and IATA, the organisations involved in creating a new standard for flight tracking, but says it plans to present them with the data of six airlines which are already beta testing the solution in the near future.
Stephanie Taylor, editorial assistant, Inflight / Inflight-Online.com