Article

The aircraft data evolution

The ability to leverage aircraft data will undoubtedly play a big role in the future of aviation. Hailed as the new currency, stories on the importance of data dominate aviation news headlines almost daily. Yet, data is not a new phenomenon in the aviation industry — data labels such as latitude, longitude, gross weight, etc., have been generated for decades, as well as equipment to access this data. However, innovation in onboard technologies and robust inflight connectivity can help expose new sets of data — and make it available in real time — revealing new operational opportunities.

The collection, usage, and application of aircraft data (ARINC 429 and 717 data busses) has historically been limited due to the closed nature of avionics networks and cost. ARINC 429 data has been collected from the Aircraft Condition Monitoring System (ACMS). Pilots have been able to view some of this data through flight instruments while in flight. Some of the data has also been shared with ground operations via transmission through Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). ACARS has its limitations — it’s slow (2.4 kilobits/second) and expensive; thus, only the most critical pieces of real-time data can be effectively exchanged.

On the other hand, ARINC 717 data has been collected by ground operations post-flight through Quick Access Recorders (QAR) and Flight Data Recorders (FDR) and not available in flight. The need to expose more of the aircraft data to pilots in their crew devices in flight and send data to the ground more efficiently has become even more valuable as modern IT tools and apps evolve to utilize the aircraft data and drive newfound operational savings.

One approach to accessing aircraft data is through an aircraft interface device (AID). AIDs are retrofit hardware that acts as the gateway between the closed avionics systems and non-certified computing systems (e.g. EFB’s, multi-purposes servers, cabin terminals). While this approach improves aircraft data access to crew devices, AIDs still require data to be transmitted via ACARS (inflight) to ground operations or retrieved post-flight (ground).

At Gogo, we’ve utilized aircraft data in real time as a part of our passenger connectivity system since 2008. Leveraging our  onboard server (ACPU2), we can safely and securely access key aircraft data from the avionic data buses (ARINC 429 and 717) in real time in the air or on the ground. We bond aircraft data and connectivity into a single wireless connection. This software approach to accessing aircraft data means no additional hardware needs to be installed.

Further, real-time access to the aircraft data adds tremendous value for airlines from flight ops to inflight services departments driving both process and cost efficiency. Gogo’s solution is the only option capable of sending data in real time with one complete solution. To test our real-time ARINC 429 and 717 access capability, Gogo engineers conducted flight validation testing and successfully proved end-to-end ability to expose aircraft data wirelessly in real time to crew devices on the aircraft over a secure network. This functionality is a milestone for the aviation industry enabling both ARINC 429 and 717 data to be shared with flight crews and to ground operations seamlessly.

Gogo Aircraft Data Solution

AID Hardware Solution

With fewer required hardware components, the Gogo Aircraft Data Solution significantly streamlines the process of accessing aircraft data in real time.