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SkyTrac’s Overdue Notifications an invaluable tool

July 9, 2014  By Carey Fredericks

July 9, 2014, Cheshire, U.K. - Increasing concern with flight tracking technology, flight tracking regulations and operator tracking practices are at the forefront of issues facing today’s aviation industry. International aviation organizations are currently working to find the most effective way of regulating flight tracking, while many operators are looking for immediate, cost effective tracking solutions. Simultaneously, tracking shortfalls are clearly a hot topic for the traveling public and technology offers a variety of solutions.

SkyTrac Systems has been in the aircraft tracking business for over
25 years and has solutions that are used on a daily basis for tracking
aircraft. Active tracking by dedicated flight-following crews is one
tried and tested solution, but it can be time-intensive and is prone to
human error and oversight. In another approach, SkyTrac is encouraging
their clients to use passive tracking by exploiting “Overdue
Notifications” – a simple feature that uses machine-to-machine (M2M)
communication technology and supervisory control techniques to their
fullest advantage. This approach reduces the cost and human error
associated with traditional flight following techniques; it relies on
connectivity link status to alert flight following personnel to a
possibly serious situation. Because the Overdue Notification approach is
automated, a single supervisor can oversee a large fleet of aircraft
with ease.

Overdue Notifications are enabled through SkyTrac’s
web-based flight tracking and system management interface (SkyWeb). The
feature is simple to set up and use. It automatically alerts assigned
individuals via email and uses color codes and pop-up windows on flight
following software when an aircraft has missed a predefined number of
GPS position reports. The feature does not require any input from the
aircrew, the simple absence of consecutive position reports acts as a
trigger event to alert ground crews of a possibly serious situation in
the air. This simple feature can dramatically enhance situational
awareness of global flight operations and radically increase search and
rescue response time in worst case scenarios. It has been used to great
effect in recent incidents and accidents.

SkyTrac’s Overdue
Notification is transmitted as soon as SkyWeb detects an absence of
position reports while the aircraft is still in flight configuration.
Once this trigger event occurs SkyWeb emails alert notifications,
informing ground crews of the situation as well as the last known
position of the aircraft. Color-coded pop-up notifications are also
displayed on SkyWeb. The trigger event is independent of aircrew action
and the alert notification is sent automatically. This seamless M2M
process creates a critical and cost-effective safety net for aviation
operations, utilizing supervisory control techniques to enhance safety
of flight and situational awareness. If the aircraft is equipped with
SkyTrac’s cockpit interface, the flight following crew can use SkyWeb to
connect with the aircraft cockpit via text or via satellite phone.

reliability is extremely high – SkyTrac uses the Iridium constellation
so there are no gaps in coverage, no altitude restrictions, no weather
restrictions, or line of sight considerations.


In addition to
emails, SkyWeb uses color coded visual cues to draw attention to the
effected aircraft (overdue aircraft icons, caption boxes and FlightBar
information are color coded orange).

Ground crews can customize
overdue notification settings. The user can specify the time delay from
when a position report was due to an aircraft showing as overdue. The
alert emails can be sent once, or continually sent until a position is
received to increase the likelihood that notifications are acknowledged
and ground crews are aware of the status.

Overdue Notifications have been successful in alerting ground crews in multiple incidents and accidents.

recent accident involved an aircraft that crashed in a very remote
location and illustrates the value of the Overdue Notification feature.
Due to circumstances that are still unclear, the air crew were unable to
make a distress call or inform ground crews of an in-flight emergency
prior to impact. Because the Overdue Notification feature was enabled,
SkyWeb automatically alerted ground crews there was a potential problem
within minutes of the actual accident. After no response was received
from the aircraft, a search and rescue effort was launched immediately.
SkyWeb pinpointed the last known location of the aircraft and search and
rescue crews were able to proceed directly to the accident site and
found the crash site with minimal lost time. Without the Overdue
Notification feature, no immediate search and rescue effort would have
been launched and it may have taken days or weeks to locate the crash
site as the search area would have been immense.

safety of flight is always top of our priority list,” stated SkyTrac
CEO, Stephen Sorocky. “This relatively small SkyWeb feature is a simple,
easy and quick way to enhance safety – it provides operators one more
tool that has the distinct potential to save lives.”


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