Boeing and Teledyne Controls have agreed to combine their ground-based operational data products to create a unified solution for airlines to transfer navigation databases, software updates and quick access recorder (QAR) data to and from airplanes more efficiently. The so-called Fleetwide Data Manager combines capabilities from Boeing’s data transfer solution, known as the Loadable Software Airplane Parts Librarian (LSAPL), with Teledyne’s Loadstar Server Enterprise (LSE) solution for legacy and non-Boeing airplanes. Kevin Crowley, vice president, Boeing Digital Aviation, in a statement says the partnership will provide “best-in-class features from both companies that seamlessly connects mixed-fleet operations”. In an interview with RGN, Teledyne Controls director of business development Craig Aitken brings us up to speed on the drivers behind this combined approach to data transfer.
What functionality is each party bringing to the table in this arrangement?
CA: Teledyne’s LSE has been doing [such transfers] for a while for legacy 737s, A320s, A330s, 747s, and 767s. Boeing’s LSAPL is [the airframer’s] solution for serving e-enabled planes, the 787 and the new 737 MAX; [it] cannot service the legacy planes.
What about the 777 with the Airplane Information Management System (AIME); will it be served by this product?
CA: The 777 is a unique architecture because it’s an AIME aircraft. Teledyne has a solution for that … this new product will have that functionality in it so it will be able to service the 777 as well, and Airbus planes. We’re creating a cross-fleet tool [with the Fleetwide Data Manager] – one tool that will be able to handle the uploading of software parts to Airbus and Boeing planes.
Will any download of data take place or is this primarily about uploading?
CA: This is primarily put together for uploading but the LSAPL also does downloading of e-enabled planes – the 787 and 737 MAX – so we are adding a function to data management that will allow you to manage the download of data as well from one tool. Airlines want one tool to manage the upload and the download of the data.
What type of data would be transferred to the aircraft?
CA: The data that gets uploaded is primarily database and operational software. The most common upload for aircraft these days is the navigation database, which by law needs to be updated every 28 days to keep the navigation and flight management system (FMS) updated.
Also databases for the ground proximity warning system (GPWS), [which is] updated three to four times a year, and Aircraft Condition Monitoring System (ACMS) condition monitoring uploads – airlines tend to like to change the data that they are collecting if they are running into problems and want to monitor certain types of parameters on that particular system. But we can upload the operational program into all of the LRUs through this system as well. Another one is airport navigation systems being updated fairly frequently as well. So a range of [software updates] are uploaded.
When will this combined product be launched? Will it include a new online platform accessed by airlines?
CA: Our first release will be at the end of 2017. You will be able to purchase it as an installed piece of software that you can use at your airline, put it in your airline data center or have Boeing or Teledyne host it for you, [and] provide a hosted service. So the Boeing product works that way and so does Teledyne.
Teledyne has a rich history in using ground-based mobile connectivity to transfer data to and from aircraft. For instance, Ryanair is among the carriers that downloads the entirety of its flight data – on average 5 or 6 megabytes worth – after each flight via Vodafone. Tell us about the history that Teledyne is bringing to the table?
CA: Teledyne has a long history of providing ground link products; they are on over 9,000 airplanes so we’re the defacto standard for downloading data. The eADL (enhanced airborne data loader) is a forward fit option on the 737. We are on the 737 MAX with the digital flight data acquisition unit and provide network file service for the onboard system, so we have a very good relationship with Boeing. This is a logical next step to provide our ground tools [and support] airlines with one tool that will make life easier for them. This is a way for us to help them simplify their operations.
The solution is being developed after Boeing and Teledyne recognized the need for an integrated product to work across Boeing and non-Boeing airplanes in an airline’s fleet.
Are there any inflight applications for this product down the road?
CA: No. This is a ground tool that we’re developing. This data is all handled on the ground. It transfers to and from the plane on the ground.