Aircraft IT OPS Issue 58: Winter 2023

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Aircraft IT OPS Issue 58: Winter 2023 Cover

Articles

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CASE STUDY: Improving safety & fuel efficiency at Transavia France

Author: Cyril Canu, Operations Control Director, Transavia France

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Cyril Canu, Operations Control Director, Transavia France shares the experience of a next generation flight tracking app for Dispatch with real time Weather and Alerts

The topic for this case study, flight tracking and weather alerts, is one of increasing importance. However, before we go into that main topic, let’s take a look at the airline that is the subject of this case study, Transavia France.

TRANSAVIA FRANCE

Transavia France is part the Air France Group based at Paris Orly. Our sister airline from the Netherlands started a long time ago while Transavia France started in 2007 with three aircraft at the start. We now have 71 aircraft in the fleet. At the time of writing, we flew to 22 countries on more than 200 routes. Our network covers Europe and the Mediterranean Basin (figure 1).

Most of the current fleet are Boeing 737NGs; however, we will be migrating to the Airbus A320Neo starting with the first aircraft arriving at the end of 2023. Environmental impact has always been a key consideration for us and so we work a lot on new technology and innovation to reduce our emissions, mainly with eco-piloting actions, which we’ll look at in this article, but also we have been using Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for a few months now.

SITA MISSION WATCH

SITA Mission Watch was previously called eWAS Dispatch. At Transavia France we first used eWAS Pilot, which has also been renamed, for the pilots but also for the dispatch. eWAS Pilot just showed one flight with situational awareness about weather and information like NOTAMs, suitability of the approach and other information but just for one flight. For the people in the Dispatch Office, they need to be able to view more of the fleet and the flights, so we started to use eWAS Dispatch to have this wider view of the fleet and, like many readers, we used positioning from the ADS-B Out, from data providers including from Air France. We can further complement the positioning thanks to other data sources like ACARS messages with 3oi movement messages, movement messages from the handling agent and, from ASM (Airspace Management) re: scheduling of the flight. All of that information provided better information about aircraft positioning all of the time and better information than any other tools we could find (figure 2).

We also use the EFF (Electronic Flight Folder) to provide information to SITA Mission/Situation Watch and we submit scheduled flights to EUROCONTROL B2B Services. So, we have the scheduled routes and the ATC routes. We retrieve weather data from many providers from which we choose two for Transavia France, so that, depending on the area where we are operating, we choose the best weather provider in that area. That approach ensures that we have the best understanding of the weather situation in the areas through which we are flying. The weather situation is based on observations and forecasts which itself brings safety improvement given that these are the best way to study the weather. It offers an improvement on providing paper charts to the flight crew, because Mission Watch is updated more often (figure 3).

Those updates are also dynamic so that, as long as there is a communication connection in-flight for the crew, the updates will be delivered. Of course, for Dispatch on the ground, there are no issues for communications. There have been communications improvements as the result of a new functionality that enable this application to manage the communications of the crew. When the pilot zooms into the map, they still have access to the airport cartography with the position of the aircraft in this airport, where the aircraft is moving, on which taxiway and at what gate, and that allows for better movement control of the fleet.

Some additional information: when you click on the flight, you have another view of all of the flight including flight time based on the EFF information which is a quick overview and a good overview available for the dispatcher, and for the movement controller. Also, there is a good overview on the suitability of the route for the airport and the alternates thanks to color coding and alerts.

On alerts, there are many alerts possible that are managed by the airline and customizable for the specific organization, alerts based on weather, based on NOTAMs, on position so that, if, for any reason, a flight is going off the scheduled route, there will be an alert with the distance that the flight has deviated from the scheduled route. For this alert, a deviation distance can be specified at which an alert will be triggered. There will also be an alert if there is the risk of a flight entering into a forbidden area. The airline can customize all these areas to have a better understanding and flight tracking of the fleet at any time. You can, of course, prioritize alerts just to ensure to be aware of the right alert at the right time and to take account that we might expect to lose the position of the aircraft at some times in some countries. If you have not established these kinds of limit, you can receive too many alerts that will overload your Flight Watching. By prioritizing some specified alerts ensures that you can mainly focus on diversions or an upset to the route.

GENERATING AND FILING THE FLIGHT PLAN

When the flight is filed to EUROCONTROL and you have seen that everything is going fine, you can check to see whether the flight plan will take the flight through any weather events. In such a case, depending on the destination, you can re-route the flight just by clicking on the route, then drag and drop and the system will automatically propose a new route for you (figure 4).

But you can also check on the right side of the screen, flight plans filed in the EUROCONTROL system by other airlines. So, you can compare your route to other airlines and check whether there are better routes available. If so, you can modify your route, copy and paste that into your flight planning system, then feed the new route to EUROCONTROL. That is clearly faster than using only the flight planning system which is not always as user-friendly as is Mission Watch.

SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS

About safety improvements, until we have deep information on each airport, so we can focus on each airport to have the runway configuration as well as TAF, METAR but also the minima of ceiling and visibility for airlines, we can customize these minima to be shown on the screen which allows users to detect the suitability of this airport (figure 5).

We have the wind condition shown on the display by red and blue crosses. Finally, the Dashboard then shows all the airports on the route that you want to manage so that, if at any time, one of these airports becomes unsuitable, you will be alerted and can take a decision in advance to manage it, depending on destination and alternatives, of course.

Still on safety improvements, The overview of the flight area is also customizable by airlines, so we can declare the no-fly zones for example or we can define our own areas for any reason to avoid and this will automatically create alerts on the Flight Watching. We can retrieve any flight for a known period; so, all the flights are available and might be reviewed for any safety issues or safety analysis (figure 6).

COMMUNICATION

ACARS Freetext has, for several months now, had new functionalities to use the way to communicate with your aircraft through ACARS but with a refined layout rather like WhatsApp, so easy to use. There is also a double check to see whether the aircraft has received and acknowledged the message. Being like WhatsApp it is easy to use for any new Ops controller in the area.

OFP (Original Flight Plan) and weather data; all the data in this system are the same as for eWAS Dispatch and eWAS Pilot which means that all the controllers have the same awareness of the situation as the flight crew on the flight. That helps a lot when you have to communicate to update the flight plan with your flight crew.

OTHER SITA SOLUTIONS USED AT TRANSAVIA FRANCE

Figure 7 is another view of how we use SITA Dispatch solutions at Transavia France (figure 7).

Of course, there are other solutions not part of this case study but that we use as well: we use eWAS Pilot, which is a SITA eWAS plus SITA OptiFlight®, to provide additional information for the flight crew to optimize their climb, their route to obtain some directs.

I hope that this brief overview of SITA Mission Watch and some associated apps will help readers when making decisions on adopting this sort of software.

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