ARINC, the Maryland, US-headquartered specialist in communications and systems integration, is a big player in the aviation sector, offering numerous aerospace, airport and airline technologies. Last year was a good one for the company, with the 12 months being characterised by “growth innovation and investment”, according to ARINC International vice president Dave Poltorak.
There had been expansion “in all areas of the business” last year, he revealed at the recent press conference, while innovation and investment were seen in a number of new contract wins and the release of several new product offerings. Cloud computing and hosted solutions are particularly important current areas of expansion. “The industry is growing, and so are we,” Poltorak insisted.
Nor is he perturbed by the fact that for the last five or so years ARINC has been owned by a private equity firm, The Carlyle Group. Agreeing that the business model of such an entity is to build up an enterprise and then sell it on, he confirms that ARINC has become well used to working within this environment and, indeed, this very fact concentrates the mind of all involved.
His views were reinforced by Andy Hubbard, managing director of ARINC’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division, who noted that for a venture capitalist such as Carlyle its component business’ long-term plans will remain vital – it is from these that much of those concerns’ sale value will derive, he notes.
0While there has been significant developments in areas of ARINC’s product portfolio such as its airport security-related business and that part of the company serving the business jet market, some of the more notable developments have been seen in ARINC’s offerings serving airports and airlines’ requirements on the ground.
Tony Chapman, senior director, integrated travel solutions for ARINC EMEA, explained some of the deals that have been recently inked in regard to ARINC’s passenger handling solutions. The firm is doing particularly good business with London’s airports. Gatwick is to be supplied with a Passenger Identification and Verification System by a combined offering from ARINC and Human Recognition Systems (HRS). The system integrates ARINC”s VeriPax passenger validation solution with HRS’s MFlow biometric identity registration platform and is deployed on fully automated gates. ARINC’s expertise in integrating various systems through an Enterprise Systems Bus (ESB) has been key to this offering and the expectation is that the Passenger Identification and Verification System will seamlessly connect to the Departure Control Systems (DCS) of some of Gatwick’s major airline users.
Elsewhere in London, Heathrow Airport recently confirmed its intention to buy a further 65 Common Use Self-Service (CUSS) kiosks, while across the North Sea Brussels airport has chosen ARINC’s vMUSE common-use passenger processing option, together with its VeriPax passenger screening solution. The deal, which went live in November/December last year, represented VeriPax’s first deployment in Europe.
In Russia, Kazan airport has become the latest smaller gateway to go with vMUSE Enterprise, which ARINC describes as the industry’s only Cloud-based common use check-in solution.
Further afield, North Africa and the Middle East represent other important areas of growth for ARINC. Both the new Doha International Airport and the smaller regional gateway at Ras Al Khaimah are seeing the installation of ARINC’s core suite of airport passenger processing and boarding solutions, while ARINC last year won a three-year contract to install its vMUSE passenger processing solution at five of Egypt’s regional airports.
ARINC’s AviNet Mail Enterprise Hub, or eHub, is also seeing good traction. A Cloud computer-based messenger service for aviation users, a number of airlines and aircraft ground handlers are already trialling the system.
e-Hub, only launched earlier this year in January, is a multi-use a multi-user web-based service that is designed to offer aviation operators a “robust messaging environment for all their communication needs”.
It can be easily configured for a single user or for a globally active user with multiple divisions requiring various messaging requirements. It allows simple message management and includes free Internet and local message routeing.
A Cloud computing solution, because it avoids the need for expensive internal server installations or software license fees, ARINC claims eHub is both simple and cost-effective in terms of capacity and user management.
Lee Costin, director of ARINC’s satellite solutions and cabin services operation, outlined the significant progress that has been made in relation to the company’s Cabin Connect on-board Wi-Fi solution, of interest to many airlines in relation to their overall flight service offering. In November last year, it was agreed that ARINC would trial its Cabin Connect system on three of Virgin Airlines’ fleet of A330s; two of Virgin’s 10 widebody A330s have now been fitted with the technology, and it is expected that all three of the test-bed aircraft will have gone live’ with it by early May.
Finally, ARINC has also developed new offerings in its ARINC Direct business, which offers “capabilities and solutions” for the business jet sector. Its portfolio includes flight planning, safety management tools, contract fuel services, international trip support and aircraft Internet connectivity solutions.
It is in perhaps the last of these fields that the most progress has been made of late, reports James Hardie, director of ARINC Direct, with ARINC Direct Connect having been launched as a communications service that offers three capabilities in just a single portable device: complete ACARS messaging via an iPad as the user interface; high-quality voice communication by way of iPhone or Android device; and e-mail. It employs either the Iridium or Inmarsat satellite networks.
ARINC Direct is also moving closer to enabling a fully paper-free cockpit. Building on its inflight pilot iPad App, it is further improving the synchronisation of data possible between two or more iPads in the cockpit using Bluetooth, and has added real-time Cloud synchronisation of data capability.
The original App was designed primarily for flight planning and weather briefing but in the short-term this is expected to be extended to form a key part of the flight-deck communication infrastructure, with additional messaging capability and offering support for additional flight planning and filing functionality.