EXCLUSIVE: Delta’s FOCIS initiative revealed

Delta Air Lines has big plans for exploiting in-flight connectivity. Runway Girl can exclusively reveal that the carrier, which is equipping its entire domestic mainline fleet with Aircell’s Gogo air-to-ground (ATG)-based broadband system, wants to view each of its aircraft as a node on its network as part of a Future Operations Communications Information System (FOCIS).

Isn’t it refreshing to see Delta taking such a forward-thinking approach?

But just think about it – all Delta departments (flight ops, in-flight services, maintenance, dispatch, etc) could connect to the aircraft to make sure things are operating in the most efficient manner.

And, if flight-critical data needs an off-aircraft connection, the systemcould find the most efficient and cost effective way to get it to the ground (ie,it could decide ATG over domestic makes sense but a satellite link overwater).
Word on the street is that Delta thinks that, if it could reduce fuel burn by 1% by using the system, it would be able to pay for its implementation.

FOCIS is a mighty ambitious endeavor but one that makes a tremendous amount of sense. There are plenty of questions to ask, however. Here’s one – What type of firewalls would Delta need put in place to create to ensure that the Gogo-equipped folks in the cabin can’t access FOCIS?

Delta next week will hold a vendors day to discuss FOCIS. It’s my understanding that the following companies have been invited: Astronics, Teledyne, Astronautics, DAC International, NavAero, L3, IMS Flight Deck (Formerly Flight Deck Resources), Goodrich, Thales, ECS and VT Miltope
Here is the text of the invite. Are you going?

Subject:           Vendors’ Days at Delta
To:                   Selected Vendors
            As many of you know, Delta Air Lines is in the process of building a business case for developing an information system to be incorporated into our airline operations.  This project is entitled the FOCIS Initiative.  FOCIS stands for Future Operations Communications Information System. This information system will be used across operational divisions like flight operations, ramp operations, in-flight services, dispatchers, and maintenance personnel.  A key component to this system will be an aircraft PC or what you probably refer to as an Electrical Flight Bag (EFB).  I try and avoid the term EFB because the term leaves the impression that this evolving technology is all about removing the pilot flight bag kit.  That is not the primary emphasis of the business case or this information system. Delta is looking beyond the immediate desires of the cockpit.  Delta is looking at this system development with a long term point of view.  So with this little background in mind, we would like to extend an invitation to your company to attend a two-day vendors’ exhibit event at Delta World Headquarters in Atlanta on Jul 27 – 28, 2009.
            We will be setting up a room where all the vendors can set up their displays and marketing material and throughout the two days various Delta stakeholders will be able to visit and ask questions.  In addition, a special committee will be setup to have one-on-one presentations by each of the vendors throughout the two days.  Basically, each presenter will have one hour, followed by a half hour for Q&A.  We also plan on making a presentation on our upcoming RFI / RFP in support of the business case.  More details will be coming, but the intent of this email was for your planning purposes. 
The general agenda is as follows:
Monday           27 Jul 09
0800 – 0830    Welcome Brief
0830 – 1130    Exhibit time
0830 – 1000    1st Brief
1000 – 1130    2nd Brief
1130 – 1300    Lunch   (manning would help for those stakeholder visiting during Lunch)
1300 – 1600    Exhibit time
1300 – 1430    3rd Brief
1430 – 1600    4th Brief

Tuesday           28 Jul 09
Same format planned
May be change in afternoon depending on some other things which may be an opportunity for your marketing effort. More will come
Could you please let me know that your company plans on participating and how many you think will be involved?  I will be sending out more information in a couple of weeks.
Anyhow, thank you for your support of Delta’s effort and look forward to hearing from you.
FOCIS Initiative
Delta Air Lines, Inc.

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