ASI Entertainment has implemented what is believed to be the world's first cockpit communications and reporting system using 3G (third-generation) mobile communications.

The Seattle-based company has completed the first stage of implementation of its G3CARS system on Italian carrier Air One's Boeing 737 fleet.

It is also close to announcing a second customer – "a substantial airline", says Ron Chapman, chief executive of ASI's Australian subsidiary ASiQ, which developed the system.

G3CARS uses a 3G broadband datalink combined with tablet PC and handwriting recognition technologies. In the first stage of the project, 10 systems have been tested over the last four months using two of the three major 3G networks operating in Italy – H3G and Vodafone.

During the trial at the end of each flight Air One pilots transmitted the flight's logbooks to a central database via the 3G network at 432kbit/sec using a tablet PC.

The system transmitted the electronic data and written versions so that the logbook could be reproduced in the original format.

Hundreds of logbooks were transmitted with 100% reliability, says ASI, which adds that there is no limitation to the type and amount of data that can be transmitted.

The programme is designed to lead to the removal of hard-copy paper from the cockpit.

The next stage of the project will start in the second quarter when the second version of the software, incorporating 12 minor changes, will be tested over three months, says Chapman.

The company will also approach the certification authorities to ultimately remove paper from the cockpit, he adds.

Air One has signed a five-year deal with ASI for the fleetwide installation of G3CARS on the airline's 28 737s, with the aircraft due to be equipped in the second half of this year.

The deal also includes ASI's Data3mail email interface that allows Air One pilots to email airline operations at each destination.


Source: Flight International