Package for piston-engine aircraft based on airline model

A trio of US companies has launched a flight data monitoring (FDM) package for piston-engined general aviation aircraft based on the flight operations quality assurance (FOQA) model used by commercial airlines to share data and improve safety.

The initial application is the Cirrus SR20/22 piston-single family, and uses a flight data recording system developed by Alakai Technologies and web-based data analysis software provided by OpenAero, with the FDM service provided by CAPACG. This provides automated reports for fuel management, maintenance records, the early identification of safety trends and flight reconstruction and visualisation.


US air-taxi operator SATSair, which flies 26 SR22s with another 100 on order, is the first customer. The company is installing Alakai's recently certificated engine trend monitoring system with digital flight data recording software and will use the FDM service to manage its fleet operations, says Kipp Lau, CAPACG vice-president, flight data monitoring services.

Alakai's box costs just under $5,000 and it will cost $50 a month for OpenAero's basic data-analysis service, or $100 a month for the flight operations monitoring service provided by CAPACG, says Lau. SATSair has installed the first systems and will begin importing data to OpenAero soon, he says.

The move of FDM into general aviation has been enabled by the introduction of new integrated flightdecks, like Cirrus's Avidyne system and the widely used Garmin G1000, which allows flight data to be collected from the avionics databus and recorded for post-flight download to a web-based analysis service.

Fleet operators like SATSair are interested in setting up an airline-style FOQA model to improve operations by sharing de-identified data, says Lau. The advantage of a US Federal Aviation Administration-approved FOQA is that it provides protection from regulatory enforcement or legal action based in the data provided, he says.

Lau also expects Cirrus to set up a manufacturer-sponsored FDM programme similar to that planned by Eclipse Aviation for the Eclipse 500 very light jet. This would give individual owners the safety and reliability advantages of sharing flight operations data while providing the manufacturer with data on how the aircraft is being used.

Source: Flight International