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Digital Technology now Continuously Linking KLM's Aircraft with Ground

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Friday, 4 April 2008

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ground organization now has live access to the electronic logbooks updated by cockpit and cabin crew during a flight. This makes KLM one of the first airlines to use the latest digital technology in maintaining continuous contact between aircraft and ground operations. Until recently, paper-based documentation was processed after landing. This administration can now be electronically updated and processed, regardless of whether the aircraft is on the ground or in flight anywhere in the world.

One of the applications aboard KLMs latest Boeing 777-300s is the electronic Aircraft Technical Log (e-ATL), which is used to record the technical status of the aircraft. This replaces the paper-based logbook. The new infrastructure allows constant data exchange with the ground. This means that minor repairs, such as the replacement of a seat, curtain, toilet, or reading lamp, are passed on to the ground while the aircraft is still in flight, allowing them to be resolved more quickly. This improves cabin quality because minor discomforts to passengers can be more rapidly rectified. Similarly, repairs needed for the cockpit can also be more swiftly planned and carried out, further reducing technical delays.

For the first time in history, we continuously monitor the possible complaints of the aircraft in flight. As ground crew we feel better prepared, a wonderful feeling said Peter Somers, Executive Vice President Engineering & Maintenance.

Another digital application is the e-Reporting system, which replaces documents listing flight irregularities such as missing baggage, no-shows, turbulence, and even passengers who fall ill. All this information is directly relayed to the ground organization, which can take appropriate action more swiftly. This automatic data processing saves time on board and on the ground; time that can be devoted to service.

The new techniques were developed in close cooperation with partners such as Boeing and the US software specialist Ultramain. KLM said it invested in the development of this innovative system because it did not wish to wait for aircraft manufacturers to introduce this as a standard feature.

Initially, the new applications aboard KLMs Boeing 777-300s will only be used by crew. KLM intends to introduce these facilities throughout its fleet in due course, and also sees broadband opportunities for passenger applications, such as real-time internet and email.

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