WAVE and British Airways

Posted on: 11th Aug 2016

British Airways (BA) is one of the world’s largest international airlines and is headquartered in London at its main hub at Heathrow Airport. It is the airport’s major operator, controlling approximately 50 per cent of flights to and from the airport, and is the largest airline in the U.K based on fleet size, International flights and international destinations. The airline operates more than 300,000 flights per year and in 2014 carried more than 39 million passengers to nearly 150 destinations.

Like many airlines around the world, BA operates on tight margins. The International Air Transport Association IATA)—the aviation industry’s lobby group—predicted a member profitability margin of less than 1 percent as a result of high oil prices and a poor global economic climate. Air transport operations were also hard-hit by events on 9/11. The industry as a whole has had to reshape to cope with the after effects. Investment in new fleets and technology has been the key to recovery, along with careful capacity management, efficient process adoption and consolidation. Inefficient airline operations can mean that airlines incur fines. It is therefore vital for British Airways to have efficient and streamlined communications to support swift aircraft turnaround operations.

Ground-to-air communications are a critical element of airline operations, providing the ability to communicate between the airline’s flight deck and the operational control centre for a range of up to 200 nautical miles. For outbound and inbound flights, information relating to the aircraft and its passengers can be relayed, ensuring that the necessary preparations for passenger assistance or aircraft maintenance can be implemented prior to the aircraft landing. Ground-to air communications are used by British Airways to facilitate efficient aircraft turnaround, helping to avoid the financial penalties associated with schedule delays.

The ground-to-air radio system in use by British Airways consists of multiple radio base stations connected to a series of remote terminals distributed throughout Heathrow airport. In its original form, the British Airways ground-to-air radio system was connected to a legacy switch in the operations facility at its former main office, the Compass Centre, via a series of leased lines. Further leased lines were in use between the audio switch and the desk remote control units, where British Airways users would receive, process and respond to the information. The distributed nature of British Airways’ leased line infrastructure was a result of having airline operations across the entire Heathrow campus.

The Challenge

An easy to use, cost-effective communications solutions that is flexible and can accommodate a fast changing organisation and location landscape. accommodate a fast changing organization and location landscape.

There were several driving factors for British Airways to commence this project. Firstly, BA needed to relocate operations from its facility in the Compass Centre to its Waterside headquarters and Terminal 5. Secondly, the airline needed to reduce the total cost of ownership of voice, video and data services in use. Finally, British Airways wanted a way to manage communication services with ease.

In support of its technology strategy to embrace IP, British Airways had already deployed a CCCM IP telephony solution operating on a converged IP network. With

IP convergence enabling voice and data packets to be transported on a single network infrastructure, British Airways was now in a position to also transfer its ground to- air communications onto its IP network.

The Solution

Secure, real-time communications from any IP enabled position on the network and from a number of industry standard smartphone devices.

To improve its communications services, British Airways selected an on-premise, fully managed and maintained solution from a communications integrator. The solution features WAVE operating on British a number of elements, the WAVE solution deployed included clients on standard desktop PCs, and bespoke server infrastructure.

WAVE was recommended for and deployed to British Airways because it provides secure, real-time communications from any IP enabled position on the network and from a number of industry standard smartphone devices. This capability means that all British Airways end users, whether mobile or in the office, can effectively communicate and collaborate through voice and data. Using WAVE, British Airways now has the opportunity to operate a mixed estate of devices without impairing functionality.

Deployed to more than 75 operational positions serving in excess of 1,000 users, the WAVE Desktop Communicator application allows British Airways’ operators to communicate to smartphones, radios and carrier push-to-talk (PTT) networks from any WAVE- enabled PC, across a secure network infrastructure. This capability not only removes the need to deploy radio handsets to desktop workers who don’t need them, but also allows users to participate in communications between multiple radio channels. In addition, the Desktop Communicator provides activity displays, audio recording and instant replay to give users a complete communications history.

As a communications platform, WAVE is unrivalled. One of the key benefits to British Airways is the capability to cost effectively globalise radio communications Using WAVE, British Airways now have the ability to replicate its U.K. control centre anyway in the world. Furthermore, British Airways’ ground-to-air communications now benefit from the inherent resilience of its fully redundant IP network infrastructure.

“WAVE is a tremendously powerful unified communications platform with a suite of applications that makes it possible for teams of people, whether mobile or in their offices, to effectively communicate and collaborate,” Weatherley said.

Tags: aviation, ,

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