Odds and Ends: Real-time flight tracking; LEAP-1A testing

Real-time flight tracking: At last, the airline industry is adopting rules to require real-time flight tracking. ICAO, the international organization governing rules and regulations, approved one to require real time tracking next year. The action is long overdue.

Singapore Airlines has made the decision to begin installing the system sooner.

Initially data will be transmitted at 15 minute intervals but if a flight anomaly occurs, transmissions will occur at one minute intervals. While the system won’t prevent real-time accidents (or hijackings), locating airplanes sooner could save lives if an accident is survivable or accelerate recovery of flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders to solve an accident sooner and potentially prevent accidents in the future from the results.

LEAP-1A testing: The CFM LEAP-1A, destined for the Airbus A320neo family, is now in flight testing, reports Flight Global.


22 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Real-time flight tracking; LEAP-1A testing

  1. Very glad that the industrie starts to move. It is nowadays a technological non-sense. For several years there have been the Iridium satellites available. I used to be expensive back in 1997 when we had it in an oil well site, but it is almost 20 years!!! Hope that the price is lower as it is supposed to happen with technology (with a big caveat like 787)
    Nice to see the CFM going on. it seems that the NEO will be flying with both power plants very soon. Perhaps, after several months of testing of the Leap 1C, it could run faster than initial planning requiered.

  2. Cost for a position report should be minimal. Anything happens cost becomes no issue. I think 1 minute routine rather than 15 as you then have to hope the “trigger” works.

    Still at issue is the ability to disable. One we know of, but there should be a backup of some kind if that occurs at least independent signal triggers. Tie into the useless ELT as it is totally independent (of being turned off, it can be turned on I believe) and serving no purpose on large airliners (anyone know of an ocean crash yet that the ELTs worked on?)

  3. Bonsoir,

    Leap1A : it’s rather a low profile announcement. No Press Release
    No first flight date ?
    Bjorn writes that it was end december 2014 ? I guess he’s right ! But why no more details ?

  4. 15 min intervals ? For ships AIS they transmit a brief message every 20 sec and a more detailed one every 9 min.
    I think they can do a lot better than every 15 min. The principle is that it is a detailed location service

    • My thoughts too. An aircraft cruising at 850km/h for 15 mins covers a lot of territory and could have headed in any direction from the last known location. That’s still going to produce a huge search area.

      • Supposedly the auto feature kick in as needed but not something that I believe is to be depended on.

        Basic position, speed and altitude very 15 seconds should be an easy no brainer and low cost if any cost implementation.

        Data dump if other parameters start going weird.

        Note none of it works if the stuff is turned off deliberately.

        • “Supposedly the auto feature kick in as needed but not something that I believe is to be depended on. ”

          – Right on. I doubt this 1 minute feature will be of much use for something like a catastrophic mid-air break up/explosion or anything that might interrupt the device itself or its communicating channels from working.

    • For AIS Class A the repeat rate of the most relevant information is speed dependent. i.e. with any of the non moving status tags active this can go up to afair 30minutes.
      Then AIS already shows the problems you have with too many talkers around. The backoff algorithm for Class B transponders already results in no valid transmission for hours here ( Western Baltic, North Sea )
      due to too much traffic from commercial shipping on the two VHF channels used.
      ( AIS’s primary objective is collision avoidance and not pandering to info junkies 😉

  5. When flight testing of the Leaps commences they will be able to measure the differences in fuel efficiency between between their 78 inch and 69.4 inch versions.

    A delta of 4% is my best estimation, based on CFM56 and CF6-80 sfc’s

  6. In the category Odds and Ends, someone looked at the number of unscheduled stops of UA 757 (169 seats) to Europe mainland this winter. It is very high. About 50% (!!) of EWR-TXL flights in December.


    For me this is an indication the (foreseen) range for the A321LR of 3900NM is not enough for United, flying Transatlantic flights.

    UA is the only big US 757 user not to have ordered the A321 yet. They retired 37 757s last year.

    Looking at 757 operational TATL performance I think the airline has a boldly printed 4500NM+ minimum range in its RFQ’s to Airbus and Boeing.


    Its seems the 757 isn’t good enough really for Transatlantic but there’s no cheap alternative & passengers pay the price anyway.

  7. Just been reading an analysis of the A321LR.
    The strange thing is that the LeapX does not even rate a mention as a potential option, it is all about GTF.
    The news on LeapX progress appears eerily quiet.
    Am I missing something please?
    With 55% of the NEO market selecting Leap it is interesting that so little news of its progress has been forthcoming.

    • When the NEO was offered the GTF was seen ahead performance wise. CFM then updated their offer.
      A lot of skepticism bubbled up indicating that this would require CFM to sail very close to the technological cliffs ahead.
      ( IMHO even more so for the MAX offer.)
      As a topic this has mostly vanished in the last year.

      Maybe birds come home to roost now 😉

      • I think the GTF has more room for performance improvements than the LEAP. My prediction is that the performance gap will open as times goes by. Unfortunately the new management at UTC does not appear to be willing to exploit the clear advantage the GTF technology has to offer for larger engines. Most corporations in North America are presently sitting on piles of cash, unwilling to invest for the long term. The money is there but not the will. Nor the vision I might add.

        • I think the GTF can he seen as a US company project that was continued against all odds, despite large investments, uncertain ROI, setbacks, delays and critics.

          I think we haven’t seen the last on the MAX/Leap combi vs the NEO/GTF. No status quo at all, but one of the parties has no alternative then to deny until they have a solution.

          • keesje: “I think the GTF can he seen as a US company project that was continued against all odds, despite large investments, uncertain ROI, setbacks, delays and critics.”

            Which I take the liberty to translate as “I think the CSeries can he seen as a Canadian company project that was continued against all odds, despite large investments, uncertain ROI, setbacks, delays and critics.”

            Both projects needed courage and vision. They are technical marvels that will ensure the future of the two companies. I just hope Bombardier will continue to “think big”, i.e. CS500/700/900. Unfortunately we already know that Pratt & Whitney will not.

          • “Unfortunately we already know that Pratt & Whitney will not.”

            PW’s civil engine business miraculously escapes a near dead experience & PW has a awful lot of development / ramp up commitments going on; CSeries, Airbus NB, E2 jets, MRJ, MS21.

            They are struggling keep to their head above the water. A further WB commitment at this stage could pull the plug..

    • Good observation. I had missed that when I first listen to the video. But I am afraid that “extra growth” (CS500) will not come as early as I initially thought it would. Obviously Bombardier is trying to preserve cash right now and may become increasingly shy towards new investments.

      • Agree, getting the CS100 & CS300 certified, into service & ramp up is the first, second and third priority now..

      • There is also the risk that an early launch of a CS500 would simply make too many customers convert their orders from CS300 to CS500.

        • That’s one more reason to be pessimistic about the CS500. I have many other reasons to be less upbeat about the CS500:

          a) The CSeries programme is running late.
          b) Fuels prices are likely to remain low for a while.
          c) Bombardier still has to absorb a massive lost on the Lear 85.
          d) We are still in the midst of a deep Bombardier Aerospace restructuring.
          e) There is a big turmoil going on at the high executive level.
          f) A&B’s response to the CSeries threat has been swift and highly effective.
          g) Embraer’s response to the CSeries challenge was equally brilliant.
          h) Bombardier lost the advantage it had of being ahead of the competition. They will all fly with the same engines and at more or less the same time.
          i) The programme is extremely well managed on the technical side, but the human side is a disaster.

  8. keesje: “PW has a awful lot of development / ramp up commitments going on; CSeries, Airbus NB, E2 jets, MRJ, MS21.”

    True. That is indeed many different projects at the same time. And P&W must be bleeding cash like crazy at this time. But on the positive side this massive investment is entirely successful. It was a good bet and I believe P&W had no other choice but to create the GTF or disappear from the commercial market.

    Among the various programmes P&W is involved with there are some which are very risky. On the other hand the largest investment, which is for the neo, will be extremely lucrative for P&W. But I suspect the situation might be different for CFMI because they probably had to discount the Leap in order to convince customers to stay with the consortium. The situation is a little different on the MAX. There is no competition for CFMI there but we have to keep in mind that the MAX has less than a promising future, unless fuel prices stay low for a very long time.

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