Colombia-based LAS Cargo has activated eFOQA for its fleet of Boeing 727-100s. (LAS Cargo)
Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (LAS) Cargo, a Colombia-based domestic air freight carrier, has signed a new five-year contract with GE Digital to electronically transform their Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA) program.
FOQA is described by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a voluntary safety program that enables sharing and analysis of de-identified flight data with civil aviation regulators so that they can identify and reduce safety risks as well as monitor national trends as they occur within aircraft operations. Boris Zuniga, director of safety and quality for LAS Cargo, told Avionics International that the automated data processing and error detection capabilities of eFOQA will give his team cleaner and more accurate data with fewer false positives.
“Currently, LAS Cargo has activated the eFOQA technology in its Boeing 727s and 737-300. Our technical department performed a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for each aircraft,” Zuniga said.
While FOQA programs are not mandated by the FAA for U.S.-registered airlines, some other civil aviation regulators, including the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority, require operators of certain aircraft types to develop and sustain a FOQA program. In 2008, the International Civil Aviation Organization amended Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention to introduce new recommendations for airlines around the establishment of FOQA and flight data monitoring practices.
Most airlines manage this by downloading flight parameter data points captured by their flight data recorder (FDR) or a quick access recorder (QAR), and then review or compare what they’ve captured to historical records and performance of that aircraft.
“The Quick Access Recorder will record our fleet's key parameters and provide valuable operational information that will allow us to continue improving our standards and procedures,” Zuniga said.
eFOQA gives LAS Cargo a new cloud-based method for analyzing flight recorder data and tracking safety metrics to alert its flight department of possible risk. (GE Digital)
According to GE, their eFOQA technology also analyzes FDR data and actively tracks safety metrics to alert flight departments of possible risks. Several tasks in the FOQA process that previously would have been performed by humans, including data ingestion, error correction, and statistical reporting are now automated by LAS Cargo’s use of eFOQA.
Zuniga said the airline is also considering new methods for downloading their data directly from the aircraft.
“We are also evaluating a Wi-Fi option. Once the plane's data is downloaded, we upload it to the cloud,” he said. “GE receives the information and performs its analysis to have the visibility of the necessary actions to improve our procedures.”
Using GE Digital’s Event Measurement System (EMS), a flight data platform, operators can access both safety and fuel analytics to identify and quantify specific opportunities to reduce fuel consumption. The eFOQA platform utilizes EMS to gather, cleanse, and process data, according to GE.
Andrew Coleman, general manager of GE Digital’s aviation software division, says their eFOQA technology will allow LAS Cargo to “be safer, more efficient, and profitable in challenging times.”
“Our aviation industry takes great pride in being the safest means of transportation on Earth. This only happens by implementing processes, safeguards, and controls to make safety the number one priority,” Coleman said in an email. “It also only happens by harvesting the wealth of information modern aircraft make available and translating it into actionable insights to ensure we are constantly learning from our collective flying experiences. We serve hundreds of customers in the aviation ecosystem, as well as sponsor the industry-wide collaboration, to ensure best practices in analyzing flight data are fully shared and understood across our industry.”