Connect Airlines to Join Growing Number of Q400 Operators Using FLYHT AI Services and Connectivity

Connect Airlines is adding FLYHT’s AFIRS satcom box and new AI Services capability to its fleet of Q400s. (Connect Airlines)

Connect Airlines, the new Toronto-based scheduled air carrier, will become the latest Q400 operator to modify its fleet with connectivity and intelligence services supplied by Calgary-based avionics manufacturer FLYHT Aerospace Solutions.

Under a new five year agreement announced in a May 4 press release, Connect Airlines is adding FLYHT’s Automated Flight Information Reporting System (AFIRS) and Actionable Intelligence (“AI”) services to its fleet of DHC-8-Q400 turboprop aircraft. AFIRS is a satellite communications computer that provides Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) over Iridium messaging capability. The system also uses a a proprietary software known as the embedded launching application to determine what information an operator wants to capture about its aircraft’s performance.

FLYHT describes its new AI services platform as initially enabling voice and text communications, engine and airframe exceedances, situational display and automatic movement messages. Future services for the AI platform are also in development, to include “fuel management, turn and airport apron operations, integrated flight plan and emissions tracking,” according to FLYHT.

“They’ll be utilizing the built in AFIRS Quick Access Recorder (QAR) to record all data to satisfy a [flight data monitoring] FDM program, including future upgrade to our wireless QAR functionality to automate the post flight download of QAR data via LTE/5G accordingly,” Derek Taylor, VP of sales and marketing for FLYHT told Avionics International in an emailed statement.

Connect will also leverage AFIRS to gain real-time insight into arrival information and gate turn management, while also sending real-time engine take-off and stable cruise reports to the aircraft’s engine OEM for trending purposes, according to Taylor.
There are also future upgrades in development for the initial electronic flight bag applications that the AFIRS system will support on Connect’s fleet of Q400s.

“Initial use cases include two-way text messaging between crew and OCC/MCC, METAR/TAF/NOTAM weather reports, with future capabilities including an [aircraft interface device/aircraft data interface device function] AID/ADIF for aircraft data such as GPS, fuel, etc. to be fed to iPads to integrate to various iPad applications for increased operational awareness and efficiencies – ultimately maximizing in the investments of the iPad use cases,” Taylor said.

Taylor said Connect Airlines is the latest Q400 fleet operator to join a growing number of others using AFIRS on the turboprop aircraft, including Air Niugini, Air Iceland, Congo Airways, Jambojet, Air Tanzania and Voyageur Airways. Launched by Boston-based charter operator Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA) last month, Connect Airlines is focused on flight operations that will connect Toronto Bill Bishop City Airport with airports in the northeast and midwestern U.S.

“After an exhaustive review of alternatives, we chose FLYHT because it provided our flight crew and operations team the technology, data, and analytics to operate a highly efficient and reliable airline, right out of the box,” David Marcontell, COO of Connect Airlines, said in a statement.
Connect Airlines will begin scheduled operations in October.

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