As Nepal’s largest domestic airline with 14 planes in its fleet, Buddha Air needs to monitor flights, and it is now doing that with its Flight Operation Quality Assurance (FOQA).
The system allows the carrier’s operations department in Kathmanduto analyse aircraft performance fromt he moment it starts its engines to the moment it reaches its destination and switches off.
The airline is now flying9 ATR-72s, 3 ATR-42s and 2 Beechcraft 1900D aircraft to 12 destinations from Kathmandu and Pokhara. The airline just added an ATR-72 and willbe inducting another one in July.
Buddha Air’s Corporate Safety Department send coded information to the main hangar in Kathmandu with details of the flights such as altitude, speed, ground spacing and so on. The department then monitors the aircraft performance throughout its flight as well as crew performance in real time.
For each aircraft, the information is outsourced to be decoded by a French company, SAGEM Cassiopee which analyses the parameters and sends it back to Buddha Air within 24 hours. Through this, the company is able to read the data and performance of each flight by decoding a series of numbers and parameters.
To make things easier, the data are set to a website accessible only to the Flight Data Monitoring Division and the cockpit crew who can check their own performance for each flight. The website’s clear identification and summarisation of the data makes it easier to read.
With the help of modern technology, Flight Monitoring has become much easier with Google Earth coming in handy to visually map the flights. Now each flight can be monitored closely.
While the results of the Flight Data Monitoring is available to all, details such as the pilot’s identities are kept confidential while other information such as statistics, trends, incident investigation and aircraft snags are analysed so that they can be corrected.
A flight is very sensitive to all internal and external conditions that define its performance. A flight will consist of thousands of data representing the aircraft’s flight. This means that at times when the aircraft’s engine is on but is stuck at the traffic for some reason, the recorder will still be recording, so the amount of data that a flight records depends on the time that the engine is running rather than the distance it has flown.
The flight monitoring not only helps in retrieving data to analyse how the flight went but it also helps to analyse human factors as well. Buddha Air can understand how well the pilots are performing through this monitoring system.
Based on the Crew Trend Analysis, customised trainings will be made available for the crew to enhance their skill set.
IATA says that Flight Data Analysis is mandatory for airplanes over 27 tons which includes Buddha Air’s ATR 42-320 and ATR 72-500 but to ensure extra safety and precaution, they also analyze the smaller Beechcraft 1900D’s flight data just to be sure nothing is missed out.
Flight Data Analysis is a necessary tool for a good reason. It’s like screening the aircraft from the inside and outside. A pilot can sense the aircraft’s workings from the inside and an engineer screens the aircraft from the outside.