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IMS EMEA Newsletter Issue 6 - October 2011

 

Planning + Global Cooperation = Successful Network Migration

 

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Any project of a global nature throws up particular challenges, including rigorous planning, international cooperation and multiparty liaison. 

All these qualities were called into play when British Airways (BA) awarded ARINC a contract to install its AviNet Airport network service at 19 sites across Asia, Europe and the USA. This will service BA's Passenger Reconciliation System (PRS) which maximises passenger flow at security checkpoints by automatically screening travellers against the airline's host system in real time to either determine clearance or provide an alert. The new network will also service BagLink, which enables baggage to be sorted and routed remotely, saving time, cutting costs and minimizing errors; and Common Use Self Service (CUSS) kiosks which streamline and speed up the check-in process, easing congestion, enabling airline cost-sharing and saving floor space.

The project also included the migration of four additional non-AviNet sites to IP.

As Julian Lloyd, BA Airport Systems Consultant, explained: “Future BA applications necessitated changes to the existing network, which was supplied by an ARINC competitor, so moving to ARINC AviNet became cost viable.”

The contract to migrate the network entailed not only changing over the connection but also switching from an outdated MATIP service to a direct IP connection. This necessitated the installation of a new PRS at all 23 sites as well as reconfiguration of bag messaging servers to allow BA to send Type-B baggage routing (BSM) messages over ARINC's BagLink IP upline solution.

ARINC project manager Taania Wood coordinated the entire undertaking from the company's European headquarters near Gatwick, liaising with ARINC engineers on three continents, as well as with BA and a variety of Local Area Network providers.

As she explained, the background work to providing this fully integrated solution was methodical and extensive.

“Planning meetings with BA began almost a year beforehand as thorough preparation was crucial to the success of this project,” she said. “We had to prepare the sites months in advance by gathering all the necessary information before we could move on to the next phase of configuring the networks and messaging servers and deploying the software.”

Migration of CUSS was a 'knife-edge' cut-over requiring precise coordination with each airport's Local Area Network provider.

Twenty-one sites have been completed to date, with the bulk of the cut-over taking place between 1 and 29 March, at the rate of four sites in a week.

“BA set the schedule and everything was completed on time,” said Taania. “We held a meeting every two weeks with BA to keep them fully updated on progress.”

She said the successful outcome is a result not only of technical expertise but also of international cooperation.

“We have a very satisfied customer in BA and were delighted with the compliment they paid us after the first deployment at Narita Airport in Japan. They said that in over 20 years' experience of CUTE cut-overs from all suppliers this particular one has been the smoothest and best managed that they could recall.”

Paul Evans, Network Infrastructure Project Manager at BA, confirmed that it has been a very successful project.

“We involved ARINC early in our delivery schedule discussions so we could get a feel for what support they could provide to us, especially the project management, as we knew that dealing with 25 sites individually would prove to be difficult to achieve on our own,” he said.

“Our experience with other vendors had highlighted the requirement for detailed and accurate configuration data to be supplied to us in a timely manner to ensure our chosen cut-over date and time was achieved. Furthermore if this data was not of sufficient quality there was a high risk to the BA operation with flight delays and their associated costs.

“Our relationship with Taania Wood as ARINC's appointed PM has been excellent throughout this project. From the initial discussions she involved the correct ARINC technical personnel to work with BA's, and what at first appeared to be potentially challenging proved to be a very straightforward undertaking. Taania also became our single point of contact with ARINC throughout the project and her foresight, dedication and hard work ensured that, as the customer, we were always kept up to date on ARINC's progress.

“This made our migration go/no go decisions very straightforward and for me, as BA's PM, it was the key to the successful migration to our IP/PRS application at all of the ARINC sites in scope which were all achieved on time and without any issues.”

Julian Lloyd agrees. “ARINC provided a seamless transition to their managed network service with great project management,” he said.

“Having a single end-to-end service from ARINC sites across their own network removes one supplier from the support chain.

“We are saving over $5,000 per month on network costs alone, with intangible benefits bringing additional cost savings.”

 

 

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