How to achieve Automation in Load Control (Part 4 of 7): Automated Messaging
Jul 03, 2018
Dear Blog Reader,
hello again for part four of my blog sequence “How to achieve Automation in Load Control”
In the last blog, I spoke about requirements for an “Automated Shift Management”. Within this particular blog I would like to share my thoughts with you about the following automation driver:
Messaging is an important and in parts also mandatory part of Load Control. When speaking about automated messaging in this blog, I do not mean the automated data update / input from neighboring systems into the Load Control Systems via interfaces. As already outlined in part 1: Automated data update / input by neighboring systems is actually the prerequisite for implementing any other automation triggers, as described here. In this sense, when writing about “Automated Messaging” I refer to transmitting (necessary) information, messages and documents that need to be delivered to other Load Control stakeholders for further processing, such as
- Flight Dispatch
- Container Supplier
- Fuel Company
- Ramp Agent
- Pilot in Command
Having this in mind I would like to share my thoughts about the following Load Control messages (documents):
- (Estimate) Zero Fuel Messages (EFZW)
- Bag ULD Orders
- Fuel Orders
- Loading Instruction
- Post Departure Messages
Messaging of (Estimate) Zero Fuel Messages (EZFW)
During the pre-calculation phase an automated Load Control system shall allow the Load Controller to automatically send at a pre-defined time the Estimated Zero Fuel Message (EZFW) to the Flight Dispatcher system for his/her following Operational Flight Plan (OFP) calculation. So both – Load Controller and Flight Dispatcher can simultaneously follow their given deadlines to finish their work.
During the Load Control and Flight Dispatch Process a continuous (automated) exchange of ZFW and fuel figures shall be ideally between both systems, as the ZFW is one important factor for determining the fuel carried. The ZFW
When releasing the Loadsheet at the end of the Load Control process ideally a ZFW message shall be as well automatically be send to the Flight Planning System, as this might be a valuable basis for later statistical evaluations (e.g. for the creation of resilient historical data).
Bag ULD Order Messaging
A Bag ULD Order messaging contains a list of all planned baggage ULDs and baggage categories. To facilitate the baggage management process for ULD-aircraft on an airline a Load Control system shall therefore also provide the option to send a Bag ULD Order automatically by a time trigger to pre-defined receiver Telex addresses. Time consuming and error-prone manual telex writing will be omitted.
Fuel Order Messaging
The creation of the fuel order can also be subject of automation. A good Load Control application shall allow to send automatically fuel orders to the fueling company when final fuel data has been received from Flight Planning System. Such a fuel order can be initiated via time trigger or by an incoming fuel message – or of course manually as well.
Sending of Loading Instruction and Loadsheet and NOTOC
The Loading Instruction and Loadsheet are two main results of Load Control. Both are send after their creation to respective recipients usually via email or telex. To avoid unnecessary printouts and paperwork as well as save time and reduce communication costs (for telexes), I recommend to use email for transmitting these two documents – if other than the following two means of messaging are not available:
Regarding the Loading Instruction there is a more charming way: A fully integrated web based and ramp customized desktop solution or – with better - a solution on a mobile device shall allow the Ramp Agent / Load Supervisor to automatically retrieve the Loading Instruction now even in a graphical format on his laptop or tablet / smartphone – immediately after Loading Instruction creation. Of course the person in charge on the ramp always gets a notice (message) about the (newest edition of a) Loading Instruction being available.
Looking at the Loadsheet messaging and Loadsheet acknowledgement process another more efficient way of transmission is possible: The Load sheet shall be - best case - send automatically via ACARS directly to the Pilot in Command, who can immediately acknowledge it via ACARS back, if OK. An automatically triggered NOTOC transmission by ACARS shall also come along with this.
Another mandatory output of Load Control are the post-departure Messages:
They shall ideally be provided via email or telex messages to the destination outstation after the flight is being closed. This includes as well the provision to send any free-text message to the receiving outstations. Needless to say that ideally a pre-configured time trigger automatically starts this action after aircraft is off blocks.
What else might be worth to consider here? Concretely I think of an option to send CPMs for Bulk aircraft in order to have a deadload breakdown per net section including special load remarks. Moreover I also suggest an additional control function to determine, whether the Special Information for the Loading Instruction and the Load sheet are separately shown in CPM and LDM or shown in both messages. A separate display might be useful, if the airline decides to display the position or load item-related Special Information of the Loading instruction only on the CPM, whereas the more flight-related flight-related Special Information of the Loadsheet shall be shown on the LDM.
As outlined above an airline– when thinking about how to reduce communication costs – focus on email messaging. Just in case for some outstations telexes are still necessary, a good system shall also give the option, to split the telex message due to SITA length regulations, otherwise it might be cropped or – worst case – even not to be sent.
In the next part of this blog sequence about “How to achieve Automation in Load Control” I will write about the following topic:
- Automated Background Checks including automated alerting warning mechanisms
Until then I very much look forward to hearing your feedback about this blog. Please stay tuned.
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For the other blogs of this serial please click here: