Web Based Flight Information
CTI was chosen to develop an Airport Display System (ADS). The existing ADS was developed years ago. It utilized outdated technologies and was found to be unstable. When the system went down, as frequently happened, gate agents and other airport personnel often became overwhelmed by customers trying to access information about their flights. Because customer service was at a premium in the travel industry, this system was viewed as extremely critical to their operations. As a result, the decision to redo the system using the most up-to-date technology with the highest standards and reliability was inevitable.
This project included the development of FIDS (Flight Information Display System), CIDS (Customer Information Display System), BIDS (Baggage Information Display System), and EFIDS (External Flight Information Display System). The new system controls the public monitors, the LED signs, and the display system used by the SCC (Station Control Center). The system is designed to be used at all hub airports for the airlines and will be deployed first at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
After an intensive study of the business requirements and investigation of various kinds of technologies available, CTI, working closely with client employees, decided to use the three-tier client/server architecture model or this effort. The model was developed to look as follows:
1. Back End
At the backend is an Oracle relational database. Each hub airport will have its own instance of the Oracle database. Small airports may share one database. Flight information is downloaded from the mainframe computer Unimatic and stored in the Oracle database at midnight of everyday. A dedicated demon process listens to Unimatic, receives updates of flights, and updates the Oracle database at the airport dynamically.
2. The Middle Tier
In the middle tier are applications that manage and format the information that is retrieved from the Oracle database. The applications are basically event-driven. An event can be either a gate change for a flight, a change of departure time, or timer. As an example, a process was developed to have the monitors show “BOARDING” for a flight 30 minutes before the estimated departure time. If the flight is delayed for any reason, the system, monitoring activity, will adjust accordingly, displaying appropriate messages.
3. The Front End
The information will be ultimately displayed on the monitors and signs that are used by the public customers and the airport operations personnel. Special hardware, procured through equipment vendors to physically display the flight data and graphics, is used.
Web FIDS is another part of the effort to enhance the system, while taking advantage of the most up-to-date technologies. FIDS Edit tools provide airport personnel the means by which to change flight information locally without going through the mainframe computer. It is deployed via the Intranet and also uses three-tier architecture. Using the same Oracle database in the back-end, a Web Server, an application server, CTI was able to provide database connectivity to Java applications. At the front-end are Java applets that present the users with the Graphical User Interface (GUI).
Flight information displayed on the monitors is also mirrored in HTML format on the Intranet and will eventually be available to the public on the Internet, through a continued effort by CTI.
CTI began working with the client on this project at the initial stages of conception. Our deliverables have included business analysis and recommendations, evaluation of various technologies and development of system and application design and coding. For the client’s customers, the end result was a streamlined system that allows them access to the most current information. For the client themselves, they have gained incalculable customer satisfaction, and in turn, repeat business.