Friday, 26 November 2010

AeroMechanical Helps Small Go Big

AeroMechanical Services Ltd. (TSX:V-AMA)
Basic Shares: 103.6 million
Fully Diluted: 115.4 million


It's ironic that on the day that France announced it is launching a fourth search for the black boxes on board the ill-fated AF447 flight, AeroMechanical Services was taking a huge step forward that could forever end those kinds of searches.

The advances AeroMechanical is taking part in all revolve around a technology called OpenPort, which will increase the data being transmitted off an aircraft by a staggering amount.

The current aircraft transmission technology AeroMechanical is forced to use limits the data transfer to 2,400 baud, a measure of symbols and pulses that can be transmitted in one second.

AeroMechanical has a blue box technology that takes the critical operational data flowing into an aircraft's black box and transmits that back to earth when an aircraft is in an emergency situation.

In most cases, that amount of data is sufficient to allow aircraft accident investigators to understand why an aircraft failed.

But OpenPort takes data transmission up to 128 thousand baud.

That means AeroMechanical can now transmit a fuller suite of operational data, plus voice recordings and cockpit video recordings, if the latter is ever mandated.

Had AF447 been equipped with AeroMechanical’s technology, the first three searches for the aircraft and its black boxes may not have been necessary.

With the ability to transmit data, plus voice, plus video through the OpenPort technology, accident investigators will then have a rich store of evidence to pinpoint the exact cause of the tragedy, without having to retrieve the aircraft's black boxes.

OpenPort isn't on the market yet for aircraft. However, it has been in extensive use in the marine industry.

One of the critical problems for aircraft installation has been the massive size of the antenna used on the marine version.

The owners of the Iridium satellite system invented the technology and Live TV, a provider of aircraft in flight entertainment, teamed up with Iridium to create a miniaturized, lightweight antenna.

LiveTV executives said they hope to have regulatory approval for OpenPort installations on aircraft by the first quarter of 2011 and available to the airline industry shortly thereafter.

AeroMechanical Chairman and CEO, Bill Tempany, said his company is working with LiveTV in the development of the technology for use on aircraft.

And an OpenPort unit arrived on Mr. Tempany's desk for further testing, the very day of the announcement about this fourth search for AF447 (Nov. 25).

"We are pleased to be involved in testing this technology along with our partner who manufacture the black boxes that record data, voice and potentially video in 78% of the worlds commercial aircraft,” Mr. Tempany said.

“We are confident this technology will allow us to create a course for the entire airline industry to retrieve all the vital data from aircraft in distress."

To read more about the the new technology in a magazine produced by Iridium, please click here.