GPS-based aeroplane tracking device

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Flying clubs and other flying organizations have an interest in relyably measuring the airborn time of an aeroplane.

This time is used to calculate the cost of hiring the aeroplane, and is usually reported by the pilot himself. Since pilots may be tempted to round down the airborn time, clubs may loose revenues.

Additionally, pilots may want to see their flight plotted on a map

While this kind of fleet management tools are readily available for road vehicles, but there are few, if any, aeronautical solutions available.

The FTL-1 provides such a solution. The key feature is that it runs on battery. This avoid the very expensive process of certification of the device, as well as costly mounting, which must be performed by an approved Flight Service Organization.

The FTL-1 works by

  • When the engine start, turning itself on with the help of a motion detector.
  • Initializing the GPS with the last known coordinates, to speed startup.
  • Every second logging the position of the aeroplane during flight.
  • When, after landing, the aeroplane has been parked for an amount of time, transmitting the flight information using GPRS.

That flight information is then available to the pilot and to the flying organization via a web interface. An invoice can be generated automatically, based on the data.

The device must run for 80 hours on a single charging. This allows for 65 hours of airborne time, the maximum time allowed between two service intervals, as well as taxiing time. This was achieve by

  • Using the most powerful battery available.
  • Using low-power components.
  • Keeping components turned off when not in use.
  • Data compression to keep the time the GPRS module is on to a minimum.