Amir Bhatti is Chief Executive Officer at Star Navigation Systems Group Ltd., a Canadian-based technology firm that focuses on providing aerospace solutions (hardware and software) for aircraft operators. Star’s solution provides real-time tracking, with performance trends and predictive incident occurrences. Essentially aircraft telemetry in a box.
As airlines emerge from the pandemic, with slimmed-down fleets and keenly watching cash flow, Star’s multifaceted system provides a solution worthy of consideration. The reporting from this system allows for online dashboard access, plus the ability to share appropriate data with risk partners like insurers and lessors. The system even offers carbon emissions guidance. It is a novel offering.
- Please tell us about your company – how it got started and how we got to where it is today
Star Navigation is a publicly-traded company headquartered in the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada. The company was formed with the goal of leveraging state-of-the-art software for meaningful insights from aircraft flight data. Throughout the various cycles impacting the aviation industry, Star Navigation has managed to navigate through the various market challenges. Most recently, we took critical steps including changes in the Board of Directors and senior management to reposition the company. We are focusing on brand awareness, increasing awareness of the value of data analytics, supporting cost reductions for operators, and offering opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.
- Amir, please provide a brief description of STAR’s history, the evolution of various products, recent focus on GADSS by ICAO, and the current restructuring to focus on the A.D.S. system.
The company is in the business of collecting, processing, and transmitting flight data from an aircraft in flight. The company’s flagship product is the STAR Airborne Data Services system (STAR A.D.S system)® which, once installed on the aircraft, transmits real-time and meaningful information for flight tracking, aircraft distress tracking at shorter time intervals, real-time identification of aircraft distress conditions and subsequently transmitting/streaming DFDR data. The analytics part of our business supports operational efficiencies, reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions, and maintenance-related cost reductions.
STAR Navigation was an integral part of the AF447 “Triggered Transmission” conferences in 2009 following the crash investigation of that flight. Similarly, STAR Navigation supported the investigation relating to the missing flight MH370 in 2014. STAR Navigation provided important recommendations alongside other worldwide aviation professionals and organizations to ICAO (under the leadership of STAR’s current CEO, Mr. Amir Bhatti). Those recommendations are now mandatory regulations under ICAO Annex 6, Part 1. STAR Navigation restructured the company to focus on sales of the STAR A.D.S system as the evolution of flight tracking and predictive data analytics are now more important than ever before.
- How would you describe or define your product?
- Real-Time Data Analytics – Real-time flight tracking with critical operational information at your fingertips. This is very important to support the optimization of airline operations.
- Predictive Maintenance – Crucial operational data from the aircraft available in real-time drives down maintenance costs. Operators are notified immediately when a part fails or an engine temperature increases or deviation of any other operational parameter that could lead to significant maintenance costs later on.
- Cost Savings – Services such as engine condition monitoring, fuel analytics, and flight data monitoring (FOQA / FDM) provide opportunities for real savings when data can drive optimal decision-making.
- Commercial aviation is going through a major reset post-pandemic. How does your offering play into this process?
This is an opportunity for the industry to take a closer look at technological enhancements that can improve not only profitability but also a step-change in how analytics contribute to better decision making with respect to environmental impact, increasing operational efficiency, strengthening the links between training and true operational experience…. and so much more.
The STAR A.D.S. system does much more than aircraft health monitoring. We provide real-time flight data on normal and abnormal indications. We track an aircraft’s position through the Iridium satellite network with updates as frequently as every 30 seconds worldwide. We can ensure that the operator receives an immediate alert of any abnormal indications and can make immediate decisions to improve safety and enhance decision making with better and real-time information.
This is not about just adding cost to an operation through another service. STAR Navigation’s purpose is to improve aviation through real-time data contributing to optimized decision making.
- Data-driven decisions have become a mantra – tell us how your dashboard accomplishes this?
Our centralized dashboard provides real-time information, but is not limited to, such as –
- Full flight path with tracking information (engine systems and airframe systems) every 30 seconds to any time interval mapped on the user interface
- Weather overlays with various layers on the map
- Real-time distance measuring tools
- Geofencing creation while the airplane is still in-flight
- Over-flight track miles measurement
- Flight replay and analysis
- End of flight reports for all operational departments at an airline
- Flight Safety analytics in real-time (alerts ground crew if and when the aircraft goes out of flight envelope)
- Real-time maintenance and operational alerting system
- Cost management and stability are key priorities as airlines chart the course of recovery. What if an airline chooses to do nothing with what STAR is suggesting?
Doing nothing with STAR or any other service provider is a missed opportunity on cost management. The current market situation offers everyone an opportunity to step back and re-evaluate how they can ride the wave of recovery in a better position.
This is just a starting point and requires a further discussion on how the operator can improve their environmental footprint at a fraction of the cost. Rather than invest millions in engine improvements, redesigning wings, cleaning up aircraft drag, etc. …. why not think about truly measuring operational improvements that can gain significant carbon reductions or reduce fuel burn or improve crew SOPs? All of this can be done at a much lower cost and all while implementation can be achieved in weeks, not years.
- How does an airline or OEM get started or test your product?
We welcome a discussion with any airline or OEM. As part of the initial conversation, we work to understand their current operation, systems in use, critical parameters important to that operator, and demonstrate the capability of our system.
We then customize the interface to collect and analyze data to fit the customer’s needs. As part of my mandate since taking over as CEO, we are updating our commercial and product development approach. We have brought in senior industry veterans who can engage in technical and commercial discussions at all levels of an airline or OEM. Let’s get the conversation going and start implementing a solution even through a trial period.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.