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60 Integrating Airport Information Systems One of the many advantages to these direct feeds is the advance flight information provided to an airport for operational and financial planning. A disadvantage of airline feeds is that real-time flight information might not be shared in a timely and accurate manner, because the publicly available information is often censored by an airline. Also, such information is not consistent with what the FAA provides from its real-time radar feed. FAA Direct Feed One of the most reliable sources of information is provided by the FAA through the NFDC, which can directly feed an airport's system. These feeds track aircraft in real time and provide some of the most accurate reporting data to an airport. The data collected by the FAA is also the most comprehensive for an airport because all information originates from the FAA radar. One of the most important pieces of data for an airport is the aircraft tail number. Currently, however, the FAA substitutes the tail number with the flight number and that number is trans- mitted to the airport. Without all the information associated with a specific tail number, an air- port cannot accurately record gross landing weight for a specific flight. But the FAA does allow third-party vendors to scrub the flight data using various algorithms and transmit the data to an airport. These vendors use tertiary radar feeds to gather the data from the FAA radar. Flight Information Display System At some airports, the airlines own and operate the FIDS. The airline is directly responsible to update, maintain, and inform both the airport and the public of its flight activity in real time. When an airline is in the midst of a system-wide delay, updating the FIDS at each airport is prob- ably not the airline's top priority, even though the delay could affect the other airports. Often FIDS are legacy systems that are updated manually. Sometimes airports are compelled to assist with the flight information updates. When airlines feel the effect of a financial downturn, FIDS equipment may not be well maintained or updated. Summary of Data Sources If an airport uses more than one of the data sources described above, the airport must deter- mine rules for the data--rules that provide which information should be used, how it should be used, and by whom. If the OAG is used, when does it override the direct feed? How would con- flicts in the data be resolved? If the airport adds another flight data system and source, such as the FAA and the tertiary radar system, into the equation, four different types of data are now coming into the airport operational database, and each different source of data is important to one or more of the airport's divisions. Agreed-to parameters, such as when to post flight data in the case of delays, which source governs when there is a difference in the data, or flagging information when it is outside of a triggering level, are examples of critical rules that might need to be set. The need to define, understand, agree to, and apply rules to the data is critical. The flow of information is captured in Figure 5-1. Systems Examination Unless an airport explores all its systems, the airport cannot integrate successfully. It is extremely useful for an airport to examine the systems in place at the airport to evaluate the following:

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Airport Systems 61 Figure 5-1. Sample airside operation system. What information is kept in each system and how is that information used? What information is duplicated in different systems? What data needed to provide critical business information is not currently accessible? Although this process can be time-consuming and difficult, the resulting understanding of the systems and how those systems need to relate or integrate to form a larger information system is invaluable and greatly enhances the potential for successful integration. Table 5-1 shows the results of one such systems examination. A Financial Management Infor- mation System, for example, would include a number of smaller systems. Figure 5-2 is a sample Financial Management Information System.