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8 Integrating Airport Information Systems Common-Use Environment The trend in the airport industry is toward a common-use environment, which draws on mul- tiple sources of information to compile and display the most up-to-date data. The airport pro- vides the systems, and the airline tenants access these common-use systems through facilities, such as ticketing, as well as passenger check-in and boarding equipment. One reason for this trend is the failure of many airlines to maintain systems upgrades. For example, most airlines have not updated their legacy flight information display systems (FIDS), leaving airports in need of current, accurate integrated flight information for operational and financial activities. A common-use environment enables airports to control and upgrade systems such as FIDS. Airport-owned FIDS solutions, including Recommended Practice initiatives for flight informa- tion management systems or the new airport information data exchange solution, offer state-of- the-art technologies to tenants and passengers. Many airports are moving toward common-use systems as new use and lease agreements are negotiated. Data Gaps Some airports benefit from airport-owned FIDS solutions by using multiple feeds from various software systems and services and then funneling the data through airport operational database systems to validate the information received directly from the airlines. However, air- ports have encountered a problem using FIDS--gaps in the data feeds. For example, a gap can exist when an airline has planned a maintenance-related landing or takeoff at an airport. Because this information is not identified as a scheduled flight, it is not downloaded into the FIDS. Nor will the data feed from the Official Airline Guide (OAG) normally include this flight. The airport must still rely on self-reported information from the airline to bill them for this landing or takeoff. Airports rely on aircraft tail numbers to track the financial activities associated with each air- craft at an airport. The types of data that can be collected include aircraft equipment model and type, tail number, airport arrival and departure times, airline flight number, passenger counts, aircraft weight and balance data, and whether a flight is scheduled or non-scheduled and domes- tic or international. Every aircraft transmits a signal from its transponder to the Federal Avia- tion Administration (FAA) radar systems. These real-time data are collected and disseminated by the national aeronautical database, which is maintained by the FAA National Flight Data Cen- ter (NFDC). NFDC is responsible for collecting all aircraft flight data. Direct feeds into airport systems can be set up through the NFDC. However, the FAA censors its data, which can create significant data gaps. For example, aircraft tail numbers for commercial flights may be trans- posed. The airport receives a fictitious number instead of the actual tail number, even though FAA-certificated landing and takeoff weights of an aircraft are denoted by tail number, and most airports charge airlines based on those weights. Some airports struggle with these gaps in data. Of critical importance to any airport's decision- making process is that senior management should have a good understanding of the systems, the sources of the data, and the rules of the data. (Chapter 5 offers further discussion about the sys- tems, the various sources, and the rules.) Billing from Flight Data Using flight data from information systems for real-time billing has not been entirely embraced by the airlines. Some airports purchase financial software that captures aircraft tail numbers-- without realizing that their contractual obligations prohibit them from using the resulting data as a billing tool, and thus can only use the software results for audits.