Tablets: Sagem's mobility trump card

Tablets, those practical, user-friendly, touch-screen computers, are becoming more popular every day. And as these two Sagem (Safran) solutions demonstrate, they are also opening up whole new horizons in the world of aerospace and defense.

Sagem's Cassiopée offers business aviation and helicopter operators an extensive range of services including flight safety, risk management, operations cost savings and aircraft maintenance support. All of this is made possible by a data acquisition unit called the Aircraft Condition Monitoring Systems (ACMS)*. This records data, which Sagem then collects and processes at regular intervals. As Carole Arlotto, Cassiopée Marketing Manager, explains, "Where Cassiopée 'Flight Data Monitoring' really adds value is in flight data interpretation, which gives you a reliable overview of the aircraft's operations in flight. The data is analyzed the minute it arrives then delivered using a secure online service up and running 24/7." That gives pilots and maintenance and security managers access to a full range of statistics reports and trends based on flight data.

Swifter response times
With the introduction of tablets, the data can now be consulted simultaneously. "The decision to develop an iPad app was motivated above all by wanting to get our response times up," says Carole Arlotto. "We'd noticed that the various users didn't always have instant access to a PC. With the app, you can work anywhere, in a workshop or on the runway, with no trouble at all. Say you have to look into something further after a problem in flight. With the app, the maintenance manager can be notified much more quickly. That saves him having to ground the plane – a very costly exercise – by letting him schedule repairs earlier on." The app also aids pilots by displaying a 3D simulation of their flight that they can then use, for example, to perfect their descent. And to speed things up even more, Sagem is currently developing a wireless ACMS to gather data on a daily basis.

UAV-tablet compatibility
Patrick Durieux, Sagem Vice President of Sales for UAVs, agrees that the most convincing reason to develop several tablet applications was the ability to access live data on the go. "Sagem's currently working on a long-endurance UAV called Patroller," he explains. "Patroller can fly for up to thirty hours on end and carry a huge range of sensors like optronics including an infrared camera, a radar, and secure data transfer systems. The sensor data is then instantly transmitted back to the ground station heading the mission. With the tablets, everyone can access the live video stream from the UAV's camera, as well as its current position and flight plan." But the app has other advantages too. Task forces on the ground can use it to control the UAV's camera, allowing them for example to get a clearer look at a target. Its compact design and high-quality resolution make it particularly suited to this kind of operation.
"The possibilities of tablet apps are practically endless, with applications like fleet maintenance management, post-flight data retrieval and reporting and engine failure simulations for operator training, just to name a few. We've got a number of projects ready to go," says Patrick Durieux. Even if piloting the Patroller UAV is not yet one of these projects, Sagem is already looking into developing less complicated, miniature UAVs that can be flown all with the swipe of a finger along the tablet's touchscreen.

*The Aircraft Condition Monitoring System (ACMS) records data and information from aircraft systems, such as the parameters at takeoff, flight speed, engine temperature, etc.