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All change at the check-in desk

Stephanie Taylor explores the benefits of Rockwell’s new cloud-native check-in system, ARINC cMUSE, which made its debut at this year’s Passenger Terminal Expo in Amsterdam

Rockwell Collins has redesigned its Common Use Passenger Processing System (CUPPS) so that it now operates from within the cloud rather than running from it, and there’s an important distinction between the two.

Until now, Rockwell’s ARINC vMUSE solution (Virtual Multi-User System Environment) has allowed physical workstations to be hosted remotely by themselves or by airports in a data center. However, wherever they were, the workstations still needed to be built, installed and maintained by engineers. This is no longer the case with ARINC cMUSE, an entirely new CUPPS that is cloud-native – no workstations needed.

“When you say, ‘I’m building Airport XYZ, it’s got 10 check-in desks and three departure gates,’ the system creates the necessary digital infrastructure to accommodate this rather than an engineer having to go and install workstations manually,” explains Tony Chapman, senior director, strategic programmes, global airports at Rockwell Collins (above).

The cost and physical space savings afforded by a cloud-native system will allow smaller airports to have the same support, functionality and applications as only their big brothers have historically been able to. From then on, ARINC cMUSE only utilizes resources as and when the check-in agent launches an application and it starts running, which is why there’s a pay-as-you-go option available for customers.

Rockwell understands this payment model is an attractive option for airports interested in deploying ARINC cMUSE, which has extensive usage statistics reporting going on in the background.

As announced at PTE 2017 in Amsterdam this week, the launch customer for ARINC cMUSE is Canada’s Ottawa International Airport (right). Since Ottawa already has virtual workstations in place, Rockwell is installing the check-in system on the airport’s existing infrastructure without having to buy any new hardware.
This is one of the differentiators of ARINC cMUSE.

“While we can run it natively with the public cloud, we can also run the same technology and same support services using local airport infrastructure if that’s what they require,” expands Chapman.

The company has offered airports this option because it knows the aviation industry, as a whole, is fairly conservative, although they are coming around to the cloud. Chapman continues, “As airports employ more technical people, like chief information officers from retail, for example, who are used to seeing this technology being used, it’s becoming easier to communicate what the benefits of the cloud are.”

One concern voiced by many is reliability, but ARINC cMUSE is largely self-maintaining. “If a virtual server should fail, it would immediately start a new service so quickly the user would never notice the difference,” adds Chapman. “In terms of support for airline application updates, once the airline app is available we can push it out to every user immediately. It’s a bit like apps on your iPhone. They see it as being available but it’s up to them if, and when they choose to deploy it.”

Chapman says airlines are also keen on the system because it gives them more freedom with their applications. “One of the challenges with the check-in desk is that we provide the platform, but the airlines provide the applications. We have 50 to 70 different airline applications to support, all written to different standards. Typically, airlines will only agree on the lowest common denominator – such as the use of Windows Explorer, for example. We’ve now opened that up so they can run their app of choice rather than the one that’s limited by a physical infrastructure.”

Stephanie began freelancing for Passenger Terminal Today in January 2017. She started her career in aviation as an editorial assistant at HMG Aerospace, working on LARA (formerly Low-Fare & Regional Airlines) and Inflight magazines and was quickly promoted to assistant editor for both publications.
During her time with HMG, Stephanie wrote features on topics ranging from aircraft interiors to pilot training, and was twice shortlisted in the ‘Best Young Journalist’ category at the Aerospace Media Awards.

March 17, 2017



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