Volume 4 | Thursday, May 21st, 2020
Introduction to FLIGHTKEYS
Welcome back to the  ARINCDirect Jump Seat . This week's article is an introduction to our new flight planning engine, powered by FLIGHTKEYS.
We are seeing an increase in usage of our new flight-planning tools, which is great. That makes this a good time to introduce you to the backbone of our flight-support service: flight planning. Several years ago, we began searching for a new company to provide the engine that computes our flight plans. FLIGHTKEYS was the obvious choice. The company is made up of intelligent, creative aviation professionals who devote their development talents to creating a cutting-edge platform. Furthermore, ARINCDirect was offered the opportunity to collaborate from the very beginning of this new engine. As a result, the platform is tailored for general aviation, but is also used in commercial aviation by several major airlines.

So what makes this particular flight-planning engine so robust? For starters, it provides a more complete product. FLIGHTKEYS uses runway-to-runway planning and adheres to SID and STAR profile restrictions. It also provides both route-based and altitude-based optimizations. Additionally, the engine monitors NOTAMs for runway, NAVAID, airway, and airspace closures. And the routes generated by FLIGHTKEYS consider aircraft equipment limitations for NAT DLM, RNP, RVSM, MNPS, and PBN requirements. Because dynamic restrictions and published preferred route schemes, including AIPs, are evaluated, these routes will become more likely to be cleared as filed within U.S. domestic airspace or accepted by CFMU in Europe.

Performance data provided by FLIGHTKEYS comes straight from the OEMs. Consequently, some climb and descent schedules are not yet available. In the future, more schedules will be interpolated by the engine. On a positive note, whereas the current flight-planning engine can be restrictive in cruise speed planning (i.e. dropping to low altitude cruises when the preferred cruise is unattainable), the new engine will drop down to the fastest possible speed. This type of automation saves the flight planner time in the process. The raw performance data provided by manufacturers has also been combed through by our team members. Because we are able to report irregularities and investigate issues, a better product is passed to the user.

You may recall that in early May, more route options were transitioned over to our new flight planning engine. Now, auto-generated routes, ATC preferred routes, and frequently/recently filed routes are all computed using FLIGHTKEYS under the NextGen route type. Meanwhile, the legacy flight planning engine remains. This phased approach has allowed our team to test, collect feedback, and make improvements. The full power of the FLIGHTKEYS engine will become more clear through each release. Some enhancements coming soon include defaulting the auto-generated route from FLIGHTKEYS (providing a NextGen route in many more cases) and composite flight plans (allowing mixed IFR/VFR plans).

Overall, the embedded flight planning engine built by FLIGHTKEYS is an invaluable strategic tool that ingests data and employs that data to create an enriched route. For tactical tasking, our Flight Coordinators are at your service and ready to help you with all matters outside the scope of the engine. Finally, with this living, breathing product comes the ability to manipulate the end result. Getting your feedback to further enhance the engine remains our #1 priority.
Did you know?
  • Even though FLIGHTKEYS flight planning is available only on the website at present, the ARINCDirect Mobile Team has plans to provide an interface to flight planning directly in the FSS iPad app.
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