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CGI to lead the development of a cloud-based Universal Virtual Flight Data Recorder

CGI (NYSE: GIB) (TSX: GIB.A) has been awarded a contract under the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Space Systems for Safety and Security (4S) programme with the support from the UK Space Agency. CGI will lead a consortium in the development of a Service Demonstrator for a virtual flight data recorder. Replicating the function of a traditional crash-protected flight data recorder (Black Box) in a virtual, cloud-based environment, the new system will allow the assured, authenticated and provenance-controlled storage of data transmitted by an aircraft while in flight. It will enable access to that data almost immediately in case of an emergency, incident, or accident. The Universal Virtual Flight Data Recorder (UVFDR) will be designed for use on any aircraft equipped to send engineering telemetry and operational data to the ground.

Neil Timms, Senior Vice President Space, Defence and Intelligence for UK & Australia at CGI said: “Understanding the cause of an air-related incident is vital to helping improve flight safety, and indispensable for those impacted and their families. CGI is proud to be working with ESA, whilst building on our heritage in safe, secure cloud, to develop a virtual flight recording service that allows any suitably equipped aircraft to send flight data to a secure cloud storage facility.”

Designed to meet Global Aeronautic Distress and Safety System (GADSS) aircraft tracking and flight data recovery requirements, a future UVFDR service can be used on its own on smaller aircraft, or alongside traditional recorders on aircraft legally required to carry them. The future UVFDR services could also reduce the time and effort required to locate aircraft in distress, as well as provide critical telemetry to ground-based engineers assisting their crews.

Heather Britton, Head of Space Applications at the UK Space Agency and UK Representative of the ESA ARTES Programme, said: “The UK has always been a leading innovator in aerospace and aviation. UVFDR is another great example where space technology helps solve a real-world challenge, and it’s great to see the UVFDR team carry the torch forward by developing cutting edge aviation technology to further improve safety and operations in the UK and globally.”

The European Space Agency actively supports innovative solutions, highlighting the potential of space technologies for the benefits of all aviation stakeholders (airlines, business and general aviation, airport, civil aviation authorities).

“We are delighted to support CGI’s industry-leading virtual flight data recorder” said Arnaud RungeProject Manager at ESA. “I myself hold a commercial pilot license and welcome an initiative which will make use of satellite-based technologies to make aviation even safer than it is today.”

The system is built using CGI’s TrustedFabric, a proprietary blockchain solution for the secure storage of highly sensitive data and is hosted on the cloud. The system is scalable and a future commercial service is planned to be made available globally. The technology also offers the potential to support additional services, such as improved technical support for aircraft in flight, flight recording solutions for remotely piloted and advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles, and airspace data integration services for air navigation service providers. CGI will work with ESA, Code Magus Ltd, Cranfield University, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and industry stakeholders SatAuth and others to define use cases and system requirements for a global UVFDR service. The concept being developed makes use of the increasing availability of satellite data communications bandwidth, and the growing number of aircraft equipment capable of transmitting flight data, such as Quick Access Recorders (QAR) and similar systems.

Dr. Li Wen-Chin of the Safety and Accident Investigation Centre, Cranfield University said; “The system will not only provide assured truth data required by investigations, but it can also detect and flag potentially unsafe situations before they occur. Our vision of the future is that flight crews in abnormal situations have access to much better support than what’s presently possible.”

Paul Roux, Managing Director of South African aircraft tracking and data transmission systems manufacturer SatAuth, said: “CGI’s UVFDR will offer our customers the opportunity to not only meet the GADSS mandates, but to improve their operational data and information management beyond mere compliance, leading the way in integrated cutting-edge 21st century aviation safety technology.”

CGI has been delivering complex, mission-critical space software systems supporting satellite navigation, communications and operations, to space enabled applications for over 40 years.

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