Right at the start of the new year topsystem has released the latest 4.0 version of the two software families Ground Handling System (GHS) and AirportStar. The new release offers decisive technological innovations, comprehensive expansions of core functions and new optional software modules as well as optimisations of the user interface.
On the technical side, software tools used for the systems were updated to the most recent versions, including Java, JBoss and many more. This granted new possibilities for software programming and increased the overall performance of the system even further. As a pivotal module for establishing communication between all necessary information systems, like ATC, airline systems, FIDS or baggage conveyor systems, the Message Broker is based on a completely new technology in release 4.0. This allows an easier maintenance of complex interfaces. During the works, the user console has also been reworked. The new console gives more control over interface statuses and allows them to be checked by authorized common users directly in the normal software without having to consult a system administrator.
On the whole, the internal technical structures have been reworked to incorporate even more options for individual user settings in the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software. Practically speaking, this means that many customer-specific demands to software functions can be adapted to individual requirements by simple software configurations without major programming efforts.
topsystem Airport Information Handling Solutions
New and Versatile System Modules
Naturally, the works for the new release also included the development of a wide range of new applications expanding the functional scope of the software systems with many new features.
For airports, the AirportStar-Suite has been equipped with a completely new module. With AirportStar-FlightChart smaller airports now have a cost-efficient graphical management of immobile resources at their disposal. The resources are displayed in a Gantt chart view where flights can be assigned to parking positions; gates etc. with a simple drag & drop action. This assignment is also synchronized automatically with the flight schedule, i.e. whenever resources are assigned in the flight scheduling table, the corresponding allocation is vice and versa automatically adopted in the graphical view. Beyond this, the new software also offers a multitude of other functions like, for example, a plausibility check if a position is admitted for use by an aircraft type, colour codings showing flight statuses (e.g. onblock, offblock) and much more.
Ground handlers can also profit from a variety of new modules, most of which serve the mobile information exchange with operational staff on ramp and apron. Thus it is now possible to use modern tablet computers with WLAN or UMTS to receive, edit and record data for a wide range of processes. The app GHS-MSR (Mobile Service Recording) is used to send a list of contractually agreed handling services to be provided to the responsible teams on the apron. These teams can then perform the respective services, record the data - naturally, additionally rendered services can also be captured - and forward them immediately to the central system for commercial post-processing. Another integrated feature is the capturing of an electronic customer signature (e.g. by a ramp agent) via touchscreen, which is stored as a picture file related to the signed services. In addition to the module for general handling procedures, specialized apps for crew & passenger transports, de-icing processes and other operations are also available.
Additional Functions and Features
The modules of the core systems have also not only undergone a technical modernisation but have been upgraded with powerful new functions. One of the highlights here is the modernisation of the price formula editor, which can be used to define any types of calculation models and parameters for the pricing of airport fees and/or handling services. With the updated version it is now possible to handle complex pricing tasks even more comfortable: the formula design interface for the contract management has been replaced by a more intuitive workspace allowing even standard users to compose formulas. Furthermore, formulas and parameter values, which are used for actual calculations, are now also displayed in the service price calculation software allowing to immediately trace how a final price is resolved. Once defined, all formulas are automatically checked and the appropriate definitions are taken into account for the invoicing, saving lots of efforts while significantly increasing the precision of all billing procedures.
A wide range of other, smaller changes round off the new scope of features. Thus, sources regarding time-related information for flight schedules can now be more comprehensively prioritised while call sign mapping and plausibility checks for flight data have been extended with new features. All flight data is now available compliant to use by ACDM systems and the corresponding ADEXP format is supported. In regard to the commercial business, the options for paperless electronic billing have been augmented while the messaging features now allow the reception of IATA messages via email without requiring SITATEX. In addition to purely functional innovations, the graphical user interface has been modernized with more intuitive button designs and other improvements.
Future-proof System Concept and Development on the Pulse of the Market
The two most important basics of the system concept of all topsystem software products - employment of modern standard technologies and web capability - have again proven as an ideal foundation for the new developments in the new release. The use of open technologies common to the worldwide market offers a degree of flexibility hardly possible for proprietary technologies. Web capability is an increasingly important aspect to cover current and future market requirements like, for example, mobile software solutions or seamless online integration of multiple handling stations or airports. No less important for the user-oriented further development is the close and concerted co-operation with our customers. Only by analysis of the actual business processes with fingers directly on the pulse of the market it can be understood which applications and functions are required and what exactly these have to achieve.
In order to make the powerful, comprehensive software available for smaller airports or handlers without having to undertake a larger initial investment, we now offer the solution in a "software as a service" (SaaS) version. For this variant the system is installed at a cloud host provider and the complete access to data and software is realised via Internet. Without having to care about hardware or licenses the user only invests for possibly required individual software adaptations and pays a quarterly fee based on the actual usage. Another advantage here is that incurred costs can be contractually related to business development: if the business is slow with few flight operations, the usage fee drops while business growth with increasing flight operations lead to a moderate fee adaptation.
With all this in mind we are very happy to present the new software release while our software engineers and product managers are already working on further innovations for process optimisations at airports and for ground handlers to make sure we will be able to equip our customers with state-of-the-art solutions in the future.
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