Tower Air veers off the runway
In December of 1995 a Tower Air Boeing 747 with 486 people on board veered of the runway upon take off at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Runway conditions were icy and slippery. The Tower Air accident trigged Capt. Oddvard Johnsen, a former fighter- and commercial pilot, to find a better way to assess runway conditions. With long-time experience operating under difficult winter conditions in Norway he knew challenges and limitations to runway condition assessments. From this, his idea of using an aircraft-based assessment came about, and forms the foundation for today's solution by Kongsberg Aeronautical.
A model for algorithm
From late the 90s Oddvard Johnsen works with his former airline, Braathens, and SAS Braathens to analyze flight data to develop an aircraft-based model to assess actual runway slipperiness. In 2004 the first algorithm is developed.
In 2004 Oddvard Johnsen files the first patent, which is approved and accepted in 2006. In 2006 he files two more patents that are later approved and accepted, one of them filed in the United States. The patents are respectively systems for an optimal working brake logic and a principle to assess an aircraft’s stopping capability as a function of weather exposure to runways. All patents are based on the use of parameters found in an aircraft’s onboard flight data feed.
Licensing of Patent Rights
Oddvard Johnsen enters into a patent licensing agreement with Kongsberg Safety Systems AS. The agreement provides Kongsberg Safety Systems AS an exclusive right take use of the proprietary nature of the patents, existing and future, to develop technology, systems, and commercialize this.
Houston based Continental Airlines found the prospects of uploading a program function to aircraft to assess braking capability (Braking Action) interesting. After a few meetings, and when all stakeholders at Continental Airlines agreed, the first prototype onboard function was uploaded to a “pilot” aircraft, and the maiden flight took place between Newark and Houston. The prototype showed promising results and further refinement of the function started.
Formation of Kongsberg Aeronautical
With the promising results from the collaboration with Continental Airlines, Kongsberg Aeronautical Information Services AS is formed as an own business unit, spun out of Kongsberg Safety Systems AS.
Continental Airlines and United Airlines decide to merge late in 2010, but they ran separate operations into 2012. Kongsberg Aeronautical Information Services AS continues the collaboration with the Flight Safety department of the new merged airline. During this time, the program function was further developed and uploaded to their fleet of Boeing 737.
Aviation Safety INFOSHARE
While working with United Airlines, Trond Are Johnsen, Kongsberg Aeronautical’s President & CEO, is invited to present the ongoing project with United at Aviation Safety INFOSHARE. This is a closed venue hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with international participation from airlines and aviation industry.
Data Transfer Proof of Concept
To be able to relay information from aircraft to a designated data server, Kongsberg Aeronautical and United Airlines initiate a project that is designed to perform automatic data transmission from the onboard program function, via United’s ground server, to Kongsberg Aeronautical’s cloud solution.
Kongsberg Aeronautical sets up a Cloud Solution being able to automatically receive of data from aircraft and airlines. The Cloud Solution comprises processing- and quality assurance function and is designed to distribute information to airlines’ flight operational user applications and tools.
At the beginning of 2020 COVID-19 has massive impact on airlines and the aviation industry. Ongoing activities are put on hold and airlines undergo significant reorganizations. During these times Kongsberg Aeronautical connects with Weathernews and signs a Memorandum of Understanding in 2022 with the purpose of establishing a collaboration agreement for distribution of information from Kongsberg Aeronautical’s system.